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“I dream my painting and I paint my dream”*…

 

What if the great painters had filled larger canvases?…

Yarin Gal, at Cambridge University’s Machine Learning Group, has set out to answer the question: “New techniques in machine learning and image processing allow us to extrapolate the scene of a painting to see what the full scenery might have looked like…”

“Enhanced” Monet, Picasso, O’Keefe, (more) van Gogh, and others– with more added regularly– at Extrapolated Art.

* Vincent van Gogh

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As we look beyond the frame, we might send broadly gestural birthday greetings to Ludovico Carracci; he was born on this date in 1555.  An early Baroque master, his paintings, etchings, prints– but especially his frescos– are credited with reinvigorating Italian art, rescuing it from the formal mannerism that had accrued in the mid-late 16th century.

Annunciation

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Portrait of Carracci, Emilian School

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Written by LW

April 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of language”*…

 

Wittgenstein playing Pictionary with Freud; Russell, Hegel, and Marx as Pokemon characters; Sartre’s birthday party; Greek Hold’em– all this and much, much more merriment (in larger format) at the exquisite Existential Comics.  The inevitable anguish of living a brief life in a absurd world.  Also jokes.

* Ludwig Wittgenstein

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As we get behind the greater good, we might spare a thought for Johann Christoph Denner; he died on this date in 1707. One of the Baroque Era’s leading musical instrument makers, he was renown throughout Europe for his well-tuned recorders, flutes, oboes, and bassoons.  But he is best remembered as the inventor the clarinet, a result of Denner’s attempts to refine the chalumeau, the first true single reed instrument.  The chalumeau and clarinet are the only woodwinds with a cylindrical bore; others (including the flute) have a conical bore.

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Written by LW

April 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The light at the end of the tunnel is just the light of an oncoming train”*…

 

When General Electric debuted a new lower-emissions locomotive, the company commissioned Pulitzer Prize-winning aerial photographer Vincent Laforet to take some glamor shots. The results are industrial porn at its most artful.

Check it out at: “Vincent Laforet’s Aerial Shots Of Trains Look Like Abstract Art.”

* Robert Lowell

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As we hop aboard, we might spare a thought for Ephraim Shay; he died on this date in 1919. An inventor and logger, Shay invented and patented the “Shay locomotive,” a small, geared steam engine used to haul heavy logging (and ultimately also mining) trains at low speeds over rough terrain with poorly-laid, uneven track, sharp curves, and grades up to 14 percent.  By 1945, when production ended, 2,771 Shays had been built.

Shat at the throttle of one of his locomotives

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Written by LW

April 19, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Apparently I lack some particular perversion which today’s employer is seeking”*…

 

Justine Kurland, Rebuilt Engine, 2013

The second floor of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery currently greets patrons with an empty conveyor belt moving through, and back around, a giant mirror.

“Contemporary capitalism trades in nonexistence,” Agnieszka Kurant, the artist behind the piece, told ArtForum in 2013. “Seventy percent of money in this world is phantom—it exists virtually, on computers—but still produces physical consequences.” Much the same tone is at play in Kurant’s contribution to Overtime: The Art of Work, a new collection of artwork that examines the struggles of laborers across nations and eras.

From paintings of child workers in 18th century England to 3-D printed limbs of contract workers in 21st century America, the show is relentlessly engaging…

Learn more about– and see more of– the exhibit at “Art That Understands What It’s Like to Work.”

* John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces

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As we whistle, we might send radically provocative birthday greetings to Kathy Acker; she was born on this date in 1947.  An experimental novelist, punk poet, playwright, performance artist, essayist, postmodernist, and feminist writer, she was a prolific creator who was formative influence on dozens of younger writers, and on Kathleen Hanna of Bikini Kill and Kim Gordon, co-founder of Sonic Youth.

In 1996, Acker was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent a double mastectomy.  The surgery was unsuccessful, and following year, she undertook a series of alternative therapies.  She died, in November of 1997, in an alternative cancer clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. She died in Room 101, to which her friend Alan Moore quipped, “There’s nothing that woman can’t turn into a literary reference.”

Reason is always in the service of the political and economic masters. It is here that literature strikes, at this base, where the concepts and actings of order impose themselves. Literature is that which denounces and slashes apart the repressing machine at the level of the signified.

