Moonrise Over Junk Food (Your Monthly Ticket to Weirdness)

For this month we explore landscapes created with junk food, insane Steampunk calculators, and a vampire hunting kit.

Blue Dye #1 Precipice from the series Processed Views 2014

Blue Dye #1 Precipice from the series Processed Views 2014

 

Junk Food Landscapes

Always on the look out for the latest and most surreal items this world has to offer, I was stunned by how  artists Barbara Ciurej and Lindsay Lochman used junk food to recreate classic photographs by Carleton Watkins. Look at how the food artists recreated a 1869 photograph of the Farallon Islands photographs.

WatkinsSugarloaf

And now the Ciurej/Lochman version, titled Cola Sea (from the series Processed Views 2013).

SugarloafTest2psd

The artists use processed food to point out just how far our food has diverged from nature. They state: “As we move further away from the sources of our food, we head into uncharted territory replete with unintended consequences for the environment and for our health.”

Stempunk Calculators

Most of use think of calculators are objects from the computer age. Who can blame us when adding apps are available on smartphones or even Google.

idbsrlvxwnzbpjs9u4or

Check out these truly gorgeous beauties from an age where objects were crafted by hand. The calculator, built by Johann Helfrich Müller in 1784, evokes stempunk passion with it’s brass knobs and dials. Check out this close up the workings:

Calc

To view more of these marvelous mechanical wonders, visit this site.

A Love Story Through Coffee

Although this short film features a food product, and thus might fall under the category of propaganda, it’s so charming that it captures my heart. The characters, a boy and a girl, are dusted onto the tops of 1000 cups of cappuccino. The story shows their courtship, love, and family. The commercial is for Ajinomoto General Foods’ Maxim Stick drink flavoring. Watch and enjoy.

Tim Kane

Do You Want Your Fashion to Interact with the World?

Imagine a dress that would react to people around you. Lash out if you felt threatened. Light up if you were happy? Sound like something from Bladerunner? Think again. These dresses have become reality, thanks to Dutch fashiontech designer Anouk Wipprecht.

Spider_dress

This is Anouk’s Spider Dress 2.0. The spider leg epaulettes on each shoulder are actually tiny robots. They link to proximity sensors and a respiration sensor. This means that if someone moves aggressively towards you, and you don’t like it, your increase in respiration will trigger the mechanical legs to move up and into an attack position. Additionally the black LED shells stationed along the garment, meant to  resemble spider eyes, automatically flash in warning when someone gets near you.

Robotic Spider Dress [Intel Edison based] // 2015 teaser from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Anouk’s original Spider Dress (designed in collaboration with engineer Daniel Schatzmayr) shows the sinister robotic spider legs. These legs also extend, but won’t react to the proximity of others. It was simply meant as a performance art piece about personal space.

spiderdress03

Although the Spider Dress is Anouk’s most recent project, he has experimented with interactive clothing for a while. Take the Smoke Dress, which covers the wearer with fog as soon as people approach. The Smoke Dress functions as a protective shield, the designer says, “just like an octopus in self-defense” envelops itself in clouds of ink.”

img_20130911_111120

 

Interactive Smoke Dress @ AUTODESK Gallery pop up Paris from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

Anouk also created her Synapse Dress which reads the wear’s thoughts. When the person is excited about something, this triggers the LED lights in the dress to glow. It creates a sense of vulnerability because everyone around you will know what you are thinking.

JASONPERRY_DSC2623_small

 

Much of the interactivity in Anouk’s fashion are thanks to an Intel chip called Edison. Watch the micro-documentary about how the chip helps the clothes sense the users thoughts.

Interactive Intel-Edison based Synapse dress by Dutch fashion-tech designer reveals wearers metal states from Anouk Wipprecht on Vimeo.

One of Anouk’s earliest fashion and tech mashups looks like it came straight out of a Steampunk novel. The Faraday Dress lights up when exposed to the power of high-voltage, low-current, high-frequency, alternating-current electricity. That forking lightning you see in the picture is real. 94 metal panels comprised the outfit, cut out of a sheet of metal using the water jet.

makerfaire_02

 

In this making of video you can see a hesitant model wearing the dress as the faraday device launches arcs of electricity at the dress.

Anouk Wipprecht lives and works in San Francisco. She strives to create fashion that will connect the body and the clothing. She began combining fashion and technology three years ago. A one year sting to Sweden offered her a chance to study “body, fashion & technology” at the Malmo university. There she worked on Arduino-based application possibilities and smart fabric concepting.

leadImage_preview

 

Tim Kane

Disney Tarot and Insects Breathing (December’s Weird Roundup)

For this month’s edition of the Weird Roundup, I have some treats for you. These nuggets of strangeness will keep you warm in the coming months.

