Category Archives: Uncategorized on Purpose

Happy Thanksgiving

Currently I am in Europe working on a project.

I miss the States and wish everyone a Very Happy Thanksgiving.

Europe is cold and feels even colder after I spent considerable amount of time in Florida and California over the last couple of years. But as in New York, cold always stimulates the mind as there is no urge to be outside and move about.

Here are two pieces I did over Thanksgiving three years ago. For the first one I used the back of a  Nordstrom catalog I got in the mail:

 

i have everything - i piece i did on the back of a Nordstrom catalog
Drop everything and shop, 11×19 inches, sharpies on the back of a Nordstrom catalog

 

Another piece with a Thanksgiving theme is called I have everything. It is a digital collage over a photograph of me wearing a paper dress .The other strong theme here is Occupy and the effect the movement had on me and the way I viewed New York city. I have everything was completed shortly after NYPD cleared Zuccotti Park.

 

i-have-everything-w
I have everything, digital collage on top of a photograph of me wearing a paper dress

 

The paper dress I am wearing is a 30 x 40 inches mixed media piece. I painted over a  Giclee print of my Lucasfilm W2 and scraps of paper collage:

 

30x40 inches printed photograph I turned into a paper dress
I have everything paper dress, 30×40 inches, mixed media over Giclee print

You can listen to the voice piece about I have everything here:

45 Everyday Phrases Coined By Shakespeare

Isn’t language astonishing? The ability to convey complex concepts to another by means of few oddly shaped symbols. And then gurgling these out to make a point across the air,  or scribbling them down in a way so they carry meaning 500 years later.

BBC America has a list of 45 everyday phrases coined by William Shakespeare. In this context the words sound more beautiful and poetic than when used casually. Here is the list – you would be surprised:

 

“All our yesterdays”— (Macbeth)

“As good luck would have it” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“As merry as the day is long” — (Much Ado About Nothing / King John)

“Bated breath” — (The Merchant of Venice)

“Be-all and the end-all” — (Macbeth)

“Neither a borrower nor a lender be” — (Hamlet)

“Brave new world” — (The Tempest)

“Break the ice” — (The Taming of the Shrew)

“Brevity is the soul of wit” — (Hamlet)

“Refuse to budge an inch” — (Measure for Measure / The Taming of the Shrew)

“Cold comfort” — (The Taming of the Shrew / King John)

“Conscience does make cowards of us all” — (Hamlet)

“Crack of doom” — (Macbeth)

“Dead as a doornail” — (Henry VI Part II)

“A dish fit for the gods” — (Julius Caesar)

“Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” — (Julius Caesar)

“Devil incarnate” — (Titus Andronicus / Henry V)

“Eaten me out of house and home” — (Henry IV Part II)

“Faint hearted” — (Henry VI Part I)

“Fancy-free” — (A Midsummer Night’s Dream)

“Forever and a day” — (As You Like It)

“For goodness’ sake” — (Henry VIII)

“Foregone conclusion” — (Othello)

“Full circle” — (King Lear)

“The game is afoot” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Give the devil his due” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Good riddance” — (Troilus and Cressida)

“Jealousy is the green-eyed monster” — (Othello)

“Heart of gold” — (Henry V)

“Hoist with his own petard” — (Hamlet)

“Ill wind which blows no man to good” — (Henry IV Part II)

“In my heart of hearts” — (Hamlet)

“In my mind’s eye” — (Hamlet)

“Kill with kindness” — (The Taming of the Shrew)

“Knock knock! Who’s there?” — (Macbeth)

“Laughing stock” — (The Merry Wives of Windsor)

“Live long day” — (Julius Caesar)

“Love is blind” — (The Merchant of Venice)

“Milk of human kindness” — (Macbeth)

“More sinned against than sinning” — (King Lear)

“One fell swoop” — (Macbeth)

“Play fast and loose” — (King John)

“Set my teeth on edge” — (Henry IV Part I)

“Wear my heart upon my sleeve” — (Othello)

“Wild-goose chase” — (Romeo and Juliet)

The Song and the Body of a Comet

As an artist I work with the body and my body of work is my voice. Native Americans always considered all inanimate objects to have inner lives and express their voices. Here is the voice of a Comet:


You can find out more about how the song of this comet was captured on ESA’s blog.

