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Posts Tagged ‘art

“Time flies over us, but leaves its shadow behind”*…

 

A lot of photographers aim to capture one, perfect moment in time. Richard Silver might argue that’s aiming low. His surreal productions are multilayered temporal sandwiches, showing how world landmarks morph in appearance from dawn to sunset.

The Manhattan-based photographer has deployed his “time-slice” technique during extensive travels around the globe (he has reportedly visited “more than 200 cities in his life, traveling to 13 countries last year alone”). Silver must have a superhuman tolerance to jet lag, because his process requires torturous amounts of labor and alertness…

See more of Silver’s time-conflated photos, and read more of his method, at “Behold, Famous Landmarks Shot in the Fourth Dimension of Time.”

* Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun

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As we watch the clock, we might send beautiful birthday greetings to Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni; he was born on this date in 1475.  A sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer in the High Renaissance, Michelangelo was considered one of the greatest artists of his time.  And given his profound influence on the development of Western art, he has subsequently been considered one of the greatest artists of all time.  Indeed, he is widely held to be (with Leonardo da Vinci) the archetypal Renaissance man.

Daniele da Volterra’s portrait of Michelangelo

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Written by LW

March 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

“When I die, I’m leaving my body to science fiction”*…

 

When it comes to cover design, the science fiction genre is often accused, along with romance novels, of having the most godawful cover design going. With their typical brilliance in style, Penguin embraces all the good, the bad and the comically ugly in traditional sci-fi design with their science fiction series. From the campy cartoon-style creatures and ridiculous, buxom alien babes of space opera, to the darkly stylized futuristic cities in dystopian futures Penguin covered it all with story selection and cover illustration…

Confidently judge books by their covers at “Penguin’s Science Fiction.”

[TotH to @MartyKrasney]

 

* Stephen Wright

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As we travel through space and time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Arthur K. “Spud” Melin patented the Hula Hoop.  In fact, both Melin’s company, Wham-O, and others had been selling millions of Martex (plastic) hoops since the late 50s.  Melin’s innovation was an improved version- which, by virtue of the intellectual property protection, was available only from Wham-O.

No sensation has ever swept the country like the Hula Hoop.  It remains the standard against which all national crazes are measured.

– Richard A. Johnson, American Fads

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Spud Melin (left) and his Wham-O co-founder Richard Knerr

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Written by LW

March 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Make things as simple as possible but no simpler”*…

 

Botticelli, “The Birth of Venus”

 

Posters promoting the Masters and their masterpieces:  From Sydney-based designer Nicholas Barclay, a ten classic works of art, reduced to their essences…

Peruse each of them (about half-way down the page), and check out his other distillations, on Barclay’s site .

* Albert Einstein

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As we wonder what the docent will make of these, we might recall it it was on this date in 1979 that The Clash played the Harvard Square Theater on the first leg of their first American tour, “Pearl Harbor ’79.”

The band, backstage, with their idol (and opening act on the tour), Bo Diddley

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Written by LW

February 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Fancy thinking the Beast was something you could hunt and kill!”*…

 

According to the Aberdeen Bestiary: “There is an animal called the Yale. It is black, as big as a horse, with the tail of an elephant, the jaws of a boar and unusually long horns, adjustable to any movement the animal might make. For they are not fixed but move as the needs of fighting require; the Yale advances one of them as it fights, folding the other back, so that if the tip of the first is damaged by a blow, it is replaced by the point of the second.”

Also from the Aberdeen Bestiary, “in Asia an animal is found which men call Bonnacon. It has the head of a bull, and thereafter its whole body is of the size of a bull’s with the maned neck of a horse. Its horns are convoluted, curling back on themselves in such a way that if anyone comes up against it, he is not harmed. But the protection which its forehead denies this monster is furnished by its bowels. For when it turns to flee, it discharges fumes from the excrement of its belly over a distance of three acres, the heat of which sets fire to anything it touches. In this way, it drives off its pursuers with its harmful excrement.”

From a 13th century Bestiary by Hugh of Fouilloy: “There is a beast in the sea which is called a Sawfish, and has immense wings. When this beast has seen a ship making sail on the ocean, it raises its wings above the water and competes with the ship in sailing. (But when it has competed in sailing or racing against the ship) for 30 or 40 furlongs, being unable to sustain the exertion, it gives up, and lowering its wings draws them in. And the waves of the sea carry it back again, tired out, to its own place in the deep.”

These and other curious critters that may or may not have ever existed– but were featured in medieval Bestiaries– at “Ten Strange Medieval Animals You Might Not Have Heard Of.”

* William Golding, Lord of the Flies

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As we contemplate cryptozoology, we might recall that it was on this date in 1953, on the death of her father, George VI, that Elizabeth Alexandra Mary, became Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom (and of 16 of the 53 member states in the Commonwealth of Nations), and Supreme Governor of the Church of England.

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Written by LW

February 6, 2015 at 1:01 am

“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”*…

 

Concave drawing of the Getty gardens

 

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!’

The twin brothers Ryan and Trevor Oakes share his adventurousness in seeing in the artwork that they create together.

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

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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..

SewerHistory.org

Col. George E. Waring, Jr.

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Written by LW

January 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

“While all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists”*…

 

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.

Duchamp (center; his wife Teeny, right) “performing” Reunion with John Cage (left) in 1968

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Media artist (and childhood chess whiz) Scott Kildall wants the world to have the chance to share his admiration for Duchamp, so he created Playing Duchamp:

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

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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.

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(book available here)

Written by LW

January 17, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere”*…

 

From Nathan Friend, hours of fun:  the Inspirograph.

* G.K. Chesterton

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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.

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Written by LW

January 10, 2015 at 1:01 am

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