Art for the Week – Dan Reisinger and Japanese Propaganda


Oh dear, I have been really bad about posting this weekend.  I will make it up, yes I will.  Here are two cool artists I have found this week.  The first is Dan Reisinger, whose painting is above.  His website is really terrible and barely works, but you can see some of his work here.  I don’t know why his work is so interesting to me.  I guess the greys and oranges really do a good job of being somehow both dull but telling an intriguing story.

Also neat are the crazy Japanese postcard propaganda from World War II.  As the website says, they were very postmodern and ahead of their time.


Bird fishing

Motivated by a fascinating travel photo, I’ve been digging into the world of cormorant fishing. Evidently, cormorant fishing arose independently across several regions in the world, which I suppose is a win for, um, convergent cultural evolution. It’s a fascinating look at the way people and animals interact.


See, what these fishermen do is catch cormorants and start training them to fish in a domestic fashion. They will tie a small band around the neck so that the bird cannot swallow large fish, though it can still gulp down the small ones. The fisherman and bird then work at night, crawling across the river on a boat with a bright light attached to attract the fish. The birds then mechanically hunt for the fish and bring it back to be spat out in a basket as you can see here.

This form of fishing arose in Japan, China, Europe, and Peru independently. There were regional variations; European cormorant hunting was more related to falconry, while the Chinese method actually domesticated the cormorants rather than using wild birds. The oldest record of this form of hunting is in Peru in the fifth century AD, and then a century later in Japan. At one point, a single cormorant was enough to feed a family. Now, however, the practice has devolved into little more than a tourist attraction.