Tag Archives: art

What is soft and what is strong? IL CAPO, by Yuri Ancanari

IL CAPO by the Italian artist Yuri Ancarani.

This excerpt of the short film Il Capo (The Chief) makes part of the Trilogy La malattia del ferro (The disease of iron; 2010–12), where Ancarani portrays here labour instances where man and the machine ‘collaborate’. It is an ‘ode’ to precision, to silence, to repetitiveness, to the un-heroic, in effect to workmanship.

For this this specific part, the Il Capo, Arcani was shooting at the marble quarry of Carrara for a year. He got mesmerised by the refined and precise guidance his protagonist, his hero, gave to the big machines. And how they followed him, almost softly.

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New Photography

Yet another semester is underway in the beautiful Aegean Center on spring shining Paros. I wanted to share my final Portfolio from last year. A small but precious to me group of photographs. More of my photography can be viewed on Photography page, that I recently edited.

 

Burnt Cedar Forest, 2013

Burnt Cedar Forest, 2013

 

Amorgos, 2013

Amorgos, 2013

 

Underwater Sea, 2013

Underwater Sea, 2013

 

Clouds, 2013

Clouds, 2013

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Weather Forecasting Far Beyond and Close to home

Berndnaut-Smilde

Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus D’Aspremont, 2012

There is  a lot of talk on  a special kind of weather forecasting these last days fueled by Stephen Hawking and his recent paper published online about Black Holes titled “Information Preservation and Weather Forecasting for Black Holes“, which as they say claims that Black Holes and their surrounding Event Horizon are not what we used to think they were. I hardly understand anything  in this field but I am always intrigued. So I wait for scientists who are good at popularizing scientific thought to translate to people like me what this is all about. Here is a comprehensive article from the New Scientist. But there is another point that makes me interested in this development and it has to do with the will and frankness quality needed in the ability to change your mind. If I am not mistaken it is the 3rd time Stephen Hawking is changing his mind about the nature of Black Holes. At first he said that there is no information escaping a Black Hole. Then, he admitted there was (and paid off a bet), and now he strikes with another proposal saying that there is no event horizon at all or singularity in a black hole. I may be sooo mistaken in what I say here I have understood so I will stop at this point. But still the main point is that he feels his understanding of the world, of his field of research is always in process, is always evolving, therefore defending his theory contrary to his results is absurd. I hope I can be open enough in my life to be able to change my mind so profoundly if that is what I should do for the sake of honesty.

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Sticking on the weather issue though, earth weather, on a rainy day like today in Corfu, I share here links to the Nimbus series, by Berndnaut Smilde. Smilde is a Danish artist working around the idea of weather, among other things. He created this beautiful series of clouds in indoor spaces, temporary creations that result in lasting photographs.

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Berndnaut Smilde, Nimbus Green Room, 2013

Here is a short BBC video interview on how Berndnaut Smilde makes his clouds.

Watching this video and works reminded me of visiting Olafur Eliasson‘s ‘The Weather Project‘ some ten years ago at the Tate Modern.

Olafur Eliasson, The Weather Project, Tate Modern, 2003

Olafur Eliasson, photo from The Weather Project, Tate Modern, 2003

This was a massive work made of so little and it had an effect equivalent I guess to a common hallucination. In the grim London weather some lights, mirrors and misty smoke in the Turbine Hall created a warm and safe environment for us visitors, for us sun missing people, to agree that the sun was real and warm, and that the sunset hour was soothing and cosy.

The work was commissioned for the Unilever Series and presented in Tate Modern in 2003.  Ten years later they made a Remember The Weather Project project and here is a video about the idea and impact of this work.

The term Weather Forecasting for Black Holes sounds to me as literal and as metaphorical as the creation of mini clouds and sunset atmospheres on earthly indoor spaces. Hence the post. One is chosen for the qualities attributed to its scientific relevance while the others for their aesthetic resonance. All three though grow in the prosperous lands of Wonder.

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Where are your dots? Jun Pierre’s invaluable Sketchbook points

jun's post

Jun Pierre Shiozawa is a beautiful artist, man and friend. There is no hierarchical order in that sentence. Jun is also a studio arts teacher at the Aegean Center and I am sure his students would add that he is a beautiful teacher as well. Combining all these qualities, Jun recently listed on his blog some key reasons why we should always carry a sketchbook with us. He offers his work and personal travels to help explain the benefits of insight, randomness and observation to help make sense of ourselves and to move on. At first this post might seem relevant only to visual artists, then to the creative people. But in truth it is helpful to all thinking beings. To all playful souls. Click here or on the image above to access the blogpost.

