Time for another post about trees, I think. Here are a couple of links that have been languishing in my drafts folder for a while.
Gramazio Kohler Research, ETH Zurich plants ‘future tree’ in Swiss courtyard – designboom This structure — known as the ‘future tree’ — combines state-of-the-art design techniques, material science, and robotic fabrication to create an eye-catching architectural object. Demonstrating the latest research of Gramazio Kohler Research at ETH Zurich, the ‘future tree’ consists of a funnel-shaped, lightweight timber frame structure built by a robot, and a bespoke concrete column created using an ultra-thin 3D printed formwork. The entire design and fabrication were developed as inseparable and fully digital processes.
The photographs documenting its construction are extraordinary.
Ai Weiwei: Iron Tree – Yorkshire Sculpture Park Iron Tree is the largest and most complex sculpture to date in the artist’s tree series, which he began in 2009. Inspired by the wood sold by street vendors in Jingdezhen, southern China, Iron Tree comprise of 97 tree elements cast in iron and interlocked using a classic – and here exaggerated – Chinese method of joining. Iron Tree expresses Ai’s interest in fragments and the importance of the individual, without which the whole would not exist.
Artificial trees of a different kind, now. OK, so the trees are real, but their glitch-art shapes certainly aren’t natural.
I may have been familiar with this type of word puzzle, though I was unaware of its name or history.
Emoji 🐝4 Emoji – I love Typography Rebus writing substitutes pictures or symbols for words, but not in the same way that pictograms do. With pictograms, a picture of, for example, a bee simply represents the insect. But in rebus writing, a picture of a bee is used to substitute for the letter b or its sound — as in the title of this article. Likewise, a picture of an eye represents the letter i, and so on. The use of rebuses turns what is otherwise an unremarkable broadside advertisement into something much more engaging, fun, and valuable.
Although emoji started out as a limited number of symbols, they were eventually expanded into a dizzying number of pictograms and ideograms, many of which can be used in rebus writing. The ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, and Chinese, to name just a few, used rebuses thousands of years before emoji appeared on our screens. And it would appear that our fascination with symbols, of all kinds, and our willingness to experiment and use them in reshaping how we communicate is motivated by the very same thing that inspired our very distant ancestors — a desire to communicate better.
Sorry to any bean curd enthusiasts out there, but this has nothing to do with coagulating soy milk but is about these little boxes and Google’s plan to get rid of them.
Google Noto Fonts When text is rendered by a computer, sometimes characters are displayed as “tofu”. They are little boxes to indicate your device doesn’t have a font to display the text. Google has been developing a font family called Noto, which aims to support all languages with a harmonious look and feel. Noto is Google’s answer to tofu. The name noto is to convey the idea that Google’s goal is to see “no more tofu”.
I had picked the Noto Sans typeface for this blog without realising any of this — I just thought it looked quite elegant.
Preserving endangered languages with Noto fonts – Google Keyword From billions of readers to very small language communities, the freely available, open source Noto font family from Google Fonts supports literacy for hundreds of languages. The Cherokee Nation, with an estimated 20,000 speakers, uses Noto on phones for texting, email and teaching their language in the USA. Noto is used every day for Tibetan, millions of African users, and hundreds of languages of Asia. The government of British Columbia in Canada, with a population of 5 million people, wanted to cover all their languages, including indigenous ones, in a single font and merged Noto Sans + Noto Sans Canadian Aboriginal into a single font, BC Sans font.
“There are some characters you can only see on stones,” says Xiangye Xiao, product manager at Google. “If you don’t move them to the web, over time those stones will become sand and we’ll never be able to recover those drawings or that writing.”
You can never have too many watches, I say. I used to have a very thin one, a Swatch Skin possibly? It was nothing like this one from Piaget, that’s for sure.
