Happy Twosday

So today is 20/02/2022. Time for some facts, before we get carried away.

22/02/2022 meaning: How rare a palindrome (or ambigram) date like ‘Twosday’ is and what people say it means iNews
Twosday has no real special meaning or significance, other than the date is palindromic. … There will never be a 33.03.3033 as there is not month with 33 days in it. … 22.02.2022 will never happen again.

Today also happens to be my father-in-law’s birthday. I wonder if his mother, way back in 1943, realised his 79th birthday would fall on such an unusual day. Any date in 2022 would be almost unimaginably futuristic. Have any of us given the year 2101 a thought?

Eye to eye #2

A horrible act of vandalism in a Russian art gallery occurred last December.

Vandal added eyes to figures in painting by Malevich’s studentThe Art Newspaper Russia
Anna Leporskaya’s painting “Three Figures” (1932-1934) from the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery, provided for the exhibition “The World as Non-Objectivity. The Birth of a New Art” to the Yekaterinburg Foundation “Presidential Center of B.N. Yeltsin”, as it became known to our publication, suffered from the hands of a vandal. An unknown person drew small eyes with a ballpoint pen on the abstract faces of two figures in the picture.

A somewhat different set of art gallery eyes than Chris Eckert’s, certainly, but still a case for the local police, surely?

Russian police won’t investigate after vandal draws eyes on painting at museumARTnews
Once the damage was reported, law enforcement agencies refused to open a criminal case because there were no signs of a crime as defined by the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Since the image did not look fundamentally different, and since the painting was no longer in Yekaterinburg at that time (it had returned to Moscow for restoration by the time police got involved), the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation sent a complaint to the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office about the refusal to initiate a criminal case. When asked about the subject, Alexander Drozdov, executive director of the Yeltsin Center, said, “We were not even slightly puzzled when police decided not to open the case, because based on their damage assessment there was no legal grounds for [an investigation]. They say ‘no,’ you obey. We’re law-abiding citizens.”

Turns out it was another inside job.

“Bored” security guard draws eyes on faceless Russian painting on his first dayIt’s Nice That
Anna Leporskaya’s Three Figures, a painting on display at the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Center, has been vandalised by a security worker, who scribbled small eyes on two of the figures with a ballpoint pen. In what is possibly one of the worst first-day-on-the-job horror stories in recent history, the security guard had apparently worked at the gallery for less than 24 hours before he drew on the painting; Three Figures is insured for approximately £740,000.

Russian gallery guard charged after drawing eyes on avant-garde painting with ballpoint penThe Art Newspaper
The guard has been fired and was last week detained by police on criminal vandalism charges. He faces a fine of up to RUB 74.9m (£738,000)—the amount the painting was insured for—and up to one year of correctional labour or up to three months in prison, according to The Times.

Bird’s eye view

Some wonderfully atmospheric images from the unlikeliest of early twentieth-century photographers — pigeons.

The turn-of-the-century pigeons that photographed Earth from aboveThe New Yorker
That perspective that is so commonplace to us now, in which the rooftops stretch out before us as though they were made of a child’s blocks, and people crawl along like ants, was a rare sight when Neubronner took his pigeon pictures. The photos offered a glimpse of the world rendered pocket-size, as it eventually would be via a hundred types of new technology—by airplanes, or skyscrapers, or Google Earth.

But there’s also something a bit wild about the photos, precisely because they were taken by birds. Their framing is random and their angles are askew; sometimes a wing feather obscures the view.

Pigeons are surely the most pedestrian of birds, but, looking at these oddly graceful photographs, or at Neubronner’s pictures of the birds looking stately and upright in their photo kits, they start to seem like heavenly creatures.

Turning noise back into sound

Whether loud or quiet, noise can be a problem. But not for everyone though, as Victoria Bates, associate professor from the University of Bristol, demonstrates.

