06 October 2021

art with/by/for your neighbors

Two summers ago, Artist Michael Bernard Stevenson Jr and Cassandra Bull co-curated an exhibition in Alfred entitled "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" in which an artist and a community member developed a collaborative work which involved the eventual audience also collaborating. Sam Horowitz and I developed a piece that we called "Time Becomes Us" based on our preparatory conversations. Sam built a wood trough in which we placed layers of natural and artificial materials.

Our object was on display in Cohen Gallery at Alfred University along with the works by other collaborators. Folks were invited to add layers to the initial ones Sam and I had done. We provided a few buckets of clay along with rocks and other objects we found. Some rocks, asphalt chunks, and bricks were collected from the Canacadea Creek behind my house. The Cohen show was up for part of August into the school term. After the show, Sam removed the trough and fired the contents. He's done plenty of experimenting with firing rocks, particularly the shales from this region.

This summer, we took some of the fired detritus of the piece and put it back in the creek bed behind my house.

This afternoon, I came across a video from the American Academy in Rome about their recent Streetscapes series of installations. The works were done by Academy Fellows, partly in response to the pandemic and the desire to have works that could be viewed from the sidewalks around the Academy. The director talks in the video about making the Academy more visible to its neighbors. One of the works -- Novissimo Landscape Goes Silver by Francesca Berni -- looks rather like it might have been mounted in the garden of the Villa Aurelia (one of the buildings of the Academy). Bill and I were lucky enough to stay in the Villa Aurelia when I was in Rome to do NACO training at the Academy.
This is a screenshot from the video. The material looks like soft aluminum foil and makes a fine crinkly noise as it waves in the breeze. How nice it would be to be in Rome and see the installations.

27 September 2021

gerundickal or gerundical

I have long enjoyed how some words like picnic or panic get a "k" when you get to the gerund or present participle. That is, Édouard Manet and his friends were picnicking on the grass. You wouldn't want it to be picnicing because that would rhyme with the icing on a cake, not picnicking by a lake.

And then I came across havocked which I really liked. It's the past tense of havoc as in wreaking havoc or "The parade really havocked my trip through town but it was fun to watch."

This morning, I was reading the review by Robert Rubin of Shutdown: how Covid shook the world's economy, by Adam Tooze (Viking), in yesterday's New York times book review. Rubin says "The best we can hope for, [Tooze] argues, is what we in the United States got: disjointed 'subnational' action, crisis management by 'ad-hockery.' (Europe, Tooze writes, is even less capable.)." One does feel like they were havocked by the ad hoc over the past year and a half. But you can take pleasure in twisting words. Without the k, I guess ad-hockery would rhyme with grocery and not with mockery.

16 September 2021

sink or swim: words, words, words

Some years ago, I wrote a blogpost entitled "rhymes and homonyms" about watching film credits and the marvelous things you can find there. I specifically noted the credit in the movie "Being Julia" for Loop Group to Sync or Swim. The rhyme in the credit caption and the homophone in the company name were just delightful. I now watch for loop group credits and don't see them very often. Just a handful in the ten years since that cited blogpost. The loop group, by the way, creates the crowd sounds in post-production on a film.

I was rewatching the "Downton Abbey" movie last night. Fade out. Cue the credits. Imagine my surprise to see there, there, was the Crowd ADR credit for Sync or Swim. It will not surprise you to learn that I had to look up what ADR meant: automated dialogue replacement.

This little revisit to Sync or Swim led me to study the distinction between homonym, homophone, and homograph. "Sync" is a homophone but not a homonym. And, besides, "homophony" is apparently only used in music. I was going to use "homophony" in the third sentence of the first paragraph.

P.S. Of course, the next day, I saw a Loop Group credit for The Loop Squad, in season 1, episode 1 of "The Chair" on Netflix. And 38 drivers!