Kathy Acker, Empire of the Senseless (1988)

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Written by LW

April 18, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess”*…

 

Chess has been revolutionized several times since 1850. 1851 marked the first international chess tournament in London, leaving the German Adolf Anderssen as the official best chess player in Europe at the time. The 20th century saw several breakthroughs in chess theory as chess players began to treat chess as a science more than a pastime. With the advent of computers in the mid-1900s, chess players started analyzing games and writing computer opponents to hone their craft. Then in the 1990s, the widespread adoption of the Internet allowed players to play chess games with anyone in the world online.

That leaves us to wonder: How has chess changed in that timespan?…

Find out at “A data-driven exploration of the evolution of chess.”

And for a close look at one of the most recent developments– the surreptitious use of illegal technology– check out “Chess grandmaster accused of using iPhone to cheat during international tournament.”

* Terry Pratchett

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As we begin to understand Marcel Duchamp’s choice, we might spare a thought for the polymathic Benjamin Franklin; he died on this date in 1790.  Justly remembered and rightly revered as a Founding Father of the U.S., author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, diplomat, and aphorist, it is perhaps less well known that Franklin was a fanatic chess player.  He was playing chess by around 1733, making him the first chess player known by name in the American colonies.  His widely-reprinted and translated 1786 essay “The Morals of Chess,” a paean to the game that prescribed a code of behavior for its players, is the second known writing on chess in America.  He was inducted into the U.S. Chess Hall of Fame in 1999.

Edward Harrison May’s “Lady Howe faisant mat Benjamin Franklin” (“Lady Howe mating Benjamin Franklin”), 1867

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Written by LW

April 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I see black light”*…

 

Robert Fludd’s black square representing the nothingness that was prior to the universe, from his Utriusque Cosmi (1617) – Source: Wellcome Library

 

Is black a color, the absence of color  or a suspension of vision produced by a deprivation of light?  Beginning with Robert Fludd’s attempt to picture nothingness, Eugene Thacker reflects on some of the ways in which blackness has been employed through the history of art and philosophical thought.  Head for the dark side at “Black on Black.”

* Victor Hugo’s last words

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As we paint it black, we might spare a thought for Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes; he died on this date in 1828.  A painter and printmaker who was Court Painter to the Spanish Crown, Goya is regarded both as the last of the Old Masters (for “La Maja Denuda,” among many, many others) and the first of the Moderns. Indeed, in the words of art historian Sir Kenneth Clark, “El tres de mayo de 1808 en Madrid” is “the first great picture which can be called ‘revolutionary’ in every sense of the word, in style, in subject, and in intention.”

Goya’s “Black Paintings,” created late in his life, are anguished, haunted works, reflective both of his fear of dementia and of his dystopian outlook on humanity.

“Saturn Devouring His Son” (detail), probably the most famous of the Black Paintings

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Portrait of Francisco Goya by Vicente López y Portaña (1826)

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Written by LW

April 16, 2015 at 1:01 am

“We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works”*…

 

Alan Jacobs has written seventy-nine theses on technology for disputation. A disputation is an old technology, a formal technique of debate and argument that took shape in medieval universities in Paris, Bologna, and Oxford in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. In its most general form, a disputation consisted of a thesis, a counter-thesis, and a string of arguments, usually buttressed by citations of Aristotle, Augustine, or the Bible.

But disputations were not just formal arguments. They were public performances that trained university students in how to seek and argue for the truth. They made demands on students and masters alike. Truth was hard won; it was to be found in multiple, sometimes conflicting traditions; it required one to give and recognize arguments; and, perhaps above all, it demanded an epistemic humility, an acknowledgment that truth was something sought, not something produced.

It is, then, in this spirit that Jacobs offers, tongue firmly in cheek, his seventy-nine theses on technology and what it means to inhabit a world formed by it. They are pithy, witty, ponderous, and full of life…

Give them the consideration they deserve at “79 Theses on Technology. For Disputation.”  Then participate in the discussion at Hedgehog Review‘s Infernal Machine.

[TotH to @alexismadrigal]

C.f. also: “We Put A Chip In It!” (“It was just a dumb thing. Then we put a chip in it. Now it’s a smart thing.”)

* Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

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As we celebrate Leonardo da Vinci’s birthday, we might add a candle for Conrad Hubert; he was also born on this date, in 1856.  An inventor who first created electric novelties (like battery-powered lighted flower pots and scarf pins), he is best remembered for developing the tubular “Flash Light” (an extension of his work on battery-powered bicycle lights) in the late 1890s.  In 1902, Hubert joined with W.H. Lawrence, who had manufactured the first consumer battery to power home telephones, to create the Ever Ready battery company.

1899 Electrical Age Magazine ad for Ever Ready Electric Flashlight

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Conrad Hubert

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Written by LW

April 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

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