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Fabricio Moraes

Artistic Takes on 9 Classic Fairy Tales

Original image
Fabricio Moraes

We’re all familiar with the classic Disney and Brothers Grimm versions of fairy tales, but with a little artistic skill and imagination, it’s amazing how drastically these tales can change—at least visually. Need proof? Look no further than this collection of fantastic artistic versions of some of the most common fairy tales.

Special thanks to the WWA Gallery in Los Angeles for putting together their Fractured Fairy Tales art show, which is where many of these creations were sourced.

1. Cinderella

We’re all so familiar with classic fairy tales that we often forget how silly they can be, but when Yudi Chen switches the genders of the main characters, it shows just how preposterous they are—like the idea of a handsome young man running away from the princess and leaving his shoe behind as the clock strikes midnight.

Brain Candy Toys ran a brilliant ad campaign last year that turned classic fairy tales into math equations. In the Cinderella version, a peasant plus a fairy godmother makes a gorgeous gal, a gorgeous gal at a palace equals a gorgeous gal missing a shoe, a prince with a shoe plus a peasant equals happily ever after.

Photographer Thomas Czarnecki doesn’t seem to think much of fairy tale princesses. His “From Enchantment to Down” series shows a variety of princesses who have come upon a tragic end, including Cinderella, who seems to have caught her glass heel at the top of a stairway and cracked her head open on the way down.

2. Snow White

Rodolfo Loaiza’s “Disasterland” takes an array of classic Disney tales and shows the shocking events that happened behind the scenes. While the entire collection is wonderful, there’s something so magical about seeing chipper little Snow White hitting rock bottom with the help of a few bottles of booze.

The most pivotal scene in Snow White’s tale occurs when the young princess chooses to take a bite from the juicy, red poisoned apple the witch has given to her. Brittney Lee’s intricate papercraft take on the scene freezes White in that critical scene for all eternity.

3. Little Red Riding Hood

Matt Saunder’s take on Little Red’s tale is visually stunning and the design is so effective that it manages to sum up the tale of a little girl wandering through the woods while being stalked by a vicious wolf all in one beautiful, concise image.

While there are quite a few endings to the Little Red Riding Hood tale, none of them seem to mention what happens to the wolf’s body after he dies (that is, in the ones where he does die). Should Little Red survive, it only makes sense that she turn his head into a wearable trophy to warn other big baddies not to mess with her, as she does in this great painting by Helena Garcia.

If Little Red Riding Hood was friends with the three bears from the Goldilocks story, then she might have gone through this adorable scene imagined by Sandra Equihua before heading off to meet her grandma—and the big bad wolf. As for why the bears are friendly to her and not to Goldilocks, well, Red obviously has better manners and doesn’t just enter the home of strangers in order to eat their food and sleep in their beds.

4. Goldilocks

If Goldilocks just escaped her chain gang and the three bears looked more like Yogi Bear than Brer Bear, like they do in this illustration by Drake Brodahl, then chances are the bears would go ahead and let her finish her nap and enjoy the porridge rather than trying to chase her out into the forest. Of course, if they were as smart as Yogi, they’d at least tell the ranger a convict is hiding out in their house.

Should the bears put a violent stop to Goldilocks’ intrusion, then Johnny Yanok might be right in that they might end up throwing a barbecue to celebrate –complete with tiki drinks served from their new skull cup.

5. Puss In Boots

While DreamWorks' take on Puss in Boots has established the character as one of the cutest fairy tale creatures of all time, Becky Dreistadt reminds us that when you have a cat wearing boots, he’s bound to be utterly adorable, whether he’s friends with Shrek or not.

6. Jack and the Beanstalk

It’s hard to imagine the true scale of a giant beanstalk that reaches into the sky, but Roque Ballesteros’ take on the story starts to give an idea of the plant’s impressive size –with little Jack barely able to even measure up to one of its leaves.

7. The Three Little Pigs

As you can see, Larry Moss and Kelly Cheatle of Airigami are particularly gifted at turning balloons and a little Photoshop magic into an incredible cross between painting, origami, and sculpture. While their entire portfolio is impressive, their takes on fairy tales are particularly stunning, especially this one showing the wolf blowing down the first pig’s straw house.

8. Rapunzel

It sure would be hard to climb on Rapunzel’s hair if it were made out of nothing but inflated rubber, but Airigami’s version of the princess trapped in the tower is stunning nonetheless.

How, exactly, would Rapunzel’s tower have to be built and how would her hair need to be laid out in order for the prince to climb up to meet her? Well, architectural firms Bernheimer Architecture, Leven Betts and Guy Nordenson and Associates worked together to put together an elaborate set of design specs conforming to the classic Grimm tale. The results might not be the most artistic on this list, but they’re certainly the most architecturally sound.

9. Pinocchio

If Pinocchio was some sort of steampunk creation rather than wood, he would almost certainly look like this steam-powered, copper-robot version imagined by illustrator Fabricio Moraes.

What do you think? Do you prefer the more classic versions or these new artistic interpretations? Or, do you maybe have your own ideas for how a particular fairy tale should be modified?

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Scientists Think They Know How Whales Got So Big
May 24, 2017
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It can be difficult to understand how enormous the blue whale—the largest animal to ever exist—really is. The mammal can measure up to 105 feet long, have a tongue that can weigh as much as an elephant, and have a massive, golf cart–sized heart powering a 200-ton frame. But while the blue whale might currently be the Andre the Giant of the sea, it wasn’t always so imposing.

For the majority of the 30 million years that baleen whales (the blue whale is one) have occupied the Earth, the mammals usually topped off at roughly 30 feet in length. It wasn’t until about 3 million years ago that the clade of whales experienced an evolutionary growth spurt, tripling in size. And scientists haven’t had any concrete idea why, Wired reports.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B might help change that. Researchers examined fossil records and studied phylogenetic models (evolutionary relationships) among baleen whales, and found some evidence that climate change may have been the catalyst for turning the large animals into behemoths.

As the ice ages wore on and oceans were receiving nutrient-rich runoff, the whales encountered an increasing number of krill—the small, shrimp-like creatures that provided a food source—resulting from upwelling waters. The more they ate, the more they grew, and their bodies adapted over time. Their mouths grew larger and their fat stores increased, helping them to fuel longer migrations to additional food-enriched areas. Today blue whales eat up to four tons of krill every day.

If climate change set the ancestors of the blue whale on the path to its enormous size today, the study invites the question of what it might do to them in the future. Changes in ocean currents or temperature could alter the amount of available nutrients to whales, cutting off their food supply. With demand for whale oil in the 1900s having already dented their numbers, scientists are hoping that further shifts in their oceanic ecosystem won’t relegate them to history.

[h/t Wired]