What Ever Happened to Dog Carts?

Cabinet of Wonders, history, neat stuff

I happened across this some time ago, at Terrierman’s Daily Dose.  He has a large number of old photos of dogcarts all around the world; mostly they are carts for milk delivery or other kinds of small delivery, pulled by one or more dogs.

An example of a milk cart, full of canisters.  The unhitched terrier is probably a guard dog.
 Dog cart mobile tea delivery, Brussels, with three dog team.
Dog cart postcard, Quebec.
There are lots more pictures on his blog; check it out.  He is a great believer in working dogs; in fact, the blog is connected with his website about working terriers: his hobby or possibly profession is hunting groundhogs, foxes, etc in their holes using terriers (often the prey are caught around farms and relocated to wilder areas).  

Lena Herzog’s Lost Souls

Cabinet of Wonders, creepy stuff, museums, neat stuff

I came across this by chance: another photographer, photographing Frederik Ruysch’s amazing birth defect displays from the Kunstkammern of Peter the Great, as well as Vienna’s Federal Museum of Pathology at the Narrenturm.  I have always admired Rosamond Purcell’s photographs, but now there is Lena Herzog.

On Science and the Arts, she does a good job of talking about the true nature of the collectors of the old days, the ideals of morality and aesthetic considerations, the way that art and science were not so separate as they are now.  Check out her narrated slideshow here.

In the meantime, I recommend her book, Lost Souls, which sounds like an amazing meditation on the the abstract beauty of these items of study:

“The arrangements of the fetuses, the specimens, the anatomical skeletons, was highly artistic.  Ruysch was a true artist.  The images I have created, I took special care not to take advantage, not to speculate, on the macabre — on the horrifying.  I wasn’t interested in shocking anyone.  They are shocking by definition because it’s such complicated territory.  They’re dead, they’re children, they were meant to live, they never lived — so I truly wanted to follow in the footsteps of Frederick Ruysch, who took special care.  For example, he would hide the especially frightening parts with lace, revealing it only to his students of anatomy and to himself to study, in order to help humankind.  The morality of the cabinet makers was never in question.  They were highly conscious of the moral and human implications.”

 The preserved fetuses are glimpses into the perils of health and science back when medicine was in its infancy, but she manages to capture some of their ephemeral beauty, and some of the qualities which Ruysch so carefully preserved: that of error and loss, of humanity and the need to understand.


More on Ms. Herzog and the book in the Paris Review,
A rather technique-heavy conversation with Ms. Herzog at the American Society of Cinematographers.

Tyger, Tyger in a Folded World

animation, architecture, art, Cabinet of Wonders, neat stuff, paper, surreal

I just came across this, pretty much by accident.  It’s amazing, a small film by Guilherme Marcondes, a Brazilian filmmaker, based on the William Blake poem. He uses puppetry, illustration, photography and CGI to make a fantastically rich little gem:

Mr. Marcondes is influenced by the pastiche of Brazilian culture and the DIY quality of the Brazilian film schools of which he came.  Clearly, he uses anything he can get his hands on, including things like origami and the ancient Japanese puppet-art of bunraku.  It’s all very stylized and fabulous, and makes me want to know more about his earlier life — did he study all these kinds of art?  He must have.

I went to his website, where he has samples of his work, and I found this, from a movie called Bunraku, the opening sequence of which he was given carte blanche to do:

 I never heard of this movie, Bunraku.  It looks like it was released in France and Canada, but not here…?  It looks like a very violent movie, definitely not my type of thing, but the art direction looks really interesting: the pans through cities seem to unfold like a pop-up book, and the scenery is an odd conglomeration of bits.  Which leads me to the fact that Mr. Marcondes originally studied architecture: 

“I like experiencing architecture, not practicing it. Just as I go to the movies or listen to music, I like to wander around a city, paying attention to how the space is organized, how the transportation works, etc. I’m interested in how the environment we live in changes and conditions our personalities. That’s clearer in Tyger than in any other film I’ve made. That also explains why I like J.G. Ballard so much!”  [link]

And on that note, I will leave you to ponder a world where cities are made to pop up as you move through them, and when the apocalypse comes, flowers of light grow through the cracks of the world.

Very Small Post About Tomato Blossoms

Cabinet of Wonders, natural wonders, neat stuff, Personal

So I’m just not getting many tomatoes this year.

