I grew up hearing stories about my great-grandfather, a Jewish immigrant and tailor, who worked in various high-end department stores in Manhattan. He would save the discarded scraps from the apparel he was working on and seamlessly piece together shirts and dresses for everyone in the family. I think I’ve always been drawn to textiles and their patterns for this reason. In 2018 I discovered a Book of French Textile Samples (1863) at the Public Domain Review. The rough square samples were composed in unpredictable ways on each page. I was curious about how the patterns could create a kind of narrative through movement. From there I began ‘weaving’ short animations into the bookplates. Later I moved onto other Public Domain Review featured books that intersected with my other interests in alchemy, biology, geometry, pattern poetry, atmospheric phenomenon, sound visualizations, water and wave formations and others. I try to create one animation a day and post to Instagram. This is meant both as a way to continue experimenting in animation, but also as a way to learn more about these fascinating text. I’ve amassed so many at this point, I now create small reels organized by text to screen in micro-film programs. I will be premiering the full reel of PDR animations at North Rock Center for Sculptural Arts on August 22nd.
Attributions by bookplate: https://www.instagram.com/nicoleantebi
Full reel: https://vimeo.com/436861361
On the 27th August 1883, on a small island in Indonesia, the eruption of the Krakatoa volcano peaked — the violent culmination of one of the deadliest and most destructive volcanic events in recorded history, the explosion of which was heard as far as 3000 miles away. In addition to the terrible devastation (36,000 deaths were attributed to the eruption) strange optical effects the world-over were reported, a result of the massive plume of ash and debris sent into the upper atmosphere.
Skies at the beginning and end of the day, when the sun was lowest in the sky, were particularly affected, glowing strange colours for years following the eruption and enrapturing and intriguing scientists, writers, and artists alike. Given the nature of the mystery — a scientific phenomenon expressing itself in such dramatic visuals — attempts to document and explain it often took the form of an interdisciplinary effort, both art and science working in tandem. One such example is a German book published in 1888 — Untersuchungen über Dämmerungserscheinungen: zur Erklärung der nach dem Krakatau-Ausbruch beobachteten atmosphärisch-optischen Störung, which roughly translates as “Studies on twilight phenomena: to explain the atmospheric-optical disturbance observed after the Krakatau eruption”. While most of the book is an exploration via text, by the German physicist Johann Kiessling, the final pages are given over to a wonderful series of chromolithographs from watercolour images by Eduard Pechuël-Loesche.
Pechuël-Loesche was a German naturalist, plant collector, and watercolour painter who travelled extensively, including to West Africa where he accompanied Paul Güssfeldt on the Loango Expedition of 1873–76 and played a role in the founding of the Congo state.