Archive for ‘Art’

May 4, 2020

George Barris

Batmobile

George Barris (1925 – 2015) was an American designer and builder of many famous Hollywood custom cars, most notably the Munster Koach and 1966 Batmobile.

George and his brother Sam were born in Chicago in the 1920s. Barris was three years old when their father, a Greek immigrant from Chios, sent the brothers to live with an uncle and his wife in Roseville, California, following the death of their mother. By age 7, Barris was making models of cars employing balsa wood and modifying their design and appearance with careful attention to details so his entries won contests sponsored by hobby shops.

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April 16, 2020

Tensegrity

Skylon by George Morrow

Tensegrity [ten-seg-ri-tee], tensional integrity or floating compression is a structural principle based on a system of isolated components under compression inside a network of continuous tension, and arranged in such a way that the compressed members (usually bars or struts) do not touch each other while the prestressed tensioned members (usually cables or tendons) delineate the system spatially.

The term was coined by inventor Buckminster Fuller in the 1960s as a portmanteau of ‘tensional integrity.’ The other denomination of tensegrity, floating compression, was used mainly by the constructivist artist Kenneth Snelson. Shorter columns or struts in compression are stronger than longer ones. This in turn led Fuller to make claims that tensegrity structures could be scaled up to cover whole cities.

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March 30, 2020

Smurfette Principle

Smurfette

The Smurfette principle is the practice in media, such as film and television, to include only one woman in an otherwise entirely male ensemble. It establishes a male-dominated narrative, where the woman is the exception and exists only in reference to the men.

The term was coined by American poet and critic Katha Pollitt in 1991 in ‘The New York Times’: ‘Contemporary shows are either essentially all-male, like ‘Garfield,’ or are organized on what I call the ‘Smurfette principle’: a group of male buddies will be accented by a lone female, stereotypically defined… The message is clear. Boys are the norm, girls the variation; boys are central, girls peripheral; boys are individuals, girls types. Boys define the group, its story and its code of values. Girls exist only in relation to boys.’

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March 19, 2020

Creative nonfiction

In Cold Blood

Creative nonfiction (also known as verfabula) is a genre of writing that uses literary styles and techniques to create factually accurate narratives. Creative nonfiction contrasts with other nonfiction, such as academic or technical writing or journalism, which is also rooted in accurate fact but is not written to entertain based on prose style.

For a text to be considered creative nonfiction, it must be factually accurate, and written with attention to literary style and technique. ‘Ultimately, the primary goal of the creative nonfiction writer is to communicate information, just like a reporter, but to shape it in a way that reads like fiction.’ Forms within this genre include biography, autobiography, memoir, diary, travel writing, food writing, literary journalism, chronicle, personal essays, and other hybridized essays.

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March 16, 2020

Weird Al Yankovic

UHF

Weird Al Yankovic (b.1959) is an American musical comedian whose humorous songs make light of popular culture and often parody specific songs by contemporary musical acts; original songs that are style pastiches of the work of other acts; and polka medleys of several popular songs, featuring his favored instrument, the accordion.

Since his first-aired comedy song in 1976, he has sold more than 12 million albums (as of 2007), recorded more than 150 parody and original songs, and performed more than 1,000 live shows. His works have earned him five Grammy Awards and a further eleven nominations, four gold records, and six platinum records in the United States. Yankovic’s first top ten Billboard album (‘Straight Outta Lynwood’) and single (‘White & Nerdy’) were both released in 2006, nearly three decades into his career.

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March 6, 2020

Musica Universalis

Harmonices Mundi

The musica universalis (literally ‘universal music’), also called ‘music of the spheres’ or ‘harmony of the spheres,’ is an ancient philosophical concept that regards proportions in the movements of celestial bodies—the Sun, Moon, and planets—as a form of music. This ‘music’ is not thought to be audible, but rather a harmonic, mathematical, or religious concept.

