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Posts Tagged ‘art

“In eternity there is no time, only an instant long enough for a joke”*…


Finnish artists Juha van Ingen and Janne Särkelä have developed a monumental GIF called AS Long As Possible, which loops once every 1,000 years. The 12 gigabyte animated image is made of 48,140,288 numbered frames, that change about every 10 minutes [the first and last frames are above].  van Ingen and Särkelä explain:

In the early days of World Wide Web GIF was the most popular tool for artists working on on-line projects. But in mid 90’s the technically more versatile Flash took over as the number one creative tool for presenting art works on-line. Recently with the huge success of photo-sharing services such as Instagram, Flickr and Tumblr GIF has had its second coming and has regained its popularity also as an artistic medium.

The name of ASLAP is homage to John Cage composition “ORGAN2/ASLSP” (1987) which is played with Halberstad organs for the next 625 years. The abbreviation of Cages composition included and instruction to the performer of the piece: As SLow aS Possible. However, if the piece was to be played as slow as possible the first note should be played for ever.

As humans capability to comprehend eternity is limited, it is easier understand the dimensions of a composition lasting hundreds of years than something playing for ever…

They plan to start the loop in 2017, when GIF turns 30 years old (and Finland celebrates its Centennial of independence). “If nurturing a GIF loop even for 100 — let alone 3,000 years — seems an unbelievable task, how much remains of our present digital culture after that time?”, van Ingen said. The artists plan to store a mother file somewhere and create many iterations of the loop in various locations — and if one fails, it may be easily synchronized with, and replaced by, another.


* Hermann Hesse, Steppenwolf


As we take it slowly, we might send itty-bitty birthday greetings to Niels Henrik David Bohr; he was born on this date in 1885.  A Danish physicist and philosopher, Bohr was the first to apply quantum theory,to the problem of atomic and molecular structure, creating the Bohr model of the atom, in which he proposed that energy levels of electrons are discrete, and that the electrons revolve in stable orbits around the atomic nucleus but can jump from one energy level (or orbit) to another– a model the underlying principles of which remain valid.  And he developed the principle of complementarity: that items could be separately analyzed in terms of contradictory properties, e.g., particles behaving as a wave or a stream.  His foundational contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum theory,won him the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922.


Written by LW

October 7, 2015 at 1:01 am

“TELEPHONE n. An invention of the devil which abrogates some of the advantages of making a disagreeable person keep his distance”*…


Christian Marclay’s “Telephones” (1995), a 7 1/2-minute compilation of brief Hollywood film clips that creates a narrative of its own. These linked-together snippets of scenes involve innumerable well-known actors such as Cary Grant, Tippi Hedren, Ray Milland, Humphrey Bogart and Meg Ryan, who dial, pick up the receiver, converse, react, say good-bye and hang up. In doing so, they express a multitude of emotions–surprise, desire, anger, disbelief, excitement, boredom–ultimately leaving the impression that they are all part of one big conversation. The piece moves easily back and forth in time, as well as between color and black-and-white, aided by Marclay’s whimsical notions of continuity…

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More on “Telephones” here; and on Marclay, here.

And as a bonus, this from burgerfiction.com:

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* Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary


As we check caller ID, we might recall that it was on this date in 1922 that Charles F. Jenkins was the first to use city telephone lines to transmit a facsimile photo from 1519 Connecticut Ave in Washington, D.C. to the U.S. Navy Radio Station NOF at Anacostia– a demonstration for representatives of U.S.Navy and the Post Office Dept.  (Earlier in the year, on June 11, a photograph had been sent by radio across the Atlantic from Rome to Bar Harbor, Maine.)

Jenkins is better remembered as a pioneer of early cinema and one of the inventors of television– he racked up over 400 patents, mostly in those fields– and as the recipient of the first commercial television license.



