Hello! And welcome to a very special episode of “Michael’s Toys” Michael’s World of Art. Today, we’re going to be talking about ambigrams. An ambigram is something that retains meaning or has new meanings in different orientations. I have a number of books made by ambigram artists. I’m a big fan of them. One of the most famous popularizers of the ambigram is John Langdon. This is his book “Wordplay” And as you can see, it says “Wordplay” right there on the book. But if I reorient the book, the title says, well, it still says “Wordplay”. Tada! An ambigram. Now John Langdon is incredibly famous. Oh my gosh… I just realized that even his name on the book is an ambigram. Look at that. So it’s “Wordplay by John Langdon” and if I turn it upside down the book becomes, “Wordplay by John Langdon”. Not too shabby. Now some of my favorites in this book include his drawing of the word, “Philosophy”. As you can see it clearly says “Philosophy” but upside down, oh, well it still says “Philosophy”. OOH! What about science!? Clearly science cannot be flipped upside down and still say– Science!? Oh! But wait a second. “Philosophy, Art and Science.” Upside down, is “Philosophy, Art and Science”. Awesome, beautiful stuff. One of my favorites is the word “minimum”, drawn, pretty much as minimally as you can get it. It’s just a squiggle, but you can see that this is the word “minimum”. You can even become more minimal than this though. If you don’t mind not dotting your eyes, in which case this is literally just a squiggle that says “minimum.” No matter which way you look at it. “Momentum” is a beautiful one. “Momentum, The Quantity of Movement.” Upside down, “Momentum Equals Mass times Velocity.” Which it does. I first found out about Langdon through what he calls, an “Oscillation Ambigram.” A drawing that doesn’t need to be turned at all for it to look like it means something else. It’s this one right here. As you can see, he’s written the word: “Teach” Or has he written the word, “Learn”? There’s ambiguity here. Another great piece of art that Langdon made that I find incredibly clever is his realization that the logo for the company 3M, When painted by himself From the other side through the looking-glass looks like a self-portrait of him painting the word “ME”. Another incredibly influential populizer of the ambigram is Scott Kim. Scott Kim is, like Langdon, just an absolute genius. And, a lot of Scott Kim’s work is shared online often without attribution. So let’s fix that today. The one I see A LOT that is just wonderful, is his: Mirror Symmetry Depiction of the Alphabet. Where is that? Oh, wow, the very next page. Here we go… So, Kim here has written out every letter of the alphabet in order. ABCDEFGHIJ and so on all the way down to XYZ. But there is a vertical axis down this way. Along which there is mirror symmetry. So, ABCDE and F, in a mirror, look like ABCDEF. Another one of Scott Kim’s pieces of work that I love, Might also be described as an oscillation ambigram because it’s just sort of two things at once. It’s the word “False” Except parts of the word “False” have been colored red to spell “True”. If you look close enough at a lie, You can find that which is true… At least in this picture. The first one, I actually shared this on Twitter. The first one I ever found that made me buy this book is upside down, which upside down, is still upside down. So Scott Kim, and, there it is, John Langdon. Fantastic artists. I am constantly impressed by the work that they do. Let’s go back in time and look at some of the earliest known examples of non-natural ambigrams. Peter Newell published “Topsys and Turvys” back in 1893 and it was a smash sensation. So popular in fact that, I mean, it’s still being published. Now this book contains all kinds of images that, when upside down, Look like other things. It famously ends with the word: “Puzzle”. That’s a strange way to end a book until you realize that when inverted, the word “Puzzle” becomes “The End” And this book was so popular Peter Newell wrote a follow-up creatively titled “Topsys and Turvys #2” I mean couldn’t you have thought of something better? Like imagine if I’d been like ‘Hey, my channel is called Vsauce and this other one’s called Vsauce 2’ (Awkward Silence) “Topsys and Turvys #2” has yet again a huge amount of awesome images that when upside down, look like something else. In shady groves Adolphus swings when Summer’s