Tuesday 28 November 2023

the battle of versailles (11. 145)

Similar to the surprise coup of this other culture rafinรฉe, high stakes challenge from earlier in the same year, the historic fashion show held on this day in 1973 at the famous venue in order to raise funds for its restoration. Organised by the museum and government forum’s curator, the event pitted French designers, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Carin, Marc Bolen and others against Americans Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston and Oscar de la Renta before an invited audience that consisted of artists and celebrities like Andy Warhol, Princess Grace, Marie-Hรฉlรจne de Rothschild, Jane Birkin, Liza Minnelli and Josรฉphine Baker (the last two performing for their respective sides). The show was legendary (more here) and the mostly French spectators were stunned with the American designs and models, a new benchmark set for representation with eleven Black women on the catwalk and shifting the industry in a way that brought respect and legitimacy for the US contribution and the palace which had seen better days was rebuilt.


one year ago: Christopher Isherwood’s I am a Camera plus Word of the Year: Gaslight

two years ago: the duet from Dirty DancingAdvent season plus some COVID comic-relief

three years ago: your daily demon: Furcas, Trump at the kiddie-table, assorted links to revisit plus the Great Bed of Ware

four years ago: a visit to a local museum plus a Thanksgiving pageant

five years ago: barely maps plus a proposed change to the UN Security Council

Thursday 2 November 2023

tintype (11. 090)

Via Waxy, we are directed to a trove of some four thousand glass plate negatives salvaged from the trash back in 2019 and developed by documentary photographer and preservationist Terri Cappucci based in western Massachusetts. The collection, destined to be thrown away, captures local history and provides a snap-shot of New England spanning from the 1860s to the 1930s. A lot of the portraiture includes exquisite and sharp details on styles and fashions from over the decades and illustrate changes in living and the land. The state university in Amherst has acquired the archive and is in the process of curation. 


one year ago: the Morris Worm (1988), Simpsons Albums plus in praise of phrase books

two years ago: a treasury of neologisms,  US president Warren G Harding plus an art storage facility opens its doors to the public

three years ago: your daily demon: Vine, a board game about the US electoral college, the first BBC high-definition television broadcast (1936) plus Hartfield’s Landing revisited

four years ago: Party Like It’s 1999, a historic bar in Singapore plus more shadow puppets

five years ago: artist Piet Mondrian, assorted links to revisit plus more on the first residents of the International Space Station

Friday 27 October 2023

outsider art (11. 077)

Via the latest instalment of Clive Thompson’s Linkfest, we are directed to the story and gallery showing of

a reclusive, retired maths teacher who created a prodigious amount of wooden crafts and abstract paintings in complete solitude and almost complete secrecy over the final two decades of his life. Only divulged to his niece who had some notion of his artistic drive, Robert Martiensen’s full oeuvre was realised upon his death in 2007, surrounded in the family farmhouse by over seven thousand pieces of art, each meticulously named, dated and numbered. Dismissed by his heirs as rubbish, the unexpected trove was saved and conserved, with select pieces on exhibit and hopes to house the collection permanently in a public institution. More at the links above.

one year ago: another MST3K classic plus further adventures in Crete
two years ago: Antarctic outposts plus a funicular escalator to revitalise a historic resort

three years ago: an experimental solar sail, artist Mary Moser, a smart safety helmet plus a commemorative camera styled after Bond’s Q

four years ago: toying with time

five years ago: a counter-march in Wiesbaden, AI Halloween costume ideas plus Yoko Ono’s Warzone

Wednesday 25 October 2023

8x8 (11. 074)

hilma af: a planned towering gallery for the Swedish artist realised as a virtual reality experience  

papercraft: gorgeous moderne four palette architectural models to make 

the book of hallowe’en: a 1919 illustrated, syncretic study of the appropriated holiday in the spirit of the Golden Bough  

swarm charms: a go-to guide of medieval bee spells 

trainspotting: an omnibus post on avoiding rail collisions including a nineteen century timetable still in use 

reconstruction: the sounds of ancient languages—see also 

the logo is formed from minifig hands: the new LEGO Dune playset  

flow-chart: a study on the abandoned shopping-carts of America  

you may touch the artefacts: a gallery of early internet relics from Neal Agarwal—see previously


one year ago:  further adventures in Crete

two years ago: the US Invasion of Granada (1971)

three years ago: a hexadecagonal country retreat, SS Crispin and Crispinian plus pandemic gods and heroes

four years ago: a lyrical headline (1924), a video game atlas plus the world’s first erotic boutique proprietress 

five years ago: The Master Key of Futurity, virtual restaurants and ghost kitchens plus programming a more ethical Pac Man

