…thus it walks into a lot of dead alleys. Peculiar image of the week.
…thus it walks into a lot of dead alleys. Peculiar image of the week.
“God created the world, except for the Netherlands. That the Dutch created themselves”, Voltaire remarked in the eighteenth century already to describe the overly cultivated Dutch landscape. But when the Dutch built the Netherlands, they forgot to add any mountains. Former cyclist and visionary Thijs Zonneveld was annoyed by the lack of cyclable heights and proposed to build a 2000-meter high mountain in the Netherlands. Ridiculous idea or summit of Dutch Design?
Unlike the earlier purely theoretical proposal by Jacob Tigges in Berlin, the people behind Die Berg Komt Er (That Mountain will be There) are taking their landscape-building mandate seriously. Their ‘mountain’ should really be understood as a very large building with all kinds of functions ranging from housing, to recreation, to sustainable energy source.
This last Monday rang in the Chinese Year of the Dragon. Not restricted just to the benevolent, snake-like creature of Chinese mythology, or to the greedy, princess-stealing monster from Europe, dragon-like creatures occur throughout the world. Legendary reptiles occur as far apart as the feathered snake of Precolombian America and the rainbow serpent of Aboriginal Australia. It may be that, like flight in bats, pterosaurs and birds, the dragon “evolved” multiple times independently throughout human mythology.
If, indeed, the dragon can be considered a cultural universal – it may be that “large scaly monster” is too general a category to be meaningful – several theories purport to explain their origin. Giant reptiles like the crocodile or monitor lizard are obvious suspects. It’s easy to imagine how word-of-mouth could transform an already terrifying beast into something that flies or breathes fire. Dinosaur bones may have inspired other dragon myths, while the rotten carcasses of sharks and whales are even today routinely mistaken for sea monsters. By far the most interesting theory is that of anthropologist David E. Jones, who argues that dragons are a mash-up of the predators that ate our distant primate ancestors. Dragons prey on what we’re genetically primed to fear.
The private atmosphere of a Dutch living room is interrupted by the disturbing presence of a large oak tree that slowly enters the room.
Made by roderickhietbrink.nl
Greenridge Farm offers this pork molded in the shape of a piglet. But if you are more the traditional type of person, Greenrdige Farms also offer Turkey-breasts in the shape of an actual turkey. Perfect for a traditional Thanksgiving!
Will this pseudo-pig actually taste better in the shape of a piglet? Or does the shape reminds us too much of Babe, and becomes cruel to roast? At least it is a good marketing trick to distract you from what the piglet is actually made of.
Are you familiar with the affliction? Anthropomorphobia is the fear of recognizing human characteristics in non-human objects. The term is a hybrid of two Greek-derived words: ‘anthropomorphic’ means ‘of human form’ and ‘phobia’ means ‘fear’. Although anthropomorphobia was originally rare, with complaints limiting themselves to fairs and amusement parks with moving dummies that laughed at visitors, the blurring boundary between people and products is leading to increased problems. Complaints can be accompanied by irrational panic attacks, disdain, revulsion, and confusion about what it means to be human. Will anthropomorphobia eventually become public disease number one? Or can anthropomorphobia serve as a guiding principle in the evolution of humanity? Herewith, an exploration.
By KOERT VAN MENSVOORT
Exploring the Twilight between Person and Product
Luxury cars with blinking headlight eyes. Perfume bottles shaped like beautiful ladies. Grandma’s face stretched smooth. Carefully selected designer babies. The Senseo coffeemaker shaped – subtly, but nonetheless – like a serving butler. And, of course, there are the robots, mowing grass, vacuuming living rooms, and even caring for elderly people with dementia. Today more and more products are designed to exhibit anthropomorphic – that is, human – behaviour. At the same time, as a consequence of increasing technological capabilities, people are being more and more radically cultivated and turned into products. This essay will investigate the blurring of the boundary between people and products. My ultimate argument will be that we can use our relationship to anthropomorphobia as a guiding principle in our future evolution.
In the film Mastering Bambi, artists Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs have stripped the landscape of its cuddly, anthropomorphic characters. Over the course of the film, the camera pans across empty forest scenes and winter fields, accompanied by a chorus and orchestra. Using 3D photographic collages, the artists reconstruct elements of the backgrounds from the classic Disney film, which presented an unrealistically idyllic vision of nature. According to Broersen and Lukacs:
“…an important but often overlooked protagonist in the movie is nature itself: the pristine wilderness as the main grid on which Disney structured his ‘Bambi’. One of the first virtual worlds was created here: a world of deceptive realism and harmony, in which man is the only enemy.”
Does Mastering Bambi imply that the audience has finally mastered nature by eliminating all its inhabitants? It may be a more stark comment on the destructive capacity of humanity than Disney’s decision to kill off Bambi’s mom. Once the harmonious woodland inhabitants are gone, we are left to uncomfortably wonder if we are their only replacements.
Persijn Broersen and Margit Lukacs will be presenting Mastering Bambi at the Next Nature Power Show on November 5th.
Japanese researchers are currently working on cloning a mammoth, and plan to produce a fluffy new prehistoric calf within four or five years. The bucardo, an extinct subspecies of the Spanish ibex, was resurrected for a few minutes in 2009 before the clone died. ‘Frozen zoos’ now keep the cryo-preserved tissues from dozens of endangered species to hedge their bets against future extinction.
Until we have the godlike knowledge to reconstruct a genome from the base pairs on up, our resurrected zoo will be limited to the animals that we have stored away for safe keeping. Sorry, no dinosaurs, but there are at least 500 stuffed and dried passenger pigeons, 731 thylacines, and one remaining dodo specimen with soft tissue remaining.
