Cosmographs update

After my recent post on harmonographs, I ponied up for a copy of the Photo-Lettering Alphabet Thesaurus, Volume 2. And now that I can read the book in “full resolution,” I learned a bit more about these mysterious space drawings. The following is transcribed directly from the book:

The figures on the following pages are a unique graphic arts innovation. Photo-Lettering has picked the name “COSMOGRAPHS” to describe these intriguing, orbiting motifs. They represent a significant, modern art-form, for here is scientifically-produced art that unerringly reflects the pitch and flux of this electronic era…free forms unencumbered by traditional patterns…designs with internal momentum capable of exercising a subliminal influence. These are not superficial ornaments; they possess a visual harmony with an enchantment that sets a dominant mood or tone.

Cosmographs are the product of an invention by Edward Lias, physicist in sound. They are visual records of patterns produced by interfering sound waves. Each figure represents a harmonious musical chord or triad. The adjustment of tonalities to different ratios produces the varying formations. The potential of effects is limitless. Here science and art literally join hands in the unity and harmony of basic universal motions.

This introductory showing of cosmographs will no doubt suggest a variety of interesting and practical uses. The designs are available from Photo-Lettering Inc. in SpectraKrome color prints, or black and white glossies from reproduction…as shown or flopped over… positive or negative. Size should be measured on the longest dimension. Prices are adjusted to the intended use.

And later:

Cosmographs are useful for setting moods, attracting attention, decorating backgrounds, and adding distinction to printed matter. Some specific applications include record albums, book jackets, trademarks, letterheads, package designs, wallpaper, murals, displays, TV spots, etc. Also special uses in the areas of electronics, music, art, architecture, fashion, industry, etc.

I think the persuasive 1960s copywriting is almost as good as the designs themselves!

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3 Responses to “Cosmographs update”

  1. Jessica Define September 1, 2010 at 6:08 am #

    A while back I wanted (still want) a tattoo of a cosmograph, but I didn’t know that’s what they were called–I just kept telling everyone that I wanted a spirograph! HA… clearly that would have landed me one lousy tattoo. I found your blog looking for 50s style wedding invites and am adding it to my reader–great posts!

  2. Benjamin Storch March 19, 2019 at 2:05 pm #

    Hi Josh,
    I stumbled upon the Cosmographs in 1996 and was inspired to make sculptures based on the dynamic curves. A few years later I built a Harmonograph with an old engineering friend and really enjoyed the imperfections of the physical system. When I tried to model Lissajous curves mathematically I found the results a bit too predictable, and thought that the Cosmograph equations gave better results. I will revisit them now to animate them …
    Hence I really enjoyed your post !


  1. Harmonographs: Drawings of the Future | three steps ahead — perspectives - June 28, 2009

    […] of the Alphabet Thesaurus, Volume 2, I learned a bit more about “Cosmographs.” Check my newer post for more information. […]

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