Wednesday 29 February 2012

Visual Recipes

Here is a set of 10 visual recipes created by illustrator Katie Shelly.

She warns that "The following recipes are not intended as precise culinary blueprints. Instead they are meant to inspire Experimentation, Improvisation and Play in the Kitchen."

The example below is for Pesto Sauce.

Sunday 26 February 2012

British Power Food

The Great British Breakfast. (Click for Bigger Size)

Image Copyright M.G. Reed 2012

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Opie Wrapping Paper

I missed this Julian Opie wrapping paper before Christmas, but it is still available for download from the Guardian website.

How to Write

On September 7th, 1982, David Ogilvy sent the following internal memo to all agency employees.

“How to Write”:

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing. Read it three times.
2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.
3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.
4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.
5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.
6. Check your quotations.
7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning — and then edit it.
8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.
9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.
10. If you want ACTION, don’t write. Go and tell the guy what you want.


Tuesday 21 February 2012

The Treachery of Projections

The Blue Marble is one of the most iconic images of the Earth that we have. The colour photograph was taken in December 1972 by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft when they were a distance of about 45,000 kilometres above the surface of the Earth. There are a number of striking features of this image. Perhaps the most obvious is the vibrant colour of the image; the blue, white and browns of the sea, cloud and land. Almost equally remarkable is the very marked curvature of the Earths surface, here is compelling photographic evidence that the Earth is not flat. The last feature that causes us to look twice is the fact that in the original image released by NASA the Earth is “upside down” (at least according to Wikipedia). 

However, no matter which way up we prefer it and how beautiful we find this picture, as Rene Magritte would have put it; ceci n’est pas une planète. This is not a planet. It is an image of a planet. More precisely this image is a projection of a three dimensional, almost spherical globe, onto a two-dimensional plane. Map makers call this type of projection an orthographic projection. This projection introduces subtle distortions and a gross problem, in an orthographic projection at any one time we cannot see the far side of the object.

It was to try and solve this problem that the so-called Mercator projection was developed - which is a trick for showing a spherical Earth on a flat surface. This projection was developed by the 16th Century cartographer Gerardus Mercator in 1569. It was Mercator’s brilliance that allowed him to describe and use a rational method for squeezing the full and irreducible 3 dimensions of the Earths surface into a 2 dimensional piece of paper. There are dozens of different map projections and each and every one of them has issues - HERE is a good overview and introduction.

Saturday 18 February 2012


Joy Division were an outstanding live band. I saw them support the Buzzcocks on 2nd October 1979 at Mountford Hall, Liverpool University.

Their debut album Unknown Pleasures was released on Factory Records as FAC10 in June 1979. The front cover was a stacked time series scientific data plot in white on an expensive textured black paper.  The image comes from an edition of the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Astronomy, and was originally drawn with black lines on a white background, it shows successive pulses from the first pulsar discovered, PSR B1919+21 or CP 1919. 

Ishihara Cards

I am Red/Green colourblind. I have known this since I was about 11 years old - and I found out because I was asked to look at a distinctive set of coloured cards designed by the Japanese opthalmologist  Shinobu Ishihara (1879 – 1963).  

I was told at the time that the Red/Green colourblindness that I had would mean that I would never be a pilot. They were right, I'm not. 

It is quite tricky finding out about Ishihara - there is a biographical book on him published in 1984 but it is in Japanese and it doesn't look like there is an English translation. Eric Kindel has a good piece  HERE.

The Landform Map

Erwin Raisz (1893 -1968) was a Hungarian-born American cartographer, best known for his physiographic maps of landforms. HERE is a biographic article and below is one of his superb physiographic maps of the USA.

A twilight zone of time...

The Guardian has a great piece HERE by the Irish writer Colm Tóibín on the relationship he had with his mother, an unpublished but talented poet. In this essay he cites an essay that Conor Cruise O'Brien wrote on the short story writer Seán O'Faoláin that dealt with childhood and memory: 

"There is for all of us a twilight zone of time, stretching back for a generation or two before we were born, which never quite belongs to the rest of history. Our elders have talked their memories into our memories until we come to possess some sense of a continuity exceeding and traversing our own individual being … Children of small and vocal communities are likely to possess it to a high degree and, if they are imaginative, have the power of incorporating into their own lives a significant span of time before their individual births."

