Visual Goldmines, Old and New


I changed the size of calendar on my workspace wall at home, freeing up more room for images. I looked up from the computer recently to realize that, without really thinking about it, I had moved these two images next to each other:

Haeckel pageKorean jewelry

(Click on the thumbnails for close-ups.)

It struck me that, from a bit of distance, the two images have a lot in common, visually. They’re both composite black and white images, one of drawings and one of photos, but with a similar arrangement, not quite symmetrical, of the objects they depict. They both depict objects which are being presented as “specimens,” of interest in large part because of their structural qualities. The more I look at them there, side by side, the more they delight me. I think it’s because they embody some disparate interests of mine and looking at them helps me see those interests as part of a more organic whole. They also bring together my two favorite sources of visual fodder, the Internet and the Public Library.

The first image, on the left is from this collection of images by the zoological illustrator and theorist Ernst Haeckel. I found it in this entry about the HMS Challenger, a scientific voyage of marine exploration and specimen collection from this site. Bibliodyssey has got to be one of my all time favorite sources of visual fodder. I have a hard time not bookmarking almost every entry. Lots of scientific illustration images, but also many other kinds of fascinating images.

The second image is from a book that I have checked out of the Library dozens of times: Primitive & Folk Jewelry, edited by Martin Gerlach, from Dover Publications, fNK7405.H313. It is page after page of images from a very diverse collection of jewelry, every page just as packed with interesting pieces as this one is. This particular page depicts some Korean pieces. I love to peruse this book for ideas about different kinds of structures that have been used in jewelry throughout history and around the world. The earrings at the bottom of the page on either side of the bracelet inspired me to try the earhook structure shown in the first two images here. I recently discovered that there are copies of this book, in various reprints, at Alibris for under $10!!! So this one will need come into my possession soon. I am constantly amazed that almost every book I come across at the Library, or read a reference to in an article, can be found at Alibris. And these are not necessarily books which are currently in print. It’s nice to be able to find all these wonderful old books AND to be able to patronize independent booksellers! My wishlist is about a mile long….

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