Posts Tagged ‘photography’
Decode the pictures above– and experience synesthesia– at “This Is What Musical Notes Actually Look Like.”
* Leopold Stokowski
As we move to the music of the spheres, we might send tuneful birthday greetings to Louis Armstrong; he was born on this date in 1901. A trumpeter, composer, singer (and occasional actor), he was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance, and helping to pioneer scat singing. Nicknamed Satchmo or Pops, he has 11 records in the Grammy Hall of Fame.
Johnny Miller was just starting out as a photographer in Seattle in 2011 when he won a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship that took him to Cape Town, South Africa—a country that, like his own, has a long history of institutional racism and segregation.
After learning more and more about the history of apartheid in academic settings and encountering its legacy on Cape Town’s streets, Miller decided to engage with the topic in a fresh way: by using a drone to photograph birds-eye views of South African cities and suburbs. The resulting series, called “Unequal Scenes,” shows just how drastically different the urban experience is depending on what side of the color line you are on today, more than 20 years after the end of apartheid…
More photos, and an interview with Miller, at “Apartheid’s Urban Legacy, in Striking Aerial Photographs.”
* Sonia Sotomayor
As we Cry, The Beloved Country, we might send beautifully-composed birthday greetings to James Van Der Zee; he was born on this date in 1886. A leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance, he was a photographer whose subjects included the famous (Marcus Garvey, Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, Countee Cullen, and the artist below), but whose full body of work is probably the most comprehensive pictorial documentation of the full range of life in the period.
“If there really is such a thing as turning in one’s grave, Shakespeare must get a lot of exercise”*…
Your correspondent is off on a whistle tour of the Midwest. While altogether auspicious, it packs what may be too many stops into too few days… Thus, regular service will likely be interrupted until late this month… See you all again as Independence Day approaches. Meantime, something to keep you amusedly occupied…
A newly redesigned website from Emory University, Shakespeare & the Players, displays a collection of nearly a thousand photo postcards of actors depicting Shakespearean characters on stage, in the late -19th and early-20th centuries. The site is browsable by actor, character, and play.
In the 19th century, scholar Lawrence W. Levine writes, many Americans, even if illiterate, knew and loved Shakespeare’s plays; they were the source material for endless parodies, skits, and songs on the American stage… in the first half of the 19th century, theater “played the role that movies played in the first half of the twentieth … a kaleidoscopic, democratic institution presenting a widely varying bill of fare to all classes and socioeconomic groups.”…
Those who only know the postcards of today can scarcely be expected to appreciate what they meant to people sixty or more years ago. Many of us seldom think of buying a picture postcard, except as a matter of convenience; but during the quarter of a century that preceded the Great War in 1914, it would have been hard to find anyone who did not buy postcards from genuine pleasure…
* George Orwell
As we bark the Bard, we might recall that it was on this ate in 1910 that Florenz Ziegfeld, in a blow against racial prejudice, opened the Ziegfeld Follies of 1910, with actor Bert Williams as co-star, marking the first time white and black entertainers appeared on stage together in a major Broadway production. Williams was one of the pre-eminent entertainers of the Vaudeville era and one of the most popular comedians for all audiences of his time. He was by far the best-selling black recording artist before 1920. In 1918, the New York Dramatic Mirror called him “one of the great comedians of the world.” Fellow vaudevillian W.C. Fields, who appeared in productions with Williams, described him as “the funniest man I ever saw – and the saddest man I ever knew.”
In the spirit of our earlier examination of Knolling (“To Knoll It Is To Love It…“)…
… from Austin Radcliffe…
As we get things lined up, we might spare a thought for for an enemy of ordered neatness (at least, of the complacent intellectual kind), Thomas Samuel Kuhn; he died on this date in 1996. A physicist, historian, and philosopher of science , Kuhn believed that scientific knowledge didn’t advance in a linear, continuous way, but via periodic “paradigm shifts.” Karl Popper had approached the same territory in his development of the principle of “falsification” (to paraphrase, a theory isn’t false until it’s proven true; it’s true until it’s proven false). But while Popper worked as a logician, Kuhn worked as a historian. His 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions made his case; and while he had– and has— his detractors, Kuhn’s work has been deeply influential in both academic and popular circles (indeed, the phrase “paradigm shift” has become an English-language staple).
How old are the fields of robotics and artificial intelligence? Many might trace their origins to the mid-twentieth century, and the work of people such as Alan Turing, who wrote about the possibility of machine intelligence in the ‘40s and ‘50s, or the MIT engineer Norbert Wiener, a founder of cybernetics. But these fields have prehistories — traditions of machines that imitate living and intelligent processes — stretching back centuries and, depending how you count, even millennia…
Defecating ducks [see here], talking busts, and mechanized Christs — Jessica Riskin on the wonderful history of automata, machines built to mimic the processes of intelligent life: “Frolicsome Engines: The Long Prehistory of Artificial Intelligence.”
* David Mitchell,
As we take the Turing Test, we might spare a thought for Eadweard Muybridge; he died on this date in 1904. Best remembered now for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion (created for former California Governor Leland Stanford to help settle a bet), and early work in motion-picture projection, he was famous in his own day for his large photographs of Yosemite Valley. The approaches he developed for the study of motion are at the heart of both animation and computer analysis today.
“To face the sunlight again, that’s clearly trouble. I like the city better when the neon lights are going”*…
Like scenes from a modern noir film, Frank Bohbot’s images of New York City conjure up allure and heartbreak. The Paris-born photographer spent 18 months capturing nighttime scenes across Manhattan and Brooklyn, and has compiled them into a project dubbed Light On.
Bohbot’s work is first and foremost a study in signage, and features many instantly-recognizable storefronts including Katz’s Deli and the Sunshine Cinema, but pay attention to each frame’s shadows and open space. Light On isn’t just focused with dazzling neon—it’s also a study of snowstorms, puddles, fire escapes, and, occasionally, people. It’s as if you gave William Eggleston an unlimited Metrocard and forced him to stay up all night.
There are jazz clubs, delis, porn shops, theaters, and a wide variety of bars featured in his photographs, each captured after the sun has gone down and only moody, unnatural light remains…
* Charles Bukowski,
As we refuse to go gentle into that good night, we might recall that it was on this date in 1891 that Carnegie Hall was officially opened. First know simply as “Music Hall,” it was formally named for it’s funder, Andrew Carnegie, in 1893.
Q: How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
A: Practice, practice practice…
Good news: the University of Southern California just digitized 1,300 architectural photographs dating from the midcentury. It’s an eye-candy jackpot for design history buffs—and what I’d imagine an architecturally inclined Instagram feed from the 1950s and 1960s would look like.
Captured by famed Case Study architect Pierre Koenig and Fritz Block, the owner of a color slide company, the photographs show buildings by the likes of Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, Albert Frey, and John Lautner, among others…
* Frank Lloyd Wright
As we wax nostalgic, we might spare a thought for William Burges; he died on this date in 1881. Among the greatest of the Victorian art-architects, his work in the tradition of the Gothic Revival was a reaction to the industrialization of England, echoing those of the Pre-Raphaelites and heralding those of the Arts and Crafts movement. Working with a long-standing team of craftsmen, he built churches, a cathedral, a warehouse, a university, a school, houses and castles, perhaps most notably, Cardiff Castle.