24 Feb 2007

Medieval Islamic Mosaics Used Modern Math

This weeks 'scientists labouring under assumptions of superiority' story comes to us courtesy of live science.com

The inlaid patterned tiles grace the walls of many structures worldwide, in patterns of mind-boggling intricacy called "girih." Historians have always assumed that medieval architects meticulously developed the patterns with basic tools....

Most mosaic tile walls in medieval Islamic buildings are based on a polygon and star pattern, with lines atop them creating a zip-zag look [image]. Since polygons don't fit together properly without near-perfect symmetry, it would have been very challenging to make the patterns look right, historians say, but they assumed a basic straight-edge and compass were used to get the job done.

Ok, look again at those dazzling tile murals and imagine some potter struggling away with ruler and compass. Not a convincing argument to start with. Why are scholars surprised to find what seems to amount to a 13th Century pattern book being used across the region? It would be nice to read something about ancient ceramics in the press, just the once, that didn't demonstrate how removed from the process of making the 'experts' have become.

Cobalt, the mineral usually used for the blue in glazes in ceramics is pretty tricky to work with, a little goes a really long way, and only when it's fired does it look blue. Now if they were to find the test tiles and the glaze recipes that were also probably doing the rounds with the patterns...
that would be wonderful, but they are probably not looking for that...

17 Feb 2007

ok, just one more manifesto....

just for fun.

Dada. I heard about the dada manifesto when I studied Art History in school, but we only saw slides of it, here is a translation. Hey, it makes more sense than this ever did.

a sucker for a manifesto

1644, from It. manifesto "public declaration explaining past actions and announcing the motive for forthcoming ones," originally "proof," from L. manifestus (see manifest).

I found this manifesto strangely appealing. Nothing to do with me being a typography whore... obviously.

16 Feb 2007

why make stuff?

Heather put me onto this manifesto by Mark Boyd that showed up on Gapingvoid.

You can change the world with a pencil, a piece of paper, a chunk of
charcoal and piece of cardboard, a paintbrush, a crayon, a d-cam, a
blog, a cell phone, a recorder; a projector, some clay and a kiln, some
wood and a few tools, some sticks, stones, and grasses, a stove and
some vegetables, found glass, paper, metal, plastic, a torch, a welder,
a stick and some sand, a knife to carve with, an idea, some mud and
hay, a computer, some seeds, a needle and thread and scrap of fabric,
the list goes on. You can change yourself by using any of this stuff or
any thing else that might come to mind and hand.

Why we make stuff matters. How we make stuff is secondary. Any method,
material or vehicle that allows you to get to what you're trying to
see/feel/say/suggest is equally valid. What we make is not the point.
That we make, that we DO, is.

Making stuff develops the ability to see, hear, taste, smell and feel.
Making stuff is about problem solving, the openness to possibilities,
development of skills, internal and external navigation and resolution,
a sense of exploration and adventure. Making stuff transforms one from
a consumer to a contributor. Making stuff is not passive. Making stuff
involves making choices. Realizing you have choices and making them is
empowering. Empowerment leads to confidence, and the courage to
question and challenge the status quo. Making stuff and sharing it is a
social and political act, which opens avenues for communication. That
can help prevent us from becoming mindless drones subservient to the
mass media, politicians, advertisers and commercial interests that have
constructed the consumer culture for the purposes of distracting and
desensitizing us from reality.

Make it up, make do, make it real, make it personal, make it public.
Make it work, make it accessible, make it cheap, make it fun, make it
serious. Make it loud or soft, make it bright or dim, make it big or
small. Make it obvious, make it subtle, make it to be touched, tasted,
smelled, heard. Make it open to interpretation, open for discussion,
open to criticism. Make it open. Make it from found stuff, made stuff,
recycled, reused and repaired stuff. Make it from scratch, from a kit,
a mix, a box. Make it new or make it old. Make it specific, make it
general, make it purposeful, make it pointless. Make it a question,
make it an answer, make it clear, make it vague. Make it high tech,
make it lo-fi, make it inclusive.

Just make it. When you're done, make more and make different. No need
to explain, justify, apologize, or validate. Make it, and let it go.

Dare to fail big, and attempt to change the world. Resist conformity,
think for yourself and go make some stuff of your very own.

us/ing technology