zephyrs blow. And slides head foremost down the hill when winter brings the snow. So upside down, we have a person on their belly, on a sled, supposedly going down a hill. But right-side up, it’s a person wearing a nice little summer hat in a swing. How gosh darn clever. But I know what you’re thinking. Sure, you can draw an image, or a word, perhaps a sentence or arrangement of letters that is an ambigram. But can you tell a story? “AMBIGRAMIOUSLY” Yes, you can. And that brings us to the upside-down world of Gustave Verbeek. This collection is fantastic. Verbeek drew comics for various newspapers, quite a while ago – more than a hundred years ago. One of his most fantastic strips involved two characters: Little Lady Lovekins and Old Man Muffaroo. So take a look at Little Lady Lovekins. What you’ll see is that these are her eyes, obviously, and that is her mouth, And these are two little nose holes. Now she’s wearing this big dress and she has on a hat. This is the hat, this white thing here is the hat band, And then there’s these blue ribbons coming off of the hat. And she’s got little tufts of hair coming out from underneath the hat. But of course, as you could probably already tell, Little Lady Lovekins upside down is Old Man Muffaroo. The ribbons on the hat become his legs, The hat band becomes his teeth in his mouth, And the little pieces of hair that come out from her hat are his… Mustachio, mustache, hairs. Her nose and mouth are just kind of wrinkles or imperfections on his forehead and her dress is, Hi- Her dress is his hat. So, once you’ve got two characters that went upside down become the other you could start having them go on adventures. It is now storytime. This comic was published on July 31st of 1904 in the New York Herald. Follow along with me please. In the canoe an enormous fish that Lovekins and Muffaroo have caught. Lovekins takes the fish on shore while Muffaroo pushes off in the canoe to see if he can catch another. Unluckily, he hooks a swordfish and there is trouble right away. The old man fights bravely, the swordfish dives, then he comes up again. And this time he thrusts his sharp snout right through the bottom of the canoe. Muffaroo tries to get the sinking boat to the nearest shore. This little island here. Just as he reaches a small grassy point of land, Another fish attacks him, lashing furiously with his tail. The canoe sinks in the sea, which has now become choppy. But Muffaroo jumps ashore safe and sound and starts back across the point to rejoin Lovekins. But we’re not done. You see, these six panel cartoons continue upside down. So we start on what was the last panel before. Meanwhile, this little lady (as you can see Muffaroo has become Lovekins) having seen the catastrophe runs to meet Muffaroo, And she does not notice that some big birds, of the kind called Rocs, are flying in her direction. (The choppy water has become a flock of birds). The largest of the Rocs picks her up by the skirt. So, as you can see, what used to be Muffaroo in a canoe attacked by a fish at an island, Becomes Lovekins caught in the beak of a giant bird. The trunks of the trees are now the legs of the bird. Then the bird takes her in his talons and flies away. Muffaroo, down below, sees lovekins in the clutches of the Roc. This, of course, used to be Muffaroo getting attacked in a canoe by a swordfish. And Muffaroo then cries “Can nothing be done?” Suddenly his eyes fall on the fish. Now there is nothing that a hungry Roc likes so well as fish; And down comes the big bird to snatch the tempting morsel. Lovekins is dropped and forgotten, And while the Roc is munching the fish, She and Old Man Muffaroo flee to the woods and finally make their way safely home. Now occasionally, Verbeek would include word ambigrams in speech bubbles in the upside-down comics. So here, we have a wizard by the name of Op No-h Op Moy. A very convenient name for a wizard because upside down, Op No-h Op Moy looks like, “How do you do” Pretty clever stuff. Very, very great stuff. Now Verbeek and Newell wrote more than a hundred years ago. Some of what they drew has not aged well. But Scott Kim, John Langdon, these guys are continuing to produce great work. I highly recommend checking out their work online. They’ve got a lot of great books and I’ve got links below to learn more about ambigrams. How to make your own and how to find more beautiful ones. And as always, Thanks for watching.