Altiplano Ultimate Concept Watch – Piaget Altiplano watch, 41 mm. Cobalt alloy case. World’s thinnest mechanical hand-wound watch : 2 mm, a total fusion between the case and the Manufacture movement. Manufacture Piaget 900P ultra-thin, hand-wound mechanical movement. Winner of the prestigious “Aiguille d’Or” watch price at the 2020 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG).
It’s only 2mm thick? Yep.
The incredible inner workings of the world’s thinnest watch – Wired UK The Piaget Ultimate Concept first launched as a show-stealing proof-of-concept in 2018; now the watch is now in fully commercialised form (confusingly, still with the “Concept” nomination). It’s a mere 2mm-thick whisper of mechanical virtuosity that’s unlikely to be trumped in thinness any time soon […]
Made to order, the watch is described as “price on application”, though WIRED understands it to be well to the north of 300,000 Swiss francs.
So what’s 300,000 Swiss francs in sterling? Perhaps it’s one of those hyperinflated currencies like the Zimbabwe dollar and this amazing watch is within reach after all.
(For instance, did you know that a German 5 Million Mark coin, worth about $700 in January 1923, was only worth about one-thousandth of one cent by October 1923. And in Hungary, their highest banknote value in 1944 was 1,000 pengő, but by the end of 1945, it was 10,000,000 pengő, and the highest value in mid-1946 was 100,000,000,000,000,000,000 pengő.)
Of, or For Mary Wollstonecraft? – History Workshop Hambling asserts that it is a sculpture, rather than a statue, that is for Wollstonecraft, not of her. A video to mark the unveiling of the statue premiered on the Mary on the Green social media profile in which Hambling describes the design as ‘a tower of intermingling female forms, culminating in the figure of the woman at the top who is challenging, and ready to challenge, the world.’ The ‘intermingling’ forms are suggestive of a historic community of women, out of which the more detailed, lone female figure is born into the ‘now’. This design choice is intended to represent the legacy of Wollstonecraft’s feminist work.
But, as this piece from The Art Newspaper says, even backlashes get a backlash.
What I like about Hambling’s figure is that it is nude, but not erotic. Wollstonecraft would have recognised the honesty of Hambling’s focus. “For man and woman,” she wrote in The Vindications of the Rights of Women (1792), “truth… must be the same; yet the fanciful female character, so prettily drawn by poets and novelists, demanding the sacrifice of truth and sincerity, virtue becomes a relative idea, having no other foundation than utility, and of that utility men pretend arbitrarily to judge, shaping it to their own convenience.” Naked, stripped of outward signs of wealth and privilege, we are all equal.
This status, for a very different woman, is also proving controversial, though for very different reasons.
Is Margaret Thatcher’s hometown ready to put her on a pedestal? – The New York Times [W]hile the unveiling of a statue is usually a festive occasion, few in Grantham expect Mrs. Thatcher’s homecoming to be celebrated as a hero’s return. “If you’re a Conservative,” said Graham Newton, the news editor of the weekly Grantham Journal, “you want a statue, and you want her recognized. But if you’re not, there’s a lot of people who — not to put a fine point on it — hated her.”
“She was never very fond of Grantham, and so Grantham was never very fond of her,” said John Campbell, a biographer, pointing out that Mrs. Thacher rarely visited the town as prime minister, and did not mention it in speeches. “She was happy to leave it behind,” he said.
“You come out of the museum and the first thing you’re going to see is a 26-foot-tall Marilyn Monroe with her entire backside and underwear exposed,” Grachos pointed out. “We serve over 100,000 school-age children that come to our museum every single year. What message does that send to our young people, our visitors and community to present a statue that objectifies women, is sexually charged and disrespectful?”
In his project, A Product’s Self Portrait, Rotterdam-based visual artist Helmut Smits commits a playful approach to this topic. Because photography is a material process, Helmut has been magically creating 27 pinhole photos of products, using 27 matching pinhole cameras made from their packaging.
The of the year articles seem a little early this year. I wonder why we’re so keen to get 2020 behind us.
