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Posts Tagged ‘photgraphy

“If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is reality worth?”*…

 

It is tempting to believe that we live in a time uniquely saturated with images. And indeed, the numbers are staggering: Instagrammers upload about 95 million photos and videos every day. A quarter of Americans use the app, and the vast majority of them are under 40. Because Instagram skews so much younger than Facebook or Twitter, it is where “tastemakers” and “influencers” now live online, and where their audiences spend hours each day making and absorbing visual content. But so much of what seems bleeding edge may well be old hat; the trends, behaviors, and modes of perception and living that so many op-ed columnists and TED-talk gurus attribute to smartphones and other technological advances are rooted in the much older aesthetic of the picturesque.

Wealthy eighteenth-century English travelers… used technology to mediate and pictorialize their experiences of nature just as Instagrammers today hold up their phones and deliberate over filters…

The pre-history of “influencers” and their images: “The Instagrammable Charm of the Bourgeoisie.”

* Marty Rubin

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As we watch what’s old become new again, we might recall that it was on this date in 1942 that a team of scientists led by Enrico Fermi, working inside an enormous tent on a squash court under the stands of the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field, achieved the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction… laying the foundation for the atomic bomb and later, nuclear power generation.

“…the Italian Navigator has just landed in the New World…”
– Coded telephone message confirming first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, December 2, 1942.

Illustration depicting the scene on Dec. 2, 1942 (Photo copyright of Chicago Historical Society)

source

Indeed, exactly 15 years later, on this date in 1957, the world’s first full-scale atomic electric power plant devoted exclusively to peacetime uses, the Shippingport Atomic Power Station, reached criticality; the first power was produced 16 days later, after engineers integrated the generator into the distribution grid of Duquesne Light Company.

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Written by LW

December 2, 2017 at 1:01 am

“The trouble with retirement is that you never get a day off”*…

 

A small town with a booming tourism industry, Palm Springs, California, has long served as a celebrity retreat, retirement community, golf destination, and desert oasis. Photographer Nancy Baron, who lives part-time in Palm Springs, takes us behind the classic veneer of the city’s resort glamor in The Good Life > Palm Springs, a new monograph…

To Baron, Palm Springs is one of those misunderstood neighbors. With its crystalline pools warmed by triple-digit desert heat and one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture in the country, the city–which has been a popular resort since the early 1900s– evokes a particular image that may not do its layered identity justice. “Palm Springs is a brilliant example of the American Dream;” Baron describes, “springing from nothing out of the desert sand, continually reinventing itself with hope, determination, and the belief that everyone is entitled to The Good Life.”…

Baron’s photos, of her Palm Springs friends and their homes, cars, and closets, seek to broaden our concept of the city–though it still looks pretty glamorous to us…

Read– and see– more at Shaunacy Ferro‘s “Photo Essay Of Life In Palm Springs Makes Me Want To Retire Immediately.”

* Abe Lemons

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As we cool it, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967, up the coast of California, that the Summer of Love kicked off:  the Monterey Pop Festival opened.  The Fest featured California acts– e.g., The Jefferson Airplane and The Mamas and the Papas– but is perhaps better remembered for the first major American appearances by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, and Ravi Shankar, the first large-scale public performance of Janis Joplin, and the introduction of Otis Redding to a large, predominantly white audience.  (The Beach Boys helped conceive the event, and were originally slated to headline; they pulled out as the material that became Smiley Smile wasn’t ready, and they didn’t want to do old material.  The Kinks and Donovan were also meant to appear, but could not secure visas.)  With the exception of Ravi Shankar and Country Joe and the Fish, all acts preformed for free, with all proceeds going to charity.

In fact, the first rock festival had been held just one week earlier at Mount Tamalpais, north of San Francisco: the KFRC Fantasy Fair and Magic Mountain Music Festival But because Monterey was more widely promoted and heavily attended, featured historic performances, and was the subject of a successful theatrical documentary film, it became the inspiration and template for future music festivals– including, as your correspondent can attest, the Woodstock Festival two years later.

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 Happy Bloomsday!

Written by LW

June 16, 2014 at 1:01 am

Time travel…

 

Chino Otsuka, 1980 and 2009, Nagayama, Japan

In the photo series “Imagine Finding Me,” photographer Chino Otsuka revisits her childhood by digitally inserting herself in old photos of her as a child. Otsuka likens her double self-portraits to a kind of time travel:

“The digital process becomes a tool, almost like a time machine, as I’m embarking on the journey to where I once belonged and at the same time becoming a tourist in my own history…”

Chino Otsuka, 1975 and 2005, Spain

See (and read) more at Laughing Squid and at AGO.

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As we revisit Memory Lane, we might spare a thought for Kurt Friedrich Gödel; he died on this date in 1978. Considered (with Aristotle and Frege) one of the most important logicians in history, Gödel published the work for which he is probably most widely remembered– his two incompleteness theorems— in 1931 when he was 25 years old, one year after finishing his doctorate at the University of Vienna.  He demonstrated that:

  1. If a system is consistent, it cannot be complete.
  2. The consistency of a systems axioms cannot be proven within the system.

Gödel’s theorems ended a half-century of attempts, beginning with the work of Frege and culminating in Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica and Hilbert’s formalism, to find a set of axioms sufficient for all mathematics.

As the Anschluss swept Austria, Gödel fled to the U.S., landing at Princeton, where he joined Albert Einstein at the Institute for Advanced Studies.  In 1951, as a 70th birthday present for Einstein, Gödel demonstrated the existence of paradoxical solutions to Einstein’s field equations in general relativity (they became known as the Gödel metric)– which allowed for “rotating universes” and time travel… and which caused Einstein to have doubts about his own theory.

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Written by LW

January 14, 2014 at 1:01 am

Ready… Aim…

 

In 1936, 16-year-old Ria van Dijk from Tilburg, Holland, fires a gun in a fairground shooting gallery. She hits the target, triggering a camera to take her portrait as a prize.

At the age of 88, Ria van Dijk still makes her annual pilgrimage to the Shooting Gallery.

Lens Culture

Watch Ria’s progress in Retronaut’s “Shooting Gallery, 1936-2009.”

 

As we remember to exhale, then squeeze, we might recall that it was on this date in 1519 that Moctezuma welcomed Hernando Cortez and his 650 explorers to his capital at Tenochtitlan.  The Aztec ruler, believing that Cortez could be the white-skinned deity Quetzalcoatl, whose return had been foretold for centuries, greeted the arrival of these strange visitors with courtesy– until it became clear that the Spaniards were only too human and bent on conquest.

Cortez and his men, dazzled by Aztec riches and horrified by the human sacrifice central to their religion, began systematically to plunder Tenochtitlán and to tear down the bloody temples.  Moctezuma’s warriors fought back against the Spaniards; but Cortez had thousands of Indian allies (resentful of Aztec rule), Spanish reinforcements, superior weapons and disease; he completed the conquest of the Aztecs– approximately 25 million people– late in the summer of 1521.

Moctezuma imprisoned by Cortez (source)

 

Written by LW

November 8, 2011 at 1:01 am

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