Disney Princess Tarot

Just when you thought every tarot art concept had been thoroughly explored, here comes one that is so beautiful, it should be made (lawsuits be darned). Imagine each of the major aracana depicted as a Disney princess (or prince).

_the_princess_tarot___le_chariot__mulan__by_suisei_ojii_sama-d875axq

These aren’t the creepy Tim Burton cards from A Nightmare Before Christmass (though I love those too). These were created by Suisei-Ojii-Sama (Julian Rivera) over at Deviant art.

_the_princess_tarot___l_empereur__simba_and_kiara__by_suisei_ojii_sama-d85khao

Obviously I have more than a passing interest in Tarot (I wrote a book about it). Plus I love Disney. I live close enough to visit Disneyland at least once a month. So yeah, a Disney themed tarot deck would be right up my alley.

Visualize Insects Breathing

In school, I was the science geek who holed up in the physics lab to avoid pep rallies. Yup, one time we even got to split open a bowling ball with a sledgehammer to see if the density accounted for the holes. So anytime I run across something sciency that piques my interest, I like to pass it along.

Designer Eleanor Lutz simply wants to show people how to make an animated GIF. But here subject matter is mesmerizing. She completely understands what makes a good short animation. The breathing cycle of grasshoppers is very short and lends itself well to the micro animation of GIFS.

obi0iqqpsyurkejvxqqs

Visit her site to also see a person and a chicken breathing. But insects are the most interesting because they don’t have lungs. Instead they have ten holes along their abdomen called spiracles. Air goes in through the front spiracles and out the back. The grasshopper moves its abdomen to pump the air.

Krampus Night

And you thought all the scaring was done and over with after Halloween. How wrong you were.

Merry-Krampus

This Friday marks Krampus Night (or Krampusnaught). It’s the day that the demonic associate of Santa (and sometimes and Angel) comes to visit and see if you’re good. Only instead of coal for being naughty, you get a trip down below.

Krampus-xmas-card-10-1895972741

Read my full article on this lovely fellow here.

Enjoy the holidays.

Tim Kane

Vampiric Birds and Fish (November’s Weird Roundup)

Just when you thought life couldn’t get any stranger, along comes vampiric fish and blood sucking birds. In the spirit of all things creepy, I’ve scoured the realms of fauna to find all the bloodsuckers out there. And I’ve saved the best to start us off.

Vamp Birds

I Vant to Peck Your Blood

Although no bird on Earth draws all its nourishment from blood, the sharpbeaked ground finch will occasionally delve into vampirism. This bird lives on an island already known for its freakish deviants of evolution: Galapagos. Typically the “Vampire Finch” will peck at seeds, just like a normal bird. But in the light of a full moon… Er, when drought conditions limit the number of seeds available, it switches to the red stuff. Then it mosey’s over to another fowl, a seabird called a booby. The finch pecks at the victim bird’s back until it draws blood, offering up a nice warm meal. The sharpbeaked ground finch never over pecks. They only draw enough bloom to eat. If the finch were to cause too much pain, then the booby would chase them away or attack.

This National Geographic video shows the vampiric finch in action.

Blood Sucking Fish

The candirus (or pygidiid catfish) is strongly attracted to raw turtle meat and will also attack the legs of human waders. These fish crave blood and will attack the gills and fins of dying or disabled fish or even the legs of submerged children. Scientists, Vinton and Stickler, caught a specimen using a bloody cow lung for bait. Another scientists captured one as it tried to rasp the skin of his leg. Generally, these vampire fish seek out larger catfish, burrowing into the gills. One specimen was found halfway inside the belly of a larger catfish. The vampire catfish’s belly was distended with blood.

a11fig04

In 1960, one researcher captured a canirus catfish and “permitted [it] to fasten onto his hand for a short while during which time it succeeded in drawing blood, apparently using its mouth as a sucking apparatus and rasping with the long teeth in the middle part of its upper jaw.” It seemed, he added, “to be utterly avid for a meal of blood and had to be forcibly removed.” So unlike the finch, this bad boy loves the taste of blood. It gets better.

