The Public Domain Review

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Jumbo’s Ghost: Elephants and Machines in Motion

Wednesday 20 July 2022 at 16:51

On September 15, 1885, twenty-five years after his capture in Sudan, Jumbo the elephant tragically died when struck by a freight train. Ross Bullen takes us on a spectral journey through other collisions between elephant and machine — in adventure novels, abandoned roadside hotels, and psychic science — revealing latent anxieties at the century’s turn.


Visualising Bubbles (1500–1906)

Tuesday 19 July 2022 at 21:24

Like the substance itself, which binds to all kinds of grime, soap bubbles make for sticky symbols, assuming disparate associations — from innocence to vanitas, physics to politics — in the history of visual art.


Peter Fabris’ Illustrations for William Hamilton’s Campi Phlegraei (1776–79)

Wednesday 6 July 2022 at 20:12

Hand-coloured plates of “the utmost fidelity” for William Hamilton's documentation of the late-eighteenth-century eruptions of Mount Vesuvius.


It Started with Muybridge (1964)

Tuesday 28 June 2022 at 17:11

The future’s bombs, this training film produced by the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory claims, will be detonated atop the shoulders of yesterday’s “photographer extraordinary”, Eadweard Muybridge.


Precedents of the Unprecedented: Black Squares Before Malevich

Thursday 23 June 2022 at 17:25

Described by Kasimir Malevich as the “first step of pure creation in art”, his Black Square of 1915 has been cast as a total break from all that came before it. Yet searching across more than five hundred years of images related to mourning, humour, politics, and philosophy, Andrew Spira uncovers a slew of unlikely foreshadows to Malevich's radical abstraction.


Agnes Giberne’s The Story of the Sun, Moon, and Stars (1898)

Tuesday 21 June 2022 at 23:39

This text is less a Victorian astronomy primer than the foundation for a phenomenological star wisdom.


Shores of the Polar Sea (1878)

Thursday 16 June 2022 at 08:50

A mixture of intimate journal entries, miscellaneous engravings, and sixteen chromolithographs — a unique, often surreal, retelling of life on the ice.


The Launch of Our Mid-Year Fundraiser!

Wednesday 15 June 2022 at 15:15

Our Mid-Year Fundraiser is launched, and the new postcards theme will be Air.


Interview with PDR's Editor-in-Chief in Creative Review

Wednesday 15 June 2022 at 15:13

Adam Green talks to Creative Review about the new image book Affinities, and the concept of "originality".


Unai no tomo: Catalogues of Japanese Toys (1891–1923)

Wednesday 15 June 2022 at 09:15

The ten-volume Unai no tomo is comprised of charming woodblock prints of traditional objects of play.