Saturday, 31 March 2018

unfold/enfold

We very much enjoyed making the acquaintance of artist and illustrator Květa Pacovská, born in Prague in 1928 where she still works and lives.
Her life-time contributions prompted the International Board on Books for Young People to honour her with the highest recognition that a children’s author or illustrator can receive—the Han Christian Andersen Award—in 1992 and Pacovská has a long list of credits (including cut-out and pop-up books, including the titular composition that was extraordinarily expandable and had other surprising elements to propel the story and the reader’s imagination well off the printed page) and educational software that she has graced with her talents. This particular series is sourced to a portfolio of work for the 1968 publication of Karlička a bílý koník (Karl and the White Horse) by Branka Jurcová, plus there are more galleries of Pacovská’s commissions at the link above

Friday, 30 March 2018

kreuzweg oder via dolorosa

Taking advantage of the fine weather, H and I rumbled about on the scenic Hochrhönstraße that’s a stretch of road that forms one of the few connections through the biosphere reserve, linking moor and mountain and on the return trip stopped in the village of Nordheim, near Fladungen.
Just outside of the village on a high hill is the Chapel of Saint Sebastian—dedicated in 1670 and then deconcentrated in 1804 with the secularization of church property by the Kingdom of Bavaria, though thankfully the chapel’s ensemble remained intact.
At the base of the hill there was a Marian Grotto (Mariengrotto, a shrine) and then the footpath up the slope was line with a series of bas relief sculptures depicting the Stations of the Cross.

The weather has been fair and there are signs of Spring (some activity we were afraid came prematurely before the last cold snaps) but it struck me that the only green on the great old trees lining the path was from mistletoe (Mistel) and I wondered if the plant that many consider just a parasite might not be more of a partner in regulating seasonal cycles.
The chapel, dedicated to saint and martyr Sebastian, featured him prominently in his most familiar iconographic form—though he survived that volley of arrows with the interdiction of Saint Irene only to be clubbed to death by Emperor Diocletian’s henchmen during the purges of the Christians for not being accommodating and succumbing to their first attack.
Everything was vibrant and expressive and one has to wonder how such visual brilliance might be the only exposure that the common person had to fuel their imagination and limn their artistic horizons in a world that was certainly not bleak or colourless but for whom art and artifice were rarer things.   It was also significantly colder inside the chapel than it was outside, for whatever reason, with our breath visible.
There’s also a shire dedicated to Saint Anthony of Padua (Hl. Antonius von Padua) who is the patron of swineherds, bakers, social-workers, mine-workers and travellers as well as who to turn to to remedy infertility, match-making and lost things plus reputed to have once preached to a school of fish. It was certainly an impressive place to discover and we cannot wait to happen upon more local treasures.



agalmatophilia

Though normally a highly sociable bird species, we learn that one handsome specimen of gannet called Nigel passed away happily at a ripe old age, surrounded by friends but sadly possibly on the cusps of something big that would have remedied what some are describing as terminal loneliness and would have certainly stripped him of his nickname of “No Mates Nigel.”  Conservationists in New Zealand wanted to reintroduce seabirds to Mana Island and in order to signal to passing flocks that it was safe to nest here (invasive species that might prey on hatchlings were removed from the island), they installed an ensemble of concrete, decoy gannets. Only Nigel alighted, however, in 2013 and became besotted with one particular stone figure which he courted (either to his great frustration or contentment—it’s hard to say) for the next five years. In February, Nigel’s body was found next to his beloved, just as more live gannets had begun to investigate the island.

kodomo no kuni

Meaning “Children’s Land,” Present & Correct introduces us to the highly visual pre-war magazine was in circulation from 1922 to 1944. Over nine thousand images from two hundred eighty issues have been carefully curated and categorised by author and subject along with links that lead towards resources for other vintage Japanese periodicals. One could lose oneself for hours browsing through these archives.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

interoperability

Despite a two-year transition period, we are uncertain what compliance will look like—either a universally more transparent internet that enshrines privacy or a more compartmentalised environment where the experience in the EU is different than outside of the EU, however this primer from the Verge is a helpful one for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that becomes enforceable on 25 May 2018 after its passage in April of 2016.
In addition to simplifying the regulatory landscape for international business transactions, the directive also aims to return control of telemetry and personal data to the natural persons from whence it came. Aside from expanded requirements that clearing-houses be faithful and accountable stewards of the data they’ve banked and meaningful terms of consent and assent, there’s an interesting portability requirement. Not only will European Union residents be able to request their on-line dossiers in full, one’s autobiography must also be easily and readily transferable between platforms, if one so chooses to migrate one’s curated histories from one social media host to another, which also works to undermine walled-gardens and fights against the hegemony of the few or one by allowing more players access to the sector.

