Saturday, May 28, 2016

True nobility lies in...

Google Chrome messed up my bookmarks again so I'm having to spend time sorting through them and figuring out why a bookmark I archived months ago is now back in my current bookmark list - and repeated multiple times. Granted, when I export bookmarks out of Chrome to HTML the resulting file is 50 MB. But I would prefer it not do this. So today's post is another uncategorized link dump. (Isn't that what it always is?)

Joel Shapiro's sculptures are currently on display at the Nasher in Dallas. Anyone want to go?
Here's a nice video interview with Frank Stella about his 60-year retrospective, currently on display in Fort Worth.

Use Linify to recreate any image as line art.
Google's Tilt Brush and Virtual Art Sessions.

Also from Google is Art Camera, preserving works of art with ultra-high resolution images.

If you thought there were only four fundamental forces (gravity, electromagnetism, strong nuclear, and weak nuclear) you might be surprised to know there might be a fifth.

Clyfford Still's paintings were so impactful on the 20th century art world despite the fact that only 6% of them were outside his estate at the time of his death. Take 7 minutes with this video to find out how and why.
Well, they discovered yet another species of dinosaur.

Craft pr0n: wood turning (i.e. wordworking on a lathe). One nice touch in the video is the parallel between sawdust falling inside the studio while snowflakes fall outside.

Visually learn about flags of the world at Flag Stories.

Find music albums by their dominant cover color with Predominantly.

...being superior to your formal self. ~Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, May 21, 2016

We are perishing for want of wonder...

Excerpts from a live performance by J. Peter Schwalm, Eivind Aarset, and Sophie Clements.

What do physics and jazz have in common? More than you might think, starting with Pythagoras of theorem fame who also created the Western music scale. But Coltrane and Einstein?

How Fort Worth got its name.

How much money you need to live comfortably in Fort Worth is $51,759 which corresponds nicely with $52,492, the city's median income. (While the precision of those figures is doubtful, the article's criteria of income uses (50% necessary expenses, 30% fun, 20% savings) is perhaps the more thought provoking factoid.)

Fort Worth is also the 21st best city in the U.S. to start a career. Madison, WI is lucky #13.

How loud is it where you are? Get a rating between 50 (loud) and 100 (quiet) using Soundscore by just typing in your address. (Work got a 70, home got a 78.)

Frank Stella 

Frank Stella, Chodorow II, 1971. source

An article about the Frank Stella retrospective at The Modern. Frank's body of work makes younger artists think "Man, I hope I can still piss people off when I'm 80 years old."

Fort Worth Texas magazine includes this quote about Stella: "I would argue that they are the most physical paintings made in the 20th century."

The WSJ wrote about Stella's retrospective at it appeared at the Whitney.

A Stella-inspired floral arrangement.

Frank Stella was interviewed on the Modern Art Notes podcast.

A bit about Michael Auping, curator of the Stella retrospective.

Recording of Auping interviewing Stella at The Modern.


Space Geeks: a photo essay on the evolution of spacecraft cockpit displays. Sci Fi geeks: fold an origami Tie Fighter.

The periodic table of typefaces. See this one and more here
Eric Schlosser's excellent book Command and Control, about a 1980 incident in Arkansas that had the potential to detonate a 9 Mt nuke, has been turned into a film that I would really like to see. Since it's one of those American Experience films, I'm hoping it'll end up on PBS some day.

In 1956, the U.S. nuke target list included over 1,100 targets in Europe, Russia, and China. See them here.

Physicists tell us our universe only has three spatial dimensions because of the laws of thermodynamics. Interesting, but the article is a bit hard to follow. What would be more interesting to me is why our fourth dimension, time, is the only one in which we can't travel backwards.

Sleeping Beauty, long exposure photograph by Jason Shulman. See more at his site.
A new outfit for the Predator's 2018 movie?

This video series is from 1999 but it's still good. This is Modern Art by Matthew Collings.

  1. I Am a Genius
  2. Shock! Horror!
  3. Lovely Lovely
  4. Nothing Matters
  5. Hollow Laughter
  6. The Shock of the Now

Can deep learning help create The Next Rembrandt?

If we can create the next Rembrandt, will CaptionBot recognize it?

Of these 16 body language mistakes that make people mistrust you, I do seven. Crap.

Why do old statues have small penises? (Answer: they really don't relatively speaking.)

...not for want of wonders. ~G.K. Chesterton

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

I can't say enough good things about Jason Matthews' contemporary USA vs. Russia spy novel Red Sparrow. Thoroughly enjoyable, written by a guy who seems to know what he's talking about, everything good about Cold War spy fiction but set in contemporary times, compelling plot, enticing characters. I could go on.

Trained at the notorious Sparrow School as a seductress spy, Dominika Ergova is targeted at American CIA operative Nate Nash because the Soviets - I mean Russians - think he might be running an agent deep within the KGB - I mean SVR. Dominika is a woman on a mission, trying to prove herself and right past wrongs. Nate is a man starting to doubt his abilities. Their paths cross in an unexpected way.