Written by LW

October 3, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event”*…


Witness Hilde Scheller during the murder trial of Paul Krantz, Berlin, 1928

One of the founding figures of photojournalism, Erich Salomon pioneered the use of hidden cameras—the phrase “candid camera” was first applied to him. A 1924 Ermanox equipped with glass plates and a relatively fast shutter speed, concealed in bowler hats and briefcases—and, in one memorable occasion, in bagpipes—allowed him to take photographs in places where they were strictly prohibited: in the casinos at Monte Carlo or at criminal trials. With a camera hidden in a sling, Salomon was the first photographer to take pictures of the United States Supreme Court in session.

Salomon was best known for his photographs of diplomatic gatherings at the highest level. Employing various subterfuges, he followed three statesmen across Europe—Aristide Briand, Joseph Chamberlain, and Gustav Stresemann—as they fecklessly tried, over champagne and cigars, to preserve peace in Europe. When he couldn’t gain admission to the inner sanctum, Salomon photographed the hat-check man asleep under the ministers’ hats, or members of the diplomatic entourage. One particularly brilliant photograph, rife with irony, shows Maurice Privat, Pierre Laval’s astrologer, perched on a sofa under Rubens’ painting The Conclusion of Peace, consulting a star chart as he waits for his daily session with the prime minister. The most famous of Salomon’s cat-and-mouse photographs records the moment when Briand, who dubbed him “the king of the indiscreet,” recognizes him across the room and points a friendly accusatory finger at him, just as Salomon snaps the image…

French Prime Minister Aristide Briand pointing at the photographer, during the negotiations of the Seven-Power Conference, Paris, July 19, 1931

More at “The Unguarded Moment.”

* Henri Cartier-Bresson


As we “smile,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that the iconic sequence of Marilyn Monroe, laughing as her skirt is blown up by the blast from a subway vent, was shot, during the filming of Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch.  One can imagine Salomon– or those he inspired (e.g., Cartier-Bresson, Eisenstadt, Walker) snapping at the same time…

Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch


Written by LW

September 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away”*…


Doug Battenhausen thinks all our advances in cell-phone cameras and photo-sharing technology haven’t made our pictures better, but rather more sterile. We all know how to get the perfect selfie now, with just the right filter — but to him, that’s boring.

What Battenhausen is interested in, and has been collecting since 2010 on his blog “Internet History,” are photos that are beautifully amateurish and capture strange moments.

To find these types of photos, Battenhausen mines the forgotten reaches of the internet, particularly defunct photo accounts on sites like the (now deleted) Webshots, Flickr, or Photobucket…

Read more, and see a selection of Battenhausen’s picks at “A photographer looked through people’s forgotten, dead photo accounts for 5 years — here are the beautiful and eerie pictures he found.”

And see them all at Battenhausen’s blog.

* Eudora Welty


As we reaffirm our commitment to sort through those digital shoe boxes, we might send aggressively-laid-out birthday greetings to David Carson; he was born on this date in 1954.  A successful professional surfer through much of the 80s, he turned to design, working on a series of skateboard and surfing magazines until 1992, when he became design director of Ray Gun, the seminal alternative music/lifestyle magazine.

At Ray Gun Carson used Dingbat, a font containing only symbols, for what he considered a rather dull interview with Bryan Ferry (though the whole text was published in a legible font at the back of the same issue)– one of the moves that earned him the honorific “Father of Grunge Typology.”

When the magazine Graphic Design USA listed the “most influential graphic designers of the [modern] era” Carson was listed as one of the all time 5 most influential designers, with Milton Glaser, Paul Rand, Saul Bass and Massimo Vignelli.



Written by LW

September 8, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Isn’t life a series of images that change as they repeat themselves?”*…


It’s well known that before Andy Warhol became the most famous artist in New York—if not the world—he worked for several years as a commercial illustrator. For instance, he did a bunch of album covers in the mid- to late 1950s, a couple of which are quite familiar to anyone who follows jazz—even if they’re not familiar “as Warhol covers.”

Another of his gigs lasted about four years, that being occasional illustrations for children’s stories in the “Best In Children’s Books” series published by Nelson Doubleday. He illustrated six stories between 1957 and 1960—since there were 33 volumes in the series at a minimum, we can be sure that the series was pretty popular. Every volume had roughly ten stories in it, and each story featured art by a different illustrator. So Warhol’s output in this series was a tiny fraction of the art contained therein. One of the other artists who did illustrations in the same series was Richard Scarry…

More of of this bedtime tale– and more nifty examples of Warhol’s early work– at “Andy Warhol, Children’s Book Illustrator.”

