The renaissance illustrator John White’s watercolours included these ‘Coastal profiles of Dominica and Santa Cruz’, used to identify safe harbours and the potential for provisions. Curator Kim Sloane explains, “from the seventeenth century when drawing was taught professionally to young seamen in the British navy, coasting prospects were an important part of their lessons.”
‘Coasting prospects’ is a nice term. It was important for sailors to recognize profiles: the shape of the land as seen from the side on.
Present-day artist Russel Crotty has a set of works from around 2007, in which he paints and annotates pictures / maps of his surf stomping ground, in California. Here is:
I like the way that his rocks, water and currents start to look like shark profiles.
Crotty’s webpage includes a 2013 catalogue essay by Richard Klein, exhibitions director of the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Connecticut, for an show all about artists who, like Crotty, use the ballpoint pen, or, biro, in their work.
Giacometti, Hanne Darboven, Jan Fabre: it’s an interesting list, and an interesting medium, of speed, flow, utility and ubiquity. Klein includes the phrase, “For individuals born after the beginning of the 1950s, the ballpoint has been like the ocean to fish; a reality that is ever present, and practically invisible.”
The final element of profile (for now) comes in Hamasaki, Bridges, & Meneghini’s article ‘The Electroretinogram of Three Species of Elasmobranchs’, in Sharks,Skates, and Rays, ed. P.W. Gilbert et al, 1967. Hamasaki wanted to know what was going on, in terms of electrical responses in the cells, in the retinas of ‘intact fishes’ (alive, not dissected), when he flashed various lights at them. You have to admire the wave formations that result from these lemon sharks’ having their eyes tested:
Fifty years later, The Economist is also in on the act, with this Jan 2017 graph plotting tuna against GDP: