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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tomato blossoms- Top deck

Taken at Whale Song

Chive blossom- Top deck

Taken at Whale Song

She was the model for (and possibly the lover of) Gustav Klimt

Museum Barbie

A new doll is inspired by Adele Bloch-Bauer, Klimt’s famous Austrian Jewish model. It’s one of a new series of collector’s edition dolls dedicated to great works of art.

BY ROBIN CEMBALEST | Jun 28, 2011 7:00 AM | Print | Email | Share360
Klimt Barbie; “Adele Bloch-Bauer I” at the Neue Galerie.
Collage: Tablet Magazine; Barbie photo: Mattel; Neue Galerie photo: Chris Hondros/Getty Images
She was the model for (and possibly the lover of) Gustav Klimt, whose ravishing golden portrait of her, finished in 1907 and modeled on Byzantine mosaics of Empress Theodora in Ravenna, came to symbolize the edgy glamour of fin de si├Ęcle Vienna. But it was only after her death in 1925 that Adele Bloch-Bauer became a worldwide celebrity, when the shimmering portrait became the focus of an international legal battle over its status as Nazi war loot. Eventually restituted to the niece of the sitter,Portrait of Adele Bloch I became famous for yet another reason: In 2006, it was sold to Ronald Lauder for a reported $135 million, said to be the highest price paid for an artwork at the time. “Our Mona Lisa,” as Lauder called her, now resides in the Manhattan museum he founded, the Neue Galerie, across Fifth Avenue from the Metropolitan Museum, and she has begun earning her keep by inspiring a jewelry line designed and executed by experts from the Gem Palace Jaipur, offering such steals as an $8,750, 22-carat spiral cuff bracelet.
More recently, however, the brainy, beautiful muse of Austria’s avant-garde has inspired a product vastly lower in price but higher in cultural currency: a Barbie doll. The Klimt-inspired Barbie, in her glistening, geometric gown—along with, fittingly enough, a Mona Lisa-inspired Barbie, adorned in Renaissance finery, and a van Goghian Barbie, rocking a Starry Night cocktail dress—are the three inaugural offerings of the Barbie Collector Museum Collection. At $34.95 each, these dolls are aimed not at the youthful Barbie enthusiast—nor, for that matter, at the art enthusiast—but rather at the adult consumer, someone who might also acquire the glamorous, Project Runway-ready Barbie whose look was inspired by the Sydney Opera House.
That the Jewish grande dame of Vienna’s salons would become a classic American doll is less a stretch than it seems, given Barbie’s origins. She was created by Ruth Handler, daughter of Russian-Jewish immigrants, who took the concept from paper fashion dolls, the shape from a sexy German doll, and the name from her daughter. The product was available in blonde or brunette, with multiple outfits sold separately.
Though she was an immediate hit, Barbie was long maligned by intellectuals for her anatomical and political incorrectness. But now Handler’s creation is finally enjoying a post-modernist, post-feminist bump. The doll who has been toyed with by so many artists—sometimes lovingly, sometimes sadistically—is now a museum piece. The original 1959 Barbie Teen Age Fashion Model, known as Barbie No. 1, was recently acquired by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which will feature her (and Ken) in its upcoming show “California Design, 1930-1965: Living in a Modern Way.” 
Barbie now has an iPad, according to her Twitter feed, and a subscription to Architectural Record. That’s for Architect Barbie, who debuts this fall. Part of a new line of professional Barbies, she almost didn’t happen until concerned women in the profession took up her cause, reasoning that there’s no point in throwing out the bombshell with the bathwater if there’s a chance to influence young women to take on the profession.
Architectural historian Despina Stratigakos recounts in Design Observer how, after lobbying for the production of Architect Barbie, she and a colleague worked with Mattel to develop the doll’s outfit. After much debate over the skirt vs. paints conundrum, they decided on a pink-and-blue A-line dress (topped with by a short-sleeve, wide-lapel jacket), black ankle boots (with a chunky heel), nerdy black glasses (on her head, not her face), a white hard hat, and a pink drawing tube. The feminine touches, Stratigakos explains, are “not an act of oppression, but of resistance,” channeling “girl power” by transcending restrictions and stereotypes of the past. (The doll is available in Caucasian and African American versions.) Real-life members of the American Institute of Architects, which supports the doll, can enter a competition to design Barbie’s Dream House. But in dreams begin responsibilities: Architect Barbie needs a home that is green and sustainable.
Adele Bloch-Bauer Barbie, on the other hand, is homeless. She is a collector’s item, not a role model. Removed from her real-life connections—to her past, the Holocaust, the courts, the art market—she’s all about that dress. Are there more chapters for this Viennese Jewish princess, other products to inspire? Appropriate quarters might be nice. Maybe one day a kid inspired by Architect Barbie will build Adele a dream house of her own, one to match the mansion in which her namesake’s painting now hangs.
Robin Cembalest is executive editor of ARTnews. She blogs at letmypeopleshow.com.

