It seems obvious that a man without a shirt in a national magazine, a widely distributed film still, or viral image on the internet is sending a message about masculinity. What’s less obvious, however, is how those messages have changed — and in an era seemingly saturated with shirtlessness, how much they communicate about the desperate need for masculinity to forcefully, aggressively, unceasingly reassert itself. [slAnneHelenPetersen@Buzzfeed] [more inside]
Together we investigate the possibility of a minimal bicycle that does not require multiple feet nor the reversal of gravity. I have some reservations about the performance, but none about the aesthetics. [SLYT]
Worst of the McMansions If you love to hate the ugly houses that became ubiquitous before the bubble burst (1980s-2009) you've come to the right place. Highlights include: McMansions 101: What Makes a McMansion Bad?, and this brief opinionated history of the garage.
"The Choking Victim" by MeFi's own Alexandra Kleeman is a short story that portrays one new mother's anxiety. The dream-like fiction linked at the author's web site offers a wider perspective on her work. [more inside]
The Propaganda of Pantone: Colour and Subcultural Sublimation. Pantone’s choice of “Rose Quartz” and “Serenity” as the 2016 Colour of the Year is the most insidious move by this colour-industrial-complex since “Blue Iris” in 2008. As with “Blue Iris”, Pantone has once again mined the subcultural landscape and used their monopoly within the creative industries to propagate their colour properties to the world. Previously & more.
Inside America's worst train station: What makes New York's Penn Station suck so bad? Today, Penn Station is more like a polished turd, except it’s not really polished... I called up James Ramsey, founder of Raad Studio, former NASA engineer, co-creator of the Lowline project, and all-around keen architectural eye, and asked him to give us an expert's look at why exactly this place sucks so much — to play Virgil to our Dante as we descend into the hellish circles of New York's Pennsylvania Station. [more inside]
"When we use the phrase, what we seem to be trying to say is that there should be a lot of room for intelligent disagreement around aesthetics – and that we don’t feel comfortable about asserting the superiority of any one style or approach over any other. It implies an acute sensitivity to conflict and a fear of being rude or mean to others. However, by resorting to the phrase, what we actually do is unleash a stranger and more reckless situation: what we’re in effect stating is that nothing is ever really more beautiful – or uglier – than anything else. This suggestion then has a way of implying that the whole subject is essentially trivial. After all, we’d never say that truths about the economy or justice were in the eyes of beholders only. We know that big things are at stake here – and over time, we’ve come to positions about the right and wrong way of approaching these topics, and are ready to discuss and defend our ideas. We wouldn’t ever say that ‘the treatment of the poor is just a subject best left entirely to the eyes of beholders’ or ‘the best way to raise children is in the eyes of beholders,’ or ‘the future of the environment is in the eyes of beholders.’ We accept that there are dangers to arguing in aggressive and unfruitful ways; but we are confident that there are sensible and polite ways to advance through these tricky yet vital debates. The same should feel true around beauty."
The appeal of symmetry in art or inanimate objects (74 submissions currently and growing). Previously.
“The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.” -- Robert Jordan [more inside]
"That's my 'favourite' thing about music: encountering in the moment each artwork, however humble, already dignified by the sheer distinction of being incomparably human and thus, irreducibly, itself." 13 Reasons Why I Can't Pick My 13 Favourite Records, By Drew Daniel.
How do you destroy the aesthetic integrity of the world's fourteenth tallest building? All you need are five massive letters.
