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Art Theorist or Physicist?

Autumn Rhythm, Jackson Pollock

Jackson Pollock’s paintings mirror nature’s patterns, like branching trees, snowflakes, waves—and the structure of the human eye, says University of Oregon physicist Michael Taylor. Taylor, a self-proclaimed multidisciplinary thinker and problem solver, is a physicist/painter/photographer. It is through his unusual combination of talents he has been able to view Pollock’s Abstract Expressionist paintings from an “ordered chaos” perspective.

As a profession, Taylor studies the movement of electrical currents. While studying nanoelectronics, where currents create fractal patterns—an ordered chaos—Taylor made an astounding connection between Pollack’s splattered paintings and the flow of electrical currents. After closer study, Taylor determined that Pollack’s paintings are fractal and may explain why people find them so pleasing. As a man of science, Taylor conducted a study on human responses to fractal patterns. As he suspected, humans showed a positive response to images which contained a mathematical fractal dimension. Hence, our attraction to the soothing qualities of Pollock’s paintings and nature’s beauty. Since our exposure to Pollock’s paintings cannot be a daily ritual, Taylor’s remarks and advice seem very reasonable and healthy. “We need these natural patterns to look at and we’re not getting enough of them,” said Taylor. “As we increasingly surround ourselves with straight Euclidean built environments, we risk losing our connection to the natural stress-reducer that is visual fluency. It all adds up to yet another reason to bring greenery back to cities and get outside more often.”

To find out more about nature’s patterns, fractals, and Pollock’s paintings please visit Florence William’s article in The Atlantic.

Dry Town

 

“It’s a dry town /
No beer, no liquor for miles around /
I’d give a nickel for a sip or two to wash me down /
Outta this dry town.”

I’m not a huge Gillian Welch fan (though, admittedly, she is a very clever lyricist), but my father-in-law is, and he came across the video for the American singer-songwriter’s latest song, “Dry Town.” Using a few plastic dolls, some anthropomorphized shot glasses and nip bottles, plus Welch’s own toy ’71 Buick, animator Rachel Blumberg (a former drummer for The Decemberists and Bright Eyes) created a delightful, humorous animation using good, old fashioned stop motion to bring Welch’s musical storytelling to life in a really clever way. So, grab yourself a drink, and have a look and listen.

Download a Masterpiece v2.0

A while back I had written a post about Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and their open access policy that allows unrestricted use of any images from its digitized artworks in the public domain. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just joined the movement. Now, anyone can download images directly from the Met’s website and can use them however they want. That’s over 375,000 images from the Met’s collection, a big chunk of the 1.5 million works in their archive. An additional 65,000 artworks have been digitized, but are not in the public domain. read on

My Choice for Most Creative Game of the Year: Stardew Valley

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2016 has now finally concluded. Many consider 2016 to be the worst year in recent memory. Not many good things came out of it. That’s why, to me, the video game Stardew Valley was a breath of fresh air when I discovered it Christmas week.

Stardew Valley is a video game. To be specific, it is a farming simulator video game. That may sound very boring at first, however, if you take a minute to review the game’s visuals or a video of the game, you will see the game world is full of beautifully vibrant pixel graphic charm and serene music. Stardew Valley looks like it was made for the Super Nintendo with its cute character and adorable animal sprites, however it’s a very recent game made for PC and Mac. As the player, you inherit a farm from your recently deceased grandfather. You get sick of your life working in a cubicle in the city and move to the old farm located in Stardew Valley. Once there, you turn an old dilapidated farm into a fully functioning farm that produces crops, animals, wine and other artisanal goods. While you do this, you can become friends with the other local residents of Stardew Valley. You can even get married and have kids. Stardew Valley also houses many secrets for you, the player, to uncover. read on

The Only Nice Thing About Russia These Days

Image: Anna Pozharskaya

The beaches of Ussuri Bay, Russia were once off limits to bathers. Located in the northeastern part of Peter the Great Gulf, it was formerly known as a Soviet-era industrial hub for glass making. During Soviet times, shards of glass and porcelain littered the beach from years of careless dumping and litter-filled river run-off. Today “Glass Beach,” is one of the most uniquely beautiful in the world. Nature has kindly taken care of the danger through tidal action, leaving behind nothing but tumbled glass—pieces of bright blues, greens, reds, and all shades in between. Photographers from the Siberian Times have documented the unique beauty of “Glass Beach.” Please take a look.

