Thursday, February 4, 2010

Starship & Museum Bulletin Board #2: Non-Square

"Why do things look like other things?" I asked my friend Jody, printmaker, book artist, and professor of art and design.

"Because they have something in common," she said.
(I always overlook the obvious.)

So, what, fundamentally, do the starship Enterprise and the Guggenheim museum have in common?
They both are not square.
They're not round in every way or in all the same ways, but they're not fundamentally square.

Almost every humanmade thing around me is square, from this laptop I am typing on, to the table it sits on and the room and house we are in.
Things don't have to be square. (I'm not.)

Here are some more images of non-square structures and floaty things that remind me of the starship & the museum. (See also Bulletin Board #1, below)


The Pantheon, Rome, first built in 27 B.C. *
Like the starship and the museum, it has a sort of outrigger feature (its square porch).

A Sinhalese outrigger, from Bjorn Landstrom's The Quest for India.

Found on Indigenous Boats blog, "small craft outside the Western tradition."

Pile of Melmac cups

From My Vintage Addiction

From the BBC: Lost Palaces of Iraq.

"The Great Mosque at Samara is the most memorable architectural image in Iraq.
The minaret was built in about 850 AD and is a 52m-tall spiral."

ABOVE: Mosque in Bougouni, Mali. From Architecture in Medieval Islamic Empires

ABOVE: Radio station headquarters in Krakow, Poland. From the cool blog One Good Thing, which has many examples of nonsquare structures. More images here.

ABOVE: Starship C-57D, from Forbidden Planet (1956). **

ABOVE: Altocumulus lenticularis clouds, from Lee. "Lenticular" clouds are lens-shaped. Also called wave clouds or flying saucer clouds, because they are sometimes confused for UFOs. The Alaska Science Forum notes that when wave clouds form in layers (like above), they are called pile d'assiettes, French for "pile of plates".

Weather balloon. Half the images I found of weather balloons were on UFO sites... This one's from eHow "What Does a Weather Balloon Do?" Turns out they measure the weather in the atmosphere.

Pneumatic bubbles installation, Los Angeles, 2007.
They inflate and deflate when people touch them. More photos at Fox Lin (design team).

Handsculpted porcelain jellyfish.
(These are several feet in height, and made entirely of porcelain--including their... whatever you call their dangly bits.)
From Coe & Waito (links to their blog), found on Trendhunter

Captain Nemo and the crew of the Nautilus observing jellyfish, from the 1870 French edition of Jules Vernes' 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (image from Ocean Explorer).

A diving submarine from Nautilus Submarines & Diving Systems
(For Kellie.)
* Re The Pantheon
Hadrian, who built the Pantheon that survives:
"My intentions had been that this sanctuary of All Gods should reproduce the likeness of the terrestrial globe and of the stellar sphere...
The cupola...revealed the sky through a great hole at the center, showing alternately dark and blue.
This temple, both open and mysteriously enclosed, was conceived as a solar quadrant. The hours would make their round on that coffered ceiling so carefully polished by Greek artisans; the disk of daylight would rest suspended there like a shield of gold; rain would form its clear pool on the pavement below, prayers would rise like smoke toward that void where we place the gods."
** RE: Forbidden Planet Spaceship
Bit of trivia: Joss Whedon codenamed the search-and-rescue ship on the planet Miranda C57D, after the Forbidden Planet spaceship, in his Firefly film Serenity. Miranda is Prospero's daughter in Shakespeare's Tempest, upon which The Forbidden Planet is based.


bink said...

That's a great collection of rounds.

momo said...

"Things don't have to be square. (I'm not.)"
I love this!

femminismo said...

Your mind is something incredible. Imagine taking a look at all of this because ... oops! Forgot why you are doing this, but it has something to do with the some things looking like something else, and then it was "On to the starship USS Enterprise." I adore all of these pictures. Good job!

ArtSparker said...

I'm saving (the reading of) this. But I would just like to say I have had a big crush on lentils since I was eight years old.

Fresca said...

bink & MOMO: Round is good!

I'm doing this because last year I posted a bunch about Star Trek and Design from the 1960s, and I noticed, among other things, that the Enterprise looks rather like the Guggenheim Museum.

It's easy enough to see why the women on the Enterprise wear dresses that look like the ones in Nancy Sinatra's music "video", but I was baffled why the starship looked like Frank Lloyd Wright's building.

Just recently I decided to look more closely at how design works--something I've not thought much about before.

ARTS: Are lentils lenticular? I guess they are!

ArtSparker said...

And I thought I was a Whedon nerd...Roundness suggests both completion and pregnancy, or at least burgeoning life.

Jennifer said...

The silver mosque and those clouds! They blow me away... I love the way you link up things and expand on ArtSparker notes, there's a wonderful fecundity to it. :)

Fresca said...

ARTS:You win: I got the Whedon trivia off Wikipedia's entry on the Forbidden Planet spaceship.

I agree, roundness is both completion, fullness, and yet also beginnings and movement...
The beginning and the end.

"Fecudnity"--that's it. Thanks, Jen.

Margaret said...

The incredible similarity between the Pantheon and the Enterprise kind of blows my mind. These are things that we (humans) created, conforming to some sort of pattern without even realizing it. (It would be interesting if you were to happen upon this shape in nature). There are so many patterns that we're unaware of. I would never have noticed this before, but now that it's before my eyes, it really is undeniable....and a bit eerie for reasons I can't explain.

deanna said...

It's great to watch you getting into this up to your elbows - the pictures here are in wonderful contrast/complement to your blog's dark background.

And thanks for the Serenity tidbit!

Fresca said...

MARGARET: It is amazing--and even eerie--isn't it, to start to see the patterns underlying our lives.
I guess there're only so many ways to match a square and a circle, but they look wildly different.

DEANNA: I thought of you when I put that tidbit it--glad you caught it!

It's fun to be in this up to my elbows--sorta sorry I have to do other things...

One reason I kept the black background was exactly for the reason you say---photos look great against it.