The Parisianer: A (Hopeful) Future of Paris

Fake futuristic magazine cover depicting a man manipulating a hologram display in front a tree which is partially moultingI have to admit, after a particularly awful experience well over a decade ago I have deliberately avoided travelling through the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris. As a result, I had no idea about the on-going (and absolutely stunning) art installation/project taking place there. I still wouldn’t if it weren’t for Khoi Vinh.

It’s almost enough to make me want to lift my travel ban (almost). It’s certainly a project that is right up my street, producing beautiful illustrations depicting what the future of Paris (and, by extension, the world) might be. There’s a lot of fantastical science fiction on display, from aliens to integrated hydroponic schemes to space elevators and beyond.

The designs alone are stunning but some of the ideas also really caught my imagination. Take for instance the image above: what’s going on here? Is the tree real but the environment completely micromanaged by the person shown? Is the tree fake, perhaps a hologram being manually ‘updated’ to show the changing of the seasons? Is he administering some kind of medication to turn back the tide of a withering disease? It’s a wonderfully simple image but the amount of possibilities it contains is fascinating. I’m quite tempted to buy my own print. Or possibly pick up the final, published work when it is released.

How Do I Join Hell’s Anthropologists?

Science Gang Tattoos by Tom Gauld, created for New Scientist.

A brilliant little illustration of possible science-based gang tattoos. The names aren’t the best (though Particle-Physics She-Devils has a special place in my soul) but the actual imagery is spot on. I’d love to revisit this idea at some point and come up with my own variation for us Evolutionary Biologists (or possibly Software Engineers, I can rep both crews)!

2 Kinds of People

Two seemingly identical available WI-FI networks menus but one shows default network names and the other has networks all named using Wi-Fi related popular culture puns
I know several people who have “Pretty Fly for a Wi-Fi” as their network names… not quite sure what that says…

Occasionally, StumbleUpon truly comes through for me, providing a tiny internet gem that I’m certain I’d have never found otherwise. Today, that accolade goes to 2 Kinds of People, the type of microsite that Tumblr was made for. Some of the posts are a little obvious, though the simplistic art style makes them look great anyway, but I found myself genuinely laughing more than once as I browsed through their content. Definitely recommend a look.

Gouty-Stem Trees For All

19th Century pencil illustration of an Australian Baobab tree, titled Gouty-Stem Tree

Ah, the good old “Gouty-Stem Tree” of Australia! Actually, I honestly had no idea that Baobab’s had reached the Great Land of Oz; I have (mistakenly) always assumed they were endemic to Africa, but apparently not. But, apologies tree-lovers, this is not a post about these wondrous, bulbous monsters of the savannah but rather how I came to learn about them in the first place and, importantly, why I can share the above image without any worries of reprisal.

The “Gouty-Stem Tree” (the image, not the plant) is an illustration taken from John Stoke’s book “Discoveries in Australia; with an account of the coasts and rivers explored and surveyed during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, in the years 1837-43“*. Not a book I’ve ever read (or actually seen), sadly, but one of hundreds that have been archived and “digitised” by the British Library to help preserve and catalogue their huge collection, which is all available to the public. Better still, this particular image, alongside hundreds of similar engravings, etchings, drawings, maps etc., has been released as part of a side project of copyright free pictures (due to the age of the books), all made accessible and shareable via Flickr. You can check out the full, ever expanding collection over here (its definitely worth it).

A friend pointed this out to me, largely for use in world-building, writing and LARPing exercises (more her forte, sadly) but personally I can also see a very valuable resource for designers, with some fantastic wildlife imagery that I’m itching to incorporate into some future projects. Happy hunting!


* I have no idea if this refers to the H.M.S. Beagle, of Darwinian fame.