Art In The Age Of Digital Reproduction

So beautiful. Or is it elegant?

Either way, the degraded, abstracted pixelation of user canzona‘s 1000th ripped & uploaded YouTube video is a great digital tribute to experimental composer Alvin Lucier and the ‘photocopy effect,’ “where upon repeated copies the object begin to accumulate the idiosyncrasies of the medium doing the copying.”
As MeFite DU puts it, “I like how it’s called ‘the photocopy effect,’ but was inspired by a sound recording.”
I Am Sitting In A Video Room 1000 [youtube via @joygarnett]

Adaptive Subdivision By Quasimondo

Adaptive Subdivision, originally uploaded by Quasimondo.

Saying they reminded him a bit of the polygonal distortions of the Dutch Landscape images from Google Maps, reader Patrick passed along these examples of adaptive subdivision from flickr user Quasimondo.

Googling around on it, I gather it’s a tiling technique used in mapping that partitions an image based on the similarity of adjacent data; more similar=larger polygon. More detail/variation=smaller divisions.

I’ve been debating in my head whether to really delve into the actual algorithms and techniques used to camouflage the various military & intelligence sites I’ve been pulling. It’s not clear that it’d help the project along in any way, but it does fascinate me.

What became immediately obvious is that while the geometric abstractions of some sites are clearly based on the underlying image, others have been pasted over by totally unrelated polygon blobs. Compare in the map of The Hague below, the detail of the Noordeinde Palace in the upper left and the outsize blob hiding the Department of Defense on the right.

View Larger Map

I wonder if sometimes it’s best–or enough–to just be stoked for the found images I’ve found as I’ve found them.

The Beautiful Caverns of Luray, Virginia

Score one for the bloggers. I found this beautiful little packet of souvenir photographs at a small, otherwise uninteresting flea market a few weekends ago.

They’re tiny, just 2×2.5 inches, but they’re crisp and beautiful in a way that reminds me we’re losing something tangible in this wholesale shift to digital printing.

The photos reminded me a bit of a miniature photogrid from Olafur Eliasson–he’s done caves looking in and looking out, and some later pieces are documentations of his trip through a place, like the river rafting series.

But more than that, they reminded me of a tiny set of Robert Smithson mirror displacement photos I kind of wanted to buy. Smithson had used a Kodak Brownie to take tiny, square snapshots of mirrors stuck in the snow on his Greenwich Avenue roof. The Met had them on hold for a very long time, and ended up taking them in 2001. There are no images online, but they fall in an interesting place in Smithson’s work, between his contact sheets and his rarer, larger photos.

As for these photos, I have to thank Steve Roden, who helped me notice them at all. Roden had posted this summer about the Luray Caverns, specifically a recording of The Great Stalacpipe Organ, which was made of concert-tuned stalactites. Those Luray promoters didn’t miss a single angle.

Fosse, Gerry. Gerry, Fosse

Bob Fosse as the Snake in Stanley Donen’s 1974 movie musical adaptation of The Little Prince [available in low-res original and Billie Jean mashup versions, because why not? via maud]
which was not, in fact, filmed in the same location as Gus Van Sant’s Gerry after all:
Related: my 2003 interview with Van Sant’s producer Dany Wolf
my idea for a shot-for-shot remake of Gerry set in non-Anglo Los Angeles.

John Steiner’s Balloon, 1857

While this 1857 ambrotype of John Steiner’s balloon preparing for an international crossing from Erie, Pennsylvania to Canada is the first known photograph of a flying machine, Steiner’s was not necessarily the first balloon.

Still, kind of awesome.

FWIW, Steiner had to bail out over Lake Erie in dramatic fashion. His balloon made it to Canada and was found some time later.

The Smithsonian has the story–and the photo, which is on display at the National Air and Space Museum.

The Role Of Charles Kinbote Will Be Played By Paul Limbert Allman

On an evening in October 1986, two well-dressed men approached Dan Rather on Park Avenue, began asking him, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” and then started pummeling him. They were never identified or caught, and the motive behind their question and their attack was never explained.
In a 2002 article in Harper’s magazine, however, Paul Limbert Allman “solves” the riddle. The answer: New Yorker short story writer Donald Barthelme.
As his analysis unfolds, and hypothetical interactions between Rather and Barthelme become bitter vengeance. Allman begins to sound more than a bit like Charles Kinbote, the protagonist of one of my absolute favorite novels ever, Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. Which is not who you want to sound like if you’re really gunning for credibility.
Pale Fire is structured an eponymous epic poem by a dead poet named John Shade, and the increasingly unhinged footnotes added by Kinbote, Shade’s self-deluding neighbor/colleague/groupie/stalker.
So if the Pale Fire logic holds, then [calculates on fingers] I think that means Allman attacked Dan Rather. Or that Allman is a figment of Rather’s imagination. It could go either way.
The frequency: Solving the riddle of the Dan Rather beating [ via jessamyn]
“Kenneth, what is the frequency?” [wikipedia]

Untitled (Composition with Taxi, Tree & Halston)

We were driving back from the storage unit Sunday morning, when we saw this spectacular and impossible-seeming scene on E 63rd St & Park:

A taxi, slammed full force, backwards and against traffic, into a tree in front of the townhouse Paul Rudolph created for Halston.