Think You Know Ugly? Think Again
You might feel revolted by an object, but if you try to objectively explain why it is ugly, it’s harder than you think. Most people are influenced by the dominant tastes and fashion sensibilities of their generation, class, and ethnic group, and when you remove those factors from the equation, an exact, universal definition of “ugliness” becomes almost impossible to pin down.[more inside]
In a new exhibition titled Beautiful Science: Picturing Data, Inspiring Insight, the British Library pays homage to the important role data visualization plays in the scientific process. The exhibition can be visited from 20 February until 26 May 2014, and contains works ranging from John Snow's plotting of the 1854 London cholera infections on a map to colourful depictions of the Tree of Life. In a Nature Video, curator Johanna Kieniewicz explores some of the beautiful examples of visualizations that are exhibited.[more inside]
The emotional experience of mathematical elegance. A new study by the perceptual neurobiologist Semir Zeki and the great mathematician (& Fields Medalist) Sir Michael Atiyah examines fMRI scans of mathematicians viewing formulae which they'd previously rated as beautiful or ugly, and reports that mathematical beauty elicits activity in the same brain regions as great art or music.
La bella vita: True beauty pleases the eye and the mind – but can it help us to become better people? "In 1795, the German dramatist and poet Friedrich Schiller published a book with a fearsome title – On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters. It has never become well-known, which is a pity, because it contains some of our most useful insights into the nature and value of beauty. Schiller’s starting point is an analysis of the human condition. He wants to understand our delight in what we find beautiful. Instead of asking which things are beautiful, Schiller is curious about what is going on in us when we respond with this distinctive, intimate thrill and enthusiasm that leads us to say ‘that’s beautiful’. Different things might provoke this response in different people. But why do we have it at all?" [Via]
Last month, we lost one of the great philosophers of the 20th century. Arthur C. Danto was perhaps the most eminent voice in contemporary aesthetics. Always on the cutting edge, Danto shined a light on aesthetics in the post-art world. [more inside]
The FBI files on being and nothingness. "From 1945 onwards, J Edgar Hoover’s FBI spied on Camus and Sartre. The investigation soon turned into a philosophical inquiry…" [Via]
Gilded Birds: A Snapshot of Contemporary Ideals of Beauty. Writers, artists, and philosophers are prompted to select a piece that they consider beautiful, and then interviewed about their reasons for choosing it.
Rational reductionist approaches to the neural basis for beauty run a similar risk of pushing the round block of beauty into the square hole of science and may well distill out the very thing one wants to understand.An essay by Bevil Conway and Alexander Rehding in PLoS Biology. (via)
"From symbols and notions to literary and religious allusions, this chart contains [W.H.] Auden's view of the world (and of worlds beyond), at least as he envisioned it in the 1940s." [more inside]
Around 1992 Mondo 2000 magazine asked: "R.U A Cyperpunk?"
Jimmyjane (NSFW) makes luxury, design-oriented vibrators and other sex toys and accessories. ("Design inspired by Apple, not Hustler.") They'd like to change the way Americans think about them: instead of as 'dirty little secrets,' they're hoping for mainstream acceptance and to usher in an "Age of Great American Sex." (Via) [more inside]
Sure, the follies of art-speak are easy to laugh at, but often criticism of it begins and ends with a dismissive chuckle – which ignores profounder problems. Why should academic terminology be the default vehicle for discussing art? Why is there such an emphasis on newness, schism and radicality? Even when the art itself may be enjoyably throwaway, language pins it to deathlessly auratic registers of exchange. This suggests a subliminal fear that, if the subject in question is not talked up as Big and Culturally Significant, then the point of fussing over it in the first place might be called into question, bringing the whole house of cards tumbling down - Dan Fox, the associate editor of frieze magazine, discusses the contemporary art scene in detail.
This is a strange thing. This is a look, a style, a pattern that didn’t previously exist in the real world. It’s something that’s come out of digital.
