Want to experience polydactylightenment without surgery, mutagens, or psychotropics? There's an art installation for that:
The "Augmented Hand Series" (by Golan Levin, Chris Sugrue, and Kyle McDonald, 2013-2015) is a real-time, interactive software system that presents playful, dreamlike, and uncanny transformations of its visitors' hands.
As one seven-year-old visitor succinctly puts it: "It's a box. You put your hand in it. You see your hand with an extra finger." More from the Augmented Hand Series site:
In 1141, a land octopus living in the spandrels of the convent of Disibodenberg, in Germany, visited Hildegard von Bingen, the new head nun, and gave her visions, most likely via a combination of chromatophoric signals and pressure phosphenes from palpation of her eyeballs.
Being as she was steeped in her religion, and with the obvious cross-species language difficulties, she misinterpreted the octopus' attempt at communication as messages from the "voice of heaven". She recorded her theological interpretations of these visions in her book, Scivias ("know the ways"), which included the above illumination in the frontispiece.
Unlike later illustrations of her receiving the visions, which show divine light-rays from the sky as would suit the presumptions of the time, this original one was either done by her or made from her sketches. In fact, the image shows her sketching on a wax tablet, perhaps recording the event as it happened. So it's the most accurate depiction of the encounter -- one clearly more cephalopodic than theophanic.
(Thanks to reader Rich Thomas for bringing this to my attention.)
The Blythe Intaglios (or geoglyphs) are found near Blythe, CA in the Colorado Desert. They include figures of humanoids and tailed quadrupeds that were created anywhere from 450 to 10,000 years ago. Some believe the glyphs represent mythic characters from Quechan history and cosmology, while others see it as evidence that the region is La Cuna de Aztlán, the legendary homeland of the Aztec.
The present is just a continuation of the past; and the site has not remained fixed in time, as modern peoples have added to the messages of the ancients. The most visible additions are the swirling tire tracks that some ethnographers believe represent an Atomic Age creation story, depicting the tracks of subatomic particles first seen in bubble chambers and since sublimated into the collective unconscious of drunk rednecks in pickup trucks.
(Indirectly via BLDGBLOG.)
In 2006, I posted about the then-new CryptoKids, official propaganda mascots of the NSA. I pointed out that there was an unshown member of the CryptoKid team that the NSA refused to acknowledge: Y.R. Tap, the domestic spying fly, whose extortionist adventures I imagined in a series of web comics. But, it turns out that the NSA did show Tap, albeit through a semi-official channel.
The National Cryptologic Museum, which has close ties to the NSA (although operated via a non-profit org out of a former motel two blocks from NSA HQ), publishes a bulletin for donating members called The Link. In the Winter 2005-2006 issue
(PDF), they had an article on the CryptoKids (page 15). Notice who's creeping about in the lower right:
Of course they don't acknowledge him in the text -- no one likes Y.R. Tap! -- but he is there. Watching. Always watching.
(That image is the first panel of my Y.R. Tap Comic #3. The page is dated "Fall 2005" but obviously it was made sometime after May 2006. I don't know if whoever put it there did so intentionally as a joke or if they just Googled "CryptoKids" and thought my site was an official organ of the NSA... It's not, by the way.)
UPDATE: ...and they've since removed the PDF. It was probably a mistake that they made the back issues freely available since they weren't linked to on the public site. I only found it by accident doing a Google image search on a Y.R. Tap panel. I just did another search to see if I could find it again and instead found this amusing appropriation in a PDF of an ESL quiz from a university in Brazil:
The front panel button switches the display to show paradigm confidence levels in real time -- caution when it lingers near zero. Reset is inside if you need manual override -- during reset you can preload values with the real time button.
Dougal Dixon's book The New Dinosaurs: An Alternative Evolution (1988) imagines what life would look like if the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event had not happened and non-avian dinosaurs had continued evolving over the last 65 million years.
Besides the eponymous new dinosaurs, one of his hypothetical creatures inhabiting the Australasian Realm is the coconut grab (Nuctoceras litureperus), a type of tree-climbing ammonite:
The coconut grab is an unusual ammonite in that it can spend much of its time out of the water crawling about on land. On many of the tropical islands of the ocean it can crawl up the beach and eat coconuts, and even climb trees to find the nuts when there are none available lying in the sand or washed up on the shore.
It's preyed upon by a flightless, tree-climbing pterosaur called a shorerunner.
© 2004-2016 Lyle Zapato & ZPi
unless otherwise noted or implied.