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Posts Tagged ‘art

“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

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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.

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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

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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.

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Written by LW

August 21, 2015 at 1:01 am

“‘Tis not alone my inky cloak… Nor customary suits of solemn black”*…

 

Michelangelo Merisi
da Caravaggio used ivory black to convey asceticism, piety, and inspiration in his 1605-6 painting, St Jerome Writing.

Suddenly, black was everywhere. It caked the flesh of miners and ironworkers; it streaked the walls and windows of industrial towns; it thickened the smoky air above. Proprietors donned black clothing to indicate their status and respectability. New black dyes and pigments created in factories and chemical laboratories entered painters’ studios, enabling a new expression for the new themes of the industrial age: factory work and revolt, technology and warfare, urbanity and pollution, and a rejection of the old status quo. A new class of citizen, later to be dubbed the “proletariat,” began to appear in illustrations under darkened smokestacks. The industrial revolution had found its color.

Black is technically an absence: the visual experience of a lack of light. A perfect black dye absorbs all of the light that impinges on it, leaving nothing behind. This ideal is remarkably difficult to manufacture. The industrialization of the 18th and 19th centuries made it easier, providing chemists and paint-makers with a growing palette of black—and altering the subjects that the color would come to represent. “These things are intimately connected,” says science writer Philip Ball, author of Bright Earth: The Invention of Color. The reinvention of black, in other words, went far beyond the color…

As the means of producing the color black changed, so did the subjects that it was used to evoke/represent. Get the basics at “The Reinvention of Black.”

* Shakespeare, Hamlet

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As we paint it black, we might we might retreat to the colorful, remembering that it was on this date in 1969 that “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music” opened in the Catskills in New York State.  The organizers of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair– or Woodstock, as it is remembered– had hoped to sell 50,000 tickets; but by the week before the event, had moved 186,000.  A last-minute change of venue presented them with a hard choice: hastily erect more/stronger fences and install additional security on the new site (the now-famous Yasgur’s Farm) or offer the event for free.  The night before the event, with attendees already arriving in huge numbers, the promoters cut the fence.  Ultimately an estimated 400,000 people enjoyed a (somewhat rainy) weekend of performances from 32 acts.  It was, as Rolling Stone opined, a defining moment in Rock and Roll.

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Written by LW

August 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Amazement awaits us at every corner”*…

 

Zoe Leonard (American, Born 1961) Analogue Detail. 1998-2007 Four Chromogenic Color Prints, Each 11 X 11″ (27.9 X 27.9 Cm) Analogue Was Made Possible Through The Artist’s Residency Program At The Wexner Center For The Arts At The Ohio State University. Acquired Through The Generosity Of The Contemporary Arts Council Of The Museum Of Modern Art, The Fund For The Twenty-First Century, The Modern Women’s Fund, And Carol Appel

Starting in the 1990s, artist Zoe Leonard began photographing the shops in New York City’s Lower East Side. As the New York Times reported [last week], small neighborhood stores like local bodegas are declining in the city as rents steadily rise and chain stores strong-arm their way in.

Leonard witnessed the start of the decline as mom-and-pop shops — with their hand-lettered signs and strange window displays — started vanishing throughout the decade. She photographed them with something equally obsolete: celluloid film. The artist captured the changing landscape with a vintage 1940’s Rolleiflex camera, using gelatin silver, chromogenic, and dye-transfer printing processes. She didn’t crop the black frame of the negative from the final image, either.

”The embrace of photography as an analog medium is reinforced in the work’s recurrent references to Kodak, photo studios, and graffiti,” the Museum of Modern Art writes. Leonard’s photos from the decade are currently on display at MoMA in the exhibition Zoe Leonard: Analogue, presenting 412 images together in a grid-like installation. “Analogue is a testament to the loss of both locally owned shops and straight photography,” MoMA’s press release states. The show is on display through August 30…

Read and see more (and larger, zoomable) versions of the images at “Remembering the Lost Mom-and-Pop Shops of New York City’s Lower East Side in the ’90s.”

*  James Broughton

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As we ruminate on retailing, we might recall that it was on this date in 1992 that the Mall of America opened in Bloomington, Minnesota, becoming the largest shopping mall both in total area and in total store vendors in the U.S.  It receives over 40 million visitors annually (the most of any mall in the world), and generates nearly $2 Billion in economic impact.  The Mall has 7,900,000 square feet of space and 11,000 employees (13,000 in Holiday season).  Its 12,000+ parking spaces  are relatively few given the store and employee count; but as the Mall is on Minneapolis’ light rail system, and many shoppers arrive by shuttle from nearby hotels or the airport, they suffice.

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Written by LW

August 11, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The older I get, the more individuality I find in animals and the less I find in humans”*…

 

Long-time readers will know of your correspondent’s deep affection and respect for Chuck Jones, who once observed that “the name ‘Chuck Jones,’ according to my uncle, limited my choice of profession to second baseman or cartoonist.”  Happily for the world, he chose the pen over the bat.

