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Bloody Disgusting: A gruesome gallery of vintage medical illustrations from the 1800s
10:11 am



My father once bought several volumes of medical textbooks as a job lot from a secondhand bookshop. Why he did this I’m not quite sure. Perhaps he liked their fine red leather covers, their marbled pages, the beautiful yet gruesome illustrations of diseases contained therein. Perhaps he thought these fine volumes matched our home’s interior decor? Or maybe he hoped my brother or myself would one day study these antique books and become a medical practitioner? I certainly considered it. Indeed I nearly did apply for medicine at university but changed my mind at the last moment and chose a rather pointless arts course—my real intention had been to go to Art College and paint…but that’s another story.

However, I did spend many, many, probably far too many hours poring over these books and their fabulous colored plates of medical diseases, internal organs, autopsies, arterial systems, genitals, brains and what have you. I marveled as much at the complexity and wonder of the human body and its diseases as I did at the beauty of the illustrations. These were to me works of art that deserved to be hung in some gallery rather than just hidden away for the education of young minds.

Illustrations of different diseases and conditions provided an essential part in the development of medical treatment. All doctors need a good memory so they can recognize symptoms, ailments and you know body parts—and the work of illustrators in accurately depicting different forms of diseases—leprosy, syphilis or smallpox, etc—were central to a doctor making the right call in a patient’s’ diagnosis and treatment.

This is a tiny small collection of some of the vast number of disturbingly beautiful illustrations produced by artists for medical practitioners during the late 1700s to the early 1900s—and they are quite fantastic.

And the moral of my story? Well, if you ever get the choice between an arts course and studying medicine…do medicine because you can truly help people and maybe even make a shit load of money while you’re doing it.
A thirteen-year-old Girl with leprosy.
A thirteen-year-old Boy with severe untreated leprosy.
More beautifully rendered (and totally gross) diseases after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Blow-out: Bizarre sci-fi looking vintage hair dryers from the early 1900s
06:32 pm



A massive hair dryer from 1934.
Some of our readers will recall a time when it seemed like a good idea to strap a plastic bag to your head (when it was still wet mind you) then hook it up to a large device that would blow hot hair into said bag in order to dry your hair. Sometimes I really do believe it is a fucking miracle that more people born in decades preceding the 1970s didn’t die after putting hot plastic bags on their wet heads. Even as a kid back in the 70s I thought on more than one occasion that I was going to come out with a perfectly red ring around my skull after sitting under a soft-bonnet style hair dryer. But that never happened. Thanks, Mom!

A drawing of the first hair dryer invented by Alexandre Godefoy in 1888. 
Some of these space-aged looking contraptions date as far back as the early 1920s and could be found in public bath houses. In 1930, German hair care company Wella debuted a motorized dryer that looked like it was straight out of a scene from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (pictured directly below). Others are just too wacky for words but as a girl with long hair—I get it. Before the advent of the hair dryer women would dry their hair by a fire (yikes!) or just let it dry on its own. The first hair dryer originated in 1888 in a beauty salon in France owned by Alexandre Godefroy (pictured above) that attached to a pipe for a chimney or a gas stove and blew hot air through a giant alien-looking metal helmet. In the words of those Virginia Slim ads “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby” when it comes to hair maintenance. Lots of images of far-out looking hair dryers of yesteryear follow.

Wella’s first motorized hair dryer from 1930.


More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ in the style of Picasso
01:30 pm



A team of developers named Gatys, Ecker, and Bethge recently developed an implementation of a technique known as a “style transfer,” which involves taking a specific pattern and “applying” it to a piece of video, such that the available surfaces in the video take on the texture of the original pattern. It’s kind of like a face swap only more ambitious.

A few months have passed, and a clever individual named Joshi Bhautik has tried to apply the technique as a way of mashing up great art and classic cinema. Specifically, he took a painting by Pablo Picasso, one of his “Les Femmes d’Alger” (Women of Algiers) series, which looks like this:

... and used it as the base image for a deep neural net-based style transfer on Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey, which is full of striking images to say the least.

