an exercise in miscellany

Archive for July, 2011|Monthly archive page

Sound Art

In art on July 30, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Sound art is a diverse group of art practices that considers wide notions of sound, listening and hearing as its predominant focus. There are often distinct relationships forged between the visual and aural domains of art and perception by sound artists.

Like many genres of contemporary art, sound art is interdisciplinary in nature, or takes on hybrid forms. Sound art often engages with the subjects of acoustics, psychoacoustics, electronics, noise music, audio media and technology (both analog and digital), found or environmental sound, explorations of the human body, sculpture, film or video and an ever-expanding set of subjects that are part of the current discourse of contemporary art.

From the Western art historical tradition early examples include Luigi Russolo‘s Intonarumori or noise intoners, and subsequent experiments by Dadaists, Surrealists, the Situationist International, and in Fluxus happenings. Because of the diversity of sound art, there is often debate about whether sound art falls inside and/or outside of both the visual art and experimental music categories.

Other artistic lineages from which sound art emerges are conceptual art, minimalism, site-specific art, sound poetry, spoken word, avant garde poetry, and experimental theater.

via Sound art

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Sea Chantey

In words & phrases on July 30, 2011 at 3:41 pm

Sea shanties (singular “shanty“, also spelled “chantey“; derived from the French word “chanter”, ‘to sing’) were shipboard working songs Some speculate that shanties may have been sung as early as the 15th century though there is little evidence to support this claim. The shanties that survived to be collected and preserved date from the 19th century through the days of steam ships in the first half of the 20th century. Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest is the first line of the chorus of a fictional sea shanty from Robert Louis Stevenson‘s novel Treasure Island (1883).

via Sea Chantey

Gild the Lily

In words & phrases on July 30, 2011 at 3:15 pm

Meaning:  To apply unnecessary ornament – to over embellish.

Origin:  Gild the Lily
From Shakespeare’s King John, 1595: SALISBURY:

Therefore, to be possess’d with double pomp,
To guard a title that was rich before,
To gild refined gold, to paint the lily,
To throw a perfume on the violet,
To smooth the ice,
or add another hue Unto the rainbow,
or with taper-light To seek the beauteous eye of heaven to garnish,

      The term ‘paint the lily’ was used in the 20th century, with the same meaning we now apply to ‘gild the lily’. Clearly, this is the correct quotation. The two versions coexisted for a time, although ‘paint the lily’ is now hardly ever used. The first citation I can find for ‘gild the lily’ comes from the USA, in the Newark Daily Advocate, 1895, in what appears to be a half-remembered version of Shakespeare: “One may gild the lily and paint the rose, but to convey by words only an adequate idea of the hats and bonnets now exhibited absolutely passes human ability.”

via Gild the lily.

Punctuated Equilibrium

In history, science & nature on July 24, 2011 at 7:47 am

Punctuated equilibrium (also called punctuated equilibria) is a theory in evolutionary biology which proposes that most species will exhibit little net evolutionary change for most of their geological history, remaining in an extended state called stasis. When significant evolutionary change occurs, the theory proposes that it is generally restricted to rare and geologically rapid events of branching speciation called cladogenesis. Cladogenesis is the process by which a species splits into two distinct species, rather than one species gradually transforming into another.

Punctuated equilibrium is commonly contrasted against the theory of phyletic gradualism, which states that evolution generally occurs uniformly and by the steady and gradual transformation of whole lineages (called anagenesis). In this view, evolution is seen as generally smooth and continuous.

via Punctuated equilibrium

Venus Figurines

In art, history on July 24, 2011 at 7:43 am

Venus figurines is an umbrella term for a number of prehistoric statuettes of women portrayed with similar physical attributes from the Upper Palaeolithic, mostly found in Europe, but with finds as far east as Irkutsk Oblast, Siberia, extending their distribution to much of Eurasia, from the Pyrenees to Lake Baikal. Most of them date to the Gravettian period, but there are a number of early examples from the Aurignacian, including the Venus of Hohle Fels, discovered in 2008, carbon dated to at least 35,000 years ago, and late examples of the Magdalenian, such as the Venus of Monruz, aged about 11,000 years.

