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Salvador Dalí with anteater Paris 1969

I don’t do drugs. I am drugs” ~ Salvador Dalí.

The photo, which dates from 1969, depicts the 65-year-old Catalan surrealist Salvador Dalí emerging from a Paris subway station led by his trusty giant anteater. Surrealism‘s aim was to “resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality.” Artists painted unnerving, illogical scenes with photographic precision, created strange creatures from everyday objects and developed painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. [from Wikipedia, link above].

Oscar Niemeyer  by Ludovic Lent

Photo – Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) photographed by Ludovic Lent for L’Express, France.

First were the thick stone walls, the arches, then the domes and vaults – of the architect, searching out for wider spaces. Now it is concrete-reinforced that gives our imagination flight with its soaring spans and uncommon cantilevers. Concrete, to which architecture is integrated, through which it is able to discard the foregone conclusions of rationalism, with its monotony and repetitious solutions. A concern for beauty, a zest for fantasy, and an ever-present element of surprise bear witness that today’s architecture is not a minor craft bound to straight-edge rules, but an architecture imbued with technology: light, creative and unfettered, seeking out its architectural scene.” ~ Oscar Niemeyer, acceptance speech, Pritzker Architecture Prize (1988).

What bothers us about primordial beauty is that it is no longer characteristic. Unspoiled places sadden us because they are, in an important sense, no longer true.” – Robert Adams.

Living and working mostly in Colorado for nearly 30 years, Robert Adams was mostly concerned about a palimpsest of alterations, unfolding in front of his camera in plain western America. Even if unperceivable for so many, the landscape in turmoil was his medium. And it was there, he found out what beauty is not. In 1975, New Topographics encapsulated an evolving Man-altered landscape in an exhibition that end-up by signalling a pivotal key moment in American landscape photography. His sensibility and aesthetic approach remains pertinent today among us. One needs to only replace random and lost inanimate landscapes with random lonely people.

How wings are attached to the backs of Angels, Craig Welsh (1996) – Production by the National Film Board of Canada (nfb.ca): In this surreal exposition, we meet a man, obsessed with control. His intricate gadgets manipulate yet insulate, as his science dissects and reduces. How exactly are wings attached to the back of angels? In this invented world drained of emotion, where everything goes through the motions, he is brushed by indefinite longings. Whether he can transcend his obsessions and fears is the heart of the matter (from Vimeo).

(…) The Four Mists of Chaos, the North, the East, the West, and the South, went to visit Chaos himself. He treated them all very kindly and when they were thinking of leaving, they consulted among themselves how they might repay his hospitality. Since they had noticed that he had no holes in his body, as they each had (eyes, nose, mouth, ears, etc.), they decided each day to provide him with an opening. At the end of seven days, Kwang-tse tells us, Chaos died. (…)  in Indeterminacy – Ninety Stories by John Cage (Transcript of story number 27), With Music, ca. 26’00” to 27’00”, From John Cage’s [1958] Lecture ‘Indeterminacy’, 26’00” to 27’00”, in Die Reihe No. 5, English edition on p.120.

Photo – Young Glenn Gould in February 1946 with his English Setter dog, Nick.

Photo – David Hockney “my Mother” polaroid composition photo collage (UK, 1982).

[…] The intense world of differences, in which we find the reason behind qualities and the being of the sensible, is precisely the object of a superior empiricism. This empiricism teaches us a strange ‘reason’, that of the multiple, chaos and difference (nomadic distributions, crowned anarchies). It is always differences which resemble one another, which are analogous, opposed or identical: difference is behind everything, but behind difference there is nothing. Every object, every thing, must see its own identity swallowed up in difference, each being no more than a difference between differences. We know that modern art tends to realise these conditions: in this sense it becomes a veritable theatre of metamorphoses and permutations. A theatre where nothing is fixed, a labyrinth without a thread (Ariadne has hung herself). The work of art leaves the domain of representation in order to become ‘experience’, transcendental empiricism or science of the sensible. […], Gilles Deleuze in “Différence et répétition” 1968 (“Difference and Repetition” translated by Paul Patton, New York: Columbia University Press, 1994).

EVOL-ution Stencil Art work by KrieBeL (source on flickr)

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change“. Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species, Nov. 1859)

At his final chapter Charles Darwin (On the Origin of Species, Nov. 1859) reviews points from earlier chapters, and he concludes by hoping that his theory might produce revolutionary changes in many fields of natural history. Although he avoids the controversial topic of human origins in the rest of the book so as not to prejudice readers against his theory, here he ventures a cautious hint that psychology would be put on a new foundation and that “Light will be thrown on the origin of man“. Darwin ends with a passage that became well known and much quoted:

[…] It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us … Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved […]. Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, Nov. 1859. [passage from darwin-online.org.uk ]

Excerpt – “Dartmouth and the Liberating Arts“: […] Crucially, Deming (Edward Deming) then argued that this indispensable foundation of trust and shared commitment must be allied to a rigorous understanding of how complex systems work to produce desired results. (…) two sides of the educational mission set forth by my predecessors, a mission that in this historical moment is more vital than ever: on the one hand, the passionate commitment to making the world a better place; on the other, the practical understanding of complex systems required to deliver solutions on a global scale. Passion and practicality: Either without the other will be inadequate to tackle the challenges we face today. […] Jim Yong Kim, “Passion and Practicality: Dartmouth and the Liberating Arts“, new President at Dartmouth Univ.  at his inaugural address, Dartmouth Speeches, Sept. 2009.

