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robertogreco : naturalhistory   30

Opinion | Wrap Your Mind Around a Whale - The New York Times
"The facts of a blue whale seem improbable; it is hard to wrap your mind around an animal with jaws the height of a football goal post. Those jaws are not just the ocean’s utmost bones (to borrow from Melville) but the utmost bones in the history of life on Earth.

And yet these superlative whales haven’t been huge that long. In fact, they emerged just about 4.5 million years ago, coinciding almost perfectly with the human era.

We are living right now in the age of giants. Blue whales, fin whales, right whales and bowhead whales are the largest animals, by weight, ever to have evolved. How did this happen? And what does this tell us about how evolution works?

Fossils show that the earliest whales were more obviously mammalian — they had four legs, a nose, maybe even fur. They had bladelike teeth and lived in habitats that ranged from woodlands with streams to river deltas, occasionally feeding in the brackish waters of shallow equatorial coasts. And they were the size of a large dog."
whales  nature  multispecies  history  naturalhistory  evolution  scale  size  oceans  mammals  via:lukeneff  foreden 
july 2018 by robertogreco
Big Discovery in a Tiny Mammal-Like Skull Found Under a Dinosaur’s Foot - The New York Times
"In 2006 a team of paleontologists in Utah were examining the fossils of a large dinosaur when they discovered beneath its foot a tiny skull unlike anything they had seen in the area.

Now, scientists have found that the fossilized cranium belonged to an ancient relative of modern mammals that once scurried around North America some 130 million years ago. The new species, called Cifelliodon wahkarmoosuch, is a member of an extinct group of animals known as the haramiyids, which some researchers think bridged the transition between reptiles and mammals."
classideas  2018  mammals  naturalhistory  dinosaurs 
may 2018 by robertogreco
Butterflies remember a mountain that hasn't existed for millennia
"Geology is what we look to when we want enduring monuments. Rock and metal outlast anything made of living tissue. Or do they? In another example of science getting poetic, it seems that a symbol of ephemera — a butterfly — provides evidence of a mountain long turned to dust.

Monarch butterflies are some of the toughest insects in the world. Their migration takes them from southern Canada to central Mexico. The journey is so long and difficult that it outlasts the butterfly's lifetime. Monarchs lay eggs at different stages through the journey. No one generation makes the whole trip.

Along this journey are several sites that have become local treasures and tourist attractions. The monarchs, flying in swarms, group together to rest in small areas, covering the trees like bright orange leaves. But although these sites are the most showy part of the journey, they're not the most amazing.

The amazing part of the journey is the sudden eastward turn that monarchs take over Lake Superior. Monarchs fly over the lake, necessarily, in one unceasing flight. That alone would be difficult, but the monarchs make it tougher by not going directly south. They fly south, and at one point of the lake turn east, fly for a while, and then turn back toward the south. Why?

Biologists, and certain geologists, believe that something was blocking the monarchs' path. They believe that that part of Lake Superior might have once been one of the highest mountains ever to loom over North America. It would have been useless for the monarchs to try to scale it, and wasteful to start climbing it, so all successfully migrating monarchs veered east around it and then headed southward again. They've kept doing that, some say, even after the mountain is long gone.

This puts a new spin on how we look at geology and geography. We think of mountains as structures that are, nearly, ageless. They stand while successive generations of animals change and evolve around them. Perhaps not this time, though. This time, butterflies kept up their same pattern while the world changed under them, the mountain wearing away, or being destroyed. This time, flesh outlasted stone.

Via Pilgrim at Tinker Creek [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pilgrim_at_Tinker_Creek ] and The Journal of Experimental Biology [http://jeb.biologists.org/content/jexbio/199/1/93.full.pdf ]."

[via: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bdja9w0nBdm/ ]
multispecies  morethanhuman  memory  butterflies  monarchbutterflies  geography  migration  mountains  naturalhistory 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Atlas for the End of the World
[via: https://kottke.org/17/06/an-atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world ]

"Coming almost 450 years after the world's first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world's 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation's 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.

By bringing urbanization and conservation together in the same study, the essays, maps, data, and artwork in this Atlas lay essential groundwork for the future planning and design of hotspot cities and regions as interdependent ecological and economic systems."



"The findings of this research are threefold: first, a majority of the ecoregions in the hotspots fall well short of United Nations' 2020 targets for protected lands; second, almost all the cities in the hotspots are projected to continue to sprawl in an unregulated manner into the world's most valuable habitats; and finally, only a small number of the 196 nations who are party to the CBD (and the 142 nations who have sovereign jurisdiction over the hotspots) have any semblance of appropriately scaled, land use planning which would help reconcile international conservation values with local economic imperatives.6

By focusing attention on the hotspots in the lead-up to the UN's 2020 deadline for achieving the Aichi targets, this atlas is intended as a geopolitical tool to help prioritize conservation land-use planning. It is also a call to landscape architects, urban designers, and planners to become more involved in helping reconcile ecology and economics in these territories.

Set diametrically at the opposite end of modernity to Ortelius' original, this atlas promotes cultivation, not conquest. As such, this atlas is not about the end of the world at all, for that cosmological inevitability awaits the sun's explosion some 2.5 or so billion years away: it is about the end of Ortelius' world, the end of the world as a God-given and unlimited resource for human exploitation. On this, even the Catholic Church is now adamant: "we have no such right" writes Pope Francis.7"



"This immense and ever-expanding trove of remotely sensed data and imagery is the basis of the world's shared Geographic Information Systems (GIS). The subject of this cyborgian, perpetual mapping-machine is not only where things are in space, but more importantly how things change over time. Because the environmental crisis is generally a question of understanding what is changing where, we can say that with remote sensing and its data-streams we have entered not only the apocalyptic age of star wars and the white-noise world of global telecommunications, but more optimistically, the age of ecological cartography.

The "judgment and bias" of this atlas lies firstly in our acceptance of the public data as a given; secondly in the utilization of GIS to rapidly read and translate metadata as a reasonable basis for map-making in the age of ecological cartography; thirdly, in our foregrounding of each map's particular theme to the exclusion of all others; and finally in the way that a collection of ostensibly neutral and factual maps is combined to form an atlas that, by implication, raises prescient questions of land-use on a global scale."



"Who are the Atlas authors?
The Atlas for the End of the World project was conceived and directed by Richard Weller who is the Martin and Margy Meyerson Chair of Urbanism and Professor and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture at The University of Pennsylvania (UPenn). The Atlas was researched and created in collaboration with Claire Hoch and Chieh Huang, both recent graduates from the Department of Landscape Architecture at UPenn now practicing landscape architecture in Australia and the United States."
biodiversity  culture  future  maps  anthropocene  earth  multispecies  environment  ecology  ecosystems  mapping  data  visualization  infographics  dataviz  bioregions  atlases  geography  urbanization  cities  nature  naturalhistory  california  classideas  flora  fauna  plants  animals  wildlife  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  economics  endangersspecies  statistics  richardweller  clairehoch  chiehhuang 
january 2018 by robertogreco
An Atlas for the End of the World
"The Atlas for the End of the World is a project started by Penn architect Richard Weller to highlight the effects of human civilization and urbanization on our planet’s biodiversity.
Coming almost 450 years after the world’s first Atlas, this Atlas for the End of the World audits the status of land use and urbanization in the most critically endangered bioregions on Earth. It does so, firstly, by measuring the quantity of protected area across the world’s 36 biodiversity hotspots in comparison to United Nation’s 2020 targets; and secondly, by identifying where future urban growth in these territories is on a collision course with endangered species.