via Venus figurines

Ochre

In art, words & phrases on July 24, 2011 at 7:39 am

Ochre or Ocher is the term for both a goldenyellow or light yellow brown color and for a form of earth pigment which produces the color. The pigment can also be used to create a reddish tint known as “red ochre”. The more rarely used terms “purple ochre” and “brown ochre” also exist for variant hues. Because of these other hues, the color ochre is sometimes referred to as “yellow ochre” or “gold ochre”.

Ochres are among the earliest pigments used by mankind, derived from naturally tinted clay containing mineral oxides. Chemically, it is hydrated iron (III) oxide. Modern artists’ pigments continue to use the terms “yellow ochre” and “red ochre” for specific hues.

via Ochre

Crab Island

In places on July 17, 2011 at 8:22 am

Crab Island is a roughly 40-acre  limestone island situated just outside Plattsburgh Bay in the town of Plattsburgh in Clinton County in upstate New York’s Lake Champlain. During the War of 1812, the island was utilized as a military field hospital for convalescent soldiers as well as both British and American casualties of the Battle of Plattsburgh. The island is the site of a mass grave, believed to contain the remains of roughly 150 of those casualties. The island is infamous locally for its poison ivy, which grows there heavily. Its name is thought to come from the large amounts of “crabs,” ancient fossilized shells, trilobites, etc., found along the island’s limestone shoreline.

via Crab Island

Molten Sea

In history on July 17, 2011 at 7:26 am

The Molten Sea or Brazen Sea (ים מוצק “cast metal sea“) was a large basin in the Temple in Jerusalem made by Solomon for ablution of the priests. It is described in 1 Kings 7 and 2 Chronicles 4. It stood in the south-eastern corner of the inner court. According to the Bible it was five cubits high, ten cubits in diameter from brim to brim, and thirty cubits in circumference. It was placed on the backs of twelve oxen, standing with their faces outward. It was capable of containing two or three thousand baths of water. Though some think this impossible or unlikely based upon the stated dimensions, the fact that it was a wash basin which was too large to enter from above lends to the idea that water would likely have flowed from it down into a subcontainer beneath. (2 Chronicles 4). The water was originally supplied by the Gibeonites, but was afterwards brought by a conduit from the pools of Bethlehem. The molten sea was made of “brass” (copper), which Solomon had taken from the captured cities of Hadarezer, the king of Zobah (1 Chronicles 18). Ahaz later removed this laver from the oxen, and placed it on a stone pavement (2 Kings 16). It was destroyed by the Chaldeans (2 Kings 25).

via Molten Sea

Parable of the Pearl

In words & phrases on July 17, 2011 at 7:04 am

The Parable of the Pearl (also called the Pearl of Great Price) is a parable of Jesus. It appears in only one of the Canonical gospels of the New Testament. According to Matthew 13:45-46 the brief Parable of the Pearl is as follows:  “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.”  The parable illustrates the great value of the Kingdom of Heaven. A version of this parable also appears in the non canonical Gospel of Thomas76.
“Jesus said, The Father’s kingdom is like a merchant who had a supply of merchandise and found a pearl. That merchant was prudent; he sold the merchandise and bought the single pearl for himself. So also with you, seek his treasure that is unfailing, that is enduring, where no moth comes to eat and no worm destroys.”

via Parable of the Pearl

Flogging a Dead Horse

In words & phrases on July 11, 2011 at 9:14 am

Flogging a dead horse (alternatively beating a dead horse in some parts of the Anglophone world) is an idiom that means a particular request or line of conversation is already foreclosed or otherwise resolved, and any attempt to continue it is futile; or that to continue in any endeavour (physical, mental, etc.) is a waste of time as the outcome is already decided.

via Flogging a dead horse