trump l’oeil

Despite the fact that the Obama portraits were privately funded, their popular reception was enough apparently to motivate the US congress to draft legislation which Trump eagerly signed into law the Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting Act—EGO Act in short-form, that strips funding for official portraiture. Though the title specifically references oil-paint, the language of the enacted bill seems to cover all media but fails to address the rather fraught funding sources for Trump’s own past artistic commissions.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

swiss spaghetti harvest

If these pranks and hoaxes suggested by a neural network (previously) are a preview of what artificial intelligence thinks would be entertaining and appropriate for April Fools’ then I think we have legitimate reason to fear the Internet of Things. Granted, the data-set that the machine had to draw from was limited, some of the practical jokes are outright metaphysical:

Conference call two people then, when your kid asks what it is, say “Dinner.”

If you rip up a toilet paper roll, then leave them a ransom note.

Hide an alarm clock in someone’s keyboard who isn’t a very good typist.

Check out the entire list and let us know your favourites and how you might pull them off.

transumanza

The Local’s Italian edition reports that the country is seeking to add the traditional nomadic herding practise of transhumance to the UNESCO register of intangible cultural heritage—following the successful bid to have Neapolitan pizza included last December. Ultimately derived from the Latin for crossing ground, the term includes herding-customs and the season driving of flocks of livestock to greener pastures. Of course, the profession of shepherds is not exclusive to Italy but central and southern regions of the country have preserved much of the ancient networks of herding routes—referred to as tratturi, some of which are still in use.

7x7

the man in the linen suit: a look at the iconic J. Peterman catalogue and how its attire is modeled, via Coudal Partners

kingpin: in-house board games of the US Central Intelligence Agency revealed thanks to a FOIA-filing

crystalline entity: tracing down the probable origins of an usual meteorite

a show about nothing: the theme music for Seinfeld was improvised for every episode

ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny: Charles Darwin’s children drew doodles on his original manuscript for the Origin of Species, via Everlasting Blört

👏: a look into the as-seen-on-tv marketeering and technology behind the Clapper, inculcating the population to the idea of domestic automation

containment field: a web browser offers to quarantine one’s social media presence from prying third-parties, via Waxy  

legendary creatures

Miss Cellania introduces us to a Japanese yōkai, a menagerie of supernatural monsters, called Ashiarai Yashiki who manifests herself as a hoovering apparition that appears in the form of a giant dirty disembodied foot that barnstorms her way inside and will stamp about the place unless appeased by a thorough washing.  Many Japanese monster stories are so singularly odd that it is sometimes hard to distinguish the stuff of legend and folklore from modern fables.  Apparently people were content to allow the nature and motive of this unwanted guest to pass without explanation as the dealings of the gods and spirits surpassed human understanding and most likely could never be adequately related. 

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

homer, i can honestly say that was the best episode of impy & chimpy i’ve ever seen

New to the Maximum Fun network of podcasts is the show Everything’s Coming Up Simpsons with weekly panel reminiscences among hosts Allie Goertz and Julia Prescott and writers, animators, voice-artists or generally Springfield-adjacent guests talk about the favourite episodes.
It’s always a funny and literate appreciation of the culture moments and influences both on stage and behind the scenes, and I would recommend, as an introduction, first listening to a March 2016 podcast (caution: autoplay) with television writer Josh Weintein when they review The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show (which is twenty-one years old at the time of this taping), which debuted among other catch-phrases and tropes Comic Book Guy’s “Worse. Episode. Ever.”