In 1959, the Cleveland Aquarium acquired four vampiric fish. The keepers tried to feed them anything from worms to brine shrimp. No go. The canirus would have none of it. Only when a half-pound goldfish was put into their aquarium, did they bite. Almost immediately, according to the report, three of the four latched onto the goldfish under its gills and began sucking blood.

wwa5kigra7xwnejarj1a-2

So vampire bats do not have the corner on the creepy bloodsucking market.

Tim Kane

 

Weird Roundup for October

October is the creepiest month, so I’ve saved my creepiest weird tidbits for this month.

Optical Illusion Rugs

Want to creep out your visitors? Make them hesitate to step into your home? Then purchase one of these optical illusion rugs. They’re so good, I think I would scoot around the perimeter rather than step inside. See more here.

x84rknxrwsxxpaozo6r8

Creepy Chair

Even if your guest manages to avoid the rug, would he or she be willing to sit down on this chair?

fhxtvfahhssaxqwahtk9

Designed by Yaara Derkel, the cutout of the Coppelius Chair creates the shadow of a monstrous creature when lit from above. The best part about this chair is that when it’s lit in any other way, it looks just like a normal chair.

Cute But Deadly Forest Imp

Not everything with large eyes and fur is meant to be cuddled. Take this short film “Murphy” made by students at ISART Digital. It features a seemingly well meaning creature that torments a WWII soldier.

fzifcbsoq4ebyzkmcrfo

 

An English paratrooper crashes behind enemy lines and has to rely on the help of this seemingly benign creature. I get a certain “Yoda” feel from it at times, but the end is hilarious.

FILM_FX MURPHY (2014) from ISART DIGITAL on Vimeo.

Macabre Cartoons

Most artists keep their sketches confined to the page. But not Troqman. His cartoons interact with the environment in hilarious ways.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 5.49.40 AM

Found Object Bugs

These insects are created from found objects and create a steampunk vibe. Mark Oliver makes his “Litter Bugs” from gears, old eyeglasses, tins, and other things he collects.

wl7qq8dsufliknoaieho

On his website, he describes how his art is a throwback to Victorian bug collecting. Each of his projects boasts a scientific name.

“Urban Entomology is Mark’s (Post Modern) bow of respect to the Victorian tradition of insect collecting, where the decaying and disposed – the ‘litter’ of modernity, is assembled to create illusory collage. He intends the work to fascinate from a distance, and reveal humour and beautiful art upon closer inspection.”

Stay creepy this Halloween and keep your eyes open for mischievous furry creatures wanting to help you.

Tim Kane

 

dfgsfdg

Weird Roundup for September

Often I find little nuggets of weirdness that are too brief to warrant their own blog post. I’ve created this forum of the monthly uncanny to give you all the morsels of weird that make a well balanced strange meal. All of these are guaranteed to make you see the world differently.

Firefly Magic

Photographer Vincent Brady shot this footage of fireflies over the sumer of 2013 in  Lake of the Ozarks (as well as Grand Ledge). Brady comments on the sublime experience: “Being out on the boat and watching as they light the treeline with their all night disco party is just amazing.” Brandon McCoy provided the music.

Trippy Vintage Science

Do you love vintage science illustrations? Yes. Well so does Fanfarlo. The following video uses Fanfarlo’s “Cell Song” to score a series of vintage images lifted from science journals, encyclopedias, and magazines. They were all animated and remixed into a trippy journey through space, cells and time.

Ghost Girl Stalks Boyfriend on Facebook

Yes, we’ve finally reached the point where ghosts are using social media. This story comes from the Reddit community No Sleep, a forum for horror stories that supposedly have really happened. Prepare your requisite grain of salt, people. Even if this ghost girl is a hoax, it’s a darned good one and very creepy (I don’t creep out easily).

Check out the postings to the boyfriend’s wall from Emily, the ghostly girlfriend.

ubdduzzguemcna7unha4

 

The part about the freezing and the plea to stop have me on edge. See more of the creepy posts at Jezebel.

United States that Never Was

What if the Constitution was never written? What would North America look like? Well, graphic designer Jordan Penny has spent his spare time devising faux maps and currency for the countries that would occupy this alternate North America.

frvn5qzoenjyf3jjsq9c

Notice that the Republic of Mexico still has most of its land, minus Texas and California. The Kingdom of Canada gobbled up the northwest states. Then you have the strange states that make up the original thirteen colonies. Under the Articles of Confederation, they would be loosely tied together, yet never as strong as the United States would become. Penny says, “the AoC are never replaced, and the Union slowly devolves into what you see here.” Therefore, each state expanded west to take over the Ohio valley. Look at Virginia, clearly the strongest of the colonies, took over nearly all the territory up to Louisiana.