There’s lots to see at the site: world and regional maps, data visualizations, key statistical data, photos of plants and animals that have been modified by humans, as well as several essays on a variety of topics.

And here’s a fun map: countries with national biodiversity strategies and action plans in place. Take a wild guess which country is one of the very few without such a plan in place!"

[See also:
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/hotspots_main.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/hotspots/california_floristic_province.pdf
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/world_maps_main.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/flora_and_fauna.html
http://atlas-for-the-end-of-the-world.com/world_maps/world_maps_biodiversity_planning.html ]
anthropocene  maps  mapping  atlases  geography  urbanization  cities  nature  naturalhistory  california  classideas  flora  fauna  plants  animals  wildlife  multispecies  morethanhuman  human-animalrelations  human-animalrelationships  biodiversity  ecology  economics  ecosystems  endangersspecies  visualization  data  statistics 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Fantastically Strange Origin of Most Coal on Earth – Phenomena: Curiously Krulwich
"This is a story about trees—very, very strange looking trees—and some microbes that failed to show up on time. Their non-appearance happened more than 300 million years ago, and what they didn’t do, or rather what happened because they weren’t there, shapes your life and mine.

All you have to do is walk the streets of Beijing or New Delhi or Mexico City: If there’s a smog-laden sky (and there usually is), all that dust blotting out the sun is there because of this story I’m going to tell.

It begins, appropriately enough, in an ancient forest …"

[See also:
"How Fungi Saved the World"
http://feedthedatamonster.com/home/2014/7/11/how-fungi-saved-the-world

"This was the one and only time in the last 300 million years that the wood-rotting ability evolved. All the fungi today that can digest wood (and a few that can't) are the descendants of that enterprising fungus. Its strategy may have been inelegant, but wood decay played a crucial role in reversing the loss of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and bringing about the end of the Carboniferous period.

What would have happened if white rot fungi had never evolved? We can only speculate, but it's possible the world of today would look a lot like the world at the end of the Carboniferous period – cooler, high in oxygen, and with a denser atmosphere. Dragonflies with foot-and-a-half wingspans might still roam the forests, but the plant life might still be primeval, stifled by the lower carbon dioxide concentrations. Many a homeowner may disagree, but we're lucky wood-rotting fungi evolved. "]

[via:
http://interconnected.org/home/2018/01/02/filtered

"For 40 million years, trees were not biodegradable.
430 million years before present, the first vascular plants emerged from early tide pools. In order to stay upright, these plants employed cellulose, a chain of simple sugars ... it was easy to make and offered rigid yet flexible support

This is from How Fungi Saved the World.

90 million years later, heralding the Carboniferous period,
plants developed a new kind of support material, called lignin. Lignin was an improvement development over cellulose in several ways: it was harder, more rigid, and, being more complex, almost impossible to digest, which made it ideal for protecting cellulose. With lignin, plants could make wood, and it lead to the first treelike growth form.

But lignin made the lycopod trees a little too successful. Because their leaves were lofted above many herbivores and their trunks were made inedible by lignin, lycopods were virtually impervious to harm.

Dead trees piled up without decomposing. Compacted by weight, they turned to peat and then to coal. 90% of all today's coal is from this period.

Wood pollution lasted 40 million years.
Finally, however, a fungus belonging to the class Agaricomycetes - making it a distant cousin of button mushrooms - did find a crude way to break down lignin. Rather than devise an enzyme to unstitch the lignin molecule, however, it was forced to adapt a more direct strategy. Using a class of enyzmes called peroxidases, the fungus bombarded the wood with highly reactive oxygen molecules, in much the same way one might untie a knot using a flamethrower. This strategy reduced the wood to a carbohydrate-rich slurry from which the fungus could slurp up the edible cellulose.

Which leads me to think:

There's a ton of plastic in the ocean. Why not engineer a fungus to rot it? Having this magical material that lasts forever is absurd. This is a controversial idea I admit. But although I agree that we need to reduce plastic pollution (via social change and by regulatory intervention), cybernetics tells me that's a fragile solution. Homeostasis is to be found in a ecosystem of checks and balances: instead of eternal plastic, we need plastic plus a plastic-rotting fungus plus an effective-but-hard-to-apply fungicide. Then balance can be found."
2016  coal  plants  trees  fungi  science  evolution  classideas  naturalhistory  decomposition  srg  plastic 
january 2018 by robertogreco
The Mind of John McPhee - The New York Times
"Much of the struggle, for McPhee, has to do with structure. “Structure has preoccupied me in every project,” he writes, which is as true as saying that Ahab, on his nautical adventures, was preoccupied by a certain whale. McPhee is obsessed with structure. He sweats and frets over the arrangement of a composition before he can begin writing. He seems to pour a whole novel’s worth of creative energy just into settling which bits will follow which other bits.

The payoff of that labor is enormous. Structure, in McPhee’s writing, carries as much meaning as the words themselves. What a more ordinary writer might say directly, McPhee will express through the white space between chapters or an odd juxtaposition of sentences. It is like Morse code: a message communicated by gaps."



"“Draft No. 4” is essentially McPhee’s writing course at Princeton, which he has been teaching since 1975. This imposes a rigid structure on his life. During a semester when he teaches, McPhee does no writing at all. When he is writing, he does not teach. He thinks of this as “crop rotation” and insists that the alternation gives him more energy for writing than he would otherwise have.

McPhee’s students come to his office frequently, for editing sessions, and as they sit in the hallway waiting for their appointments, they have time to study a poster outside his door. McPhee refers to it as “a portrait of the writer at work.” It is a print in the style of Hieronymus Bosch of sinners, in the afterlife, being elaborately tortured in the nude — a woman with a sword in her back, a small crowd sitting in a vat of liquid pouring out of a giant nose, someone riding a platypus. The poster is so old that its color has faded.

David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, where McPhee has been a staff writer for more than 50 years, took McPhee’s class in 1981. “There was no fancy discussion of inspiration,” he told me. “You were in the room with a craftsman of the art, rather than a scholar or critic — to the point where I remember him passing around the weird mechanical pencils he used to use. It was all about technique. In the same spirit that a medical student, in gross anatomy, would learn what a spleen is and what it does, we would learn how stuff works in a piece of writing.”

Much of that stuff, of course, was structure. One of Remnick’s enduring memories is of watching Professor McPhee sketch out elaborate shapes on the chalkboard. One looked like a nautilus shell, with thick dots marking points along its swirl. Each of these dots was labeled: “Turtle,” “Stream Channelization,” “Weasel.” Down the side of the chart it said, simply, “ATLANTA.” An arrow next to the words “Rattlesnake, Muskrat, etc.” suggested that the swirl was meant to be read counterclockwise."