6x6

coif: a collection of headshots of alpacas with good hair, via Everlasting Blört 

boring bricks: Elon Musk tunneling operation to sell interlocking building materials made out of excavated dirt

elevation: a documentary from architecture magazine Dezeen on how drones will change urban dwelling

whiter-than-white: chemists engineer a ultra-white non-toxic coating based on the scales of a ghostly scarab, which could make painting roofs and roads white environmentally sensible

pulp fiction: a digital archive of over eleven thousand vintage fantasy, science-fiction and true crime magazines

the fourth plinth: Iraqi-American artist Michael Rakowitz recreates the winged bull-human chimera that guarded the ancient city of Nineveh destroyed by ISIS to be showcased in Trafalgar Square, via the always brilliant Nag on the Lake

λ

Prior to 1917, it was generally accepted that the Universe was in the big picture at least in a static state, infinite in both time and space and ageless until Albert Einstein equations governing General Relativity imitated that the Universe was expanding. To preserve the appearance of an eternal Universe that would not either collapse under its own weight or keep on growing more and more rarefied forever, Einstein fiddled with his own math a bit by inserting a cosmological constant to compensate.
Designated by the Greek letter lambda (before it came to symbolise wavelength), it would counteract the attractive force of gravity to avoid a Big Crunch before the idea of a Big Bang was proposed. The paradigm shifted a decade later with the proofs of astronomer and priest (whom one would think to be partial to a static-state) from Leuven called Georges Lemaître that showed that the Universe was expanding—two years prior to Edwin Hubble’s observational evidence with the red-shift. Einstein recanted and went on to nominate Lemaître for a prestigious science prize. Father Lemaître passed away in 1966, shortly after the detection of cosmic background radiation, the afterglow of the Big Bang, which reaffirmed his conjecture that the Universe was not ageless. Elegant as they were, the mathematics formulae did not quite dispense with the fact that the Universe was not as disperse as it ought to be and another contrivance like the cosmological constant or epicycles before had to be invoked or inveigled in order to account for the rate of expansion: dark energy.

Monday, 26 March 2018

de americaensche zee-roovers

Without the contributions of a Flemish chronicler and ship’s surgeon Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin, our pirate lore and tales of swash-buckling would be rather impoverished.
Having himself enlisted as a privateer with the buccaneering Sir Henry Morgan, later reformed as the lieutenant governor of Jamaica, Exquemelin appeared on the muster rolls of several vessels operating in the Caribbean over a period of several years, with a significant hiatus before retiring around 1670 to commit his pirate biographies to paper. The Buccaneers of America includes some pretty fantastic accounts and recalls stories of the daring raids by Captain Bartholomew Sharp, the demented treatment of prisoners by Alexandre Bras-de-Fer (Iron Arms) and the infamous cannibal François Lolonois whose conceits inform our own ideas of how pirates ought to behave. The urge for embellishment and mythologizing becomes appear almost right away with subsequent printings and translations betraying a complex bibliographic history and wild tales of adventure on the high sea being inserted on the foundation of Exquemelin’s reported experience.

ideation

In order to help the public visualise the mental health crisis being silently, uncomfortably weathered in the UK with suicide being the chief cause of mortality among males (three-quarters of suicide are carried out by men) under forty-five, a broadcaster has lent the roof of its headquarters tower to make a harrowing and arresting statement. Each of these eight-four figures—the number chosen as it represents on average the number of suicides in the UK per week, and each figure is based on an individual whom we have lost to suicide and tells his story.

cracking and packing

The term for establishing a political advantage for a partisan group by manipulating the boundary delimitations of electoral precincts known as gerrymandering saw its minting originally on this day in 1812 with a political cartoon by engraver and illustrator Elkanah Tisdale run in the newspaper Boston Gazette.
The caricature of a map of the districts of South Essex of the state of Massachusetts threated by a monster, a legendary salamander of medieval bestiaries—rendering what’s known as a persuasive map—was prompted by Governor Elbridge Gerry’s decision to redraw the area’s balloting zones to tilt favour towards the controlling senatorial party, the Democratic-Republicans. The portmanteau entered common-parlance by 1848 and occasionally other political bosses earn the suffix –mander for forwarding similar agendas. Incidentally, the Federalists, who advocated for a stronger central government, won the election and Gerry and his cronies were unseated though Essex county remained under Democratic-Republican control.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

