Posts Tagged ‘art’
“Some people see the glass half full. Others see it half empty. I see a glass that’s twice as big as it needs to be”*…
David Hockney has famously pondered perspective in his work; when criticized for a lack of “reality,” he’s observed,
Cubism was an attack on the perspective that had been known and used for 500 years. It was the first big, big change. It confused people: they said, ‘Things don’t look like that!’
As children in the back seat, Trevor and Ryan Oakes noticed that when they focused on the horizon, bugs on the windshield seemed to split in two. Twenty-odd years later these identical twins are still investigating the intricacies of visual perception. This show pulls back the curtain on a decade of their optical obsession. To avoid the distortions that occur when the world is traced onto a flat canvas, the twins have built a concave metal easel that allows them to sketch directly onto the inside of a sphere. Rather than using lenses or mirrors to project an image onto canvas, as the Renaissance masters did, the twins have devised an ultra-low-tech method for sketching from life: they cross their eyes until an object floats onto their paper’s edge — and then they trace it. Visitors can marvel at the plaster helmet (dubbed an “optical cockpit” by Lawrence Weschler) where the twins have spent hours with their eyes out of stereo alignment [cross-eyed], reproducing skylines and courtyards into curved paper with a supernatural sense of depth and perspective. During the exhibition, the twins will haul their curved easel outside the museum to trace the Flatiron building with their cross-eyed technique. “Our subject matter is as much an eye looking as the thing being looked at,” said Trevor. Ryan added, “We’re dissecting what it feels like to have two eyes.”
See more, learn more at OakesOakes.
[TotH to @MartyKrasney]
* George Carlin
As we focus on the tips of our noses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1880 that the City of Memphis, Tennessee began construction of the first independent municipal sewage system in the U.S. Independent sewer systems had been introduced in 25 years earlier in England; but American engineers at the time, still favored “combined” systems, in which storm water and sewage were handled in the same large pipes. Memphis was the first U.S. municipal system to forgo the benefits of the natural “flushing” provided by rain water, opting for smaller, dedicated pipes.
Memphis suffered through several severe plagues of cholera (1873) and yellow fever (1878 and 1879) — over 10,000 lives were lost. The city recognized the need to get their sanitary sewage away from their water sources (then, primarily small private wells), even though the final decision was erroneously based on the belief that yellow fever was being caused by inadequate sanitation practices. The city and the state legislature tried to raise monies; the efforts gained some of the money they thought would be needed for a new sewer system — but not a lot.
The situation in Memphis aroused the sympathy of the nation and was largely responsible for the creation of the National Board of Health. The Board retained and sent Col. George E. Waring, Jr., [who had gained notoriety draining Central Park] to Memphis. He designed what he thought was a system Memphis could afford, but also one he felt would work: a separate system using 6″ diameter laterals, with sewers with 112-gallon flush-tank mechanisms placed at the upstream terminal end of each of the lateral (collector) sewer runs — to be flushed once every 24 hours. The house connection sewers were 4″ diameter. Both vertical and horizontal changes of alignment were routinely done along the long runs of manhole-less gravity sewer mains. No more than 300 homes were to be connected to each 6″ main. No rain water was to be made tributary to these sewers and the sewer system was to be vented through the soil pipe plumbing system in each house..
A painter, sculptor, and conceptual artist, Duchamp was, with Picasso and Matisse, one the defining figures in the revolution that redefined the plastic arts in the early Twentieth Century– in Duchamp’s case, as an early Cubist (the star of the famous 1913 New York Armory Show), as the originator of ready-mades, and as a father of Dada.
In the 1930s, Duchamp turned from the production of art to his other great passion, chess. He became a competitive player; then, as he reached the limits of his ability, a chess writer. Duchamp’s Samuel Beckett, an friend of Duchamp, used Duchamp’s thinking about chess strategy as the narrative device for the 1957 play of the same name, Endgame. In 1968, Duchamp played an on-stage chess match with avant-garde composer, friend, and regular chess opponent John Cage, at a concert entitled Reunion, in which the music was produced by a series of photoelectric cells underneath the chessboard, triggered when pieces were moved in game play.
Marcel Duchamp is widely recognized for his contribution to conceptual art, but his lifelong obsession was the game of chess, in which he achieved the rank of Master. Working with the records of his chess matches, I have created a computer program to play chess as if it were Marcel Duchamp. I invite all artists, skilled and unskilled at this classic game, to play against a Duchampian ghost.
So go ahead, play Duchamp.
* Marcel Duchamp
As we contemplate Duchamp’s urinal, we might note that it was on this date in 1863 that Thomas Crapper patented his version of the one-piece pedestal flushing toilet that still bears his name in many parts of the English-speaking world.
The flushing toilet was invented by John Harrington in 1596; Joseph Bramah patented the first practical water closet in England in 1778; then in 1852, George Jennings received a patent for the flush-out toilet. While Crapper’s improvements merited a patent, his real contribution was promotional: In a time when bathroom fixtures were barely mentionable, Crapper, who was trained as a plumber, set himself up as a “sanitary engineer”; he heavily promoted “sanitary” plumbing and pioneered the concept of the bathroom fittings showroom. His efforts were hugely successful; he scored a series of Royal Warrants (providing lavatories for Prince, then King Edward, and for George V) and enjoyed great commercial success.
