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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Music, Animation and...Paleontology!

I Am a Paleontologist!

The "Geology in Art" blog comes with a New Year special!
On the heels of the Grammy winning “Here Come the 123s” They Might Be Giants have created a new album of songs related to science. The song "I am a Paleontologist" shows the combined potential of music and animation in teaching paleontology. Enjoy it!

Paleontologists are Punks!

"I am a Paleontologist" is a must for punkster kids! For the grown up, there are Bad Religion. In the 1989 song "No Control" Bad Religion quoted James Hutton, one of the founders of modern geology: "We find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end". Check the live below or watch here the lyrics:

It is worthwhile to note that the lead singer of Bad Religion is a lecturer of Paleontology and Life Sciences at UCLA. And he continues to rock!

Little Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are the most powerful paleontological mythology in our times. For this reason it is difficult to discern genuine "paleontologic" songs from paleontologic interferences in art. This is the case of Jonathan Richman's "I'm a Little Dinosaur".

Check out the electro-pop version authored by Monja Enana. Are you ready to go to Sevilla?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy Geo-Holidays!

Welcome to the second issue of my blog/webzine.
I was thinking to prepare a monographic post, but then I changed my mind after a relaxing afternoon...winter holidays style!

Few things compare to a crackling fire in the middle of winter. I sat in the armchair with a good book in my hands. Warm music playing softly. After some time, I enjoyed delicious home style cookies, while admiring a colorful painting with warm, colorful tones. It was time to prepare a hot chocolate and move on the sofa for a film.

You might ask "what is the relationship between your afternoon and geologic art?".
The book was "Raptor Red" by Robert Bakker, the music was "Primordial Sludge" by the Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, the painting was "Road Cutting at Charlwood" by John Jackson, and the movie was Disney's "Fantasia"...that's the recipe for a geoartistic holiday-time!

(The trilobite is a winter holidays version of the Haeckelbite, a sculpture that I created for the last UNESCO exhibition in Lisbon. Check it out here!)

Robert Bakker and his Raptor Red

Robert Bakker has a place of relevance in GeoArt.
Indeed Bakker is a paleontologist who reshaped modern theories about dinosaurs, supporting the theory that some dinosaurs were warm-blooded. He also illustrated these theories by realizing magnificent drawings of dinosaurs.
Dinosaurs, alive and kicking, appear also in Bakker's “Raptor Red”, a paleontological novel centred on Utahraptor. “Raptor Red” is set in the Cretaceous and deals with the (extra) ordinary life of a dinosaur. The work sparked many disputes, particularly regarding its scientific bases (Norman, 1996). Nevertheless... it is worth to read!

Birdsongs of the Mesozoic

The Birdsongs of the Mesozoic evoke geology right from the gorgeous covers of their albums, and they deal with many branches of Earth sciences. They cite tectonics (“Faultline”), pyroclastic flows (“Pyroclastics”), geochronology (“Triassic Jurassic Cretaceous”), general geology (“Sonic Geology”), geochemistry (“The Iridium Controversy”) and much more. The band plays psychedelic music, stirring classical music, rock and jazz. Moreover, their album covers are true works of GeoArt. It is worthwile to visit their website, full of media to explore!

John Jackson

John Jackson's vibrant aesthetics magnificently illustrates how geology can be expressed by art. For instance, his painting "Road Cutting at Charlwood" depicts the geologic features of a roadcut nearby his home. This work has an abstract atmosphere but then it reveals a sort of "geologic expressionism". In fact many geological features emerge gradually from Jackson's colorful kaleidoscopic visions: igneous intrusions, coal seams and a series of climate-related sedimentary deposits.
Who is John Jackson? John Jackson is a geologist who travelled throughout the world: Australia, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea, South and West Africa and Uganda. Now he is transmitting his geological knowledge on large sheets of calico by creating artistic representations of geology. As the artist himself states, John’s art bridges the gap between people and the earth. Give look to "The Rock Doctor's World" to know more about his art!

Disney's Fantasia

"Fantasia" is one of the most poetic movies ever produced by Walt Disney. It features animation, classical music and no dialogue (except for brief introductory sections). The "Rite of the Spring" sequence depicts the evolution of life on earth, from the beginning of simple life forms up to the dinosaurs and their extinction. Music is by Igor Stravinsky.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

First Issue - The Mercurial Role of Geology in Art

Welcome to the Geology in Art blog!

The role of geology in art is mercurial, and is somehow mysterious.
Indeed geology and art are inextricably bound together. The science and art of geology have developed in concert and they are still interdependent ways to describe nature.

Through this blog I will discuss the relationship between geology in art, covering painting, literature, comics, photography, sculpture, conceptual art, music, cinema, theatre, dancing...are you ready?
This blog is intimately bound to "Geology in Art: an unorthodox path from visual arts to music", the first book to document the artistic phenomena in which geology brings its own aesthetic and conceptual heritage. Many of the topics discussed in this blog are coming from the mentioned work. If you feel intrigued by the "geology and art" theme, don't miss this book!

The first issue of this blog/web-zine aims to give a sense of the possibilities that may emerge when geology becomes a central theme in art. The four contributions in this issue offer different perspectives on the role of Geology in Art. Enjoy!

Andrea Baucon

  • Geology and painting: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci is universally regarded as one of the pioneers of Earth sciences for having recognized and interpreted a number of geologic phenomena. In his famous notebooks da Vinci focused on sedimentary geology and discussed sedimentation, stratification and fossils. Less well known is the fact that Leonardo expressed his revolutionary geologic theories in his paintings. Leonardo represented stratification in its finest details, including small-scale laminations. Can you find them? (start the video at 1:50)

  • Geology and land art: Spiral Jetty

Land art is a movement in which landscape and the work of art are inextricably linked. Land art and geology are bound together, as geology is the science of the landscape. The video shows "Spiral Jetty", a work by Robert Smithson. The artist chose the site for the blood-red color of the waters and its connection with the primordial sea. "Spiral Jetty" is built of mud, salt crystals, basalt, earth and water.

  • Geology in music: earthquake sonification

Geologic sonification is probably the most direct form of interaction between geology and sound. Sonification translates quantitative data into sound, being the acoustic counterpart of graphic data visualization.

  • Geology in literature and cinema: Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Jules Verne's “Journey to the Centre of the Earth” has some serious scientific inconsistencies, but it also reveals the author’s remarkable geologic background. According to a brillant paper by Breyer and Butcher, much of the scientific information in Verne’s novel was taken directly from Figuier’s “La Terre avant le déluge” (“The World before the Deluge”), a popular science book that was a best-seller in Verne’s time.

  • Geology and photography

Photography appears persistently in scientific geology as it creates pictures of geologic features by recording their light radiation on sensitive media.
Therefore it is no surprise that geologic themes and photographers are commonly featured in artistic photography. This is the case of Michael Collier who for 20 years has been taking aerial photographs of the Earth's geology.