Wednesday 27 September 2023

9x9 (11. 028)

space lab: a 1992 futuristic glass room with modular rooms that can be rearranged along its spine  

overburdened, overscheduled: the anti-homework movement is picking up momentum—found especially resounding the editorial comment: as a blogger I’m still doing homework  

star the glaze: an 1860 dictionary of contemporary English slang, cant and vulgarities—with a gloss of two secret argots  

memorandum of agreement: the contents of the Writer’s Guild of America’s draft deal with the studio seems like a decisive victory and a Hollywood ending

i am worth billions more than my very conservatively stated financial statements, and therefore could not have defrauded the banks, who all made money & were all: a New York judge rules that Trump exaggerated his worth in order to secure more financing  

felt a bit violated, really: a viral account using facial recognition is doxxing random individuals to the amusement of viewers—via the new shelton wet/dry  

drank the kool-aid: Big Tobacco’s legacy comfort foods 

 do you have information about permanent people: more questions pulled from the New York Public Library system reference desk—see previously 

vertical villages: unbuilt utopian hi-rise communities—via Messy Nessy Chic


one year ago: for the Queen to use, the Discovery of the True Cross, Marimekko Oyj plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: France’s TGV goes into service (1981) plus a change in UK license plates post Brexit

three years ago: Art Povera, pet diplomacy plus Trump’s latest nominee to the US Supreme Court

four years ago: the flag of China plus US-Germany relations

five years ago: more links to enjoy plus the economics principle of chartalism

Tuesday 26 September 2023

tarotic art (11. 025)

We appreciated this introduction to surrealist painter and social justice activist Leonora Carrington through her esoteric series inspired and informed by the iconography of the Major Arcana, whose symbolism is reflected everyone when one is ready for it. First exposed to the movement in the works of Max Ernst at the International Surrealist Exhibition, both artists later met, bonded and married, collaborating on projects and supporting one another’s work. Having settled outside of Paris, French authorities arrested the German Ernst with the outbreak of World War II as a “hostile alien.” Remanded to Germany, Ernst was taken into custody again by the Gestapo as a promoter of degenerate art. Dealt quite a hand and inconsolable over the detention of her husband (Ernst later was able to escape and flee to the US with the help of Peggy Guggenheim) and on the verge of a psychotic breakdown, Carrington agreed to a course of treatment in an asylum in Spain and underwent a regiment of electroshock therapy and powerful drugs. Carrington’s parents decided to then send her to a sanatorium in South Africa for continued care. Escaping en route in Portugal, Carrington sought refuge at the Mexican consulate and arranged a marriage-of-convenience to the ambassador so as to be liberated from the custody of her family and given the diplomatic immunity to travel. Ernst married Guggenheim, with Carrington joining a community of exiles in Mexico, where she was also a champion of women’s rights. Carrington’s body of work reflects Mesoamerican folkways and matriarchal traditions that whose points of departure limn her own biography. More from Hyperallergic at the link up top.

Wednesday 30 August 2023

)|( (10. 971)

Via Hyperallergic, we are introduced to the art of Victor Ekpuk through an exhibit revealing social injustice through a patteran of secret symbols developed by the Ekpe of southeastern Nigeria called Nsibidi (see previously). As a contributor to the state-run press under the dictatorship of General Ibrahim Babangida in the 90s, Ekpuk developed his practise, along with satire and allegory, in defiance of increasing government censorship to call attention to corruption and inequality. More to explore at the links above.


one year ago: the Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, Britain’s Manhattan Project plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: a collection of news music, more links to enjoy, Hey Jude (1968) plus a headline grabbing spectacle from 1871

three years ago: the Washington-Moscow hotline (1963) plus suburban, subterranean fantasy worlds

five years ago: more links worth revisiting,  Everybody Dance Now, plus a Rex Factor-style podcast on the lives of the popes

six years ago: kudzu farming

Tuesday 29 August 2023

7x7 (10. 970)

pagerank: Google has lost the quarter-century battle over overindexing versus useful search results—via Waxy  

1 346 000/km²: a tour of what was once the most densely populated area in the world, a largely ungoverned Chinese exclave within the territory of Hong Kong—see previously here and here  

corner suite: a visit to a unique corporate headquarters in Czechia with an office in an elevator—see previously 

lunar codex: an archive and time capsule of human creativity launched to the Moon—see also  

motor overflow: sticking out our tongues during complicated manual tasks reveal truths about our brains’ connections—via Damn Interesting  

gone to pasture: an abandoned luxury development in China overtaken by farmers and livestock—via Messy Nessy Chic

cryogenics: Wordpress offers to archive one’s digital estate for a century


one year ago: another MST3K classic plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the chemical element meitnerium, the founding of Greenland, white-winged doves and saguaro cactuses plus introducing Nirvana (1991) 

three years ago: mystic Manly Palmer Hall, Wuppertal’s Schwebebahn, inventor Otis Frank Boykin, liturgical cheese plus Netflix (1997)

five years ago: Trump lashes out against perceived social media bias against him plus Keith Houston on the history of emoji

