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‘There is more work in interpreting interpretations, than in interpreting things; and more books about books than on any other subject; we do nothing but write glosses on one another.’ These words are not a statement of the bankruptcy of a culture buried beneath its own monuments; they are a definition of the inevitable relation that language maintained with itself in the sixteenth century. This relation enabled language to accumulate to infinity, since it never ceased to develop. Perhaps for the first time in Western culture, we find revealed the absolutely open dimension of a language no longer able to halt itself, because, never being enclosed in a definitive statement, it can express its truth only in some future discourse and is wholly intent on what it will have said; but even this future discourse itself does not have the power to halt the progression, and what it says is enclosed within it like a promise, a bequest to yet another discourse….The task of commentary can never, by definition, be completed. And yet commentary is directed entirely towards the enigmatic, murmured element of the language being commented on: it calls into being, below the existing discourse, another discourse that is more fundamental and, as it were, ‘more primal’, which it sets itself the task of restoring.
Via National Geographic:
Purple Bolts at Iceland Volcano
Photograph by Marco Fulle, Barcroft/Fame Pictures
Italian photographer and scientist Marco Fulle flew at sunset on Sunday over Iceland’s erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano to capture this picture of purple lightning bolts streaking through the sky.
Much of the lightning generated by the Iceland volcano is better termed long sparks, said the University of Florida’s Uman. Those may include a new type of lightning recently found over an Alaska volcano.
It’s unknown how such sparks form, though one possibility is that electrically charged silica—an ingredient of magma—interacts with the atmosphere when it bursts out of Earth’s crust, Steve McNutt of the Alaska Volcano Observatory said in February.
(Related: “Iceland Volcano Pictures: Aerial Views of the Inferno.”)
Flash and Ash at Volcano
Photograph by Olivier Vandeginste, Your Shot
Lightning pierces the erupting volcano’s ash cloud in a National Geographic Your Shot photograph taken by Olivier Vandeginste on Sunday.
Inhaling the tiny pieces of glassy sand and dust in the cloud can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, say experts who advise Europeans to stay indoors when the ash begins to fall. Finer particles can also penetrate deep into the lungs and cause breathing problems, particularly among those with respiratory issues like asthma or emphysema. (See “Iceland Volcano Ash Plume Prompts Health Worries.”)
But if people could witness the volcanic lightning safely, it would be an incredible experience, Uman said.
“Everyone would want to see that,” Uman said. “It’s like going to see aurora borealis near the North Pole—it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
(Also see “Photos: Chile Volcano Erupts With Ash and Lightning.”)
On the site of a thousand years of violent history, ACDC were pitted against Iron Man in a ground breaking architectural projection mapping project. The front facade of the Great Keep at Rochester Castle, was brought to life using the latest in 3D animation techniques. This onslaught of the senses, saw the castle confront it’s ultimate challenge. Warping, morphing, spewing and collapsing before the audiences eyes.
From ArchDaily, by Nico Saieh:
Architect: Alberto Campo Baeza
Location: Ponzano Veneto, Treviso, Italy
Client: Benetton Group spa
Collaborator: Jesús Donaire
Structure: Andrea Rigato
Construction Management: Alberto Campo Baeza, Jesús Donaire, Massimo Benetton
Contractor: CEV spa, Eurogroup spa, Angelo Saran & C.snc, La Quercia, ISAFF srl
Project Area: 1,868 sqm
Project Year: 2006
Construction Year: 2007
Photographs: Marco Zanta, Hisao Suzuku
Read the rest, here.
Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens, the atheist author, have asked human rights lawyers to produce a case for charging Pope Benedict XVI over his alleged cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.
The pair believe they can exploit the same legal principle used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, when he visited Britain in 1998.
The Pope was embroiled in new controversy this weekend over a letter he signed arguing that the “good of the universal church” should be considered against the defrocking of an American priest who committed sex offences against two boys. It was dated 1985, when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which deals with sex abuse cases.
Benedict will be in Britain between September 16 and 19, visiting London, Glasgow and Coventry, where he will beatify Cardinal John Henry Newman, the 19th-century theologian.
Dawkins and Hitchens believe the Pope would be unable to claim diplomatic immunity from arrest because, although his tour is categorised as a state visit, he is not the head of a state recognised by the United Nations.
They have commissioned the barrister Geoffrey Robertson and Mark Stephens, a solicitor, to present a justification for legal action.
