Archive for the ‘ephemera’ Category

Tops and Tails and Monsters

I discovered the blog Agence Eureka a while ago by accident (I think maybe via BibliOdyssey). I don’t know much more about it than the poster is female, from France and seems to have an unending supply of the most awesome ephemera just hanging around waiting to be scanned. Her tastes (on this blog anyway) lean towards kids card games and books, turn of the century magazines and souvenirs of travel, none more recent than the 1960s.  She is not shy with the big files (all easily downloaded off her flickr page) and I love what she has been posting lately.  This particular card game that she calls “Tops and Tails – zoo” has tickled my fancy in a big way:

zoomelo 19

zoomelo 10

zoomelo 14

I’ve loved mix-and-match things since I was a kid. One of my very favorites was a book called Mix ’em up Monsters [interesting side note: I can’t find ANYTHING on the publishers of this book online. They are called Current, Inc. and the book was published in 1980, code 3221. The one Amazon link is to the wrong book – or at least it has the wrong cover. Come one internet, help me out. Anyone? Bueller?]  I was just going to post a link to whatever online reference there was to the book, but since I couldn’t find anything, I figured I might as well dig out my old copy of it and take a few photos.  Good thing I had a vague idea which box it was hiding in…

Mix 'em up Monsters cover

This Gruesome Grump

This Greedy Glutton

This Persnickety Pest

This Slippery Scoundrel

I loved how each one had that whole alliteration thing going and the drawings were just awesome (in retrospect, very late 70s). And each time you read the book, you could make it say something a little different. I’m also fairly certain this is where I first learned the word “persnickety.”

Pigeons and School

So my (never truly) stellar track record of posting every day has somewhat dropped off lately.  The reason is quite simple – I have returned to school!  I’m in the Intermedia MFA program at the University of Maine in Orono.  You may be wondering What (the %^$#) is Intermedia?  Intermedia is by its very nature hard to define.  It is the in between spaces.  It is where things overlap and new things become.  Personally, I’m interested in the places that art, technology and traditional craft overlap.  Other students are interested in where food and art come together.  Or sound and art.  Or writing, art and biology.  The list goes on and on. Most of what unites this group is that we don’t quite fit into any of the other traditionally defined departments within the University structure.  Which is what makes this whole experience so very exciting for me.  We are bounding forward into the unknown and hoping to come back with something amazing. Last week was the very first week of school this fall.  And there have been a lot of adjustments.  Something had to slip a little and it turned out to be this blog. I’m hoping to incorporate this blog as part of my art practice so it is my intention to be better about maintaining it.

ANYwho.

I’m trying to figure out what it is I’m going to work on first.  I think I’m going to go with the spark that was ignited earlier this summer by another class I took at the University.  I believe I mentioned before that I took a book binding class this summer and what a huge impact it had on me.  It reminded me how much I love making books.  Not that I’d really forgotten, just that it had been so long since I’d made one that other things were clouding my memory.  I’ve been wanting to continue playing with books since then and I think this is my opportunity.  So I’ve started doing some research. It’s funny though – research can often be entirely accidental.  You just have to recognize that what you are looking at could have larger implications for you. I’ve been hanging around the library on campus in between classes.  This early in the year, it is nice and quiet.  And it has comfy chairs and wifi.  As I was wandering down one of the mustier isles, this caught my eye:

The Natural History of Animals - spine

My first thought was that it was a skull. I stopped and pulled it off the shelf and looked at the cover:

The Natural History of Animals

Now it was beginning to make sense. I flipped through it just to see if it happened to have any other cool illustrations. And on the last page I found this:

Pigeon - closed

Which was kinda cool. But then I realized that it opened out. And it became SUPER AWESOME.

Pigeon - all three layers open

Each layer revealed something different about the inner working of a pigeon.

Pigeon - circulatory system

Pigeon - wing open

Pigeon - skeleton layer

So. Cool.

And I would have never even known it was there. I just bumbled onto it because I liked the spine of the book. There was no search term that I would have ever thought to use that would have ever turned up something like that. But once I found it, I totally loved it. I’m not sure if I’ll ever do anything with the idea, but just knowing it is there makes me happy.

Yay for libraries!!!

Fogler Library - UMO

Kodachrome curtains

So I’m conflicted.

I stumbled onto this a while back.  And I have to say, I love the look of these curtains.

Kodachrome curtains

Kodachrome curtains by yarnzombie

But the archivist in me weeps for the fact by using the slides in this awesome way, they are going to be destroyed by the sun.  They’ll last a while, but direct sunlight is brutal on slide film (on any film really!).  First they’ll start to color shift towards yellow/orange and then they’ll just fade away.

Kodachrome curtain detail 1

Kodachrome curtain detail 1 by yarnzombie

I guess the question is which part of something like this is more valuable – the temporary enjoyment of the art or the long term preservation of a part of photographic history.  They don’t make Kodachrome film any more. Does that make these old slides more valuable?  From a scarcity standpoint, yes.  In the same way that after daguerreotypes went out of fashion, they became cool art objects to collect.  It didn’t matter who was in the picture, just that it was a daguerreotype was enough to make it desirable.

And what about the pictures themselves? This is someone’s family history. Then again, these slides were found in an antique shop and there is little chance there was anything that would have identified the the photographer with them.  Sure, many of the photos have people in them, but do you know how many people there are?  At last count, billions.  And more than 300 million in the US alone.  Even if you could figure out where these photos were taken and of who, most were taken in the 50s and 60s.  If that young woman on the horse was 20 in that photo and it was taken in 1960, she’d be 70 now.  The older person in the slide next to her is most likely dead. Do they care about the images? If they did, I doubt they would have ended up in an antique shop.  Are old slides going to be the carte de visite of this generation? Walk into any antique store worth its salt and you can find a box or two or ten of old carte de visite portrait cards from the turn of the last century. Most don’t have names on them and are often referred to as “instant ancestors.” Because really, if you framed a photo at random and put it on your wall, who would know that isn’t your Great Uncle Roy? Will we find piles and piles of instant ancestors in slide form now?

So.  I am conflicted.  It looks so cool, but…

What do you think, dear reader?  Does the awesome factor out weigh the destruction of history factor?  Or is that such an non-issue that no one but me even cares?

Ephemera on the web

Okay, okay, so this post is supposed to be about my fabulous weekend.  Well, that will have to wait another night.  It is too late and I’m too tired to do the whole thing justice.  So instead, I offer up another of my very favorite things: the lovely and delicious blog, BibliOdyssey.

[source]

This blog is all about the strange and wonderful bits of ephemera that have survived centuries (or sometimes just a decade or two) and collected together in a wonderful haphazard way.  This is the curio cabinet of illustration and painting.  The site boasts everything from Indian folk art to 15th century medicinal plant illustrations to caricatures from the late 1800s.  I want to continue describing the awesomeness of this site in a meaningful way, but I think a better way to do that is to just give you some more examples.  And after that, the best thing for YOU to do, dear reader, is to just pop over to the site and spend a while getting lost in the archives.  The stuff is fabulous and much of it is copyright free (though not all of it, so check carefully before you go using stuff willy nilly).

Seriously, with variety like that, what are you waiting for?  Go check it out!