This resonates with me as I think back about the family stories that I imbibed as a child, my twilight zone of time includes; the extended families on both sides, the story of my Mum's family during the war, my Dad's jobs in London with my uncle - his first taste of ice-cold Coke in the tyre factory he worked in and the reason why we had an anthology of poetry from Peckham library, the poems of Robert Service (I remember The Cremation of Sam McGee in Songs of a Sourdough), the reason my grandfather had a glass eye, the daily masses my Mum had to attend at Bellerive Convent School and the Manx kippers my Dad had on his family holidays in the Isle of Mann. 

Image of Rocky Lane, Tuebrook late 1960's or early 1970's from HERE.

Monday 13 February 2012

The World of Pacific Gas & Electric - R.E. Harrison 1939

A pre-computer age infographic / map by Richard Edes Harrison created for Fortune magazine 1939. Richard Edes Harrison (1901-1994) was a cartographer active in the 1940s. Harrison studied Zoology and Chemistry at Yale but graduated with architecture, he pursued scientific illustration in New York  and published his first map for $25 in 1932 in Time Magazine. 

Sunday 12 February 2012

An Elephant

Some fantastic full page illustrations from J.Barnes, Wild Animals Painting Book, Published by Blackie  c1905 are HERE.

Chernoff Faces. Not.

I happened to be looking at Chernoff faces - and they don't work for me. At all.

The don't work for Alex Reisner either - but he has done something about it and has a brilliant piece here ( that explains his solution.

At the risk of spoiling it his solution is a set of Reisner faces - which he shows in a small multiple here to show baseball statistics for 2005 National League.

The raw data is as follows;


ARI .475 1419 191 606 67

ATL .556 1453 184 534 92

CHI .488 1506 194 419 65

CIN .451 1453 222 611 72

COL .414 1477 150 509 65

FLO .512 1499 128 512 96

HOU .549 1400 161 481 115

LAD .438 1374 149 541 58

MIL .500 1413 175 531 79

NYM .512 1421 175 486 153

PHI .543 1494 167 639 116

PIT .414 1445 139 471 73

SDP .506 1416 130 600 99

SFG .463 1427 128 431 71

STL .617 1494 170 534 83

WAS .500 1367 117 491 45

He has an algorithm to map these into graphic

win pct = cap rotation

hits = mouth shape

home runs = tongue length

walks = left eye size

stolen bases = right eye size

His set of faces are as follows;

The Terminology of Perspective of Joseph Moxon.

From the Tate collection.

By JMW Turner.

The Terminology of Perspective of Joseph Moxon, Lecture Diagram 14  circa 1810.

Pen and ink and watercolour on paper

support: 482 x 600 mm
on paper, unique

Accepted by the nation as part of the Turner Bequest 1856

Finberg number: CXCV 58

Turner’s second lecture was devoted to theterms and procedures of standard perspective. He included terminology used by now lesser known writers, such as the English hydographer and mathematician Joseph Moxon. Turner owned a copy of his manual Perspective, or Perspective Made Easie, published about 1670, which included pop-up illustrations.

 (From the display caption August 2004)

Image Copyright Tate Collection

The Elements of Drawing at the Ashmolean

The Asmolean has a superb site describing the teaching collection of John Ruskin, HERE.

Below is the first page of the Preface to Intense Seeing - mentioning both Ruskin and his little book The Elements of Drawing

Saturday 11 February 2012

Warhol's Europoort

Cartographies of the Absolute has some images of Rotterdam's Europoort HERE. Europoort is by volume one of the largest ports in the world. Below some containers turned into a Warhol style poster. 

Cartographies of Time

Cartographies of Time is a superb illustrated book from Princeton Architectural Press that unearths the history of attempts to render time graphically.

The blurb goes as follows;

What does history look like? How do you draw time?

From the most ancient images to the contemporary, the line has served as the central figure in the representation of time. The linear metaphor is ubiquitous in everyday visual representations of time--in almanacs, calendars, charts, and graphs of all sorts. Even our everyday speech is filled with talk of time having a "before" and an "after" or being "long" and "short." The timeline is such a familiar part of our mental furniture that it is sometimes hard to remember that we invented it in the first place. And yet, in its modern form, the timeline is not even 250 years old. The story of what came before has never been fully told, until now.