Once you do that, the generally stately, slow cinematography of the movie becomes a shimmering kaleidoscope, as seen in the following image:

The method has the peculiar effect of turning the entire movie into a version of the phantasmagorical, psychedelic journey Dave Bowman goes on for several minutes at the end of the movie, a sequence MAD magazine once compared to “crashing through the brand-new 105-story Jupiter Museum of Op Art.”

Here’s Bhautik’s description of what this is:

‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ rendered in the style of Picasso using deep neural network based style transfer. The cubist style had mixed results in the transfer; you can see that big empty blocks of colour didn’t map coherently between the frames. I’m working on a solution for that :]

See it after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Jeepers Creepers: Surreal illustrations of witchcraft-caused eye diseases from the 16th century
10:03 am



Georg Bartisch dedicated his life to the study and treatment of the eye and its diseases.

Born in Königsbrück, Saxony in 1535, Bartisch was apprenticed to a barber surgeon at the age of thirteen. After three years training, he set off to ply his trade as an itinerant surgeon—carrying out operations, amputations, and diagnosing illness amongst the populace of Saxony, Silesia, and Bohemia.

Medicine at this time was still prone to a belief in the superstitious. Bartisch believed a patient could be diagnosed through their astrological chart or horoscope and that magic, astrology and indeed witchcraft itself played an important role in the diagnosis and treatment of disease.

His main interest was ophthalmology. Though never academically trained, Bartisch excelled in his study of eye diseases and their cures, and was recognized as a leading expert in ocular medicine and surgery. One can imagine how brutal and painful such procedures would have been at this time when there was very poor hygiene and no anaesthetics.

Bartisch also believed myopia, hyperopia, astigmatism could be corrected by the wearing of masks rather than by the use of eyeglasses (see illustrations below). He believed a glass held in front of the eyes would only further damage the patient’s sight.

Though many of his ideas may seem strange to us now, Bartisch was a pioneer and his major contribution to ocular medicine was his compendium or “atlas” Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst published in 1583. It was the first book that detailed eye diseases and was responsible in establishing ophthalmology as a separate and distinct medical discipline.

Ophthalmodouleia Das ist Augendienst included sections on head and eye anatomy; strabismus; cataracts (which he classified by color—white, blue, gray, green, yellow, and black); external disease; trauma; and even witchcraft.

By 1588, Bartisch was oculist to the court of Duke Augustus I of Saxony. He died in 1607.

If you have an interest in the history of medicine, or are just a bibliophile, then you may be interested in viewing the whole of Georg Bartisch’s Ophthalmodouleia which has been digitized here.
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Disturbingly beautiful (almost dirty) images of human anatomy from the 1700s (NSFW)
10:02 am



Jacques Fabien Gautier was a printmaker, painter, anatomist and philosopher who is now best remembered for his often lurid anatomical illustrations.

Born in Marseilles in 1716, Gautier began his career as a painter before moving onto printmaking where he developed an interest in the techniques of color printmaking which were then being pioneered by Jacob Christoph Le Blon (1667-1741). Gautier posited the theory colored prints could be created in much the same way as colored patterns were woven into cloth.

In 1736, Gautier moved to Paris—as he believed only great ideas came from great cities. Here he met Louis-Bertrand Castel, a mathematician and scientist who encouraged Gautier to investigate his theories into color printing. However, many of Gautier’s proposals for three and four color printing had been already developed by Le Blon. In 1738, Gautier joined Le Blon’s color-printing workshop but left after only six weeks. He then adopted Le Blon’s ideas and established a printmaking business as a four color printmaker.

