Saturday, 1 October 2022

dall·e (10. 185)

As NPR informs, there is no longer a waiting period and assigned window of time for lab use of OpenAI’s text-to-image generating software (previously here, here and here). Pictured are a few responses to prompts about the blog itself. Although the open-source, mini version was fun too, I like how this platform (registration required) curates and saves your put-it-on-the-refrigerator-door history—in all its surprise, serendipity and dread uncanniness—and reminds one of past iterations, whereas before I felt obligated to save a copy in some folder full of errata, feeling guilty I had summoned such things into existence. What computer-aided masterpieces can you dream up?

Friday, 30 September 2022

7x7 (10. 180)

ron’s house: a bid to save an immersive, eccentrically decorated apartment—via Strange Company’s Weekend Link Dump  

hermetic students of the golden dawn: an honest-to-goodness magic duel between William Butler Yeats and Aleister Crowley—via Boing Boing  

there’s a hole in my head where the rain gets in: medieval wound man, a medical diagram meant to assist surgeons of yore—see also  

it’s been zero days since the last catastrophic hurricane: more stats from Neal Agarwal (previously)  

self-paced: an AI powered language learning tool—via Web Curios  

photosculpture: a century before 3D printers, there was the rotoscoping technique M Franรงois Willรจme  

mid-management mezzanine: a tour of the S.C. Johnson Wax Headquarters building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Saturday, 24 September 2022

sub tuum praesidium (10. 163)

The veneration of the subject of art in late medieval Europe and other personalised in the form of a votive portrait—that is, when donors or patrons are included in the painting as with this work by Francisco de Zurbarรกn commissioned by a fraternity of monks, depicting a group of people sheltering under the outspread pallium of Mary, mother of Jesus (previously) is observed on this day in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Our Lady of Mercy is known as Madonna della Misericordia in Italian, Virgen de la Merced in Spanish, Notre-Dame de la Merci in French and Schutzmantelmadonna in German with various local customs.

Monday, 19 September 2022

subgenre (10. 149)

Via two of my favourite internet caretakers, Everlasting Blรถrt and Fancy Notions, we are introduced to a very niche and delightful trope in still life paintings: cats stealing food. All the posts in this thread are terrific but we were especially impressed by this work by Dutch Baroque artist Abraham Hendriksz van Beijeren (previously), a virtuoso of the category of pronkstillevens—that sumptuous portrayals of luxury goods, particularly of fish—for the cat’s obvious and feline lack of remorse. See a whole gallery at the link above.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

7x7 (10. 141)

jezero: Perseverance explores a Martian crater  

lingthusiasm: an interview with xkcd author Randall Munroe on hypothetical questions about language and orthography—via Language Log  

achievement unlocked: a radical redesign for Girl Scout badges—see also  

3½, 5¼: an interview with the last purveyor of floppy disks—via JWZ  

emoticons: more on the IPA, EPA (English Phonotypic Alphabet), Issac Pitman and other champions of spelling reform from Shady Characters  

jazz and cats: the life and surrealistic art of Gertrude Abercrombie  

earth below us: outstanding images from the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest

Thursday, 8 September 2022

6x6 (10. 117)

command authorisation code: the timing of the Artemis (previously) launch hinges in part due to its self-destruct system  

best in show: an painting generated by an algorithm won first prize in a competition at a state fair, prompting philosophical questions  

greenday moment: instead of tearing down those out of the loop, bring them up to speed  

cauldron computing: researchers propose liquid crystal machine whose calculations move like ripples through water 

$ape: two American states introduce legislation to tax NFTs  

speculoos: researchers at the University of Liรจge discover (see previously) discover two Super-Earths

Saturday, 27 August 2022

pandora’s box (10. 090)

Finally getting some lab time with Open AI (previously), Andy Baio of Waxy shares some of his first impression as he came to the realisation that the apparent virtuosity isn’t just a parlour trick but the unnerving, new uncanniness that comes with the wholesale laundering of the canon of human illustration and creativity—a genie that cannot be put back in the bottle. In addition to the ease of conjuring up any number libellous scenarios and the fraught, inadequate legal framework to address intellectual rights and licensing disputes. Though perhaps not the embodiment of the quandary and more of the magic remixing that make the platform so compelling and conflicted, but we were quite taken with the response to these prompts of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and Pizza Hut and the highly specific, not disappointing “two slugs in wedding attire getting married, stunning editorial photo for bridal magazine shot at golden hour.”  See a whole gallery of images at Waxy at the link up top.

Saturday, 20 August 2022

erlebnis bergwerk (10. 073)

Decommissioned since 1993 but revitalised since as a living museum and working mine and venue, I had a chance to visit with H’s father the salt and potash (Kalisalz, used as an important agricultural fertiliser) extraction operation near the village of Merkers on the Werra river not far from Bad Salzungen.  