Sometimes the obvious is hidden in a ‘syntax’, in the dormant state of the ordinary. That’s why traveling, or in other words exploring while reviewing, can be very revealing. Or why reorganizing available information has proved time and again a way to generate new knowledge. For example, info-graphics have apparently helped make a lot of sense out of our world and trends; Ken Robinson‘s latest book “Finding your Element” is full of sketchbook-like exercises on jotting down personal tastes and information in order to reveal what makes one click; or again, just this morning, I was watching a doc about the meaning of Time that argued that Einstein’s idea of time relativity came to him during his Patent office days where he was reviewing time keeping inventions. All these diverse examples suggest that a new point of view could result in a novel viewpoint. And to bring this back to the scale of one person and to the importance of the personal meaning-making process, I paraphrase here Steve Jobs who said that one can only connect the dots retrospectively. Also meaning that it is helpful to somehow keep recording those dots in order to connect them down the road.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart even when it leads you off the well worn path; and that will make all the difference.”

Steve Jobs

Jun of course  also deals with the benefits of travel in his post. Being outside your comfort zone highlights a lot about your take in life. Travel is always a zone I enjoy finding myself in and for exactly this reason. But travel can happen everywhere. I am in my home place for a month now and it is proving to be a revealing time travel experience. Many dots are being connected. Many dots fly around to be pinned down. After I read Jun’s post I make sure that my sketch/notebook is always with me. Thank you Jun for helping me bring my dots home.

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The Wand Masters: Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan

Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan; two very different maestros, two very unique styles; two contemporaries expressing their common ‘call’ in very distinct ways.

The two maestros appreciated each other and there is a rumour that they were planning to collaborate, late in their lives. This plan sadly didn’t materialise. Still, by these men living in the 20th century we are given the opportunity to listen to their interpretations and get glimpses of their ways of conducting life and music freely online.

I got hooked the other day listening to Bernstein after I started watching his Norton Lectures at Harvard on Music (via openculture). I was impressed by the interdisciplinary take of this modern man. So I started listening to him and was fascinated by his  (American) style of referring to his mentors throughout his career and giving a lot of importance on mentoring and education.

It was at that point that I felt the need to check out Karajan’s style, which seemed to me a lot more controlled, a more traditional approach, appropriate for an Austrian man.

The first cd I listened to in my life was the Deutsche Grammophon’s recording of Bethoven’s 9th Symphony conducted by Herbert von Karajan. It was a memorable introduction to the then new quality of sound. The surprise has stayed with me. So it was absolutely great when so many years later, that is few months ago, I found on the the itunes store an app for ipads for the 9th symphony (by Touchpress). This absolutely beautiful, easy to use app is made to help us explore and appreciate Beethoven’s music on two versions, a free one and a paid one. There you can listen to Karajan’s, Bernstein’s and others interpretation of this music, the development and use of the orchestra, the dynamics and the choices they made. It is a great app for all of us lay people to explore and understand the beauty of Beethoven’s music.

But it seems that there is always a visionary behind a masterpiece. So here are two interviews shedding some light into the personalities of Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan respectively. Two people that passed on some great old music down the to us to enjoy.

Leonard Bernstein

“The key to the mystery of a great artist is that for reasons unknown, he will give away his energies and his life just to make sure that one note follows another… and leaves us with the feeling that something is right in the world.”

“Teachers and Teaching” is an autobiographical documentary by Bernstein about his mentors and his ethics as a maestro teacher (duration: 1hr)

Herbert von Karajan

“If I still have so many things left to say and my body lets me down then it’s up to nature to give me another body. The greatest goal is to see one’s profession as a calling.”

“Karajan Or Beauty As I See it” is a documentary about the life and work of Herbert von Karajan by Robert Dornhelm. (duration: 1hr32mins)

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Happy 2014 !!

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Fresco from Livia’s Villa, now displayed in Museo Palazzo Massimo alle Terme in Rome.

“Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
Cannot bear very much reality.

Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”

 

T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton (The Four Quartets )

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Femmes Algériennes, Stories of history in photos

algerian woman by m garanger

I bumped into these photos of Algerian Women in the 1960’s by Marc Garanger about a year ago and I visit them  regularly online, because frankly I find them striking. The women are just beautiful and the shots are so encapsulating. But there is a story behind them that has given this “Femmes Algériennes 1960” portfolio an even more revealing history.

