December 16, 2011

Beautiful Boro Noragi @ Sri


I love this boro jacket at Sri as much for the color as the patching:

This jacket is well-used, as is quite obvious. To describe its color is difficult: it is a kind of medium-range grey blue; the hemp cloth itself is woven of exceedingly narrow stripes which gives a misty appearance to the neutral color.
This is actually the inside of the jacket. The 10 other photos Sri posted doesn't include a shot of the outside.

boro hemp noragi, taisho era [srithreads]

BELLMAC-32A Layout in the Ball Labs, Murray Hill Lobby, image:

Look closely, at least until I can track down a larger version of this snapshot.

Because it may be the world's largest plotter pen drawing.

It's a 20x20-foot layout of the BELLMAC-32, the world's first 32-bit microprocessor, developed by AT&T just before they divested themselves of Bell Labs and the RBOCs beginning in the late 1970s.

BELLMAC-32A microphotograph, via

According to a first-hand history of IEEE fellow Dr. Sung Mo (Steve) Kang, developing the BELLMAC-32 constantly uncovered the limitations of the design, testing, manufacture, and QA process for microprocessors:

Chip layout verification was another huge challenge. At that time, no CAD tools were available for the entire chip layout verification. As a result, we had to generate many CALCOMP plots and Scotch-taped them together to form a 20-foot-by-20 foot plot that was placed on the floor in a huge room. To make sure interconnects were formed properly, all terminals were labeled and wires were traced by using color pencils to make sure the lines ran continually. Although primitive, this method uncovered many errors and, in the end, produced error-free layouts and fabricated chips. We used a huge empty room in Building 3 of AT&T Bell Labs at Murray Hill or the main lobby area to complete the checking.
I love that creating the most advanced computer chip of the day still involved PhDs crawling across the floor with colored pencils.

Still from Microprocessor for the Information Age, a 1982 industrial film on the making of the BELLMAC-32, via AT&T's Archive

And of course, there's the giant drawing itself, spit out by a printer in tiles and taped together. Was Wade Guyton even born when this all went down? Yes, but still. So awesome.


Now to track down a working CALCOMP plotter and recreate it. Because it's probably too much to hope that AT&T or one of their computer engineer diaspora rolled all those sheets up and stuck them in their moisture-free basement. Right?

Microprocessor for the Information Age (1982) [ thanks reader robin edgerton]
First-Hand: The AT&T BELLMAC-32 Microprocessor Development []
previously: Shatner, plotter art, and the drawing machine as seen at the beginning of the digital age

December 8, 2011

The New Aesthetic On Stage

Here's video of James Bridle giving a live, keynote speech version of his awesome tumblr, The New Aesthetic, at a web conference in Australia. Lots of good stuff, though not much that will be new to TNA followers.

There are a few favorites in there, too, including lots of camo, Dutch Google camo, Blurmany, that crazy Google Books book, Google Google Google camo camo camo.

Waving At Machines, at Web Directions South, Sydney AU []

December 7, 2011

John Cage's Sweet Nut Balls

Here's another recipe from John Cage, this one maybe from a stay in Ithaca? Before he went vegan, obviously. From Empty words: writings '73-'78, p. 91:

Holiday Inn: Room 135.
Four cups of ground walnuts;
4 cups of flour;
12 tablespoons of sugar;
2 2/3 cups of butter;
4 teaspoons of vanilla.
Form into circa 125 small balls.
Bake at 350 degrees in motel oven.
Now back to Room 135.
Roll in 1 pound of powdered sugar.
Nut balls.
Makes enough for one dance company, I guess.

December 6, 2011

And Now Erased Kennedy?

Wild. The previous post about erased and archived and someday-to-be-resuscitated Nixon reminded longtime reader Jonathan of another obscured national conspiracy: the Dictabelt recordings of the Kennedy assassination.

Apparently, a motorcycle policeman along the presidential motorcade route through Dallas had his mic stuck open, and he inadvertently laid down several minutes of audio on a police radio channel, which was being recorded by something called a Dictabelt.

Generations of investigators who examined the recording drew controversial and sometimes conflicting conclusions from it about the participation of a second gunman. But basic questions about which policeman's radio was being recorded, and where he was at the time, have never been answered definitively.

In any case, the celluloid acetate medium on which the recording was made is microscopically degraded further with every pass of the stylus. So the more it is disputed and heard and analyzed, the more it is physically erased.

Dictabelt evidence relating to the assassination of John F. Kennedy [wikipedia, thanks jf]


Sebastian Errazuriz came up with the idea for his coke slab when he saw friends scratching out lines on a coffee table. The indentations make it so easy, a child could do it!

It's so functional and brilliant, I'm surprised someone hasn't invented it already. It's also gorgeous to look at, though it also appears that the actual production version available for sale on Grey Area's website is matte finish, not mirror-finish stainless steel. Too bad.

Maybe better to wait for Rirkrit's version.

[Other things I just thoguht of: Painting Bitten By A Man, 1961, Jasper Johns; Table, also 1961, Yves Klein.]

