Monday, April 1, 2013

Bio-Art: The Unfeathered Bird (I).

Ever wonder what makes a bird tick? How about seeing weirder animals plasticized in immortality like Body Worlds? Just a bird fan who wants to know more? Katrina van Grouw's book, The Unfeathered Bird, may be right up your alley. 

The cover features a white peacock skeleton, sporting its classic tailfeathers and nothing else. A lot of drawings in this book are just that: showing bird skeletons or otherwise reduced specimens doing normal bird things. This allows one to see and truly appreciate the mechanisms at work in every little thing a bird does. That's what the book is all about: anatomy and making the viewer see birds in a completely different light.

The title alone sounds squicky. But y'know what? It is squicky. This column usually has some degree of squick. You can expect detailed sketches of bird bodies, feathered or not, in this book. Bird organs are also par for the course. They're all beautifully done, and when you're talking about bits of dead animals, that's saying something.

The book is just as informative as it is artistic. There are rather extensive, but understandable, notes about avian evolution. Sketches are sandwiched between intimidating walls of text, but please believe us when we say it is not all bad. Regular scientific literature is awfully bland, and the insertions in the artbook are thrilling by comparison.

Wanna know how to make a songbird freakier than being poisonous? Take a look beneath that cute exterior. Expect a review on this book next week; a skim for this entry revealed plenty of meat for a more detailed look. Pun totally intended.

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