Gautier had one good idea—he decided to produce all of the color anatomical illustrations for medical studies. He collaborated with Jacques Francois Duverney, a lecturer in anatomy at the Jardin du Roy. Together they produced l’Essai d’anatomie or Myologie complete en couleur et grandeur naturelle, composée de l’Essai et de la Suite de l’Essai d’anatomie en tableaux imprimés (1746) and Anatomie de la tête, en tableaux imprimés qui représentent au naturel le cerveau sous différentes coupes, la distribution des vaisseaux dans toutes les parties de la tête, les organes des sens et une partie de la névrologie, d’après les pièces disséquées et préparées par M. Duverney, en 8 grandes planches dessinées, peintes, gravées et imprimées en couleur et grandeur naturelle, par le sieur Gautier or Anatomie de la tête (1748).

The collaboration earned Gautier respect. He became known as a philosopher and anatomist became and was made a member of the Dijon Academy of Sciences.  In 1752, he published a baffling critique on Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of color—Chroa-génésie—in which amongst other things he claimed:

...the sun as the universal agent and motive force. According to Gautier’s theory, the force of its rays generates planetary motion, and it is the source of light and fire, substances with broad significance and many uses according to his system. Modified, they create thunder, lightening, and such geologic phenomena as volcanoes and earthquakes…

Gautier’s theories showed his “understanding of geometry is even less exact than his understanding of Newtonian optics.” His writing was described as “convoluted” and “unintelligible.” Surprisingly, this did not stop Gautier from being taken seriously (if only briefly) as a philosopher—enough to have the great writer Goethe suggest his treatise on color deserved an answer. Goethe also described Gautier as “an active, quick, rather impulsive man, certainly gifted but more than befittingly aggressive and sensational.”

Some critics considered Gautier veered more towards the sensationalist than the scientific:

[Gautier’s] anatomical illustrations while they may perhaps be fascinating to the layman…impress the critical observer with their arrogance and charlatanery and do not recommend themselves to the student of anatomy either for their faithfulness or their technique.

His later work in particular—when Gautier was acting as both anatomist and illustrator—has been dismissed as:

“....probably aimed at more prurient-minded lay persons than at anatomists.”

In a pre-Bettie Page world, I suppose that you took what you were offered?

Now largely forgotten as a natural philosopher and anatomist, Gautier (or Gautier d’Agoty as he later called himself) is now best known for his illustrative work for Jacques Francois Duverney’s three volumes on anatomy.

A copy of Essai d’Anatomie can be viewed and downloaded here.
From ‘l’Essai d’anatomie’.
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Why does music give some people ‘skin-gasms’?
03:14 pm



Have you ever gotten a brief, intense chill down your spine or arms because you had an emotional reaction to the music you were listening to? Like, you are in your study, library, billiard room, or conservatory enjoying a glass of amontillado while listening to some Bach or Air Supply, when all of a sudden, during a particularly intense passage, the hairs on your arm stand on end.

Not everyone gets goosebumps from music; studies show that more than half of people do experience it. The French have a word for it: frisson, which has been translated as “aesthetic chills.” In English, some use the term skin-gasm. There’s a group on reddit where users post examples of particularly frisson-inducing music; current examples include Smashing Pumpkins, Frank Zappa, and Andrew Jackson Jihad.

It’s likely that our ancient forebears used an endothermic layer of heat retained beneath the hairs of their skin to keep warm; the goosebumps were the result of a rapid change in temperature, but they haven’t phased out of our evolutionary trajectory since the invention of clothing. However, it may be beginning to fade out of our collective humanity, since the frisson is only prevalent to about 55-86% of the population.

Those evolutionary roots may explain why the goosebumps we get from listening to music often come at times of dramatic changes in volume or pitch, or the appearance of an emotionally charged performance by a soloist. The more sudden such a change is, the more that listeners’ expectations are violated, and the more that we are (in evolutionary terms) thrust back into the distant past, maybe a terrifying woolly mammoth coming upon you in the middle of the night.