Cartographies of Time is the first comprehensive history of graphic representations of time in Europe and the United States from 1450 to the present. Authors Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton have crafted a lively history featuring fanciful characters and unexpected twists and turns. From medieval manuscripts to websites, Cartographies of Time features a wide variety of timelines that in their own unique ways--curving, crossing, branching--defy conventional thinking about the form. A fifty-four-foot-long timeline from 1753 is mounted on a scroll and encased in a protective box. Another timeline uses the different parts of the human body to show the genealogies of Jesus Christ and the rulers of Saxony. Ladders created by missionaries in eighteenth-century Oregon illustrate Bible stories in a vertical format to convert Native Americans. Also included is the April 1912 Marconi North Atlantic Communication chart, which tracked ships, including the Titanic, at points in time rather than by their geographic location, alongside little-known works by famous figures, including a historical chronology by the mapmaker Gerardus Mercator and a chronological board game patented by Mark Twain. Presented in a lavishly illustrated edition, Cartographies of Time is a revelation to anyone interested in the role visual forms have played in our evolving conception of history.

Thursday 9 February 2012

The Good Soldier Švejk

Image from HERE. A lecture on Svejk HERE.

The Titanic 100 Years on.

The Titanic sank in April 1912. The last port it called at before it sank was Queenstown in Ireland, just outside Cork city (Queenstown is now called Cobh).

In 1912 my maternal grandmother Catherine Cummins was 20. She lived with her family at 10 Ballyvoloon, part of Cloyne Terrace, Queenstown. 

In the 1911 census her family consisted of;

Her parents Michael (58) and Jane Cummins (44) and her siblings Josephine (25), Nellie (23), Stephen (21), Michael (15), Esther (12), Winnie (11) and Charles (6). According to the census they were all Roman Catholic and they could all read and write. Her Dad could speak both English and Irish. 

Below is an image of Queenstown Harbour from circa 1900.

Library of Congress

[Queenstown Harbor. County Cork, Ireland]
[between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900].
1 photomechanical print : photochrom, color.
Notes:Title from the Detroit Publishing Co., catalogue J--foreign section. Detroit, Mich. : Detroit Photographic Company, 1905..
Print no. "12024". Forms part of: Views of Ireland in the Photochrom print collection.
Subjects:Ireland--County Cork. Format: Photochrom prints--Color--1890-1900. Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.
Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA,
Part Of: Views of Ireland (DLC) 2001700656 More information about the Photochrom Print Collection is available
Persistent URL: Call Number: LOT 13406, no. 033 [item]

Tuesday 7 February 2012


I don't come from a particularly arty family, but one long term memory I do have of art is of a portfolio collection of Redouté rose prints. These were always in the attic at home and I took them with me at some point after I moved out - who knows they may be in my attic now. I framed a couple of the prints as presents years ago and was always fond of the images and the thick high quality paper that it was printed on. 

Pierre-Joseph Redouté (1759 -1840) was a Belgian painter and botanist, known for his watercolours of roses, lilies and other flowers at Malmaison. More HERE at Wikipedia.

An example below.

An Atlas of Anatomy (1879) by Florence Fenwick Miller

Here is an exceptionable Flikr collection of images from antique books. Below is a a study from An Atlas of Anatomy published in 1879 by the remarkable Florence Fenwick Miller (1854-1935). 

Wednesday 1 February 2012

The patterns of everyday events that make up our lives.

I have been thinking about what makes up the texture of our lives. The simple fact is that no matter how sophisticated we think our lives are, we all spend the bulk of our time everyday on the millions of tiny activities that make up a life.

This thought is well expressed by the architect Christopher Alexander in The Timeless way of Building.

Of course some events happen once in a lifetime; others happen more often; and some happen very often indeed. But although it is true that a unique event can sometimes change our lives completely, or leave its mark on us, it is not too much to say that, by and large, the overall character of our lives is given by those events which keep on recurring over and over again...

If I consider my life honestly, I see that it is governed by a certain very small number of patterns of events which I take part in over and over again.

Being in bed, having a shower, having breakfast in the kitchen, sitting in my study writing, walking in the garden, cooking and eating our common lunch at my office with my friends,  going to the movies, taking my family to eat at a restaurant, having a drink at a friend's house, driving on the freeway, going to bed again. There are a few more.

There are surprisingly few of these patterns of events in any one person's way of life, perhaps no more than a dozen. Look at your own life and you will find the same . It is shocking at first, to see that there are so few patterns of events open to me.

Not that I want more of them. But when I see how very few of them there are, I begin to understand what huge effect these few patterns have on my life, on my capacity to live. If these few patterns are good for me, I can live well. If they are bad for me, I can't.