Posts Tagged ‘the Internet’

Henry McCausland

Published June 8, 2010 by Molly

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When given the opportunity to gaze upon Henry McCausland’s work, it’s hard not to let the adjectives pile up willy-nilly. One’s eyes glaze over in delight and a series of words come to mind: enchanting! vivid! smart! detail-oriented!

Maybe this isn’t such a bad response to have. Maybe this is what good illustration should do: provoke the imagination, please the eyeballs, stymie the brain. In any case, there’s so much to see.

Benbo George

Published June 7, 2010 by Molly

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Benbo George’s images are the sort of thing a very talented person might come up with in a lucid dream about image manipulation. Cosmic and shimmering, the images use repetition and mirroring in ways that thwart facile interpretation. The graphic designer/illustrator claims to divide his time between Liverpool and London, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the astral plane figured into that itinerary somewhere.

Travess Smalley

Published June 1, 2010 by Molly

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We’re not clear on how we wound up at Travess Smalley’s web page, but we happily spent a solid chunk of time staring hypnotized at the never-ending wall of images Smalley has arranged for all to see. Imagine, if you will, that a Magic Eye puzzle book consumed the entire internet circa 1997, entered a wormhole, took a cat-nap, woke up and shouted “HELLO” to the world. That’s a starting description. We challenge you to come up with a better one.

Shorpy

Published March 22, 2010 by Molly

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God bless the internet. Nothing puts us in a better mood, really, than locating incredible labor-of-love websites that provide endless hours of fascination. The Shorpy Historic Photo Archive is one such website.

With the motto “ALWAYS SOMETHING INTERESTING”, Shorpy is a vintage photography blog collecting high-quality images from the 1850s through the 1950s. The only unifying thread is that the images be interesting. That’s it! By this logic it’s possible to come upon a Howard University home-ec classroom circa 1925, a burning sugar cane field in Puerto Rico, civil war smokestacks, and a whole category devoted to pretty girls throughout the ages.

The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago in Jefferson County, Alabama. The origin story is here. We think the internet can claim victory, now.

Who Was Eugene Glynn?

Published October 16, 2009 by Graham

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“Will reality match up to the television fantasies this generation has been nursed on? These children are in a peculiar position; experience is exhausted in advance. There is little they have not seen or done or lived through, and yet this is second-hand experience.”

The year was 1956 and the blunting, desensitizing impact of TV was on the mind of art critic, psychoanalyst, and Maurice Sendak’s life partner for more than 50 years, Dr. Eugene D. Glynn. This fear of mass media’s ominous implications seemed to be melting brains everywhere in the 1950s, and it’s one that remains prevalent today—simply transposed to hand-wringing about kids growing up with constant access to the Internet. But Glynn’s casually brilliant essay, “Television and the American Character,” was different.

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He discussed the form of television rather than the content, noting the ways in which television becomes an adult’s regressive substitute for a care-giving mother: “Warmth, sound, constancy, availability, a steady giving without ever a demand for return, the encouragement to complete passive surrender and envelopment—all this and active fantasy besides.” Too true, right? It’s a critique that surpasses the limited foresight afforded to the citizens of the 1950s about television’s complex destiny.

More than that, Glynn goes beyond the article’s initial concerns to embrace television’s potential as a positive social force, expanding horizons and destroying provincialism.

“Techniques will have to be worked out for educational television for showing, not a baseball game, but how to pitch a curveball; for sending its audience on nature hunts, into club activity, to the library for books. Being aware of the dependent relationship in its audience, television must look for ways to undo it—the problem of any teacher or parent.”

There’s a whole book full of essays penned by Glynn; ruminations on Norman Mailer, Lucas Samaras, developmental psychologist Erik Erikson, Michelangelo, the history of erotic art, and the ethics of exhibiting Jackson Pollock’s art therapy works (spoilers: it’s unethical). Desperate Necessity: Writings on Art and Psychoanalysis was published posthumously in 2008, liberating Glynn’s fascinating writings from the back issues of obscure art journals and painting a picture of a man who was always just a little bit out of step with his time, tackling social issues with a peculiarly frank clarity. The type of man who just might be the perfect spiritual match for Maurice Sendak.

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After reading Desperate Necessity I was a little bit disappointed that “Gene” had never collaborated directly with Sendak. But maybe their whole lives together were a collaboration. Sendak, as a picture book artist, changed the way we thought about childhood. He embedded deep psychological issues under the alluring surface of art for the masses. Would it all have been the same without Eugene Glynn by his side?

DraWords

Published September 10, 2009 by Molly

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The internet has done a few great things for art. One of them, no doubt, is the sudden ease of widespread (and even anonymous!) collaborations between far-flung talents. Craig Frazier’s DraWords project is a prime example of this quality. A renowned illustrator and designer––he’s done everything from US Postage stamps to features for the NY Times Op/Ed Page––Frazier offers new comics weekly on the DraWords site and invites readers to submit their own captions, with the best one documented for posterity.

