Friday, August 30, 2013

Wandering around the Museum of Natural History's rare book images online

Wandering around the Museum of Natural History images
I came across this lovely old book of fern illustrations. Isn't
that a beautiful cover? Love the deep blue and gold.

When I was a child in Jamaica, West Indies, there were ferns with a silvery white, powdery underside that one could place against one's skin, slap the fern and it would leave a temporary tattoo of the fern's shape.

More images from the Museum of Natural History collection.

From the marvelous Brain Pickings.
Natural Histories: Extraordinary Rare Book Selections from the American Museum of Natural History Library (public library) brings together an extraordinary collection of works from the Rare Book Room and Rare Book Collections of the American Museum of Natural History’s Research Library, spanning five centuries of anthropology, astronomy, earth science, paleontology, and zoology representing all seven continents. Each highlighted work is accompanied by a short essay exploring its significance, what makes it rare — scarcity, uniqueness, age, binding type, size, value, or nature of the illustrations — and its place in natural history.

Awww, look at that coy look. A coquette of hippos.

Great horn owl, barn owl, meadow mouse, red bat, small headed flycatcher, and hawk owl from Wilson's American orinthology [sic]
An alluring old science book by Louis Figuier. The Ocean - the Sea and Some of its Inhabitants with some great illustrations

Gloriously happy images of sea life from some of Louis Renard's (c.1678-1746) exquisitely illustrated book, such as this one.

Fishes, crayfishes, and crabs

Louis Renard's natural history of the rarest curiosities of the seas of the Indies. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Magic eye stereograms

Years ago in 1996, my former brother, as I refer to him now, gave me a present. It was one of the only presents he ever gave me in my life and, sadly, one I was pretty much mystified by at the time and didn't connect with as something enjoyable. It was a book with images called the Magic Eye, autostereograms. Try as I might I couldn't 'see' the image hidden within the visual jumble. So in frustration, I put the book aside. Some time later I was, suddenly, able to 'see' the 3D images. It was an exciting experience. All of a sudden out popped the encrypted image. The hidden images weren't that exciting, a shark, an elephant, basically the silhouette of something easy to recognize. It was the act of 'seeing', where one was unable to 'see' a moment before that was exciting, the surprise and depth of the image, a surreal effect. I did like that.

Maybe he gave me the book in honor of us growing up in the 60's of the images being "trippy"?

I had given my brother many presents over the years, to him, his wife and children. Many of the things I'd picked up traveling and thought about very carefully as something he or his family might like. So this Magic Eye book of autostereograms seemed to be an odd present and I felt hurt at the time. Looking back I think us choosing different belief systems back in 1975 formed a wedge between us, his being born again Christian and my being Buddhist put a rift in what had been our friendship as children and teenagers. I felt that I had accepted him, although I was discouraged by his choice, still hopeful for his happiness. He, on the other hand, had seemed to judge me harshly, reject me forever. Sad that and interesting that the present he gave me was about changing one's perspective and out of change would come a new view.

This afternoon I thought of those Magic Eye images and wondered if they had evolved since they came out in 1996. It seems not much but there are some cool ones.

The back story about the Magic Eye from Wikipedia.

Magic Eye is a series of books published by N.E. Thing Enterprises (renamed in 1996 to 
Magic Eye Inc.). The books feature autostereograms (precisely, random dot autostereograms),
 which allow some people to see 3D images by focusing on 2D patterns. The viewer must diverge 
his or her eyes in order to see a hidden three-dimensional image within the pattern. "Magic Eye" 
has become something of a genericized trademark, often used to refer to autostereograms of any 
origin. The autostereogram predates the Magic Eye series by several years. Christopher Tyler 
created the first black-and-white autostereograms in 1979 with the assistance of computer 
programmer Maureen Clarke.

Unable to find an American publisher after creating its first images in 1991, creators Tom Baccei 
and Cheri Smith managed to make a deal with Tenyo, a Japanese company that sells 
magic supplies. Tenyo published its first book in late 1991 titled Miru Miru Mega Yokunaru Magic Eye 
("Your Eyesight Gets Better & Better in a Very Short Rate of Time: Magic Eye"), sending sales 
representatives out to street corners to demonstrate how to see the hidden image. Within a few 
weeks the first Japanese book became a best seller, as did the second, rushed out shortly after.

How to 'see' the Magic Eye images. I use the cross eyed, relax method but 
there are, apparently other methods.

Here are some Magic Eye images found on the web. If it is a distraction to have all the images
on one page, right click any image an open it in a new tab or window.

This one is a wow. It's definitely one of the new breed of images.
It's from a French page on autostereograms that talks about the game aspect of the mathematics.

if you right click and open in a new tab the image is very big, fun to go into, in depth
Definitely new school autostereograms here, wow. Wiwaxum Haustorium has some cool designs.
This is one of my faves of the old school variety

This is new, animated stereograms
animated shark
fire and ice