mercredigirl: Text icon: Imagination is the one weapon in the war against reality. (Gaultier) (imagination is a weapon)
[personal profile] mercredigirl
30. A flat brass tablet, containing erotic sketches.

Item measures 30.5cm × 21cm, with a thickness of 0.5cm. Despite the superior quality of the brass, it weighs a mere 200g. I am inclined to believe that the interior may be at least partially hollow (how else to account for its lightness?), but entering the item into the cross-sectional scanners causes the machines to inform me that it is constructed of lead! Yet another impossibility that I have encountered in the course of my work here.

The rim of the device is carved with an arabesque pattern of curlicues, but the geometric patterns, while very pleasing to the eye, do not correspond with the known artistic styles of any of the traditional civilisations of the area. Rather, it appears a blend of an Islamic-inspired Malay design and the stylised shapes of southern India. This is, however, merely an educated guess. My specialty does not lie in visual art, and I suggest further consultation with the experts in the Art Department.

I had originally imagined that the item was a tea-tray of some sort, but in the course of my examination I discovered a small, round patch in the top right-hand corner on one side. (You shall soon understand how I was able to ascertain how the item should be positioned.) This area feels smoother to the touch, as though it were made out of plastic or some similar material. Upon scrutiny, it was also found to have a slightly darker hue than the rest of the brass. Henceforth, I shall refer to the side with this switch or button as the ‘back’ of the item, and the other side as the ‘front’.

Pressing this button caused the opposite side of the item to display a calligraphic message in a script I was unable to recognise. The intern whom I requisitioned from Linguistics informed me that it was a regional variant of Jawi, but the text itself appeared to be a transliteration of Chinese in the Teochew dialect, reading: ‘Being an Instructive Manual for the Amusement of the Young: Please tap to continue.’

Under the impression that it was some textbook for royal or wealthy children, I therefore tapped what I shall now refer to as the ‘screen’ of the device.

How mistaken I was. )

My eminent colleague recently speculated that ‘photonic crystals’ were available for esoteric devices such as this. In light of the work that has been done upon this item, I am willing to concur. I would also offer the tentative conclusion that the richer classes, at least, were not loath to employ photonic crystals for entertainment gadgets, which might possibly extend to other forms of entertainment as well.

In the meanwhile, may I recommend that this device be kept strictly out of the hands of the younger interns. In fact, I would like to request a personal loan of the item for at least the next fortnight. For further study, of course. (I would also like to inquire into the feasibility of downloading the images from the device, and of printing them at high resolution. – I might be taking up Art Studies. Skills upgrading, &c., clearly.)
nyarlathotep: (Default)
[personal profile] nyarlathotep

Item is a pack of 78 cards, measuring 10.5 cm x 18 cm. Thickness of each card is no thicker than the kind of paper stock that normal playing cards come from. Each card seems to be made out of some kind of photonic crystal that constantly shifts and changes color, while the edges are normal paper card-stock. We can’t seem to separate the paper surface from the photonic crystal without tearing — the paper seems bonded to the crystal through some undetermined process.

Design-wise, the cards are, for all intents and purposes, classical Tarot de Marseille cards, with 22 Trumps and 56 Suit cards. The Trumps are numbered from 1 to 21, with the Le Mat card un-numbered, as per the usual, and card XIII (the D-Card) unnamed.

The most interesting feature of these cards are that they seem to shift and change with no apparent power source. The card design primarily stays constant — changing tones and mood to suit the image itself — but the card images seem to shift based on who touches it. Some of the guinea pigs junior researchers report seeing significant figures in their history appear as the players in the trump cards, while the suite cards seem to illustrate life events and realistic representations of the subject’s life situation with a rather eerie realism.

The cards don’t have a visible power source, like I said, but leaving them in a light-proof room with no visible illumination causes the cards to revert to a blank state — power conservation mode, perhaps? However, when touching those cards, or even looking at them and concentrating, the cards begin to shift and change — weakly at first, but then with increasing movement and vividness.

When we press-ganged persuaded Junior Researcher L, who scored unusually high in Ganzfeld and Zener tests, the cards began to emit light in the dark, as if the card surfaces were additive light displays (brightness levels similar to modern AMOLED displays). Running the same tests in fully-lit environments with JR L showed no difference from JRs who scored low in both Ganzfeld and Zener. Effect doesn't seem to work with any other researcher, junior or not.

UPDATE: I’d like to strongly advise that we terminate the employment of Junior Researcher K, based on the design that appeared once K touched the 5 de Épées. The other figures depicted in the cards, JR N and I, aren’t talking.

UPDATE: Also, we advise caution to researchers who touch trump card XIII, XV, XVI and XX, and suit card 3 and 10 de Épées. Some of the images are… disturbing, to say the least.

frangipani: old map of Southeast Asia (Nusantara)
[personal profile] frangipani
Item is a series of ink sketches on heavy paper, rectangular in size, with one ragged edge, probably torn off a longer scroll of paper. The sketches were drawn in carbon-based ink with a nibbed writing implement, and the paper was manufactured from woodpulp.

Length: approx. 46cm
Width: 30cm

There are six sketches altogether. The centrepiece is a sketch of a man with his eyes closed, lying on his right side, cushioning his head with an arm. The sketch peters off just below his sternum, and a patterned cloth covers his shoulders. He is, presumably, asleep. His features are loosely rendered, though the artist paid meticulous detail to the fabric pattern. There is some argument as to the exact influences shaping the style of the artwork, among the hypotheses being Pattachitra and early Ming-era paintings. A minority further opined that the floral pattern of the cloth bears some meaning related to the subject of the sketch.

Far more interesting is the sketch above the centrepiece, about a third larger than the first, towards the upper right-hand corner. It appears to be a diagram of a combustion engine. Given that the sketch of the engine is not as elaborately detailed as the fabric in the first sketch, it is likely plans for the engine were still at the theoretical stage when this drawing was made. The subjects of the other four sketches, surrounding the centrepiece, are also mechanical in nature and likely to be be parts of the combustion engine. Given that the same nib and ink were used for all sketches, the engine sketches were almost definitely drawn contemporaneously with the sketch of the sleeping man.

Frustratingly, there are no notations to the sketches and no writing with which to assist us in identifying the artist. Tests indicate that the paper dates back to the late 1400s.
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