April 20, 2011

Why Weiwei?

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December 13, 2010

Ai Weiwei – Sunflower Seeds

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Amazing; even more so after seeing this:

He seems like a nice guy.

Slam×Hype

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August 9, 2010

Images

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April 29, 2010

Images: Super Deluxx Edition

Henri Cartier-Bresson's portrait of Sartre is currently on view in his retrospective at MoMA

Henri Cartier-Bresson's portrait of Sartre is currently on view in his retrospective at MoMA

As with his entire body of work, Sartre’s theory of imagination refers to—and, naturally, affirms—his ontology, in which he explores Husserl’s tenet that “all consciousness is consciousness of something” in the context of the ‘detotalized totality’ of being-in-itself / being-for-itself dualism. Sartre postulates an admittedly underdeveloped notion of image consciousness in his early work The Imaginary (1940), though these writings are largely eclipsed by his later political [viz. Marxist] proclivities; nevertheless, his theory of imagination is a sufficient foundation of a phenomenological aesthetics.

Notably, Sartre implies that the imaginary (or ‘irreal’) has the same ontological import as the real: if the real is never beautiful, it is simply because beauty is, by definition, imaginary, where imagination is a permanent possibility of consciousness. A painting, photograph, film, song, performance, etc., necessarily transcends perception—i.e. consciousness of oil on canvas, ink on paper, a projection, an actor, etc.—as an object of image consciousness, which overflows with the meaning of the portrait (etc.): a particular arrangement of brushstrokes or sounds immediately presents itself to consciousness as an image or melody. The abstract, then, is that which escapes us in experience qua perception; colors transcend pigment to conjure mood or geometry.

Hence, Images (in no particular order):

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April 7, 2010

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April 5, 2010

Olafur Eliasson × Ma Yansong at Beijing's UCCA

UPDATE: Designboom has an extensive gallery of decreasingly abstract pictures.

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Danish-Icelandic art star Olafur Eliasson and Chinese architect Ma Yansong have collaborated on Feelings Are Facts, a site-specific installation currently on view in the ‘Big Room’ of the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing’s 798 Dashanzi Art District (astute readers will note that a photo of the atrium of the UCCA is the background of IYK).

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I’ll leave the description of the project to the nice folks at UCCA:

Basing this project on a series of previous experiments with atmospheric density, Eliasson introduces condensed banks of artificially produced fog into the gallery. Hundreds of fluorescent lights are installed in the ceiling as a grid of red, green, and blue zones. By permeating the fog, these lights create colored walk-through spaces that, in Eliasson’s words, function to ‘make the volume of the space explicit’. The colored zones introduce a scale of measurement in the gallery, their varying size and organization referencing urban-planning grids. At each color boundary, two hues blend to create transitional slivers of cyan, magenta, or yellow, and so the visitors will create their own unique color spectrum when making their way through this seemingly endless space. The artists use this structural marvel to present inquiries into the nature of reality. What should be the basis of our thinking and judgement in a space where reality and illusion interconnect? As we stand amidst such accomplished phenomena, can we re-examine with greater concern our sensations and experiences of that which is around us?

Feelings Are Facts press release

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UCCA also has a bit of background info on the artists: I’m fairly well-versed in Eliasson’s oeuvre but I’m not going to pretend that I’d heard of Ma Yansong before. Another one to watch, I suppose.

Feelings Are Facts is the second time UCCA has had the pleasure to collaborate with the remarkable Ma Yansong, the first collaboration being the 2008 exhibition Christian Dior and Chinese Artists. An exceptional figure within the Chinese architectural world, Ma has managed to elude stereotypical classification and categorization. His work harbors a permanent element of surprise, capturing the viewer’s attention with an adept use of the most advanced materials and techniques to realize his bold architectural visions. His inventive architectural forms resemble organic even human-like entities, emitting undeniable life-like energy.