2020’s weather photography of the year doesn’t disappoint – Moss and Fog The Royal Meteorological Society Weather Photographer of the Year contest is now in its 5th year, and has some amazing entrants that show us 2020 wasn’t just about a raging global pandemic. Indeed, Mother Nature, combined with a rapidly warming planet has resulted in record storms, floods, droughts, and wildfires this year.
There are many more beautiful images on those pages, do check them out. And here are some more wonderful things of a different kind.
100 best inventions of 2020 – TIME Every year, TIME highlights inventions that are making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun. … 100 groundbreaking inventions—including a smarter beehive, a greener tube of toothpaste, and technology that could catalyze a COVID-19 vaccine—that are changing the way we live, work, play and think about what’s possible.
Featured image White Pocket, Arizona — Felix Röser
who took us to his lodging close by, and did shew us a little flower-pot of his doing, the finest thing that ever, I think, I saw in my life; the drops of dew hanging on the leaves, so as I was forced, again and again, to put my finger to it, to feel whether my eyes were deceived or no. He do ask 70l. for it: I had the vanity to bid him 20l.; but a better picture I never saw in my whole life; and it is worth going twenty miles to see it.
Around the time Peyps was poking the painting of Verelst, another northern European painter, Cornelis Norbertus Gijsbrechts, was also causing confusion with the brush, creating his masterpiece known as The Reverse of a Framed Painting (ca. 1670), an image that is, to modern eyes at least, his most striking.
I love it, but I wonder how it was initially shown off. The gag would be wholly lost if this painting of a frame was itself framed. But weren’t all paintings framed?
I’ve been revisiting my post earlier in the week about the online worldwide Van Gogh exhibition. As well as high resolution scans of the actual paintings, the curators have documented the backs of them too — sturdy, wooden frames covered in gallery stickers. They remind me of airport tags on luggage.
Wheatfield with Crows was in Manchester? I would have loved to have seen that.
Has anyone checked for any radio signals being transmitted to Jupiter?
DPS Aero Bureau encounters monolith in Red Rock Country – DPS News Official Statement from the Bureau of Land Management: “Although we can’t comment on active investigations, the Bureau of Land Management would like to remind public land visitors that using, occupying, or developing the public lands or their resources without a required authorization is illegal, no matter what planet you are from.”
Even Utah’s mysterious monolith may be no match for Google Earth – The Verge A Utah DPS public affairs officer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the supposed location of the monolith. And I’m not printing the alleged coordinates beyond confirming that the place is remote and highly inhospitable. In all seriousness: please don’t visit the mysterious Utah monolith.
That said, the monolith-hunting process is impressive in its own right. And the evidence for its location, put forward by Reddit user Tim Slane, is strong. Slane pinpointed the coordinates of a small redstone canyon with a narrow gap that closely matches the social media photos. Satellite images from Google Earth reveal something in the middle: a hard-to-see object that casts a sharp, tall, and narrow shadow across the ground. The object seems relatively new. Google Earth photos from 2013 and mid-2015 show no trace of it, but it’s clearly visible by October of 2016, when the surrounding ground has also been apparently cleared of scrub.
Looks like the aliens have come back for their property.
Earthlings, it seems, not aliens, removed the Utah monolith – The New York Times He did not photograph the men who took down the sculpture, saying he “didn’t want to start a confrontation by bringing out my camera and putting it in their face — especially since I agreed with what they were doing.” But a friend who accompanied him on the trip, Michael James Newlands, 38, of Denver, took a few quick photographs with his cellphone.
Deborah Roberts reminding us that even a flat sheet of text isn’t a level playing field.
As well as saying that Black lives, history, respect and status matters, I should have added spelling.
The Spell Checkers Agenda – Kottke The piece above is part of a series called Pluralism by artist Deborah Roberts — it’s a collage of dozens of Black names marked as misspelled by Microsoft Word’s built-in spell checker. I don’t know about you, but this makes me think about the neutrality of technology, how software is built, who builds it, and for whom it is designed.