"John McPhee lives, and has almost always lived, in Princeton. I met him there in a large parking lot on the edge of campus, next to a lacrosse field, where he stood waiting next to his blue minivan. He wore an L.L. Bean button-down shirt with khaki pants and New Balance sneakers. The top half of his face held glasses, the bottom a short white beard that McPhee first grew, unintentionally, during a canoe trip in the 1970s and has not shaved off since. He is soft-spoken, easy and reserved. Although McPhee possesses intimidating stores of knowledge — he told me, as we walked around campus, the various geological formations that produced the stone used in the buildings — he seems to go out of his way to be unintimidating. Whenever we stepped outside, he put on a floppy hat.

McPhee proceeded to show me every inch of Princeton, campus and city, narrating as we went. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone so thoroughly identified with a place. His memories are archaeological, many layers deep. Not 30 seconds into our orienting drive, we passed the empty lot where he used to play tackle football as a child, and where, at age 10, he first tasted alcohol. (“One thing it wasn’t was unpleasant,” he wrote recently.) The lot is no longer empty; it is occupied by a new house, boxy and modern. I asked McPhee if he felt any animosity toward the structure for stomping out his memories.

“No,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of stomping grounds stomped out.”

McPhee was born in 1931. His father was the university’s sports doctor, and as a boy McPhee galloped after him to practices and games. By age 8, he was running onto the field alongside Princeton’s football team, wearing a custom-made miniature jersey. He played basketball in the old university gym, down the hall from his father’s office; when the building was locked, he knew which windows to climb in. McPhee was small and scrappy, and he played just about every sport that involved a ball. To this day, he serves as a faculty fellow of men’s lacrosse, observing Princeton’s practices and standing on the sidelines during games.

Every summer growing up, McPhee went to a camp in Vermont called Keewaydin, where his father was the camp doctor. One of his grandsons goes there today. (“I have 200 grandchildren,” McPhee told me; the number is actually 10.) McPhee speaks of Keewaydin as paradise, and his time there established many of the preoccupations of his life and work: canoeing, fishing, hiking. “I once made a list of all the pieces I had written in maybe 20 or 30 years, and then put a check mark beside each one whose subject related to things I had been interested in before I went to college,” he writes in “Draft No 4.” “I checked off more than 90 percent.” Keewaydin put McPhee into deep contact with the American land, and introduced him to the challenge of navigation — how the idealized abstractions of plans and maps relate to the fertile mess of the actual world. The camp’s infirmary is now officially named after McPhee’s father. McPhee’s own name still sits in the rafters, an honor for having been the second-most-accomplished camper in 1940, when he was 9."



"McPhee is a homebody who incessantly roams. He inherited Princeton and its Ivy League resources as a kind of birthright, but he comes at the place from an odd angle: He was not the son of a banker or a politician or some glamorous alumnus but of the sports doctor. His view of the university is practical, hands-on — it is, to him, like a big intellectual hardware store from which he can pull geologists and historians and aviators and basketball players, as needed, to teach him something. He is able to run off to Alaska or Maine or Switzerland or Keewaydin because he always knows where he is coming back to.

“I grew up in the middle of town,” McPhee said. “It’s all here.”

McPhee took me to his office in the geology building, in a fake medieval turret that, before he moved in, was crowded with paint cans. Now its walls are full of maps: the Pacific Ocean floor, United States drainage, all the world’s volcanoes. On the carpet in the corner of the room, a box sat stuffed with dozens more, from the center of which protruded, almost shyly, a folded map of Guayaquil, Ecuador. His enormous dictionary, open to the letter P, sat on top of a minifridge. Multiple shelves were loaded with books published by former students, above which stood framed photos of McPhee’s wife, Yolanda, and his four daughters.

McPhee sat down at his computer and clicked around. Green text appeared on a black screen. That was all: green text. No icons, rulers, or scrollbars.

McPhee began to type in command lines.

x coded.*

dir coded.*

x coded-10.tff

x coded-16.tff

Up came portions of his book “The Founding Fish.” He typed in further commands, and hunks of green text went blinking around: a complete inventory of his published articles; his 1990 book, “Looking for a Ship.”

I felt as if I were in a computer museum, watching the curator take his favorite oddity for a spin. McPhee has never used a traditional word processor in his life. He is one of the world’s few remaining users of a program called Kedit, which he writes about, at great length, in “Draft No. 4.” Kedit was created in the 1980s and then tailored, by a friendly Princeton programmer, to fit McPhee’s elaborate writing process.

The process is hellacious. McPhee gathers every single scrap of reporting on a given project — every interview, description, stray thought and research tidbit — and types all of it into his computer. He studies that data and comes up with organizing categories: themes, set pieces, characters and so on. Each category is assigned a code. To find the structure of a piece, McPhee makes an index card for each of his codes, sets them on a large table and arranges and rearranges the cards until the sequence seems right. Then he works back through his mass of assembled data, labeling each piece with the relevant code. On the computer, a program called “Structur” arranges these scraps into organized batches, and McPhee then works sequentially, batch by batch, converting all of it into prose. (In the old days, McPhee would manually type out his notes, photocopy them, cut up everything with scissors, and sort it all into coded envelopes. His first computer, he says, was “a five-thousand-dollar pair of scissors.”)

Every writer does some version of this: gathering, assessing, sorting, writing. But McPhee takes it to an almost-superhuman extreme. “If this sounds mechanical,” McPhee writes of his method, “its effect was absolutely the reverse. If the contents of the seventh folder were before me, the contents of twenty-nine other folders were out of sight. Every organizational aspect was behind me. The procedure eliminated nearly all distraction and concentrated just the material I had to deal with in a given day or week. It painted me into a corner, yes, but in doing so it freed me to write.”"



"McPhee’s great theme has always been conservation, in the widest possible sense of the word: the endless tension between presence and absence, staying and leaving, existence … [more]
johmcphee  writing  howwewrite  structure  2017  conservation  princeton  place  humility  process  kedit  organization  belonging  local  gaps  shyness  celebration  nature  geology  time  editing  outlining  naturalhistory  history  maps  mapping  writingprocess  focus  attention  awareness  legacy 
october 2017 by robertogreco
Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing - A Feminist Approach to the Anthropocene: Earth Stalked by Man - YouTube
"To take seriously the concept of the Anthropocene—the idea that we have entered a new epoch defined by humans’ impact on Earth’s ecosystems—requires engagement with global history. Using feminist anthropology, this lecture explores the awkward relations between what one might call “machines of replication”—those simplified ecologies, such as plantations, in which life worlds are remade as future assets—and the vernacular histories in which such machines erupt in all their particularity and go feral in counter-intentional forms. This lecture does not begin with the unified continuity of Man (versus indigenous ontologies; as scientific protocol; etc.), but rather explores contingent eruptions and the patchy, fractured Anthropocene they foster.

Anna L. Tsing is a Professor of Anthropology at UC Santa Cruz, and the acclaimed author of several books including Friction: An Ethnography of Global Connection and In the Realm of the Diamond Queen.

