Fingerprint Font Friday

Typeface? Drawing? These typographic works of art, described by Christian Goldemann at typostrate.com, are by design as unique as their creators. Not to be confused with my post Fingerprinting Font Metrics Font Friday.

Daniel Eatock had this great idea on his first day as a graphic design student. He wanted to create a real typography self portrait and asked persons to simply follow these instructions he gave: Using an ink pad make a print of your thumb in the center of a white page. Enlarge this thumb print on a photocopier to match the approximate size of your face. Place a thin sheet of copy paper over the photocopied enlargement of your thumb print and secure it in place with tape or paperclips. Starting anywhere you wish and using a black ink pen and your natural/everyday handwriting, compose a text about yourself following the contour lines of your thumb print as a guide. Use a light box or window to improve the show-through.
The final result combines a real fingerprint, a real handwritten text and finally the real typography self portrait.

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Half-erased blackboards from quantum physics labs

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“Momentum,” displayed at the Wilmotte Gallery in London (Alejandro Guijarro)

Blackboards, the legend goes, were invented by a teacher. In the mid-19th century, James Pillans was headmaster of the Royal High School in Edinburgh, Scotland. Teaching geography, he found himself in need of a device that would allow him to share visual information with all his students, simultaneously — a more theatrical and efficient version of the slates students used to write their lessons at their desks. Pillans had chalk; he had tablets. Then he had an idea.

Today, in an age of dry-erase whiteboards and write-on wall paint — an age that has produced surfaces and markers that allow writings to be undone with the ruthless efficiency of a single swipe — blackboards have taken on the wistfulness of the outmoded technology. And the semi-erased chalkboard, in particular — its darkness swirled with the detritus of unknown decisions and revisions — compounds the nostalgia. Its spectral insights mingle in the bright dust of calcium carbonate.

Alejandro Guijarro sees that blurry beauty better than most. Over the last three years, the Spanish artist has visited some of the world’s most prestigious blackboards: the ones housed at the quantum mechanics labs of places like the University of Oxford, UC Berkeley, Stanford, CERN, Cambridge, and the Instituto de Física Corpuscular. At each place, he used a large-format camera to capture the markings left on the boards, just as he found them.

“The images in this series do not purport to be documents holding an objective truth,” Guijarro says of his work; “they function purely as suggestions. They are fragmented pieces of ideas, thoughts or explanations from which arises a level of randomness. They are an attempt to portray the space of a flat surface and of a given frame. They are arbitrary moments in the restless life of an object in constant motion.”
Some of Guijarro’s images are reproduced below. 
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Stitching the Solar System: Science as Needlepoint, 1811

Solar System crosstitch pattern

Solar System crosstitch pattern

From The Vault, Slate.com’s history blog:

In the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, girls in the UK and the US used needle and thread to embroider images and text onto pieces of fabric that were called “samplers.” Samplers, which could be quite intricate, were meant to promote basic literacy and to teach patience and carefulness.

Unlike many samplers, which featured botanical, Biblical, or domestic themes, this unusual pre-printed fabric from 1811 depicts a surprisingly scientific subject: the arrangement of the solar system. (Click on image for larger view.)

While girls and women would have found it quite difficult to pursue scientific careers in 19th-century England (the anomalous example of astronomer Caroline Herschel notwithstanding), several popular authors of the time published science books that included girl readers in their intended audiences. Astronomy and natural history were particularly common scientific topics in children’s literature, since authors could relate the information to children’s everyday lives.

This sampler includes a verse from Milton’s “Paradise Lost,” which begins “These are they glorious works, parent of good.” Although we’re accustomed to thinking of scientific and religious education as incompatible, before the controversy over evolutionary theory, which began in the mid-nineteenth century, such conflicts were much more easily resolved. Within certain parameters, instruction in science could be used to reinforce lessons about religion, morality, and God’s plan.

Whoever was working the sampler didn’t get very far with it. The only part of the design that’s been completed with thread is the box around the date.

The blog of the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, where the sampler is held, has an excellent post about the piece and its historical context.

Unstable Matter: A Giant Moving Surface Containing Thousands of Steel Ball Bearings

Table of steel ball bearings

Ball bearings on table

From Colossal: Art & Visual Ingenuity:

Unstable Matter is kinetic sculpture by Finnish artists Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen, a.k.a. Grönlund-Nisunen. The moving table contains thousands of small ball bearings that move and crash within the confines of a giant wobbly table, sort of a modern take on a rain stick. The table is part of several kinetic and magnetized works by the duo that were recently on view at Esther Schipper in Berlin.

[Full article]

Animated GIF of ball bearings moving