Apparently, a carjacker came flying off the bridge, hit the taxi, sent it spinning, and then backed back up 63rd to flee down Lexingon. And all before 8 in the morning. According to the super of a nearby building, the whole incident was captured on security cameras, so I should be checking the local evening news.

NO WAY: Did Sarah Palin Use Paris Hilton’s Stylist??

UPDATE: NO WAY, says Lisa Kline’s publicist. Check out the update at the bottom of the post.
UPDATE UPDATE: Now the NY Times has moved the Two Lisa Klines Theory ball down the field.
The payee for several of the fashion-related “campaign accessories” receipts included in this $150,000 Palin Shopping Spree is listed as Lisa L Kine of New York City. So far, I haven’t found any such person at the address given in the report.
But there is Lisa Kline, whose Google result reads, “Lisa Kline boutique clothing has hot designer jeans and dress shirts inspired by celebrity fashion style. High-end fashion in Beverly Hills…” Indeed, Lisa Kline boutique is on Robertson Blvd, the, Ground Zero [sic] of celebrity fashion.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Kline also just so happens to be the source of the leopard-print swimsuit Paris Hilton wore in her ad lampooning John McCain after he criticized Obama as a “celebrity.” Please, please let this be the same person.
I forwarded this Vimeo clip from Lisa Kline’s MySpace page to the owners of Pacifier, the Minneapolis baby store. They say they’re “pretty sure” that is the Republican Party operative who came in and purchased Trig Palin’s outfit a few hours before Sarah Palin’s speech at the GOP Convention.

[mini-doc] – Lisa Kline from [city of others] on Vimeo.
Let that sink in for a minute. I have a phoneathon for the kid’s preschool to attend.
UPDATE: Lisa Kline says NO WAY, she’s not Lisa Kline. Or at least Lisa Kline’s publicist says Lisa Kline isn’t Lisa Kline. I spoke with Lisa Kline of Beverly Hills’ publicist, who said that, while she wishes she could take the publicity, it’s not her Lisa Kline. In fact, her Lisa Kline has never even been to Minneapolis, and she couldn’t have dressed Sarah Palin because Lisa Kline boutique doesn’t sell suits. Also, if I wanted, she could suggest some great items from Lisa Kline’s baby store on Robertson for little Trig Palin for my story. So I guess that clears that up.
I also just spoke with Jon from Pacifier again, and he’s still pretty sure that the woman he sold Trig’s outfit to looks and sounds like Beverly Hills Lisa in her MySpace video. I guess we’ll wait for the real [sic] Lisa Kline to step forward and accept her accolades from the world’s media.
update update:: it’s not 100% yet, but the NY Times’ Caucus Blog makes a rather persuasive, data-based case that there are two Lisa Klines, one for Paris Hilton, and an entirely other one for Sarah Palin. They have different middle initials and everything.

Hope And A Dollar Won’t Get Me On The Bus

Much less get me one of thesehere sweet Obama banners.

After almost a week of daily trips past this sign/awning company with giant vinyl Obama – HOPE banners by Shepherd Fairey on either side, I resolved to scale the building and steal them. One, at least one.

Alas, my diabolical plan was thwarted by the friendly guy laughing and waving at me as I snapped a photo–and the two hungry kids in the backseat. Oh well. And anyway, it looks like there’s a HopeCam perched above it.

Coop, Rafael. Rafael, Coop

What looked like a cement plant or oil refinery–but what obviously was neither–on a jet-lag-early walk through downtown Los Angeles turned out to be Coop Himmelblau’s High School for the Performing Arts, an aggressively industrial design that will serve as the eastern gateway to a massive cultural redevelopment plan in the works for Grand Avenue.

The original workaday design for a much-needed high school was given the boot, replaced by the PA school, with a huge event space, at the behest of Eli Broad, noted philanthropist.

Recently, Broad has been noted for not giving away quite enough of his billions of dollars or contemporary artworks as others think he should. The Coop school is significantly over budget and behind schedule, and critics complain that the LA School District is stuck footing the bill. [The project has already blown through the figures in Nicolai Ouroussoff’s 2003 article on the project, supposedly reaching over $200 million.]

That prow-like tower will be sweet, though, no doubt an inspiration to thousands of future kings of the world. My favorite part about the building is the perforated, skeletal tower’s dramatic contrast/challenge to the cliff-like solidity of Rafael Moneo’s LA Cathedral and its bell tower. I’m not sure if freeway appeal is the most important priority for LA’s high schools, but this one sure has it.

Have you seen me? Beware the Jabberwock

Anyone know who made this rather sweet linoleum block print [I’m guessing, at first I thought it was woodblock] of the first stanza of the Jabberwock?

Those hands are awesome.

If You See Something, Eat Something

Saw this poster on the DC Metro recently, the unwarranted, grandiose arrogance of which has always bugged me.

Also, I have never seen a subway rat the size of a house cat in all my years. The size of a ferret, maybe. Or a chihuahua lying down. But not a cat.