100 Artists on What Makes America Great

The Creative Action Network has commissioned 100 artists to visually depict “What Makes America Great.” Starting this past January 20th, a poster a day will be released for the next 100 days. Browse the collection as it grows. Posters can be downloaded or purchased. Sale proceeds will go to the artists and Dream Corps, CNN commentator Van Jones’ charitable organization.

Plurality Makes America Great” by Juana Medina – January 25th, 2017
Freedom of Speech Makes America Great” by Jennifer Brigham – January 28th, 2017

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Compassion and Commerce IKEA-Style

By 2019, consumers will be able to support Syrian refugees by shopping at IKEA (in select markets). Sweden-based IKEA plans to employ 200 Syrian women refugees in Jordan. To get this initiative going, IKEA is working with organizations focused on women’s issues. Employing 200 refugees of the 655,000 men, women, and children currently displaced in Jordan is just a drop in an enormous bucket. But, it’s a start. Here in the US, the chances are slim that we will ever be able to buy a Syrian refugee-made rug. Our only hope would be for compassionate trade exemptions to be made on current international trade agreements.

This is not IKEA’s only expression of corporate compassion, IKEA has also donated $33.3 million for lighting and renewable energy projects in refugee camps in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Wow, thank you IKEA!

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Thanks IKEA

Congratulations to the 2016 Design of the Year recipient: Better Shelter, designed by the IKEA Foundation and the UN Refugee Agency. The Design Museum in London awarded the 2016 Beazley Design Award in architecture to Better Shelter: a flat-pack, 68 component, modular refugee shelter, which can be assembled in a few hours. Unrest has forced thousands of men, women, and children to flee their homes. As refugees, they are stranded awaiting peace or a new life. Better Shelter provides a crisis shelter for these displaced families, while preserving their dignity and meeting a very basic need: the security of having a roof over their head. While so many are turning their backs or casting a blind eye to a humanitarian crisis, IKEA has put to use their flat-pack technology to help relieve human suffering. Thanks IKEA.

As designers, we can find meaningful inspiration through comments made by Jana Scholze, a Beazley Award juror: “Providing not only a design, but secure manufacture, as well as distribution, makes this project relevant and even optimistic. It shows the power of design to respond to the conditions we are in and transform them.”

For a closer look, please visit: bettershelter.org
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Trends of the Times

For years, my morning routine included a walk to the curb to retrieve the day’s news wrapped in bright blue plastic. But the NY Times delivery person never seems to arrive on time anymore, so I have turned to the NY Times iPhone app as my coffee companion instead. While I miss the experience of a big sheet of paper, I am rewarded with the most up-to-date news, links to relevant articles, and a truly awesome virtual reality section. And let’s face it, I have arrived where so many have landed long ago: paperless news. A recent report outlined a series of broad changes at The Times, including a reimagining of the print newspaper and a heightened emphasis on graphics, podcasts, video and virtual reality. They are also shifting the balance away from print-focused roles, hiring journalists with more varied skills to deepen engagement with readers as a way to build loyalty and attract subscriptions. “Our future is much more digital than print,” David Leonhardt, a Times columnist, says. And it is beginning to show in the company’s bottom line. Last year, The Times generated nearly $500 million in purely digital revenue, up from $400 million in 2014. In an era awash in fake news, this is an encouraging trend and a positive sign for the future of professional journalism and the survival of the NY Times. (Photo courtesy of Wired)

Underwater Exhibition

If you’ve exhausted all the museums you want to see on dry land, head to Europe with your scuba gear in tow. On February 25, El Museo Atlántico de Lanzarote opens off the coast of Spain in the Canary Islands. Here, you can visit an eerie sunken world 45-feet below the sea, populated by over 300 sculptures at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. read on

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