Bust of president John Kennedy by Dalí

Pieced the image together from Sotheby’s website – I felt I should compose as large an image as I can because this piece is very unusual. Why is it unusual? Because a paperclip is the badge of a quintessential bureaucrat, a man or a woman pushing papers from one tray to another under the pressure of a relentless authority figure. The piece was recently sold at an auction on Sotheby’s and my hope is it hasn’t been magnetized and used as a paper clip holder by an actual bureaucrat.

Authority has always been a good incentive for work. The quality of the authority directly correlates with the quality of the work. Rejection and glorification of authority  have prodded countless artists from around the world in all of history – from anonymous Tibetan sand paintings, to painful tomb sculptures commissioned by Michelangelo’s patrons, to the soft paintings in the Papal chambers, to the pro-totalitarian message of the Russian Constructivists, to various rejections of reality like Abstract Expressionism.

“Executed in 1963; this wax model was cast by the Rudier foundry then covered in paperclips by Dalí.”

bust-of-president-john-fitzgerald-kennedy-salvador-dali

The Abramovic Method Games

As a founder of MAI I got an early access to a series of simple exercises called The Abramovic Method Games.  Here are some screenshots of the Zen like games.

The Artist is Present game – you can play the game on Pippin Barr’s website here:the-artist-is-present-game-screen-marina-abramovich

the-artist-is-present-game-marina-abramovich
Complaining to a Tree is my favorite game. There is a story I remember that involves a tree, the story gets pretty Balkan as Marina Abramovich is a Serbian, I am a Bulgarian and my late grandfather, who gets involved in the tree story, is a Macedonian.  My friends and I were visiting my grandfather at his house on the Black Sea – it was my birthday and I fell really sick with fever. My grandfather immediately said we ought to find an oak tree to hug for me to get better. We, the whole gang, got into a car and drove off to go find an oak tree.

Obzor, where my grandfather lived, sits where the Balkan Mountains dip into the Black Sea. The area is covered in woods and we drove up and down the road  looking for a good-sized oak tree grove.

We found the trees, we all hugged one and I got better. The point is, from my personal experience, complaining to  a tree helps. If you get a chance – you should do it too. (I assume no liability in case you take my advice and instead of going to the doctor- you go looking for a tree. I remember Tree Hugging was big in California when I used to live there but have no time to google the context. It seems the Tree Embrace is not a very Balkan idea after all).

You can Complain to a Tree here:complaining-to-a-tree-mai-gamecomplaining-to-a-tree-mai-game-screenshot2complaining-to-a-tree-mai-game-screenshot

 

Counting Rice and Sesame – play the game in your browser here:

 

counting-rice-and-sesame-mai-game

An Art Gallery in the air – Sochi Olympics Ceremony sets inspired by Bauhaus, Russian Constructivism and Agitprop imagery and typography

Wassily Kandinsky in his “Concerning the Spiritual in Art” devoted two chapters to the symbolic meaning of the triangle and its tri-dimensional counterpart, the pyramid – II. THE MOVEMENT OF THE TRIANGLE and  IV. THE PYRAMID. Kandinsky was also the first chairman of the Russian Constructivism movement which inspired the geometric vision for the Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony yesterday. It was spiritually and typographically resting on the Russian Constructivists and Agitprop designs of the 1920’s.

Here are several images from the Opening Ceremony sets:

Russian Constructivists artwork that inspired the above sets – the Avant Garde movement in art and architecture in the 1920s. An El Lissitzky’s composition:

Iakov Chernikhov and his compositions that pre-visioned computer graphics by a century:

Vladimir Tatlin’s Tower:

Agitprop posters and typography:

Bauhaus poster:

Turksib (1929) Poster:

Sochi Olympics Ceremony costumes:


In comparison,  Avant Garde, Bauhaus inspired ballet costume designs by Anatol Petrytzky circa 1920s:

Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures

Animation may soon become obsolete..:

“We present a muscle-based control method for simulated bipeds in which both the muscle routing and control parameters are optimized. This yields a generic locomotion control method that supports a variety of bipedal creatures. All actuation forces are the result of 3D simulated muscles, and a model of neural delay is included for all feedback paths. As a result, our controllers generate torque patterns that incorporate biomechanical constraints. The synthesized controllers find different gaits based on target speed, can cope with uneven terrain and external perturbations, and can steer to target directions.”

Flexible Muscle-Based Locomotion for Bipedal Creatures from John Goatstream on Vimeo.

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”

Happy Birthday, Voltaire !

Here is my little dance to the tune of a Bulgarian folk song – I am preparing several canvases the traditional way. I stretch my own raw linen, size it with rabbit skin glue and prime it with several thin coats of lead oil, which I let dry for two weeks between coats. The tricky part with lead is that it is toxic so I dress up hazmat fot this little dance.

