Archives for the Month of December, 2010

The Biological & Botanical Glass Models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka

Actinophrys Sol  - Leopold and Rudolf BlaschkaActinophrys Sol – Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka

Glass artists Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka were a father and son team from Dresden in Germany, known for their exquisite sculptural models of plants and marine animals. Active around the turn of the 19th century they created thousands of finely crafted objects that were destined for the display cabinets of esteemed institutions and natural history museums throughout the world.

Originally a craftsman of decorative items, Leopold would soon shift his emphasis to the natural world, with commissions by the scientific community to make glass models of exotic flowers, particularly Orchids. The Harvard Museum of Natural History, once a prime destination for many of his creations, has a large collection of glass flowers.

Leopold’s reputation quickly gathered pace, and soon curators of natural history museums began to commission the production of different kinds of animals, including marine life which was difficult to present in a museum setting as preservation of specimens couldn’t be attained by any kind taxi-dermal method.

Sea Worms  - Leopold and Rudolf BlaschkaSea Worms – Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka

Rudolf would later join his father in the productions of thousands of models including squids, sea slugs, octopi, cuttlefish, and other marine invertebrate. In much the same way that Ernst Haeckel added extra artefacts to his own biological illustrations, some of the Blaschka models would be imbued with more than a little of the craftsman’s own imagination.

As this article at the Design Museum notes: Even in their own era, Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka resisted conventional definitions and described themselves as “natural history artisans”. As for their work, it was hailed at the time as: “an artistic marvel in the field of science and a scientific marvel in the field of art.”

Further Links:

The Blaschka Marine Invertebrates at Cornell University
MuseumWales’ Flickr stream with ‘Blaschka’ tags
Nature in Glass – The models of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka
Blaschka sea anemone glass models at the Australian Musuem

Updata: N8 Museums Night / NODE10 / MFRU / HAIP10 New Nature

Optofonica Museums Night: Anharmonium - TeZ
Optofonica Museums Night: Anharmonium – TeZ

Its been a little quiet in here in the last 6 weeks but full transmissions will resume shortly. This blog has often oscillated between regular postings and quieter periods. But its rare for Dataisnature to go into hibernation for more than month in its entire 6 years of existence. The main reason for the recent lull in postings, however, is that my time has increasingly been taken up by personal projects.

In late October I visited New York City to take part in The Root of The Root – a small show of generative art also including Marius Watz and Aaron Meyers. Curated by Phoenix Perry the show incorporated works of visual abstraction , including printed pieces (myself), laser-cut works (Aaron Meyers) and a real-time sound responsive software (Marius Watz). A small Flickr set documenting the show can be found here. My contribution was a new set of prints from my Autotroph series.

Early November saw a visit to Amsterdam to take part in Museum Night – an annual event where virtually every gallery in Amsterdam opens its doors to 2am to the public. My feedback piece, Talysis II, was included as part of the Optophonic Lab showcase. ‘Optofonica is an art-science laboratory engaged in the research, production and dissemination of artworks investigating photonics, acoustics, fluid dynamics, quantum chemistry & cognitive science based in Amsterdam’. Documentation of the event, the artworks and performances can be found here.

Node 10: The Conversation - Ralf BaeckerNode 10: The Conversation – Ralf Baecker

The Node10 – Forum for Digital Arts was held in Frankfurt from the 15th-20th of November. The densely pack schedule of festival events included two exhibitions, an extensive program of workshops, nightly performances, informal Patcha Kutcha presentations and culminated in a day of lectures. Central to the festival’s core was an exhibition of works by international artists curated by Marius Watz and Eno Henze. ‘Through the exhibition ‘abstrakt Abstrakt – the systematized world’ the curators sought to analyse the nature and effect of abstraction systems’. For a more detailed documentation on the show I recommend Marius’s post at Generator.X. My contributions to Node 10 were a couple of short audio-visual performances. Click here to a access my Flickr set documenting the festival.

MFRU: 10000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid - Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry GelfandMFRU: 10000 Peacock Feathers in Foaming Acid – Evelina Domnitch & Dmitry Gelfand

From Frankfurt I took the Alpine train to Slovenia for the 16th International Festival of Computer Arts in Maribor. I joined the Optofonica collective, once again, for a night of audio-visual performances in the Kino Urdanik (literally: cinema for the super-productive worker) invited by the current festival director Marko Ornik. The performances curated by Maurizio Martinucci, were brought together to ‘encourage a combined exploration of sound and light in space, and their deepening synthesis’. I gave a performed of my spatially shape-shifting piece Rynth. Further pictorial documentation of the festival as a whole can found here.

Haip10 New Nature: 7k, A new Life form - SaÅ¡a SpačalHaip10 New Nature: 7k, A new Life form – SaÅ¡a Spačal

Last, but by no way least, was trip to Ljubljana for HAIP10/New Nature festival curated by a team at Zavod K6/4, Kiberpipa organisation. HAIP10/New Nature set out to investigate such subjects as nanotechnology, bio-hacking and robot-nature interfaces. The week long festival included an exhibition, a series of lectures and live-cinema performances related to bio-technological systems, both actual and metaphorical.

Haip10 New Nature: Nomadic Plants - Gilberto EsparzaHaip10 New Nature: Nomadic Plants – Gilberto Esparza

My lecture given at the festival, Dataisnature: Systems, Processes & Emergent Computation, explored many of the ideas, philosophies and works written about at Dataisnature. This included the intersections of generative art and scientific data visualisation techniques, computational art history, procedural art and earth processes. In the latter part of the lecture I discussed the concepts of Pancomputationalism and Universal Automatism in a quest to outline the spatio-temporal subroutines of runtime planet Earth from a biological and chemical perspective. The club event on the final night of HAIP10 included a performance of my Bio/Hydro/Acoustic Phenomena piece.

Further posts on my personal projects will be found at