Astounding shapes in Earth’s geography

The human brain is specialized in finding patterns and shapes; that’s why we recognize the faces of people we know, organize time in regular cycles, and also why it is so difficult to make a convincing seamless loop of ambient sound from a short recording. A side effect of this ability is that we often find patterns where there are not, like when we look at the clouds and see dragons, lambs or synthesizers.

However, while nobody would say that a cloud is actually a dragon, other things are more controversial. Is it really a face what the Viking orbiter photographed over the surface of Mars? I guess that the safe answer is that it looks like a face, though some people have taken the issue much further.

This said, I would like to share two findings that quite surprised me a few days ago. These are satellite images of two spots on Earth, as found in google maps and windows live local. I have asked some people for their opinion, and while some of them stared at the images the same way I did, others didn’t see anything at all, so I won’t bias you (or your imagination) by telling what you’re supposed to find. I´m most impressed about the first one, since the surroundings of the “feature” are very interesting too (I’ll just say that you may find it better by tilting your head to the right).

Here are the links:

First Shape:

Second Shape: (Unfortunately the zoom doesn’t go further, but it is still possible to see the “feature” around the center of the image).

Update: If you don´t see anything, try comparing the images with the ones shown here.

Kurt Wenner paints in 3D

Wenner’s unique and innovative use of anamorphic perspective creates unforgettable images that combine the painted surface with its surroundings into a single composition.

After the interest shown in a former article on Julian Beever’s anamorphic pavement paintings, I decided to complete it with more materials on the topic. Julian’s site included several pictures of his chalk paintings, but I remembered to have seen some more, so I made a little research to see what I could find -and I found myself surprised by the (re)discovery of another great painter and master of the anamorphic technique, Kurt Wenner.

I say rediscovery because in fact I already knew several of his pictures, though I thought they belonged to Julian; actually, besides the fact that they use similar methods, it’s easy to see differences between them. Both of them are figurative, and draw the contours of the shapes they paint. However, if Beever tends to paint contemporary and often quotidian people and objects, Wenner’s imagery is neoclassical, in between Renaissance and Baroque. My favourite paintings of his are those where he works the scenography and composition in order to enhance the pathos, giving the pictures a strength that outperforms that of Beever… yet Julian has got a sense of humour, a “human touch”, which make his paintings great even when the subject is not. In other words: Human people in a picture by Wenner tend to become objects, statues in the picture. But when Beever poses with his creations, he brings them out to the world.

In all, I would say that Beever and Kenner, both great artists, complement each other very well, and I hope that they keep on bringing us many more marvellous paintings. 🙂

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King Kong: Afterthougths

a movie by Peter Jackson

With his newly discovered star and coerced screenwriter reluctantly onboard, Denham (…) heads out of New York Harbor… and toward a destiny that none aboard could possibly foresee.

When I knew that Peter Jackson was working on a remake of King Kong, I remember to have doubted that it were a good idea. After the 1933 classic hit the theaters, several versions have been made with more or less fortune, and I wondered if it was too soon for a new one, if there was anything new to show, besides the awesome special effects that the remake would surely bring.

Now that I have seen the movie I wouldn’t say that I was wrong, though I think that it well deserves to be watched and will probably stand out as the most accomplished version to date, only second to the original. Its greatest value is the cast: all the main actors, and many of the supporting ones, have worked their characters as to make them credible, even memorable. Adrien Brody composes his Driscoll with elegance; Naomi Watts shines (literally, indeed), portraying an Ann Barrow as brave as fragile; Carl Denham (reminds me of Orson Welles), shows us the many facets of Jack Black, who would do anything to achieve glory and wealth, always conscious of the results of his actions, often pursued by guilt, never able to admit his defeat.

Then, of course, there’s Kong, which if not the greatest is surely the Continue reading King Kong: Afterthougths

Julian Beever paints in 3D

Anamorphic illusions drawn in a special distortion in order to create an impression of 3 dimensions when seen from one particular viewpoint.

Julian Beever is a very special painter. He has mastered the technique of anamorphic painting, which he applies to pavement paintings to render awesome, stunning images that pop out of the floor. Anamorphic painting has been used since the Renaissance; great examples are the ceiling and cuppola of St. Ignatius, by Andrea Pozzo, in Rome, or “The ambassadors“, by Holbein. However, what I like of Julian Beever is not only that he literally brings the technique to the streets, but also the sense of humour that he shows when he poses with his paintings.

More on Anamorphosis:

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Mozart Magic Cube

Create millions of Mozart musical masterpieces. Start with the flute and add in the piano. Drop the piano and bring in the violin. It’s that simple!

Since after twenty something years studying music I’m not even close to that, I guess I should be clever for once, quit school and buy one of these :P. Jokes aside, if I had babies I would get them a magic cube (or any of the other musical cubes available). The difference between this toy and a normal music box is that the child can mute the different parts by pushing the buttons with the pictures of instruments, exploring the different combinations and “analyzing” how they blend together in a piece. Therefore, it would be more accurate to say “explore several Mozart famous tunes”, rather than “create”.

Make a notebook, and make it easy: Pocketmod

The PocketMod is a small book with guides on each page. These guides or templates, combined with a unique folding style, enable a normal piece of paper to become the ultimate note card.

The interest of pocketmod lies in the way it merges several useful related ideas into a single, solid initiative. There’s a set of handy templates (or mods, as they call them) to choose from; an intuitive application to arrange them into a custom notebook; a way to make this application as accesible as possible (you can either design and print the notebook right from the browser, or download the software and use it offline); a clever folding pattern so that the notebook is quickly made from the printed piece of paper; and a tool to convert previously made documents (in pdf format) to a ready-to-fold booklet (or series of booklets, if needed).

I find that the folding technique leaves too much paper unused (one side, actually), but after trying several alternatives I believe that actually the authors went for the easiest way to get the book ready. Anyway, the forum is a good source for further mods and ideas. Now you can say goodbye to sketching on paper napkins!

ps. Still, if you must use a napkin, remember the folding pattern: you’ll get a notebook as small as it is cool 🙂

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