11 September 2021

Anne Durham, Lady Flintshire

I was watching a clip from Maurice in which Clive and his fiancée are talking to Maurice on the telephone. Clive is played by Hugh Grant and Anne is played by Phoebe Nicholls. I had watched Maurice not too long ago as well as a few times over the years since it was made in 1987. I hadn't made the connection of this with a recent role played by Phoebe Nicholls. She is also Susan, Lady Flintshire, mother of Lady Rose, niece of Violet, the dowager countess of Downton Abbey. The ingenue becomes the odious mother. Her depiction of the odious mother is quite delicious but I'd be happy to leave her alone at the London house.

10 September 2021

war is not the answer

There was a roundtable discussion on the AU campus yesterday afternoon on "9/11 and Afghanistan: twenty years after." The panelists were a senior history professor, a veteran who served in Afghanistan and is now the director of the Military Aligned Program at Saint Bonaventure University, a junior history professor who did two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and a psychologist who was in Junior ROTC in high school. The panel was rather weighted toward military service, terrorism, veteran services, patriotism, American international operations, ineffective Afghan forces, and the messy departure from Afghanistan. Thoughts of the late 1960s efforts to get ROTC off campus were roiling in my brain, along with how there is now a military office on campus. I was feeling quite stressed (though of course I was also experiencing plenty of privilege sitting in a library meeting space on a sunny afternoon). The last question was "was the Afghan incursion worth it?" A veteran in the audience answered in the affirmative and talked about women's freedom, schools, and other good things that had happened. It is good that some of the Taliban tyranny of the 1990s ended but twenty years of costly and destructive warfare can't be the best method for achieving such social change.

Today's Environmental Studies speaker was K. Neil Van Dine on "Water and sanitation in Haiti." His group, Haiti Outreach, works with communities to get a sustainable water supply and sanitation. Many groups have helped with various relief efforts in Haiti but few have helped build the systems needed to manage and maintain the infrastructural improvement. Upwards of 500 communities, mostly rural, have received help from Haiti Outreach which builds community support before any well drilling happens. Van Dine noted that the UN/WHO Global Goal for Sustainable Development is for the water supply to be within a thirty-minute round trip. It's hard for us to imagine anything other than light switches, water faucets, and flushing toilets. But just think if the billions of dollars and hours of effort expended in Iraq and Afghanistan, to say nothing of Vietnam and Korea and elsewhere, had been spent on sustainable development.

The Haiti talk will be posted on the Environmental Studies Speaker Series at AlfredU YouTube channel.

Thanks to the Friends Committee on National Legislation for the "WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER" bumper sticker.

07 September 2021

Lady Hamilton

 Maybe you had to be there. Matthew had his nineteenth-century dinner one evening in the mid-late 1970s in Pittsburgh. There were a couple dozen of us: grad students in art history, librarians, professors. The table stretched through the double doors between his living room and dining room. Several courses were served. I was costumed as Thomas Eakins. I don't remember who Dorothy dressed as. Julie came as Lady Hamilton, in a gauzy confection of white fabric. I so enjoyed meeting Lady Hamilton.

"In Rome I was glad to study: here [in Naples] I want only to live, forgetting myself and the world, and it is a strange experience for me to be in a society where everyone does nothing but enjoy himself. Sir William Hamilton, who is still living here as English ambassador, has now, after many years of devotion to the arts and the study of nature, found the acme of these delights in the person of an English girl of twenty with a beautiful face and a perfect figure. He has had a Greek costume made for her which becomes her extremely. Dressed in this, she lets down her hair and, with a few shawls, gives so much variety to her poses, gestures, expressions, etc., that the spectator can hardly believe his eyes. He sees what thousands of artists would have liked to express realized before him in movements and surprising transformations -- standing, kneeling, sitting, reclining, serious, sad, playful, ecstatic, contrite, alluring, threatening, anxious, one pose follows another without a break. She knows how to arrange the folds of her veil to match each mood, and has a hundred ways of turning it into a head-dress. The old knight idolizes her and is enthusiastic about everything she does. In her, he has found all the antiquities, all the profiles of Sicilian coins, even the Apollo Belvedere. This much is certain: as a performance it's like nothing you ever saw before in your life. We have already enjoyed it on two evenings. This morning Tischbein is painting her portrait." (J.W. von Goethe, Italian Journey, translated by W.H. Auden and Elizabeth Mayer, Penguin classics, 1970, page 208)

When I first read this paragraph an hour or so ago, I was smitten by the memory of the Pittsburgh dinner and Julie as Lady Hamilton. As I type it, the description of the tableaux vivants sounds rather like inappropriate behavior by older white men. Last night's group discussion was on "The new Puritans" from the October issue of The Atlantic. Maybe it's time to re-read The volcano lover by Susan Sontag.

