World Smile Day: Ten faces found in museum objects

To celebrate World Smile Day, I decided to take a quick walk around the new Science and Technology galleries at the National Museum of Scotland looking for some smiles in our objects. Have you ever seen a face in an object? It starts perhaps by noticing a couple of eyes, perhaps a nose and if you are lucky a big wide mouth.

Telephone wall mounting, with a hand-generator, made by Sterling of London, 1905 – 1910.search
Telephone wall mounting, with a hand-generator, made by Sterling of London, 1905 – 1910.
I first came across a small book called Faces about 12 years ago, loved its simplicity and bought it immediately. It’s a photographic book by Francois and Jean Robert, with practically no text inside. In many ways, it doesn’t require any words, as the photographs of faces they have found in many everyday objects speak for themselves. Once captured by the idea that every object hides noses, eyes and mouths – it’s hard to stop looking for them, and hard to stop seeing them. Not every object was smiling for me today, but I have selected ten technical museum objects that have some good expressions on them, if you look hard enough. Read the full blog over here!

Flying Through Clouds

There are a few moments when flying that are truly magical. They are found after the inevitable strip of boots & belts at security, after the tiring queue to board and the bumbling walk down the aeroplane aisle. These moments are imminent as you clasp your seatbelt closed, the plane starts to move and the repetitive safety drill finishes…

The moments that I find truly magical start when the plane lifts off the ground into the sky. It is at this point I can gaze down in awe as the familiar world below becomes smaller and smaller. As I move farther away, I gain a new perspective at which to see the details that shape the landscape below – until the plane breaks through a sea of clouds and the familiar world disappears. In its place is a magical landscape of fluffy white clouds. My mind at this point feels like a child and I gaze on in innocent wonder at these amazing fluffy floating things, that just become even more enchanting the more that you look.

I understand the theory and physics of both the clouds and the plane flying within them, but the reality of flying through the clouds still manages to blow my mind just a little. I’m glad that it does. Such experiences shouldn’t get tiring. Although it is hard to remain in awe for the full span of a 20 hour flight, it is worth remembering to open your eyes and look out the window at the cloudy world outside at least at the point of taking off. As there is a somewhat magical world of clouds lurking just outside.


 

Just a few random words I wrote this summer whilst on holiday and am only just finding the time to post now. Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson

WALK THIS WAY

WALK THIS WAY.

I saw this sign the other day and it made me smile and think. It was not directing me to go in the direction of anything specific, but out of curiosity I decided to follow it. I walked to the left as the sign directed and I found myself with a low wall to my left and stacks of fishing nets to my right, beyond the wall was a small river and to right of the nets was the boat filled harbour. It was a pleasant little detour and enjoyed peering over the wall at the water below and photographing the twists and turns in the nets.  I walked until I reached the point at which the water that had been on either side of me met and I discovered I was at a dead end. I guess I could have jumped in the water, I do like swimming, but on this occasion I decided that the best option was to turn around and come back.

Upon returning past the sign and subsequently walking in the opposite direction to the arrow, I began to question the intentions of the original sign maker/hanger/instigator. I began to wonder whether they had hoped to encourage people to take the time to walk up this underused path at the harbour, or had simply hoped to discourage people from walking a different route. I questioned what people would do if the sign did not exist and whether it was a positive or negative addition to the space. I didn’t come to any particular conclusions, as this questioning happened in the space of a few seconds inside my head before I was distracted by the waft of fresh fish and chips.

I am constantly curious about the number of words that exist in our built environment. A number of these words come in the form of signage, but signs don’t need to be formal structures. In fact, I often wonder if people are so used to the formal qualities of official signs that they become rather blind to them, that or they subconsciously submit to them. I saw a lot of signs when I was walking around New York earlier this year and yet these words ‘NO LOITERING’ that were chalked into a stairway were the ones that stood out to me. Perhaps they stood out, as at the exact moment I spotted them I must have been loitering in some way and they caught me in the act as I turned to look directly at them. It was as if these words had preempted that the spot in front of their appartment was the one that I would take to rest for a minute after walking for hours.

I guess that is what most signs do, they run through possible scenarios for a specific place or space and then they try to guide people in what is deemed as the best way to navigate. I think most signs have good intentions, and sometimes signs in the form of identification and navigation are definitely necessary.

However, sometimes it is also nice to decide for yourself which way to walk, as it can make the simplest journeys in life seem just a little bit more like an adventure.

Words & Images © Hazel Saunderson