City of Elephants
Berenike & Ptolemy's
War Machine

A stunning visual exploration of ancient military technology, engineering & shipbuilding, and a test of survival in the remote Egyptian Eastern Desert.

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August 1, 2013, posted by Jean-Louis Rivard

Just who the heck is this guy?
Hi, my name is JL. I like beautiful drawings, ancient history, great design & smart technology - and I hope you at least like the first two.

When I was in 2nd year university I had a huge fight with my father. I wanted to go on a solo backpacking trip in Guatamala, and he was afraid I would never be heard from again. He was probably right. In the end, my flight fell through and I didn’t go (he was quite happy about that, which drove me crazy), but the whole ordeal really was his fault anyway…

As a kid he introduced me to The Adventures of Tintin by Herge, that intrepid Belgian reporter who traveled the world and inevitably found himself in the middle of political or criminal intrigue that always involved some mad scientist, wartime techno-criminal mastermind or mysterious, mythical lost culture. Sure, with today's eyes some of Tintin's stories occupy a less-than-politically-correct colonial ethos, but they also embody later eras and values to become timeless, and remain a monumental achievement of serialized adventure writing and illustration. Tintin inspired my childhood dreams as the industrial trains rolled past my drafty bedroom window at night, and made me want to never grow up. Ultimately those dreams led me to Japan, North Africa, Asia, the Middle East and a whole lot of travel sketching, 3d visualization and tinkering with technology to try and make cool products, because, well, I had to do something with my love of illustration, tech and design and the irresistable pull of the unknown...

The Adventures of Tintin: The Shooting Star, 1942  & Destination Moon, 1959

The critical thing about Tintin is that his character, a journalist, pushes far beyond journalism and engages the stories he finds himself tracking. His role is not simply commentary on the events of the world, but is unmistakably in the midst of shaping the event.  He gladly jumps in with both feet, rolls up his sleeves, and gets involved. He changes history and the world in small ways, and sometimes not so small, by taking part in the action. I have nothing against journalism, I just like to get my hands dirty.

I won't bore you with an auto-biography, but suffice it to say that the projects, teams, publications, product development and research missions around the world I have had the privilege of being part of, have left me with a deep respect for the discipline needed to engage any activity with meaningful impact.  Scholarly research, scientific experimentation, technical innovation - being genuinely effective in these things is an act of diligence and patient focus that is easily glossed over. Engaging these initiatives has also impressed upon me a burning awareness that much work never sees the light of day or reaches the public simply because it encounters so many barriers at every step of the way, and this is a shame. I figured I could make a difference by embracing my core talents and interests in creative production and things technical, by putting together a small team of like minded people and jumping in to help great projects that are focused on their own fields.  There are expeditions that push the edge of knowledge happening all around the world every day, and if we can pair some smart technology with creative excellence, we can open up that adventure to everyone, inspire young minds and change the world for the better.

We have a few projects on the agenda, so stay tuned for announcements by subscribing to the Expedition List...

Jean-Louis Rivard
Founder, FlatandJuicy