06 September 2021

soundscapes / sound escapes

 Composer R. Murray Schafer died on August 14 and the obituary in the New York times talks a good deal about his thinking and writing, and composing, on the sounds of the environment. The soundscape.

The new academic year has begun and the village of Alfred has filled again with students and their vehicles. There's a house across the street and up a ways which has a sign calling it "Hick House." It also has a coterie of large pickup trucks with their engines set to be way noisier, and smokier, than necessary. One or more of the pickups also have a panoply of horn sounds, including a diesel train which is a bit startling since it sounds like the train is just outside the door. I like trains so it's a bit amusing. So far, I haven't heard it at two in the morning.

Thinking about the noisy trucks and horns after reading the obituary and Schafer's thoughts on how noises change our environment, I wonder how many birds and other wildlife have moved deeper into the woods or off to another area entirely. There was considerably more evidence of wildlife in the village during the early days of the COVID lockdown, a year and a half ago.

Out behind my house, I can hear the creek and birds, and sometimes the rustle of a woodchuck as it whizzes back to the burrow. Not so much on the front porch.

21 July 2021

just don't call it critical theory

Critical race theory is getting bashed these days so I don't want to say this post is about critical feminist theory. Nonetheless, I just listened to most of the keynote address by Lauren Klein at the 2021 LD4 Conference on Linked Data. I was thoroughly heartened by her statement that working to change a system is worth it if it has a long history and is widely used. This was said in the context of a question about whether it's worth it to fix outdated and offensive terminology in LCSH and other vocabularies or should you just start over. She applied her theoretical work based on intersectional feminism to say that we should topple the hierarchy, smash the binary, and embrace pluralism. Use LCSH, try to fix it, supplement it in the short term by other vocabulary. Both/and, not either/or.

17 July 2021

separated at birth: Boullée and Bourgeois

  Étienne-Louis Boullée,
cenotaph for Isaac Newton after plans by Boullée,
model by Bernd Grimm, photo by Jan Kraege
(image from Wikimedia Commons)

Louise Bourgeois,
Untitled, 1991-2000, white marble
MASS MoCA, photo taken 13 July 2021

16 June 2021

armchair traveler: Edmunds, Washington/Maine


At today's virtual meeting of the VRA Cataloging & Metadata Standards Committee (CaMS), someone mentioned Story Maps software in connection with our discussion of coding the geographic coordinates of a building depicted in an image. I googled "story maps" after the meeting and went for a visit at the Library of Congress. I picked the Roadside America story map from photos by John Margolies who could easily be called the father of roadside Americana. Touring about the story map, i settled on various places I've visited. I clicked on the furthest east pin in far eastern Maine, near the bridge over to Campobello Island (New Brunswick) which I memorably visited with Christie. The pin led to the picture above and the metadata said the sign was located in Edmunds, Washington. Wrong side of the continental United States. My first thought was that the pin had slipped off the West Coast and ended up on the East Coast.

Appropriately enough, I ended up going into a rabbit hole to figure out why the pin got in the wrong place. Did the coordinates get entered wrong? But the coordinates were not in the LC bib record for the image. Then I zoomed into the part of Maine where the pin was stuck. Ah, Edmunds, Maine. The authorized heading for the town in Washington is Edmonds but there's a reference from Edmunds.

The image metadata indicated that the Harvey's Tavern sign was on Route 99. No Route 99 in that part of Maine but there it was in Washington. Got the little yellow man in Google Maps to take me on a tour of Route 99. There was the sign though it now says Harvey's Lounge. The picture of the rabbit appears to be the same. That stretch of Route 99 looks pretty busy nowadays.