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Posts Tagged ‘Hogarth

“The city, however, does not tell its past, but contains it like the lines of a hand”*…

 

city

As transportation got faster, cities got bigger: The borders of Ancient Rome, Medieval Paris, Victorian London, early 20th century Chicago, and modern-day Atlanta

 

In 1994, Cesare Marchetti, an Italian physicist, described an idea that has come to be known as the Marchetti Constant. In general, he declared, people have always been willing to commute for about a half-hour, one way, from their homes each day.

This principle has profound implications for urban life. The value of land is governed by its accessibility—which is to say, by the reasonable speed of transport to reach it.

Even if there is a vast amount of land available in the country, that land has no value in an urban context, unless transportation makes it quickly accessible to the urban core. And that pattern has repeated itself, again and again, as new mobility modes have appeared. This means that the physical size of cities is a function of the speed of the transportation technologies that are available. And, as speed increases, cities can occupy more land, bringing down the price of land, and therefore of housing, in newly accessed territory.

Modern Atlanta may bear little resemblance to the cities of past millennia, but its current residents share something fundamental with urbanites of the distant past: The average one-way commute time in American metropolitan areas today is about 26 minutes. That figure varies from city to city, and from person to person: Some places have significant numbers of workers who enjoy or endure particularly short or long commutes; some people are willing to travel for much longer than 30 minutes. But the endurance of the Marchetti Constant has profound implications for urban life. It means that the average speed of our transportation technologies does more than anything to shape the physical structure of our cities…

From ancient Rome to modern Atlanta, the shape of cities has been defined by the technologies that allow commuters to get to work in about 30 minutes: “The One Weird Rule That Explains Urban Sprawl.”

* Italo Calvino

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As we whistle “Heigh Ho,” we might recall that in Britain on this date in 1752 absolutely nothing happened.  There was no “September 3” (nor September 4-13) in Britain that year, as 1752 was the year that Britain converted from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which required an adjustment of 11 days.  Thus, that year British calendars went from Wednesday, September 2 directly to Thursday, September 14.

Most historians believe that persistent stories of riots in England at the time, demanding “give us our eleven days,” are an urban legend, fueled in part by an over-enthusiastic take on Hogarth’s 1755 painting “An Election Entertainment”:

source

 

Written by LW

September 3, 2019 at 1:01 am

“What’s in a name?”*…

 

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Familiar to many will be that exasperating feeling that arises when accused of being that very thing you pride yourself on not being. It’s a feeling the English artist William Hogarth evidently felt acutely when critics derided him for being a mere “caricature” artist. So moved was he by this ongoing slight, that he produced this 1743 print explaining the difference between characters and caricatures — which Hogarth saw as radically different — and demonstrating his style as being firmly aligned with the former. For Hogarth the comic character face, with its subtle exploration of an individual’s human nature, was vastly superior to the gross formal exaggerations of the grotesque caricature…

More on Hogarth’s defense of his self-perception at “Characters and Caricaturas.”

* Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet

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As we lament labels, we might recall that it was on this date in 1972 that Vesna Vulović entered the Guinness Book of Records.  A stewardess for JAT Airlines, she survived a fall of 33,330 ft. when (what is believed to have been) a briefcase bomb exploded on her flight, and she was sucked through the resulting hole i the fuselage.  She was the sole survivor of the incident.

220px-vesna_vulovic source

 

 

Written by LW

January 26, 2019 at 1:01 am

A trick of perspective…

 

William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a British  painter, printmaker, pictorial satirist, social critic, and editorial cartoonist sometimes credited with beginning the tradition of sequential art in Western culture (by virtue of his series of paintings depicting the rise and fall of a dandy, A Rake’s Progress).

Two centuries before M.C. Escher and his play on perspective, Hogarth created Satire on False Perspective. Subtitled, “Whoever makes a DESIGN without the Knowledge of PERSPECTIVE will be liable to such Absurdities as are shown in this Frontifpiece,”  there are in fact quite a few absurdities buried within it.  Click here for a larger version of Satire, and see how many you can spot…

Hogarth provided no key, but Wikipedia has accumulated a list of (so far) 22.  To get you started:  notice that the tavern sign is overlapped by two distant trees.

[TotH to Scientific Americanfrom whence the image above]

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As we train our eyes on the vanishing point, we might spare a thought for Aphra Behn; she died on this date in 1689.  A monarchist and a Tory, young Aphra was recruited to spy for King Charles II; she infiltrated Dutch and expatriate English cabals in Antwerp during the Second Anglo-Dutch War.  But on her return to London, George II turned out to be a stiff; despite her entreaties, the King never paid her for her services. Penniless, Aphra turned to writing, working first as a scribe for the King’s Company (the leading acting company of the time), then as a dramatist in her own right (often using her spy code-name, Astrea, as a pen name).  She became one of the most prolific playwrights of the Restoration, one of the first people in England to earn a living writing– and the first woman to pay her way with her pen.  She was buried in Westminster Abbey, where the inscription on her tombstone reads, “Here lies a Proof that Wit can never be / Defence enough against Mortality.

 source

 

 

Written by LW

April 16, 2013 at 1:01 am

Some craven scruple of thinking too precisely on th’ event*…

Readers will know that your correspondent is a fan of infographics (c.f., e.g., “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,”Victorian Visualization,” and “I See“).  Today’s featured visualization is one that raises as many questions as it answers– but one that merits attention, if for no other reason, for its beautiful weirdness.

Stephan Thiel at the Interface Design program of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam acted on an unquestionably noble impulse:

…to introduce a new form of reading drama to help understand Shakespeare’s works in new and insightful ways and to address our changed habits of consuming narrative works and knowledge through the capabilities of information visualization.

As a result, and based on data from the WordHoard project of the Northwestern University, an application of computational tools was explored in order to extract and visualize the information found within the text and to reveal its underlying narrative algorithm. The five approaches presented here are the first step towards a discussion of this potentially new form of reading in an attempt to regain interest in the literary and cultural heritage of Shakespeare’s works among a general audience.

The resulting images, captured at Understanding Shakespeare, may or may not help– but they are absolutely fascinating.

Consider one of Stephan’s five approaches, “Visualizing the Dramatic Structure”

The goal of this approach was to provide an overview of the entire play by showing its text through a collection of the most frequently used words for each character. A scene is represented by a block of text and scaled relatively according to its number of words. Characters are ordered by appearance from left to right throughout the play. The major character’s speeches are highlighted to illustrate their amounts of spoken words as compared to the rest of the play.

The Taming of the Shrew (click on image or here to enlarge)

Explore other plays in this way, or check out the other four approaches at Understanding Shakespeare.

* Hamlet, Act 4, scene 4, 40-41


As we reach for our facsimile First Folios,
we might recall that in Britain on this date in 1752 absolutely nothing happened.  There was no “September 3” (nor September 4-13) in Britain that year, as 1752 was the year that Britain converted from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which required an adjustment of 11 days.  Thus, that year British calendars went from Wednesday, September 2 directly to Thursday, September 14.

Most historians believe that persistent stories of riots in England at the time, demanding “give us our eleven days,” are an urban legend, fueled in part by an over-enthusiastic take on Hogarth’s 1755 painting “An Election Entertainment”:

source

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