This Helen Pond McIntyre '48 Lecture was recorded on November 10, 2015 at Barnard College."
annalowenhaupttsing  2015  anthropocene  multispecies  morethanhuman  ecology  disentanglement  feminism  naturalhistory  anthropology  ecologies  plantations  capitalism  humans  entanglement  interdependence  animals  plants  trees  birds  farming  fordlandia  rubber  environment  hope  science  humanism  agriculture  annatsing 
september 2017 by robertogreco
Urban Nature | WTTW Chicago Public Media - Television and Interactive
"A Wild Plan for San Francisco"
http://interactive.wttw.com/urbannature/wild-plan-san-francisco#!/

"In San Francisco they’re imagining a world in which cars share the road with birds, bees, butterflies, and bicyclists. We cycled a few of the wildlife corridors designated in the city’s Green Connections Plan."



"Hiking Through History in The Presidio"
http://interactive.wttw.com/urbannature/hiking-through-history-presidio#!/

"What did San Francisco look like before Europeans got here? You’ll find the answer in the Presidio. This urban national park has dunes, marshes, a mountain lake, and a plant so rare we can’t disclose its exact location."



"The Streams Below Our Streets"
http://interactive.wttw.com/urbannature/streams-below-our-streets#!/

"Cities once converted streams into sewers to make room for development. But now there’s a growing movement to unearth these buried waterways."
nature  urban  urbanism  cities  classideas  sanfrancisco  presidio  watershed  wildlife  animals  maps  mapping  history  naturalhistory  via:namhenderson 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Flatbread Society Seed Journey
"ABOUT

This journey to the Middle East can be seen as an awakening of the memory—the long journey the grain itself has taken—through the hands of time.

-Michael Taussig

Seed Journey is a seafaring voyage connected to a public art project* in the former port of Bjørvika in Oslo, Norway. Seed Journey moves people, ideas and seeds through time and space. This voyage—its crew and cargo—are agents that link the commons as they relate to local networks and a more global complex of seed savers and stewards of the land, air and water. A rotating crew of artists, anthropologists, biologists, bakers, activists, sailors and farmers join the journey and share their findings at host institutions along the route from small harbors to large ports from barns to museums (contemporary art, natural history and maritime) to social centers.

"NOT STUCK ON TIME"

Seed Journey departs from the port of Oslo, Norway beginning with a few key defining points and space for new stops and invitations along the way. The crew’s interests will influence the route, but ultimately grains are the compass. Seed Journey maps not only space, but also time and phylogeny: while the more familiar space yields a cartographic map, time yields history and phylogeny yields a picture of networks of relationships between and among living beings—relationships between cultural groups, but also between human and non-human living forms such as seeds, sea-life and the terrestrial species from the various places and times we will traverse.

****

FLATBREAD SOCIETY

Flatbread Society is a permanent public art project created in a “common” area amidst the waterfront development of Bjørvika, in Oslo, Norway. In 2012, the international arts collective, Futurefarmers formed Flatbread Society as a proposition for working with local actors to establish an aligned vision for the use of this land. The groups’ dynamic activation of the site through public programs, a bakehouse and a cultivated grain field has attracted the imagination of farmers, bakers, oven builders, artists, activists, soil scientists, city officials; while simultaneously resulting in the formation of an urban gardening community called Herligheten, a Declaration of Land Use, and a permanent grainfield and bakehouse.

Flatbread Society has extended beyond Oslo into a network of projects and people that use grain as a prismatic impetus to consider the interrelationship of food production to realms of knowledge sharing, cultural production, socio-political formations and everyday life.

Flatbread Society is part of Bjørvika Utvikling (BU) public art program Slow Space, commissioned and produced by Bjørvika Utvikling and supported by The Norwegian Public Road Authroities (Eastern Region)."
futurefarmers  seedjourney  michaeltaussig  art  norway  oslo  bjørvika  naturalhistory  flatbreadsociety  slow  baking  biology  science  classideas  activism  sailing  boats  anthropology  barns  museums  seeds  sailboats  spain  denmark  españa  vejle  london  england  cardiff  wales  uk  antwerp  belgium  asturias  lena  mallorca  rmallah  palestine  istanbul  turkey  johanpetersen  børrepetersen  carlemilpetersen  fernandogarcíadory  agency  didierdemorcy  amyfranceschini  marthevandessel  viviensansour  ignaciochapela  martinlundberg  alfonsoborragán  hananbenammar  joeriley  audreysnyder  annavitale  jørundaasefalkenberg 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Six Strange Maps of California | KCET
"Disorientation is usually the opposite of what we hope for from a map, but allow these six to guide you somewhere unexpected. With their deliberate distortions and their fanciful imaginings, they'll challenge your preconceptions about the Golden State. That might leave you feeling a little disoriented, but sometimes losing your bearings is the best way to rediscover as familiar a place as California.

California as an Island…

California as New Albion…

Wet California…

When L.A. County Bordered New Mexico…

A State on Its Side…

California in 15 Million Years… "
california  mapping  maps  history  water  2016  1852  1860  naturalhistory  1650  1775  1851  centralvalley  newalbion  future 
december 2016 by robertogreco
“Today’s world has no equivalent” – BLDGBLOG
"Ted Nield’s book Supercontinent: Ten Billion Years in the Life of Our Planet—previously discussed back in 2012—is an exercise in what has long been referred to here as landscape futures.

In Nield’s case, this means literally imagining what the surface of the Earth might look like after hundreds of millions of years’ worth of tectonic transformations have deformed it beyond all recognition. Supercontinent could thus be read alongside Jan Zalasiewiez’s The Earth After Us as a useful guide for thinking about radical landscape change on a truly inhuman timescale.

Nield writes, for example, that, “even if some civilization of 200 million years ago had completely covered [the Earth] in cities and then wiped itself out in some gigantic global nuclear holocaust, nothing—not even the faintest trace of some unnatural radioisotope—would now remain on the surface.” Some of us might think that writing books, for example, is a way to achieve immortality—or winning an Oscar or becoming a national leader—yet covering the entire planet with roads and buildings is still not enough to guarantee a place in any sort of collective future memory. Everything will be erased.

The book goes from a speculative, but apparently realistic, scenario in which subduction zones might open in the Caribbean—thus dragging North America back toward a seemingly inexorable collision with Eurasia—to the future implications of past tectonic activity. Supercontinents have come and gone, Nield reminds us, and the cycle of these mega-islands is “the grandest of all the patterns in nature.” “750 million years before Pangaea formed,” he writes, “yet another [supercontinent] broke up; and before that another, and so on and on, back into the almost indecipherable past.”

At one point, Nield asks, “what of older supercontinents? What of the supercontinent that broke up to give us Pangaea? And the one before that? Compared with Pangaea, those lost worlds seem truly lost. As with all geological evidence, the older it is, the less of it survives, the more mangled it has become and the harder it is to interpret.”
It is all but impossible to picture them—to see oneself standing on them—as you can with Pangaea. They have their magical names, which lend them reality of a sort despite the fact that, for some, even their very existence remains controversial. About Rodinia, Pannotia, Columbia, Atlantica, Nena, Arctica or distant Ur, the mists of time gather ever more thickly.


