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I think I have rooster problems

Behold, the Dorking Cockerel. Yes, there really is a place in Surrey called Dorking and it is known for a fine breed of domestic chicken, called the Dorking. They were brought to Britain by the Romans and – unusually for a chicken – often have five toes.

This big metal bird was erected in the middle of a traffic circle in 2007. Locally popular, he is occasionally subject to fond guerilla knitting campaigns.

I have not seen this fine bit of civic sculpture. A visitor from Surrey told me about it and I thought I would share.

January 19, 2023 — 8:30 pm
Comments: 5

Spider dress, spider dress

Yeah, those legs move. It attacks you if you come too close (not kidding: that’s how she describes it in her bio).

It’s the work of Dutch fashion designer Anouk Wipprecht. She builds (looks liked 3D prints) these little machines into her dresses. Some respond to stimuli. It’s very clever.

One is even controlled by the brainwaves of the wearer – the video (first link) shows them pasting electrodes on a bald woman’s head.

Probably too delicate for practicality, but I can absolutely see some of these things turning up at a few celebrity do’s – before ending up in the movies.

Spider dress is just creepy, though.

January 12, 2023 — 7:54 pm
Comments: 5

Adventures in Ebay

Always on the lookout for a nice statue of Bast, I was trawling Ebay and…yikes! What is this? Here it is in full color.

Is that supposed to be a dead cat? It’s not. It’s, like, squirrel colored. And it looks like its front legs are missing. And the tips of its ears. Is it a taxidermy? Is it supposed to be a mummy? Did he wrestle this desert squirrel for the little Bast statue?

Here’s a video where he seems to be pretending to find it in the sand next to the unfortunate beast. He’s wearing dish gloves.

Here’s the description:

You Are Bidding on Rare Antique Ancient Egyptian Statue God Cat Bastet since God Bastet Was Strongest God for protection for person also protection for his familey , home land since they worshipped God Cat to protect them while down you can see Goddess Isis Standing as women while goddess Isis was goddess of Good Health cure medicine while over her their is Winged Scarab which was Symbol of Good Luck Happy Life Wealth since these is very Rare Statue For God Cat ( Goddess Bastet) shown as cat which was made for king to worship her since they Have mAde Such Statue for God Cat to protect king also to protect his familey , castle also land of egypt since they saw cat was always protecting homes from mice Rats snakes scropions so they too her as goddess of Protection while you can find down goddess Isis shown as women as they put her to bring for king hood health cure medecine while up their is scarab which was used to bring good luck happy life wealth such statue was made during king life he wirshipped it also was taken to Grave After Death.

I think we’ll take our chances with scropions.

December 15, 2022 — 7:53 pm
Comments: 5

Doesn’t exactly strike terror

Armet with Mask Visor in the Form of a Rooster
ca. 1530
German, probably Augsburg
metmuseum collection

I mean, it’s a miracle of steel sculpture – and far be it from me to impugn the courage of roosters – but it’s hard to see this as anything other than a helmet with a lil’ chicken face.

They also have one with a lil’ people face, that’s apparently more common. It has a kind of Simpsons look about it, don’t it?

Our router has been flaking out on the regular today, so I’d better hit ‘publish’ before it goes again.

December 13, 2022 — 8:15 pm
Comments: 7

What it is to be rich

Oof! I’ve had a beast of a day. I know – I haven’t done a real estate post for a while.

Behold, Plumpton Place, a charming Elizabethan estate on 60 acrres. It’s on the market for the first time in thirty years.

Edward Hudson, founder of Country Life magazine, bought it in 1927 and spent his remaining years working with architect Edwin Lutyens and garden designer Gertrude Jekyll to do it up (those names might not be familiar, but I guarantee you Uncle B read those words and started to drool).

It went through several hands before it was briefly owned by Michael Caine, who sold it to Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page. Several more hands later and George Harrison tried to buy it but, according to his ex, the owner said “she didn’t want rock’n’roll musicians buying her lovely house and sold it to the local doctor instead.”

Here’s how it works: Hudson bought it for £3,300. Ten years later, 1937, it sold for £9,000. Paige bought it in 1972 for £200,000. Ten years later, it went for £650,000 to a property developer who quickly flipped it for £800,000.

They will now entertain offers in the region of £8,000,000.

October 6, 2022 — 7:12 pm
Comments: 5

AI? More like Aiiiiiii!

Behold, the face of Loab! She was accidentally created by an artist called @Supercomposite using an AI art application. He doesn’t say which one. Or why he named her Loab.

According to his story, she popped out when the AI was instructed to create two ‘negative prompt weight’ images – that’s when you ask the AI to create an image that’s the opposite of a prompt.