eine richtig gute laune der natur

Though perhaps not a global brand (but that status probably works to the advantage of the drink’s image and reputation), the soft-drink Bionade is certainly popular in Germany and across Europe and rather famously rebuffed efforts by one of the world’s major cola licenser’s to buy the rights to bottle it and it was first formulated and is still produced today just around the corner in Ostheim vor der Rhön.
Back in 1995, worried about the solvency of the family brewery and anticipation a trend of healthier living, the Braumeister sought to diversify by offering a non-alcoholic beverage that adhered to the German purity regulations that govern how beer is brewed and produced an organic, fermented drink which after a battery of experiments yields a bit of glucose rather than alcohol and flavoured with a secret recipe of fruit and herbal essences. Culturally, thanks in part successful marketing campaigns and product-loyalty by an identified demographic, the drink has earned the earned the cliché of Bionade-Biedermeier—sort of like Champagne-Socialist or Bourgeois-Bohemian but a gentler rebuke. Bionade comes in several varieties including Holunder (Elderberry—said to boost immune-response), Lychee, Orange-Ginger, Black Currants, Quince with Herbs and Strong.

would you mind coming with me, piglet, in case they turn out to be hostile animals

Minted in the realm scientific methodology, the literary allusion to the Woozle effect—that is, appeal to authority or evidence reinforced by frequent citation—was first used to criticise confirmation bias in research and long-term studies three decades after A. A. Milne first portrayed Winne-the-Pooh and Piglet embarking off into a snowy Hundred Acre Wood to track down the elusive Woozle. The down believe that they are bearing down on the mysterious creature, until as Christopher Robin points out to them, they are going around in circles and tracing their own footprints.
Woozle hunting or the Woozle effect occurs when a thesis or argument is premised upon an earlier reference that itself lacks scientific rigor or unverified claims and whose non-facts become the basis of urban-myth or custom. Examples of this phenomenon might be the prohibition of not wearing white shoes after Labor Day—which was just a snobbish joke that became culturally ingrained or the avoidance to leads to clumsy syntax by citing misplaced grammatical rules about not splitting infinitives (to boldly go where no man has gone before) or ending a sentence with a preposition (this is the sort of tedious nonsense up with which I will not put)—both rules made for Latin and not English since they were each grammatically impossible to do and in the case of the latter, English absolutely excels sensibly at what can be called prepositional stranding. Of course, there can also be more serious and stubborn examples of the Woozle effect in public discourse.

Saturday, 24 March 2018


우정의 다리, мост дружбы

With a working-group being appointed to explore fording a second link between Russia and North Korea to supplement the Friendship Bridge—the sole crossing built in 1959 to allow train service over the Tumen River by special arrangement only and notably since last year a fibre optic cable, Calvert Journal correspondent Tom Masters candidly shares his railway journal from Pyongyang to Vladivostok. The account makes for an interesting read and the trip is illustrated with a lot of photographs. One of the only other points of entrance and egress for the country is the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge over the Yalu River, originally spanned by the Japanese Imperial Army when it occupied north-eastern China and the Korean peninsula during WWII, which allows both trains and cars but no pedestrian traffic.

their floors are sticky-mart

I was impressed and perhaps inspired when challenged inventor and noted 1970s men’s cologne Elon Musk deleted his Facebook pages for his enterprises—offering that they were pretty lame anyway. I hope others will follow Musk’s example, but while the great and the good can just will it so, it’s harder for most to just sever ties, despite how much it might be in our best interest, and send the message to all and sundry to be better stewards (volunteered or otherwise) of our data, realising that privacy policies begin with each of us. To better appreciate and anticipate the abusive and manipulative cloying that lasts until the final signing-off (and probably well beyond) Boing Boing directs us to a step-by-step narrative and reflection of the hurdles one must negotiate in order to unburden oneself of the social media platform. Your friends will miss you!

Friday, 23 March 2018

garbage in / garbage out

Though it is quite possible that for the present that the boasts of political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica regarding the scope of its role in swaying recent elections is just that—a little immodesty and exaggeration to reinforce their relevance—and perhaps an uncalculated bit of misdirection and subterfuge from the real agents imposing dear costs on rationality and reasonableness, it would nonetheless be ill-advised to be complacent and be unready in the event that such social engineering and manipulation becomes highly effective in the future and that what information we volunteer cannot be used against us.  

