PORT FOURCHON, LA-On the very spot off the Louisiana coast where the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and left the company’s mark on the region forever, BP celebrated the 10th anniversary of its historic, 210-million-gallon oil spill Monday by dyeing the entire Gulf of Mexico black.
Would you believe I’d been planning this particular image for days and days and days? I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I’m happy with it. (It is based on the same photo as the prior two images.)
I like teleidoscopes (and kaleidoscopes) in real life, but these digital ones are nice, too.
I worked late again this evening, and then got out my old Chromebook and started digitally manipulating photos to make unrealistic effects.
I’m a rather strict photographer: I don’t edit photos very much, due to analog habits. I try to capture things as I want them to be, so I don’t have to spend a lot of time “in post,” editing after the fact for hours on a computer. It just isn’t much fun – especially if I COULD have photographed it correctly, and gotten good results WITHOUT extra effort.
But this isn’t intended to polish a photo for regular consumption. This is PLAY. This is about making the photograph LESS realistic.
PLAY is FUN.
My alarm went off; I picked up my phone, and… failed to understand what it was trying to tell me. What it was trying to tell me didn’t have to be said.
Lyson warned me not to inject disinfectants into my body.
We must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).
– a spokesperson for Reckitt Benckiser, the United Kingdom-based owner of Lysol (NBC news link)
Well, right. But… why would I need to be TOLD this?
The maker of a popular brand of household cleaner has urged users not to inject it into their bodies in the wake of comments by Donald Trump at the daily White House briefing that injections of disinfectant might be a treatment or cure for the coronavirus.
And then I read the Guardian article (above), and received a terrible reminder that someone who doesn’t know what disinfectant does to living things routinely proposes BAD, BAD, ignorant actions (such as drinking poison) in news conferences where mass fatalities are played down and conspiracy theories are celebrated, and that these unfortunate spectacles should never, ever, ever be carried live on television.
All Systems Red: the Murderbot Diaries
by Martha Wells
published by Tor
Do you read Janelle Shane’s hilarious posts on training neural nets at aiweirdness.com? Or perhaps follow her on Twitter? Well, I do, and she kept writing about how much she LOVES Murderbot. And she is so fun! Which suggests to me that Murderbot might be fun.
I investigated. I read. I learned. MURDERBOT IS FUN.
Sorry, I didn’t meant to shout that. 🙂 But it’s TRUE! Martha Wells’ novella about a security unit that’s a little bit cloned human, and a lot of roboty parts, is fun to read. Murderbot itself is fun: it had… a bad run of luck that was very fatal for a lot of people, and doesn’t really trust its makers anymore. And loves video dramas. And is a little too smart for its job. And… then things get VERY INTERESTING in the unmapped bits of the planet that its clients are exploring…
It’s a page turner! (You can read a sample on the Tor website here.) And there are more volumes to turn, and a full length novel coming out, and now I’m going to need to read all of those. Because: Murderbot is fun.
Vija Celmins: To Fix The Image In Memory
edited by Gary Garrels
published by San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, in association with Yale University Press
In late 2018 & early 2019, SFMoMA had a fantastic exhibit of the art of Vija Celmins, and that show led to the publication of this enormous, substantive catalog of her work. It contains essays with a broad range of interpretations of her catalog, high quality reproductions, a collection of insightful interview excerpts, AND a biographical timeline that is unusually well written. It is one of the better catalogs I’ve purchased, and after enjoying it in small servings since the viewing the exhibit in person TWICE (it was that good), I read it from end to end today.
There is something remarkable about Celmins’ artistic focus. She has created a range of work to show off her skills, but her long term commitment to drawing and painting certain subjects, such as the surface of the ocean or the depth of the sky, in a very particular method, has led to a profound body of work. It is remarkable to have such a range of skills, to have shown them off through solid early representational work in oil paints and remarkable sculptures (though she considered those drawings or paintings of a sort), and also to perform time-consuming, in-depth studies of a few subjects in graphite with such SATISFYING results, all while bucking other artistic trends, and maintaining a unique “voice.”
