Apr 18 2012: The “Mr Universe” Magazine Giant Body Beautiful Issue Featuring Clarence Ross (1950s)

American masculinity has always been a curious creature, with its more regressive manifestations generally among the nation’s most blatantly homoerotic cultural forms: perhaps it’s a submerged consciousness of this blurring between extreme machismo and ‘lavender leanings’ that underlies much of the anti-gay discourse that surrounds images like the one above, a 1950s portrait of bodybuilder … Continue reading

Mar 6 2012: Six Photographs of Grottoes, Canyons and Other Rock Formations (from Unknown Encyclopedia, 1930s)

The interiors of bodies and geological formations have been fused together in a few of the visual equations of Robert Holcombe before now, and occur again (several times) in a series of poems I’ve been writing under the working title A Cycle of Songs for the Body’s Interior, modelled somewhat obliquely on the rather compelling seasonal songs produced … Continue reading

Feb 22 2012: Thirty-Eight Plates from How Things Work Magazine (Marshall Cavendish, 1982)

These are mainly library and archive photographs, all featured in How Things Work, an early 1980s part-work published by Marshall Cavendish in the UK to create a week by week encyclopaedia of (then) current and recent technological developments. In some respects it’s a publication that sits somewhere between the same company’s seventies home-making and DIY … Continue reading

Feb 11 2012: Fifty-Four Photographic Plates from Surgery for Nurses by James Kemble (1949)

Following yesterday’s gallery of diagrams, radiographs and anatomical illustrations from James Kemble’s 1949 textbook, Surgery for Nurses, today presents a somewhat larger gallery of photographic plates from the same publication, mainly taken by Kemble himself, showing his own patients and hospital subjects. What’s especially powerful about these (despite the fact that I’ve omitted most of the … Continue reading

Feb 10 2012: Twenty-Eight Diagrams, Radiographs and Illustrations from Surgery for Nurses by James Kemble (1949)

These are a very different set of illustrations to those made by Robert Ayton for Ladybird’s childrens’ introduction to the essentials of anatomy and the body’s workings, Your Body (1967), as featured here a week or two ago. These images are a few selections from a rather earlier and far grittier publication, Surgery for Nurses: A Text … Continue reading

Feb 1 2012: Twenty Seven Illustrations by Robert Ayton from Your Body by David Scott Daniell (Ladybird, 1967)

Just in case it needed saying (which I rather doubt) it may be worth reflecting, as we look at the illustrations made by Robert Ayton for this 1967 childrens’ introduction to the basic workings of their own bodies, that all the multi-million dollar baroque technical extravagance seen in Military Technology magazine is all, ultimately, aimed at … Continue reading

Jan 21 2012: A Fragment from a Potential Bacterial Alphabet (Principles of Biology, c.1938)

Somehow, I suspect it will continue to be a source of great disappointment that this set of illustrations showing different kinds of bacteria didn’t continue beyond the letter ‘i’ and run to a full 26 figures for quite some time. The calligraphic quality gives each individual image in this grid the potential to be read as a letter-form … Continue reading

Jan 18 2012: Seventeen Natural History Photographs from an Unknown Source (c.1950s)

The book that these plates were removed from had no cover or endpapers, and no title or author’s name on any of the surviving pages, so I’ve been unable to precisely identify it, except that on the internal evidence it seemed to be a 1950s era popular reference on the subject of natural history. The … Continue reading

Jan 17 2012: A Pictorial Analysis of the Grip (from a Student Design Portfolio, c.1990)

It’s not difficult to understand why these photographs were taken, as they appeared in a portfolio of work made by a Singaporean product design student, based in the East Midlands sometime during the later 1980s or early 1990s. The sequence was presumably intended to analyse the fit of the human hand to a variety of objects … Continue reading

Jan 13 2012: Four Photographs on the Themes of Artificial Sunlight and The Healing Power of X-Rays (from Marvels of Modern Science, c.1930s)

These four images are ostensiby about illustrating the processes of the things they depict, that is, the use of ‘sun lamps’ and x-rays to promote health and diagnose illness, but in truth there’s something odd about them: the circle of children basking in the alien glow of heat-lamps has the look of a still from … Continue reading