The bees come and hang out with the squash blossoms and the sunflowers, and pretty much ignore the tomatoes. The bumblebees like them, though the two poor bumblebees I see in there are working hard trying to cover all those blossoms.

So I went to look up tomato pollination, and I find there is a whole mythos about tomatoes being self-pollinating. Apparently, according to this site, “The wild progenitor of our domestic tomato, in its native Peru, was pollinated by a solitary bee that was specifically adapted to it. As tomatoes were carried to other areas, its pollinator did not go with it, and pollination was often lacking.”

Looking around, I came across a wonderful Instructables which explained things further:

“Tomatoes, as well as other members of the Solanaceae require a special kind of pollination to achieve proper fruit set. This form of pollination is known as “buzz pollination”. Buzz pollination is accomplished by Bumblebees (Bombus), by gripping the flower with their legs and vibrating their flight muscles; honeybees (Apis) are incapable of doing this. In small gardens, bumblebee populations can be insufficient to properly pollinate tomatoes and related plants. Here’s how to buzz pollinate your plants to produce larger fruits.”

The 10-second video and the one-step Instructable then goes on to demonstrate a perfect (and hilarious) way to pollinate your tomatoes, which I will allow you the pleasure of discovering. It made me laugh.

Back at the first site, they tell us “Greenhouse growers for many years employed humans with electric vibrators (one brand name: Electric Bee!) to accomplish pollination. Today these have been mostly replaced with cultured bumblebees who do it more efficiently and cheaply.”

All of which explains why I saw the single bumblebee in my garden, going from flower to flower and making a strange “bzazz” noise as it climbed onto each one. Yay, bumblebees! Still, I think I’ll follow the Instructables and see if it helps.

Summer Cleaning

Cabinet of Wonders, neat stuff, Personal, pictures

Cleaning out the basement is meant to be a boring, thankless task. Fortunately for me, I seem to have been doing it for years, so now that I absolutely have to get rid of some stuff, I’m finding only the less junky stuff is really left to deal with. And so I find myself going through years of lovely stuff, things I had forgotten I own. Nice things. Things from my travels and other odd life-experiences…

George Carlin had a thing he used to do about “My stuff and your shit,” but it seems to me this stuff is pretty interesting shit..

So I took some pictures.

But then, my thinking it’s interesting is exactly the reason why it’s in my basement.

This is one of those nesting Russian dolls, called a Matryoshka doll, but instead of those pretty girlie figures we get all the main Russian leaders, from Boris Yeltsin right back to a teeny-tiny little Ivan the Terrible.

They seem to be trying to educate us about some of the leaders, here…

Can’t remember where I got these. Somewhere in Asia, during my rambles; they are opium tools, probably made for tourists, but then again, I’d bet they aren’t too far off from the originals.

Glass soda bottles from a street vendor in Japan. You pay your money and the vendor bashes in the top, which is a little glass ball held in place purely by the pressure of the carbonation (see the picture below). Then you stand there and drink it, give the bottle back to the vendor, and go on your way. Needless to say, I wasn’t a very good citizen, or I wouldn’t have these.

The glass shell of a streetlight. Notice the interesting combination of Fresnel lens on the inner surface and wavy texture on the outside. The Fresnel lens focuses the light, and the wavy lines make it feel less like a spotlight. It’s imprinted with the GE logo (see below).

A solid glass ball, about the size of a small grapefruit.

One of the few items left from my days blowing glass, probably my favorite.

Edward VIII coronation cup, horribly mended.

Everyone needs some good English stripey ceramicware!

A few of the many, many cups my father made for my wedding celebration…

…And my baby cup, also made by him.

Outside and…

…inside of a millivoltmeter, which seems to record its measurements on a soot-coated wheel marked with the hours.

A fan from a flea market in Japan. Anyone know what it says?

A very old, very beautiful, very well-loved double bridge pack of cards from the house of family in England.

And lastly, a child’s toy from the same house (as are all the dolls in the bin at the top of the page).

This is only one afternoon’s worth of finds. There is much more, like the things I unearthed last Friday: a set of opium weights, an opium pipe, a carving of a nasty little man from, I think, Irian Jaya (though I bought it in Kuching, on Borneo) who is clutching his penis and a knife, and who seems to have real teeth. A set of tiny old ninepins with beautiful wormholes in them. Some souvenir china from the Museum of Jurassic Technology. And on and on. I couldn’t possibly put it all in my house, yet I have a hard time relinquishing it…