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Tag: art

Art Undressed (or Cross-Dressed?)

Posted by Andrew at 2:50 PM on October 24, 2013

Reith Lectures 2013For many geeks, art is a bit of a mystery. What is art, what makes good art and why is it so expensive? And as for contemporary art, does anything go? Is a urinal art?

This year’s BBC Reith Lectures are presented by Grayson Perry, a “cross-dressing potter from Essex” who is about as far from the Establishment as you can get. Winner of 2003′s Turner Prize, he’s funny, frank and demystifies the world of art in four very entertaining programmes. I say four: only two have actually aired but based on the track record so far, I don’t think the remaining episodes will disappoint. An edited extract from the first episode is available at the Financial Times, but it’s much better to hear Grayson present the lecture.

Available as podcasts via RSS, iTunes and direct download.

As Alan Bennett said, the thing about art is that you don’t have to like it all.

Lego Bridge

Posted by Andrew at 6:04 AM on July 15, 2012

In the Germany city of Wuppertal urban artist Martin Heuwold, aka MEGX, has transformed a dull grey concrete railway bridge into a brightly coloured Lego construction.

Here’s the bridge as it originally appeared.

Original Bridge

And here it is after the reconstruction.

Lego Bridge

Of course, the bridge hasn’t really been rebuilt with super-sized Lego Duplo bricks but instead the brick-effect has been painted on. It’s very convincing, though. Regrettably the Lego bridge can only stay in place for four weeks.

Lego Bridge

All pictures courtesy of Martin Heuwold. There are more on his website.

TEDxBelfast 2012

Posted by Andrew at 11:48 PM on June 7, 2012

TEDxBelfastAt TEDxBelfast last night I was inspired by the stories of individuals who passionately believed in an idea and then made that idea a reality. From working with autistic children to building a new arts centre, these people all made a difference. Presented in Titanic Belfast in front of the replica of the famous staircase, it was an unforgettable evening.

Titanic Staircase

As with all TED conferences, the presentations will be posted on-line but that will take a week or two before they are ready. In  the meantime, these are the speakers, their stories and how they made a difference.

David Maxwell of Tyrone Timberframes presented his work with Habitat for Humanity in building highly energy-efficient homes that have no central heating. The significant cost of fossil fuel-based energy can be a big factor in poverty and these homes can save the inhabitants over £1000 per year.

Maureen Murphy, Director of Aurion Learning, grabbed attention with the headline that 70% of training was wasted and proposed an innovative way of providing effective training using the acronym ASSAULT. One of the best bits was that of story-based approach that hooked the learner and got them more emotionally involved.

Fransuer Makula grew up in the slums of Kenya but is now a teacher in a prestigious school in Northern Ireland. Describing the harsh reality of existence as a street child, where death is commonplace, he related how the children dared to dream big. In the midst of utter poverty, these children wanted to grow up as doctors, nurses and lawyers. Fransuer established “Jengana” to help orphans, street children and schools in West Kenya.

Colleen Hardwick, billed as an urban geographer and serial entrepreneur from Vancouver, laid out the loss of personal engagement in democracy. The statistics she presented on the fall of voter turnout over the past few decades were shocking. To counteract the anonymous global nature of the web, she’s developed PlaceSpeak, a community-based website that lets local people be authenticated as stakeholders in local issues without necessarily giving up that anonymity.

Next was an absolute gem…acoustic guitar duo Declan McKerr and Andy Toman, aka Gypsy’s Wish, serenaded TEDxBelfast, equipped with a brand-new George Lowden guitar. His guitars are world-famous with owners such as Eric Clapton and Mike Oldfield. Sublime.

Following a musical theme, Chris Blake, Principal Horn with the Ulster Orchestra, talked about the work he’d done with autistic children and the therapeutic value of music. The results were truly ground-breaking, increasing the evidence between autism and musicality.