One quirk of Matthew's writing is how he ends each chapter with a recipe of a dish featured in that chapter. For example, Moscow Airport Cuban Sandwich is featured in a scene where Nate is flying out of the country.

Jason Matthews has a page on his publisher's website here. I originally heard about Red Sparrow via a review in the Wall Street Journal, bought the book, and let it sit on the shelf for a couple of years. Installment #2 in of the Dominika/Nate series, Palace of Treason, was published last summer and its now on my to-read list.

Jason Matthew's Red Sparrow is a very enjoyable book and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good espionage thriller.

"Nothing can be said about writing except when it is bad. When it is good, one can only read and be grateful."

I received no compensation of any kind for this review.

The best people possess a feeling for beauty...

We're a third of the way through 2016 so it might be a wee bit late to look at MIT Technology Review's list of 10 breakthrough technologies for 2016, but the one that stands out for me is their citation of Slack on a list that includes genetic engineering of immune cells.

Five characteristics of a good team, from Google and Lencioni: trust, accountability, structure, commitment, results.

Got 2 hours and 40 minutes? Watch a real-time video recreation of the Titanic sinking.

Kylo Ren outtakes from The Force Awakens.

Nakaniwa is a cool animated music video. I'm getting a Matisse cut-outs vibe.

Trying to decide whether to pull the trigger on the new album On by Jane Getter Premonition. The musicians are stellar.

Brian Eno's latest album, The Ship, is now available.

I'll give a thumbs up to the beginner's guide to ambient music. Eno & Budd's The Pearl is excellent. One that's equally good is their Ambient 2: The Plateaux of Mirror.

Two thumbs up to KoMaRa and their live performance from earlier this year.

Waiting patiently for my CD of In Praise of Shadows by Eraldo Bernocchi and Shinkiro to arrive.

If you find yourself in the theater to see Finding Dory (the sequel to Finding Nemo) pay attention to the short feature, Piper. There's no dialog and the soundscape was composed by Adrian Belew of King Crimson fame. More here.

A diagram and timeline of an integrated plan for space exploration from Rockwell in 1989. We're supposed to have a moonport by now.

Now this is truly something. In the movie Gravity, I always wondered who the hell Sandra Bullock's character was speaking to on the radio toward the end. Now we know. Someone created a short film, Aningaaq that shows the other side of the conversation. And it's good. Really good.

Is it a painting or a sculpture? Donald Martiny pays homage to both. 
Why you should sleep naked. You, not me. And the sea cucumber should probably don a pair of shorts because the pearlfish likes to sleep in its anus.

How often should you clean your home? Including your sheets if you sleep naked. Bath towels after 3 uses.

What typeface are you? Sadly, I'm Times Roman.

Ladies, would you dare to wear the zipper dress?

Art does indeed change lives.

Craft pr0n: glass blowing.

Aviation pr0n: ultra-stable HD video of a Saab Gripen.

Can you identify any language just by looking at it written?

This is kinda disturbing. The Szondi Test reveals your repressed impulses by which photo of a psychopath causes you the most aversion. It tells me that early in my childhood I repressed impulsiveness, irritability, and outbursts of anger and aggression.

Take this with a grain of salt but 50 Cent is going to be in 2018's Predator sequel. This news is not a selling point for me but whatevs.

Economic espionage sponsored by the Chinese government is costing U.S. corporations hundreds of billions of dollars and more than 2 million jobs.

Take one Nonara a day and your farts will smell like flowers.

...the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed. ~Ernest Hemingway

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The love of complexity without reductionism makes art...

Trey Gunn announced the pre-sale availability of a CD (looks like the first of two) from The Security Project, "the timeless music of Peter Gabriel re-envisioned." Go to the link to stream and example and place your order.

Adam Holzman talks about his "optimistic evocations" with Anil Prasad on Innerviews. Adam is currently keyboardist for Steven Wilson and prior to that, among other things, he was Miles Davis' music director. If you're interested, you can also get Adam's CD Deform Variations.

EDM is dead?

Yes, this is exactly what it looks like. Tired of the same old Peeps for Easter? Make yourself a Poop Peep.
You may now be scoffing at Poop Peeps, but they aren't nearly as stupid as a Glitter Beard.

Read how this guy "open sourced his face," aka 3D printed his own orthodontics.

Winners of the Smithsonian's 2015 photo contest are online and I can't argue with their grand prize winner. And 2016's contest is now open for entries.

Screen grab from a cool 1970 video of aircraft, including my fave the XB-70, being moved down Dayton's Route 444 to their new home at the U.S. Air Force Museum.
Here's a nice bracketing of current politics and society. Donald Trump is a repugnant douche yet is the leading Republican candidate for president. At the same time, someone wrote Trump slogans on the sidewalk in chalk at Emory University and some of the hyper-sensitized students there felt threatened.