A team led by Dr. Amani El-Alayli, a professor of Social Psychology at Eastern Washington University has been investigating what differentiates the people who can and cannot experience music-derived “skin-gasms.” El-Alayli and his colleagues tested the cognitive immersion of several people listening to a variety of different songs and also asked them to complete personality tests. The results from the project concluded that listeners who experienced frisson also scored high for a personality trait called “Openness to Experience.”

This chart shows the reactions of a single listener in the lab. The spikes in each line correlate to junctures when the listener was particularly cognitively or emotionally aroused by the music. The peaks of excitement coincide perfectly with the experiencing of frisson in reaction to the music. (Air Supply just didn’t do anything for this particular subject, it seems.)

This participant was one of the ones who scored well on “Openness to Experience.” Studies have shown that people who possess “Openness to Experience” have “unusually active imaginations, appreciate beauty and nature, seek out new experiences, often reflect deeply on their feelings, and love variety in life,” according to social psychologist Mitchell Colver of Utah State University.

This paper’s conclusion indicates that “those who intellectually immerse themselves in music (rather than just letting it flow over them) might experience frisson more often and more intensely than others.”
via Live for Live Music

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Blade Runner’ and ‘A Scanner Darkly’ reconstructed with an autoencoder
10:49 am



“I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe,” said the Nexus-6 replicant Roy Batty at the end of the film Blade Runner.

Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears ... in ... rain.

It’s a great speech—one written by Rutger Hauer—which suggests this bad boy android or replicant has experienced a state of consciousness beyond its intended programming.

While we can imagine what Batty’s memories look like, we can never see or experience them as the replicant or android saw them. Which is kinda damned obvious—but raises a fascinating question: Would an android, a robot, a machine see things as we see them?

It is now believed that humans use up to 50% of their brain to process vision—which gives you an idea the sheer complexity involved in even attempting to create some machine that could successfully read or visualize its environment. Do machines see? What do they see? How can they construct images from the input they receive?

The human eye can recognize handwritten numbers or words without difficulty. We process information unconsciously. We are damned clever. Our brain is a mega-supercomputer—one that scientists still do not fully understand.

Now imagine trying to create a machine that can do what the human brain does in literally the blink of an eye. Our sight can read emotion. It can intuit meaning. It can scan and understand and know whether something it inputs is dangerous or funny. We can look at a cartoon and know it is funny. Machines can’t do that. Yet.

A neural network is a computer system modeled on the human brain and nervous system. One type of neural network is an autoencoder.

Autoencoders are “simple learning circuits which aim to transform inputs into outputs with the least possible amount of distortion.”

Here’s a robotic arm using deep spatial encoders to “visualize” a simple function.

Terence Broad is an artist and research student at Computing Department at Goldsmiths University in London. Over the past year, Broad has been working on a project reconstructing films with artificial neural networks. Broad has been

training them to reconstruct individual frames from films, and then getting them to reconstruct every frame in a given film and resequencing it.

The type of neural network used is an autoencoder. An autoencoder is a type of neural net with a very small bottleneck, it encodes a data sample into a much smaller representation (in this case a 200 digit number), then reconstructs the data sample to the best of its ability. The reconstructions are in no way perfect, but the project was more of a creative exploration of both the capacity and limitations of this approach.

The resultant frames are strange watercolor-like images that are identifiable especially when placed side-by-side with the original source material. That they can reproduce such fast flickering information at all is, well, damned impressive.

Among the films Broad has used are two Philip K. Dick adaptations Blade Runner and A Scanner Darkly, which is apt considering Dick’s interest in androids and asking the question “What is reality?”
Much more after the jump…....

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The Body’: Little-known 1970 Roger Waters soundtrack features uncredited Pink Floyd performance
01:41 pm



The Body is an innovative scientific documentary film that was directed and produced by Roy Battersby (actress Kate Beckinsale’s Trotskyite stepfather) in 1970. The film’s soundtrack, composed by quirky Scotsman Ron Geesin and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, was released as Music from the Body. Some of Geesin and Waters’ songs made use of the human body as a sort of musical instrument. Pink Floyd were always big on using the heartbeat, but Music from the Body even used farts. One of the songs is called “More Than Seven Dwarfs In Penis Land.”