Dr Nigel Hart took us all on a trip to the peaks and Mt Everest in particular in his talk on Mountains, Medicine and Mantras. Clearly a keen mountaineer, he combined his medical training with his passion to investigate the effects of hypoxia on humans at altitude. During his climb to the top of the world, he had to rescue another climber who had collapsed. Apt for many shared endeavours, his response to the famous climbing question was not, “Because it’s there” but rather, “It’s not the height or the distance, it’s the people you travel with.”

Anne McReynolds, CEO of the Belfast Metropolitan Arts Centre, had TEDxBelfast captivated by her struggle to get a world-class arts centre built in Belfast. Starting in 1996 and finally opening in 2012, it’s an amazing story of architects and artists (“good clients get good buildings”), buildings and space. If you want to build an arts centre, Anne should be the first person you talk to.

Colin Williams of Sixteen South tackled the “Can’t Do” attitude that has often afflicted Northern Ireland with a great story of “Can Do” success. It’s likely that you’ll never have heard of Sixteen South, a children’s TV production company but if you have kids under five you’ll have heard of Sesame Tree, Big City Park, Pajanimals, and Big & Small. Working with the BBC and The Jim Henson Company, Sixteen South produces these great TV programmes here in Northern Ireland. Fantastic.
Colin’s business plan was pretty clever too. “Do some good, make some money, have some fun.” Good advice for anyone.

Chris Horn completed the speaker line-up with his inspiration for Dublin’s Science Gallery, an exhibition space that takes a creative and artistic approach to the presentation of science and related issues. By taking the traditional remit of a science museum and combining it with the changing presentation of an art gallery, the Science Gallery is an innovation in itself that has proved tremendously successful. So much so that Google recently awarded the Science Gallery $1m to setup other Galleries around the world.

Overall, it was a great evening, with inspirational speakers in a fantastic setting. Thanks also to Davy Sims and Gary Burnett and Mark Finlay for organising #TEDxBelfast.

Toon Boom Brings Pro Graphics To The Masses

Posted by Alan at 8:13 AM on January 31, 2012

I am sure there are more than a few would-be artists in the audience out there, and some are probably fans of animation and cartoons.  Toon Boom is one of the forces behind some of the biggest movies, like Who Framed Roger Rabbit, The Simpsons, and more, but this year they are bringing their professional capabilities to the general public with new consumer-level software.

The new software allows users to draw, and then easily animate, their images.  We aren’t talking about sophisticated, high-end graphics programs like many you are probably thinking, but small apps that can run on things like iPads.  You can check out the video below where Andy McCaskey gets a demo that shows just how simple this is to use, and also gets word about some deals that Toon Boom has for users.

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Pantone The 20th Century in Color

Posted by Andrew at 5:39 AM on November 29, 2011

Pantone The 20th Century in ColorPANTONE The 20th Century in Color looks to me like a great Christmas gift for anyone interested in colour and history: graphic designers, interior decorators, costume designers, website builders, Renaissance geeks. Authored by Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker and published last month, it’s a view of the last century with a focus on colour. Of course, it inserts the relevant Pantone colours allowing you to recreate colour schemes from the past to great effect.

The blurb says, “Pantone, the worldwide color authority, invites you on a rich visual tour of 100 transformative years. From the Pale Gold (15-0927 TPX) and Almost Mauve (12-2103 TPX) of the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris to the Rust (18-1248 TPX) and Midnight Navy (19-4110 TPX) of the countdown to the Millennium, the 20th century brimmed with color. Longtime Pantone collaborators and color gurus Leatrice Eiseman and Keith Recker identify more than 200 touchstone works of art, products, decor, and fashion, and carefully match them with 80 different official Pantone Color palettes to reveal the trends, radical shifts, and resurgences of various hues. This vibrant volume takes the social temperature of our recent history with the panache that is uniquely Pantone.

Hyperbole aside, I think this will be fascinating look back through the past century and will be more than just a coffee table book: it’ll be a source of inspiration for when you want to get that “period feel”. It’s on my Amazon wish list so with luck, I’ll be able to bring you a review in the New Year.