The amazing thing is that this cycle will continue: long after North America is expected to reunite with Eurasia, which itself will have collided with North Africa, there will be yet another splintering, following more rifts, more bays and inland seas, in ever-more complicated rearrangements of the Earth’s surface, breeding mountain ranges and exotic island chains. And so on and so on, for billions of years. Bizarre new animals will evolve and bacteria will continue to inter-speciate—and humans will long since have disappeared from the world, unable to experience or see any of these future transformations.

While describing some of the potential ecosystems and landscapes that might result from these tectonic shifts, Nield writes that “our knowledge of what is normal behavior for the Earth is extremely limited.”

Indeed, he suggests, the present is not a key to the past: geologists have found “that there were things in the deepest places of Earth history for the unlocking of whose secrets the present no longer provided the key.” These are known as “no-analog” landscapes.

That is, what we’re experiencing right now on Earth potentially bears little or no resemblance to the planet’s deep past or far future. The Earth itself has been, and will be again, unearthly.

In any case, I mention all this because of a quick description found roughly two-fifths of the way through Nield’s book where he discusses lost ecosystems—landscapes that once existed here but that no longer have the conditions to survive.

Those included strange forests that, because of the inclination of the Earth’s axis, grew in almost permanent darkness at the south pole. “These forests of the polar night,” Nield explains, describing an ancient landscape in the present tense, “withstand two seasons: one of feeble light and one of unremitting dark. Today’s world has no equivalent of this eerie ecosystem. Their growth rings show that each summer these trees grow frenetically. Those nearer the coast are lashed by megamonsoon rains roaring in from [the lost continent] of Tethys, the thick cloud further weakening the feeble sunshine raking the latitudes at the bottom of the world.”

There is something so incredibly haunting in this image, of thick forests growing at the bottom of the world in a state of “unremitting” darkness, often lit only by the frozen light of stars, swaying now and again with hurricane-force winds that have blown in from an island-continent that, today, no longer exists.

Whatever “novel climates” and unimaginable geographies lie ahead for the Earth, it will be a shame not to see them."
blgblog  geoffmanaugh  naturalhistory  earth  tednield  immortality  humans  pangaea  ecosystems  change  forests  darkness  adaptation  geography  time  climate  climates  landscapes 
august 2016 by robertogreco
Return of the Wild | Boom: A Journal of California
"Of course, that’s not the only history in California. Two analyses of native languages and literature have found traces of the wolf across nearly the whole state. In 2001, Alexandra Geddes-Osborne and Malcolm Margolin found separate words for “wolf” and “coyote” in many indigenous languages, and a role for wolves in story and ceremonies, in tribes as disparate as the Karuk in the far north, to the Pomo in the center of the state, and the Luiseno in the south.5 More recently, a report by scholars from the Anthropological Studies Center at Sonoma State University found fifteen indigenous languages across the state with different words for wolf, coyote, and dog, and five tribes with traditions in which the wolf features.6

One can go even further back in time, beyond history to prehistory. At the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, little kids stare in horrified fascination at an animatronic saber tooth cat taking down a slightly mangy-looking stuffed ground sloth in the public area. Meanwhile, drawers and drawers of specimens from Pleistocene California—from 10,000 to 50,000 years old—compose a deeper archive. Dire wolves—giant relatives of modern gray wolves, though not their ancestors—are the most common fossils found at the site. Researchers have unearthed the bones of some four thousand individual dire wolves. Presumably, mastodons and ground sloths stuck in the tar were so tempting that they lured the dire wolves to their doom.

A curator at the tar pits looks slightly bemused that I’m less interested in the dire wolves (currently chic thanks to their appearance in Game of Thrones) than regular old Canis lupus. “Does the collection include gray wolves?” I ask.

It does, indeed. We walk down a long, narrow corridor between metal cabinets, open a drawer, and here are riches of wolf bones, looking, as tar pit specimens do, mahogany colored and polished. There are teeth, jaws, and skulls. Nineteen drawers in all. When the first people came to what is now California, there were almost certainly wolves here.

Of course, there are still wolves in California—in Los Angeles, in fact. But these aren’t free-roaming wildlife. They are pets—or prisoners, depending on your point of view. Jennifer McCarthy, a dog trainer, spent four years in Colorado studying and working with captive wolves on a large piece of land. She now applies what she learned there to the dogs of the greater Los Angeles area, including the fully domesticated, nonwolf pooches of celebrities such as Christina Aguilera, the Osborne family, and Renee Zellweger. Some of McCarthy’s less famous clients own wolves or wolf-dog hybrids. For many people, there is an undeniable attraction to being that close with a piece of the wild. But wolves and wolf dogs make notoriously poor pets. They can bite. They don’t follow direction well. Their predatory instincts are strong, and, most of all, they are incredible escape artists. They don’t bond with people the way dogs do. Wolves may sound like a cool companion animal, but they spend their lives trying to be wolves, with sometimes-disastrous consequences.

McCarthy meets me in Redondo Beach at a coffee shop, wearing a black hoodie that says “Wolf Woman” on it. “There are people who live in the city of Los Angeles with 100 percent full-blown wolves,” she says. In one case, she was called to an apartment in Beverly Hills where a wolf had chewed through the floor and escaped into the apartment below.

McCarthy disapproves of breeding and selling wolves and part-wolves. “I really believe these animals were meant to be wild,” she says. “Wolves don’t want a lot to do with us.” But she will try to keep pet wolves from being euthanized, either by working on their behavior or placing them in one of the always-crowded specialty wolf rescues. She also volunteers her time to transport wolves and wolf dogs to shelters when necessary.

McCarthy’s experience with wolves suggests to her that even if they recolonize the state in large numbers, they will stay as far away from people as possible. “I couldn’t picture wolves walking down Santa Monica Boulevard at night, going through garbage cans,” she says.

That’s a job for another California canine: the coyote. Smaller, faster-breeding, and potentially more adaptable, the coyote inherited the lands the wolf left behind when humans exterminated it across most of the country. Coyotes, unlike wolves, are nearly impossible to eradicate. You can shoot, trap, and poison them all day long, and they’ll just keep coming.

In a lot of the native California and Oregon stories in which Wolf appears, he seems to be kind of a straight man to the trickster Coyote, who is sometimes his brother. Geddes-Osborne and Margolin retell a story from the Chemehuevi,7 in which Wolf is a brave warrior who saves the day and his little brother when the Bear people attack. Wolf fights in a magnificent multicolored robe, which becomes the rainbow. He is “wiser, more stately and in charge” than his little brother Coyote. This reminds me of stories from the Northern Paiute, recorded in 1938 by Berkeley anthropologist Isabel Kelly.8 In these stories, Wolf and Coyote are brothers, and Coyote is constantly taking risks out of curiosity, despite the warnings of his sage, conservative older brother, Wolf. Here’s a fragment of a tale told by Bige Archie of the Gidii’tikadu or Groundhog Eater band, in Modoc County, California.