 Aside from the long history of mining and a comprehensive lesson on the enterprise and geology that bores under the Rhรถn mountains, the location is also the hiding spot for hundreds of tonnes of gold, silver and paper currency (amounting to around eighty percent of the holdings of the Reichsbank at the end of the war) and many priceless works of art looted by the Nazis, discovered per chance by the advancing United States army (tipped off by slave labour transporting treasures to the mine) who then worked quickly to clear it out of Soviet occupied territory before the borders were demarcated.

After being lowered in safety gear—like actual miners beginning their shift—in a hoisting cage that descended into the dark, and driven in flatbed transports from five to eight hundred metres below the surface through a network of tunnels that covers an area the size of Munich. 








Though the vehicles were only taking the dips, curves and ascents at under twenty kilometres an hour, the darkness, wind and narrowness of the shaft made it seem much faster, like a roller coaster ride stretched out for some two hours, with intermissions, lastly in the above Goldraum, a pair of excavated former bunkers that now serve as a machine exhibit, theatre and a concert hall with uncommonly good acoustics and unique crystal grotto with accompanying bar for refreshments—the deepest in the world.  

It was definitely worth the visit and would drag H along next time.
 

Thursday, 4 August 2022

7x7 (10. 037)

@artbutsports: juxtaposing scenes from professional sports with classical painting  

nearly right: an intriguing Chinese language t-shirt circulating on social media  

sommelier: a Rube Goldbergesque contraption that we would be far too impatient for  

flying down to rio: a profile of movie star Lolita Dolores Martรญnez Asunsolo Lรณpez Negrette 

requiescat in pace: an obituary of antipope Michael, who believed that there had been no legitimate pontiff since Vatican II  

wikenigma: compiling a compendium of unknowns—via Pasa Bon!  

pop cars: visit an exhibit of Andy Warhol’s colourful automobiles alongside the classic models that inspired them

Friday, 8 July 2022

jellygummies

Another peripatetic, internet caretaker friend, Swiss Miss, directs us to the uncanny portfolio of 3D animation artist Sam Lyon based in Blairgowrie, Scotland whose clients include MTV and Adult Swim in the form of idents and bumpers.

Thursday, 7 July 2022

campi phlegraei

Envoy Extraordinary to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies based in Naples, diplomat, antiquarian and keen vulcanologist William Hamilton spent the majority of his consular career (spanning from 1764 until 1800) in the shadows of Mount Etna and Mount Vesuvius and witnessed multiple eruptions, engaging illustrator Pietro Fabris to bring to life his recorded observations of this Field of Fire. Hamilton was also a noted collector of vases and one Roman glass piece acquired from the Barberini family and during a leave of absence in 1884 sold to the Duchess of Portland was an exquisite example of cameo work—inspiring Josiah Wedgwood’s jasperware.  Much more at Public Domain Review at the link up top.

Thursday, 30 June 2022

a quinquennial contemporary art exhibition

Curated and organized under the supervision of art director Harald Szeemann, the fifth edition of documenta (see previously), opening on this day and running through October (a hundred days) in Kassel, West Germany, with the theme of “Questioning Reality—Pictorial Worlds of Today” (Befragung der Realitรคt – Bildwelten heute) established the exhibition’s reputation as the most important, post war modern art show and set the model for future biennials. Wanting to liberate art and artefact from the museum setting, it strove to recontextualise work in politically critical and the provocative milieu that inspired them. documenta 5 also showcased Fluxus and happening art, which had not yet appeared by the last iteration. In all, there were over two hundred thousand visitors and dozens of participating artists and collectives including Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Adolf Wรถlfli, Marcel Duchamp and Yoko Ono.

Tuesday, 28 June 2022

8x8

cutting-corners: skimpflation and other consumer caveats   

section 30 order: Holyrood to hold second independence referendum in October  

edutainment: a new volume on poet Emily Dickinson concludes with a Math Blaster style game from LitHub  

wade in u.s.a.: protest is the court of last resort  

white rabbits: an unsung group of women sculptors employed during the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893—via Messy Nessy Chic  

adobe flash: watch a time-lapse of a luxury villa with pool built out of mud and bamboo via Everlasting Blรถrt  

allons-y alonzo: assonances, alliterations and vowel harmonisation in French and other languages

coffee siren: the origins of the ubiquitous cafรฉ mascot (see also here and here)

