Sunday, March 22, 2009

The underwater photography of Bruce Mozart

Bruce Mozert pioneered underwater photography.
In 1938, he was the only person in the world who had a waterproof camera.
Mozert stopped in Silver Springs, Florida, on his way to Miami. He never left.
He built a waterproof housing for his camera and for the next 45 years photographed amazing underwater scenes in the clear waters of Silver Springs.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008


A Christmas tree is one of the most popular traditions associated with the celebration of Christmas. Normally an evergreen coniferous tree that is brought into a home or used in the open, a Christmas tree is decorated with Christmas lights and colourful ornaments during the days around Christmas. An angel or star is often placed at the top of the tree, representing the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity story.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


One of the rarest and most astonishing flowers in the world, including the very largest, is found only in southeastern Asia, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines. The Rafflesia flower starts as a small bud and can take over a year to flower. Rafflesia plants are parasitic, lacking both leaves and roots. The flower is not designed for beauty. In fact, the five fleshy, petal like lobes, marbled red and white, resemble dead meat and through chemical reaction the flower generates a strong odor of rotting flesh. This attracts carrion feeders drawn by the fleshy color pattern and the stench! After a few days, the Rafflesia flower turns brown and rots. Thus the world's rarest plant lives for a few days making it extremely difficult to see in the wild.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama Inspires Art

No candidacy in recent history has inspired more artistic expression than Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

During the 2008 election year, Obama imagery seemed to be everywhere -- on walls, on bumper stickers, on clothing, and on the Internet.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Funerary Art of Borneo II

Among the Ngaju, and other Dayak groups that were influenced by their culture, the long, complex rituals of the secondary burial required elaborate carvings. The mausoleum, called a sandung, is an intricately carved "house" that rest on one to five pillars, the whole structure standing about 2 meters high. The bones of the deceased are placed in a compartment in this carving. The sandung was
covered with carvings, including the hornbill bird, symbolizing the upper world, and a dragon/snake, standing for the lower world. At the climax of the ceremony, the priest enacts the reunion of the deceased with his spirit, and at this moment a water buffalo tied to a sepunduq-the sacrificial post-is speared to death by the relatives of the deceased. Pigs are also sacrificed. In earlier times, a slave would have been used rather than the animals. The sepunduq were often the finest examples of the woodcarver's art, and depicted demons with fangs, huge protruding tongues, and long noses. The highest, most complex carving associated with Ngaju funerary ritual is the Sengkaran, a 6-meter (20 ft.) pole that supports a carved hornbill bird flying over a forest of spears, which are stuck like a fan into the back of a dragon. The dragon rests on an heirloom Chinese jar.

This carving represents a cosmos, or a tree of life. Particular to Ngaju culture are the ships-of-the-dead, small model sailing ships manned by a crew of benevolent spirits, and designed to help a soul on its way to the after-world. Today, these soul shops are constructed out of gutta-percha for sale to tourists. The cultural diffusion of many of these Ngaju funerary rituals large areas of central Borneo began before the arrival of the Europeans. The recently named and officially recognized kaharingan faith of the Ngaju also has been at least partially assimilated by several Dayak groups in East and West Kalimantan. This religion incorporates a secondary funeral called tiwan, which requires much of the artwork mentioned above.

Funerary Art of Borneo I

Figure (Hampatong), 19th–early 20th century
Ngadju or Ot Danum people, Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia
Wood; H. 71 in. (180.3 cm)

To honor the dead and protect the living, the Ngadju and Ot Danum peoples of southeastern Borneo create a variety of wood figures, known collectively as hampatong, portraying humans, animals, or supernatural creatures. Large hampatong, such as the present work, are of two basic types: tajahan (images commemorating the dead) and pataho (guardian figures erected to protect the community). The serene countenance of this figure, which lacks the fearsome expression typical of guardian figures, as well as the large jar on which the subject sits, indicate that it is likely a tajahan image.

Clad in an ornate headdress and seated upon a large ceramic trade jar, a symbol of prosperity and prestige, this figure almost certainly depicts a prominent and wealthy man. Large ceramic jars, primarily of Chinese origin, were, and are, prized by indigenous peoples throughout Borneo. Obtained in exchange for forest products, jars are transported to even the most remote inland communities, where they serve both as storage vessels and coveted symbols of wealth and status.