μ☉

From the curated newsfeed of Damn Interesting, we learn that astronomers by reverse engineering present conditions and vectors have worked out that the Solar System was grazed by a passing red dwarf some seventy thousand years ago.
Though fifty thousand times further than the Sun is from the Earth, the flyby of Scholz’s star (named for its discoverer Ralf-Dieter Scholz of the Leibniz-Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam who also worked out the prehistoric trajectory) came within one light year’s distance and was probably visible as a dim red smudge in the night sky. The red dwarf is also suspected to be a binary system, paired with a non-luminous, invisible brown dwarf, or giant planet and those gravitational disruptions the visiting star caused will eventually—in about another million years—send a volley of comets into the inner Solar System. It’s an intriguing comfort to know that humans and Neanderthals that shared the Earth looked up and into the night and made up stories about what that red, marauding blur might be—but that mythology is only conjecture, just as how humans or other beings might interpret the omens of those future comets.

yes, I am the lorax who speaks for the trees, which you seem to be chopping as fast as you please

Via Kottke’s Quick Links, we are introduced to a Berlin-based internet search engine called Ecosia whose simple and transparent business model based on advertisement revenue (if they’re going to profile you, invade your brain and vie for your attention anyway, then let it be at least for a good cause) has so far managed to underwrite the planting of approaching twenty four million trees—with a goal of a billion more trees by 2020.
We’ve grown keenly aware  of the contribution of forests to ecological balance, biodiversity and climate stabilization but we’ve got a long way to go to make up for our thoughtless past behavior. Join the team at Ecosia on their journey to achieve this good turn for the planet.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

horatory subjunctive

Not to draw more attention to the antics of the Trump regime, but by responding to former US vice-president Biden’s retort that he’d rather beat some sense into Trump before he’d deign to debate him with raw violence decontextualized—as Biden framed his “threat” as an abstraction that if they were in high school—a liminal age when such behavioural is not excusable but allowances are to be made and lessons learnt—illustrates that the subtlety was squandered on Trump.
Not that women are damsels in distress and cannot defend themselves from such tormentors, our money’s on Joe rather than the lazy blob of fat-calloused bone-spur who believes that exercise is unhealthy as it’s an unnecessary depletion of a body’s finite amount of energy.

avant garde gothic

To honour visionary typographical founder Herb Lubalin on what would have been his hundredth birthday on Saint Patrick’s Day, as Hyperallergic expertly reports, fellow font fanciers from his alma mater are issuing a hundred day Advent calendar of sorts to showcase the artist’s various contributions, including some rejected work never published before.
Though some of his calligraphy work may appear a bit dated, Lubalin’s most enduring and pervasive gift to graphic design is probably the typeface ITC Avant Garde Gothic, which is surely familiar and everywhere we look and now we can know a bit more about the individual behind it—ITC being the International Typeface Corporation started in 1970 in New York City by Lubalin and partners and responsible for the development of many font families. Lubalin Graph, a derivative font, was created especially for the US Public Broadcasting Service to give the network a brand identity and uniform recognition for their 1974 promotional campaign and developed over the following decades.

some settings are controlled by your network administrator

Helpfully the custom-edition of Outlook for Windows 10 issued to the US government—and perhaps other discerning clients—by default will analyze one’s sent emails to ascertain frequent contacts and typical subjects and offers to upload that information for no particular reason. Though it looks like one can opt out, I suppose that that would somewhat frustrate future investigations and hamper the identification of leakers if one did.

6x6

petrograd: a guided tour of the all the Russian cities playing venues to this summer’s World Cup Games

guidon: a clever little programme that allows you to fly your own flag (try an image with transparency), via Boing Boing

best of show: a world map depicting most of the World Canine Federation’s three-hundred-fifty recognised breeds and their place of origin

outside looking in: Lithuanian design studio pays homage to Soviet style apartment façades with custom washroom tiles

shortlisted: the winners and runners-up of the eleventh Sony World Photography Awards (previously)

off-kilter: the witch-proof windows of Vermont and related architectural elements

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

curiouser and curiouser or hit or miss

Writer and logistician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll (previously), concluded his 1886 The Game of Logic—which challenged readers in an engaging way to parse out Boolean inferences and propositions by means of a table top game that the book instructed players to make—with a chapter subtitled “Thou canst not hit it, hit it, hit it,/Thou canst not hit it, my good man.” Ninety one pairings of seemingly logical premises ensue but there’s no key or solutions to be found, so one is expected to draw his or her own conclusions. Though these aphorisms might be debated at the Mad Hatter’s table, they are also quite poetic and enigmatic. Be sure to check out Futility Closet at the link above to browse the whole list and nominate your favourite.
Some oysters are silent;
No silent creatures are amusing.

