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  • feedwordpress 09:01:20 on 2018/03/05 Permalink
    Tags: achive, art, , Center for Advanced Visual Studies, , , , ,   

    “With a library it is easier to hope for serendipity than to look for a precise answer”*… 


    At first, the new website for the collection of MIT’s influential Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) seems like a straightforward web page. But as it scrolls down, through the introductory text and into randomly selected works from the archive, it becomes clear that the content is warping into three dimensional space, and branching into spiraling trees of related work, organized by creator and medium — an experience designed to evoke the sensation of wandering through the center’s physical archive.

    “Someone might be coming in to do research on environmental sculpture, and then they see all these images on, I don’t know, holography, and then they’d say ‘oh, I really want to check that out,’” said Jeremy Grubman, an MIT archivist who spearheaded the project. “So I wanted to find a way to produce that in a digital space, to produce that concept of serendipitous browsing.”

    50 years of art across three-dimensional space; as Jon Christian explains, “This MIT archive will be your trippiest scrolling experience today.”

    Check it out.

    * Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), When Did You See Her Last?


    As we prepare for pleasant surprises, we might send cartographically-correct birthday greetings to Gerardus Mercator; he was born on this date in 1512.  The most renown cartographer of his time, he created a world map based on a new projection– the Mercator Projection— which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines, an approach still employed in nautical charts used for navigation.

    While he was most esteemed as the foremost geographer of his day, Mercator was also an accomplished engraver, calligrapher and maker of globes and scientific instruments.  And he studied theology, philosophy, history, mathematics, and magnetism.



  • feedwordpress 09:01:49 on 2018/02/20 Permalink
    Tags: art, Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, Futurism, Futurist Manifesto, , Primitive Technology, , , Walden   

    “We need the tonic of wildness”*… 


    Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. Thwp. Thwp. Thwack. The sound of stone striking wood. Rustling leaves. A loud crack as a tree falls. A dry whirring of insects. Further off, a monkey shrieks. ShhptShhpt. Water purls over stones in a brook; the heavy pitter-patter of rain taps the forest floor.

    These are the sounds of primitive technology. Primitive Technology: an oxymoron, perhaps a logical impossibility, a collision of two buzzwords, and one of the most arresting (and unexpectedly popular) channels on YouTube.

    Primitive Technology was created two years ago by a man in Queensland, Australia, who builds huts, weapons, and tools using only naturally occurring materials. In all of his five- to ten-minute videos, the man wears only navy blue shorts, rarely looks at the camera, and never speaks…

    An appreciation of Primitive Technology, a You Tube series the episodes in which have garnered as many as 46 million views each: “Walden for the YouTube Age.”

    [TotH to @kevin2kelly, who suggested that I check it out]

    * Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods


    As we appreciate apocatastasis, we might recall that it was on this date in 1909 that The Futurist Manifesto (download it here) was first published (in the French periodical Le Figaro).  The creation of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti– who authored the manifesto, used his private fortune to publish it, then recruited artists to his banner– Futurism paved the way for Dada and Surrealism… and suggested some pretty evocative imagery to the likes of Fritz Lang…

    a still from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis



  • feedwordpress 09:01:13 on 2018/02/08 Permalink
    Tags: art, Eli Rezkallah, , , , Kate Chopin, , , ,   

    “Women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid”*… 


    Last Thanksgiving, I overheard my uncles talk about how women are better off cooking, taking care of the kitchen, and fulfilling “their womanly duties.” Although I know that not all men like my uncles think that way I was surprised to learn that some still do, so I went on to imagine a parallel universe, where roles are inverted and men are given a taste of their own sexist poison…

    From Eli Rezkallah, a series of fictional images, recreated from real ads in the Mad Men era, that question modern day sexism: “In a parallel universe.

    * George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?


    As we check our privilege, we might send path-setting birthday greetings to Kate Chopin; she was born on this date in 1850.  A writer of both short stories and novels, she was highly-regarded in her time and in the decades following her death (in 1904).  Probably best remembered today for her novel The Awakening, she is considered an important forerunner of American 20th-century feminist authors.



  • feedwordpress 09:01:07 on 2018/01/30 Permalink
    Tags: art, Bell Labs, Billy Klüver, , Doug Engelbart, , , Mother of All Demos, Robert Rauschenberg,   

    “We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us”*… 


    Bell Labs engineer Billy Klüver working on Oracle (1965), a collaboration with Robert Rauschenberg

    Since it was first set-up in 1907, Bell Labs has been at the forefront of scientific invention. During its peak, work undertaken at the labs led to the invention of the laser and the transistor, the birth of information theory and the creation of C, S and C++ programming languages, which form the basis of coding today. Bell Labs has been awarded a total of eight Nobel Peace prizes and every Silicon Valley start-up or global conglomerate has mined the mythology around its unique ability to foster new ideas for clues as to how one research laboratory could consistently turn out such an array of successful technologies…

    During the 1960s and 1970s… Bell Labs turned the research centre into a playground for the likes of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg and most of New York’s Lower East Side art scene…

    The extraordinary tale of EAT (Experiments in Art and Technology), engineer Billy Klüver’s attempt to “make technology more human”– at “How AT&T shaped modern art.”