The lawyers believe they can ask the Crown Prosecution Service to initiate criminal proceedings against the Pope, launch their own civil action against him or refer his case to the International Criminal Court.
Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, said: “This is a man whose first instinct when his priests are caught with their pants down is to cover up the scandal and damn the young victims to silence.”
Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great, said: “This man is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment.”
Last year pro-Palestinian activists persuaded a British judge to issue an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni, the Israeli politician, for offences allegedly committed during the 2008-09 conflict in Gaza. The warrant was withdrawn after Livni cancelled her planned trip to the UK.
“There is every possibility of legal action against the Pope occurring,” said Stephens. “Geoffrey and I have both come to the view that the Vatican is not actually a state in international law. It is not recognised by the UN, it does not have borders that are policed and its relations are not of a full diplomatic nature.”
An Italian inventor, Enrico Dini, chairman of the company Monolite UK Ltd, has developed a huge three-dimensional printer called D-Shape that can print entire buildings out of sand and an inorganic binder. The printer works by spraying a thin layer of sand followed by a layer of magnesium-based binder from hundreds of nozzles on its underside. The glue turns the sand to solid stone, which is built up layer by layer from the bottom up to form a sculpture, or a sandstone building.
The D-shape printer can create a building four times faster than it could be built by conventional means, and reduces the cost to half or less. There is little waste, which is better for the environment, and it can easily “print” curved structures that are difficult and expensive to build by other means. Dini is proving the technology by creating a nine cubic meter pavilion for a roundabout in the town of Pontedera.
The printer can be moved along horizontal beams and four vertical columns, and the printer head is raised by only 5-10 mm for each new layer. The printer is driven by a computer running CAD software and prints at a resolution of 25 dpi (dots per inch). The completed material resembles marble, is stronger than concrete, and does not need iron reinforcing. The printing process can successfully create internal curves, partitions, ducting, and hollow columns.
Dini also has lunar plans for the D-shape, and is in discussions with La Scuola Normale Superiore, Norman Foster (a UK architecture firm), and Alta Space, as part of the Aurora program run by the European Space Agency (ESA), to build a modified D-Shape that could use lunar regolith (moon dust) to build a moon base. Dini will carry out trials in a vacuum chamber at Alta Space’s facility in Pisa to ensure the process is possible in a low-atmosphere environment such as the moon.
Dini said his ultimate dream is to complete Guidi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which has been under construction since 1882 and which is not expected to be completed until 2026 at the earliest.
Another example of where we have seen the conundrum of architecture mating with mass-produced technology:
Early in Victor Hugo‘s novel of medieval Paris, Notre Dame de Paris, the antagonist, Claude Frollo, utters a terrifying line. He directs the eyes of two visitors from a book on his desk to the massive silhouette of Notre Dame cathedral beyond his door, Frollo then announces: “Ceci Tuera Cela” (This will kill that).
“That” is the cathedral, “this” is the machine that produced the book on his desk: the printing press. “Small things overcome great ones,” Frollo laments, “the book will kill the building.”
For Frollo — or, rather, Hugo — the history of architecture is the history of writing. Before the printing press, mankind communicated through architecture. From Stonehenge to the Parthenon, alphabets were inscribed in “books of stone.” Rows of stones were sentences, Hugo insists, while Greek columns were “hieroglyphs” pregnant with meaning.
The language of architecture climaxes in the Gothic cathedral. For centuries, Hugo asserts, priests had controlled society, and thus architecture: the squat lines of Romanesque cathedrals reflect this oppressive dogmatism. But, by the High Middle Ages, the Gothic cathedral liberates man’s spirit. Poets, in the guise of architects, gave flight to their thoughts and aspirations, in flying buttresses and towering spires.
In this (admittedly) potted history of the West, the cathedral, this Goliath, inevitably falls to the David of moveable type, the book. By 1832, the year he published his novel, Hugo believed architecture had reached an impasse: architects had nothing new to say. This artistic bankruptcy was revealed in the profusion of movements that toyed with earlier styles: neo-classicism, neo-Byzantine, neo-this, neo-that. Architecture was dead, but architects hadn’t yet heard the news.