Saturday, 25 June 2022

8x8

morning chorus: a suspended hotel suite in Sรกpmi cladded with three-hundred fifty birdhouses 

meanwhile margaret atwood says hold my beer: teach and student, Aldous Huxley and George Orwell, spar over which dystopian vision is more plausible  

don’t say g*y: Disney introduces its first openly closeted cast of characters  

makeup and monobrow: a quick survey of the female eyebrow in art 

border and backsplash: the mosaic tile museum of Gifu—over ten-thousands exemplars, many rescued from buildings slated for demolition 

i had hoped that god would work one of his signature miracles and spare me from is also signature “horrible pain in childbirth” curse: the Virgin Mary reclaims her nativity narrative  

stonk-and-go: the US Securities and Exchange Commission weighs sweeping change to curtail meme-driven trades  

a doghouse for eddie: charmingly, Frank Lloyd Wright (previously) builds a home for a canine and his human companion

Tuesday, 14 June 2022

7x7

exascale: the world’s super computer might be surpassing benchmarks in secret  

hub and spoke: a suite of interactive maps that lets one scour the globe with creeping data spiders  


viral nightmares: more trials of an AI text to image generator  

witkar: a ride-sharing demonstration projection that ran from 1974 to 1986 in Amsterdam  

the firth of forth: some of the world’s best bridges for driving  

whiskey war: the fifty yearlong territorial dispute between Canada and Denmark over Hans Island has been settled  

zeroth law: an AI ethicist believes Google’s LaMDA has attained sentience

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

magic eye

Whilst the illusory depth-effect will vary for the beholder and can wax and wane with different strategies, the aberration in colour perception called chromo-stereopsis seems to be caused by the gradient of diffraction caused by the different wavelengths between red and blue which cause the light rays to converge on the eyes sooner does register as proudly strange insofar as it mimics the effect with 3D movies but without the need for separate, polarised images. The same principle is often seen in stained glass windows that take advantage of the same levels of contrast a visual cue to discover size and distance. Much more from Tom Stafford at Mind Hacks at the up top.

Friday, 20 May 2022

6x6

from juno to jupiter: famed composer who championed the synthesizer Vangelis passed away, aged 79  

of angel and puppet: an exploration of innocence through the finger puppets of Paul Klee—see previously

the pรบca of ennistymon: a sculpture of a mythological chimera almost gets cancelled  

fern gully: spelunkers in China discover a massive ancient forest in a sinkhole  

capable of completing the kessel run in less than twelve parsecs: the Millennium Falcon was the last ship build at the Royal Pembroke Dockyard  

v’ger: Voyager 1 beaming back usual telemetry to mission control—via Boing Boing

Thursday, 19 May 2022

assunta

Dedicated and presented to the public for the first time on this day in 1518, the larger-than-life altarpiece by Renaissance artist Tiziano Vecellio (known mononymically in English as Titian) created for the Venetian Basilica of Santa Maria Gloriosa dei Frari established the master as leading painter on par with contemporaries Michelangelo and Raphael (coming to be called “The Sun amidst small stars,” after the last line of Paradiso). This aspect of Marian theology, that the Virgin Mother was taken up into Heaven, was counted among various albeit popular adiaphora in the sixteenth century and not made an article of faith until 1950 and still unsettled whether she was raptured while still alive or assumed after a normal death—a difference of opinion that the artist acknowledges with a barely visible stone sarcophagus at the base of the image that allows parishioners to take it or leave it. Though bold and potentially scandalous for its departure from the conventional artwork of Venice, the work was ultimately well-received and earned him further commissions for the Doge. Though unplanned and a result of the chaos of the plague which killed him, Titian was interred in the same church in 1576, aged eighty-eight.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

salon des refusรฉs

A counter-exhibition with the official sanction of Napoleon III despite his traditional tastes in the arts opened on this day in the Palace of Industry in 1863 with a gallery of the rejected submissions received by the Paris Salon of the Acadรฉmie des Beaux-Arts, relenting to pressure by spurned painters and the public alike, who were finding the acceptance process increasingly fraught and favouring conservatism. Those showing the alternate exposition included many now-famous works by ร‰douard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Johan Jongkind and James McNeill Whistler.

Tuesday, 3 May 2022

el tres de mayo de 1808 en madrid

Considered by many to represent the first modern work of art for its departure from convention stylistically and in its message, the 1814 commission for the provisional government of Spain by Francisco Goya, The Third of May, depicts and commemorates resistance to the forces of Napoleon during the occupation and Peninsular War over access to the Mediterranean—the French garrisons originally invited under the pretence of jointly conquering and dividing Spain and award the Spanish prime minister the principality of the Algarve and not realising the ruse until it was too late. Picturing in media res the suppression of the junta uprising against the soldiers of the First French Empire, the rebels and their ranks facing the firing squad on Prรญncipe Pรญo hill portrays war as bleak and unheroic—in vast contrast to the usual posed compositions of charging victory and unflagging patriotism—and inspired Pablo Picasso’s Guernica and Massacre in Korea among other revolutionary and edifying works of art.