How the noises of a hospital can become a healing soundscapePsyche Ideas
The label of ‘noise’ is attached to sounds for a wide range of reasons that go beyond loudness. A quiet sound can become noisy over time, sometimes bothering only one person who is frustrated that nobody else can hear it: a ticking clock, for example, or the rattling of an air conditioner. Loud sounds can be tuned out through familiarity. ‘Alarm fatigue’ is often experienced by staff members working in high-technology environments. […]

‘Noise is to sound what stench is to smell (and what weed is to plant) – something dissonant, unwanted, out of place, and invasive.’

A fascinating take on how to turn noise — not just an acoustic phenomenon, but an individual and social one — back into sound.

These sounds save livesVimeo
The purpose of the film was initially to promote & demystify the topics within Victoria Bates’ new book titled Making Noise in the Modern Hospital. But as we developed the script and style, we found that by broadening the audience and centering the patient experience the film could also serve a therapeutic and educational purpose. If this film can help us reframe how we hear and listen within hospitals, maybe then it can help us cope in future moments of distress or anxiety.

A visit to hospital can be a uncomfortable experience and noise is often a source of complaints. Over the years, the NHS has spent significant amounts of money on things like sound-proofing and internal communications campaigns to try and reduce noise within the hospital, but as our film makes clear – silence is never the goal.

Moving animation #2

The 2022 Oscar nominations were announced today. It’s nice to see Dune doing well, but I loved the way a recent Aeon newsletter coincidentally highlighted this Oscar-nominated film — from the late 1960s.

An Oscar-nominated animation that celebrates walking with humansPsyche Films
Walking by the Canadian animator and artist Ryan Larkin (1943-2007) made an indelible mark in the history of animation in 1968 with its innovative combination of drawing and colourwash techniques. The film was nominated for an Oscar® and seemed to augur a bright future for Larkin. However, he made only one more film – Street Musique (1972) – before a long run of drug addiction, alcoholism and destitution.

Wonderfully hypnotic — perhaps an influence on Universal Everything’s walker? A troubled soul, though, as this incredible Oscar-winning animation shows so effectively.

Artistic genius and fragility intersect in this surreal, Oscar®-winning animationAeon Videos
This experimental animation from 2004 finds fellow animator Chris Landreth interviewing Larkin about his brief, storied animation career before confronting him about his alcoholism. Rendered in a world where emotional scars manifest themselves as surreal physical aberrations, Ryan is a strange and striking glimpse into Larkin’s life, including the sometimes fraught relationship between creativity and mental health. Ryan won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Following the film’s completion, Larkin revived his animation career before dying from cancer in 2007.

I think I remember that film when it was first out. I’m so glad I’ve had a chance to revisit it now. And Chris Landreth’s other films are well worth a look too.

My type of calendar

I was going through my old bookmarks and randomly came across one from 2014, a link to a now-forgotten Etsy printable typewriter desk calendar thing. I’m not looking for a 2014 calendar at the moment, but I tried the link anyway. Not only did the link still work, but it redirected to an updated 2022 version.

2022 DIY printable paper desk calendar papercraftEtsy UK
Here’s a quaint little 3D Paper Desk Calendar for your mantelpiece, table-top or shelf… in the form of a typewriter, with 12 month cards with dates for 2022. The body of the calendar is like a miniature vintage typewriter, complete with realistic details.

Comes in yellow, too.

Just goes to show, you can’t keep a good typewriter down.

Minting messages of opposition

Time for more Olympics posters. Unlike those from last year’s Paralympics, these are certainly not official.

Badiucao launches NFT collection to protest against China’s human rights record on eve of Beijing Winter OlympicsThe Art Newspaper
The dissident artist Badiucao—dubbed the Chinese Banksy—is launching a “protest NFT collection” criticising the Chinese government’s record on human rights ahead of the Winter Olympics in Beijing which begin on 4 February.