I’m old enough to have trained in architecture back when we actually drew (no, really), and so seeing such amazing work in graphite means something to me – it’s a medium I worked in for so many years… and she does wonders with it.
The graphite drawings in particular are inspiring and gorgeous in person. From afar, they are the sea; from up close, they are the texture of graphite on paper; and you can feel yourself slipping between the two understandings, especially around the edges, and being pleased with that experience.
Her pictures of the surface of another planet are also remarkable, and you realize after viewing several that you recognize specific rocks appearing in the drawings, because the rocky landscape is NOT a random drawing of high precision, but a high precision interpretation of a specific NASA image, methodically mapped out and reinterpreted in different weights of pencil, or from a closer point of view.
The reproductions would have been satisfying enough for me, but the texts, including the interview snippets on her NEED to do this work, and on the way drawing and painting on these projects became part of her way of living in awareness… it’s all quite informative.
I love her consistency; the way she challenged herself by changing media when the time felt right; the depths of the blacks in her drawn skies; the inverse skies she created recently… there is a lot to enjoy.
Great artist; great show; unusually satisfying catalog.
Languages: we have them!
Maria Merian’s Butterflies
by Kate Heard
published by Royal Collection Trust
I LOVE scientific illustrations – they are a glorious combination of art and science! I received a postcard with a gorgeous botanical illustration on it by Maria Sibylla Merian, and decided I needed to learn more.
This remarkable illustrator was born in 1647, and devoted her life to the study and documentation of insects, along with the plants they feed on. She became fascinated by insects at age 13, and studied them throughout the rest of her life. Her father and stepfather both made their living by painting; she taught young girls (including her daughters) to paint, and her painter husband (one of her stepfather’s former apprentices) helped her publish her first book on entomology of local (northern European) insects. After several complex life changes, she wound up selling most of her possessions and taking one of her daughters to a Dutch colony in Suriname to study insects in their natural environments. That trip provided the content that she developed into the publications that became her major life’s work, which were collected by scientific societies, royalty (which is how this book came to be published by the Royal Collection Trust), and wealthy amateurs.
It’s not ONLY that she was a remarkable observer, or that she could draw and paint: she also had to master printing arts to be able to sell editions of her work (printmaking is another skill set entirely), and business to sell different variations of the results at different price points (discounted advanced subscription prices, higher prices after publication; uncolored prints for one price, prints hand-colored by her and her daughters for a higher price, and painted variations on vellum for luxury editions…) . She also collaborated with a botanist to provide in depth information about the included plants.
While this little book is just about 6×8″, the printing is on heavy stock and of high quality. Not only are her plates shown in their entirety with their original titles, but there are many pages of details, so you can enjoy the precision and skill of both her drawing and coloring. It’s the color and detail excerpts that really pulled me in.
The book covers her early work, as well as her work in Surinam. (Note that, while she was born in Germany, she lived in Amsterdam, and the colony she visited was under the control of the Dutch at that time. There is a lot of discussion now about the meaning of the “Dutch Golden Age,” especially since so much of the wealth of Amsterdam was generated by exploitation (the death rate of Dutch sailors working for the Dutch East India Company was shockingly high), colonialism, and slavery. It’s good that this concept of whose hard work the country’s success was based upon is ongoing.)
The Royal Collection Trust has images of their copy of her book on Surinam, which I’ll link to here for your enjoyment:
Maria Sibylla Merian travelled in 1699 with her younger daughter to Suriname in northern South America, to study the flora and fauna. The resulting natural history plates were published in Amsterdam in 1705, at her own expense.
I’m delighted with this book. I even inadvertently learned some things about moths! 🙂
I received a delightful art card, with a still life of vegetables. It was nicely composed, but also – the radishes had SEAMS! It was an arrangement of SEWN food sculpture!
The artist who created that is Mimi O. Chun, and she has a great portfolio that goes beyond food and includes social commentary on several topics, which I’m linking to here.
Creatures of Commerce is a direct response to the discordant nature of 2018. It’s a series of chimeras mashing up creatures, culture, and capitalism. And while I’ve never before been one to indulge my surrealist impulses (it somehow feels like a slippery slope to nihilism), reality is doing a good job of inspiring them these days anyway.