Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My review of Common threads: weaving community through collaborative eco-art

Common Threads: Weaving Community through Collaborative Eco-ArtCommon Threads: Weaving Community through Collaborative Eco-Art by Sharon Kallis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a wonderful book, and fits very well with the maker and craftivist books I have been reading to explore what is happening in this space. This is a book about collaborative eco-art, focused on great work happening in Canada. Some of involves using invasive plants in a way which removes them, but also stabilises land. There is a lovely example of knitting ivy for this purpose. This books has lovely examples of eco art, as well a many hints and tips for running successful community collaborations in this space. I was very interested by the local government tie in as well.

Many of these works could be part of local studies work with the community as art techniques are learned and shared, as people talk about plants and about the spaces. I really liked the environmental focus and being able to see photographs of the art works as well as the garden spaces. This book highlighted the value of long term collaboration. An excellent read.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Anthropomorphism in Alices Adventures in Wonderland - and clear rights statements

Anthropomorphism in Alices Adventures in Wonderland

This is a very interesting blog post from the British Library. I really like the clear rights statements about each of the digitised items, and that the whole article has creative commons licensing.  It is impressive.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

My review of Crochet coral reef

Crochet Coral ReefCrochet Coral Reef by Margaret Wertheim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really like this book. I had come across the idea of the crocheted reef when I was discovering hyperbolic crochet. I like the maths of it and that a crocheted shape is best way to demonstrate hyperbolic shapes. This book brings together conservation, craft, art, maths, feminism and much more as well as demonstrating a large scale and distributed craftivism project. There are lovely photographs of the different reefs, combined with stories of the different contributors and creators. They are all named in the book, and so a chunk of it is taken up with acknowledgements. This is brilliant as is highlights that these are not anonymous contributors (although some choose to be anonymous), but people with names and diverse geographies. This long acknowledgment added to the value of this publication.

To quote from this book (p131)
'In The tempest, Shakespeare proposes the sea as the site of transformation and renewal:

Full fathom five they father lies
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade,
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange"

Pulling in different directions, the Crochet Coral Reef points us towards mathematics, towards a consideration of collaboration, towards eco-consciousness and action. Most of all, the work draws us into the space of looking carefully, with a sense of wonder, at the infinitely varied forms and their combinations."

It is a wonderful, challenging book to read, with many photographs illustrating the reefs.

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

my review of Heiroglyph - great work by @imaginationASU

Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better FutureHieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future by Ed Finn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is amazing. It is a series of short stories (some quite long, others quite short) exploring science and ideas for the future. It is a collaboration between fiction authors and scientists, and comes out of Project Hieroglyph at the Arizona State University and their Centre for Science and the imagination.

I realise I may not be making this sound exciting yet. I wanted to read this book because Neal Stephenson was behind it, and I am a fan of his work. There are many wonderful stories in this volume. Not all of them are equally wonderful, but I am sure some people really loved ones I did not. At the end of each story there are story notes to show where the idea came from, sometimes there is a forum discussion you can look at to see the science explained (and it may be something which is not possible to do yet, but it has possibilities). Sometimes the writer was linked to a scientist so they could check the scientific accuracy of what they wrote about, other times they connected to research.

This book explores ideas, using accurate or potentially possible science. It also has great, amazing and wonderful stories in it. One of the things I noticed reading it was that many of the stories were joyful. There may have been tough things going on, but there was an undercurrent of joy and hope. This was lovely and a contrast to what I have been watching and reading lately. That joy and hope were strong is a great fit for planning a hopeful and positive future in a way which cares for people, and is inclusive an imaginative.

Some choice stories for me were Atmosphaera incognita by Neal Stephenson, The man who sold the moon by Cory Doctorow (this is a very joyful, hopeful story), A hotel in Antartica by Geoffrey A Landis, By the time we get to Arizona by Kathleen Ann Goonan, Elephant angels by Brenda Cooper, Entanglement by Vandana Singh, and Degrees of freedom by Karl Schroeder (exploring different governance structures). There are some wonderful reads not included, but it was starting to seem like I was including too many to be described as a selection.

This is going to be a tough one to place in a library because some people will read it for the science, and others for the ideas. Good cataloguing is essential (actually it always is essential). You can see how it is catalogued on Trove and the summary provides helpful keywords (but a lot of libraries don't add fiction to Trove and so miss out on this). I would have liked a more science oriented subject heading added as well.

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