Saturn's Moons, Modernism and Minimalism

The following are images of Saturn taken by the Cassini spacecraft mixed with some pieces at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and other works of modernism and minimalism.












Black Newborn, Sherrie Levine

Southern California, Elizabeth Murray

Night Sail, Toni Grote

Pink out of a Corner, Dan Flavin

Pelvis IV, Georgia O'Keefe


Pictures of the Volcano Under the Eyjafjallajokull Glacier

These are from Flickr.








Magazines and Books, a Look on the iPad

Here are two videos that I believe exemplify the potential of a slate device, in this case the iPad. The ability of the product to create an immersive, interactive experience with content that mashes up words, images and video is stunning.

This first regards magazines, which I read a lot of, but this approach would definitely have me signing up for more. And I'm glad to see Popular Science kick some ass here. My grandfather always had it around, so there's definitely a nostalgia factor (probably with me and everyone else in the world). I wonder if Reader's Digest or the Saturday Evening Post has anything in the works...

And here's a hint of what's going on with books. This is pretty sweet. Although it is a children's book, my mind is racing about the potential this holds for a variety of genres. I imagine that David Foster Wallace would have gone to town with some hyper-annotation. Dave Eggers, I'm sure, is plotting something.



"Life is a constant clashing and combining of perceptions..."

I first saw this video months ago, but was reminded of it today after viewing an interview with Glenn Lowry, the director of MoMA in New York.

Vladmir Baranoff-Rossiné, a Ukrainian painter and multimedia artist, created this work in 1913. As the video states, it is a "pivotal example of abstract sculpture."

He made this piece to tell a story about a changing world. The introduction of automobiles. The first hints of globalized war. The sudden swirl of new pressures and ideas being imposed upon an individual's place in all of it. Frenzied. Chaotic. Mechanical. Constantly in motion.

Because of the perceived enormity of events (which were in fact actual), Baranoff-Rossiné needed a new vocabulary—that of cubist abstraction—to convey his thoughts and emotions. Simple figurative sculpture or whistful painting would not do.

Today we face a similarly changing world (or perhaps one that just continues to change while our generations churn through it). Life seems to have sped up considerably, and as I sit here typing away I feel fortunate to have a least a little time to pause and reflect. Too often I feel like Symphony No. 1.

That said, it is a relief to know that I can empathize with a man who lived almost a hundred years ago. We often yearn for a simpler time, but no time must be simple when one is in the midst of it.

I wonder what media Baranoff-Rossiné would use today to express his thoughts about this world in which we live.



Internet + School Bus = Peace

Before WiFi started being offered in-flight, I used to love the lack of connectivity airplanes offered. I could read magazines and books, catch up on podcasts or music, and not really have any nagging feeling that I could be doing something else. Because I couldn't.

Train rides were different, since they offered greater comfort over a shorter distance. So it was actually nice just to be away but able to still get work done, answer email and have a phone call here and there while looking over the landscape passing by.

When I drive long distances, I enjoy audiobooks. So much so that I was once so caught up in one I missed my exit and ended up in Philadelphia, a long ways away from where I needed to be. Nevertheless, driving doesn't do much for work, unless you need to be on conference calls.

All of these observations, however, are a byproduct of a professional life. My job is what robbed me of personal time and gave me a tilted set of priorities. (Though I'm OK with that in many ways...) In school or college, I never had such concerns or perspectives. Nor did anyone else.

Now, though, it appears students will soon be ever-connected, and pressed prematurely into a professional outlook on life, and possilby for good reason: it calms them down.

Leading the charge in taking advantage of this understanding is a school district in Arizona (Wi-Fi Turns Rowdy Bus Into Rolling Study Hall):

Students endure hundreds of hours on yellow buses each year getting to and from school in this desert exurb of Tucson, and stir-crazy teenagers break the monotony by teasing, texting, flirting, shouting, climbing (over seats) and sometimes punching (seats or seatmates). But on this chilly morning, as bus No. 92 rolls down a mountain highway just before dawn, high school students are quiet, typing on laptops.

If there is a disparity in acedemic preparation between urban and rural students, this may lessen it over time. And possibly, this could even give rural students an advantage in certain areas, like computer science, since they will have more exposure to it.

Students were not just doing homework, of course. Even though Dylan Powell, a freshman, had vowed to devote the ride home to an algebra assignment, he instead called up a digital keyboard using GarageBand, a music-making program, and spent the next half-hour with earphones on, pretending to be a rock star, banging on the keys of his laptop and swaying back and forth in his seat.

Or maybe they'll just be better at video games.