    Then, by way of sampling the results, check out “9 Evenings,” a 1965 project exploring avant-garde theatre, dance and new technologies. Artists John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor and Robert Whitman each worked with a Bell Labs engineer to create an original performance.

    (AT&T is, of course, long gone; but Bell Labs lives on as part of Nokia– and EAT continues.)

    * Marshall McLuhan


    As we celebrate collaboration, we might email elegantly and creatively designed birthday greetings to Douglas Carl Engelbart; he was born on this date in 1925.  An engineer and inventor who was a computing and internet pioneer, Doug is best remembered for his seminal work on human-computer interface issues, and for “the Mother of All Demos” in 1968, at which he demonstrated for the first time the computer mouse, hypertext, networked computers, and the earliest versions of graphical user interfaces… that’s to say, computing as we know it, and all that computing enables.



  • feedwordpress 09:01:33 on 2018/01/28 Permalink
    Tags: Alice Neel, art, , , , , McKinsey, portraiture, profitability,   

    “It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”*… 


    A new report from global management consulting firm McKinsey examined 1,000 companies in 12 countries, analyzing both financial data and the gender and ethnic makeup of their workforces. Researchers found that firms with diverse executive teams posted bigger profit margins in their respective sectors than companies lacking diversity.

    Ethnic diversity was more important than gender diversity, according to the study. Companies that ranked in the top 25 percent in terms of the ethnic mix of their executive boards were 33 percent more likely to be profitable than firms in the bottom 25 percent for diversity.

    Women-led companies still had an advantage, however…

    See why defeating discrimination to achieve diversity isn’t just an ethical issue, but also an important economic concern: “Companies with Diverse Executive Teams Are More Profitable: McKinsey.”  Read the McKinsey report here.

    * Maya Angelou


    As we celebrate variety, we might send powerfully-painted birthday greetings to Alice Neel; she was born on this date in 1900.  A painter of people, landscape, and still life– and a pioneer among women artists– she is probably best remembered for her expressionistic portraits.  Indeed, Barry Walker, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, called her “one of the greatest portrait artists of the 20th century.”



  • feedwordpress 09:01:14 on 2018/01/23 Permalink
    Tags: art, , , , , James Gosling, Java, , , Sun Microsystems,   

    “Unless it wants to break faith with its social function, art must show the world as changeable. And help to change it.”*… 


    Andrei Lacatusu, a self-taught digital artist from Rome, created this series of digital art called “Social Decay.”

    Learn more at “Artist Imagines The Decay Of Social Media Companies“: see the full set at Lacatusu’s Behance page.

    [TotH to the always-illuminating Pop Loser]

    * Ernst Fischer


    As we contemplate a post-social media world, we might recall that it was on this date in 1996 that the first version of the Java programming language was released by Sun Microsystems; the language, created by James Gosling, had been in use in since 1995 as part of Sun’s Java Platform.  Its ability to “write once, run anywhere” made Java ideal for Internet-based applications.  As the popularity of the Internet soared, so did the usage of Java.



  • feedwordpress 09:01:11 on 2018/01/20 Permalink
    Tags: art, , L.A. Thompson, , screenless office, slow movement, switchback railroad,   

    “The more ways we have to connect, the more many of us seem desperate to unplug”*… 


    The Screenless Office is a system for working with media and networks without using a pixel-based display. It is an artistic operating system. The office presents a radically alternative form of everyday human interaction with media. It is constructed using free/libre/open hard- and software components, especially for print, databases, web-scraping and tangible interaction. Currently, it exists as a working prototype with software “bureaus” which allow a user to read and navigate news, web sites and social media entirely with the use of various printers for output and a barcode scanner for input. While our existing software allows for interesting new ways of consuming media, we are currently working to expand the system to make it capable of publishing content and thereby, enabling a provocative possibility for active participation in contemporary social life…

    More about this intriguing art project at “The Screenless Office.”

    * Pico Iyer


    As we go slow, we might recall that it was on this date in 1885 that LaMarcus Adna Thompson received the first patent for a true “switchback railroad”– or , as we know it, a roller coaster.  Thompson has designed the ride in 1881, and opened it, on Coney Island, in 1884.  (The “hot dog” had been invented, also at Coney Island, in 1867, so was available to trouble the stomachs of the very first coaster riders.)

