Wonder Wednesday

Oh I so love these works by Abelardo Morell!  Turning an entire room into a camera obscura, then photographing the result.  There’s something very mystifying and fascinating about the real world projected into 3D space rather than a flat screen, interacting with the room, a mix of the mundane and the fantastical (and it’s up to us to choose which of either the room or the world is the mundane one and which is the fantastical).  So nifty.

I can’t possibly link them all, so find more at his gallery here!

All works by Abelardo Morell

Wonder Wednesday

Pale Blue Dot, 1990, taken 6 billion km from earth by the Voyager 1 spacecraft, the last photograph it took during its mission, enhanced by modern computing techniques in 2020.

The Day the Earth Smiled, 2013, taken from the orbit of Saturn by the Cassini spacecraft.

Link to a wonderful article describing how both photos came to be.

And if you’ve not heard Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot thoughts, do so here:

Art Assignment Incoming!

At long last, here’s the completion of my take on the Present Perimeter art assignment!  (If you are unfamiliar with the assignment, I’ve also linked to it at the bottom of this post, best to watch it first before diving into my response to it…)

When the assignment was, well, assigned (back in 2015, yikes!), I instantly knew I wanted to do something architectural and spatial with the prompt. Soon thereafter I met up with Betty from Articulations, and we set upon an idea.  I worked on it off and on over the next year, getting the design complete and then… it sat untouched until I finally got back to it this year to generate the views and the final presentation.  So long delayed, but here it is!

Out of the refined prompt Betty and I concocted, the resulting direction was to create a set of four pavilions, with each pavilion being comprised of an inhabitable sculpture comprised of all the basic forms/shapes of the assignment (1 hexagon, 3 half-hexagons, 3 rhombuses, 3 triangles).  These were then set inside of a reflecting pool that’s also derived from a combination of the basic shapes and all linked by a path comprising of combinations of the basic shapes (though not specifically using each one an exact number of times).  I used some philosophical musings to guide me in what the pavilions and whole assemblage was about, and the result was Presence, Reflection, Transformation, and Creation.  It’s best if it is not read too literally, but there is a sequence of ceremonial entry, quiet reflection, perilous traversing, and elevated overlook:

As they all have been — and I need to share more of my completed assignments, I’ve done about a dozen and a half of them — it was a fun assignment to play with!

Here’s the video below, and the series itself also spawned a book:  You Are an Artist

Wonder Wednesday

Some amazing old footage from 1970 of Wendy Carlos demonstrating the classic MOOG synthesizer.  No preprogrammed patches or sounds here — it’s all constructed though something that looks like a wild pairing of a sci fi starship bridge coupled with an old-timey phone operator switchboard.  Also, no books or ways to save any settings, so you had to learn how to use it and re-create from scratch every time.  The craziest thing?  As an analog contraption, as the system warmed up (or cooled down) the sound output would change, thus requiring constant tuning as you played through a song or a concert.  But it’s hard to overstate the MOOG’s impact on electronically generated music, and to see such a pioneer of the genre give a little demo is pure delight.

Philosophy Tuesday

“Vermeer celebrated real people.  Doing ordinary things.  He offered the radical idea that you didn’t have to be special, or important, or magical, or legendary to be worth being painted or thought about or remembered.

So it turns out there are two ways of explaining history.  We can be like the early Romans and invent these magical, wonderous, brilliant people who gave everything to us.

Or, we can be like Vermeer.  A bunch of ordinary, everyday people built Stonehenge just by working together and putting time and effort into it.  A bunch of ordinary people make video games by working together very hard for hours and days and years to make it.  A bunch of regular, ordinary people built Rome over the span of a very long time, contributing to what would later be remembered as the exploits of one man.

This way is no where near as magical as we like to imagine put our worlds together.

The truth is often very mundane.

But maybe that’s OK.”


(from a totally fascinating documentary about the arcade game Dragon’s Lair!)

Wonder Wednesday

A couple of Friday’s ago, I went to see the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit up in SF!

I had first learned of this exhibit (or at least something very similar) when it opened in France and it intrigued me immediately: take the paintings of the artist, animate them, and project them so large that it feels like you are walking into and inhabiting them in a wonderful surreal landscape.  And the exhibit very much delivers on that promise. Projected to fill the perimeter of a very large and tall square room — as well as the floor! — you’re surrounded by the colourful shifting patterns.  Sometimes the painterly strokes drew themselves into existence;  sometimes the scene was treated like a pastoral landscape marking the passage of the sun;  sometimes there were Escher-like structures that shifted kaleidoscopically, sometimes it was the petals of flowers blowing on the wind.  Needless to say, the pièce de résistance was the animated nuit étoilée sequences, with shifting aurora, shimmering water reflections, and the twinkling of the stars.

Very cool.  I stayed long enough to see the sequence several times, and it was a sweet experience every time.  While the original setup in France seems like it might have been a tad more immersive, with the projections closer at hand on large square pillars of screen throughout, this still worked great.  I recommend viewing it at least once standing near one wall near the mid-point, looking towards one of the adjacent walls.  This way, the wall you are adjacent to is in your peripheral vision, and as the images flow you really get a sense of movement.

Definitively fits the bill of delicious wonder!  While videos will never do it justice, I did take a few; click here to check them out.  And if you get a chance to see it (whether in SF or wherever it heads to next) I nudge you to do so.