They saw someone camped. Coyote wanted to see whose camp it was. Wolf told him, “Those are pretty bad people; don’t go there.” Coyote thought they might have some ya’pa [camas] roots. “I’ll go anyway,” he said. He went over to the camp. There were some Bear women in there. There was lots of ya’pa drying outside. Coyote found a basket. He scooped up some ya’pa and ran. They came after him; they came close behind him. He threw back the basket and hit those women right on the legs. He didn’t eat much of the ya’pa; he didn’t have time.

There seem to be some essential truths here about the natures of these two canines. It may be debatable whether wolves have more dignity. But they are certainly much more risk-averse. They tend to approach novel situations with the utmost caution; they shun humans; they take a long time to warm up to strange wolves. Coyotes are reckless and innovative, and as a result, humans have never managed to kill them off, in California or anywhere else. Stories about coyotes outnumber stories about wolves in most Oregon and California Indian literatures by a considerable margin. Does that mean there were fewer wolves or just that Coyote is a more compelling character for human storytellers?

Coyotes have adapted to a modern, crowded California. They cross Sunset Boulevard in San Francisco in the afternoon,10 nibble on lychee and avocados from suburban Southern California gardens,11 and forage in Santa Monica’s exuberantly varied and rich trashcans.

I have a hard time imagining wolves in those dangerous, liminal niches. Perhaps when wolves come back to a California vastly more overrun with humans than the one they last knew, they will stay hidden in the kind of remote forests favored by OR7 and his pups—places where you can drive up and down ridges all day and hear nothing but the drone of VHF receiver static, the croaks of ravens, and the scold of nuthatches; places where you know wolves are there, but you never see them. Or perhaps wolves will surprise me and everyone else and push in close to human California, appearing on ranches, in coastal suburbs, and even in major cities.

No matter where wolves live and how many there are, humans will be watching. The leaders of California’s first wolf packs likely will be caught and fitted with transmitting collars, just as in the other western states. The first colonists may well have Twitter accounts, like OR7. One thing is sure. In the first year of their official residence in the state, more will be known about them and written about them than all of the wolf generations before 1924."
californina  wolves  emmamarris  naturalhistory  wildlife  coyotes  trickster  urban  urbanism  nature  animals  history  losangeles 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Guide to the Masters: the Science of Art Behind Nancy Graves - YouTube
"In this edition of Guide to the Masters, Christina Hunter, director of the Nancy Graves Foundation, sat with ArtInfo to talk about the illustrious, Massachusetts native her organization is named after."

[via: "natural history as a way of extending how artists see the world
#womeninscience #YesAllWomen
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jcwLSy0QQY "
https://twitter.com/FSologists_AK/status/578402006890467328 ]
art  science  nancygraves  naturalhistory  2015  sewing  taxidermy  arthistory  christinahunter  artscience  space  glvo 
march 2015 by robertogreco
"The Riddle of the Apostle Islands" ORION, MAY/JUNE 2003
"And yet: the Apostle Islands also have a deep human history that has profoundly altered the "untouched" nature that visitors find here. The archipelago has been inhabited by Ojibwe peoples for centuries, and remains the spiritual homeland of the Red Cliff and Bad River Ojibwe bands whose reservations lie just across the water. Ojibwe people continue to gather wild foods here as they have done for centuries. The largest of the islands, Madeline, was the chief trading post on Lake Superior for French and native traders from the seventeenth century forward. Commercial fisheries have operated in these waters since the mid-nineteenth century, with small fishing stations scattered among the islands for processing the catch in all seasons. The islands saw a succession of economic activities ranging from logging to quarrying to farming. Most have been completely cut over at least once. The Apostles possess the largest surviving collection of nineteenth-century lighthouses anywhere in the United States. Finally, tourists have sought out the islands since the late nineteenth century, and they too have left marks ranging from lodges to cottages to docks to trails as evidence of the wilderness experience they came to find.

All of this would seem to call into question the common perception among visitors that the Apostles are "untouched," and might even raise doubts about whether the National Lakeshore should be legally designated as wilderness. But although most parts of these islands have been substantially altered by past human activities, they have also gradually been undergoing a process that James Feldman, an environmental historian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is writing a book about the islands, has evocatively called "rewilding." The Apostles are thus a superb example of a wilderness in which natural and human histories are intimately intermingled. To acknowledge past human impacts upon these islands is not to call into question their wildness; it is rather to celebrate, along with the human past, the robust ability of wild nature to sustain itself when people give it the freedom it needs to flourish in their midst."
nature  wilderness  2003  naturalhistory  culture  wild  jamesfeldman  rewilding  history  humans  via:ayjay 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Museums: The endangered dead : Nature News & Comment
"The billions of specimens in natural-history museums are becoming more useful for tracking Earth's shrinking biodiversity. But the collections also face grave threats."



"Some scientists see applications for collections beyond documenting new species and studying biodiversity. The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum collection in Honolulu, for example, contains millions of mosquito specimens, which might tell virologists about the dynamics of mosquito-borne pathogens. Ten years ago, says Norris, researchers assumed that preservatives would have degraded the DNA of any pathogens in a specimen. But studies are showing that it is possible to recover and analyse viral DNA from museum specimens. In 2012, researchers were able to study the evolution of a retrovirus by extracting viral DNA from 120-year-old koala skins and comparing it with DNA found in skins from the 1980s4.

Norris says that the same could be done with bats to help track diseases such as Ebola. (Researchers strongly suspect that bats triggered the recent outbreak in West Africa.) “You could go into museum collections and you could prospect for viral DNA,” says Norris. The AMNH alone has more than 125,000 bat specimens from around the world. “I guarantee there is something out there that is probably more scary than Ebola that we haven't encountered yet.”

But thoughts of deadly diseases are far from the mind of Moratelli as he bends to his work at the Smithsonian, calipers in hand. He carefully measures another bat, enters the data into his spreadsheet and places the animal onto a tray. Measure and repeat. In cabinets within reach, he has yet more specimens on loan from museums in Pennsylvania, Louisiana and California.

Last year, while at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Moratelli discovered what appeared to be a specimen of an unknown species of Guyanese bat. He will know for certain later this year when he travels to Canada to compare the specimen to a large collection of several hundred bats from Guyana.

A few years ago, he travelled to the French National Museum of Natural History in Paris to inspect just two specimens. In the months ahead, Moratelli will repeat the measurement process thousands of times, and he knows he will discover new species. For some of these — critically endangered bats with dwindling habitats — his findings might help to avert extinction.

For others, it is already too late."
naturalhistory  museums  archives  2015  collections  biodiversity  research  specimens  digitization  repositories 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Trees | The Evergreen State College
"How do trees, and forest communities, function? What makes them tick? What determines the tallest trees in the world? What makes trees some of the oldest organisms on earth? These and many other questions about trees have captivated humans since the dawn of time. In this program we will closely examine trees in their variety of form and function. We will use our studies to learn how understanding of tree form and function integrates study of botany, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography and ecology.