(book available here)
* G.K. Chesterton
As we try to remember which side of the brain on which to draw, we might spare a thought for Joshua Abraham Norton, better known as Norton I, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico; he was buried on this date in 1880. An immigrant from South Africa, Norton became disgruntled with what he considered the inadequacies of the legal and political structures of his adopted home. On September 17, 1859, he took matters into his own hands and distributed letters to the various newspapers in the city, proclaiming himself “Emperor of these United States”:
At the peremptory request and desire of a large majority of the citizens of these United States, I, Joshua Norton, formerly of Algoa Bay, Cape of Good Hope, and now for the last 9 years and 10 months past of S. F., Cal., declare and proclaim myself Emperor of these U. S.; and in virtue of the authority thereby in me vested, do hereby order and direct the representatives of the different States of the Union to assemble in Musical Hall, of this city, on the 1st day of Feb. next, then and there to make such alterations in the existing laws of the Union as may ameliorate the evils under which the country is laboring, and thereby cause confidence to exist, both at home and abroad, in our stability and integrity.
—NORTON I, Emperor of the United States
Norton issued a number of decrees, some of them visionary (e.g., the establishment of a League of Nations, the construction of a bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland). Ignored by the local, state, and national governments, he spent his days inspecting San Francisco’s streets in an elaborate blue uniform with gold-plated epaulettes, given to him by officers of the United States Army post at the Presidio of San Francisco.
Norton died in poverty; but a group of San Francisco businessmen, members of the Pacific Club, established a funeral fund and arranged a suitably-dignified farewell. The Emperor’s funeral cortege was two miles long; the procession and ceremony were attended by an estimated 10-30,000 people– at a time when San Francisco had only 230,000 residents.
Since we last visited Tom Gauld, he’s turned his attention increasing to the blessed realm of every year’s perfect Holiday present: the world of books. From New Yorker covers to cartoons for The Guardian‘s Review section, he celebrates the world of letters (and the arts) with insightful whimsy…
* Joesph Brodsky
As we prepare to bury our noses, we might recall that it was on this date in 1679 that ruffians in the employ of the Earl of Rochester set upon and pummeled England’s poet Laureate, John Dryden, on the mistaken impression that he had written “An Essay on Satire.” The essay– which was circulating in manuscript form in London, and contained damning accounts of the King and many notables, including Rochester– was in fact written by John Sheffield (1st Duke of Buckingham and Normanby, a poet and Tory politician of the late Stuart period, who served as Lord Privy Seal and Lord President of the Council).
… at YouAreListeningTo.
* Tennessee Williams
As we tune in, we might send forcefully-metered birthday greetings to Kenneth Patchen; he was born on this date in 1911. A poet and novelist who experimented with form (most notably, with incorporating jazz into his readings), Patchen was widely ignored by the cultural establishment in his lifetime; but (with his close friend Kenneth Rexroth) became an inspiration for the young poets– Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, Michael McClure, and others– who became known as the Beat Generation. In 1968, near the end of his life, The Collected Poems of Kenneth Patchen was published– and Patchen was embraced by the Establishment. The New York TImes called the book “a remarkable volume,” comparing Patchen’s work to that of Blake, Whitman, Crane, Lawrence, and even to the Bible. In another review, the poet David Meltzer called Patchen “one of America’s great poet-prophets” and called his body of work “visionary art for our time and for Eternity.”
The lions of fire
Shall have their hunting in this black land
Their teeth shall tear at your soft throats
Their claws kill
O the lions of fire shall awake
And the valleys steam with their fury
Because you have turned your faces from God
Because you have spread your filth everywhere.
– from “The Lions of Fire Shall Have Their Hunting” The Teeth of the Lion (1942)
Dutch artist Florentjin Hofman, known for his massive sculptures (including his giant rubber duck), has floated a giant hippo, “HippopoThames,” down London’s iconic river.
* Mitch Hedberg
As we watch ourselves at the watering hole, we might recall that it was on this date in 1899 that George Franklin Grant was awarded a patent for the first modern wooden golf tee. Grant was a dentist, one of trio who patented golf tees: in 1922, dentist William Lowell designed a red-painted, cone-shaped, wooden peg with a small concave platform that was patented and became the worlds first commercially produced golf tee called the “reddy tee.” Recently dentist, Arnold DiLaura, patented the Sof-Tee, a tee that sits on top of the ground instead of in it.
Grant was a graduate of Harvard dental school, where he later taught– Harvard University’s first African-American faculty member. He was renowned internationally within his profession for his invention of the oblate palate, a prosthetic device he designed for treatment of the cleft palate.
The powers that be in Hollywood have been working overtime and turning the crank on the sequel machine for decades. Sometimes it’s hard not to be cynical about a part two when many movie follow-ups are made simply for the money. But what about a sequel that fans actually want? Enter iam8bit’s latest exhibition, Sequel — part tribute to the cult movies we love, part commentary on Hollywood’s obsession with sequels…
The West Coast gallery invited more than 40 artists to imagine movie sequels that never were. If you’ve had your fingers crossed for another Goonies, Blade Runner, or Labyrinth, then this is your happy place…
The show is open in Los Angeles now, and prints of the one-sheets are available. More at “Exciting Posters for Cult Movie Sequels That Never Happened.”
* Bruce Campbell
As we meet at the multiplex, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Frank Drebin (first) foiled an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II: The Naked Gun premiered. The father of two sequels, the film was itself a sequel– its full title was The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!– a feature-length riff on writer-directors Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker’s earlier– and (too-)short-lived– television series.