Let’s say you pick up a copy of “Jude the Obscure,” become obsessed with Victorian fiction and somehow manage to make your way through all 200-odd books generally considered part of that canon.


What Is Distant Reading?

Illustration by Joon Mo Kang (Source: Stanford Literary Lab)
“Ars longa,” the ancient saying goes, “vita brevis.” Art is long, life short, and the problem is intensifying. As the literary ars lurches exponentially more longa — accommodating the printing press, “Gravity’s Rainbow,” Google Books — our collective TBR pile towers ever more vertiginously overhead. Which raises a question: What are we mortal beings supposed to do with all these books?
Franco Moretti has a solution: don’t read them. Moretti is not a satirist. He’s an Italian literary scholar and the founder of the Stanford Literary Lab, which opened last year, published its maiden pamphlet in January and followed up with another last month. The first pamphlet asks whether computers can recognize literary genres, and the second uses network theory to re-envision plots.
As its name suggests, the Lit Lab tackles literary problems by scientific means: hypothesis-testing, computational modeling, quantitative analysis. Similar efforts are currently proliferating under the broad rubric of “digital humanities,” but Moretti’s approach is among the more radical. He advocates what he terms “distant reading”: understanding literature not by studying particular texts, but by aggregating and analyzing massive amounts of data.
We need distant reading, Moretti argues, because its opposite, close reading, can’t uncover the true scope and nature of literature. Let’s say you pick up a copy of “Jude the Obscure,” become obsessed with Victorian fiction and somehow manage to make your way through all 200-odd books generally considered part of that canon. Moretti would say: So what? As many as 60,000 other novels were published in 19th-century England — to mention nothing of other times and places. You might know your George Eliot from your George Meredith, but you won’t have learned anything meaningful about literature, because your sample size is absurdly small. Since no feasible amount of reading can fix that, what’s called for is a change not in scale but in strategy. To understand literature, Moretti argues, we must stop reading books.
The Lit Lab seeks to put this controversial theory into practice (or, more aptly, this practice into practice, since distant reading is less a theory than a method). In its January pamphlet, for instance, the team fed 30 novels identified by genre into two computer programs, which were then asked to recognize the genre of six additional works. Both programs succeeded — one using grammatical and semantic signals, the other using word frequency. At first glance, that’s only medium-interesting, since people can do this, too; computers pass the genre test, but fail the “So what?” test. It turns out, though, that people and computers identify genres via very different features. People recognize, say, Gothic literature based on castles, revenants, brooding atmospheres, and the greater frequency of words like “tremble” and “ruin.” Computers recognize Gothic literature based on the greater frequency of words like . . . “the.” Now, that’s interesting. It suggests that genres “possess distinctive features at every possible scale of analysis.” More important for the Lit Lab, it suggests that there are formal aspects of literature that people, unaided, cannot detect.
The lab’s newest paper seeks to detect these hidden aspects in plots (primarily in Hamlet) by transforming them into networks. To do so, Moretti, the sole author, turns characters into nodes (“vertices” in network theory) and their verbal exchanges into connections (“edges”). A lot goes by the wayside in this transformation, including the content of those exchanges and all of Hamlet’s soliloquies (i.e., all interior experience); the plot, so to speak, thins. But Moretti claims his networks “make visible specific ‘regions’ within the plot” and enable experimentation. (What happens to Hamlet if you remove Horatio?)
Kathryn Schulz is the author of “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error.”

We love the unknown in books, for example. We love movies that shock and awe, stories that end with a twist.

The End
Advice and insight from a professional poet.

I recently finished college and a competitive, labor-intensive internship. I’m going to be starting a new job in a couple of weeks, but instead of feeling proud or relieved to have completed my studies, I feel nervous. Why does The End seem so ominous?
— Patrick E.
Well, as the old adage goes, the end is the beginning of something else. It is the beginning of the unknown — that’s why it can be so scary. That’s why it can fill us with unease, but remember that we would get bored if life were predictable. We love the unknown in books, for example. We love movies that shock and awe, stories that end with a twist. We love poems whose endings make us hoot in delight:

Part II

Setting the V.C.R. when we go to bed
to record a night owl movie, some charmer we missed
we always allow, for unprogrammed unforeseen,
an extra half hour. (Night gods of the small screen
are ruthless with watchers trapped in their piety.)
We watch next evening, and having slowly found
the start of the film, meet the minors and leads,
enter their time and place, their wills and needs,
hear in our chests the click of empathy's padlock,
watch the forces gather, unyielding world
against the unyielding heart, one longing's minefield
laid for another longing, which may yield.
Tears will salt the left-over salad I seize
during ads, or laughter slow my hurry to pee.
But as clot melts toward clearness a black fate
may fall on the screen; the movie started too late.
Torn from the backward-shining of an end
that lights up the meaning of the whole work,
disabled in mind and feeling, I flail and shout,
"I can't bear it! I have to see how it comes out!"
For what is story if not relief from the pain
of the inconclusive, from dread of the meaningless?
Minds in their silent blast-offs search through space--
how often I've followed yours!--for a resting-place.
And I'll follow, past each universe in its spangled
ballgown who waits for the slow-dance of life to start,
past vacancies of darkness whose vainglory
is endless as death's, to find the end of the story.

