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Yisela’s book – the anatomy of doodles

I write this blog together with Yisela (and Vincent). I have never met either, but Yisela was such a dear that I figured she deserved a gift. So in the tradition of Sofie’s book and Adam’s book, I made Yisela’s book. But you have to be supersupernice to me to get one; well over and beyond the call of duty. Conveniently, I just started the sketchbook, she will have to finish it herself :)

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Equil smartpen2: phenomenal tool or novelty toy?

I am not into gadgets. The very word implies something useless; perhaps fun for IMG_5001aW1a week, but quickly discarded. A pet hate of mine is the insane amount of electronics made, for stuff that do not need electronics. Waste of resources, batteries, minerals, human costs and filling up insane landfills with rubbish.

Enter the Equil Smartpen2. I got really excited. Being the tactile, old-school doodling sort of person; this might be what I have been looking for. Getting handwritten notes, doodles, meeting notes etc. over into digital has always been a hassle.

The idea is basic:

it is a normal(ish) ballpoint writing on any paper and talks to a receiver and stores the input. It connects to device via bluetooth and the transfer isthesis_Page3 instantaneous. Very cool to see my doodles live. You can choose pen colours, thickness of lines, markers; and digitally add text and images. It should also work with handwriting recognition, but we shall see.

Getting it to work was easy peasy, but I am struggling with connecting it to Evernote/Dropbox/iCloud. Another problem: it does not seem I can trust it when I set the paper format, there are always bigger margins. May not sound like a big deal, but the point is that I should be able to use it without also having a screen. If I cannot trust the margins, I cannot trust it without the connection to mac or phone. Ah yes.. and it makes a faint buzzing noise when writing. That could become incredibly annoying, but as of now I reckon I will listen to music as I write.

..and what I really want to avoid, is that using this becomes being about the technology and not the writing. I need it to be invisible – it must disappear into my workflow, not add more techno-fiddling to it.

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Thomassons: extinct architecture

The 99% invisible is a brilliant podcast. I was alerted to the so-called Thomassons. These are architectural artefacts who have lost their function, but, and this is crucial: are still being maintained. For – essentially – no reason whatsoever. It is surprisingly hard to find images that exemplifies it. What I find fascinating, is the “used to be useful – now it is useless – we paint it anyway”. You could, I suppose, call it architectual evolutionary dead ends. Perhaps they are a comment on our society, but the point is they seem unconscious and somehow invisible. Look for them, they are extinct, architectural species.

The Arabesque

Islamic art and the patterns of the infinite

It’s difficult, if not impossible, to determine what exactly encompasses Islamic art. The term is not specific to a religion, place, time or even a field, and instead spans over 1400 years and receives influences from Roman, early Christian, Byzantine and even Chinese art. Although some think Islamic art is a false concept, the similarities between pieces of the Islamic world is what have kept scholars using the term.

An element that repeats in Islamic art is the arabesqueso much that it’s been called “the definitive characteristic in all Islamic art”. Because Muslims believe in the absolute and complete unity of God, Islamic artists had to develop a form of art that did not include any symbolic representation of God. Instead, arabesques use floral and vegetal patterns to symbolize the transcendent, the indivisible and the infinite.

Here’s something interesting about arabesques: They can contain mistakes. Some experts believe these errors in the repetitions were intentionally produced to show the humility of the artists who believed only God could create perfection.

Famous works of architecture that feature arabesques include the Great Mosque of Damascus, the Taj Mahal and the Great Mosque of Cordoba in Spain.

 

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Medieval menagerie: the battle between knight and snail

In a lot of medieval manuscripts, there are depictions of knights fighting snails. No one seems to know why this is. There are some theories, but so far nothing really conclusive. It might look like some sort of insider thing, maybe among scribes or illuminators. I love that sort of thing: mysteries in plain sight. Delightful. Bizarre.

The British library

Hunting for snails