Buried below all which came after they lay, still existent in some nebulous manner but hidden and changed and forgotten, like the tiny little child’s bones which were once, and in some way continue to be, inside all of us. Beneath the surface is a second face, the rejected or reformed one which was actually the first. The first face, the first gesture, the first straining motions toward harmony and beauty; The first chase after that most wily wild-goose. Though willfully obscured and subsumed within what’s judged more glorious, these presences haunt their old corporeal boundaries still. In just the right light you can see them appear like apparitions.

10.31. filed under: art. ideas. 3

Campi Phlegraei

or: Hamilton’s Flaming Fields

Paraphrased: The area around Naples was known locally as the Campi Phlegraei, or ‘flaming fields’, owing to the frequent and violent eruptions of Mount Vesuvius. William Hamilton (Britain’s envoy to the Spanish court at Naples) from his country house at the foot of the volcano, was ideally placed to witness and investigate the eruptions of the 1770s. The prevailing view at the time was of volcano was a purely destructive force. Hamilton sought to show that in a broader time scale, volcanoes had been responsible for the mountainous landscape and rich, fertile soils that characterized the area. Hamilton employed the Anglo-Neapolitan artist Peter Fabris to create sketches in situ to illustrate the work (Hamilton himself is pictured in many of the plates as the figure in the red coat). These were then reproduced in prints that were hand coloured individually by local artists by the application of gouache. The resultant work was published in 1776 (with a later supplement describing the great eruption of Vesuvius in August 1779) as Campi Phlegraei: Observations on the Volcanos of the Two Sicilies.

Take a closer look at this beauty at Glasgow University Library, Georgetown’s Campania site, Ingenious UK, Nortwestern’s Campania Felix, and Stromboli Online. Also Hamilton’s Apparatus.

10.30. filed under: art. history. people. science. 3

Quote: Beginning in the early 1860s, Plains Indian men adapted their representational style of painting to paper in the form of accountants ledger books. Traditional paints and bone and stick brushes used to paint on hide gave way to new implements such as colored pencils, crayon, and occasionally water color paints. Plains artists acquired paper and new drawing materials in trade, or as booty after a military engagement, or from a raid. Initially, the content of ledger drawings continued the tradition of depicting of military exploits and important acts of personal heroism already established in representational painting on buffalo hides and animal skins. As the US government implemented the forced relocation of the Plains peoples to reservations, for all practical purposes completed by the end of the 1870s, Plains artists added scenes of ceremony and daily life from before the reservation to the repertoire of their artwork, reflecting the social and cultural changes brought by life on the reservation within the larger context of forced assimilation. – Enjoy the 1021 plates spanning 15 ledgers at Plaines Indian Ledger Art.

For more see: Tribal Arts, Kiowa Drawings, Fort Marion Artists, and Picturing Change.

10.22. filed under: art. history. humanity.

Above is an update of a piece created by Black Panther Minister of Culture Emory Douglas over 30 years ago. In the original it’s Gerald Ford being tugged into life by those puppet strings, and the companies are different, smaller really, with fewer banks and investment firms and conglomerates and LLC’s in evidence. On the whole though, the times… they aren’t a changin’. Check out Emory Douglas’ work at It’s About Time and at the MOCA who are exhibiting his work through January 08. For a bit more check out The Revolution Will Be Visualized. Previously: The Black Panther Coloring Boook.

10.22. filed under: art. design. history. ideas. people.

Butoh, Dance of the Dark Soul

“But by an altogether Oriental means of expression, this objective and concrete language of the theater can fascinate and ensnare the organs. It flows into the sensibility. Abandoning Occidental usages of speech, it turns words into incantations. It extends the voice. It utilizes the vibrations and qualities of the voice. It wildly tramples rhythms underfoot. It pile-drives sounds. It seeks to exalt, to benumb, to charm, to arrest the sensibility. It liberates a new lyricism of gesture which, by its precipitation or its amplitude in the air, ends by surpassing the lyricism of words. It ultimately breaks away from the intellectual subjugation of the language, by conveying the sense of a new and deeper intellectuality which hides itself beneath the gestures and signs, raised to the dignity of particular exorcisms.”

–Antonin Artaud, from The Theater of Cruelty (First Manifesto): The Theater and Its Double, 1938.