Our studies will be divided between those that focus on individual trees, forests and whole forests. We will also read classic and recent texts about human interactions with trees and how our relationships to trees still help shape our collective identities and cultures. Students will learn how to read and interpret recent scientific studies from peer-reviewed journals and be challenged to reconcile popular belief about the roles of trees with scientific observations. Day trips, workshops, labs and a multiple-day field trip will allow us to observe some of the largest trees on the West Coast and observe and measure trees in extreme environments. Communication skills will be emphasized, particularly reading scientific articles and writing for scientific audiences. We will also practice skills for communicating to a broader public using nonfiction and technical writing."
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  biology  botany  environment  environmentalstudies  naturalhistory  riting  fieldstudies  forestry  trees  plants  ecology  naturalscience  science  dylanfischer 
september 2014 by robertogreco
River Reciprocity | The Evergreen State College
"This interdisciplinary science and visual arts program is focused on rivers, streams, and watersheds and is designed for beginning students in art and ecology. Students will explore the role of art and science in helping people develop a deep and reciprocal relationship with a watershed. We will study physical stream characteristics that affect the distributions and relationships among biological organisms. We will develop observational skills in both art and science as well as keep illustrated field journals that are inspired by a connection to a specific stream.

The first half of the program focuses on the Nisqually River watershed. Through readings and field studies, students will learn the history of the watershed, study concepts in stream ecology, learn to identify native plants in the watershed, and learn about current conservation efforts. We will work with local K-12 schools to conduct water quality testing, identify aquatic macroinvertebrates, and provide environmental education to elementary school students. The study of freshwater ecology will include basic water chemistry, stream flow dynamics, primary productivity, organic matter and nutrient dynamics, aquatic insect taxonomy, ecological interactions, current threats to freshwater ecosystems, and ecological restoration. The program will focus on current research in riparian zones, streams, rivers, and watersheds. Students will have opportunities to be involved in small-scale group research projects in stream ecology. An overnight field trip will be organized to provide in-depth experiences in the field and study of rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.

Students will develop beginning drawing skills and practice techniques for keeping an illustrated field journal. They will work in charcoal, chalk pastel, watercolor, and colored pencil. They will explore strategies for using notes and sketches to inspire more finished artworks. Through lectures and readings, students will study artists whose work is inspired by their deep connection to a place. Each student will visit a local stream regularly and, in the second half of the quarter, will create a series of artworks or an environmental education project that gives something back to their watershed."
aesthetics  ecology  environmentalstudies  environment  fieldstudies  naturalhistory  visualarts  art  watershed  carrileroy  luciaharrison  evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  restoration  naturalresources  rivers  streams 
september 2014 by robertogreco
BLDGBLOG: Procedural Forestry
"We looked at procedural Brutalism the other week—and, deep in the BLDGBLOG archives, we explored the moors of a procedurally generated British countryside—so why not procedural forestry?

Designer Florian Veltman tweeted two screen grabs the other week, along with the quick comment that he was "working on a procedural forest." The first image, which you can see in his tweet, is just a path or small clearing—almost a holloway—cutting forward through a forest of algorithmic leaves and branches.

But it's the picturesque errorscape seen in the opening image of this post, and in Veltman's second tweet, that really caught my eye. Captioned by Veltman as a "procedural forest gone wrong... or right?," it resembles a kind of upended tectonic plate overgrown with vegetation, pierced by the alien presence of a miscalculated substrate erupting from below.

Procedural forestry, procedural geology, procedural oceanography—the very idea of a procedural natural history is just incredible. Unstoppable worlds endlessly flowering from roots of code. Imagine landscape information modeling becoming weirdly sentient, self-generating, and aesthetically sublime, laced with errors, topographies gone wild—stuttering and mutated—in the infinite seams between digital worlds.

We watch in unearthly awe as coded terrains crack open or glitch apart just enough to reveal their mathematical interiors, buried operating systems indistinguishable from nature whirring away within the roots and leaves."
bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  procedural  forestry  geology  oceanography  naturalhistory  code  landscape  topography  math  mathematics  2014 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Science Studio
"The Weight of Mountains

Here’s a short film by a children’s book illustrator about “the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed, based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp.” It’s eye-meltingly gorgeous and starkly scientific. The tone is meditative and incantatory, turning geological terms into epic poetry. If you’ve ever wanted to read John McPhee’s “Annals of the Former World” but only have 11 minutes, watch this."

[Direct link to video: https://vimeo.com/87651855

"This is a short film about the processes by which mountains are created and eventually destroyed. It is based upon the work of British geographer L. Dudley Stamp, and was shot in Iceland.

Physical geography and geology is an enormous and fascinating subject, and this film only touches upon the surface of the discipline. For those who wish to further advance their knowledge in this field, additional reading and research is recommended.

The film was created as part of The Weight of Mountains filmmaker residency program. For more information please visit twom.is/

Animation courtesy of NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio" ]
via:vruba  2014  johnpablus  ldudleystamp  mountains  earth  science  earthscience  landscape  geology  film  scale  height  geography  history  naturalhistory  oceans  atmosphere  platemovement  platetectonics  sun  frost  eathering  wind  weather  erosion  glaciers  ice  rain  water  denudation  nature  gravity  johnmcphee 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Exhibitions > Curiosity: Art and the Pleasures of Knowing | Turner Contemporary
"Enter a world of wonder, fascination and inquiry. Experience the spectacular and the bizarre, the startling and mysterious, contemporary art alongside historical artefacts, as the gallery becomes a cabinet of curiosities.

‘Like the cabinet of curiosities of the 17th century, which mixed science and art, ancient
and modern, reality and fiction, this exhibition refuses to choose between knowledge
and pleasure. It juxtaposes historical periods and categories of objects to produce an eccentric map of curiosity in its many senses’ says Curator Brian Dillon.

See the absurdly over stuffed Horniman Museum walrus, which has travelled to the seaside having left its current home for the first time since the 1890s, sit proudly in our North gallery. Works by contemporary artists including Katie Paterson, Pablo Bronstein, Tacita Dean and Gerard Byrne expose past and present fascinations such as astronomy, animals, maps and humankind’s obsession with collecting, blurring the boundaries of art, science and fantasy.

Historical artefacts abound with intricate pen and ink studies by Leonardo da Vinci;  Albrecht Dürer’s celebrated Rhinoceros woodcut (1515); beautiful bird studies by the gallery’s namesake JMW Turner; late 19th century models of aquatic creatures by German glassmakers Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka; the mineral collection of Roger Caillois from the Natural History Museum in Paris, the diarist and botanist John Evelyn’s cabinet, ivory anatomical models from the 17th and 18th centuries, Robert Hooke’s Micrographia with its startingly detailed illustration of a flea, and a penguin collected from one of Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expeditions from our neighbour the Powell-Cotton Museum in Birchington-on-Sea."
exhibitions  turnercontemporary  2013  cabinetofcuriosities  wunderkammer  museums  ncmideas  artifacts  animals  naturalhistory  wonder  inquiry  science  art  fantasy  collections  briandillon 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf - Meadows
"And so

This is what I think of when people talk about the anthropocene, and reintroducing extinct species, and geoengineering, and so on and so forth. When they speak from the assumption that up to now we haven’t been seriously involved in nature, I want to show them a meadow."
charlieloyd  naturalhistory  nature  conservation  conservancies  2013  islands  forests  meadows  culture  history  anthropocene  extinction 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Deep map - Wikipedia
"Deep map refers to an emerging practical method of intensive topographical exploration, popularised by author William Least Heat-Moon with his book PrairyErth: A Deep Map. (1991).

