misce stultitiam consiliis brevem

Escher in LEGO!

Ascending and Descending

Ascending and Descending

I am so excited about this: Andrew Lipson and Daniel Shiu are reproducing M.C. Escher drawings in LEGO! Escher is one of my favorite artists because of the fantastic ways in which he plays with tilings and with perspective. Lipson and Shiu have taken on the seemingly impossible task of reproducing these, using a combination of sophisticated LEGO construction technique and clever photography manipulation. Of the five they’ve done so far, my favorites are Relativity and Ascending and Descending. In addition to providing comparisons of the LEGO photos with the original Escher drawings, they explain various technical details of the models’ construction. I never realized how much advanced technique could be involved in playing with LEGOs! In fact, Lipson has constructed all sorts of crazy LEGO sculptures, including an impressive collection of mathematical constructions (such as mobius strips, knots, a klein bottle, and some others that I had never heard of).

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Boring Objects Used Creatively

Carl Warner’s art gallery is quite entertaining to peruse. His work is fairly wide-ranging, but the common theme seems to be the idea that ordinary things, once removed from the contexts in which we’re accustomed to seeing them, can surprise us: by their beauty, their hilarity, and their resemblance to other things with which we don’t often associate them.  It’s unfortunately not possible to link to specific images within the gallery, but I’d like to point your way to a couple.

Under the second page of “still life”, you can view a genuine “cook’s brain-pan”. I don’t know what Warner was thinking, but my immediate association with that image was the uncharacteristically Carollian, and never solved, conundrum from Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Yeoman of the Guard:

JACK POINT: But before proceeding to a more serious topic, can you tell me, sir, why a cook’s brain-pain is like an overwound clock?

LIEUTENANT: A truce to this fooling–follow me.

JACK POINT: Just my luck; my best conundrum wasted!

The other objects on this page are equally interesting, if perhaps less evocative of light opera: a goldfish swimming in a blender, two fish in a toaster, and what appears to be a zinc-coated strawberry.

But these images pale beside Warner’s most singular achievement (found on page 1 of Fotographics): intricate landscapes crafted entirely out of food. They’re really something. When you load the page, you see a bucolic scene that is, if obviously not a photographic reproduction, a convincingly stylized interpretation–in terms of style, they remind me of nothing more than J.R.R. Tolkien’s drawings of Middle Earth (I can’t find an online collection, but see e.g. these). A few familiar things pop out: potatoes for rocks; broccoli for trees. And then you look again and see more: the gravel is made out of rice! And is that house carved out of cheese? Are the awnings peppers? You look again. The sky is made of lettuce! And the river of salmon!  The glorious moment you get from an optical illusion is the one where you look at something and suddenly see something else. I’ve only been looking at these pictures for a few minutes, but I haven’t stopped seeing another “something else” every time I look, and I don’t think I’m anywhere close.

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