Our favorite coffee shop in Hartsville is The Midnight Rooster. It is home to “the crocodile table”, lattes made with a Southern sense of urgency, and delicious chocolate chip cookies. Today, my daughter, The Frogger, and I were passing some time between one errand and the next. The Midnight Rooster also has lots of art books from exhibitions. So, I got to read artist statements. Just back from ScienceOnline, my scientist soul is feeling properly chastised about the use of jargon.
Talk about jargon. We science nerds have nothing on these artists. Continue reading
Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Eric Kandel’s book about “The Quest to Understand the Unconscious in Art, Mind, and Brain, from Vienna 1900 to the Present” will keep you busy. It’s stuffed with history of Viennese Expressionism (Klimt, Kokoschka, and my new favorite, Schiele), Freud (what he got right and what he didn’t), cognitive psychology, and a fascinating discussion about how our minds, particularly our unconscious minds, respond to art.
There are a lot of neuroscience details, but the big point of the book is that Freud was right – most of our cognitive processes are unconscious. A key aspect of creativity is to facilitate the exchange between the unconscious and the conscious, and good artists take aesthetic moves that play on the unconscious responses of beholders, and to increase our awareness of the unconscious that operates in us. Kandel gives a neuroscientific justification of James Watson’s famous claim that “it’s necessary to be slightly underemployed if you are to do something significant.”
Particularly fun was the discussion of why Klimt and the Expressionists pursued particular stylistic directions. Klimt was directly influences by his contact with scientists, and many of the symbols in his paintings are inspired by microscope images of cells.
Lead is heavy. Not just in terms of physical density, but also of cultural weight. Malleable, ductile and resistant to corrosion, lead has been used for over 8,000 years for many purposes. The Romans, who gave the element its name (Pb, for plumbum) built their famous water and sewer system of lead pipes, and used it to make statues, sarcophagi, cooking pots, and wine vessels. In the middle ages, lead was used in roofing and plumbing, as well as for statues and ornaments, including the strips joining the pieces of colored glass in church windows. Up until the 20th century, lead was still widely used in paint and solder and as an additive in fuel. Continue reading
Vintage sci-fi cover art connoisseur Joachim Boaz has posted his favorite covers over at Science Fiction Ruminations. Go check it out.
This is fun, and I want to play too. Here are my five favorites from my paperback collection:
Charles Ross, Year of Solar Burns, 1992
The work of American artist Charles Ross uses natural light sources to create intriguing and stunning effects. After working for many years with using prisms to create dynamic color and light effects in architectural spaces, Ross decided to change his focus. Rather than dispersing sunlight through a prism he decided to focus it into a single point of raw power to create a solar burn. Each day for one year he burned the path of the sun through a large lens into a wooden plank. The burns were exhibited side-by-side in an exhibition titled Sunlight Convergence/Solar Burn (1971-72). Continue reading