Monday, March 31, 2008

Mad Magazine Fold-ins

When I was a kid in school, I wisely spent alot of allowance money on Mad & Cracked magazines. They taught me about realities and absurdities of the world that you can't find in a textbook.

I've seen alot of funny stuff linked lately from the site. It's cool to see that sort of deranged sort of creative publication can successfully adapt to the Internet Age.

Anyway, a cool digital application of the classic Mad Magazine folding back cover is being featured on the NY Times site. It's an interactive slideshow where you can 'fold' the illustrations by Al Jaffee that have graced the back overs of Mad since the 60's. Even if I didn't buy a magazine back in the day, I would take one off the rack & try to at least bend the cover enough to find out what the folded picture was.

I always thought those covers were really ingenious, but being a designer has given me more appreciation for the work that goes into each one.

NY Times
"Fold-Ins, Past and Present"

There's also an interview with Al Jaffee w/ great photos of his creative process:

NY Times
"A Veteran MAD Man Remains in the Fold"

Lo & behold, I went to the Mad Magazine website & their next issue is The Monkey Issue! I saw this banner for it, & had no choice but to click it:

You can download medium-resolution sample pages, including the cover featuring an office full of stock photo primates. It's good to see the monkeys of the world getting the attention they deserve...

Ultra-cool Sci-fi Info-graphics

I'm going to really let my 'inner nerd' shine through.

Although I've been a fan of mainly Star Wars since I was young, I've also picked up on bits of other Sci-fi knowledge, too. I think science fiction is fascinating in the sense that it's like a conceptual nursery for the future possibilities of humanity.

Searching through "Google Images" as I sometimes do, I came across these great charts. The first one is a comparison of everything from (comparatively tiny) earth-bound vessels from history to Darth Vader's mile-long intersellar craft, the Executor-class Star Destroyer.

The second chart is a map of all the planets in the Star Wars galaxy.
"The galaxy is filled with over 400 billion stars, around which circle over a million inhabitable planets that are home to over 20 million intelligent species."

*I also found this website that takes it to yet another level, including everything from the scale of humans & Ewoks to the Death Star to structures like the "Dyson Sphere" that encompass an entire solar system!

One thing that nobody has thought of yet is the "Monkeybuddhasphere™" which is a spaceship, the size of the entire Universe. The control system for this complex vehicle is already in operation- your own brain!

click to enlarge

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Nature of Empire

I was reading this article which argues the British Empire still exists & actually dominates world affairs through "it's" influence in the realms of finances, politics, & natural resources.

Supposedly "it" just isn't called "The British Empire" anymore. Well, that made me question the very nature of the collective entities that we call empires & nation-states.

A 'nation' is basically an abstract concept of organization that people mutually accept or are usually forced to accept. It's interesting (for me, anyway) to consider the rise and fall of social structures throughout history. Despite its ephemeral nature, the nation-state is a useful organizing principle for the chaotic swarm known as 'the human race'. I just think it's good to keep a perspective on the actual reality of powerful institutions such as nations, banks, religions, sports teams- that we take for granted as 'real' things with a individual existence unto themselves. This, of course, is an illusion.

These videos from Maps of War shows what I've called the amoeba-like quality to the interaction of these political & religious movements throughout time.

Monkey on a Motorbike

That an 'animal' can operate technology as complex as a vehicle
should prove that the difference between 'man' & 'beast'
is a division that only exists in the human mind.

It should also further prove that
monkeys are hysterical.

Monkey Motorcycles! - The best home videos are here

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Brick Testament

I'm not what you would call a Bible Literalist by any means. Although I have a fair amount of scriptural knowledge, I have cultivated an interest in the myriad religious philosophies that have existed throughout history.

I discovered the best way to read about the socio-theology of ancient desert people... is with illustrations using Legos. The fact that someone took the time to create something like this completely astounds me.

Of course, the Bible has stories of sex, violence, intrigue... so some of these Lego scenes contain 'mature' content. These scenes are, of course, the most interesting.

The Booze Test

Neatorama & Mentalfloss have tests that I really get a kick out of.
The Booze Test proved that I'm definitely not an "Alcoholic".

With my liquor knowledge at 86%, I am merely a "Drunkard."
My Mom will be proud...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Fate of Oppression

One of the basic tenets of Buddhism is that 'suffering' is an unavoidable consequence of mortal existence.

However, another basic idea is that our individual & collective negativity can be transformed through right practice & awareness.

As long as we all have bodies of flesh, misery of every kind is to be expected. Therefore, it is tough for a skeptic like me to believe we can even make a tiny dent in the unfathomable behemoth that is human suffering.

