From the category archives:

Storytelling

On the 60th anniversary of the founding of the (so-called) People’s Republic of China, this image resonated with me:

Camouflage 2 by Liu Bolin

Camouflage 2 by Liu Bolin

From photographer Liu Bolin:

“I choose to merge myself into the environment. Saying that I am disappeared in the environment, it would be better to say that the environment has licked me up and I can not choose active and passive relationship.

In the environment of emphasizing cultural heritage, concealment is actually no place to hide.”

via Shoot! The Blog and designboom

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Watching Machines

September 15, 2009

in Sound,Storytelling,Video

I found the following videos of Arthur Ganson’s sculptures via a tweet from the Long Now Foundation.

I really like the way these short films unfold the structure of each sculpture through time. It gives viewers a completely different experience of them than we might have if we walked into a room with one of them. Well done.

And:

And:

As one commenter pointed out, the sound of that last one is amazing.

There are more films of Arthur Ganson’s sculptures available on the dreamingmachines YouTube channel.

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Clay Shirky on Weekend Edition Saturday, with some emphasis added:

The conversation around the digital divide, this gap between who can participate and who can’t, has shifted. In the ’90s, it was mainly about access to hardware and network connections. Right? Not everybody has a computer. But as computers have gotten cheaper and spread, as they started showing up in specific places like libraries, and as phones increasingly have, even just through SMS, these kind of functions, the conversation’s really shifted from the question of access to a hardware to the sense of permission and to the sense of interest. And that’s a much squishier, more social question.

So part of the digital divide question, the new digital divide question is, how do we go to people who don’t sense they have permission to speak in public and offer them that permission? And then the other, as you say, is the interest. If there are people who are just uninterested in this stuff, how can you make an experience that’s still satisfying for them as, you know, traditional consumers of media, without making them feel bad for not being the people posting the Flickr pictures of potholes or, you know, adding a comment to an NPR story?

There can be a tendency amongst the tech-savvy to assume that if it’s important, if it matters, it is already bouncing around Twitter and Facebook and MySpace.

“If people aren’t comfortable and inclined to jump in, who cares?”

We risk missing far too much of the world’s experience with an attitude like that.

Later in the segment, Shirky touched on the dimensions of our online conversational patterns:

The closest most of us get to this is our wedding day, when you gather, you know, as many of the people you most love and would want to talk to in the world that you can get in one room. And then you suddenly realize I got three hours. And so, there is a constant width versus depth tradeoff, where you can either talk to a few people for a long time, or you could talk to a lot of people for a short time. But you can’t actually do what you want to do.

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But what’s wrong with being didactic every now and then? (Or always, if that’s your thing…)

“…Elephants

are mostly

made of four

Elements…

via Boing Boing

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I never expected to post any cat pictures on this particular blog, but there are moments for everything. And when a form reaches a pinnacle like this, lines must be crossed, and implied rules tossed.

(Why not throw in a facile and silly rhyme, too?)

It is a slightly misshapen watermelon...

It is a slightly misshapen watermelon...

I don’t know who took this picture, or how or why. (I found it via reddit.com)

But I identify with this cat, its absurd situation, and the look of determination on its face despite its surreal and quasi-Sisyphean task. (I’m projecting, of course.)

Cribbing from some anonymous Wikipedian:

Albert Camus, in his 1942 essay The Myth of Sisyphus, sees Sisyphus as personifying the absurdity of human life, but concludes “one must imagine Sisyphus happy” as “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.”

Or, perhaps, a cat’s heart.

Keep pushing, little watermelon cat. I imagine you happy.

Or at least out of the water, with your nose buried deep in that watermelon.

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Perhaps
  - Reply to the Loneliness of a Poet

	Perhaps our hearts
		will have no reader
	Perhaps we took the wrong road
		and so we end up lost

	Perhaps we light one lantern after another
		storms blow them out one by one
	Perhaps we burn our life candle against the dark
		but no fire warms the body

	Perhaps once we're out of tears
		the land will be fertilized
	Perhaps while we praise the sun
		we are also sung by the sun

	Perhaps the heavier the monkey on our shoulders
		the more we believe
	Perhaps we can only protest others' suffering
		silent to our own misfortune
	Perhaps
		because this call is irresistible
			we have no other choice

– Shu Ting (Translated by Tony Barnstone and Newton Liu)

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Writing about music is difficult. How many times have you read a well-written review of a concert or recording, and then still had no idea at all what to expect when hearing the music?

