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Posts Tagged ‘art

“Bad artists always admire each others’ work”*…

 

Woody Allen, Picasso… now Kanye West: Can one separate the artist from the art?

[The] disappointment with West’s flirtation with right-wing politics, whether genuine or just a publicity stunt for his new album, raises an age-old debate about the separation (or lack thereof) between art and the artist—specifically, in this case, between the politics of art and the politics of the artist. As Talking Points Memo founder Josh Marshall tweeted last week:

This comparison might seem outrageous. Pound, the legendary American poet, stained his reputation by advocating for Benito Mussolini and broadcasting fascist messages on Italian radio during World War II. Trump, despite his authoritarian tendencies, is hardly Mussolini, nor are West’s tweets in the same category as Pound’s rants, which were laced with anti-Semitism.

But it’s a useful comparison precisely because Pound’s actions were so extreme: The stillrunning debate surrounding him—about whether an artist’s political views should shape how an audience views their work—can help clarify the new debate surrounding West…

Consider more completely at “Is Kanye West ‘the Ezra Pound of Rap’?“; then see “The Picasso Problem: Why We Shouldn’t Separate the Art From the Artist’s Misogyny” and “Can you separate the artist from the art?

Meantime, see a series of Kanye’s infamous recent tweets, reproduced as New Yorker cartoon captions, e.g.:

Then, for a very different point-of-view, see “The Overground Hell Road: The Similarities Between Kanye and Gandhi Are Scary.”

* Oscar Wilde

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As we govern our glance, we might send (notional) birthday greetings to Sir Harry Paget Flashman VC, KCB, KCIE; he was (notionally) born on this date in 1822.  Originally created as a minor character by Thomas Hughes  in his semi-autobiographical Tom Brown’s School Days— Flashman is a bully who torments Tom Brown– Flasman got a second– and much more expansive life when George MacDonald Fraser decided to write his “memoir.”  The result runs to 12 hilarious historical novels– collectively known as “The Flashman Papers“– in which Hughes’ bully becomes an illustrious Victorian soldier while remaining “a scoundrel, a liar, a cheat, a thief, a coward—and, oh yes, a toady.”

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Written by LW

May 5, 2018 at 1:01 am

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream”*…

 

In 1565, twelve years after the death of François Rabelais (1494-1553) — the French Renaissance author best known for his satirical masterpiece The Life of Gargantua and of Pantagruel, the bawdy tale of two giants, Gargantua and his son Pantagruel [see here] — the Parisian bookseller and publisher Richard Breton brought out Les songes drolatiques de Pantagruel (The drolatic dreams of Pantagruel). The slim volume, save a short preface from Breton, is made up entirely of images [like the one above] — 120 woodcuts depicting a series of fantastically bizarre and grotesque figures, reminiscent of some of the more inventive and twisted creations of Brueghel or Bosch…

More of the backstory and more of the illustrations at “The Drolatic Dreams of Pantagruel.”  See the original, in full, at The Internet Archive.

* Edgar Allan Poe

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As we explore the extraordinary, we might send mysterious birthday greetings to a master of grotesque characters: Mary Flannery O’Connor; she was born on this date in 1925.   The author of two novels and thirty-two short stories (as well as a number of reviews and commentaries), she was an exemplar of the Southern Gothic movement in American literature.  Her posthumously compiled Complete Stories, which won the 1972 U.S. National Book Award for Fiction, has been the subject of enduring praise.

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Written by LW

March 25, 2018 at 1:01 am

“With a library it is easier to hope for serendipity than to look for a precise answer”*…

 

At first, the new website for the collection of MIT’s influential Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) seems like a straightforward web page. But as it scrolls down, through the introductory text and into randomly selected works from the archive, it becomes clear that the content is warping into three dimensional space, and branching into spiraling trees of related work, organized by creator and medium — an experience designed to evoke the sensation of wandering through the center’s physical archive.

“Someone might be coming in to do research on environmental sculpture, and then they see all these images on, I don’t know, holography, and then they’d say ‘oh, I really want to check that out,’” said Jeremy Grubman, an MIT archivist who spearheaded the project. “So I wanted to find a way to produce that in a digital space, to produce that concept of serendipitous browsing.”

50 years of art across three-dimensional space; as Jon Christian explains, “This MIT archive will be your trippiest scrolling experience today.”

Check it out.

* Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), When Did You See Her Last?

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As we prepare for pleasant surprises, we might send cartographically-correct birthday greetings to Gerardus Mercator; he was born on this date in 1512.  The most renown cartographer of his time, he created a world map based on a new projection– the Mercator Projection— which represented sailing courses of constant bearing as straight lines, an approach still employed in nautical charts used for navigation.

While he was most esteemed as the foremost geographer of his day, Mercator was also an accomplished engraver, calligrapher and maker of globes and scientific instruments.  And he studied theology, philosophy, history, mathematics, and magnetism.

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Written by LW

March 5, 2018 at 1:01 am

“We need the tonic of wildness”*…

 

Thwack. Thwack. Thwack. Thwp. Thwp. Thwack. The sound of stone striking wood. Rustling leaves. A loud crack as a tree falls. A dry whirring of insects. Further off, a monkey shrieks. ShhptShhpt. Water purls over stones in a brook; the heavy pitter-patter of rain taps the forest floor.