Beijing 2022 NFT Collection
The first NFT project from Chinese dissident artist Badiucao, the Beijing 2022 Collection includes five works of art depicting the Chinese government’s oppression of the Tibetan people, the Uyghur genocide, the dismantling of democracy in Hong Kong, the regime’s omnipresent surveillance systems, and lack of transparency surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s looking at you, Vincent

There’s a new Van Gogh exhibition in London.

Van Gogh. Self-PortraitsThe Courtauld
Van Gogh. Self-Portraits takes as its springboard Van Gogh’s iconic Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, one of the most celebrated works in The Courtauld’s collection, and will bring together around half of the self-portraits Van Gogh created during his short years as a painter. This will be the first time that the full span of Van Gogh’s self-portraiture has been explored in an exhibition. Several works in the exhibition were last together in Van Gogh’s studio and have never been reunited, until now.

I very much like the sound of it. It’s great to see one of my favourite portraits of his is included.

Van Gogh Self-Portraits at the Courtauld Gallery review: beg, borrow or steal, you have to see thisEvening Standard
It would be easy to phone-in a Van Gogh self-portraits show, but the Courtauld’s is rigorous and thoughtful, with smart pairings and groupings. And it has a compelling argument: that we inevitably see the artist’s paintings of himself through the prism of his mental health and suicide, but they should instead be seen as him pursuing a unique artistic language despite rather than because of his illness. Yes, they were vehicles for expression, but it was a more rational pursuit rather than one governed only by torment.

‘Magical, mysterious and electrifyingly intimate’ – Van Gogh: Self-Portraits reviewThe Guardian
One of the star attractions in the collection of the Courtauld Gallery in London is Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear, which was painted in January 1889. The artist had mutilated his left ear two days before Christmas, following a quarrel with Paul Gauguin, with whom he had been sharing a house in Arles. Van Gogh looks pale and introspective, clean-shaven, dressed for the winter chill in his yellow room, an easel behind him and a Japanese print on the wall (the Courtauld owns this print, too, but it was stolen in the 1980s and never recovered). The Dutch artist has the hunted look of a man not yet ready to re-enter the world, except through his painting. The open blue door on the right is the same blue door that appears in the picture of his straw-bottomed yellow chair, which now hangs in the same room at the Courtauld. You can take the chair as a kind of self-portrait, too. It is as if he has stepped out for a second, leaving his pipe and tobacco pouch on the seat.

A trip down to the capital is in order, I think. And whilst we’re there, we might visit this other Van Gogh exhibition. It takes a very different approach, similar to that one in Paris.

Van Gogh Exhibition: The Immersive Experience – London
Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience is a 20,000 square foot light and sound spectacular featuring two-story projections of the artist’s most compelling works. Encounter the brilliance of one of history’s greatest artists in 360 degrees.

Your first look at the eye-popping, immersive Van Gogh exhibitionTime Out
As you can see from the photos, Van Gogh’s paintings are beamed hyper-sharp all over the floors and walls, using dozens of cutting-edge projectors. The all-encompassing sight of iconic works like Starry Night and Wheatfield with Crows (complete with flying birds, natch) knock a lot of socks off (particularly when augmented and combined with VR headsets).

Can’t keep a good Maus down

As surely as night …

‘Maus’ Holocaust novel removed from classrooms by school boardThe New York Times
The board voted unanimously to remove the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel from classrooms because it contained swear words, according to minutes from the meeting. […]

After reading the minutes of the meeting, Mr. Spiegelman said he got the impression that the board members were asking, “Why can’t they teach a nicer Holocaust?”

… follows day.

Maus sales spike after Tennessee school board banHyperallergic
The board’s decision is part of a wider trend of book banning in schools across the country. Books about gender and sexuality, race, and social inequality have been banned from public schools in Idaho, Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa, South Carolina, and other conservative states.

In an interview with CNBC last week, Spiegelman said he was “baffled” by the ban and called the school board’s behavior “Orwellian.”

Meanwhile, readers have voted with their wallets, giving Maus bestseller status more than four decades after it was first published.