He asked it to come up with the opposite of “Brando” – which, for some reason, rendered the image of a logo. Then he wondered if the opposite of that image would actually be an image of Marlon Brando.

Nope. Loab.

According to the urban legend-y version of the story, the recognizable face of Loab started turning up in this guy’s negative prompt weight searches of all sorts of unrelated things, like some kind of creepy demon..

That’s not what he’s saying. If you read his thread (and this Forbes article), he says he ‘seeded’ her origin story into all the subsequent images, so it’s no surprise she keeps popping up.

What is creepy as hell, though, is the more he worked with her, the more horrible and disturbing the images became. There are many in the link above. Some, he said, were so gross he wouldn’t publish them – dismembered child snuff pictures, pretty much.

If you start with a disturbing image and ask an AI to elaborate, it will pull increasingly disturbing content out of the ether to go with, I guess. Makes sense. But how did the AI come up with her in the first place, and how is she recognizably herself again and again?

September 12, 2022 — 5:43 pm
Comments: 7

That you, bro?

If you want a walking stick with a portrait of Dante Alighieri on it, I got you. May be useful for hiking out of the Inferno.

It’s the second time this summer I’ve seen this stick – I assume it’s the same one. Dude sells horse brasses and leather riding tack and such. First time I saw it, I yelped, “Dante!”

…and everyone moved away from me on the Group W bench.

Dante’s death mask, from which this portrait derives, is apparently not a death mask at all:

…recent studies suggest that the mask was probably carved in 1483 by Pietro and Tullio Lombardo 162 years after Dante’s death. A reason why people did not believe that the mask was the true mask was because of the nose of the mask. A hooked nose is a sign of intelligence and mischief, and throughout the year Dante’s nose has become more and more hooked in representations such as Botticelli’s portrait of Dante.

Another weekend, another country show. The season is almost past now.

September 6, 2022 — 6:37 pm
Comments: 7

Unexpected.

The pretty little church from yesterday has an unusual feature – a Mithraic altar! Ahem. See, there’s a bull carved on all four faces. There were probably some kind of unpleasant meat rituals performed upon it.

It’s not certain if there was a temple to Mithras on the spot before the church was built. The first documentation of the church was 1265 and the alter stone is, like, 1st C. The temple could have been anywhere in the neighborhood.

The stone first turns up in the yard of the nearby Ferry Inn, where it was used for many years to tie up horses. Hence the weathering. I wonder if the ring was already embedded in it. Then it was moved to the vicar’s garden. And finally – presumably when someone noticed it was an important object- into the church itself.

It’s in the back of the church itself, in the Narthex (yes, looked it up), opposite end to the Christian altar. Which says something about the CofE. I’m not entirely sure what. That the church is unperturbed to bring a sacred pagan object into a holy place. Confident? Phlegmatic?

The worship of Mithras was very popular among Roman army officers. I have read that it competed closely with Christianity as the official Roman religion. Now, wouldn’t that have been a thing?

July 26, 2022 — 7:31 pm
Comments: 6

Smile!

Another pair from the reclamation yard. These are examples that I don’t think are very old.

Or, to be more exact, I think someone has gotten hold of some good antique molds and have made casts, unfortunately with crude embellishments. I see two different hands at work here.

The overall modelling is good and looks antique, but – you may not be able to see this very well in the small image – some mook has made rough clay worms and stuck them on the arms to mimic veins. Also, he’s scratched shallow lines in the abdomen to indicate a six pack.

Shoulda left it be.

Sorry to fob you off with a picture from last week, but I’ve had an exceptionally silly day. It is now officially gin o’clock.

July 12, 2022 — 8:11 pm
Comments: 8

This guy

Real name: Phil Heckels. Local Sussex artist. Describes himself as “rubbish” and has made quite a penny from it. You give him a photo of your pet, he gives you a guaranteed shit portrait in return.

Eh. You gotta have a gimmick. Most of his work seems to be for charity.

I didn’t think he was all that funny – until I saw his pictures next to the photos he drew them from.

Whenever you sit down to draw, you are confronted with a series of what we call “picture problems”. How do I position multiple figures so they look natural? How am I going to deal with this weird angle? How do I move the viewer’s eye where it needs to go? Ach, perspective!

It’s even worse when you work from photos. There are always “what the heck am I looking at?” picture problems working from photos.

But von Wolfwinkle says, “I can do this!” and lets rip with the boneheadedest solution to all his picture problems. Click a few to see what I mean.

May 10, 2022 — 7:29 pm
Comments: 6