Right now, the instant reporting of events is possible anywhere a person has a camera & internet access. In spite of this, the world's most powerful national bodies continue to flaunt their technologically superior, but morally inferior, methods of brutality. The civilian leadership of the US and their neo-con puppetmasters used our military and our financial resources to viciously decimate inferior nations. Russia continues to try exerting control over its satellite states to ward off American influence. Israel continues to propagate the fantasy of security through cultural segregation. China continues a senseless quest for domination over the people of Tibet, a nation of monks & villagers. The Chinese government's characterization of the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan followers would be laughable if it wasn't such a tragic situation.

These huge movements of Oppression vs. Dissension could be an indication of a tipping point for a collective rejection of all the paradigms we've been culturally brainwashed into accepting as inevitable reality. Such a drastic shift could have tremendous positive results, but also tremendously negative consequences. Will the result be an apocalyptic wasteland or a harmonious utopia? Probably.... neither.

I'd like to think that we are capable of creating a more positive reality for as many people on this planet as possible. Perhaps the people of the world will eventually reject the idea of subjugating other humans and finally unite as a global force of infinite diversity & productivity.

Unfortunately, I'm no starry-eyed optimist. It easily as possible that justified dissent will continue to be crushed in more efficient and widespread ways. There seems to be unlimited power in the soulless entities such as nations and super-national corporations that seem to feed off ever-increasing control of human beings. From the rise of ubiquitous surveillance to the growing Doomsday Robot Army, there are plenty of reasons to think everything in our future is not going to be all rainbows & jelly beans.

That is, unless the military robots are going to spray psychedelic colors and shoot out candy to overwhelm the world with joy...

Two Visions of the Future:

Choice #1:

Choice #2:

Choose Wisely!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

His Holiness Saint Peter Rabbit

This wonderful season of the vernal equinox and the Resurrection of Life. Like all institutions, the holiday we celebrate as Easter has had a very interesting evolution which I've posted about before.

What most people don't realize is the hidden truth behind the Mysteries of Easter. Luckily, the masters of crazy wisdom at South Park have cracked the code:


I forget where I saw this really cool website called Dreamlines.

You type in a word or phrase and it uses images from the Web to form phantom images in realtime, using abstract brushtrokes, that eventually coalesce into recognizable forms.

I can just sit back & watch Dreamlines be created into ethereal images that meld into one another over & over. It can really be a mesmerizing non-linear visual experience. Wooah, dude.

I typed in "Da Vinci's Challenge" & took some screenshots of the resulting images that formed:

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Genius of Arthur C. Clarke

The "magic" Google News aggregation software has transmitted to my eyes the news that the visionary legend Arthur C. Clarke has passed from his mortal shell, back into the infinity of the universe.

Arthur C. Clarke,
Premier Science Fiction Writer,
Dies at 90

He was a generally inspiring personality, but here are the 3 particular things from the brilliant Sir Arthur that have influenced me the most.

Future Monkey & Past Monkey
are One.

• "2001: A Space Odyssey"

If you don't find this classic movie to be an aesthetic & conceptual masterpiece, then you are really no better off than the ape-man tossing a femur bone into the sky.

I read somewhere that the black monolith (which appears during each of man's 3 quantum leaps of consiousness) had measurements equal to the dimensions of an actual movie screen. The implication is that the movie itself, and art in general, were vehicles for the evolution of the soul/psyche.

Unfortunately, the world has been overwhelmingly influenced by the violence of tyrants, the unbridled greed of faceless institutions, and man's own infinitely chaotic nature - all which prevent the human race from achieving exactly what Clarke envisioned. Therefore, the movie's optimistic projection of 21st century technology hasn't come to fruition.. yet. This hasn't stopped "2001" from being a continual source of admiration & interpretation now that the iconic year as come and gone.

• "Clarke's 3 Laws"
  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

Last, but certainly not least...

• "Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World"

Absolutely one of my favorite TV shows of all time. I used to watch it back in the day when there was nothing else like it on. From his jungle home in Sri Lanka, Arthur C. Clarke assured my young mind that our world was, in fact, as completely weird & crazy as I thought it was!

Sir Arthur engaged imaginations around the world with ideas that revealed the mysteries and the endless potential of the human race.


I saw the awesome photo below on Google Images as I was searching for random images.

The website is for a bible ministry of some sort. Therefore, I can only imagine, judging by the name of the photo, "tim-ta-tion", that this character is some kind of freakish acid-head puppet who is supposed to scare kids about the "tim-ta-tion-s" & effects of psychedelic substances.

