April 28th, 2006

Telegraph | Arts | Stockhausen and the nostalgic whistle of a badly tuned short-wave radio

That ageing mystagogue of new music, Karlheinz Stockhausen, has clearly lost none of his mystique. On Monday, the Queen Elizabeth Hall was filled to bursting for a performance of his Mixtur from 1967, a piece that looms large in histories of new music, as it was one of the first to combine a large body of instrumental players with live electronics.

By today’s standards, the electronics are pretty primitive; the sound of each of the 30-odd players is fed into a device that “mixes” it with pure sine waves, and the result broadcast into the hall through loudspeakers. From time to time, the pure electronic signal filters through, and suddenly there’s that faint, quavering electronic whistle you get from a badly tuned short-wave radio.

That sound is a nostalgic one now, and indeed the whole enterprise of reviving these pieces of high modernism could be said to have a nostalgic ring to it. That was certainly my feeling when the Sinfonietta recently revived Telemusik, another of Stockhausen’s “cosmic” pieces from the 1960s. It was moving, in a way, but the flavour of 1960s wooziness did tend to overwhelm every other sensation. But this occasion felt different. The music seemed completely alive, engrossing and contemporary, largely due to the strangeness of the aural mix, which was brilliantly handled by Sound Intermedia.


April 28th, 2006


Microsoft Excel is a program designed to track and compute information, but here I am using Excel as a drawing tool. These drawings are a part of a series of sixty drawings that I executed (more or less) every day for fifty-eight days. Each drawing is in a new ‘worksheet,’ which is automatically set up as a grid. These drawings were made by changing cell preferences for background color, fill pattern, and border styles and from time to time inserting ‘comment’ boxes and letters or words.

Note: ‘I’ = Danielle Aubert.


April 28th, 2006

Gizmodo Gallery: Garnet Hertz

Examining this impending phenomenon through the eyes of the planet’s most complex and abundant creatures: insects and amphibians, is Irvine, California-based, Canadian artist, Garnet Hertz. Hertz’s work explores the belief that despite technology’s increasing independence from human or animal intervention, there is still a part of us that wants some control. From implanting a web server into a dead frog whose limbs can be stimulated to “move” by participants over the Internet in “Experiments in Galvanism”, to putting a live Madagascan hissing Cockroach atop a modified trackball to control a three wheeled robot in “Cockroach Controlled Mobile Robot”, Hertz creates projects that attempt to challenge and deconstruct these notions of technological progress over-stepping human jurisdiction. Gizmodo spoke to Hertz about his intricate animal-machine-hybrids and his overall view on whether or not technological determinism may be influencing the not-so-distant future.


April 28th, 2006

Language Log: A million words here, a billion words there…


April 27th, 2006

Environmental Economics: Mr. Hobbs on NPR and Gas Prices

Q: Want to lower fuel prices?



April 27th, 2006

Guardian Unlimited Arts | Arts features | Jonathan Jones: Do rich artists make bad art?

A meditation on Damian Hirst, et al.


April 27th, 2006

BoingBoing posted recently [note: I started this some weeks or months ago, and never finished editing it.] on a website that takes the facile position that the late cats of one Louis Wain were the characteristics of a schizophrenic artist.

That Louis Wain, prolific and popular illustrator of cats became schizophrenic is not questioned; that his happy, whimsical paintings of cats were transfigured by his disease into spiky abstractions — viz. “Characteristic changes in the art began to occur, changes common to schizophrenic artists” — is a more problematic assertion.

Unfortunately, the facts in the case are not so simple.

