Category:etc.

As cool as it might be as an object, there's something about that "Manhattan Project Glass" window that just ain't sitting right with me. I will not be bidding.

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The Faces of Project Y, detail, assembled by Alex Wellerstein, via nuclearsecrecy.org

But researching it has led me to some absolutely amazing other objects from the dawn of the nuclear age that are well worth pursuing in an artistic context.

Let's start with The Faces of Project Y, by historian Alex Wellerstein. A couple of years ago Wellerstein pulled all the recently declassified ID badge photos from the 1,200+ people who worked on Project Y, the code name for the Los Alamos section of the Manhattan Project. Then he tiled them up into one giant, 31x40 grid. It's awesome.

That's Richard Feynman smirking in the center of the detail, just above the woman with the Gerhard Richter blur. Wellerstein puts faces to other notable names on his blog, Nuclear Secrecy, and has created some swag coffee cups and other merch with the images on it. A giant print would be nice. But what's needed, clearly, is wallpaper. Rather than lose the 29 folks on the bottom, incomplete row, maybe you could get all the images as individual files, and just let it flow till the wall is full.

I don't know how I missed the extraordinary career and sad story of nuclear sculptor James L. Acord. Thanks to Seth David Friedman for pointing me to Tom Moody's incredible 2001 tale of Acord's rare, realized masterpiece, Monstrance for a Grey Horse. I will keep reading.

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Then there is the first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1, built under the football stadium of the University of Chicago in 1942. To create a sustained, controlled nuclear chain reaction, Enrico Fermi and his team embedded uranium balls in a giant, quasi-spherical lattice of 45,000 graphite bricks, which were supported by a lumber grid, which was enclosed by a square, black rubber balloon.

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Last year the Dept. of Energy posted photos of CP-1 to flickr, and it was basically Carl Andre's greatest sculpture. Ever.

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CP-1 graphit brick at the Atomic Testing Museum, img via flickr user rocbolt's CP-1 photo album

At least four of the graphite bricks are known to survive. Here's one at Oak Ridge. This photo by Kelly Michals is of the brick at the Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada. I don't know why you couldn't recreate the thing anew. From a window with a dodgy backstory, an untimely death, and a bunch of mug shots, to a nuclear Carl Andre Death Star inside a Kaba'a. These dots practically connect themselves!

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Here is a window from the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor in Hanford, Washington, USA. It is 3 feet high, 4.5 feet wide, and six inches thick and weighs 1,500 pounds.

I will buy it from someone who bought it from a junkyard in Walla Walla. I will strip it from its casement, except the bottom, where I will install three LEDs. Then I will attach it to an H-shaped base made of 8-inch timbers. I will attach this base to an old wooden cart.

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I will take other, smaller windows of leaded glass salvaged from the reactor, which are 16x26 inches, and weigh 800 pounds, and I will carve some of them into sculptures. I will polish some large shards of this glass into abstract sculptures.

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I will carve one piece into the shape of a mushroom cloud. I will set these sculptures on a basalt column mined from the reactor site. I will carve two pieces into spheres.

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Someone will cut other pieces of this glass into an indeterminate number of 2-inch cubes. Someone else will carve one piece of this glass into a 1.5-inch skull.

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I will try to sell as much of this stuff as I can through a booth at the Mineral & Fossil Co-op in Tucson. I will sell a 4-inch diameter sphere for $10,000 and a shard sculpture for $48,000 at Bonham's.

The next year, I will show more shards and the mushroom cloud and the big window at the Mineral & Fossil Co-op in Tucson. Where no one buys the mushroom cloud 'curiosity' for $150,000. I will fail to sell the mushroom cloud for $100,000 at auction.

The next year, I will try to sell the big window on the trolley at auction for $150,000-250,000.

The Internet will explode. Yet no one will ask why, if the windows from the Manhattan Project were 16x26 inches, and this one is 36x54 inches, it is not actually from the Manhattan Project, but maybe from any other period of the Hanford site's five-decades of operation, when its nine reactors and five large-scale plutonium processing complexes produced most of the plutonium for the 60,000+ weapons in the US nuclear arsenal.

And no one will ask why, if the glass is not actually radioactive or contaminated in some other way, even though it was salvaged from one of the most toxic sites on the planet, one of the first EPA Superfund sites [pdf], where specialized crews of hundreds of people spend five years dismantling structures containing such windows in ways that don't dislodge even a flake of plutonium-laden paint, to the cost of $150 billion and counting, with decades still to go, maybe it wasn't installed in a reactor? Maybe it was parts? Maybe there's any documentation or provenance information at all regarding this glass's actual historical use?

And certainly no one will ask about the downwinders of Hanford, and the soldiers and employees and their families, who have suffered from birth defects and cancer for the entire span of the nuclear age, and who have faced stonewalling, footdragging, and abrogation from the government and the military.

A blogger looking at this situation, who was initially drawn to the window because of its resemblance to minimalist sculpture, and its macho-retro-sexiness; and who would then get a little hot and bothered because he has a thing for Cold War-era spheres; and who knows his way around an auction, would probably start digging. And then he would try to piece the story together, and try to get into the mind of the people involved. And it would keep him up late, when he was supposed to be doing other work. And then in the morning he would decide that the whole thing is screwy from top to bottom, and makes absolutely no sense at all, and what is going on with our world and history and politics and people and money.