Except for one: Henri Labrouste. Labrouste was still a young man building a reputation when he read Hugo. It was an epiphany — one embodied in Labrouste’s first great commission: the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève. The library’s lines are sharp and free of ornamentation: it refuses the slightest of nods to past styles. It is a machine for reading in which function alone determines its shape. Labrouste drives home the point by engraving the names of dozens of great thinkers on the exterior walls. Ornamentation? Hardly: instead, it is an enormous card catalogue: on the other side, books by these very same authors were to be shelved.
How ironic that these writers, responsible for digging architecture’s grave, would be so honored by an architect. And perhaps it is even more ironic that the library lies in the shadow of the Pantheon, the French Republic’s Hall of Fame. Hugo detested this neo-classical pile: a “great sponge cake,” he called it. Yet in 1885, the great man was buried there. Perhaps we should just call it a machine for commemoration.
Similarly, see this, if you need new body parts, that is.
From The Economist print edition, Apr 22nd 2010:
How the venerable Metropolitan Museum came by its many Picassos.
The portrait of Gertrude Stein (shown above) was the first Picasso to enter the collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. It arrived in 1947. By then the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) had 82 of his works. The tortoise never overtook the hare. Nevertheless, with 500 works, the Met today has the second most important collection of Picassos in the United States. Now, 300 of them have been brought together for an exhibition (from April 27th to August 1st) that is absorbing and quirky—and has quite a tale to tell.
On view are all of the Met’s Picasso paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics and half of its 400 prints. From the painter’s rose period there is “The Actor”, newly restored. “Head of a Woman”, Picasso’s first large cubist sculpture, occupies the centre of a room devoted to that period. “Woman Reading” is a love song to a mistress and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter. In sharp contrast, “Man with a Lollipop” is an unsettling introduction to the artist’s cruel streak. One large room is hung with jaunty linoleum prints. There are also visual puns. “Tie”, cut out of paper, has four eyes drawn in crayon descending from its faux knot to its point. It was a gift to Alfred Barr, MoMA’s first director, who was famed for his good eye.
Most of the Met’s Picassos came as bequests or gifts. In his catalogue essay, the exhibition’s curator, Gary Tinterow, wittily tells the story of how they came to be where they are. It is fun to match the works on view with the people who gave them, speculating about the characters of the benefactors. Scofield Thayer, a poet and publisher, favoured dreamy Picassos with the odd bit of pornography thrown in. Alfred Stieglitz, photographer and art dealer, preferred edgy, angular cubist works on paper. Jacques and Natasha Gelman, film buffs, seemed to concentrate on nervy, aggressive images.
From its opening in 1870, the Met showed contemporary art. But both the art and the men who ran the museum were conservative. During the century that followed, the men remained much the same. Art changed radically.
In 1921 champions of impressionist and post-impressionist art from France proposed a show. The Met’s trustees were afraid it would provoke public outrage and Bryson Burroughs, its director, thought Picasso a madman. But the modernists, including Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an heiress and sculptor, kept up the pressure and, reluctantly, the Met went ahead. There was a press uproar. “Friends” of the museum issued a pamphlet giving warning of its moral decay.
A quarter of a century later Stein bequeathed Picasso’s portrait to the Met. It may seem a perverse decision for a self-declared modernist. But she had a stupendous ego. In her view the work was a collaboration between two 20th-century geniuses: the artist and his sitter. It deserved, it demanded, a secure home. In 1946, when Stein wrote her will, MoMA was only 15 years old. The Met was established and rich.
Luckily for the Met others too found this a persuasive argument. For the museum had no acquisition policy. There was no targeting of works to fill gaps. The helter-skelter collection just accumulated. None of Picasso’s pots and plates came to the Met; there is nothing of his imaginative metal sculpture. The weight is on early works: the blue, rose and classical periods leading to cubism. What might seem a limitation gives the show a freshness that retrospectives often lack.
A degree of balance is achieved at the exhibition’s end. The last room is hung with 119 prints from Picasso’s Suite 347, aquatints and etchings made in 1968, five years before he died. They are a visual autobiography. Here is the artist with his models and his mentors, among them Raphael and Velázquez. There are horses and musketeers, lovers and lots of women with their legs open wide.
Cynics may suppose that this exhibition of the Met’s own treasures is a bid to make the best of recession cutbacks (shows of pictures on loan are expensive). The museum’s director, Tom Campbell, insists that this is not so: “this is not the Met in lockdown mode.” Instead, it reflects his decision to increase the attention given to the museum’s magnificent permanent collection. Big loan-shows are on the way. But so are more in-house blockbusters.