(Mona Van Duyn)
Life is a loop of beginnings and endings, stories copious as crossbars on a roller coaster. Roller coasters scare the living daylights out of me, but sometimes my husband can convince me to ride one with him (not in the least considering the other passengers whose eardrums I might burst with my desperate pleas to STOP THIS RIDE!  STOP!  STOP!  STOP!). I’m glad when it’s over, but I know that in the future my husband will persuade me on another ride. I have no idea how he does it. I am acutely aware that a mishap, no matter how slim the chances, could kill me, though maybe some part of me enjoys being terrified.  Maybe some part of me loves that jolt and thrill, hearing that scream that comes from the depths of my fear. Fear is good, most of the time. Anyway, Patrick, you are at a precious juncture in your life. Good things have passed and good things will come. Just enjoy the ride.

Thank you to the many people who have supported this column in various ways. I’d like to extend a special thanks to my mom and dad, Jeff Seglin, Jason Wilson, Dr. Sunshine, Liz Bury, Allison Brown, and my husband, Gamal. • 28 June 2011

Kristen Hoggatt lives, works, and writes in Boston, where she received her MFA from Emerson College. She volunteers at 826 Boston. Send questions topoet@thesmartset.com.

Graffiti- Victoria BC

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"The substrate of existence," he argues, "is nothing at all."

The Big Nothing

Posted by Josh Rothman June 27, 2011 11:36 PM
Since time immemorial, curious people have asked where the universe came from. Nowadays we have a secular answer: the Big Bang. And yet that answer, incredible as it may be, is only partially satisfying. After all, we can still ask where the Big Bang came from; and we can still wonder, sensibly enough, how something (the universe) could come from nothing (whatever came before it). In his new book, On BeingPeter Atkins, a British chemist and science writer, offers an intriguing answer to those questions. To understand how something can come out of nothing, he writes, you have to appreciate the fact that "there probably isn't anything here anyway" -- that "at a deep level there is nothing" in the universe, really. "The substrate of existence," he argues, "is nothing at all."
Consider electrical charge. In our universe, there are positively and negatively charged particles. How did all that charge come into being out of nothingness? It didn't, Atkins writes, since "the total charge is zero." The Big Bang merely separated out a uniform state of chargelessness into many individual instances of charge, positive and negative. The same goes for matter and energy generally: the total amount of matter and energy in the universe seems to be balanced out by huge amounts of "dark matter" and "dark energy," which express themselves in terms of gravitational attraction. The Big Bang didn't create all that energy, as such. Instead, it seems to have turned an initial Nothingness into a "much more interesting and potent" Nothingness -- a "Nothing that has been separated into opposites to give, thereby, the appearance of something."
How much, if anything, does that explain? "The separation of Nothing into opposites still needs explanation," Atkins concedes. Still, he writes, "it seems to me that such a process, though fearsomelessly difficult to explain, is less overwhelmingly fearsome than the process of positive, specific, munificent creation." The main point is that the Big Bang doesn't mark, necessarily, the creation of something out of nothing. If that happened at all -- and it may be, Atkins points out, that there was has never been absolutely Nothing, in a total sense -- then it probably happened further back in the pre-cosmological past. Instead, it marks the emergence of texture, differentiation, and particularity out of even, unchanging featurelessness. It's not something out of nothing, but interestingness out of boredom.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Native totem- BC Canada

Native totem-BC Canada

It turns out that Aimi Eguchi, the newest member of the Japanese band AKB48, is a virtual composite of six other band members.

Japanese pop star created digitally fools fans

Jacob Aron, technology reporter

She's pretty, stylish and oozes star quality. But Japan's latest pop sensation is not quite what she seems - in fact, she doesn't actually exist. 

It turns out that Aimi Eguchi, the newest member of the Japanese band AKB48, is a virtual composite of six other band members. 

The fake pop star first appeared in an advert for Japanese sweets, but also has an online profile and has featured in a magazine photoshoot using faked pictures. Her fans were shocked to discover this week that Eguchi's computer-generated features were created by blending the nose, hair, mouth, eyes, eyebrows and body shape of six real AKB48 members. Each was recorded using digital motion capture, allowing Eguchi's designers to select their best features for the composite pop star.

Clues to Eguchi's real nature were apparently there, if you knew where to look - her name is derived from the name of the sweet company and their product, along with the theme song from the advert. She's also not the country's first virtual pop star - Hatsune Miku, a synthesised singer, performs holographic concerts to hundreds of fans. 

Eguchi is the latest example of advanced digital human techniques which, as we recently reported, are increasingly cropping up on our screens. While it is easy to notice that there is something not quite right about her once you know that she's a fake, she did manage to fool AKB48's fans for a number of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled - the next virtual star may be harder to spot.

Watch the video below to see how Eguchi was created

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