Friday, April 30, 2021
Sunday, April 18, 2021
Most recently and of particular note is Life in Color with David Attenborough, which premiered some weeks ago on BBC, and will be streaming on Netflix as of Thursday, April 22. This new series is of particular relevance to those who research camouflage, because it uses the latest filming techniques to determine how the vision of various animals differs from that of humans. This is especially important because it has all too often been assumed that animal coloration can be adequately assessed through human vision. It is a “must see” series.
In the meantime, British zoologist Martin Stevens, whose books on animal coloration (Animal Camouflage; Sensory Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution; and Cheats and Deceits) are among the very finest, has teamed up with Attenborough and the BBC to produce a dazzling, full-color companion volume titled Life in Color: How Animals See the World.
That said, one can hardly mention David Attenborough without also calling to mind that wonderful story in his autobiography about a “colorful” appearance by Konrad Lorenz on an earlier BBC program. It is a classic, as quoted below.
David Attenborough, Life on Air. London: BBC Books, 2002—
[During a live interview on BBC, Austrian ethologist Konrad Lorenz agreed to appear on camera, unrehearsed, with a greylag goose. Moments later,] a keeper from the London Zoo walked on to the set carrying a goose which he put down on a low table that stood between the professor and myself. The goose, naturally enough, was somewhat perturbed at suddenly being thrust under the bright televison lights and began to flap its wings.
“Komm, komm, mein Liebchen,” said Konrad, soothingly, putting his hands on either side of the goose’s body so that its wings were held folded down. He was holding it so that its head was pointed away from him. This was sensible in that he was not then within range of the goose’s beak which it showed every wish to use, if it got the chance. But that, of course, meant that its rear was pointing towards the professor and the goose, in the flurry, squirted a jet of liquid green dung straight at him.
“Oh dear dear,” said Konrad. “All over der trouserz.” He released the goose, which flapped off the set and was neatly fielded by its keeper, took out his handkerchief and carefully wiped his trousers clean. Then, finding his handerchief in his hand, in his embarrassment, he promptly blew his nose on it.
He completed the interview with a green smear down the side of his face…
Friday, April 2, 2021
Roy R. Behrens, Papa's Waltz (© 2021). Digital montage.
Yesterday, I put up this blog post and montage (above) on The Poetry of Sight, my more generic blog about vision, design, and the creative process. But it occurs to me that it might also be appropriate to repost it here, since Theodore Roethke's language has everything to do with camouflage, with concealed and embedded components.
•••The title of the montage reproduced above (I sometimes call them “visual poems”) is intended as an homage to what some people regard as Theodore Roethke’s finest work, a sixteen-line autobiographical poem, titled “My Papa’s Waltz” (c1942). It is beautifully constructed, filled with engagement and gesture—and is yet at the same time disturbing in its beneath-the-surface suggestions.
Roethke, as a poet should, makes apt use of figures of speech, and we (the readers) are left to decide what to make of it. Does “papa’s waltz” simply describe an innocent dance, in which an inebriated father is engaged in ritualistic fun with his son, a small boy. Or, as certain components suggest, is it not a literal waltz, but instead a frightening memory of dance-like beatings the boy endured at the hands of a drunken parent?
You must read the entire poem, which is available online at the website of the Poetry Foundation. At the same, it also helps to read the article about this poem on Wikipedia, and to learn about the life of Theodore Roethke.