things I love

Fly Through 17th Century London by Anne Kreamer

If the holidays make you feel like time traveling, this piece in the Londonist by Matt Brown will satisfy that itch. "A group of students at De Montfort University created this fly-through of 17th century London (skip to 0:50 in the video to get to the juicy stuff).

The model focuses on the area around Pudding Lane and the bakery of Thomas Farriner, where the Great Fire of 1666 started.

Although most of the buildings are conjectural, the students used a realistic street pattern and even included the hanging signs of genuine inns and businesses mentioned in Samuel Pepys’ diary. More information on the source material and processes can be found on the team’s blog.

The project is an entry in the Off The Map competition, in which students were invited to build 3-D digital models based on maps at the British Library, and using software by Crytek."

The Season For Ocean Meditation by Anne Kreamer

Watch this NASA film showing surface currents circulating in a high-resolution, 3D model ofthe Earth's oceans. Driven by wind and other forces, currents on the ocean surface cover our planet. Some span hundreds to thousands of miles across vast ocean basins in well-defined flows. Others are confined to particular regions and form slow-moving, circular pools. Seen from space, the circulating waters offer a study in both chaos and order.  Mesmerizing.

Beck's "Saint Dude" performed by Studio 360's Kurt Andersen and WNYC friends by Anne Kreamer

Beck’s new album isn’t what you’d expect. There’s no CD, no .mp3s, and — despite recent trends — no vinyl. So how’s it being released? Sheet music. As the Studio 360 team was getting ready for the interview, they had an idea: What if they put together a band to play some of the sheet music?

Studio 360 followed through on that idea and, with the help of a few dozen friends, proudly presents The Three-Six-Ohs with Beck’s “Saint Dude.” Watch out for WNYC personalities like Morning Edition’s Soterios Johnson, Soundcheck’s John Schaefer, On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone, WQXR’s Terrance McKnight, and Spinning on Air’s David Garland.  Studio 360’s own Reverend John DeLore and several musically-inclined staff members from New York Public Radio also appear.

Oh, and there’s a special cameo too. Is that Beck, or Kurt “Glockrockinbeats” Andersen, and full disclosure, my husband? You’ll have to watch the whole video for the big reveal.

What the Brain Draws from: Art and Neuroscience by Anne Kreamer

Interesting post by Elizabeth Landau at CNN about the intersection of art and science.

"Pablo Picasso once said, "We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies."

  The illusion of clouds reflecting on water

The illusion of clouds reflecting on water

If we didn't buy in to the "lie" of art, there would obviously be no galleries or exhibitions, no art history textbooks or curators; there would not have been cave paintings or Egyptian statues or Picasso himself. Yet, we seem to agree as a species that it's possible to recognize familiar things in art and that art can be pleasing.

To explain why, look no further than the brain.

The human brain is wired in such a way that we can make sense of lines, colors and patterns on a flat canvas. Artists throughout human history have figured out ways to create illusions such as depth and brightness that aren't actually there but make works of art seem somehow more real.

And while individual tastes are varied and have cultural influences, the brain also seems to respond especially strongly to certain artistic conventions that mimic what we see in nature.

What we recognize in art

It goes without saying that most paintings and drawings are, from an objective standpoint, two-dimensional. Yet our minds know

[to keep reading]

It's Summer, Let's Go Fly Some Kites by Anne Kreamer

Ray Bethell lives in Vancouver, BC Canada, and is believed to be the world's premier multiple kite flyer.  This video is an representative example of his ephemeral art: a flawless physical mastery in the service of beauty. He started sport kite flying in 1980 and for many years flew in team competitions with his team “The Vancouver High Flyers."  He taught himself to fly two sport kites simultaneously, with one kite manipulated from the hip while he steered the other with his hands. By adding special handles to his kites, he was later able to add a third to his routine: one attached to his waist, one in the left hand and the last in his right hand. Enjoy.

The Great Animal Orchestra by Anne Kreamer

Image the animal orchestra as dawn rises over a lake.

David Byrne introduced me to Bernie Krause's recordings of the natural world.   As summer begins, turn on "Dawn at Trout Lake," close your eyes, slow your breath, and reconnect with the magic of the natural world.

Here's how Byrne set up the recordings.

"Last month I did a book talk with Bernie Krause at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco. Bernie’s book, The Great Animal Orchestra, is sad but worth checking out. Over recent decades, he and a few others have been releasing beautiful recordings of soundscapes, some of which I played before the concerts St. Vincent and I did recently. This month’s playlist are those recordings. Sometimes people thought there were birds loose in the theaters—though there were also some recordings of a wild boar, possibly from Chernobyl, where Peter Cusackdid some recordings (released as Sounds From Dangerous Places). Lastly, there are a couple recordings made by Chris Watson whose Mexican soundscapes on El Tren Fantasma are lovely in a strange way (but not included here—too industrial sounding)."