Glasstire and Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles have more on this piece, and how it fits in with Deborah’s wider body of work.
Naming and shaming: Deborah Roberts at Art Palace – Glasstire Other text pieces involve roughly printed words like bad offset printing. In the best of these, Roberts prints black-sounding women’s names (Tynisha, Shawanna, Roneshia) in a jittery, repeated overlay of red and black. Printed over them in a nearly-illegible, but unmistakable, light yellow, are four white women’s names: lean in close and you can barely discern Bethany, Lindsey, Becky, Haley.
Deborah Roberts at Luis De Jesus – Carla Opposite Human nature and Golden Smile hung the triptych Sovereignty (2016), a hand-drawn set of three serigraphs of black women’s names that Roberts sourced from friends. The far right in the triptych was a dense list of 213 names, from Khepri to Sharnell. All, however, were underlined with that all-too-familiar squiggly red line—these names were ostensibly misspelled, unrecognizable to word processing programs. The drawing on the left side of the triptych contrasted the list by featuring a sole name— Sharkesha—in large serif font. This work followed a similar logic to the collages: the viewer’s gaze moved from the minute to the masses and back again. However, the simplicity of this solution—names, listed— can’t be ignored. Sovereignty suggested a way to begin to humanize the silent figures that Roberts depicts, or at least to begin to find words that do the work.
Color of the Year 2020 – Pantone Suggestive of the sky at dusk, the reassuring qualities of the thought-provoking PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue highlight our desire for a dependable and stable foundation on which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era. Imprinted in our psyches as a restful color, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue brings a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit, offering refuge. Aiding concentration and bringing laser like clarity, PANTONE 19-4052 Classic Blue re-centers our thoughts. A reflective blue tone, Classic Blue fosters resilience.
I had picked a blue too, back in January, but obviously, with such a subjective topic, not everyone agreed with the choice.
“In choosing blue Pantone has missed the mark once more” – Dezeen Certainly, the dominant narrative in many other 2020 COTY camps has been green. Whether dark or bright, neon or dusky, colour companies and trend forecasters from Dulux and WGSN to the US-based Behr paints, plumped for the colour intuitively associated with regrowth and rebirth. Green reassures us at a primal level and speaks of optimism. Crucially, it’s representative of the wider ecological story that’s top of the cultural agenda right now. In this way, green chimes with the zeitgeist and its ascension of the colour charts is born of authenticity, not marketing.
Interestingly, that critique was written back in December 2019, before we knew the full extent of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on all our lives. They were focussing on greens because of environmental connections, not realising what 2020 had in store for us.
The surprising power of color to ease quarantine anxiety – ARTnews.com Global sales of Curator’s three most popular greens—Fisherman’s Boat, Dock Leaf, and March Day—increased by 59 percent during the pandemic while a few of its neutrals—Scalloped Silk, Soft Bisque, and Stoney Way—increased 57.8 percent. Rather than urban excitement, the selection conjures an outdoor adventure, or perhaps the waiting room of a well-appointed doctor’s office. We want to be reassured, not overstimulated, by our wall colors. It’s a contrast to Pantone’s 2019 color of the year, the electric Living Coral, which was described as “vivifying and effervescent.” “Everyone is a bit upset; they want things clean,” Cohn said. “They’re choosing positive colors because when things are negative, you want to be out there with something positive.”
Dutch museums unveil free digital collection of 1,000+ artworks by Van Gogh – My Modern Met Van Gogh Worldwide is a new project by a group of Dutch museums which presents a digital collection of over 1,000 of the artist’s masterpieces. Building off the digitized collection begun several years ago by the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, almost half of the post-Impressionist works of this prolific artist are now available to view—with scholarly commentary—from the safety of your own home.
Take a wander yourself, there’s so much to take in.