Below is the first ever close-up of the body of a comet ever captured. And the Welcome to a comet blogpost on ESA’s site announcing the arrival of the images as we wait on more updates from the lander.

Rosetta’s lander Philae is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
Rosetta’s lander Philae is safely on the surface of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko

Happy Halloween

I have been a Star Wars fan since I was 7,  I went to work for Lucasfilm as a 3d painter and sculptor and this was one of the best opportunities to grow and become an artist and a craftsman.

George Lucas was not only a very generous employer,  but he created a creative atmosphere  where the artists had a great deal of ownership in the final product. He also threw annual Halloween parties with costume contest that had no equal in the Silicon Valley. The most famous story was that one year  ILM pushed the whole Pirates of the Caribbean ship, created as part of the visual effects for the movie, into the party, complete with a pirate crew.

One year, a group of ILM’s visual effects artists came up with the idea to dress up as Living Room Transformers – here is the couch ( Jett Lucas on the background ):

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.

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.

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.”

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.”

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..

My favorite story from “The Power of Myth”


There is a wonderful story in the Upanishads about the god Indra. Now it happened at this time that a great monster had enclosed all the waters of the earth, so there was a terrible drought, and the world was in a very bad condition. It took Indra quite a while to realize that he had a box of thunderbolts and that all he had to do was drop a thunderbolt on the monster and blow him up. When he did that, the waters flowed, and the world was refreshed, and Indra said. “What a great boy am I”.

So, thinking, “What a great boy am I”, Indra goes up to the cosmic mountain, which is the central mountain in the world, and decides to build a palace worthy of such as he. The main carpenter of the gods goes to work on it, and in very quick order he gets the palace into pretty good condition. But every time Indra comes to inspect it, he had bigger ideas about how splendid and grandiose the palace should be. Finally, the carpenter says, “My god, we are both immortal, and there is no end to his desires. I am caught for eternity. So he decides to go Brahma, the creator god, and complain.

Brahma sits on a lotus, the symbol of divine energy and divine grace. The lotus grows from the navel of Vishnu, who is the sleeping god, whose dream is the universe. So the carpenter comes to the edge of the great lotus pond of the universe and tells his story to Brahma. Brahma says, ” You go home. I will fix this up.” Brahma gets off his lotus and kneels down to address sleeping Vishnu. Vishnu just makes a gesture and says something like, “Listen, fly, something is going to happen.”
Next morning, at the gate of the palace that is being built, there appears a beautiful blue-black boy with a lot of children around him, just admiring his beauty. The porter at the gate of the new palace goes running to Indra, and Indra says, “Well, bring in the boy.” The boy is brought in, and Indra, the kind god, sitting on his throne, says, “Young man, welcome. And what brings you to my palace?”
“Well, says the boy with a voice like thunder rolling on the horizon, “I have been told that you are building such a palace as no Indra before you ever built.”
And Indra says, “Indras before me, youn man – what are you talking about?”
The boy says, “Indras before you. I have seen them come and go, come and go. Just think, Vishnu sleeps in the cosmic ocean, and the lotus of the Universe grows from his navel. On the lotus sits Brahma, the creator. Brahma opens his eyes, and a world comes into being, governed by an Indra. Brahma closes his eye, and a world goes out of being. The life of a Brahma is four hundred and thirty-two thousand years. When he dies, the lotus goes back, and another lotus is formed, and another Brahma. Then think of the galaxies beyond galaxies in infinite space, each a lotus, with a Brahma sitting on it, opening his eyes, closing his eyes. And Indras? There may be wise men in your court who would volunteer to count the drops of water in the oceans of the world or the grains of sand on the beaches, but no one would count those Bramin, let alone those Indras.”

While the boy is talking, an army of ants parades across the floor. The boy laughs when he sees them, and Indra’s hair stands on end, and he says to the boy, “Why do you laugh?”
The boy answers, “Dont ask unless you are willing to be hurt.”
Indra says, “I ask. Teach.”( That, by the way, is a good Oriental idea: you don’t teach until you are asked. You don’t force your mission down people’s throats.)
And so the boy points to the ants and says, “Former Indras all. Through many lifetimes they rise from the lowest conditions to the highest illumination. And then they drop their thunderbolt on a monster, and they think, ‘What a good boy am I.’ And down they go again.”