A Journal of the Irrepressible

Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Ginevra’s Story: Solving the Mysteries of Leonardo da Vinci’s First Known Portrait

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Using X-rays to literally delve beneath the surface of this mysterious portrait, Christopher Swann’s 1999 documentary is a fascinating examination of a beautiful painting.

One of only three portraits of women by Leonardo da Vinci, the subject of the painting was the 16-year-old Ginevra de Benci, a member of a wealthy family. The portrait may have been Leonardo’s first commission; he is thought to have been 22 when he painted it in 1474. The picture hangs in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. – or, rather, the upper half of the painting hangs there.

For at some point in its past, the picture was mutilated: the bottom half was cut away, so that Ginevra is portrayed only from about mid-bust upwards. Ginevra’s Story shows how art historians, using computer-aided design technology, reconstructed the bottom third of the painting. The reconstruction is based on sketches of Ginevra’s hands in the Windsor Castle art collection, and on comparison with Ginevra’s “sisters,” the Mona Lisa and the “Lady with an Ermine.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

January 24th, 2010 at 7:19 pm

Posted in art, film, reviews, science

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Peter Weibel, Rewriter: Early (conceptual) photographs, (expanded) films, (body) videos and (contextual) works, 1964-1975

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review by Brian Charles Clark

Peter Weibel is a fascinating artist whose career extends from the late 1960s to the present. He is not, however, the cultural saboteur (much less terrorist) art critics make him out to be.

Osvaldo Romberg, who curated the show of Weibel’s early works upon which this DVD is based, claims that Weibel’s work reflects “the strategies of the Tupamaros, a Latin American group active in Uruguay in the 1960s. This group operated not through fear [as terrorists, by literal definition of the word, would] but by exposing secret bank accounts, money laundering schemes, and other economic transgressions. In this way, the Uruguayan public was made aware of the corruption that pervaded their country.”

Artists have, on rare occasion, made the public aware of the need for change (Upton Sinclair comes to mind in this regard), but Weibel is certainly not among them. But far be it from art critics to let reality restrain their hubris or deter them from making grander-than-thou claims for Art. Christa Steinle, in her essay “A Heretic of the Art System,” claims that Weibel forced art lovers to trample on the law when he wrote the words “trampling on the law” on a gallery floor in Krems in 1968. If there’s danger of trampling here, it’s as we roll on the floor laughing at the hubris of this ludicrous assertion.

Alas, the problem with the presentation of art, at least for the past hundred or so years, is that curators and critics get to do the presenting. The art-curious should take it as a given that, after opening their copy of Peter Weibel, Rewriter, the booklet should be thrown straight into the recycling bin.

continue reading my review of Peter Weibel, Rewriter: Early (conceptual) photographs, (expanded) films, (body) videos and (contextual) works, 1964-1975 – DVD review – documentary / film directors.

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Written by Brian

December 6th, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Posted in art, film, reviews

Eclectons, chapter 2 – The Arranged Marriage

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The Eclecton saga continues. We learn how Wand Baneesh’s father got rich by teaching his circus performers to fly. Wand feels trapped by the marriage arranged for her to the witless Deem. If Wand thinks marriage is hard, though, wait until she’s actually married to the guy!

More marvelous recycling sculpture by Jayme Jacobson and witty writing by Ken O’Donnel.

And in case you missed chapter one, it’s here around here someplace.

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Written by Brian

July 27th, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Birth of a Rebel


My friend Jayme Jacobson is an amazing artist who has just illustrated a story by Ken O’Donnel. The story involves Eclectons, an invention of Jayme’s – characters made from recycled paper and plastic, stuff you’d normally not give a second thought. In Jayme’s hands, tough, junk gets a second life. Ken and Jayme have entered the story they created, “Birth of a Rebel,” in Slideshare’s “Tell a Story Contest.” Frankly, their work is far and away the best thing there, and it’d be great if they won the contest. But you be the judge. Check out “Birth of a Rebel” for yourself.

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Written by Brian

June 16th, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Posted in art, the marvelous, writing

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Chalkboard Animation

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I love the design and technique in this chalkboard animated video for the Aussie band Firekites. It was made by Lucinda Schreiber. I like the song, too, so much so that I ordered the album.

Firekites – AUTUMN STORY – chalk animation from Lucinda Schreiber on Vimeo.