Take an interactive, panoramic, high-def photo tour of the USS Iowa.

I am much less interested in the NYC part of this series of photos of New York City: Then and Now than I am with the effect of moving the horizontal slider back and forth.
Art or Junk is less a game about what is art and more a game about what is expensive and what is cheap.

NASA's Kepler spacecraft captured a supernova in action.
Let science speak for itself: "the butthole is one of the finest innovations in the past 
540 million years of animal evolution." It seems that a theory of evolutionary biologists is that when living creatures developed an anus (in other words, stopped pooping through their pie hole) it spawned a great diversification (and lengthening) of life forms. But hold on to your doody. New science has shown that comb jellies, long thought to be one of those primitive life forms with a combo mouth/butt actually has dedicated exit holes. Whoa, is the sphincter now less or more important from an evolutionary standpoint?

...the love of complexity with reductionism makes science. ~E.O. Wilson

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Beauty of Disaster by J. Peter Schwalm

There was a moment during my first listening of J. Peter Schwalm's The Beauty of Disaster when I leaned back in my chair and muttered to myself "Oh. My. God." I was moved by the the rich interplay of tension and release Schwalm had created in this recording.

I first became a fan of Schwalm's with 2001's Drawn from Life, co-produced with Brian Eno. (Some day I will listen to Drawn from Life alongside Stevie Wonder's Songs from the Key of Life because I believe the parallels must exist.) More recently, his 2014 album Wagner Transformed (again with Eno) experimented with the operatic composer's work in a modern framework.

To a certain degree, I hear Wagner Transformed's tonality within some of the tracks on The Beauty of Disaster. In contrast to the fullness of the tracks on Wagner, those on Disaster are relatively sparse, tending toward the ambient. Yet it's precisely that economy of the compositions that creates a richly evocative dialectic.

Schwalm has been quoted as saying that Disaster was influenced, in part, by his viewing of photographs of natural and man-made disasters. He wanted to balance the despair he saw with a sense of hope and recovery. There are other contrasting influences: the detached beauty of a natural disaster when viewed from an orbiting satellite, orchestral versus electronic instrumentation, sound versus silence, even slight timing offsets. They are all employed to great effect on Disaster. You can hear this for yourself in the album's teaser.

The album's 10 tracks are [translated with the help of Google Translate]:

  1. The Anxt Code 
  2. Himmelfahrt [Transl: Ascension]
  3. The Beauty of Disaster
  4. Numbers Become Stories
  5. Stille, Blitz und Donner [Transl: Silence, Thunder, and Lightning]
  6. Zirkeltrilogie [Transl: Circle Trilogy]
  7. Wunschklangregister [Transl: Desired Sound Registers]
  8. The End and the Beginning
  9. Angstphantasie [Transl: Fear Imagination]
  10. Endknall 

William Faulkner said good fiction was born from the human heart in conflict with itself. Clyfford Still said his paintings were life and death merging in fearful union. Schwalm has achieved a similar balanced tension of despair and hope with The Beauty of Disaster. This album will be on my favorites list this year for certain.

The Beauty of Disaster is available from Rare Noise Records.

Schwalm's music can be found on Bandcamp and Soundcloud.

I received no compensation of any kind for this review. I was given pre-release access to the album for online listening but this review is based on the CD I subsequently purchased.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Plans are useless but...

If you missed last year's live albums, Midori Shows 1 and 2, by Stick Men featuring David Cross, a double CD Midori is now available.

And Bernhard Wostheinrich's new album, Cool Spring, is available for free. But why not pay a few bucks anyway?

I sure hope you're playing along in the Albright Knox's 3rd annual Art Madness, this year featuring sculpture.

March 28th kicks off Museum Week, the "first worldwide cultural event on Twitter." Just follow the #MuseumWeek hashtag.

Barbara Hepworth, Oval Sculpture (No. 2), 1943. source
Got a hankerin' for a burrito but don't know where to go? use My Burrito Finder! (It works and found El Taco H, the only place where I'll order a burrito.)

Here's a summary of one audience member's live tweets from a presentation by Gen. Michael Hayden, former head of the NSA and CIA. I've heard Gen. Hayden speak before and he seems like a good guy.

For Cold War junkies, vintage video of the crash site where a B-52 carrying nukes went down in 1961.

Put things in perspective with this visualization of WWII fatalities.

The NFL is considering several rule changes, one of which is the elimination of overtime in preseason games. That one seems like a no-brainer.

I think this qualifies as craft pr0n: the making of shiny mud balls.

Food expiration dates mean nothing.

Reheating steak seems like an oxymoron - who doesn't finish a good steak in one sitting and who'd bother to reheat a bad steak? Regardless, the best method for reheating a steak may surprise you.

Science sheds light on the important issue: sperm swim together in close groups through viscoelastic fluids.

More science? This video had me at random couscous.

...planning is indespensible. ~Dwight Eisenhower