The idea continued to appeal to scholars until the end of the Renaissance, influencing many kinds of scholars, including humanists. Further scientific exploration discovered orbital resonance in specific proportions in some orbital motion.

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February 21, 2020

Vacuum Tube

Tube Sound

vacuum tube, also called a ‘valve’ in British English, is a device that controls electric current flow in a high vacuum between electrodes (conductors that emit or receive electrons). Tubes were used in many radios, television sets, and amplifiers until they were supplanted by lower cost transistors in the 1960s that performed the same function but used less electricity and were more durable.

In a vacuum tube, a cathode (an electrode that emits electrons) is heated, as in a light bulb, so it will emit electrons. This is called ‘thermionic emission.’ The electrons are accelerated from the cathode to the anode (an electrode that receives electrons) by the electric field in the tube. Vacuum tubes must be hot to work. Most are made of glass, thus are fragile and can break. Vacuum tubes were used in the first computers like the ENIAC, which were large and need much work to continue operating.

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February 21, 2020

Noguchi Table

Isamu Noguchi

The Noguchi [nuh-goo-chee] table is a piece of modernist furniture first produced in the mid-20th century. Introduced by Herman Miller in 1947, it was designed in the United States by Japanese American artist and industrial designer Isamu Noguchi. The Noguchi table comprises a wooden base composed of two identical curved wood pieces and a heavy plate glass top.

The Noguchi table was an evolution of a rosewood and glass table Noguchi designed in 1939 for A. Conger Goodyear, president of the Museum of Modern Art. The design team at Herman Miller was so impressed by the table’s use of biomorphism (shapes reminiscent of living organisms) that they recruited Noguchi to design a similar table with a freeform sculptural base and biomorphic glass top for use in both residential and office environments.

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February 10, 2020

Gentleman Thief

To Catch a Thief

gentleman thief, gentleman burglar, lady thief, or phantom thief is a stock character in fiction. A gentleman or lady thief usually has inherited wealth and is characterized by impeccable manners, charm, courteousness, and the avoidance of physical force or intimidation to steal.

As such, they steal not only to gain material wealth but also for the thrill of the act itself, which is often combined in fiction with correcting a moral wrong, selecting wealthy targets, or stealing only particular rare or challenging objects.

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February 3, 2020

Soundwalk

World Soundscape Project

soundwalk is a walk with a focus on listening to the environment. The term was first used by members of the World Soundscape Project under the leadership of composer R. Murray Schafer in Vancouver in the 1970s.

Hildegard Westerkamp, from the same group of artists, defines soundwalking as ‘… any excursion whose main purpose is listening to the environment. It is exposing our ears to every sound around us no matter where we are.’

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February 2, 2020

History of DJing

Paradise Garage

DJing is the act of playing existing recorded music for a live audience. The modern DJ’s role as a performer who creates a seamless and extended mix of music for a dance party or club atmosphere evolved from radio personalities who introduced and played individual selections of recorded music on broadcast radio stations.

In 1935, American radio commentator Walter Winchell coined the term ‘disc jockey’ (the combination of disc, referring to disc-shaped phonograph records, and jockey, which is an operator of a machine) to describe radio announcer Martin Block, the first radio announcer to gain widespread fame for playing popular recorded music over the air.

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January 8, 2020

Revolution 9

Helter Skelter

Paul is dead

Revolution 9 is a sound collage that appeared on the Beatles’ 1968 eponymous release (popularly known as the ‘White Album’). The composition, credited to Lennon–McCartney, was created primarily by John Lennon with assistance from George Harrison and Yoko Ono. Lennon said he was trying to paint a picture of a revolution using sound. The composition was influenced by the avant garde style of Ono as well as the musique concrète works of composers such as Edgard Varèse and Karlheinz Stockhausen.

British music critic Ian MacDonald remarked that ‘Revolution 9’ evoked the era’s revolutionary disruptions and their repercussions, and thus was culturally ‘one of the most significant acts the Beatles ever perpetrated,’ as well as ‘the world’s most widely distributed avant garde artifact.’

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