Van Gogh Worldwide Van Gogh Worldwide is a free digital platform providing art-historical and technical data about the work of Vincent van Gogh (1853–1890). The artist produced a total of approximately 2000 artworks, and the aim of Van Gogh Worldwide is to present data for these in an accessible way, via a user-friendly website.
The resolution of each image is wonderful, allowing you to get closer to the paintings than you probably could in real life.
And you can even view the paintings in a raking light, to get a sense of just how heavily textured and expressive these were. Not quite as three-dimensional as Timur Zagirov’s wooden blocks, but still.
Spindly trees, I’m a big fan. They’re just giant, 3D pen and ink drawings, really, and I’ve been snappingphotos of them for a while. Though none of my pics come anywhere close to capturing the atmosphere of these tulgey woods, as Things Magazine described them.
Mystical – Neil Burnell “There’s real magic in this series, with thick fog shrouding the gnarled moss-clad oaks, one can almost visualise fairies flying effortlessly into the scenes.”
Perhaps my love of twisty, organic lines explains why I found these sculptures by Sun-Hyuk Kim so fascinating.
Stainless steel roots sprawl into figurative sculptures by artist Sun-Hyuk Kim – Colossal Just like a tree, the spindly branches that shape Sun-Hyuk Kim’s sculptures extend from a larger, sturdy limb—or in the South Korean artist’s case, neck or spine, too. Kim creates sprawling artworks that merge human anatomy and the root systems that crawl underneath the earth’s surface. Sometimes painted in neutral tones and others plated in gold, the sculptures are composed of stainless steel that trails out into figurative forms.
Banksy’s not the only street artist out there trying to make a difference.
Stik hoping to raise £120k at auction to fund sculptures by local artists – Hackney Citizen Hackney’s street art megastar Stik is to auction off a unique model of his first ever public sculpture, Holding Hands, to fund a series of outdoor artworks by local artists. The maquette, a one-off, small-scale version of the sculpture, is predicted to fetch around £120,000 when it opens for bidding at Christie’s tomorrow as part of the auction house’s ‘Post-War and Contemporary Art’ sale. All proceeds will be donated to Hackney Council to help bankroll a series of public works by East London artists.
Hackney Street artist Stik to ‘empower’ local artists by funding a series of sculptures – Hackney Gazette Hackney Mayor Phillip Glanville thanked the artist, who has lived and worked in Hackney for 20 years, for his “record of activism” and generous donation. “We’re proud in Hackney to be able to support and share the creativity of our residents. This represents a long-standing commitment to inclusive public art that can be enjoyed by everyone in our parks and public spaces and I can’t wait to see the creativity that Stik is helping us to showcase and unlock,” the mayor said.
Check out Christie’s video about the original sculpture.
A year ago I shared an article about British Airways being fined a record £183,000,000 by the ICO for a data breach in 2018. Here’s an update to that story.
BA fined record £20m for customer data breach – The Guardian The fine is the biggest ever issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), but a fraction of the £183m fine initially announced last year. This was reduced after investigators accepted BA’s representations about the circumstances of the attack; and was reduced further to take into account the dire financial position of BA since the onset of Covid-19.
They’re not having an easy time, to say the least. I wonder how successful this auction was for them.
With the exception of Terry Frost’s 1997 painting Colour Down the Side 1968, which is expected to go for £20,000 to £30,000 ($25,000 to $37,000), each work in the online sale is estimated below £15,000 ($19,000).
Well, that Bridget Riley looks to have sold for £1,875,000. That would have helped towards that ICO fine…
Ingredients. — Thin cold toast, thin slices of bread-and-butter, pepper and salt to taste. Mode. — Place a very thin piece of cold toast between 2 slices of thin bread-and-butter in the form of a sandwich, adding a seasoning of pepper and salt. This sandwich may be varied by adding a little pulled meat, or very fine slices of cold meat, to the toast, and in any of these forms will be found very tempting to the appetite of an invalid.