The (wonderfully appropriately user-named) Every Frame a Painting has done us all a tremendous service:

email readers click here for video

If you grew up watching Looney Tunes, then you know Chuck Jones, one of all-time masters of visual comedy. Normally I would talk about his ingenious framing and timing, but not today. Instead, I’d like to explore the evolution of his sensibilities as an artist. To see the names of the films, press the CC button and select “Movie Titles.”

* Charles Martin “Chuck” Jones

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As we agree that this is in fact “what’s up, Doc,” we might send send beautifully-collaged birthday greetings to another animation giant, Evelyn Lambart; she was born on this date in 1914.  Lambart joined the National Film Board of Canada in 1942– their first female animator; one of the few women in the world working even as a co-director in any form of cinema during the 1940s and ’50s, she made beautiful films– and animation history– both as a co-director with the great Norman McLaren and on her own.

Read more of her story, and see several of her works here.

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Written by LW

July 23, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential”*…

 

In 2014, in a forest at the location above, Scottish artist Katie Paterson launched Future Library

… a public art project that begins with a thousand trees planted in the Norwegian forest of Normarka. After a century of growth, these trees will be cut down, pulped, and turned into a collection of books to be housed at the New Public Deichmanske Library in Oslo, which is scheduled to open in 2019.

During each year of the forest’s growth, one writer will contribute a text to be published in the anthology. The writing will be unseen by the public until the book collection is created in 2114. So far, two prominent writers have announced their involvement: Canadian author Margaret Atwood and British novelist David Mitchell. Both authors have either won or been shortlisted for the Booker Prize on numerous occasions…

Read more at “How to Harvest a Library in Just 100 Years.”

* Winston Churchill

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As we take the very long view, we might send a celebratory sonnet to Francesco Petrarca– Petrarch; he was born on this date in 1304.  Considered by many to have been “the Father of Humanism,” and reputed to have coined the term “Renaissance,” Petrarch was famous for his paeans to his idealized lover “Laura” (modeled, many scholars believe, on the wife of Hugues de Sade, Laura de Noves, whom he met in Avignon in 1327, and who died in 1348).  But Petrarch’s more fundamental and lasting contribution to culture came via Pietro Bembo who created the model for the modern Italian language in the 16th century based largely on the works of Petrarch (and to a lesser degree, those of Dante and Boccaccio).

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Written by LW

July 20, 2015 at 1:01 am

“The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.”*…

 

A diagram from Poe’s Eureka

I design to speak of the Physical, Metaphysical and Mathematical—of the Material and Spiritual Universe:—of its Essence, its Origin, its Creation, its Present Condition and its Destiny. I shall be so rash, moreover, as to challenge the conclusions, and thus, in effect, to question the sagacity, of many of the greatest and most justly reverenced of men.” —Edgar Allan Poe, Eureka, 1848

Eureka was the last major work Edgar Allan Poe published before his premature death in 1849.

In Eureka, Poe claimed to have intuited, among other discoveries, that the universe is finite, that it came about by the “radiation” of atoms out from a single “primordial Particle,” that what Newton called gravity is nothing but the attraction of every atom to the other atoms with which it once shared an identity, that countervailing forces of repulsion keep matter as we know it “in that state of diffusion demanded for the fulfillment of its purposes,” and that, eventually, the universe will collapse back into its original, unitary state.

Poe’s verdicts, as Marilynne Robinson and many others have pointed out, sometimes eerily predicted developments in twentieth-century astrophysics. For Poe, however, all the imaginings contained in Eureka—the prescient as well as the flighty or far-fetched—had the weight of indisputable truths…

Now Poe’s prose poem is the organizing principal of a show mounted through August 28 at the pace gallery in New York.  From Alexander Calder and Edgard Varèse to Sun Ra (replete with Arkestra) and James Turrell, the group exhibition features artists “who observe and map the cosmological, metaphysical and scientific through painting, sculpture and music.”

Read more about Poe’s Eureka in the Paris Review; visit the show at the Pace Gallery.

* Niels Bohr

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As we contemplate the cosmos, we might send exploratory birthday greetings to Robert FitzRoy; he was born on this date in 1805.  A scientist (hydrographer, meteorologist) and career officer in the Royal Navy who devised a storm warning system that was the prototype of the daily weather forecast, invented a barometer, and published The Weather Book (1863), he rose to the rank of Vice Admiral.

But he is surely best remembered as the captain of HMS Beagle during Charles Darwin’s famous voyage (FitzRoy’s second expedition to Tierra del Fuego and the Southern Cone)… though he might rightly also be remembered for his tenure as Governor of New Zealand: during which he tried to protect the Maori from illegal land sales claimed by British settlers.

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Written by LW

July 5, 2015 at 1:01 am

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