No frogs write books;
Some people use ink in writing books.

His songs never last an hour;
A song, that lasts an hour, is tedious.

Some mountains are insurmountable;
All stiles can be surmounted.

All wasps are unfriendly;
No puppies are unfriendly.

All owls are satisfactory;
Some excuses are unsatisfactory.

Caterpillars are not eloquent;
Jones is eloquent.

golden thread or tanglewood tales

Named after a stately mansion whose grounds were the venue for outdoors summer concerts—a tradition in the Berkshires, a prime destination for industrialists in the Gilded Age—that the author had a view of from his humble rented cottage, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the book Tanglewood Tales for Boys and Girls as a sequel to A Wonder-Book for Girls and Boys in 1853.
The introduction to Greek mythology’s most celebrated edition was issued in 1921, accompanied with beautiful Art Nouveau illustrations by artist Virginia Frances Sterrett. This image depicts a scene from Circe’s palace—the sorceress who was the sister of Aeetes, keeper of the Golden Fleece, and aunt to the Minotaur—when Odysseus and his crew first enter to investigate, hearing Circe singing sweetly as she worked her handloom, an episode that foreshadows his eventual reunion with his faithful wife Penelope who was forever weaving and unweaving a burial shroud in anticipation of the death of her aged father-in-law Laërtes, offering that she is deferring picking from her many suitors until she is done with that task.

nur bei grün gehen

Boing Boing reports that ahead of the Fifth of May two hundredth anniversary of the birth of native son Karl Marx, the city of Trier has installed special commemorative Ampelmännchen. City officials also plan to unveil a bronze sculpture donated by the government of China on Marx’ birthday.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

boardwalk empire

Messy Nessy Chic USA correspondent Luke Spencer explores the mothballed resorts and casinos of Atlantic City, New Jersey—a city (previously) with an economy briefly revived by world-class shyster Donald J Trump, whose spelunking serves as a vital illustration of how an opportunistic, rentier business model enriches no one but the syndicate itself.

national treasure

Things Magazine directs our attention to a special exhibit that showcases the UK National Gallery’s recollection of the evacuation of its collections during World War II to an abandoned slate quarry in Snowdonia for safe-keeping. Paintings, sculpture and other artefacts were stored in the cavernous shafts of the Manod mines near the town of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales from 1941 to 1945, fulfilling Winston Churchill’s pledge that “not one picture will leave this island.”

zero-player game

Conceived in 1970, the Game of Life is a demonstration of iterative arrays from British polymath and professor John Horton Conway. Categorised as a zero-player game, human involvement or volition only takes place at the initial state, seeding the game’s grid universe, which determines how the board evolves over subsequent generations. Each grid square or cell can be either populated or unpopulated—on or off—and interacts with the eight other cells that frame it according to four basic protocols: an isolated cell perishing from underpopulation, a cell with the right amount of neighbours thrives, a cell with too many neighbours dies from overcrowding, and an unpopulated cell with a precise amount of neighbours becomes populated—as if by reproduction.
Cellular automata such as these have practical applications in encryption and security, owing the unpredictable nature of the outcome though the world and conditions can be fully known, but also produces interesting, stable algorithmic organisms that oscillate and creep across the board. Of course these creatures only evolve by analogy, sort of like how artificial intelligence is an approximation of cognition through pattern-recognition and exploitation, but is a useful tool for visualising how computational routines work and a way to comprehend how machines learn and behave in novel and unexpected ways.