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Written by Brian

May 12th, 2009 at 4:54 pm

Posted in art, film, music

Tim Fowler’s Sculpture Haven


A gable on Tim Fowler's home in SeattleOut walking with my friend Nisi Shawl recently in Seattle, she took me by the home of Tim Fowler somewhere on East Howell Street. I was immediately gob-smacked by what I saw: a building that was more work of art than conventional dwelling.

“I saw Tim’s work well before I met him,” Nisi told me later. “I moved to this neighborhood the same year I moved to Seattle, 1996 or so. The Central District is one of the city’s ‘historically black’ areas. People had warned me against moving here, and yes there were crack hovels and mattresses on the lawn but also BBQ restaurants and beauty parlors and other signs–for me–of home.”

Tim was home, we saw, and Nisi called out, “Hi, Tim! Is it all right if my friend takes some pictures?” Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

July 22nd, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Spontaneously Self-assembling Eclectons

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Jayme Jacobson keeps finding these… things in her home. Here’s one now:

eclecton discovered by Jayme Jacobson

Eclectons, they’re called:

Eclectons spontaneously assemble out of everyday household products. If you pay close attention, you can catch them at the instance of assemblage (IA). After that, they fade from view, moving beyond the perceptual capacities of human beings.

But where, we wonder, do they do when they fade from view? We do, after all, live in a universe where energy is conserved. Jayme has some insight for us:

“Where do eclectons go?’ asked one of my young friends. It’s a good question because, as we know, they disappear from view shortly after IA (instance of assemblage). Evidence is a bit sketchy but one theory is that they are trying to get back to Eclectonia, a poorly understood galaxy about 450,000 light-years away that was recently picked up by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.

Check out more electons here.

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Written by Brian

May 13th, 2008 at 6:14 pm

Posted in art, science, the marvelous

GridShifter by Jolie Kaytes

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My colleague Jolie Kaytes is a professor of landscape architecture at Washington State University and is interested in sense of place, how place makes us who we are, both as individuals and as communities, and how creative and analytical thinking can be used in solving problems. Recently, she created The GridShiter, a souvenir origami kit for a gallery show in San Francisco. (The show is, or was, at City | Space in Noe Valley.) I was intrigued by the analogy of folding paper and faulting crust and asked her if we could create a video that would showcase not only her art project, but some of her ideas about sense of place, as well. The result was this five-minute video. We shot all the photographs, interviews and sound-over narration in one 90-minute session; Jolie is an amazingly fun and efficient person to work with. This was my first time doing stop-motion photography, so the still camera work is pretty rough. But I like it; it gives the folding demonstrations a nice earthquakey feel.

Unpacking Place

About a year ago, I used a bunch of still photos taken by Jolie and did a video reinterpretation of “Unpacking Place,” an installation in the Cougarland Motel in downtown Pullman. Along with 10 other artworks, “Unpacking Place” was available to the public for one day, March 2, 2007. The collection of installations was curated by Samantha DiRosa, assistant professor of digital media, and titled “In(n) and Out of Nowhere.”

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Written by Brian

May 5th, 2008 at 8:16 pm

The Lumiere Manifesto

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Lumiere Brothers“Back to basics!” cry the Lumieres. Here’re some snips from the Lumiere Manifesto:

Lumiere video arises from the tradition of the French Lumiere brothers. Credited with some of the first footage captured, in 1895, the Lumieres are also recognized for holding the first public film screening, showing ten shorts that lasted only twenty minutes total. At the time, Louis Lumiere stated, “The cinema is an invention without a future,” believing that everyday photography and video [or film, as the case was] was ultimately nonsensical. Yet, we stand firm that Lumiere principles are essential to our existence as artists, media producers, visual creatures, and world citizens. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

September 30th, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Posted in art, film

Sarah Hafner’s Quilts

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Sarah Hafner - Quilt ISometime in the mid-90s, I received a manuscript from Sarah Hafner. The result was a chapbook of stories called Some Girls. Sarah’s writing was hilarious and cutting at the same time, so when she asked me to consider her novel, The Elements of Style, I said, Sure, send it on over. I loved it and tired for a long time to raise the capital to publish this fine novel. It never came to be, and eventually I sold Permeable Press. Thankfully, Vivisphere bought The Elements of Style and brought it out as a handsome paperback. As one reviewer put it:

A mature Salinger arrives on the scene and it’s a woman! Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by Brian

September 19th, 2007 at 3:12 pm

Posted in art, fiction, the marvelous