The off-puttingly titled “Catland” is devoted to the art of Mr. Wain, and apropos the spiky schizophrenic abstractions, which Wain called “wallpaper cats”, it comments that:

Wain drew many wallpaper cats during his stay in Bethlem asylum. Some have claimed that these drawings were an indication of his deteriorating mental state, since filling in pictures with detailed patterns is often a sign of schizophrenia. Others have doubted such theories, since he continued to produce drawings in his older style both while doing the wallpaper cats and afterwards. Both Brian Reade and Rodney Dale independantly came to the conclusion that Wain interest in patterns stemmed from his mother’s designs of tapestries and fabrics. Dale describes it so:

“It seems to me at least as reasonable to suppose that Louis Wain was experimenting wih the patterns which he remembered from his youth as that he was deteriorating.”

Catland also notes that

One of the most famous “collections” of Wain’s works is a set of eight paintings collected by the late the Hon Dr Walter Maclay, a psychiatrist interetsed in the relationship between madness and art. Maclay purchased these eight works in the 1930s and he arranged them in what he assumed was the order in which they were painted. These paintings were all of cats with patterns or cat-like patterns, and Maclay based his order on the abstractness of each painting—he assumed that the more abstract the painting, the later he painted it.

In Rodney Dale’s Louis Wain: The Man Who Drew Cats, this theory is disproven. According to Dale, Wain alternated between more typical Wain paintings and pattern paintings throughout his stays in asylums, and there is no evidence that this order has any basis in reality. The series is still reproduced and discussed, however, and the web is no exception.

The noble savage is a romantic conceit. When no savages are present, we try to look for those “touched (by the hand of g*d)” and imbue them with preternatural gifts. Many times our desires for the other are projections.

In this case, a progression of abstraction wallpaper and textile designs. Aided and abetted, no doubt, by his illness. But not solely the province of his “madness”, either.


April 27th, 2006

yes mr steinberg but

In the whole long clanging pageant of art, no artist ever combined words and pictures the way that Saul Steinberg did.

I need to stare at Saul Steinberg more often.


An extra-special bonus: the comments discuss Geo. Krazy Kat Herriman vs. Saul Steinberg. w00t!


April 26th, 2006

Language Log: The cran-morphing of -dango

You know how great this article is? It is so great that if you can read this article and NOT experience orgasm it is becuase you are a boring idiot, that is how great it is.


Obviously I’m a bit excited, today.


April 26th, 2006

Language Log: Heated words about “sauna”

Heated words about “sauna” in a comic strip. Oh yeah, two great flavors all rolled into one: comics and linguistic nit-picking.

And this is as good a time as any to promote Language Log.


April 25th, 2006

Comic Book Gorillarama – a connoisseur’s guide to four-color simians.

I should be working, which reminds me of Ook.


April 18th, 2006

a joke:

so this skeleton walks into a bar and orders a beer and a mop becuase he used to be a janitor when he was alive and he missed being able to clean places up it was the only thing he was good at and he was good at it only the bartender says are you crazy we dont serve mops here so the skeleton just gets a beer and weeps into it softly


April 15th, 2006

World Record for Typing Numbers in Words


April 15th, 2006

Conceptual Webcomics Roundtable


April 14th, 2006

Why Good Programmers Are Lazy and Dumb


April 12th, 2006

how interesting is it that gertrude stein or alice b toklas rather there is much difference other than that they are different differently as i was saying alice b toklas is often credited with being the inventor or popularier of the hashish brownie but that is not true rather she is not the inventor it is not her recipe but it was in her book of recipes but it was not her recipe it was in her book but it was not her recipe because she really did not like to write getrude stein wrote and gertrude stein was dead and gertrude is dead alas as is alice a dead lass alas

the Straight Dope on Dope Brownies.


April 12th, 2006

Dining – New York Times Blog — You Can Leave Your Hat On

Why are men no longer liked baked potatoes?


April 11th, 2006



April 11th, 2006

The Times-Tribune – News – 04/11/2006 – Throop council files suit to oust Councilwoman

Another chapter in the tragi-comic epic that is Throop, Pennsylvania.


April 10th, 2006

Fish and Chips – A fun little play on words and grammar by E. Oosterwal

No, I don’t have the answer; it’s like Gertrude Stein — I enjoy reading her, but I’m not going to try to figure her out.

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