Octopus Cartography

Hyperallergic has assembled a great collection of 19th century maps employing the caricatures of octopus as a motif to represent perceived threat from omni-directional, spreading “tentacles of power” of an alien, in-human, or otherwise denatured global economic or military power. Frank Jacobs expands on this, outlining the “Cartographic Land Octopus” as a particularly insidious trope of cartographic space, drawing on fears for Kraken-like creatures from the deep, “its ugly head is the centre of a malevolent intelligence, which is manipulating its obscene appendages to bring death and destruction to its surroundings.” Many of these maps are drawn from the excellent PJ Mode Collection at Cornell that focuses on “Persuasive Cartography” from the 15th century onward.




Thinking Skin

Some great links on the biology, cognition, and behavior of octopus, cuttlefish, and other cephalopods, including the incredible morphology of their arms and skin, and attendant development of their highly distributed neurological system (same number of neurons as a cat, but 2/3 distributed throughout the arms) and associated behavior (mimicry, camouflage, mesmerization, and other nomadic/”soft” tactics).


Marine biologist describing the mechanisms of octopus skin coloration. VERY USEFUL

Great video of octopus and the beer bottle – squeezing and adaptive coloration. VERY USEFUL

Overview of octopus morphology and intelligence. USEFUL, esp. at 3:40

Great overview of octopus neurology.