Thursday 15 June 2023

danaรซ (10. 809)

Seriously damaged during an act of vandalism on this day in 1985 in its home at the Hermitage in St Petersburg but fully brought back after over a decade of careful restoration, the work by Rembrandt (previously) features a life-sized depiction of the mother of Perseus, presumably when Zeus transformed “himself into a shower of gold and visited her—visited her and loved her,” the Argive princess locked away in resplendent but isolating chamber with no entrance or egress, save a skylight, to prevent a prophesy delivered to her father King Acrisius that his grandson would kill him, ultimately unable to thwart his fate when at a homecoming games celebrated for the demigod’s triumphs, he accidentally strikes Acrisius in the head when throwing a discus. Originally executed in 1536, the artist undertook some major revisions to the monumental piece, scaling down the canvas to make it more marketable, too big for all but the grandest of settings at two-and-a-half by three metres, and changing the face from its original model’s likeness, Saskia van Uylenburgh, his wife, to that of Geertje Dircx, his son’s caretaker and mistress.

9x9 (10. 808)

seo arms race: ploys for attention bifurcate the internet marketplace—one for humans and the other for robots 

please have your boarding pass and identification ready: an appreciation of departure soundtracks of airliners—via Things Magazine 

musical tangents: a genius, deranged mashup compilation—via Waxy 

dynasty x: the world’s first curated, public museum established by Babylonian Princess and High Priestess Ennigaldi-Nanna, rediscovered in 1925, had a collection of artefacts as far removed from its time as Ur was from ours 

literal lexical calques: a new Spanish-English dialect emerges in southern Florida 

nada: car dealer trade group writing state legislation prohibiting factory sales, requiring manufacturers to work with middlemen—more here  

convergent evolution: Nature keeps making crabs and scientists aren’t sure why—via Kottke  

phrygian mode: Ancient Roman popular music  

unfulfilled: Amazon’s predatory cycle is transforming the EU into a planned economy

Wednesday 14 June 2023

neue sachlichkeit (10. 806)

Coined by the director of the Kunsthalle Gustav Friedrich Hartlaub, art critic and curator, as a counter-movement to expressionism and introduced to the public on this day in 1925 as an exhibition hosted in his gallery, “New Objectivity”—which can also be translated as the New Resignation, Dispassion or Matter-of-Factness—is seen as rejection of romantic idealism and the promotion of pragmatic cooperation and a return to order, post World War I. Featured artist included Otto Dix, Carl Grossberg, Max Beckmann and Jeanne Mammen. Its influence is also found in the gritty realism of films of those years just prior to the rise of Nazism and in the architecture of Hans Poelzig, Bruno Taut and others. The movement ended in 1933 with the ascent of the Nazi dictatorship and was condemned as degenerate art.

Tuesday 6 June 2023

7x7 (10. 790)

fowl-mouthed: Apple’s newest IOS to tweak auto-correct feature that turns a common expletive to “ducking” 

supars: librarians in the 1970s foresaw the coming age of inter- connectivity and distributed learning and helped design the tools for it 

olive grove: climate change bringing new crops to Canada’s Pacific Northwest 

pop 101: a guided formulaic approach to composition  

magic kingdom: research finds that fungi sequester a third of carbon emissions—via Slashdot  

fact-checking: the rise, fall and rebirth of Snopes

ski googles: Apple previews new prototype AR/VR headset—to be on the market next year

Monday 5 June 2023

scrawny boy (10. 789)

Two dozen Roman and Etruscan bronzes and other votive offerings discovered at San Casciano dei Bagni last year will be exhibited at the Quirinale Palace later this month. The deliberately sealed-off sacred baths (see above) dating from the third century BC and in use for four hundred years in Tuscany was found (assisted by the village bin man) with a wealth of trinkets, coins, figurines of afflicted limbs as a petition for the healing water and from the wealthier visitors statues of the gods and goddesses for whom this spring was their domain and faithful likenesses of themselves in hopes of relieving their suffering. One showcase artefact was first taken as the image of a hero or athlete during excavation was discovered to be the effigy of an individual, a named donor called Marcius Grabillo (and given the above nickname, Scabra Puer, by archeologists once placing the find in context) , suffering from a debilitating skeletal disease, with the whole cache casting new insights on not only health and medicine of ancient times but also unique representation of disease and disability.