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Rohit Mahajan tweeted tonight that this was one of the images deleted from Weibo on June 4th. It's an amazing photo, though apparently not amazing enough to elude interpretation.

If I'm reading this correctly, it also seems that the weibo user, with the name Freedom Abib/barkcheekhandle is posting from the US, not from within China. FWIW. morning after update: and now the account, which I'd seen via the tw.weibo.com site, has been deleted.

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[via @heresrohit]

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Vanessa Stiviano & counsel, image via Gawker/Spalsh/DesignObserver

I've tweeted before, and I'll tweet it again, but Vanessa Stiviano's boss anti-paparazzi visor is the greatest thing about the entire Donald Sterling/Clippers/racist billionaire debacle. Stiviano's photo-thwarting look will have far-reaching implications for our media and celebrity culture, you heard it here first.

Well, technically, you probably already read something along those lines at Design Observer, where Rob Walker did a great analysis of the visor as a part of Stiviano's carefully constructed, photo-mastering looks:

This object privatizes the face in a manner that's undeniably a protest (stop taking pictures of me!) and just as undeniably a confrontation (you cannot resist taking pictures of me wearing this object!).

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vstiviano screenshot via @MichelleLHOOQ

Me, I see it as the vanguard of a broader trend that really speaks to this moment in history:

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screenshot: google images

Rob Walker| Object in the News: The Face Privatizer [designobserver]

March 6, 2014

FOIA Party

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The FBI has provided these photos in response to USA Today investigative reporter Brad Heath's 2012 Freedom Of Information Act requests. They have been redacted under FOIA exemption (b)(6), to protect the personal privacy of FBI personnel. Presumably, the presence of Timon from Lion King was determined not to violate the privacy of the attendees at this retirement party.

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There is no way to redact the FBI's inspiration, however. Color me impressed. [@bradheath via @AlJavieera]

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John Baldessari, probably 1988 or so, image via thegroundmag.com

View from the window at Le Gras, 1826, Joseph Nicephore Niepce

The world's first photograph, a persistent image made by exposing chemicals to light, was taken in 1826 by Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce. [NEES-uh-fore NYEHps]

It's the view from a window of his house in Le Gras. It was made by projecting the view through a camera obscura onto a small pewter plate coated with bitumen and developed with lavender oil. The exposure took several days [The sun can be seen hitting opposite sides of the buildings.] Niépce called it a heliograph.

Niépce eventually partnered with Louis Daguerre who was also working to fix images chemically, but Niépce died, his less inventive son stepped into the partnership, and thanks to some branding jiujitsu, Daguerre basically crossed the history finish line alone in 1839 as the inventor of photography. [Niépce son did write a pamphlet in 1841 titled, Historique de la Découverte Improprement Nomée Daguerreotype, procédé d'une notice sur son véritable inventeur feu, M. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (History of the discovery improperly misnamed daguerreotype, preceded by a note from its real inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.) So there's that.]

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An enhanced view of Niepce's View, flipped to match the actual view

View from the window at Le Gras, known as Point de vue de Gras in French, was lost until 1952, when the historian/collector Helmut Gernsheim tracked it down. It's now in the collection of the Ransom Center at UT Austin.

Niépce's house, in a village called Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, is now a museum, open for visitors in July and August [and other times of the year for a flat EUR150 get out of bed fee.]

The property was divided in the mid-19th century, but the house is largely intact. Yet it was unclear exactly from which window the image had been made. Gernsheim thought it was from the attic. This French site discusses all sorts of details about maps, lenses, exposure times, focal lengths, angles, and suggests it was on the 1st floor.

Or maybe that window's not even there anymore. A restoration project at the house in 1999 found evidence of a remodeling that moved the window on the 1st floor sideways by 70cm. Here's a short video about the investigation, trapped inside a tiny Flash window.

Alas, you can't try to recreate Niépce's photo yourself, because photos are not allowed in the photography museum. The operators have sold exclusive rights to some agency. Here's the sign on StreetView.

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View from the Window at le Gras [wikipedia]
Niepce house museum [niepce.org]

In Japan, I woke up a couple of nights angry from dreams about having dinner at the White House, and sitting across from Pres. Obama, and arguing with him about hunger striking prisoners at Guantanamo.

We talked--I talked at him, because, I guess my mind was incapable of imagining a viable retort, really, what could he say?--about Yasiin Bey's video demonstrating the standard procedure the military uses to force feed hunger strikers through their noses. And I asked if the Constitution was now as quaint as the Geneva Conventions, a reference to Bush era torture theorist John Yoo's position on following the rule of law and international treaties the US had nominally upheld for decades.

It was the kind of dream where I felt that surge of adrenaline, that this moment, this conversation, was going to be what opened the President's eyes to the awful urgency of this situation our country is in. These people are in.

