The Real Abandoned Overlook Hotel
Unlike the fictional Overlook Hotel in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, this hotel is really named the Overlook. The abandoned hotel is located in the small, wine growing town of Bernkastel-Kues in Germany. Aside from the fact that it has been unoccupied for about 13 years, there is no information as to why the hotel was closed. All of the furniture remains and it looks as if everyone there simply left. There are rumors that the hotel is haunted. According to urban explorers who frequent the spooky site, cameras malfunction, sounds can be heard throughout the premises and items seem to move around the hotel by themselves.
Once filled with the daily hustle and bustle of life, these beautifully crafted dwellings now sit deserted. Silent and empty, ravaged by time and neglect, the magnificent architecture of the past fills the imagination with a promise of what could be again. Sven Fennema, a German photographer passionate about abandoned places, has captured these images of grand places that were once loved and treasured. This series is titled “Forgotten Places”.
A Woman of Art and Science
April 2nd marks the birth of a very important female scientist that was ahead of her time. The artistic and scientific explorations of German artist Maria Sibylla Merian (1647–1717) helped pioneer the way for other women in science. Enterprising and adventurous, Merian raised the artistic standards of natural history illustration and helped transform the field of entomology, the study of insects.
In 1670, she and her husband moved to Nuremberg, where Merian published her first set of illustrated books. In preparation for a catalogue of European moths, butterflies, and other insects, Merian collected, raised, and observed living insects, rather than working from preserved specimens.
At the age of 52 and divorced, Merian and her younger daughter embarked on a dangerous trip to the Dutch colony of Suriname, in South America, without a male companion. Merian spent the next two years studying and drawing the indigenous flora and fauna within their natural habitats. Forced home by malaria, Merian published Insects of Surinam, her most significant book, in 1705. The lavishly illustrated book forever established her international reputation as an accomplished woman of science.
Thunderbolts and Lightning Very Very Frightening
Inspired by landscapes of nature and weather, German photographer Franz Schumacher captured a series of photographs that showcases thunderstorms and lightning. His photo series demonstrates the timeliness and location precisions needed, in order to achieve impressive images like these.
The Victorian Fantasy Author and Illustrator Ahead of his Time
Paul Karl Wilhelm Scheerbart (1863 – 1915) born in Danzig, Berlin was a German author of fantasy literature and an amazing illustrator. He was also published under the pseudonym Kuno Küfer and is best known for the book Glasarchitektur, 1914.
Scheerbart was associated with expressionist architecture and one of its leading proponents, Bruno Taut. Whereas most people thought Scheerbart eccentric, it’s more likely that he was just ahead of his time and, therefore, misunderstood. He composed aphoristic poems about glass for the Taut’s Glass Pavilion at the Werkbund Exhibition in 1914. He decided to starve himself (to death, some say) instead of living through WWI. “I became a humorist out of rage, not kindness.”
Drinking Horn of Count Ulrich IX. Montfort-Tettnang in Dragon Form; 16th Century, Germany
Origins of the Christmas Tree
The Cat Piano - A True Musical Oddity
A cat organ or cat piano (Katzenklavier in German) is a conjectural musical instrument which consists of a line of cats fixed in place with their tails stretched out underneath a keyboard so that cats cry out in pain when a key is pressed. The cats would be arranged according to the natural tone of their voices.
There is no official record of a Cat Organ actually being built, but is rather described in literature as a bizarre concept. This instrument was described by the French writer Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin in his book “Musiciana, Extraits D’ouvrages Rare ou Bizarre” (Musiciana, descriptions of rare or bizarre inventions.
“When the King of Spain Felipe II was in Brussels in 1549 visiting his father the Emperor Charles V, each saw the other rejoicing at the sight of a completely singular procession…The most curious was on a chariot that carried the most singular music that can be imagined. It held a bear that played the organ; instead of pipes, there were sixteen cat heads each with its body confined; the tails were sticking out and were held to be played as the strings on a piano, if a key was pressed on the keyboard, the corresponding tail would be pulled hard, and it would produce each time a lamentable meow. It was noted that the cats were arranged properly to produce a succession of notes from the octave.”
More recently, the instrument was recreated using squeaky toys by Henry Dagg for a garden party held at Clarence House in 2010 by Prince Charles and Camilla to support his “Start” initiative for sustainable living, which can be seen here. The tune “Over the Rainbow” was played and caused great amusement. Prince Charles was laughing so hard, that his eyes start to water. Its quite funny to watch.