That’s your dose of weirdness for this month. Remember, strange is the new normal.

Tim Kane

Love, Death, Betrayal and Giant Snails

As a kid I experimented with Tarot cards. I think many of us did. That sort of rampant curiosity that comes with being a teen. The occult didn’t escape my attention. The mysterious Tarot cards, so iconic as a tool of prophecy, drew me in.

snail

Years later, this dabbling turned into downright research for my first published novel—Tarot: The Magician. I didn’t just want a story about evil Tarot cards. That felt too simplistic. Something the Syfy channel would whip up as their movie of the week. Instead, I delved into the history of the cards and how they started as the Dance of Death (see my article on it here).

Three of the Major Arcana cards particularly influenced me: The Magician, Death, and the Hanged Man. These not only became themes for the novel, but characters as well.

The Magician Becomes Love

The title of the novel revolves around a man named Luke Rykell (you can read some of his history here). He helped create the cursed deck. His reward: being trapped inside. But he was no magician.

The history of the card dates back to more of a con-artist or street hustler. One name for the original Magician card is Thimblerigger. Those were the sorts of fellas who tricked people with the three card monty. Their sleight of hand seemed like magic, thus the name of magician.

Here the "Magician" is shown with his most famous trick: the cups and ball.

Here the “Magician” is shown with his most famous trick: the cups and ball.

For most of the history of the tarot, the Magician was simply a street performer and con man. In fact the card’s name was the Juggler or the Trickster. This all changed when the occultist Éliphas Lévi redesigned this card. He depicted the Magician holding one of the card suits (usually a wand) with the others lying on the table (these items replaced the cups and ball trick). Later, Paul Christian (a devotee of Lévi) renamed The Juggler as The Magus, and the change was complete.

How does this relate to love? For most, the Magician represents skill, creativity, and free will. Yet when this card pops up with a romance question, the meaning shifts. It indicates that the time for a new romance is at hand. The moment is now.

Death is the Ultimate Change

Most folks are frightened when the Death card appears in a Tarot reading. They shouldn’t be. The Death card represents change—clearing out the old to make way for the new. Think about a forest fire. As destructive as this process is, it burns away brush that is clogging out new growth. Only with this destruction can the forest revitalize itself. Even after the Black Plague that scoured Europe, the survivors were stronger for it. New evidence suggests that the disease targeted weaker and more frail people, leaving a stronger populace in its wake.

Visconti-Sforza_tarot_deck._Death

In the story of Tarot: The Magician, there is a death in our heroine’s past. Right now, this loss weighs on her, and prevents her from moving on with her life. She needs to deal with it, and clear it away in order to grow.

The Hanged Man has Betrayed You

The man hanging my one foot represents a traitor (the original Italian name was Il Traditore, the Traitor). May believe this represent Judas Iscariot, and the fifteenth century Rosenwald deck shows the figure clutching a small bag in each hand. This might be the thirty pieces of silver.

mshangedman_med

Another argument suggests that this figure is Muzio Attendolo, who had been given a high position by the the Pope and then chose to speak out against him. The offended Pope ordered pictured painted of Muzio Attendolo upside-down and suspended from one foot. This type of art was called shame painting. The Pope displayed these paintings all over Rome.

In both cases, the men hanging upside down were traitors. And that’s the meaning used in Tarot: The Magician. The brother to Luke Rykell is Gabriel and he was tasked with illustrating the cursed deck of cards. Only when he reached the final illustration, he balked—not ready to doom his soul to eternal torment. His betrayal led to the entrapment of Luke inside the Tarot cards themselves.

What Does a Giant Snail Have to Do with All This?

The fact that Luke lives in a tower attached to a snail is not a mistake. While researching the aspects of the magician card, I wanted to hone in on the idea of the will and the mind (both traits associated with the Magician card). This led me to the spiral of the snail’s shell, and how it winds in on itself. This is a common symbol for expanded consciousness. In sacred geometry, the spiral follows the Golden Ratio.

spirala

So the home for Luke was both a way to expand his magical powers of intellect, but also a prison that spiraled in forever. It also wasn’t lost on me that in Christian symbolism, the snail stands for sloth. Although Luke is far from lazy, he does linger in his card for hundreds of years and this plays on his mind.

There are many stories attached to the Tarot cards. The symbolism is rich and goes back centuries. The more you dig up on the Tarot, the more they will amaze you.

Tim Kane