About Artists, Jérôme Sans, UCCA Director

Olafur Eliasson & Ma Yansong
Feelings Are Facts
Big Room
Ullens Center for Contemporary Art
798 Art District
No.4 Jiuxianqiao Lu [map]
Chaoyang District
Beijing, China 100015
+86 (0) 10 8459 9269 / 8459 9387
Through June 20, 2010

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March 19, 2010

Hipsteria

or, What Hipster Means to Me

Hipster. Reject the label or embrace it, Sisyphus does not envy you though your path is clear: you like art (check), music (check), design (√), fashion (√), film (√), food (√) and biking around Brooklyn to jam with hipster friends or go to (i.e. be seen at) art happenings and step out for smokes (√√√√√). And you blog about it (√). There is no possibility that you have freely chosen to do these things: the hipster is a sheep, a cartoon, a robot, a target market—anything but a living, breathing human being. The hipster is Sartre’s waiter.*

[It would be too easy to populate this post with photos from LATFH, Vice, Cobrasnake, Last Night's Party, Lookbook.nu, etc. etc., so we're going with photos from Beijing's Ren Hang, via Neocha Edge. Are Chinese hipsters more or less authentic than their Western idols? Is Chinese anything more or less authentic than Western versions of the same? Meta-migraine...]

The New York Times recently ran a blurb on the (decline of the) hipster with a handful of decent and not-too-hateful comments. The piece cites Salon’s recent article on Hipsters+Food Stamps—which itself has elicited the usual anti-Trustafarian screeds and counterarguments in defense of food(ies), etc.—as the latest development in the ongoing culture war between “Young, Creative Urbanites” and regular people. Meanwhile, Adbusters is over it, which is probably for the best.

In any case, it’s worthy enough of an occasion to reflect on What Hipster Means to Me. (Ok so that’s probably an inappropriate, if pithy, exordium for what is intended to be a thoughtful, unironic and somewhat ambitious essay, but it was just too good to pass up.)

In other words, I’m not in denial about my hipster proclivities, so long as I might be granted the possibility of unironically self-identifying as a hipster. Similarly, Idolize Your Killers is (to borrow WordPress’s felicitous phrasing) “Just another hipster blog”—lest we forget that meta-commentary is the trademark of postmodernity and, by extension, hipsterdom and digital culture alike.

Yet “hipster” has been a pejorative term for nearly a decade now—a pigeonhole, a pariah, or worse: a Platonic “idea of Hipster.” This archetype finds infinite variations of empirical manifestations, though it is never fully realized; instead, an individual is reduced to his urban outfit, fixed-gear bike or love of Animal Collective, etc.

A brief overview on the case against hipsters: as the indie nation evolved alongside American Apparel*, so too did pent-up indignation at their smug, unleashed most memorably in Adbusters’ seminal July 2008 cover story “Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization.” Time Out is known to dabble in hipster-bashing; Paste did its part last year; Gawker and Gothamist hit the hipster hot button when they want to pander for pageviews. (I’m sure I’ve omitted many a rant; those are just the media that come to mind.) Conversely, the proto-hip tastemakers at Vice have somewhat validated the hipster with VBS’s ongoing alt-journalism efforts, which are now featured on the likes of CNN and Huffington Post.

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March 18, 2010

Why There Are Mountains

» Fuck Buttons – Space Mountain (8:45) – 13.2MB mp3 @ 210kbps

» The Flaming Lips – Worm Mountain (5:22) – 6.3MB mp3 @ 160kbps

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Zhou Hongjun and Xiong Lu have created Hermit Mountain, a multifaceted, multipurpose skyscraper, drawing inspiration from both traditional Chinese culture and modern design. The design explores a dialogue between rationality and chaos to achieve a refined yet altogether organic aesthetic.

More images at Designboom.

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Designer Enrico Dini has developed a 3D printer that makes rocks.

Dini claims the d-shape process is four times faster than conventional building, costs a third to a half as much as using Portland cement, creates little waste and is better for the environment. But its chief selling point may simply be that it makes creating Gaudiesque, curvy structures simple.

Two-dimensional print may be dead, but 3D is on the up-and-up.

Full story at Blueprint (FastCompany via Inhabitat)

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March 16, 2010

Daylight Saving Time & Other Items

» Aesop Rock – Daylight (4:25) – 4.1MB m4a @ 128kbps

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

The Persistence of Trite Imagery

Since this Sunday marked Daylight Saving Time, I decided to put my philosophy degree to good use by pondering the psychology and metaphysics of this semi-annual ritual.

First of all, there is technically only one daylight to be saved: contrary to folk wisdom that might suggest otherwise, daylight is an indivisible entity. In a sense, daylight is like money—which is also grammatically singular but conceptually plural (insofar as one would hope to have more than one money)—such that daylight is quantifiable, at least in terms of daylight hours. In other words, official terminology denotes that summer is ‘Time to Save Daylight’—i.e., Time for Daylight-Saving—while the colloquial (if not altogether prevalent) shorthand “Daylight Savings” is a gerund, as per the nominal usage of “Savings” for that type of  bank account. (Even the Wikipedia URL for the Daylight Saving Time entry is Daylight_savings.)

