Major Tom Pilots the Mind Rocket

Today I cataloged one of the most intriguing and beautiful books I’ve ever seen, a sort of Steampunk homage to the Lunar landing, called the Apollo Prophecies:

Rumor has it that the surviving members of the only twelve humans to have walked on the moon call themselves the Order of Ancient Astronauts. Much has been written of these voyagers of yore, but if the Order of Ancient Astronauts should ever gather together like knights of the Round Table for a reverie, it is fairly certain that they would favor a new publication about their exploits titled The Apollo Prophecies.

Published by a non-profit organization called the Aperture Foundation located in New York that is dedicated to the advancement of photography in all its manifestations, The Apollo Prophecies is one of the most creative works produced to date about the moon exploration program. It consists of a slipcased package containing a dual sided, 19-foot long duotone photographic panorama that unfolds into a richly visual fantasy of a time-bending Moon expedition, together with a 16-page booklet telling a saga-like tale of Moon-dwelling civilizations predating and predicting the arrival of Apollo.

The photographic panorama is segmented into 60 panels and it can be paged through like a book or unfolded accordion style for a flowing mural effect. Free of text, we see a rocket launch a stylized space capsule to the moon. The pair of Apollo-era astronauts aboard land on the lunar surface, unpack the lunar rover, and embark upon the tasks of observation and rock collecting. They soon encounter a friendly civilization of Edwardian-era explorers, in addition to helpful space-suited monkeys and elephants, living on the moon. The truly ancient astronauts help the Apollo spacemen prepare their craft for the return voyage to Earth. Children will love the whimsy of these images and anyone with an appreciation of space as a frontier will admire the extravagance of the publication’s production.

Pictures can been seen here and here.

The book is for sale in all the usual places.

And I call dibs on a novel called the Order of Ancient Astronauts.

And Then, He Turned Them Into Rabbits


One of three teenagers charged with attempting to rob illusionist David Copperfield as he left a performance has pleaded guilty.

[…] Copperfield, 50, and two female assistants were walking from the Kravis Center to their tour bus when they were approached by the teens April 23. The assistants handed over money and a cellphone, but the illusionist turned his pockets inside out to reveal nothing, although he was carrying his passport, wallet and cell phone.

“He said in depositions that he had things on him, but it wasn’t difficult to make it seem like there was nothing there,” prosecutor Sherri Collins said.

Hat tip to David pescovitz at Boing Boing.

The Beauty of Modern Art

BBC News:

An artist’s sculpture has been rejected by the Royal Academy of Arts which has instead opted to display the wooden support it was put on.

David Hensel, 64, from East Grinstead, West Sussex, was told the laughing head would be part of the summer exhibition.

But at a preview he found that just a piece of wood intended to support the head was on display on the plinth.

The Academy said the judging panel assumed the two pieces were separate and decided the support was better.

You can follow the link to see pictures of both the sculpture and the plinth.

Now, there’s several way to look at this story (but then, isn’t there always when modern art is involved?): either it was a cock up of mythic proportions— imagine, the philistines are running the show over there at the Royal Academy and don’t even know their own asses form a plinth— or, it was just a mix up, the judges were told that the plinth was a separate piece and judged it accordingly, weighing it’s aesthetic merits against those of the 10,000 or so other entries, and found the laughing head wanting in comparison to it’s base.

Of course, at some point regardless of which view you take, you have to realise that the Lord High Curators of Artistic Merit for all of Bloody England chose a block of wood over an actual object recognizable as a work of sculpture. There is no other use for a discrete laughing head. It serves no possible purpose except an artistic one, while a block of wood has infinite possible uses. We could then say that the judges were merely signifying that they are for the infinite in art, rather than the singular. Or rather, they’re all a bunch of dingbats.

Link via Crooked Timber.

The Sultan from Far Away

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if we had a genuine appreciation of the arts in the US? I mean a real culturally ingrained love for the spectacle and pageantry of art, not just some underfunded office that occasionally gives money to some dipshit who submerges a crucifix in urine.

We could probably have something as wonderful and fun as, The Sultan’s Elephant, the four day event that is currently going on in London:

The Sultan’s Elephant is a spectacle you’ve only imagined… Created by theatrical magicians Royal de Luxe, it tells the story of a sultan from far-off lands and his magical, time-travelling mechanical elephant. Forty feet high and 42 tonnes in weight, this beautiful creature will capture the hearts and minds of everyone who sees it.

The Sultan’s Elephant is played out over four days in the streets, squares and public spaces of central London. Whether you dip into it for three hours or follow its progress for three days, this breathtaking show will live in your memory forever.

The story (with pictures):

Once upon a time, there lived a sultan who was tormented in his dreams by visions of a little girl who was travelling through time. This is his story, incredible but true.

The sultan could no longer sleep, his growing anguish diverting his attention from affairs of state. In order to cure his sickness, and believing that he would find the girl in the land of dreams, he commissioned an unknown engineer living in 1900 to construct a time-travelling elephant. A few months later, the sultan set off with his court in search of the little giant, which, in the course of his nightmares, had been transformed into a marionette 5 metres high.

The trip was awful, but they found a series of clues as to her wherabouts. The giant loved sewing – she liked to stitch cars to the tarmac, boats to quaysides, trains to railway tracks and sometimes even envelopes to letterboxes.

The elephant followed the trail left by the puppeteers. And as in all love stories, strange things began to happen. Such was his happiness at getting closer to her, he began to expel hundreds of living birds which disappeared into the sky in a burst of joy…

Ah, to be in a city that spent hard earned tax dollars on something so frivolous and joyful… Maybe some day, after WW III, when Canada and Europe rehabilitate us into a real civilized country…