James Turrell Creates Experiences of Wordless Thought by Anne Kreamer

“I make spaces that apprehend light for our perception, and in some ways gather it, or seem to hold it…my work is more about your seeing than it is about my seeing, although it is a product of my seeing.”— James Turrell

I've visited three of James Turrell's sculptures:  my first mind-blowing was at the Chichu Art Museum on the island of Naoshima in Japan, the second tucked into a classroom at MoMA PS1, and my third light-bending experience was on the Pomona campus.  "For over half a century, the American artist James Turrell has worked directly with light and space to create artworks that engage viewers with the limits and wonder of human perception. Turrell, an avid pilot who has logged over twelve thousand hours flying, considers the sky as his studio, material and canvas. New Yorker critic Calvin Tompkins writes, 'His work is not about light, or a record of light; it is light — the physical presence of light made manifest in sensory form.'

And now Turrell has a radiant website that shares his vision with a wider audience.  I pray I have the chance to visit Roden Crater one day.

"Informed by his training in perceptual psychology and a childhood fascination with light, Turrell began experimenting with light as a medium in southern California in the mid-1960's. The Pasadena Art Museum mounted a one-man show of his Projection Pieces, created with high-intensity projectors and precisely modified spaces, in 1967. Mendota Stoppages, a series of light works created and exhibited in his Santa Monica studio, paired Projection Pieces with structural cuts in the building, creating apertures open to the light outside. These investigations aligning and mixing interior and exterior, formed the groundwork for the open sky spaces found in his later Skyspace, Tunnel and Crater artworks.

Turrell often cites the Parable of Plato’s Cave to introduce the notion that we are living in a reality of our own creation, subject to our human sensory limitations as well as contextual and cultural norms. This is evident in Turrell’s over eighty Skyspaces, chambers with an aperture in the ceiling open to the sky. The simple act of witnessing the sky from within a Turrell Skyspace, notably at dawn and dusk, reveals how we internally create the colors we see and thus, our perceived reality.

In 1974 Turrell began a monumental project at Roden Crater, an extinct volcano in northern Arizona. Continuing the practice begun in his Ocean Park studio, Turrell has sculpted the dimensions of the crater bowl and cut a series of chambers, tunnels and apertures within the volcano that heighten our sense of the heavens and earth. While Roden Crater is not yet open to the public, Turrell has installed works in twenty-two countries and in fourteen US states that are open to the public or can be viewed by appointment. Agua de Luz, a series of Skyspaces and pools constructed within a pyramid in the Yucatán, and forthcoming projects around the world, from Ras al-Khaimah to Tasmania, integrate many of the principles and features embedded within Roden Crater.

Turrell’s medium is pure light. He says, “My work has no object, no image and no focus. With no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of worldless thought.”

Why Do We Hate Certain Words? by Anne Kreamer

A while back, Matthew J.X. Malady wrote about the fascinating phenomenon of word aversion for Slate.  Most of us have words we dislike for emotional reasons -- they sound harsh 

bunk

or connote something gross(ish) 

zit

or 

slug.

"But first, some background is in order.  The phenomenon of word aversion seemingly pedestrian, inoffensive words driving some people up the wall—has garnered increasing attention over the past decade or so. In a recent post onLanguage Log, University of Pennsylvania linguistics professor Mark Libermandefined the concept as “a feeling of intense, irrational distaste for the sound or sight of a particular word or phrase, not because its use is regarded as etymologically or logically or grammatically wrong, nor because it’s felt to be over-used or redundant or trendy or non-standard, but simply because the word itself somehow feels unpleasant or even disgusting.”

So we’re not talking about hating how some people say laxadaisical instead of lackadaisical or wanting to vigorously shake teenagers who can’t avoid using the word like between every other word of a sentence. If you can’t stand the word tax because you dislike paying taxes, that’s something else, too. (When recently asked about whether he harbored any word aversions, Harvard University cognition and education professor Howard Gardner offered upwebinar, noting that these events take too much time to set up, often lack the requisite organization, and usually result in “a singularly unpleasant experience.” All true, of course, but that sort of antipathy is not what word aversion is all about.)

Word aversion is marked by strong reactions triggered by the sound, sight, and sometimes even the thought of certain words, according to Liberman. “Not to the things that they refer to, but to the word itself,” he adds. “The feelings involved seem to be something like disgust.”  (to read more....)