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  • feedwordpress 09:01:41 on 2016/03/12 Permalink
    Tags: Anthropomorphic Landscapes, , , Elaine de Kooning, , landscape, ,   

    “I think of two landscapes- one outside the self, the other within”*… 

     

    Marcus Gheeraerts the Elder’s allegory of iconoclasm, ca.1566

    Although commonplace today, the landscape as a distinct category in painting only really began to establish itself in Western art during the Renaissance, a period in which natural views began to make their way to the fore of focus, no longer merely backgrounds to human figures. Perhaps an interesting quirk of this “transition” were the images which seemed to fuse the two: anthropomorphic landscapes. These images — particularly where landscapes are given the form of human heads — appear to be somewhat of a meme…

    Currier and Ives print showing a young man and a young woman looking through an opening in a wall (alternatively, a human skull)

    More of the story, and more (and larger) examples, at “The Art of Hidden Faces: Anthropomorphic Landscapes.”

    * Barry Lopez

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    As we put a human face on Nature, we might send dramatic birthday greetings to Elaine de Kooning; she was born on this date in 1918.  While she was overshadowed in the public view by her husband, Willem de Kooning, for much of her career, she was an important and influential Abstract Expressionist and Figurative Expressionist painter in the post-World War II era, and an editor of Art News.

    Her portrait of John F. Kennedy (National Portrait Gallery)

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:49 on 2016/02/20 Permalink
    Tags: , anti-languages, , , , landscape, , , , ,   

    “‘Meow’ means ‘woof’ in cat”*… 

     

    In cliff-side houses like these, some Malian villagers speak an enigmatic anti-language originally designed to fool slave-traders

    Criminals, conspirators, fugitives, outcasts– throughout history, they’ve all often spoken “The secret ‘anti-languages’ you’re not supposed to know.

    [Update:  further to “I use a whole lot of half-assed semicolons; there was one of them just now; that was a semicolon after ‘semicolons,’ and another one after ‘now’*…,” this wonderful variation, via @PhelimKine]

    * George Carlin

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    As we watch our tongues, we might send breath-taking birthday greetings to the man who spoke the secret language of the environment, Ansel Easton Adams; he was born on this date in 1902.  A co-founder of Group f/64 (with other masters like Edward Weston, Willard Van Dyke, and Imogen Cunningham), his black-and-white landscape photographs of the American West, especially Yosemite National Park, helped define landscape photography and establish photography as a fine art.

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  • feedwordpress 08:01:59 on 2015/09/18 Permalink
    Tags: , Crawick, , garden, , landscape, , , , ,   

    “What’s a Multiverse?”*… 

     

    Last fall, a hand-picked group of the world’s top theoretical physicists received an invitation to a conference about the multiverse, a subject to which many of them had devoted the majority of their careers. Invitations like these were nothing unusual in their line of work. What was unusual was this conference was not being hosted by a university or research institute, but rather by a Scottish Duke.

    And its organizer was not a physicist, but a landscape architect by the name of Charles Jencks.

    The physicists were surprised to learn that Jencks had spent the past three years bringing their cosmological theories to life in the form of a massive land installation carved into the hills and pastures of the Nith Valley in southwest Scotland. It was titled “Crawick Multiverse” after the village where it was built, and its features, according to the brochure accompanying the invitation, included a Supercluster of Galaxies, twin Milky Way and Andromeda spiral mounds, the Sun Amphitheater (which seats 5,000), a Comet Walk, Black Holes (“in two different phases”), an Omphalos (a boulder-limned grotto symbolizing Earth’s “mythic navel” [pictured above]) and of course, the multiverse itself…

    A panoramic painting of Crawick.

    More at “The Duke, The Landscape Architect, and the World’s Most Ambitious Plan to Bring the Cosmos to Earth.”

    * Penny: What’s a multiverse?

       Sheldon: GET HER OUT OF HERE!

    Big Bang Theory

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    As we note, with Rebecca Solnit, that a path is simply a prior interpretation of the best way to traverse a landscape, we might send perpetual birthday greetings to Jean Bernard Léon Foucault; he was born on this date in 1819.  A physicist who made an early measurement of the speed of light, discovered eddy currents, and is credited with naming the gyroscope (although he did not invent it), Foucault is best remembered for the (eponymously-named) Foucault’s Pendulum– a long and heavy pendulum suspended from the roof of the Panthéon in Paris– demonstrating the effects of the Earth’s rotation.  In fact, essentially the same experimental approach had been used by Vincenzo Viviani as early as 1661; but it was Foucault’s work that caught the public imagination: within years of his 1851 experiment, the were “Foucault’s Pendulums” hanging– and attracting crowds–in major cities across Europe and America.

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  • feedwordpress 09:01:37 on 2014/02/26 Permalink
    Tags: al-Qaeda, Bezzubov, , landscape, landscape forensics, , , , World Trade Center   

    “Meanwhile, fears of universal disaster sank to an all time low over the world”*… 

     

    Tsunami #8 Indonesia

    New York photographer Sasha Bezzubov uses a variety of conceptual methods to point viewers to larger phenomena that underlie visible landscapes…  Bezzubov’s series Things Fall Apart (2001-07), depicts the aftermath of natural disasters in India, Indonesia, Thailand and the United States. The pictures function in part as documents of these tragic events, but the series as a whole does not convey enough specific information to be useful as documentary work. Rather, the images blend together to form a more generalized, and aestheticized, portrayal of destruction, following the long artistic tradition of appreciating the melancholy beauty of ruins and nature’s destructive power. That tradition is closely tied to the idea of the sublime — a sensation of beauty and terror in the face of nature’s power — prevalent in 18th and early 19th century philosophy and landscape art, and often understood as a way of experiencing the divine. Nature’s power is certainly evident in Bezzubov’s images, but the knowledge that human-caused climate change has increased the frequency and strength of catastrophic storms reshapes our sense of the sublime…

    Hurricane #4, Florida

    Read more at Design Observer

    * Isaac Asimov

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    As we take stock, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that the World Trade Center in New York was attacked for the first time:  a nitrate-hydrogen truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower.  The blast shook the 110 story tower, causing the collapse of several floors in the underground garage, and tore a hole in the ceiling of an adjoining subway; six people were killed, another thousand, injured.  The attack is believed to have been planned by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a member of what we now know as al-Qaeda, and was executed by a group who were apprehended, tried, and convicted the following year.

    Underground damage after the bombing

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