Sebastian Errazuriz, 16 x 9 x 0.75 inches, $2,100
[ via museumnerd]

In what is probably the most ideologically analytical essay ever written about paperweights, curator Barbara Casavecchia notes that many of the 60 paperweights she selected from Enzo Mari's collection "are the product of a manual labor--serving as fragmented evidence of the persistence of non-alienating forms of work, specifically within the craftsman-like dimension inherent to production that Mari has investigated for years."

One incarnation of Mari's investigation was an exhibition and discussion forum he organized in 1981 titled, "Dov'e l'artigiano"/"Where is the crafstman". It was presented first at Fortezza da Basso in Florence, and then at the Triennale in Milan. There was a catalogue published--which I can't find anywhere--and at least one review--which I can only find a few quotes from, but otherwise, the Italians have not yet processed or digitized their contemporary design history yet.

In his latest book, Venticinque modi per piantare un chiodo/25 ways to drive a nail, Mari says the objective was to "illustrate the unresolved ambiguity of the relationship between industrial design and 'handmade.'"

Excerpts from an Ottagono review of "Dov'e l'artigiano" place the show and Mari's critical view of the alienating labor conditions of mass production at the center of the debate over Italian design, culture, business, even a national identity of sorts. On the one hand, some Italian producers, still modernizing, hid the fact that their consumer products were partially made by hand because they "did not want to lose the noble title" of industrial design. And others hid the fact that they'd begun using industrial manufacturing processes because they didn't want "to lose the prestigious title of an object 'made by hand.'"


As he had done in 1973 with his autoprogettazione plans, exhibition, and product line, Mari eschewed theoretical arguments in favor of a "didactic exhibition" of objects and the close analysis of their creation. For the show he uncovered hundreds of examples of artisanal and craftsman-like processes being used to make mass-produced industrial design. Here are the objects and categories I've been able to find so far:

  • Industrial prototypes and models made by craftsmen, such as hand-formed auto body parts by Italdesign's Giorgetto Giugiaro and Aldo Mantovani for Alfa Romeo [top left, I think]

  • Scale models and testing prototypes of turbines.

  • A hand-made mold for high-quality plastic chairs [bottom left].

  • The schematic drawing for an integrated circuit, which apparently took over 1800 man-hours to create. [I believe it]

  • "Technological masterpieces" such as US nuclear submarines, one-off industrial objects.

  • An 18th-century-style table with legs "built in series with industrial machinery, but finished with a stroke of the chisel to make it 'unique.'"

  • A Borsalino custom-made for the Pope [top right].

  • A machine-like sculpture by Mari collaborator Paolo Gallerani [bottom right].

Oh yeah, and the whole show took place inside a geodesic dome.

I'll add more objects and pictures if/as I find them. It's hard to process a 30-year-old exhibit you've only just found out about. But it makes me think of things like, well, obviously, pen plotters and that insane William Shatner integrated circuit drawing movie. And NASA workers using giant clothespins to glue the mylar strips toghether for Project Echo satelloons. And Richard Serra sculptures made in defunct shipyards and Richard Prince car hoods. And hand-embroidered Gap kids' dresses that turn out to have been made by children in India. And etsy and custom Nikes and pre-stressed jeans. And Ikea furniture that offloads all the non-alienating labor processes onto the customer.

Which is all by way of saying I have no grand theories on the current state of the relationship between craft and industrial production; but I think they've turned out to be not quite as incompatible as they seemed in 1981.

This all started with the catalogue essay for Enzo Mari: Sixty Paperweights, An Intellectual Work, which just closed in Berlin. [,]
Maddamura's discovery of the Ottagono review is one of the few online sources of info on the "Dove'e l'Artigiano" show [image, too:]
Mari's new book, 25 Ways to Drive A Nail, is not available in English yet. [google books tho]

November 22, 2011



Apparently, as a state-of-the-art battleship in the US Navy during the 1920s, the USS Maryland was "in great demand for special occasions."

Which might give a hint about why she was tricked out at some point in these dazzling but highly non-camo lights.

USS Maryland [thekingof via reference library]

November 9, 2011

Intergalactic Lens Flares


i love that the headline on this story, "Hubble Directly Observes The Disk Around A Black Hole," has to be followed immediately by, "but it's not that disk."

The spectacular patterns and rays in the photo above of the double quasar known as HE 1104-1805 are apparently imaging artifacts from the Hubble Space Telescope, They're caused by the circular aperture and the structural elements of the telescope itself.

Meanwhile, the accretion disk is only visible at all because HE 1104-1805 is subject to gravitational lensing, distortions in the light caused by the gravitational pull of an intervening galaxy.

I can't quite articulate it yet, but there's something here about the appeal and limits of opticality; the utility and limitations of the narrow, visible part of the spectrum; and the documentation and characterization of distortion that I find very interesting. And then there's the inextricable relationship between the instrument and its object; which then collapses as the universe itself--the galaxy-as-lens--becomes the instrument for viewing itself.

Hubble Directly Observes the Disc Around a Black Hole [, via]
What's That Strange Disk Around That Black Hole? []

Not sure what's cooler about JWZ's post about visiting the repurposed Christian Science church that is now The Internet Archive's San Franscisco Mothership:

their slick and simple book digitizing station setup, or the "terracotta army of avatars of their long-term employees" which are gradually filling the pews.

The Internet Archive []

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Since 2001 here at, 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 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.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

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

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

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

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

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

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

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