Whether you fill in the blanks or not, browsing Frazier’s cartoons is a neat exercise in figuring out the ingredients of humor, and the many ways of telling a visual joke.

Ryan Trecartin

Published June 26, 2009 by Graham

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Video artist and sculptor Ryan Trecartin’s D.I.Y. digital opuses are overwhelming in their labyrinthine visual complexity, reaching new aesthetic depths through a deluge of multi-layered raw footage spliced together faster than we can process what we’re seeing. As a device, dazzling viewers with an over-stimulated cyberdelic assualt is nothing new– but the key to Trecartin’s success is his indelibly strong grasp on the fragmented cacophony he creates. His execution is so meticulous that, combined with the excellent performances (especially the artist’s own), lovingly hand-crafted production deisgn, and hilariously lyrical dialogue, Trecartin’s videos become viscerally resonating trascendental experiences.

The impulsive, manic logic ruling the otherworldly language of Trecartin’s videos is an unsettlingly distorted one, to be sure, but not to the point of becoming indecipherable. Watching a Ryan Trecartin video flexes the same mental muscles that help you decode a 13-year-old’s instant message, or unravel the mysteries of an autistic outsider artist’s cryptic canvas. The generation currently coming of age possesses mutant superpowers of critical thinking– a propoensity for shifting semiotic fundamentals without flinching– thanks to the unassuming interference of the Internet. Ryan Trecartin is making art that allows us to put those fledgling powers to work.

Trecartin’s latest epic, Sibling Topics: (Section A and Section B), is the centerpiece of The New Museum’s triennial celebrating artists below the age of 33, Younger Than Jesus. The exhibit, which closes July 5th, also showcases work from Cory Arcangel, Cao Fei, Brendan Fowler and dozens of other trippendicular pretty young things. Check out Trecartin’s feature length 2007 video below, I-Be AREA.

Roald Dahl in a Sleeping Bag in the Virtual Hut

Published June 8, 2009 by Graham

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Cabinet Magazine recently published an article entitled “To Sit, To Stand, To Write,” examining a deep rift amongst history’s greatest writers: the ideal bodily position for writing. Friedrich Nietzsche, for instance, responded to Gustave Flaubert’s casual remark that “one cannot think and write except when seated,” with an infuriated accusation of cultural decadence, writing, “There I have caught you, nihilist! The sedentary life is the very sin against the Holy Spirit. Only thoughts reached by walking have value.”

Nietzche was not alone in his preference– though he was perhaps unparalleled in the philosophical weight he placed behind it. According to the article, Virginia Woolf, Lewis Carroll, Oliver Wendell Holmes and Ernest Hemingway all wrote standing up, hovering over lecterns and typewriters placed upon dressers. Still others preferred the supine pose, including Mark Twain, who wrote in bed. Roald Dahl’s writing habits were generally rather traditional in his tendency to be seated, and yet the description of his writing environment is one of the most interesting parts of the article.

We can conjecture that it was phsical considerations that caused the six-foot-six-inch Thomas Wolfe to write his opulent, autobiographical novels using the top of his refrigerator as his desk, the shifting of his weight from foot to foot being a neat approximation of the Nietzschean decree that all writing should “dance.” But what do we then make of Roald Dahl, also six-foot-six, who everyday climbed into a sleeping back before settling into an old wing-backed chair, his feet resting immobile on a battered traveling case full of logs? Dahl’s claim that “all the best stuff comes at the desk,” is a simple modern variation on Flaubert’s static dictum.

Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we can go on an informative virtual tour of Dahl’s fabled writing hut, minus the writer and his lanky legs that are no longer resting on that log-filled suitcase. When do the rest of us get our writing huts?

The Texture of Cyberspace

Published June 5, 2009 by Graham

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Meme Scenery is the sublime result of removing the humans (and cats) from wildly popular internet memes like Star Wars Kid, Afro Ninja, and David After Dentist. What remains are a series of uninhabited environments– documents of ordinary settings minus the characters and actions that rendered them extraordinary. These empty bedrooms, stores and local news environments form the palette of an era. This is the set design manual for 2000s-era period pieces and costume dramas.

via This Is A Race.

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The Cloud Society

Published June 3, 2009 by Graham

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Every month The Cloud Society presents a new challenge. Every challenge is a game in The Cloud Society, a game that everyone’s invited to play. “Use a mirror or several mirrors to create an image that reflects reality,” was the prompt one month. Another month, participants were encouraged to “Make a monster or capture it. Send us an image of the beast.” The picture above comes from a proposal called “Be Frida”– a command designed to instigate intentionally superficial interpretations of Frida Kahlo cosplay.

Come on, try it out! Quoth The Cloud Society’s manifesto:

We like to play. We like to practice. We believe in good intentions. We would like anyone to participate, no matter their age, interests or job. Don’t feel intimidated by a musical project, for example, if you’ve never written a song. We don’t judge the quality of the collaborations, so give it a try. You might discover something interesting. What is there to lose?