In this Petcha Kutcha presentation, Mike Dickison comes to a very funny conclusion: Although Big Bird might superficially resemble other ratites like the ostrich or emu, he is likely more closely related to a group of extinct, flightless cranes that once lived in Cuba and Bermuda. Birds tend to evolve towards flightlessness and gigantism when isolated on islands and, fittingly, Big Bird lives on the most famous island in the world.
Watch: What if Anything is Bird Big
Kellogg, the proud copyright holders of Toucan Sam, recently asked a the Mayan Archeology Initiative to reconsider their logo. Despite the fact that the two birds have entirely different colors, shapes, and expressions, Kellogg’s lawyers insist that they have a special claim to family Ramphastidae.
It’s particularly strange that the corporation would go after a Guatemalan non-profit when dozens of other companies have used toucans in their branding. Neither does Kellogg have time on their side: they registered Toucan Sam in 1963, while Guinness began using its iconic toucan in 1935. While the Kellogg lawsuit is frivolous, it does raise some questions about the commodification of natural images. When do animals become so wrapped up in a corporate identity that they loose their own?
When the Dutch built the Netherlands, they forgot to add any mountains. The highest point in Holland is a measly 323 meters, compared to 2,962 meters for the highest mountain in Germany. Possibly inspired by architect Jacok Tigges’ proposal for Berlin, Dutch journalist Thijs Zonneveld recently suggested that the Netherlands deserves a fake mountain of its own. Unlike Tigges’ purely theoretical proposal, the people behind Die Berg Komt Er (video) (The Mountain Is Coming) are taking their landscape-building mandate seriously. The mountain has turned into a movement.
Different designers have different visions for this god-like task. DHV situates their Bergen in Zee, an exact replica of Mount Fuji, in the ocean near the town of Bergen aan Zee. It would rise 2,000 meters, occupy an area the size of Disney World, and provide sustainable power for the mainland. Hoffers and Kruger place it in the land or the sea, and fill up their hollow structure with everything from aquariums to sport arenas to farms. Regardless of the particulars, the Nederlandse Berg would be the biggest and costliest manmade structure in history. If the mountain is actually realized, it will certainly prove one thing: The Dutch will let nothing stand in the way of a nice weekend of skiing.
That’s no reindeer, and it’s certainly no moose. It’s an Irish Elk, Megaloceros giganteous, a deer that happens to be neither an elk, nor really all that Irish. What it does happen to be, though, is long extinct. Renowned taxidermist Ken Walker has reconstructed Megaloceros from the tanned hides of once-living Canadian deer.
The mount is made of elk skins stretched over a custom foam form, and fitted out with a pair of fiberglass antlers. Using Paleolithic art as a guide, Walker also gave the giant deer a prominent shoulder hump with contrasting coloration. Walker’s prowess with taxidermic reconstruction isn’t just limited to extinct animals. He has also won awards for Thing Thing, a panda made from the dyed fur of other bears.
Taxidermic reconstruction occupies a particularly strange area within the already weird world of taxidermy. It uses the parts of recently deceased (but still extant) animals to create a scientifically accurate fantasia of an animal too rare to kill, or so long gone that no modern human has seen one alive. In other words, it’s fake nature at its most realistic.
The Coca-Cola introduces the PlantBottle. Partially made of plants, this bottle is 100% recyclable. Next step will be a natural bottle fully growing on a plant. In the meanwhile, I am still waiting for my Organic Coke.
Unsatisfied with the variety of vegetables in your local Supermarket? Why not try the Art Gallery? Morphotheque #15 (2011) is a form collection that consists of 27 elements, 1:1 copies of peppers. They’re made out of plaster and finished with acrylic paint. Peculiar image of the week by Erwin Driessen & Maria Verstappen.
Along with the Heck cattle and Scottish Highlanders, another reconstructed species roams the Dutch dunes. The sturdy Konik horse, also known as the Polish primitive, is the result of an attempt to ‘breed back’ the tarpan, an extinct subspecies of wild horse. A forest-dwelling horse with a distinctive silver-gray coat, tarpans once roamed Western Europe through Russia. The endangered Przewalski’s horse is the only surviving subspecies of the wild horse, Equus ferus, found only in zoos and in wild herds that have been reintroduced to places like Mongolia and Chernobyl.
The last wild tarpans were extirpated between the 1820s and 1890s, while the last captive tarpans died out somewhere between 1910 and 1920. Sources are unclear whether the final herds were true tarpans, tarpan mixes, or domestic horses that happened to look a lot like their wild relatives. It may be extinct, but the tarpan still clings to existence via cultural memory and scattered genes. The fact that many “primitive” breeds of domestic horse still graze the world’s meadows has tempted hopeful breeders to resurrect the tarpan on at least three occasions.
A new Dutch landscape with windmills up to 120 meters. Designed by NL Architects.
There’s nothing quite like peeling a piece of fruit, but if you end up with a bottle of Vodka after peeling, you know you have been caught in a biomimicmarketing fantasy. I guess the people of Smirnoff felt this was the most logical packaging for their fruit flavored drinks.
Artist Andrew Chase creates kinetic sculptures of animals. He has studied these animals intensively. After his analysis he created copies of these animals in metal with mechanics to mimic the movements of these animals. You can see the cheetah in action. He also created an elephant and giraffe out of mechanical metal parts. A fascinating way of copying old nature – suit for yourself if there is some deeper meaning – in waste metals.