The Prisons, by Giovani Battista Piranesi

Picked up an oversized folio put out in 1973 reproducing a series of etching by Giovani Battista Piranesi. They depict a series of giant imaginary prisons. They are at once loose, layered, and complex, exhibiting a style not at all common in mid 18th century etching. Beyond this a quick read through the essay which begins the book shows Piranesi himself to be a somewhat tragic figure, not in any grand way, but rather in that he was unknown in his lifetime and to go a step further unfulfilled as well. You see even though these etchings of his are unmistakably beautiful Piranesi himself actually wanted to be an architect, a wish which, aside from a couple small commissions in the mid 1760’s completely eluded him. It didn’t help that the imaginary spaces he created were completely unbuildable, nor did it help that the lengthy original title of this series (which was etched in the frontispiece) was both grammatically incorrect and misspelled. Ah well, the guy might have died an unfulfilled wannabe architect but his etchings are quite something.

08.08. filed under: art. !. 3

It strikes me that most of we lay-folk, unversed in the “art of war” as we are, find ourselves dismayed and horrified by the goings-on in Iraq (yes, lest we forget in the fog of news on other ugliness, we’re still there) and I wondered whether there was anything I could do to help my fellow citizens better grasp the situation. After much research I was surprised to find that the Bush cadre does indeed have an exit strategy, and that the violence, strife, and chaos we see daily on our idiot boxes is not exactly what it seems. Following this brilliant strategy the Administration in fact has the broiling insurgency right where they want them. In as much I decided to take the initiative and create a handy, hands-on, illustrated handout, suitable for the White House website, social studies teachers and parents wishing to instruct the young, or indeed any lay person seeking to better understand the Bush administration’s exit strategy. See below.

08.06. filed under: !. criticism. politics. 4

Greetings from urban heat island

The Delhi Metro authorities say they have employed a large black-faced langur monkey to frighten away other monkeys who were worrying passengers.

Death Row Art Star A Documentary by Aron Ranen. Parts 1 and 2.

Two nice lengthy pieces on Sam Beckett who would have been 100 this year: Millennium Poet Laureate (The Chronicle), and Sam I Am (The New Yorker).

Spinoza argued that no group or religion could rightly claim infallible knowledge of the creator’s partiality to its beliefs and ways. Last week marked the 350th anniversary of his excommunication for such ideas: Faith In Reason.

Sean from Cosmic Variance on Boltzmann’s Anthropic Brain.

On Werner Herzog’s new film, The Wild Blue Yonder, the world’s first “undersea outer-space sci-fi documentary.” Sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to see it.

Meme Therapy asks Do you think it likely that the first discovery of extraterrestrial life will be made by a rover? I say no, unless by fortunate accident.

08.03. filed under: link dump.

You walk the grid and are faced in the dark alleys, the back streets, the main drags, with those who have come before you. Looking up you see the work of their hands, the words which once enlivened their lips. Valiant signs try to hold on to the boldness of their pronouncements. They labor against the flow of time to go on advertising products and businesses long forgotten. Bent arrows point to non-existent locations. Fonts and faces of real and imagined ideals struggle against the inevitable fade; These artifacts and artifices long torn from their intended contexts, they are the blood of the hustle coagulated to stone.

08.02. filed under: !. observations. personal. 1


08.01. filed under: !. personal. play. science. 5

Philip Cola is an award winning nature photographer and natural history writer whose work centers mainly on the water-dwellers among us. Have a browse though about 16,000 of his photos at Ocean Light.

Space cadets: check out Sven Grahn’s site full of space history, space radio, and space tracking. Everyone else: listen to his fine collection of space sounds.

Jennifer Ouellette talks Jack Chick at 3 Quarks Daily: Heart of Darkness.

The search is on for the original high-quality, unbroadcast, Apollo 11 Footage which was only beamed to three tracking stations in 1969.

Enjoy the 1999 pilot of Heat Vision and Jack, Starring Jack Black as a super intelligent Astronaut. A show with too much potential to be allowed on the air.

Did you know only four Shakers are left in the world, all living in southern Maine?

The Angry Astronomer on some common misconceptions about the Big Bang .

Enjoy Perry Farrell’s long video interview with Shepard Fairey: Parts 1, 2 and 3.