I had seen the reports by investigative journalist Jason Leopold which revealed JTF-GTMO's recent, extraordinary revisions to the prison hospital's forced feeding procedures. But it wasn't until a couple of days ago that, with Jason's assistance, I found the actual military manuals and memos themselves. They are in an archive of documents produced in response to Freedom of Information Act requests maintained byThe Department of Defense's FOIA Service Center.

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I can't not do something, so I have published the three sets of detainee treatment regulations, known as Standard Operating Procedures, as a book. Which, believe me, I know. I feel a bit like an outraged @Powhida jamming @BarackObama into all his tweets, until the non-effect wore him out.

It's weird feeling compelled to do something that you recognize is irrational and irrelevant. But again, I can't not do something, and this is one thing I do. Andwith all due respect to Richard Prince, this text, as it is, and as it drives the world, is the kind of thing I feel must be propagated and put examined and contextualized if appropriation, or art, or attention, really, is going to mean anything at all.

Standard Operating Procedure includes the SOP Manual for Camp Delta, the prison side of GTMO, which was implemented in 2003. It's 240-some pages, not including the various classified appendices for detainee transport and adjudication, which have not, apparently, been released. It also contains the 2003 version of SOP for the detention hospital for "Voluntary and Non-Voluntary Total Fasting and Re-Feeding," which has several p.ages completely redacted. And then there's the May 2013 revision to those procedures, which are contained in an SOP for the Joint Medical Group for the "Medical Management of Detainees on Hunger Strike." That's the regime the detainees are currently under.

Of course, as Leopold and others continue to report, the situation of detainees is even worse than what these SOP prescribe. There are indications that regulations are extensively, if not routinely ignored by guards and prison commanders. These primary documents embody the best case scenario for people who have been cleared for release for years, but who remain in harsh, indefinite, imprisonment.

So whether youbuy the book [which should be is finally available to order this weekend, I think; I've been experiencing some friction from the printer/publisher, which is kind of annoying, and it's been going on all week.] or read the regulations in electronic format, read them, and know that they exist.

Buy Standard Operating Procedure, 284pp, unsigned edition, $15.99 +s/h [createspace]

Three years ago, I was thinking about what to do with the posts I'd written about the project I'd begun six years ago. Which I guess means it's time to release the results.

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So here's Mari X IKEA, a PDF compilation I made in 2010 aboutfmy 2007-09 project to construct an Enzo Mari autoprogettazione table out of Ikea furniture components.

I was not entirely pleased with the way it read all together, and so I didn't publish it back in the day. But I realize now that my inner archivist and inner editor will never agree on things, and I/we are becoming OK with it. So the tabloid-style publication contains all the original blog posts and images documenting the project, and that includes a fair amount of recapping and repetition. Meanwhile, my inner publicist wants to emphasize that this is not a bug, but a feature, like the catchy chorus of a song.

I'm still quite stoked about the project--and the table, for that matter, which I am using at this very moment--and it continues to influence and inform my thinking about stuff: art, design, originality, authorship, authority, appropriation, systems, craft, utility. So I'm very happy to get information on the project out there in a more easily consumable format.

I should also give a shoutout to The Newspaper Club, the amazing publishing company, then just starting out, where I had originally contemplated printing Mari X IKEA in 2010. This PDF was made using their easy publishing/layout tool. And though I ended up not pulling the trigger on this particular project, they regularly make me want to turn this blog, and many other things, into a newspaper.

Mari X IKEA: autoprogettazione by greg.org, 2010 [PDF, 2.8mb]

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Artist TimK made this animated GIF simulation of viewing Marcel Duchamp's Étant Donnés some time before January 1998, which was when the Internet Archive crawled his Duchamp webpages for the first time.

That site is long gone, but TimK now has marcelduchamp.org.

Not sure how I never considered this, but I suddenly came across a couple of strong connections between Enzo Mari's autoprogettazione furniture and Gerrit Rietveld.

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For one, check out the crate that this 1965 version of Rietveld's Red Blue chair came in; this one's from Galerie VIVID in Rotterdam. I've never seen this before. Maybe that's just how they used to make crates in the 60s. But it sure looks like the underside of my Enzo Mari X IKEA table, the EFFE model.

Ikea x Enzo Mari Mashup Table

It looks even more like the structure of the Tavolo Quadrato, the square autoprogettazione table.

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Then there's Rietveld's 1923 Military Table, designed for the Catholic Military Home in Utrecht, and in and out of production ever since. This unfinished Oregon pine example's from the 60s, and was in Marseille, via 1stdibs. [I have never paid much attention to Rietveld's Military Table, but suddenly it is looking pretty sweet.

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The top is fixed onto these cross braces. It's a solution that Mari eventually used as well. The crosspieces are not in the original autoprogettazione plans, but they did turn up in the kit of precut parts that were sold under the Metamobile name in the early 70s.

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Even though Rietveld's autonomous approach to furniture is an obvious precedent for Mari's; and I knew from hands-on experience that the autoprogettazione designs have a lot more "design" than their basic function requires; I guess I never imagined that Mari would make overt references to what had come before.

Previously:
The making of an Enzo Mari dining table
Enzo Mari X IKEA Mashup Recap

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Category: etc.

recent projects, &c.


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It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

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"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

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