    Thompson’s original Switchback Railway at Coney Island



  • feedwordpress 09:01:30 on 2018/01/06 Permalink
    Tags: art, Count de Waldeck, , , , , , , Mayan Culture,   

    “All fantasy should have a solid base in reality”*… 


    One of the most notorious examples of Waldeck’s penchant for fantasy: an elephant head in this rendition of an Ancient Mayan temple

    Not a lot concerning the artist, erotic publisher, explorer, and general enigma Count de Waldeck can be taken at face value, and this certainly includes his fanciful representations of ancient Mesoamerican culture which — despite being brilliantly executed on-site at Mayan monuments like Palenque — run wild with anatopistic lions, elephants, and suspicious architecture.  Rhys Griffiths looks at the life and work of one of the 19th century’s most mysterious and eccentric figures: “Brief Encounters with Jean-Frédéric Maximilien de Waldeck.”

    * Sir Max Beerbohm, Zuleika Dobson


    As we ponder a predecessor of Photoshop, we might send delightfully-drawn birthday greetings to Paul Gustave Doré; he was born on this date in 1832.  An engraver, sculptor, and illustrator– indeed, the defining illustrator of works by Rabelais, Balzac, Milton, Cervantes, and many others– Doré is probably best-remembered as the man who showed us Heaven and Hell: the canonical illustrator of Dante.

    Don Quixote, his horse Rocinante, and his squire Sancho Panza after an unsuccessful attack on a windmill.


    The Tempest of Hell in THE DIVINE COMEDY




  • feedwordpress 08:01:07 on 2017/10/25 Permalink
    Tags: art, Diane Grobe, Edgar Mrugalla, forgery, , Museum of Art Fakes, Picasso,   

    “Imitation, if it is not forgery, is a fine thing. It stems from a generous impulse, and a realistic sense of what can and cannot be done.”*… 


    German artist Edgar Mrugalla was incredibly prolific in his lifetime, having painted more than 3,500 pieces by the time he was 65. And yet, not one of those was an original work. Mrugalla was an expert art forger, copying the works of Rembrandt, Picasso, Renoir and many other masters. His self-taught skill even earned him two years in prison, only to be released by working with authorities to uncover which artworks might be forgeries, including his own.

    Though none were original, some of Mrugalla’s works are now on display in a museum: the Museum of Art Fakes in Vienna. Diane Grobe, co-owner and founder of the museum that opened in 2005, credits Mrugalla with the inspiration for the opening. “[I was inspired by] his exciting stories,” Grobe told Smithsonian.com via email. “He gave [the museum] our first forgeries —​ [paintings copying] Rembrandt, Müller [and] Picasso. After this meeting, we [looked] for other counterfeiters with similar exciting lives, [including Thomas​] Keating, [Eric] Hebborn [and Han van] ​Meegeren, and then we began to collect their forgeries.” Now, the museum holds a collection of more than 80 forged works…

    Forged Matisse

    Begin your visit (if only, for a start, virtually) at: “Everything in This Museum Is Fake“; browse the collection here.

    * James Fenton


    As we ruminate on the real, we might wish feliz cumpleaños to Pablo Picasso; he was born on this date in 1881.  So prolific in so many forms that he (almost) outran forgers of his work, he was also so impactful– he is probably the best-known artist of the 2oth century– that he attracted them like flies.

    Picasso in 1908



  • feedwordpress 08:01:49 on 2017/10/09 Permalink
    Tags: art, , notebooks, Paul Klee, Providence, , ,   

    “I must begin, not with hypothesis, but with specific instances, no matter how minute”*… 


    Paul Klee’s notebooks (notes for the classes he taught at the Bauhaus)– 3,900 pages of them– digitized and made available online by the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern.

    * Paul Klee


    As we get specific, we might recall that this was a bad day for inclusiveness in Massachusetts in 1635: the General Court of the then-Colony banished Roger Williams for speaking out for the separation of church and state and against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension and to confiscate Indian land.  Williams moved out to edge of the Narragansett Bay, where with the assistance of the Narragansett tribe, he established a settlement at the junction of two rivers near Narragansett Bay, located in (what is now) Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters– and many dissatisfied Puritans came. Taking the success of the venture as a sign from God, Williams named the community “Providence.”

    Williams stayed close to the Narragansett Indians and continued to protect them from the land greed of European settlers. His respect for the Indians, his fair treatment of them, and his knowledge of their language enabled him to carry on peace negotiations between natives and Europeans, until the eventual outbreak of King Philip’s War in the 1670s.  And although Williams preached to the Narragansett, he practiced his principle of religious freedom by refraining from attempts to convert them.

    Roger Williams statue, Roger Williams Park, Providence, R.I.




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