space battleship yamato

Space Battleship Yamatao, a moc by Mark Rodrigues
This is a moc [my own creation] version of the Space Battleship Yamato by afol [adult fan of LEGO] Mark Rodrigues. The original stems from the franchise of the same name and is itself based on the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Yamato class battleships which were in service during World War II. It’s neither steam- nor dieselpunk, of course, but retrofitted futurism for sure.
Side elevations of the Space Battleship Yamato and a Yamato class battleship of the Imperial Japanese Navy


burns’ spinner

Police spinner design by Jim Burns
Most of the art in the wonderful Blade Runner Sketchbook is by ‘visual futurist’ Syd Mead, but I remembered that illustrator Jim Burns, whom, like Mead, I do admire since childhood, also did design work on ‘Blade Runner’ (Scott 1982). But his name is neither to be found in the sketchbook nor in the full cast and crew at IMDb. Now I found an interview with Jim Burns which clears the matter up:

[Anthony Brockway:] You did a bit of work on the Blade Runner film back in the Eighties. What did that entail exactly?
    Jim Burns: Here’s the story in brief. Ridley Scott got in touch via my agent. Early days in his film career, Alien under his belt and a new project gestating. That project was Dune. He saw my illustration for ‘Colonel Kylling’ in the joint book project Planet Story I did with the sf writer, Harry Harrison – and thought that this depiction was perfect for the Baron Vladimir Von Harkonnen character in Dune. Shortly before I was supposed to fly out to Hollywood and participate in early concept work on Dune – that project was shelved and Ridley Scott found himself instead with a script based on the novel by Philip K. Dick called Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. This of course became Blade Runner. The offer to go and work on early concept material for this new film was held open for me – and so I went over to Hollywood for ten weeks and found myself involved mostly on design work for the police spinner and the various city design details. The police spinner found it’s earliest incarnation in a machine I painted for a book a few years earlier called Tour of the Universe – actually a ‘flying ambulance’ in that story. Ridley turned the image upside down and said “Hey Presto – there’s the police spinner!” – or words to that effect. Eventually the hugely talented Syd Mead was taken on and he basically took on the look of the whole film – very successfully indeed. But I like to think that some germ of my original police spinner resides in the version you see on film!

BROCKWAY, ANTHONY AND JIM BURNS. 2004. An interview with Jim Burns. Electronic document. Available online:
SCOTT, RIDLEY. 1982. Blade runner [motion picture]. Burbank: Warner Brothers.

anthropological lego friends

LEGO friends set 3933 'Olivia's Inventor's Workshop'
When students or other interested parties ask me what anthropologists could do outside academia, in the industry in particular, I maintain a threefold answer. In the industry anthropologists 1) do research on organizations—amounting to something like consultancy, 2) do market research, and 3) are participating in product design—especially user-centered design comes to mind. Well, as it seems anthropologists had a hand in the meanwhile available new series LEGO friends, which triggered some discussion on gendered toys. Businessweek has a longer story on LEGO friends, and Andrew wrote at the brothers brick: ‘For those of you out there who’ve made statements about gender stereotyping, take a look at this photo of set 3933 Olivia’s Inventor’s Workshop: That’s right—Olivia has invented herself a robot in her laboratory through the use of math and science.’ [I of course chose the picture not for the gender-thing but for the robot—will recreate it in a second.]

via entry at ethno::log and entry at the brothers brick

why the crash?

zeph’s pop culture quiz #10
Why did the jet crash?
Why did the jet crash?
    Just leave a comment with your educated guess—you can ask for additional hints, too. [Leaving a comment is easy; just click the 'Leave a comment' at the end of the post and fill in the form. If it's the first time you post a comment, it will be held for moderation. But I am constantly checking, and once I've approved a comment, your next ones won't be held, but published immediately by the system.]

UPDATE (11 January 2012):
Crumbling oxygen mask
And I thought you all were sci-fi movie specialists ;-) Well, here is some more information: The pilot died and his oxygen mask crumbled to powder—but why? If you know that, you’re close to the movie.

UPDATE and solution (11 January 2012):
Thorsten ‘Kueperpunk‘ Küper solved it without further ado: The pictures are taken from the movie The Andromeda Strain (Wise 1971), based on the novel of the same name by Michael Crichton (1969). The pilot died from an extraterrestrial microorganism or virus or life form, hence his jet crashed. Although the microscopic thing from outer space is at the centre of the story, the movie has a decidedly cyber- or biopunk ring, renders a nice cold-war ambience, and on the side criticizes the belief in thermonuclear weaponry as a final solution to problems.