(You’ll just have to forgive the twin spellings of colour and color in this article.)

Mixel Lets You Create Art, Collaborate with Friends on iPad

Posted by J Powers at 9:58 AM on November 10, 2011
Mixel

Mixel

In this day and age, we can make art by iPad with a simple stroke of the finger. There are painting apps like Art Rage, which we saw at CES.  Now we can do art share remixing – with an application called Mixel.

What is art share remixing? Well, you create a piece of art, then share it with your friends. They will then either enjoy your piece, remix your art or even add items to make it better. Your friend can then share that part so you can view, add or remix.

The program is created by Khoi Vinh and Scott Ostler. Vinh was a digital design director for the New York Times and Ostler works with an image hosting site called dump.fm. The duo is calling it the world’s first social art app for the iPad.

“Most art apps translate the analog art experience into digital form and stop there,” Vinh said. “They overlook the transformative power of a user’s social graph, which can turn an ‘expert’ activity like art-making into something casual, accessible and even addictive. Mixel is a true social experience, which is why it’s so much more fun and engaging.”

The application is available for download from the Apple app store.

Introducing Mixel for iPad from Mixel App on Vimeo.

The Art Of The Sale

Posted by tomwiles at 6:32 AM on April 1, 2011

Since the advent of the VCR, the adage has been to look to the pornography industry to see what would happen – which formats would take off, what business models might work, etc., etc., etc. While the pornography industry did seem to be the first on the block to figure out how to make e-commerce work, do they still lead the way today when it comes to the future of video?

While there is a certain profession that perhaps lays claim to be the oldest, right up there with it is the art of the sale, and the pastime of shopping. The shopping experience itself if done well can be a pleasure.

QVC, HSN and other home shopping channels excel at making the shopping experience itself the content. They make no pretense – they are right up front with the fact that their channels are all about advertising.

Many people claim to hate ads, but I’d contend I that it’s really bad ads that most people despise. Advertising that is well done is informative and entertaining and can even be enjoyable. Watching QVC, HSN, ShopNBC, etc. product presentations (particularly electronics, gadgets and sometimes cooking) can for me easily fall into the guilty pleasure category. These people are masters at the art of the sale. Who doesn’t enjoy (or cannot learn from) watching a master ply his craft?

So how are the home shopping channels handling their all-important online presence? QVC and HSN both have iOS and Android apps that make it possible to watch their current live video streams, as well as easily search their catalogs, as well as place and track orders. The ShopNBC app is a fail in that it doesn’t allow you to watch the live video stream. I’d give the nod to QVC’s app as being the most advanced and usable overall.

Renaissance Geek

Posted by Andrew at 6:55 AM on June 1, 2010

If, like me, you have always believed that you never stop learning, and that the pursuit of knowledge and understanding is part of the human condition, then I think you will love this.  “In Our Time” , one of the BBC‘s flagship radio programmes, now has its archive online, going back to 1998.

“In Our Time” is a weekly radio programme about 40 minutes long, with Melvyn Bragg, the presenter, and usually three experts from the field.  The programme discusses topics from art to science to history to literature: it’s the history of ideas, as they term it, and it exposes you to the whole gamut of life and human development.  Recent episodes included the Cool Universe, the Rise and Fall of the Zulu Nation, Munch and The Scream and the Infant Brain.  As you can see, it covers some pretty wide ground.

For sure, there’s the odd programme which will be of no interest whatsoever, but I’m constantly fascinated by what I don’t know so every programme is surprise.  Even if I don’t think I’ll be interested, I’ll listen just for the context.

The archive is in a couple of different formats, some RealPlayer and some iPlayer, and you don’t seem to be able to download the programmes for listening on portable devices.  However, if you are hooked, there’s an podcast (in a variety of formats) for current programmes and you can download the audio for listening in the car / gym / wherever.

If you add one podcast to your playlist this year, this should be it (after GNC, of course!)