These are the sounds of primitive technology. Primitive Technology: an oxymoron, perhaps a logical impossibility, a collision of two buzzwords, and one of the most arresting (and unexpectedly popular) channels on YouTube.

Primitive Technology was created two years ago by a man in Queensland, Australia, who builds huts, weapons, and tools using only naturally occurring materials. In all of his five- to ten-minute videos, the man wears only navy blue shorts, rarely looks at the camera, and never speaks…

An appreciation of Primitive Technology, a You Tube series the episodes in which have garnered as many as 46 million views each: “Walden for the YouTube Age.”

[TotH to @kevin2kelly, who suggested that I check it out]

* Henry David Thoreau, Walden: Or, Life in the Woods

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As we appreciate apocatastasis, we might recall that it was on this date in 1909 that The Futurist Manifesto (download it here) was first published (in the French periodical Le Figaro).  The creation of Filippo Tommaso Marinetti– who authored the manifesto, used his private fortune to publish it, then recruited artists to his banner– Futurism paved the way for Dada and Surrealism… and suggested some pretty evocative imagery to the likes of Fritz Lang…

a still from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis

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Written by LW

February 20, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid”*…

 

Last Thanksgiving, I overheard my uncles talk about how women are better off cooking, taking care of the kitchen, and fulfilling “their womanly duties.” Although I know that not all men like my uncles think that way I was surprised to learn that some still do, so I went on to imagine a parallel universe, where roles are inverted and men are given a taste of their own sexist poison…

From Eli Rezkallah, a series of fictional images, recreated from real ads in the Mad Men era, that question modern day sexism: “In a parallel universe.

* George Carlin, When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops?

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As we check our privilege, we might send path-setting birthday greetings to Kate Chopin; she was born on this date in 1850.  A writer of both short stories and novels, she was highly-regarded in her time and in the decades following her death (in 1904).  Probably best remembered today for her novel The Awakening, she is considered an important forerunner of American 20th-century feminist authors.

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Written by LW

February 8, 2018 at 1:01 am

“We shape our tools, and thereafter our tools shape us”*…

 

Bell Labs engineer Billy Klüver working on Oracle (1965), a collaboration with Robert Rauschenberg

Since it was first set-up in 1907, Bell Labs has been at the forefront of scientific invention. During its peak, work undertaken at the labs led to the invention of the laser and the transistor, the birth of information theory and the creation of C, S and C++ programming languages, which form the basis of coding today. Bell Labs has been awarded a total of eight Nobel Peace prizes and every Silicon Valley start-up or global conglomerate has mined the mythology around its unique ability to foster new ideas for clues as to how one research laboratory could consistently turn out such an array of successful technologies…

During the 1960s and 1970s… Bell Labs turned the research centre into a playground for the likes of John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg and most of New York’s Lower East Side art scene…

The extraordinary tale of EAT (Experiments in Art and Technology), engineer Billy Klüver’s attempt to “make technology more human”– at “How AT&T shaped modern art.”

Then, by way of sampling the results, check out “9 Evenings,” a 1965 project exploring avant-garde theatre, dance and new technologies. Artists John Cage, Lucinda Childs, Öyvind Fahlström, Alex Hay, Deborah Hay, Steve Paxton, Yvonne Rainer, Robert Rauschenberg, David Tudor and Robert Whitman each worked with a Bell Labs engineer to create an original performance.

(AT&T is, of course, long gone; but Bell Labs lives on as part of Nokia– and EAT continues.)

* Marshall McLuhan

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As we celebrate collaboration, we might email elegantly and creatively designed birthday greetings to Douglas Carl Engelbart; he was born on this date in 1925.  An engineer and inventor who was a computing and internet pioneer, Doug is best remembered for his seminal work on human-computer interface issues, and for “the Mother of All Demos” in 1968, at which he demonstrated for the first time the computer mouse, hypertext, networked computers, and the earliest versions of graphical user interfaces… that’s to say, computing as we know it, and all that computing enables.

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“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength”*…

 

A new report from global management consulting firm McKinsey examined 1,000 companies in 12 countries, analyzing both financial data and the gender and ethnic makeup of their workforces. Researchers found that firms with diverse executive teams posted bigger profit margins in their respective sectors than companies lacking diversity.

Ethnic diversity was more important than gender diversity, according to the study. Companies that ranked in the top 25 percent in terms of the ethnic mix of their executive boards were 33 percent more likely to be profitable than firms in the bottom 25 percent for diversity.

Women-led companies still had an advantage, however…

See why defeating discrimination to achieve diversity isn’t just an ethical issue, but also an important economic concern: “Companies with Diverse Executive Teams Are More Profitable: McKinsey.”  Read the McKinsey report here.

[See also: this.]

* Maya Angelou

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As we celebrate variety, we might send powerfully-painted birthday greetings to Alice Neel; she was born on this date in 1900.  A painter of people, landscape, and still life– and a pioneer among women artists– she is probably best remembered for her expressionistic portraits.  Indeed, Barry Walker, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, called her “one of the greatest portrait artists of the 20th century.”

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Written by LW

January 28, 2018 at 1:01 am

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