Category Archives: illustration

The Most Remote Places on Earth

New Scientist links to the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre’s Global Urbanisation and Accessibility Map – part of the World Bank’s 2009 World Development Report. The maps is made by plotting the estimated travel time to a “major” city. They conclude that only 10% of the world is more than 48 hours from a city. Primarily the most remote places are the poles, southern Venezuela, and central Tibet. Even the Sahara is comparatively more accessible.

via Telstar Logistics

Dennis the Menace

Dennis the Menace is 60 years old. Both of them. By a twist of fate, two men on opposite sides of the Atlantic both had an idea for a young boy named Dennis and his dog getting in trouble with adults.

I had no idea that there was a British Dennis the Menace until I read the BBC article.

Just looking at the characters, you get two very different impressions of the them. The American smiling while riding his dog Ruff. He looks happy. Sure, he’s “Dennis the Menace,” but you get the (correct) impression that while he may cause more than his fair share of problems, it’s because he’s too naive, ambitious, clumsy for his ideas. He doesn’t want to cause problems, they’re just unfortunate and unforeseen (to him) side effects.

The British Dennis is also smiling, as is his dog Gnasher, but it’s unsettling. He looks like the kind of kid that would torture rats with hacksaw, and pull the wings of flies, before he feeds them to his dog in preparation for a fight. It’s not just this picture, it’s almost all of them. Of course, there’s no episode where the British Dennis mortally wounds a stray cat with an M80, but even watching an episode of the recent cartoon, left me with the impression that Dennis would eventually graduate to yob, and then later to full fledged football hooligan.

Navy Goes Vintage

The US Navy is celebrating a century of naval aviation with vintage paint schemes. The T-45C pictured above is decked out in a modified of scheme reminiscent of the 1938 Enterprise Air Group colors. (The red nose is new, due to training plane color requirements.)

The Air Force did something similar a few years ago for the 90th anniversary 111th Fighter Squadron, which is now part of the Texas Air National Guard.

While normally I despise anything retro or vintage, I do enjoy these color schemes. The Navy has tended to retain distinctive squadron insignias (the F-14 squadrons seemed to be especially distinctive), reminiscent of nose art on the tails of their airplanes, while the Air Force have defaulted to boring two letter codes. Supposably, nose art is added to a some aircraft in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it’s hard to find examples on the web beyond scorecards.
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Execution Ribbons

Being a child of the Cold War, I was fascinated with military; both with the weapons and the uniforms. My World Book encyclopedias would fall open to the insignia entries for the Air Force, Army, Navy, and Marines. My interest in medals and insignia continues to this day. I can literally spend hours browsing the Army Institute of Heraldry, or Starfleet uniforms, or Imperial rank insignias.

I was bit surprised (and taken back) by the fact that the Utah Department of Corrections issue ribbons to prison guards that participate in executions. Well, more accurately, the did, now they issue commemorative coins, just like the Super Bowl. (“The staff preferred something a little more modern than the ribbons.”)

Apparently the guards “awarded” these ribbons didn’t actually wear them. I’m thinking more out of fear of retribution rather than decorum. The ribbons weren’t issued to only the firing squad, but to anyone involved. Perhaps it’s my opposition to the death penalty talking, but I find these medals morbid. While the military awards combat ribbons, many of the actions that they’re awarded for involve rescuing someone, or at least holding out against an enemy. It’s rarely for just killing. Even if it was, at least the people being killed at least are fighting back. Shooting a man that’s tied to a chair, is just state sanctioned murder.

Even as I’m repulsed by the notion of these ribbons, I stare at them and try and deduce a schema for them. Do slants represent executions? Do diamonds represent escapes? Does squares represent administrative tasks? Its frustrating not to know. I wish the picture showed them all. I even want one for some macabre reason, just to put on a shelf, or even a Wunderkammer.

Penalty Cards

The World Cup is on. The US played its first match against England, and didn’t lose. I thought England had the “White Pelé.” He must have been hurt, because I didn’t see him out there. I only saw some pudgy bald guy. (Zing!) All I want is for the US will advance. Although, winning a game in the knock out rounds would be wonderful.

I love the idea of FIFA. They’re the anti-NCAA. (Fuck you, and go die in a fire NCAA.) I love the idea of promotion and relegation, where entire teams move up and down.1 I love the idea of having the winners of the different national professional leagues champions play each other.3. I even love, the subject of this post, penalty cards. They just look cool, and I love how they carry over during tournament play.4

I was looking at the history of penalty cards, and learned that they are a relatively recent invention. They date back to only 1970, and were quickly adopted by other sports. What really surprised me though, is that the iconic yellow and red, aren’t the only colors.

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Thomas Allen

When I attended the SF Fine Art Fair one the few artists that really stood out to me as Thomas Allen. His photographs, like “Epilogue” above, consist of cutouts from the covers of pulp novels arranged in such a way to tell a new story. Some of these photos are collected in his book, Thomas Allen: Uncovered.

It’s second tier art, because the real visual oomph comes from simply the wholesale appropriation of the original artists’ works. It’s a collaged diorama, while executed with much more visual skill, it’s still reminiscent of the types of collages people would hack together from magazine cut outs, and turn in for extra credit in high school English I. Still, I do enjoy his work, even if I find its originality ironic.


SF Fine Art Fair

The SF Fine Art Fair is this weekend at Fort Mason in SF. Tickets are $15. In all honesty, I don’t know much about this. Zer01, presenters of the 01SJ Biennial are sponsoring an entrance, so there should be something there beyond what you’d normally expect at a “fine art fair.”

UPDATE: Thu May 27 18:04:25 PDT 2010
Photos. I call special attention to Popperceptual by Patrick Hughes.

Apple Stickers

Vinyl stickers for MacBooks isn’t new. Etsy lists 1075 results. Of course many of them aren’t that good, but I do like the ones that integrate the laser cut apple in a clever way, like Moses on the Mount from above.

A while back, I thought about laser etching my laptop. I thought about placing the apple in the center of the Aztec calendar. Ultimately, I decided against it because there just isn’t enough room to really show what the motif is.