CRICHTON, JOHN MICHAEL. 1969. The Andromeda strain. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
WISE, ROBERT EARL. The Andromeda strain [motion picture]. Universal City: Universal Pictures.

hello matakichi

Detail of the cover of 'Nammenayo Cats' (Tsuda 1981)

A picture book entitled Namennayo! (Don’t Mess Around with Me!) and commercial goods modeled on those in the book are caricatures of bosozoku symbolism and display a crucial aspect of such symbols and the commercial exploitation of them. This work, which was published in 1981, and had a sales of about 335,000 copies by the summer of 1983, features a cat called Matakichi. Throughout the book there are numerous pictures of cats who stand upright wearing human clothes. miniature props (auch as motorcycles, cars, and buildings) are also provided. The plot concerns Matakichi’s youthful experimentation with several expressive styles including bosozoku, takenoko-zoku (bamboo-shoot tribe; a dancing tribe in Harajuku, Tokyo) and rock’n’rollers. the youthful experimentation eventually ends with Matakichi’s attainment of adulthood, and the story about the feline character, as a whole, may be taken as a parody of the bosozoku’s pilgrimage. (Sato 1991: 98-99)
    In other words, the bosozoku style, which is itself a parody, lends itself to further comic twists. (Sato 1991: 101)

SATO, IKUYA. 1991. Kamikaze biker: parody and anomy in affluent Japan. Chicago, London: The University of Chicago Press.
TSUDA, TAKESHI, 1981. Namennayo! Tokyo: Shinko Gakufu Shuppan.

free pkd downloads

Philip K. Dick
Not exactly new news, but the to my eye yet meager download numbers make spreading it compulsory: Project Gutenberg stores eleven short stories by Philip K. Dick in multiple formats for free and legal download. Additionally open culture links to free audio book versions [.mp3] of four of these stories, and to the 1994 TV-documentary Philip K Dick: A Day in the Afterlife—go and watch … it features, among others, Terry Gilliam and Elvis Costello.

via entry at kueperpunk—tnx!

riding rockets

Detail of the promotional poster for 'The Right Stuff' (Kaufman 1983)

Tom Wolfe’s book on the history of the U.S. Space program reads like a novel, and the film has that same fictional quality. It covers the breaking of the sound barrier by Chuck Yeager to the Mercury 7 astronauts, showing that no one had a clue how to run a space program or how to select people to be in it. Thrilling, funny, charming and electrifying all at once.

Thus wrote Tom Vogel at IMDb on the novel The Right Stuff (Wolfe 1979) and the movie of the same name (Kaufman 1983). It couldn’t be summed up better, and I just loved the movie as a 13-year old. [Some day, if I feel like really boring you, I'll tell you the story how and why I didn't become a jet-jockey and test-pilot but got stuck with the propeller stuff.] The movie I watched several times, but I haven’t yet read Wolfe’s book, although it prominently resides on the shelf … right next to the DVD.
    Anyway, I just learned that there’s another book around, this time from an insider, and on the just recently terminated shuttle program: Riding rockets: The outrageous tales of a space shuttle astronaut (Mullane 2006). Don’t miss Chris ‘JetHead’ Manno’s review [a professional pilot's review].

Detail of the cover of 'Riding Rockets' (Mullane 2006)

MULLANE, RICHARD MICHAEL ‘MIKE’. 2006. Riding rockets: The outrageous tales of a space shuttle astronaut. New York: Scribner.
KAUFMAN, PHILIP. 1983. The right stuff [motion picture]. Burbank: Warner Bros.
WOLFE, jr., THOMAS KENNERLY ‘TOM’. 1979. The right stuff. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux.
via entry at JetHead

blade runner sketchbook

Here are two sketches— from pages 32 and 35 in the sketchbook—for Rick Deckard’s (Harrison Ford) apartment as seen in Blade Runner (Scott 1982). Note the distinctive relief ornamentation on the faces of the concrete cubes, inspired by the texture blocks designed and used by Frank Lloyd Wright for Ennis House:
Two sketches for Deckard's (Harrison Ford) apartment as seen in 'Blade Runner' (Scott 1982)

SCOTT, RIDLEY. 1982. Blade runner [motion picture]. Burbank: Warner Brothers.
SCROGGY, DAVID (ed.). 1982. Blade runner sketchbook. San Diego: Blue Dolphin.
blade runner sketchbook from [HP] via Facebook—tnx!

barefoot into cyberspace

Detail of the cover of 'Barefoot into Cyberspace' (Hogge 2011)

Barefoot into Cyberspace is an inside account of radical hacker culture and the forces that shape it, told in the year WikiLeaks took subversive geek politics into the mainstream. Including some of the earliest on-record material with Julian Assange you are likely to read, Barefoot Into Cyberspace is the ultimate guided tour of the hopes and ideals that are increasingly shaping world events.
    Beginning at the Chaos Communications Congress of December 2009, where WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange and Daniel Domscheit-Berg first presented their world-changing plans to a select audience of the planet’s most skilful and motivated hackers, Barefoot Into Cyberspace interweaves an insider’s take on the drama that ensued with a thoughtful mix of personal reflections and conversations with key figures in the community aimed at testing the hopes and dreams of the early internet pioneers against the realities of the web today.
    Will the internet make us more free? Or will the flood of information that courses across its networks only serve to enslave us to powerful interests that are emerging online? How will the institutions of the old world – politics, the media, corporations – affect the hackers’ dream for a new world populated not by passive consumers but by active participants? And can we ever live up to their vision of technology’s, and its users’, potential?

HOGGE, BECKY. 2011. Barefoot into cyberspace: Adventures in search of techno-Utopia. Saffron Walden: Barefoot Publishing.
via e-mail from—tnx!