10.21. filed under: art. history. people. play. 4

Archinect has an interesting piece up titled Delirious Moscow, In Search of Lost Vanguards, drawing connections between Soviet architectural modernism, avant-garde constructivism, utopianism, and that societies fluctuating ideas concerning space exploration. Quote: “One could look at the remnants of the avant-garde projects that litter the former USSR as the detritus left by the Martians: the incomprehensible, incommensurable ruins of a strictly temporary visitation by creatures not like ourselves.” It touches on the 1972 novel Roadside Picnic which inspired the Tarkovsky film Stalker, Tatlin’s Third International Tower, and Shukhov Tower among many other things. Great stuff (via enthusiasm).

10.17. filed under: art. design. history. ideas. 1

Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988) was an Italian painter, sculptor, designer, craftsman, engraver, and compulsive collector of printed ephemera. A precursor to pop-art and an exemplar of a post-modernism which would not be named for decades hence. Prolific and unafraid of the utilitarian he created tens-of-thousands of objects in his lifetime. Perhaps most recognized for his Themes and Variations series (which reworked a single image of opera singer Lina Cavalieri he found in a 19th century French magazine over 500 times) his works include porcelain and gold plates, chairs, jars, tables, bureaus, teapots, umbrellas, lamps, screens, clothes, etc. Evidently he once said of his work: “I believe in neither periods nor dates. I refuse to define the value of an object in terms of its era.” Fitting for a man whose objects, by remaining somehow stylistically relevant decade after decade, seem to defy era as well. 

I post all this, very simply, because the plate pictured above made me laugh. Reason enough, no? If you’d like to know more about Fornasetti Designboom did a very nice feature way back in 2001 and, of course, there is an official site, kept up by Fornasetti’s son (and heir to the aesthetic) Barnaba. 

10.09. filed under: art. death. people. 5

Fence Music

Quote: Many people look at fences and see not much; Jon Rose and Hollis Taylor look and see giant musical string instruments covering a continent. The strings are so long that they become the resonators as well as the triggers for the sound. On straight stretches of a simple five-wire fence, the sound travels down the wires for hundreds of meters. The music is ethereal and elemental, incorporating an extended harmonic series (the structure of all sound); the longer the wire, the more harmonics become available. The rhythms of violin bows and drum sticks uncover a fundamental sonic world. The fence music encapsulates the vastness of the place. Music of distance, boundaries and borders.

Is it a coincidence that the love-child of their first names, actor John Hollis, has had industrial-grade ear coverings surgically implanted deep into his ear canals? Yes it is.

Beyond the fences, at Jon Rose’s own webpage, you’ll find evidence of a lifetime’s fetish for violins including: “Relative Violins” of his own construction, violin videos, related ephemera to ponder, articles, applets, violin erotica, and many samples of Rose’s own violin work. Meanwhile…

10.06. filed under: art. music. 6

While searching out some images of sputnik (this week marks the 50th anniversary of the satellite’s launch) I came across this image. Initially I thought it was a photo with some digital filter applied. Turns out it was a wooden bas-relief by Dutch sculptor Ron Vander Ende. Curiosity piqued, I checked out his site which, as it turns out, features some pretty nifty work. Mostly bas-refliefs made of “reclaimed timber.” Pictured above for example is Lunar Orbiter (apollo space capsule II) 2006. Also on view… a Vostok, an Apollo capsule, a Sony prototype U-Matic video recorder, an Akai-VT100 reel recorder, and a whole series of checkout counters, to name a few. See below for another example with a bit more context.

10.03. filed under: art. 4

Mary Neumuth Mito, Murky Water 60 x 88.

Transmutation of the Mundane

When I came upon the images which I’m about to share with you, I was a bit slack-jawed, standing there in the book store. They were of dead leaves, pond-bottoms, sticks in snow, the edges of lakes, and other such humble subjects. Those of you who are at all familiar with my photographs will know that these are just the subjects I’m drawn to myself. Turning through the pages of the book, a catalog from an exhibit, I was agape because these photos were so very in line with my own; Creepily so. After taking a moment to read some of the accompanying text I was handily slapped around and had any egoistic notions of similarity dispelled- they were not photographs. They were paintings.

09.25. filed under: art. personal. 4

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