Saturday 29 April 2023

in the room the women come and go, talking of michaelangelo (10. 706)

The BBC reports that the Florida principal pressured to resign after introducing pupils to the artist’s masterpiece, David, without prior parental approval of the curricula, has travelled to Florence with her family and saw the colossal marble statue in person at the Accademia Galleria, at the invitation of the museum’s director. The biblical figure whose nakedness and vulnerability represent the triumph of purity over the forces of evil was originally destined as an ensemble lining the roof buttresses of the cathedral but once finally realised, authorities instead decided, due to its size and grandeur, to place the statue in the public square of the seat of the Florentine government in 1504. A fig leaf (foglia di fico, a loin-garland) was added shortly after installation and though not a permanent addition, the practise was perpetuated by Victoria after expressing shock over the nudity of a full scale replica presented to the Victoria & Albert Museum. The original was removed from Palazzo della Signoria to the gallery in 1873, with a copy on public display, to protect it from the elements.

Thursday 30 March 2023

8x8 (10. 645)

maximum fun: Jessie Thorn is turning the podcast network into a worker-owned cooperative  

gearing-ratio: a nifty explainer on the physics of riding a bike—via Waxy  

glass-bead game: fascinating insights into the lunar water-cycle and stellar mist—see also 

stop making sense: David Byrne on his Big Suit  

retrotopia: Berlin’s Kunst-gewer-bemuseum explores Socialist design—see previously here and here  

sit up & listen: a Thames Television station closedown (see also) routine  

the panopticon effect: 99% Invisible explores the nineteenth century prison of Breda—see also

Thursday 23 March 2023

cameo appearance (10. 629)

Having previously explored the advent and the economy of the medium, we enjoyed this profile of the work of the nineteenth century travelling portrait artist William Bache, whose extensive portfolio of commissioned and sampler silhouettes not only reveal celebrities in profile but reveal the stories of hitherto anonymous sitters. Moreover at a time when fear and risk of communicable disease was rampant in the Americas and Caribbean, which was inclusive of Bache’s territory, the entrepreneur in the undeveloped industry of keepsake avatars distinguished himself from the competition with a device—since defamed for its association with eugenics for its reputed ability for scientifically-sound racial profiling—the physiognotrace which could create a faithful silhouette contact free. More at Hyperallergic at the link above.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

goodwill sample displays (10. 626)

Reversing his tone from a wide-ranging and contentious press conference delivered five days before that forbid the Federal Bureau of Investigations from turning over its findings to a special congressional committee investigating the Watergate burglary and threatened to re-enter the Vietnam War and eliciting such a negative public response that a law was passed prohibiting the US from engaging in conflict in Indochina without the approval of Congress, Richard Nixon on this day in 1973 distributed fragments of lunar rocks to the fifty states of American and every country of the world collected during the final Apollo mission. Presented on wooden plaques with a miniture flag that went into the orbit around the Moon and back, each gift (see also) included a message of peace, acknowledging that the exploration of our satellite was an international effort and than humankind could surely achieve harmony on Earth.

Sunday 19 March 2023

๐™‚๐˜๐˜ฒ (10. 622)

Finally returning to the excavations and adventures of his academic years after serving as a reporter and secret agent in the Balkans for the Manchester Guardian and a long stint as the keeper of the curiosities for the Ashmolean of Oxford, organising the collection into a museum with many restrictions for conducting archeological digs imposed by the Ottoman Empire removed with the establishment of the Cretan Republic, Arthur John Evans (see previously) and crew began exploring a flower-covered hill in the central part of the island on this day in 1900. Over the course of three years, albeit with some creative liberties (see above), Evans discovered the Minoan civilisation, so named for the maze-like quality of the Palace of Knossos—which was a series of a thousand cells for artisanal work, storage and food processing—that invoked the myth of King Minos and the captive Minotaur.

Sunday 5 March 2023

8x8 (10. 594)

parasols: brief animations on Marie Paccou’s sun-shades when spun  

the misalignment museum: an art installation dedicated to the future AI apocalypse serves as a warning to the present  

the pez outlaw: one individual’s disruption of the collectors’ market  

banana for scale: a handy converter—via Pasa Bon!  

curious crumbs of history: rating Nation Trust sites by their scones 

future archeologists: Funko Pop! is disposing of hundreds of thousands chibi pop-culture icons  

eliza doolittle: a 1966 chatbot had the same warnings as out modern experiments  

grand canons: stop-motion of everyday objects by Alain Biet

Wednesday 1 March 2023

gui (10. 579)

Offered with a portrait-oriented monitor matching a sheet of paper and the first commercially available for lease with a graphical user interface after the desktop metaphor, the Xerox Corporation released its Alto model on this day in 1973. Prohibitive costs ($32 000 for a basic version) meant that only around two thousand units were produced but were ahead of the rest of the market by a decade in terms of its operating system. Apple Computer personnel received exclusive demonstrations from Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Centre) in exchange for the company to option Apple stock. Several peripheral devices were created for the Alto, including a mouse, a television camera, a printer and a parallel port.