There was a great opinion piece in the New York Times last week from Lance Hosey who wrote about the science behind why we love beautiful things. A lot of the things he wrote about I’ve heard before but he does a great job of speaking to so many interesting aspects of science influencing beauty. Certainly worth a read.
Certain patterns also have universal appeal. Natural fractals — irregular, self-similar geometry — occur virtually everywhere in nature: in coastlines and riverways, in snowflakes and leaf veins, even in our own lungs. In recent years, physicists have found that people invariably prefer a certain mathematical density of fractals — not too thick, not too sparse. The theory is that this particular pattern echoes the shapes of trees, specifically the acacia, on the African savanna, the place stored in our genetic memory from the cradle of the human race. To paraphrase one biologist, beauty is in the genes of the beholder — home is where the genome is.
I’m envious of Londoners for many reasons, this is one of them. These are images of the Light Show, an exhibition currently on view at the Hayward Gallery until the end of April. The show presents the work of artists generated over the past fifty years, all using light to create a variety of stunning effects. There’s just something about light that is so alluring. Even when it isn’t warm and inviting, it can still be captivating… like when it’s saturated and immersive as it is in several of these installations.
Dream big. Dutch ‘horizontal living’ design firm Snurk unveiled their latest duvet cover featuring an exact replica of a European Space Agency (ESA) spacesuit, right down to the last buckle mirrors of the European spacewalkers. Now when you’re tucked up in bed, you’ll be counting exoplanets rather than sheep. As much as I love the concept and the beautiful product photographs that accompany it, I do really wish they included a young girl and/or someone with a little diversity. Astronauts/Cosmonauts is an exclusively bro club–but we all can dream.
Found via HiComsumption. Thanks to Alex, Jenny, & Isaac for the tip-off.
I have to start by saying that while I understand dancing takes strength, grace and skill (attributes I’ve never been accused of having) for me watching dance performances has always been a little perplexing and inaccessible. I think I’ve seen the Nutcracker a half-dozen times and I still have no idea what’s going on for a majority of the ballet. Maybe I’m missing that part of my brain that figures out body language. But these dances are different, because these are folks dancing about science. And these are just a few of the results from the most recent Dance for Your Ph.D. contest, an annual competition where graduate students try to explain the basic idea behind their research using choreography instead of PowerPoint.
The most recent winner is a dance about creating aluminum as a strong as steel. Others are about cell signaling during cancer or what happens to the knee implants inside the body for years. That’s the one below. And what’s clear is that it is not easy to use dance to explain research, but the research isn’t easy to understand in the first place.
About two and a half years ago Danica (remember her?!) posted about photographer Caleb Charland, and how he creates fantastic images without the use of digital trickery. What I didn’t realize at the time is how much of Caleb’s work is interested in demonstrating scientific principles; in fact, he has two series series called Demonstrations where he… well… demonstrates electrical/chemical properties of everyday objects and captures it on film. Another part of his work seems interested in carrying out experiments in film, itself. Whether he’s slapping it, setting it on fire, or letting bacteria eat away at the different layers of fim, this is work where the photograph isn’t just the evidence of the experiment, but the experiment itself.
Nicholas Forker is in good company.
Forker employs the astronaut archetype, the 21st Century Lone Ranger, to create forms that can’t be made without the human touch. His work plays with duality: light/dark, man/machine, etc. These images from his Shadows series are an “attempt to take the drawing medium through an evolution of its own.” Forker uses lasers on glass to create an images that are close to invisible. Lights a powerful medium, giving the figures free floating life.
You may remember Nicholas from when Alex wrote about his mural that he created back in 2011. Vice’s Spaced Out did a wonderful piece on him this summer traversing through New York City in a Mercury-looking silver suit, too.
Whoa. These posters produced by the WPA in the 1930’s are really getting the message across. Made by government-employed artists to promote the seriousness of treating syphilis, the posters reflect an urgency that antibiotics have largely assuaged in developed countries. The Library of congress has a trove of posters created by the Work Projects Administration that promote everything from treating STIs to free summer art clases for high school students.
There’s something about the syphilis posters though that are still compelling today. There’s been a recent rise in syphilis among gay men, who account for 72 percent of new diagnoses, and the fact that the bacterium can also increase the likelihood of contracting HIV. This is serious not only among men who have sex with men in the US and Europe, but also in areas of the world without a robust healthcare systems. The progression of the disease is devastating if untreated and can easily pass from mother to child during pregnancy. So while we can see these posters as a kind of stylish and vintage hysteria, they still speak loudly and honestly to many in the world.
I wanted to dip into the archives this week; Fast Company published a wonderful series on the Apollo missions that reminded me of the wealth of beautiful images from NASA Archives. If you haven’t already taken a mini adventure through NASA Images powered by the SF based Internet Archive – it is definitely on the top ten list of sites to visit for a space suit enthusiast. Some of my favorite rarely seen photographs that are found deep within this vault of many treasures are survival training photographs- my favorite of which are stills from Mercury Group 3 Training.
These Mercury boys had yet to go the moon; Mercury / Apollo Test Pilot Alan Shepard didn’t become the first American in space until 1961 ( as a point of reference – JFK made his famous “We Choose to Go to the Moon” speech in 1962). American manned exploration accomplishments during the Mercury program era were limited, but the possibilities were endless. I think that is why these survival training photographs are so charming. Throw a bunch of lifetime military men in the desert – that’ll get ’em ready for the final frontier. Not going to lie, their headdresses made out of parachutes make them look more like Devendra Banhart than 1960’s American rocketman.