The monetary metaphor is useful in illustrating how DST’s pithy essence “spring forward, fall back” belies the curious phenomenon that either occasion—the turning of the clocks in spring or in fall—can be described as gaining or losing an hour. Common parlance suggests that we have indeed acquired a full 60 minutes, yet this increment simultaneously seems to have slipped through a mysterious temporal rift in the wee hours of Sunday morning. It appears that we have both gained and lost an hour on Sunday, a discrepancy that reveals two divergent systems of belief concerning time and how it is measured: absolute vs. relative. The two views correspond to a scientific picture of an independent physical world and a pragmatic ‘lived’ experience of time, respectively.

The former system holds that time marches forward of its own accord and that to push a clock forward—from 2AM to 3AM, say—disturbs the clockwork of the universe to the effect that humans have erased an hour from their day. Here the bank analogy must be modified: on Sunday, we withdrew an hour on credit, which we will pay back in October; for the next six months, we owe one hour to the universe, or nature, or whatever. We have lost it in the interest of practicality—we need to borrow the hour for the better half of the year—though we plan on restoring balance in six months or so. For the absolutist, the hour is deferred.

Those who abide by the second perspective, on the other hand, see time as more malleable, where chronology is purely pragmatic: we gained an hour on Sunday because we now have an extra hour of sunlight—and, ostensibly, productivity—to the effect that the days themselves grow longer. By springing forward, we stake a claim to the greater daylight afforded by the rotation of the Earth, silently folding one hour into the shroud of slumber in order to extend each and every day in those six months. For the relativist, it’s possible to save daylight like money albeit not in the interest of yielding a long-term dividend: everyone cashes out the same predetermined amount at the end of each day.

Of course, both schools of thought understand that the actual demarcation of time to be incidental (i.e. pragmatic in a broad sense)—otherwise we wouldn’t have license to give and take (or take and give) hours as we please. Nevertheless, I wonder if there is any correlation between the saving(s) locution and the gain/loss dichotomy: are relativists more predisposed to regarding DST as a savings account, as opposed to absolutists who treat the extra time as a line of credit?

Does that even make sense? Rather, does it even matter?

Now for the real news:

  • Advertising 2.0: This Time, It’s Personal. FaceBook is now crowdsourcing targeted advertising like social AdSense (=AdBook?). (NYT, Future Perfect) Also, Product Placement: Geolocation is so hot right now (NYT)
  • Mattel Mentality x Mad Men = Barbie. WTF. (NYT)
  • Google Maps now has (spotty) bike directions: Gothamist blurbs, Streetsblog mentions, Wired crowdsources; Bike Snob NYC is more thorough, with an incisive riposte to the Post
  • Big ups to the Alma Mater in the Times. But seriously, the prospect of digitally tracking writers’ inspiration and composition process is quite fascinating.
  • Stanley Fish on Pragmatism’s Gift.
  • I’ve always been a stickler for free throws (i.e. I don’t understand why every player isn’t shooting 90+% from the line), so I was pleased to see that Wired has posted a guide on How to Nail a Free Throw.
  • Old news, but here’s a couple of interesting articles on sports video games and their source material; specifically, how video games are have become increasingly true to life for athletes: League of Gamers (ESPN); Gamechangers: How Videogames Trained a Generation of Athletes (Wired)
  • Speaking of video games, Virtusphere. Just watch the damn video.
  • G4 (correctly, I think) identifies Chatroulette’s ‘Merton.’ NYMag’s Vulture (correctly, I think) identifies Ben Folds as a “Fin de siècle singer-songwriter.” Just watch the damn video.
  • (Over)analysis of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” music video. (Vigilant Citizen)

Music news:

  • What Would They Know: Matthew Perpetua interviews Liars for Pitchfork.
  • Time to Get Away: LCD Soundsystem finishing up their last record. (Daily Swarm)
  • Wanna Be Startin’ Something: MJ posthumously lands a massive record deal. (WSJ, NYT)

Art news:

Bonus Trailer:

Ride, Rise, Roar trailer via Wired.

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February 27, 2010

Still vs Moving

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