07.31. filed under: link dump. 1

Ahimsa is a religious concept which advocates non-violence and a respect for all life. Ahinsa is Sanskrit for avoidance of himsa, or injury. It is interpreted most often as meaning peace and reverence toward all sentient beings. Ahimsa is an important doctrine of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism (pdf). I think if it has made any inroads into the modern westerner’s mind they have likely been through its connection to yoga. I will not comment on the concept itself here, becuase in truth I am by no means sure of my own opinion toward the “do not swat a fly” brand of radical pacism, but rather will offer up a few images from an interesting book I picked up a long while ago called Chinese Poems and Pictures on Ahimsa by Raghu Vira, published in 1954. As for the sentiment they express, well, decide for yourself the value.

07.30. filed under: art. belief. !. books. philosophy.

Spam continues to inspire. Quote: “A collection of junk email messages is parsed, including subject lines, headers & footers, to detect relationships between that data.” The result: Spam Plants like the one shown in detail above. Neat. Via. In related linkage: Look Around You A visual exploration of complex networks.

Acupuncture Without Needles By J.V. Cerney. 1974. Aw yeah. Via.

Hungry for some philosophical gristle? Chew on the contents of The Proceedings of the Friesian School, Fourth Series. Yum.

Why do we like music? What might we discover if we were to study musical thinking? Music, Mind, and Meaning by Marvin Minsky Via.

Why is it that alien abductors are always such hunks? Intergalactic Service with a Smile, a short bit about Elizabeth Klarer and her alien paramour. More here, here, here, and here.

There appears to be energy of empty space that isn’t zero. This flies in the face of all conventional wisdom in theoretical particle physics. A Talk with Lawrence Krauss over at edge.

Enjoy a stroll through the the neglected books page where forgotten books are remembered. While away the day and blame Jeff.

And lastly, why not explore space via air balloon? Yeah, why not? Via.




07.29. filed under:

Google Voyage

From arborsculpture to footbinding

This morning a link on Metafiler sent me off on a very nearly round trip google voyage. My iternerary was as follows: Set sail from How To Grow A Chair, about arborsculpture (1, 2, 3, 4, 5.) which docked at Dan Ladd’s Molded gourds. Evidently his gourds are modern equivalents of Paoqi traditional chinese artifacts created mostly to hold crickets. So next up were cricket cages (1, 2, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12.) and cricket boxes. From here my ship docked at the beautiful and rich port of Chinese cricket culture, located in the land of cultural etymology. Seems insects in Chinese culture are quite important. Crickets for example did more than just sing. Which brought me to cricket fighting (1, 2.) From there it was only a short trip to China the beautiful which lead directly into the port of oracle bone script (12.) Interesting trip so far. The next stop featured 300 Tang Poems. This in turn lead me somehow to Confucius, specifically his Analects, The Great Learning, and The Doctrine of Man. From there I jaunted over to portraits of Chinese emperors and portraits of Chinese physicians... and without even realizing it my trip was on its last leg. Chinese medicine inevitably brought me to the ancient practice of footbinding (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.) which if you think about it, is really almost exactly the same thing as arborsculpture, only practiced on the human foot rather than a tree. I had come very nearly full circle. My voyage was over.

07.29. filed under: link dump. 1

Hugh Ferriss: Delineator of Gotham

Or rendering “The Vertical Sublime”

Picked up a reprinting of a 1929 book by Hugh Ferriss titled The Metropolis of Tomorrow. Ferriss was the preeminent architectural draftsman of his time who through his moody chiaroscuro renderings of skyscrapers virtually inventing the image of Gotham visitors came to the city to see and residents identified with so fondly. As Michael Mallow puts it: “By the mid-twenties, renderings by Ferriss had become almost de rigeur for successful competition projects; countless skyscrapers waited their turn to be bathed in the dark monumentality emanating from his drafting table. In these works a blasé department store appears as a giant lording over its block. Stodgy hotels cease to be stodgy hotels and become looming silhouettes emerging from the urban haze like shipwrecks. Ferriss went to grand new lengths in suppressing detail for mood, and clients loved it.”

07.28. filed under: art. !. design. ideas. people. 3

| page 18 |