* Andy Warhol


As we turn the page, we might send birthday greetings to Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier; he was born on this date in 1811 (though some sources date it on yesterday’s date).  A poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and art and literary critic, Gautier was a champion of Romaniticism, a point of reference for many subsequent literary traditions (e.g., Symbolism and Modernism), and widely esteemed by writers as diverse as Balzac, Baudelaire, Flaubert, Pound, Eliot, Henry James, Proust, and Wilde.  As editor of the influential review L’Artiste, he editorialized in support of “Art for Art’s Sake.”



Written by LW

August 31, 2015 at 1:01 am

“We face neither East nor West; we face forward”*…


To the Western mind, “African Electronics,” the theme of this year’s annual Chale Wote street art festival in Ghana’s capital, might conjure up images of social media revolutions, telecommunications giants, farmers using smartphones, or other “tech solutions” to development. Not for artist Serge Attukwei Clottey.

Serge, like most artists participating at Chale Wote, views African Electronics as a call for African empowerment, and celebration of the innovation and energy which has been flowing through the continent for centuries. This was ever present throughout a festival that saw examples of both traditional and contemporary art forms: from colorful wall murals to performance art, interactive installations to stand alone sculptures, traditional drummers to electronic music DJs…

More at “‘African Electronics’ Takes a Spiritual Approach to Individual Power.” (Serge Attukwei Clottey will exhibit his performance installation, The Displaced, at Feuer Mesler gallery in Manhattan in October 2015.)

* Kwame Nkrumah


As we agree with Jaron Lanier that “You Are Not A Gadget,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1888 that Granville Tailer Woods– the first African-American electrical engineer working n the U.S. after the Civil War, whose many inventions (and 50 patents) earned him the moniker “the Black Edison”– patented the Multiplex Telegraph, a device that sent messages between train stations and moving trains, thus assuring a safer, better public transportation system.



Written by LW

August 28, 2015 at 1:01 am

“I don’t flip. I don’t even dive into a pool – straight cannonball for me”*…


These pretty diagrams of types of high dives performed in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm are from the official report summarizing the events of the games, published in 1913. (The book has been digitized by the University of Toronto and is available in full on the Internet Archive.)

At the time of this Olympics, diving was a young sport. Its history was rooted in 19th-century Sweden and Germany, where gymnasts experimented with tumbling routines that ended in the water. Swedish divers traveled to Great Britain in the late 1890s and made exhibition dives, which prompted British enthusiasts to found an Amateur Diving Association in 1901. In 1912, which was the first year that women’s diving was included in the Games, Swedish athletes won gold in men’s and women’s 10-meter platform diving, as well as men’s plain high diving.

The handbook summarizes the degree of difficulty for the dives depicted here, with the hardest being the flying somersault forwards and Isander’s dive. (The Isander and Mollberg dives were both named after the Swedish divers who invented them.)

More in the remarkable Rebecca Onion‘s “Graceful Minimalist Diagrams of Early-20th-Century Olympic High Dives.”

* Rob Lowe


As we tuck and roll, we might send mellifluous baritone birthday greetings to Christopher Eugene “Chris” Schenkel; he was born on this date in 1923.  A career sportscaster perhaps best remembered as the voice (for almost 40 years) of professional bowling, he was a regular announcer on ABC’s Olympics broadcasts.  Indeed, contrary to current popular belief, Schenkel, not Jim McKay, anchored ABC’s prime time coverage of the ill-fated 1972 Summer Olympics: when the terrorist attacks (otherwise known as the Munich Massacre) occurred, Schenkel was asleep after hosting the previous night’s coverage live from Munich from 2 a.m. to 5 a.m. local time.  McKay, who was on his way to the Stadium for track and field coverage, was told to return to the ABC studio to report on the situation unfolding at the Olympic Village.  Schenkel returned to anchor Olympic coverage after the Games resumed.



Written by LW

August 21, 2015 at 1:01 am


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