Posts Tagged ‘art’
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* Gandalf, The Hobbit, Chapter 1
As we fiddle with our rings, we might recall that it was on this date in 1922 that the U.S. Postal service issued an updated version of it’s Special Delivery stamp– one on which the bicycle that had anchored the previous version was replaced by a motorcycle (a Harley-Davidson 22 J). The first new stamp of the Harding presidency, the revised design demonstrated a growing post-World War I interest in emerging technologies. (On a geekier philatelic note, it was the first of a series of issues promoted with advance notice by the Postal Service– and is thus considered the root of the practice of collecting First Day Covers.)
One may imagine that economics has little bearing on the more frivolous frontiers of everyday life; but in fact it explains why one consumes so much “animal antics” online and so little Shakespearean seriousness…
Economics sometimes has surprising applications. One example is the Alchian-Allen theorem, an observation that came from a footnote in an economics textbook in the 1960s about how quality demand is affected by transport costs…
The Allen-Alchian theorem explains why places with high-quality produce (Allen and Alchian had in mind apples in Seattle, which is where apples come from in the US) nevertheless do not always get to consume that same high quality (they pointed to the market for apples in New York city, where no apples grow) because of the relative costs faced by consumers in each case (for New York consumers, a high-quality apple, once you account for transportation costs, was actually relatively cheaper than a low-quality apple compared to relative prices in Seattle). Hence the market sent the high-quality apples to New York.
You’re still with me? It’s all about relative costs. When you move something, or impose any fixed cost, the higher-quality item always wins, because it now has a lower relative cost compared to the lower-quality item.
The interesting idea is that this also applies in reverse – namely when we remove a fixed cost. The internet does this: it removes a cost of transport, and it does so equally for high quality and low quality content. Following the Allen-Alchian theorem, this should mean the opposite. Low-quality items are now relatively cheaper and high-quality items are now relatively more expensive. This idea was first explained by Tyler Cowen, but the upshot is that the internet is made of cats…
The internet lowers the cost of “transport” for every idea, high and low quality alike. It’s the opposite of the apples situation. It means that low quality apples are now relatively cheaper. It means that cats-doing-funny-things is now relatively cheaper than say German Opera. Economics insists that when demand curves look like this we can expect more cat watching, and less German opera watching.
This theorem means that we expect a lower quality, “bittier” consumption to proliferate on the internet (as a technology that lowers transport costs of high-quality and low-quality ideas alike). Which is what we observe. So that’s a win for micro-economic demand theory.
Is this really what’s happened? Have we all gotten dumber? Read more– including the arguments, pro and con– at “The internet is made of cats – and you can blame economists“: and read the paper the lays out the “economics of cute” in “The Alchian-Allen Theorem and the Economics of Internet Animals.”
* John Kenneth Galbraith
As we come to terms with the fact that all our bases are belong to them, we might spare a slightly skewed thought for Giuseppe Arcimboldo; he died on this date in 1593. An Italian painter best known for creating partraits composed entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books, he is considered a Mannerist… though he might well be the first Surrealist. He was certainly cited by many– from Dali through Ocampo to Švankmajer– as an influence.
Banksy has lamented (in Wall and Piece) that…
Art is not like other culture because its success is not made by its audience. The public fill concert halls and cinemas every day, we read novels by the millions, and buy records by the billions. ‘We the people’ affect the making and quality of most of our culture, but not our art…. The Art we look at is made by only a select few. A small group create, promote, purchase, exhibit and decide the success of Art. Only a few hundred people in the world have any real say. When you go to an Art gallery you are simply a tourist looking at the trophy cabinet of a few millionaires…
Fly Art is taking Art back:
More marvelous mash-ups at Fly Art.
[TotH to @mattiekahn]
* Paul Valery
As we hum along, we might recall that it was on this date in 1687 that (not yet Sir) Isaac Newton published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica (AKA “Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy”, AKA the Principia). In three volumes Newton laid out his laws of motion (his foundation of classical mechanics), his theory of universal gravitation, and a derivation of Kepler’s laws of planetary motion (which Kepler had obtained empirically).
Viewed retrospectively, no work was more seminal in the development of modern physics and astronomy than Newton’s Principia… no one could deny that [out of the Principia] a science had emerged that, at least in certain respects, so far exceeded anything that had ever gone before that it stood alone as the ultimate exemplar of science generally.
A fore-edge painting is an image on the edges of the pages of a book. The work can only be seen when the pages are fanned (as illustrated in the GIF above and the videos below). When the book is closed, the image is obscured by the gilding– the gold leaf applied to the edges of the page.
Fore-edge paintings first arose during the European Middle Ages but came to prominence during the mid-17th century to the late 19th century. Anne C. Bromer for the Boston Public Library [which holds one of the finest collections of fore-edge paintings in the U.S.] writes, “Most fore-edge painters working for binding firms did not sign their work, which explains why it is difficult to pinpoint and date the hidden paintings.”
As we hunt for Easter eggs, we might spare an ecumenical thought for Ramon Llull; he died on this date in 1315 [source]. A philosopher, logician, poet, and theologian who was heavily influenced by Islam, he is credited with the first major work of Catalan literature (the romantic novel Blanquerna), with having anticipated by several centuries prominent work on elections theory, and with pioneering work on computation theory (largely given his influence on Leibniz).
One of the earliest Encyclopedists, he gave up the life of a courtier (to King James of Aragon) first to become a hermit, then a Franciscan. After a 1297 meeting with Duns Scotus, he was given the nickname Doctor Illuminatus.
A beloved album can turn into a sonic home of sorts, and provide a measure of comfort that trumps an actual living space. Now we have a mash-up of both: In his new illustration series, “Archimusic,” Barcelona-based designer Federico Babina has designed homes that embody the sensibility and tone of 27 musicians and their biggest hits. Among these sonic fortresses–which range from sleekly designed small-scale homes to colorful and funkier buildings that could be apartments, institutional homes, or symphony halls–are Miles Davis’s So What, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, and David Bowie’s Space Oddity…
Babina appears to be no slacker when it comes to hard thinking about the ways in which design and music mesh. “Both music and architecture are generated by an underlying code, an order revealed by mathematics and geometry,” Babina says in his artist statement. He describes the series as an exercise in “listening to architecture,” interpreting its musicality and rhythm, and representing the structural, visual qualities of music. He explored whether “the music is horizontal, vertical or oblique,” whether “sound leans firmly on the ground or if it touches on tiptoe,” and whether “it’s made of contrasting colors or tones that change gradually.”…
See more of his work at his site and here (where one can also buy prints); read more at “27 Musicians And Their Hits Reimagined As Buildings.”
* T.S. Eliot
As we’re grateful that music can Gimme Shelter, we might recall that it was on this date in 1868, at the Königliches Hof-und National-Theater in Munich, that Richard Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg premiered. At four and a half hours, it’s one of the longest operas performed in modern times; and it is unusual in Wagner’s oeuvre both because it is a comedy (the only one among his mature works) and because it isn’t driven by mythological or supernatural themes. The premiere was sponsored by Ludwig II of Bavaria and conducted Hans von Bülow. Franz Strauss, the father of composer Richard Strauss played the French horn at the premiere– despite his often-expressed dislike of Wagner, who was present at many of the rehearsals.