Entries Tagged 'NATURAL HISTORY' ↓

Anti-Soviet Realism


In late 1989 the last troops of the Soviet Union’s occupation of Afghanistan had left after a decade of resistance by the various forces of the mujihadeen. During this period of time one finds an extraordinary profusion of visual media opposing the Soviet occupation. Contradictions abound in the visual record of this unhappy decade. The non-traditional narrative carpets of this period constitute a form of indigenous modernism which occurs independent of other modes of contemporary visual art occurring elsewhere in the world. However the rug shown here is an exception to the rule. One of only two known examples, each of which differs slightly from the other, this remarkable image is clearly derived from the Socialist Realist style of the post-WW2 era, in a complex pictorial montage which depicts the heroic resistance of the mujahideen against the military might of Soviet heavy armour.

What makes the this carpet so unusual, and surprising, is the way it breaks with (almost) all the conventions of carpet tradition. It is proof (if we needed convincing) that carpet weavers could indeed “make anything.” Its design is familiar to a Western modernist eye insofar as it deliberately combines a number of models of representation in a mode of simultaneity – not unlike its 20th century precursors of cubist collage and photomontage. The production of an explicitly “Western” representation in celebration of the defeat of the Soviets makes another kind of claim for modernity – or rather, for a modernity that is not dependent on the exercise of Soviet military power. Continue reading →

a forbidden energy state

Uncle Wiki tells us: Phosphorescence is a specific type of photoluminescence related to fluorescence. Unlike fluorescence, a phosphorescent material does not immediately re-emit the radiation it absorbs. The slower time scales of the re-emission are associated with “forbiddenenergy state transitions in quantum mechanics. As these transitions occur less often in certain materials, absorbed radiation may be re-emitted at a lower intensity for up to several hours. As seen (by flash, so you don’t see their forbidden green fluorescent state) at Penders… aka Ghost Fungus.

I promise you

…it is springtime! (photo by PFMcG)


(which means: poor things) – these were our casualties of the road – a Diamond Dove and a Rufous Whistler…

remember the camel plague?

There’s not much you’re allowed to photograph in the Ngaanyatjarra Lands. But there’s no love lost for the feral camels that were culled last year  following the invasions of local communities. Remember the uproar last Christmas when there was a camel plague Docker River? See here. This is where the remains of the cull were cremated. And there are still millions out there. Seriously.

And the solution? Some say it’s the dinner table! There’s been some talk of a central Australian camel abbatoir. But harvesting will not address the ongoing ecological issues – the ongoing pollution/loss of waterholes will have a massive impact on core populations of wildlife…

death stare fails on cane toad

In this variation on kiss-a-baby politics. Read all about it on the ABC here. Missed it? Go here.

Intrepid whale watchers

discover that The Saint Effect has expired…

camouflage and/or symbiosis

camouflage. noun 1. 1917, from Fr. camoufler, Parisian slang, “to disguise,” from It. camuffare “to disguise,” perhaps a contraction of capo muffare “to muffle the head.” Probably altered by Fr. camouflet “puff of smoke,” on the notion of “blow smoke in someone’s face.” I’m sure this isn’t what Gordon Bennett intended?

And then I wondered, there must be somewhere better than this window-sill for a moth to hang out, relaxwhich reminded me of

li-chen. noun 1. any complex organism of the group Lichenes, composed of a fungus in symbiotic union with an alga and having a greenish, gray, yellow, brown, or blackish thallus that grows in leaflike, crustlike, or branching forms on rocks, trees, or Ford Anglias.

And special thanks to Sharon Peoples who has lent me the fantastic Thames and Hudson/Imperial War Museum (2007) publication Camouflage by Tim Newark. This you must see.

two rares at the same time

A black-faced cuckoo-shrike and female satin bower bird cross paths in the tree outside my office a moment ago!

vomit bags ready?

I nearly titled this post “dog p*rn”. And then I realized I’d be attracting the wrong kind of dog-lovers: if you’re brave, go here at the NYT.