Monday, 19 March 2018

eye-dropper

The Arts & Culture department of Google has an interesting, intuitive and playful experimental application to play around with called Art Palette. The colour scheme of billions of paintings and other artefacts have been analysed and users can either browse serendipitously or submit images for comparison to find complimentary compositions.

taiyō no tō

Spoon & Tamago report that after months of repairs and renovations to redress years of neglect and to bring the structure up to earthquake code, the Tower of the Sun (太陽の塔) created by abstract artist Tarō Okamoto as the symbol of Expo ’70—the first world’s fair held in Asia, has been reopened to the public after a lengthy hiatus. The tower is located just outside of Tokyo on the grounds of a purpose-built park, and the interior houses a monumental art and educational display called “The Tree of Life” (which is particularly psychedelic and mind-expanding as well) and educates visitors on evolution and ecology. Be sure to visit the link up top to find out more and arrange a visit.

noreply

Our gratitude to Kottke who rummaged up this heartening article from the archives of the Atlantic regarding a municipal project in Melbourne that had some unexpectedly touching outcomes.
The superintendent of the city’s parks and gardens assigned individual, monitored email addresses to every tree on public and private land so that residents could report potential problems—like an errant branch threatening to snap a power line.  Instead, however, Melbourne was rather overwhelmed with affectionate and appreciative correspondence from humans to their arboreal neighbours. Most of the messages were one way, but city officials took the time to answer some of the senders’ inquiries, especially when there was a teachable moment—such as explaining the concept of gender in trees. I wonder if this initiative continues, and it is also positive to note that the interconnected Internet of Things is not just potentially paternalistic and judgmental but can also elicit notice, empathy and protective instincts and elevate things above their utility.

yōshoku

Via Hyperallergic’s required reading, we discover that though overshadowed by other culinary influences presently that Portugal has played an outsized role in world gastronomy. Dishes that we consider a tradition staple of Japanese dining—fried vegetables or tempura (天ぷら)—was introduced by Portuguese traders who had a presence in Japan for about a century until being banished in 1639 for proselytizing, the ruling shogunate believing that Christianity was a threat to a stable society.
The recipe adapted from peixnhos da horta (little fish of the garden) for battered and fried green beans came to be known as tempura is etymologically tied to Christianity, being a Lenten substitute for a filling meal for those too poor to afford actual fish as a break from fasting, coming from the Latin tempora which indicated the time for abstaining. Improvising Portuguese canteen operators also whipped up a spicy, wine marinated pork dish called carne de vinha d’alhos, which in the former colonial outpost of Goa in India informed the reimport vindaloo. Be sure and visit BBC Travel at the link up top for recipes and to learn more.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

non-canon

A retrospective of the work of the artist Grant Wood, who is now accorded iconic-status for his piece American Gothic, prompts a conversation with the exhibitions curators and a cultural historian whose undertaken an extensive study of the sociological milieu that informs both painting and audience and explores how public reception of Wood has transformed from a generally negative one interpreting Wood’s statement as one of disrespect and disdain for small-town America to something that represents the nation’s deepest-held values.
The motors of this change was both the artist being forced to defend his portrayals and character- isations and a paradigm shift experienced by civil society as a whole that saw honest and hard work arguably ennobled. The exchange, however, does not limit itself to this one portrait and looks across his entire visual repertoire to glean examples of the artist’s sense of irony and playfulness. The 1939 work pictured is called “Parson Weems’ Fable” and indulges some of America’s foundation myths—but so bizarrely, it’s rather beyond interpretation with the Gilbert Stuart version of Washington’s face superimposed on a young boy Invasion of the Body-Snatchers-style and could probably use some unpacking. The title refers to the book agent whom wrote the first unauthorized biography of the president just after his death in 1799 and famously embellished his life’s history with quite a few apocryphal anecdotes. Be sure to visit the link to the whole interview from Hyperallergic at the link up top to learn more.

8x8

sprezzatura: the philosophical significance of elegnace 

westward ho: artist explores the mythos of the expanded settlement of American territory through miniature landscapes of faux furs

biopic: a look at the life and times of Patrick Wayne 

saints preserve us: let’s not make it a thing to say one’s been blessed by the algorithm

since sixt week j learn the englich and j do not any progress: admirably, whilst in exile on Saint Helena, General Napoleon endeavoured to learn the English language  

the architecture of choice: a data analyst comes forward to reveal how a strategic communications company subverts the democratic process 

rajneeshpuram: they’ve made a documentary featuring that Oregon-based utopian cult of the early 1980s 

night fever: an exhibition on five decades of discos and clubbing opens in Weil am Rhein