Allow me to give you a starter. Albeit this is only the beginning. There is much more at stake over this 1 hour and 15 minutes movie drama documentary: […] Did you read that the Japanese will be watching what’s going to be happening with American teenagers over the next 20 years, … and then they are going to decide to introduce GMO’s (Genetically Modified Organisms) into their food? […]

Alternately teasing and terrifying, STRANGE CULTURE molds one man’s tragedy into an engrossing narrative. In 2004, Steve Kurtz (Thomas Jay Ryan), an associate professor of art at the State University of New York, Buffalo, was preparing an exhibition on genetically modified food for the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art when his wife, Hope (Tilda Swinton), died in her sleep of heart failure. But when paramedics noticed petri dishes and other scientific paraphernalia in the home, they alerted the F.B.I.; within hours Mr. Kurtz found himself suspected of bioterrorism, his home quarantined and his wife’s body removed for autopsy. Filmmaker Lynn Hershman-Leeson bends the nonfiction form to her own unconventional will. The result is a fascinating collage of re-enactments, news clips and interviews, illuminating not only the implications of corporate meddling in the food chain but the ease with which innocent civilian behavior can become a suspicious act. [Text from the YouTube movie synopsis here]

The Austrian composer Peter Ablinger transferred the frequency spectrum of one child’s voice to his computer controlled mechanical piano – A “speaking piano” reciting the Proclamation of the European Environmental Criminal Court at World Venice Forum 2009. It’s all in German, but what the piano says is all English, and it’s really neat to watch. All of a sudden the words of the Declaration become understandable to a European Environmental Criminal Court. Wien Modern was one out of ten cultural institutions asked for an artistic contribution to the event in Palazzo Ducale in Venice. The ambitious goal was to make this message audible with musical means, without falling back to a simple setting. [link]

[…] We hear sounds that obviously aren’t normal Music, but neither they are language, and one could say that sometimes, a bridging happens. Personally, I think you can understand individual words even without knowing the text, and the Eureka moment happens when you see the text, and suddenly, the language is there. […]

(more on Perception, Gestalt, Art and Music, here and here)

Tensegrity R. Buckminster Fuller

Fig. – One of the images used by R. Fuller on his original article back in 1961 (Portfolio and Art News Annual, No.4). […] There have been recent news references to structures which I have designed for firing to the Moon. Six hundred pounds is the approximate weight of my thirty-six foot diameter sphere self-openable from a thirty-six inch diameter ball. There can, and probably will, be much larger units, which I will discuss later in this disclosure. Of first interest to engineers and artist-conceivers is the fact that my potential prototypes of satellite- and moon-structures are tensional integrity, omni-triangulated, high-tensile-cabled, spherical nets in which local islands of compression act only as local sprit-stiffeners. The local stiffeners are so oriented that they angle inwardly and outwardly between comprehensively finite, exterior and interior, tensional, spherical nets, thus producing positive and negative waves of action and reaction in inter-stabilized dynamic equilibrium. […]

Tensegrity: 1. Definition coined by R. Buckminster Fuller (architect, engineer and cosmologist), who is best known for his geodesic domes (surely, you will recognize some of these).  Tensegrity is a portmanteau of tensional integrity (check below some passages from his original article in Portfolio and Art News Annual, No.4, 1961). It refers to the integrity of structures as being based in a synergy between balanced tension and compression components. The term “synergetics” may refer more abstractly to synergetic systems of contrasting forces. 2. Structure using distributed tension to hold islands of compression. 3. “The tension-bearing members in these structures – whether Fuller’s domes or Snelson’s sculptures – map out the shortest paths between adjacent members (and are therefore, by definition, arranged geodesically). Tensional forces naturally transmit themselves over the shortest distance between two points, so the members of a tensegrity structure are precisely positioned to best withstand stress. For this reason, tensegrity structures offer a maximum amount of strength.” (Donald Ingber). 4. Was also a term used (unfortunately, let me add) by Carlos Cesar Arana Castaneda (guru! born 1925, Peru) to refer to some movements called magical passes (a series of meditative stretches, stances and movements) that he said were developed by Native American shamans who lived in Mexico in times prior to the Spanish conquest. 4. Tensegrity Ritual Suicides?! Patricia Partin and several other Tensegrity activists went missing after Castaneda’s death in 1998. Later Partin’s body was found in Death Valley Desert. She had apparently committed ritual suicide.

[…] One cannot patent geometry per se nor any separate differentiated-out, pure principle of nature’s operative processes. One can patent, however, the surprise complex behaviors of associated principles, where the behavior of the whole is unpredicted by the behavior of the parts, i.e. synergetic phenomena. The latter is what is known as an invention, a complex arrangement, not found in nature, though sometimes superficially similar to nature. Though superficially similar in patternings to Radiolaria and Flies’ Eyes, geodesic structuring is true invention. The Radiolaria collapse when taken out of water. Flies’ Eyes will not provide structural precedent or man-occupiable structures. […]

[…] It is a sad fact that the world of patronized design is the last area of commonly accepted social behavior where piracy is considered ethical. Patrons hire designers to steal their competitors’ work. Patrons hire designers to steal other non-professional designers’ fresh-new crops of potential economic growth. Only by joining forces will the architect-, scientist-, engineer-artists be able to eliminate this intellectual cancer of the regenerative processes. […]

[…] All these Geodesic events were news items simply because they were synergetic surprises, ergo contrary to the obvious. Copied geodesic ventures in higher modular frequency of triangular Geodesic subdivisioning, or other less symmetrical employments of the Geodesic structural integrity than I have as yet undertaken, do not constitute invention.Nor does the variation warrant exemption from the temporary economic authority granted to me as a patent. […]

[...] People should learn how to play Lego with their minds. Concepts are building bricks [...] V. Ramos, 2002.

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