That’s why I find this excerpt from a Tang Dynasty poem so remarkable:

“The thick strings splattered like a rain shower,
the thin strings whispered privately like lovers,
splattering and whispering back and forth,
big pearls and small pearls dropping into a jade plate.
Smooth, the notes were skylarks chirping under flowers.
Uneven, the sound flowed like a spring under ice,
the spring water cold and strained, the strings congealing silence,
freezing to silence, till the sounds couldn’t pass, and were momentarily at rest.
Now some other hidden sorrow and dark regret arose
and at this moment silence was better than sound.
Suddenly a silver vase exploded and the water splashed out,
iron horse galloped through and swords and spears clashed.
When the tune stopped, she struck the heart of the instrument,
all four strings together, like a piece of silk tearing.
Silence then in the east boat and the west.
All I could see in the river’s heart was the autumn moon, so pale.”

From “Song of the Lute” by Bai Juyi (772-846)
Translated by Tony Barnstone and Chou Ping

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W.H. Auden, in the essay “Reading” from the collection The Dyer’s Hand:

What is the function of a critic? So far as I am concerned, he can do me one or more of the following services:

  1. Introduce me to authors or works of which I was hitherto unaware.
  2. Convince me that I have undervalued an author or a work because I had not read them carefully enough.
  3. Show me relations between works of different ages and cultures which I could never have seen for myself because I do not know enough and never shall.
  4. Give a “reading” of a work which increases my understanding of it.
  5. Throw light upon the process of artistic “Making.”
  6. Throw light upon the relation of art to life, to science, economics, ethics, religion, etc.

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“The things that make you strong, and make you feel as though you’ve accomplished something, are not the easy ones; it’s the things you had to work and struggle through. Those are what give us our depth—that make us not just gray and plain and nothing, but give us depth and texture and longing.”

Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the emergency-room doctor who discovered she had breast cancer while over-wintering in Antarctica in 1999, died June 23rd. She was 57.

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Thomas Jefferson designed his own house, and constantly fiddled with it — and yet his bed was in the wall between his office and bedroom:

Jefferson's Bed (by Maira Kalman)

Jefferson's Bed (by Maira Kalman)

From “Time Wastes Too Fast“, a narrative and series of images by Maira Kalman based on a visit to Monticello.

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George Carlin, remembering his early career:

“I was doing superficial comedy entertaining people who didn’t really
care: Businessmen, people in nightclubs, conservative people. And I
had been doing that for the better part of 10 years when it finally
dawned on me that I was in the wrong place doing the wrong things for
the wrong people…”

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Jeff Clark built this shaped word cloud out of 84,000 tweets labeled with #iranelection:

A Visualization of #iranelection Tweets (by Jeff Clark)

A Visualization of #iranelection Tweets (by Jeff Clark)

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Irrepressible

Irrepressible

By fascists — with batons — this mark was made.
Her smile says: “Our resistance will not fade.”

Wishing the people of Iran all the best in your struggle for your human rights to freely express yourselves and be treated with dignity.

The world admires your courage.

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An unhelmeted stormtrooper finds sanctuary:

June 13: On the streets of Tehran

June 13: On the streets of Tehran

via Andrew Sullivan

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From J.D. McClatchy’s A View of the Sea:

At the far end of the room, the two cups of water
On the floor, the master explained, were for them
To purify their mouths with before the tea was served.
They were next told to lie on their bellies and inch
Towards the cups, ensuring a proper humiliation.
The monks protested—they had come to see their friend
Through to the end, to see his soul released,
Poured like water into water—and where, after all,
Was the unmatched view he had promised them?

(Quoting my favorite lines would have given it all away, so I encourage you to read the whole thing.)

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