In Battersby’s film, internal cameras are used to show different parts of the human anatomy in action. The film was narrated by actor Frank Finlay and Battersby’s fellow Trotsky admirer Vanessa Redgrave.

“Sea Shell and Stone/Breathe in the Air” plays under the opening credits. If you can’t take the sight of a mother’s breast in a science doc, don’t click play, you’ve been warned, weirdo:

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
China bans live streams of women ‘eating bananas seductively’
11:11 am



Lately it’s become a trend in China for live streaming websites to feature women eating fruits—especially bananas—in an “erotic” manner. The authorities in China, however, are not amused, and have moved to block distribution of the images.

As part of the Chinese government’s crackdown on “inappropriate” online content, Chinese live-streaming video services are banned from showing images of women filming themselves while eating bananas “erotically,” China’s state-run CCTV news reported last week. The details of what is and isn’t legal have not yet been set, but people featuring themselves in live streams are henceforth barred from eating “bananas seductively” in front of the camera.

On April 14 China’s Culture Ministry announced an investigation of popular live-broadcast websites for “allegedly providing content that contains pornography or violence and encourages viewers to break laws and harms social morality.”

On Thursday, CCTV reported that the targeted websites had already moved to restrict the behavior of some of the most popular hosts, which were “predominately attractive women showing their cleavage.”

The draconian new regulations require live-streaming sites to monitor their output 24 hours a day to make sure that explicit material is not broadcast.

Some Chinese social media users think that the new regulations can be circumvented by dispensing with bananas. “They will all start eating cucumbers, and if that’s no good, yams,” one user commented. (I am reminded of this song. Wait for the punchline)

Here’s an example of the kinds of streams that will no longer be allowed:

via Dazed

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Toys for boys: Tech Hifi catalogs of vintage stereo equipment are bizarre fun
11:48 am

Pop Culture


This 1981 system, featuring components from Cerwin Vega, Hitachi, Philips, and Audio-Technica, cost $829 at the time.
Only the staunchest of old-school stereo dorks remember it today, but from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s, Tech Hifi was one of the best-known retailers of audio equipment on the East Coast.

The chain was founded by two MIT academics, mathematician Sandy Ruby and engineer John Strohbeen. According to the New York Times, Tech Hifi’s franchises were known for their “knowledgeable salespeople who could satisfy the comparison-shopping stereo connoisseur”—a type so gorgeously satirized by Don Cheadle’s Buck Swope in Boogie Nights.

Another of the hallmarks of Tech Hifi was apparently its expensive and imaginative catalogs, which presented elaborate tableaux of the store’s stereophonic offerings being used in fanciful and even borderline bizarre situations.

Seizing on a ripe market of affluent audiophiles, Tech Hifi grew rapidly, and by the 1970s it had become one of the nation’s largest sources for consumer electronics, with upwards of 80 stores, mostly in the Northeast, including more than a dozen in and around New York City.

Nobody knew it when these catalogs were being produced, but Tech Hifi’s days were numbered. Unanticipated competition from discount retailers and a wobbly economy forced it out of business in the mid-1980s.

Note that inflation has increased the prices of equivalent goods by roughly 289%, so you have to triple the prices listed here in order to get an accurate assessment of the pricing at that time. All of the photos in the 1979 catalog were taken by Al Rubin, and all of the photos in the 1981 catalog were taken by Clint Clemens. You can enlarge all photos by clicking on them.

The cover of the 1979 catalog.

This 1979 system featuring components from Crown, Nikko, Infinity, Micro Seiki, Ortofon, Micro-Acoustics, Tandberg, and Phase Linear, cost $10,000 at the time.
More goodness from vintage Tech Hifi catalogs after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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