A deep map work most often takes the form of engaged documentary writing of literary quality; although it can equally well be done in long-form on radio. It does not preclude the combination of writing with photography and illustration. Its subject is a particular place, usually quite small and limited, and usually rural.

Some[who?] call the approach 'vertical travel writing', while archeologist Michael Shanks compares it to the eclectic approaches of 18th and early 19th century antiquarian topographers or to the psychogeographic excursions of the early Situationist International[1] http://www.mshanks.com/2012/07/10/chorography-then-and-now/ [2] http://documents.stanford.edu/michaelshanks/51.

A deep map goes beyond simple landscape/history-based topographical writing – to include and interweave autobiography, archeology, stories, memories, folklore, traces, reportage, weather, interviews, natural history, science, and intuition. In its best form, the resulting work arrives at a subtle, multi-layered and 'deep' map of a small area of the earth.

In North America it is a method claimed by those interested in bioregionalism. The best known U.S. examples are Wallace Stegner's Wolf Willow (1962) and Heat-Moon's PrairyErth (1991).

In Great Britain, the method is used by those who use the terms 'spirit of place' and 'local distinctiveness'. BBC Radio 4 has recently undertaken several series of radio documentaries that are deep maps. These are inspired by the 'sense of place' work of the Common Ground organisation."
via:selinjessa  writing  williamleastheat-moon  verticaltravelwriting  documentary  documentation  radio  photography  illustration  place  rural  michaelshanks  topography  psychogeography  situationist  autobiography  archaeology  stories  storytelling  memory  memories  weather  interviews  naturalhistory  bioregionalism  parairyerth  wolfwillow  wallacestegner  localdistinctiveness  bbcradio  bbs  radio4  deepmaps  maps  mapping  commonground  folklore  science  intuition 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Tupperwolf - Lichen names
"Yesterday I happened across that Eames promotion for the SX-70 for the first time. It reminded me, among many things, of an old friend, now dead – Bob Rodieck.

My high school was my mother (a qualified teacher), our neighbor R., and me. One of the classes was to make a book on our island’s natural history. When we were planning it, we visited Bob on an extremely gray spring day to talk about desktop publishing, because he’d been talking about how he was writing a book himself. (I may have the timeline slightly wrong here. Please consider this an As I Remember It story.)

We explained what we wanted to do. Bob, who was a freshly emeritus professor, scratched his stubble and leaned forward, then leaned back. He asked if we knew the difference between vector and raster graphics. I started explaining how they’re actually fairly isomorphic, since pixels can be represented as squares and, conversely, control points are in a discrete space, and from then on we were friends. It was Bob who turned me on to Tufte, and I turned him on to Bringhurst.



The natural history book was a well chosen project. We interviewed a lot of the oldest and most eccentric people on the island. They had records, written or in memory, about when flowers used to bloom, where the clams used to live before they were depleted, how many eagles used to nest on the point, how the old Samish woman had treated leather, when the last puffin was seen, what time of year the beaver showed up, and so on. There was the mystery of the flying squirrel.

We got a lot of very guarded mushroom knowledge from Dorothy H., who was in her eighties and roughly three times as vigorous and alert as I was. It’s really hard to come by good mushroom knowledge, because the people careful enough to understand mushrooms tend to be careful about risking other people on possibly poisonous food. Dorothy played her cards close to her chest.



Bob eventually finished his book, which was called The First Steps in Seeing. It was very well received, but as far as I can tell never sold well – Amazon has only four reviews, though they’re all five-star. I think it’s because he wasn’t around to promote it. He’d told me this wonderful story about graphic design and experimental design once: He went to get a check-up. He was given a form to fill out that included dietary habits. He said that he was about to check “1 serving of green vegetables/day” when he noticed that the checkbox itself was red! He figured that, being of northern European stock, he was adapted to fewer greens, and checked the first box that wasn’t red, 3 servings, and called it good. Not long after finishing the book, he was diagnosed with gut cancer.

Towards the end, he was on the island resting when he started having an unusual type of trouble moving his eyes. He said it was clearly a certain potassium channel failing, and it was time to go back to Seattle and die.

I think that, had he been around to promote it and put out a second edition, his book would be a classic now. It’s in the details and how they’re subordinated to the big-picture view. He drew all the illustrations himself. He chose the spot colors. He thought very hard about what path through the material he could provide that would be easiest for the beginner but pass the best trailheads for those who went further. He threw a lot of textbook conventions out the window and never missed them. He gave a crap but didn’t give a fuck.

Dorothy’s reluctance to tell us which mushrooms we could eat drove us to the classic texts, David Arora’s books. We could use him as a lever on her – “Arora says …; is that really true?”. In other fields we found other guidebooks: Pojar & MacKinnon on plants, Love’s Probably More Than You Want to Know About the Fishes of the Pacific Coast.

If you don’t spend a lot of time with natural history guidebooks, you might not know that the best ones have voice – authorial voice. It’s necessary, I think, to make a book that’s basically a huge list of details interesting enough to pay attention to. And I suspect you’re unlikely to excell in mycology, botany, or marine biology unless you have a sense of perspective. If you are humorless, it’s a lot easier to be a businessperson than to spend three weeks in a tent, looking at little tufts of fungus–alga symbionts.

It’s the big picture and the little picture. It’s Philip Morrison’s speech at the end of that Polaroid film. It’s the SX-70 letting you be more inside experience, less concerned with problems of representation, in something more than a tree or a net. It’s an idea of technology that seems a little dangerous and very good to me. It reminds me of Twitter a little. Lately there I appreciated a map of surf conditions from Bob’s son, and reconnected with my fellow student R.’s cousin."
charlieloyd  highschool  projects  projectbasedlearning  pbl  naturalhistory  lichen  names  naming  2013  memory  learning  education  books  writing  teaching  sx-70  philipmorrison  polaroid  mushrooms  bobrodieck  unschooling  deschooling  sight  seeing  memories  imaging  photography  publishing  promotion  fun  play  words  wordplay  design  davidarora  trevorgoward  brucemccune  delmeidinger  science  interestedness  interestingness  interested 
march 2013 by robertogreco
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"Cross Collection Discovery (CCD) provides a way to search across Yale's collections of art, natural history, books, and maps, as well as photos, audio, and video documenting people, places, and events that form part of Yale's institutional identity and contribution to scholarship. The content searchable in CCD will grow as additional University departments make use of the service to share Yale's collections with the Yale community and the world."
via:robinsloan  education  art  history  books  photography  naturalhistory  maps  audio  video  archives  search  primarysources  events  libraries  digitalcommons  yale  museums  prints 
may 2011 by robertogreco

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