Matters of Scale

The size of the Planck length can be visualized as follows: if a particle or dot about 0.1mm in size (which is at or near the smallest the unaided human eye can see) were magnified in size to be as large as the observable universe, then inside that universe-sized “dot”, the Planck length would be roughly the size of an actual 0.1mm dot, that is, about the size of smallest object the naked human eye can see. In other words, the diameter of the observable universe is to within less than an order of magnitude, larger than a 0.1 millimeter object, roughly at or near the limits of the unaided human eye, by about the same factor (10^31) as that 0.1mm object or dot is larger than the Planck length. More simply – on a logarithmic scale, a dot is halfway between the Planck length and the size of the universe.

Sorry for the plunder directly from wikipedia but it was too good to just link to.

 

Planck length Visualization:

“The size of the Planck length can be visualized as follows: if a particle or dot about 0.1mm in size (which is at or near the smallest the unaided human eye can see) were magnified in size to be as large as the observable universe, then inside that universe-sized “dot”, the Planck length would be roughly the size of an actual 0.1mm dot, that is, about the size of smallest object the naked human eye can see. In other words, the diameter of the observable universe is to within less than an order of magnitude, larger than a 0.1 millimeter object, roughly at or near the limits of the unaided human eye, by about the same factor (10^31) as that 0.1mm object or dot is larger than the Planck length. More simply – on a logarithmic scale, a dot is halfway between the Planck length and the size of the universe.”

Isabey sent me a replacement brush – I am a fan for life

http://www.dickblick.com/products/isabey-pure-kolinsky-sable-brushes/

I get attached to the materials I work with – I have been a life-long computer geek, a brush geek, a linen geek, a paper geek. After all, for a time – you and the instrument in your hand become a one in the pursuit of a work of art, or simply of work. Knowing what we now know of the micro-world of particles, the simple act of commanding an object is a miracle.

My grandfather – circa 1938

My grandfather was an oil painter and a successful businessman, very skilled in the technique of Intarsia. He was very active in Bulgarian society prior to 1944 and was nominated, as part of a delegation of the Bulgarian trade elite, a godfather to King Simeon II of Bulgaria. He lost almost everything and escaped barely with his life during the communist revolution of 1944-47. He escaped execution with the help of a friendly lawyer but watched in terror from his house’s terrace high on the hills – the muzzle flashes of executions of many of his friends and colleagues. He was later sent to labor camps, was registered in the communist party’s archives as an enemy of the state and was not allowed to work for the rest of his life. Growing up I remember a very strange man living in my grandparents’ house – he was installed to spy on my grandparents’ activities and was there for almost 20 years. As a kid I was kept ignorant of the family history and only learned things piece by piece after my grandfather passed from a heart condition shortly after the Chernobyl incident. I vividly remember, however, my grandpa listening to the BBC and the Voice of America, a highly illegal activity at the time.

Grandfather at Union Club – Sofia, 1938:

I always keep at least one of grandpa’s works in sight. Here is my “wet” studio where I handle more toxic processes – I just laid first coat of Lead Oil primer on newly stretched linen canvases and also dry an underpainting created with genuine Chinese Vermilion ( the very toxic Mercuric Sulphide ). And grandpa’s landscape Intarsia of the old capital of Bulgaria is hiding behind the printer box waiting to be hung:

We’re scientists and engineers on NASA’s Voyager mission. Our spacecraft is now in interstellar space. Ask Us Anything!

I love space, I love all about the Cosmos and the Universe. It doesn’t make me feel small. It is no coincidence I worked on Star Wars as a commercial artist. I wasn’t merely loitering around the Presidio falling into the Star Wars pit.

I dreamed to become am Astronaut when I was little. I became a painter instead, next best thing.

Reddit IAMA of NASA scientists and engineers working on the Voyager mission: Today we announced that our spacecraft Voyager 1 is now in interstellar space. Link.

And my favorite question and answer:

” Q.: What is the application of this kind of knowledge? Understanding how particles move through space?

A.: James Van Allen once told me that the pursuit of knowledge was a sufficient answer for questions about applicability of space exploration. It’s all about understanding who we are, where we come from, and where we’re going. We’re all the stuff of stars, and now were actually examining that ‘stuff’ ” Bill Kurth, Voyager plasma wave co-investigator, University of Iowa

Isabey Brushes

My recently acquired Isabey brush is going bald, and is one of my favorite brushes… I am writing to Isabey in France to see if they would mail me a replacement.

Isabey Brush going bald
Isabey Brush going bald

the rest of my Isabey arsenal is quietly drying – getting ready for tomorrow’s date with Vermilion.

SciCafe: Life, the Universe and Everything with Neil deGrasse Tyson

There are very few things that really stop me in my tracks and I can watch and listen to for hours on end without ever getting tired – one of these things is anything Space and Cosmos. I could live on  Nasa.tv and steamed broccoli.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, an astrophysicist and Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, talks about Newton and the importance of keeping the lines of thought and conversation open. He says when open conversation ratchets up – you make discoveries and you make discoveries rapidly..

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