Personally, I think just looking at this picture qualifies as a "psychedelic" experience!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Visualizing History

As a student, I could say without a doubt that the subject I always hated the most was history.

The funny thing is that, nowadays, I'm completely fascinated by the past. I always check out The History Channel & I've posted about historical stuff alot on this blog. I'm always reading at least one book and they're often about ancient cultures or some historical theme.

I think the reason history turned me off so much when I was younger was that there was very little visual stimulation & mental interactivity involved in the lessons. From what I remember, the emphasis was on cold facts: names, events, & dates. The truly interesting aspects of society, however, are the arts, the myths, the living situations- the 'human' details that really put us into the experience of that culture.

I've found that the most invaluable tools for learning are 3D visualizations that are now possible using ever-improving rendering software. Seeing a visual representation of ancient Rome, or watching a movie like Apocalypto that's set in an ancient Mayan city gives a strikingly clear view of life in that time period. This is simply not achievable by reading words about it in a book.

One of my favorite shows is "Engineering an Empire" because of the quality of the show's 3D renderings of both art & architecture that have been lost to time.

Here are some great links I've found to sites about the virtual re-creation of historic places:

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Monkey Kick Off

"Monkey Kick Off"

Continuing on my "Monkey" train-of-thought from my last post...

I started playing this wonderfully stupid game, Monkey Kick Off. The only objective is to kick the ball as far you can by tapping an arrow key at the right time.

I got hooked for a little while, and ended up booting a couple 5000+ Monkey Meter whoppers.
It has to bounce once every 1200+ meters to get this far... fun stuff.

Beppo - Superman's Monkey

On Neatorama there was a post about Superman's Kryptonian chimp, Beppo, who I would think would be a horrifying menace to the general population.

Actually- according to their post,
"Because it’s from Krypton, Beppo the monkey had super powers … that it used for mischief! Superboy had to lead the super monkey into deep space and left him there."

Man, that's pretty messed up! What's even more messed up is that once in deep space, Beppo found Curious George in Space... and showed him that despite the vast reaches of the universe, there's only room for one Space Monkey.

I took a few minutes to re-create the grisly encounter as accurately as I could:

Anyway, this cover is so great & shows exactly what a pain-in-the-ass a Super-powered monkey would be...

DC Comics' store actually has a plush version of this super-powered primate.

The doll's cuteness betrays the actual horror Beppo has the potential to release upon mankind.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Learning to See

I was watching a TV show about a person who was blind from when they were very young. Retinal implants actually restored the sense of vision that had been missing from that person's mind. This in itself is an astounding story.

What I thought was really interesting was the guy's description of being able to finally see for the first time. He explained that, at first, all he saw were blobs of light & dark, and spots of color. His mind had to learn to 'see' what he was looking at.

Our vision is not like a TV or monitor, which assembles a picture as soon as you hit the 'on' switch. I imagine that as neurons are stimulated, more patterns and connections are made, & the increasing visual processing in our brain allows sight to develop at higher resolutions over time, like adding pixels to a screen.

This was all on my mind when I ran across this Wired article whose title hints at the huge part that the idea of language plays in the consciousness, regardless of what senses are present:

"Babies See Pure Color,
but Adults Peer Through Prism of Language"

The idea of losing my sight is probably one of the worse things I can imagine. As a designer my entire world is dependent on vision. However, it's good to know that brilliant technical minds out there are working to solve such complex problems as blindness & the endless number of other difficulties that human beings must face.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Super-Tough Art Quiz

I saw this quiz on mental_floss. It is a test on a variety of artists & their work that they have featured over 5 months.

Being the art history buff that I am, I figured I'd try taking the quiz cold turkey (having not followed this particular feature on their blog).

It turned out to be pretty tough. I only answered a measley 8 out of 20 correct. The answers I did get I managed to figure out mostly by looking at the painting accompanying the question & recognizing an artist's style!

Attempt it if you dare....

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Giordano Bruno: Flower of Life Woodcut

When looking up the link for Giordano Bruno that I used in my last post, I came across this interesting image below. (Interesting to me, anyway.)

It is a woodcut of geometric studies apparently done by the great philosopher. What caught my eye was the use of patterns created by the overlapping circles that create the Flower of Life symbol. This is the symbol that forms the basis of the strategy game I created, "Da Vinci's Challenge".

Being such a unique pattern, it instantly grabs my attention when I see it or its myriad variations. I would be really interested to find out what the great 'heretic' & proponent of the infinite world system was studying in these figures...