Marc Garanger served in the French army in the Algerian War, the infamous end of the French colonisation epoch in the 60’s. Garanger opposed the French occupation but he was serving there as a soldier photographer. While there he was asked to take photos of the regional population for their ID’s. Within ten days he took some 2.000 pictures, some of them of women who had never before taken off their veils in front of a stranger. There is much talk about the captured looks of these women, their resistance, their strength and their reservation. That is all interpretation as far as I am concerned.

Garanger soon after fled the army and went to Switzerland to publish these images in the hope that he would tell a striking story about the force and demoralisation exercised by the French occupying army towards the peoples of Algeria. And he was right. His images told a story and the discussion on these images hasn’t seized since, while Marc Garanger has made a celebrated career as a culture documentary photographer.

Femmes Algeriennes by Marc Garanger

I tried to find more information online about these women and their conditions of life, their traditions, their ways in the various cultures that make up Algeria. Most of the articles I have found bound these images with oppression, Islam, the French occupation and feminism. The only things I have found so far simply on their ways of life just mention that they come from either Islamic or Berber Algerian communities. The Berber ones wear face tattoos. These could not be seen in public because they were hidden by their veils. They were certainly beauty signs but they were also meaning carrying symbols. The tradition of face tattoo has died away in today’s Algeria, but there are still old ladies alive who carry them. Most of them do not remember the symbolism and I find that astonishing, because it is in their face. Apparently, the profession of the tattoo artist that used to travel between the tribes to give them these tattoos has died away along with this tradition. The most concrete information and a sort of background I found for this desert tattoo rite was on  Yasmin Bendaas‘s research project (funded by the Pulitzer Center), which she updates regularly.

Traditions die away and memory fades. History is made continually, gets piled and gets done and undone. In this Femmes Algériennes photos I find beauty in women, in photography, in history, in locality, in awkwardness, in the richness of a moment in time.

Marc Garanger is still working on his photography and he has travelled in many locations to record history. Here is a 4min video where he shares his take on his projects.

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Moving in Silence

Tomorrow has almost come. Tomorrow will be the first Studio Work day for the new Fall 2013 semester at the Aegean Center. Being a returner has never made me fill stuck, but rather progressing. Progressing into the silence of the still instant.

Before I embark on this new group dynamic, I would like to share my sea & rock & sky -scapes from last semester. These images  are of course best viewed on a calibrated screen. And I think is worth saying that these photographs seen in print make a whole different impact. I am proud of each and every one of them, a feeling never really believed to have me ‘attack’ with my photography. I hope you will enjoy them too.

 

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Sartre and Beauvoir in Love

Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir

Jean-Paul Sartre & Simone de Beauvoir

I bumped today into the www.brainpickings.org website which seems very interesting. Having said that, let me just clarify that I haven’t really explored it yet, I have just glanced over some articles, but they were all interesting. Good start for a new fav website!

Anyway, it had two articles about Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Sartre and Beauvoir had an open life long relationship that was intimate yet at times had space for other lovers to home in….

Here are links to reviews by Maria Popova on two books that give insight into these literary lovers’ way of love; one being a collection of his love letters to her and the other a collection of women’s breakup letters, including some of Beauvoir’s to her various lovers.

I had to share two of their quotes, one from his letters to her and the other from a breakup letter written by her to one of her other lovers, found on the above mentioned books (via links)….

“I am mastering my love for you and turning it inwards as a constituent element of myself.”

Jean Paul Sartre (in a letter to Simone de Beauvoir)

“I can still feel warm and happy and harshly grateful when I look at you inside me”.

Simone de Beauvoir (in a breakup letter to Nelson Algren)

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Henri Cartier-Bresson: Yes, Yes, Yes

Henri Cartier-Bresso, photo by John Loengard

Henri Cartier-Bresson, photo by John Loengard

“Freedom for me is a strict frame, and inside that frame are all the variations possible.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

In a 1971 taped interview, rediscovered in 1991 at the International Center of Photography (New York) archives, Henri Cartier-Bresson talks a bit about his take on his photography. Simple and real. “Yes, yes, yes”, as he says echoing someone else…

cartier-bresson

“Poetry is the essence of everything, and it’s through deep contact with reality and living fully that you reach poetry. Very often I see photographers cultivating the strangeness or awkwardness of a scene, thinking it is poetry. No. Poetry is two elements which are suddenly conflict — a spark between two elements. But it’s given very seldom, and you can’t look for it. It’s like if you look for inspiration. No, it just comes by enriching yourself and living.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

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