"Above all, the New Aesthetic is telling the truth. There truly are many forms of imagery nowadays that are modern, and unique to this period. We’re surrounded by systems, devices and machineries generating heaps of raw graphic novelty. We built them, we programmed them, we set them loose for a variety of motives, but they do some unexpected and provocative things." Bruce Sterling (Previously) writes about the New Aesthetic movement in Wired magazine. [more inside]
74 years ago today, Nazi officials debuted an exhibit of "degenerate art" in Munich made up from pieces among the over 5,000 works of art the government had confiscated, including works by Paul Klee, Marc Chagall, Piet Mondrian, and Wassily Kandisnsky. Most of the pieces the Nazis confiscated were later publically burned, although some was auctioned off or kept by prominent Nazis. Last year, a few of the confiscated sculptures were recovered from a bombed-out basement and exhibited. Today, you can view images from the exhibition catalogue as well as an unfinished recreation of the exhibit. [more inside]
The New Aesthetic For a while now, I’ve been collecting images and things that seem to approach a new aesthetic of the future, which sounds more portentous than I mean. What I mean is that we’ve got frustrated with the NASA extropianism space-future, the failure of jetpacks, and we need to see the technologies we actually have with a new wonder.
What Relational Aesthetics Can Learn From 4Chan : Art Fag City considers /b/ as collaborative art.
The New York Times reports that anime-style "Circle" (or "Big Eye") lenses are currently gaining in popularity, thanks to Lady Gaga's Bad Romance video. [more inside]
Hidden World of Girls: Girls and the Women they Become is NPR's collaborative year-long, ongoing series between The Kitchen Sisters, NPR and listener submissions. The series explores "stories of coming of age, rituals and rites of passage, secet identities—of women who crossed a line, blazed a trail, changed the tide." [more inside]
TV serials, says Richard Beck, self-consciously set out from the very beginning to get us to take them seriously. From Hill Street Blues to The West Wing to The Sopranos and The Wire, how the television series convinced us that it was art — and now, why Lost's achievement of success via casual genre mixing and narrative derangement might signal that there's no future creative ground left within the old limits of serial drama.
The New York Times covers a 'new celebrity trend', Unshaven Women, Free Spirits or Unkempt?
Douglas Wolk presents a drastically condensed awesome version of Kant's critique of aesthetic judgment.
Synchronous Objects - Exploring choreographic structures using objects and data, creating stunning visualisations. [flash]
He Saw, She Saw. According to a study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, beauty may affect men's and women's brains in different ways.
Trigger Happier "Trigger Happy is a book about the aesthetics of videogames — what they share with cinema, the history of painting, or literature; and what makes them different, in terms of form, psychology and semiotics. It’s offered under a CC license, for a limited time only. I’m not sure how limited that time will be, so grab it while it’s hot." [drm-free pdf]
The Visual Erotics of Mini-Marriages. The appeal of tiny nuptials between children, stuffed kittens, and other small, cute things. [via]
The Visual Image of Chemistry: Perspectives from the History of Art and Science. [Via homunculus (no relation)]
"To determine whether a diagram is good or bad, one needs to determine for what context it was designed for." PingMag (1, 2) interviews Andrew Vande Moere of infosthetics . A quick, informative read which includes pretty pictures of some MeFi faves.
8=8 is a group of four programmers = four performers = four artists. We each built our own program for my Hypertable platform, then created a program that would group them together for a public performance. More videos &c.
Douglas Hofstadter says, "What troubles me is the notion that things that touch me at my deepest core -- pieces of music most of all, which I have always taken as direct soul-to-soul messages -- might be effectively produced by mechanisms thousands if not millions of times simpler than the intricate biological machinery that gives rise to a human soul.". That was prompted by his reception to the output of David Cope's project Experiments in Musical Intelligence.
Mathematical proofs in sanus, with some visualization from Martin Wattenberg's The Shape of Song. "The music here...is a raw and unadorned representation of the mathematics itself, involving few human preconceptions beyond a basic mapping needed to accommodate the Western tonal scale."
The Aesthetics of Resistance. The first part of Peter Weiss's 3-volume novel Die Ästhetik des Widerstands (1975-81) has, after many delays, finally been published in a Joachim Neugroschel’s English translation: a major, though largely-unheralded literary event. The book ‘stands as the most significant German novel published after The Tin Drum.’ [more inside]
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