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A grassy 3-D slant anamorphosis optical illusion globe entitled “Qui Croire?” (“Who to Believe?”), designed by French artist François Abélanet to focus attention on environmental issues, was to have been removed from in front of Paris City Hall last week.
While Abélanet’s green world is probably gone, the earth’s environmental issues remain, as does this fascinating 2 minute video of his assembly process. (My French is rusty, so I sometimes watch with the sound off.)
The project, installed on a flat lawn in front of Paris City Hall, was created to look like a giant sphere from a certain view point. Assembled by 90 people over a five day period, the installation was about as long and wide as a football field. It used 600 cubic meters of sand and hay covered by 300 square meters of sedum.
I’d love to hear about anamorphic installations this side of the pond. Know of any?
Ambigrams. Rotate the art 180° and it still reads the same! Remember the Angels & Demons logo for Dan Brown’s book and film? John Langdon created it. John and I met 15 years ago when we were both exhibiting at a big trade show in New York City. We were impressed with each other’s optical illusion fun. We exchanged cards and talked of exchanging products. Can’t recall if we ever actually followed through though. John’s inevitable success was obvious even then. But I recently discovered to my surprise he didn’t invent the art. The earliest known ambigram dates 100 years before! Wikipedia’s ambigrams page (see excerpt below) has a good history of the technique. And here’s an ambigram generator. Don’t get too excited though about the generator. What it puts out is at best a starting point. It needs the refinement of a sensitive ambigram artist like John Langdon. Or maybe you, yourself? Give it a try! Please share your wordplay with me.
“An ambigram is a typographical design or art form that may be read as one or more words not only in its form as presented, but also from another viewpoint, direction, or orientation. The words readable in the other viewpoint, direction or orientation may be the same or different from the original words. Douglas R. Hofstadter describes an ambigram as a ‘calligraphic design that manages to squeeze two different readings into the selfsame set of curves.’ “
I’d love to see your creations!
Joseph Egan and Hunter Thompson are first year Graphic Design Communication Students currently studying at Chelsea College of Art & Design in London.
Exploring the relationship between graphic design and architecture, they learned about master artist Felice Varini‘s amazing anamorphic work – a form of optical illusion that lures the viewer into a unique, immersive 3-D physical experience which, when that viewer arrives at a predetermined end point, delivers the appearance of a flat 2-D printing.
Egan and Thompson selected an ideal architectural space within the college buildings to execute their project installation.
Egan shares, “When planning an anamorphic installation is it important to consider that to maximize the fracturing of the design, it is best to try and touch as many planes as possible. We eventually decided to carry out our installation in a corridor of our college (as shown in the images) using the long walls to maximize the distortion of the letter forms. All of our work is site specific and we spend as long as possible discussing a choosing the perfect architectural locations for our works.”
What fun it would have been for me to watch them figure out the projections!
What I love about this kind of art is the surprise - turning the annoyance viewers feel trying to figure out what’s going on here into complete delight as they gradually move into a place where all the pieces coalesce!
Please let me know of anyone in this country who’s doing anamorphic typography! I’m dying to watch the process in person!
Spinning tops are one of the oldest recognizable toys found on archaeological sites. They originated independently in cultures all over the world – doubtless due to a basic human fascination with things that spin and teeter and balance. (Good old physics!)
Japanese spinning tops (“koma” or “goma”) are considered some of the very best in the world. New designs come out each year displaying a very high degree of craftsmanship and multiple-action spinning sophistication. They’re usually made of native wood and painted by hand. They can take the shape of animals, fruits, and even gambling games. Some modern tops are cinched with metal bands.
Here are four sets of my Japanese multiple-action spinning tops I have cherished for decades. Their colors have faded over time, but their quirky, unpredictable behavior still engaged and delighted the sophisticated grown-ups who played with them while I tried to film them.
A. “Sandan koma” A palm-spun triple-decker of tops (above, left). Not so hard to start the largest top revolving. More challenging to spin the middle one in the indentation of the big one. Downright next to impossible to get the small one balanced on the whole gyrating stack. (I managed this once for five seconds!)
B. “Tobi-koma” Flying top. (right) My favorite! This is a string-pulled top comprising five coin-sized tops nested inside a cup. When launched, the smaller tops come shooting out of the cup. Lots of fun guessing which color will spin the longest. Never the same! Skilled players even get the cup itself to spin upside-down!
C. “Okkake-goma“ Chasing top. (left) This string-pulled top is spun in its tray. Two disks dropped against the spinning top get launched to leap each other in the track or knock the other out of the way.
Professional top spinners in Japan also do shows in which they perform clever tricks like spinning a top on the edge of a sword!
Eyes closed I can still see and feel and hear my first sparking, humming spinning tin top. Can you remember yours?
Ingenious performance art from the old Tonight Show. I missed it the first time around not being a regular viewer. Thanks to Bernie DeKoven (Major Fun) we get to enjoy this delightfully timeless bit.