Between the Covers

Insanely amazing show, Between the Covers, Women’s Magazines and their Readers, at The Women’s Library, London, UK. The exhibit ends 1 April 2009. A fantastic review of the show by Kathryn Hughes, over at the Guardian.

Ack! Who wants to go? I’ve never been to the UK! I think I’ll fall apart if I miss this. Where to stay? How to go? Feedback, please, please, please!

Two Fat Als Mallows

A tutorial on roasting marshmallows. Part of the Ladies who Lunch food reviews.

Lady N has always been a lover of the outdoors but has never got along with insects of any kind. (Blame it on the roach she dated years ago who always had problems finding his wallet when it came to paying for day-to-day expenses.) Since Lady N is not a believer in bug spray, or character reform for that matter, she had never stepped foot into a cottage, despite the invites she received growing up in the burb, and shunned the cicadas for the comforts of AC and the indoors instead.

Lady J, Lady N’s incredibly inspiring and worldly friend, was determined to show Lady N that cottage life was not about spiders or stingy suitors. It was about roasted marshmallows! Marshmallows that float down your throat like warm billowy clouds. Marshmallows that dissolve and collect into pools of sweet goodness in your cheeks the minute they hit your tongue. Marshmallows that stick to and delight the roof of your mouth in all its melted powdery-white marvel. Marshmallows that make you forget about the city and all the menacing boys that live in it.

Although Lady N was aware of Lady J’s many talents, Lady N had no idea how seasoned and skillful she was at roasting marshmallows. Lady J presented Lady N with a long even twig from its resting spot near the fireplace. Lady J brought two bags of marshmallows, one open, one not, and stationed herself in front of the fire that glowed hot embers and orange-coloured wood encrusted with burnt fibrous-looking gray bark. Lady J explained to Lady N that this low-burn was the exact temperature needed to roast a marshmallow to perfection and that any image Lady N may have of boy scouts with black-charred marshmallows surrounding sky-high campfire flames should be immediately discarded. That, Lady J said, is not the way its done. Lady N, knowing better than to challenge a friend armed with a twig, near an open fire, who can, at a moment’s notice, hold delicate marshmallows hostage, obediently agreed and watched Lady J roast away in total silence and awe. Read more

Rubik Sid Vicious

Details, in art history, have always occupied a unique space. Leonardo Da Vinci sketched drawing after drawing of any specimen, real or imagined, until the details no longer held mystery, and its meaning was understood. Georges Braque, if you’ll permit me, appreciated the essence of the details, so that still lifes rendered in segments could only be distinguished by key elements–marks, lines, forms–placed strategically on canvas.

Both artists are examples of the details studied and magnified, enlarged and deconstructed in service to best representing the spirit or underpinnings of object or image, idea or beauty. However, many years throughout the history of art, particularly painting, has seen the details shrink to size, so as not to offer a larger perspective, but just smallness in itself. A kind of reductivism that has found its own charm in being so hyper-focused, on its own, is unintelligible. Deconstruction–what it is to represent details–has long since surpassed parts into elements; molecules even. It has gone straight for the atom, and for the longest time, it has been represented as a circle too.

Pointillism, pioneered by Georges Seurat, is probably one of the earlier examples of details coming into a fine point. Rendered in a multitude of dots in various colours, pointillist paintings really create an atmosphere of where an image appears. Another example, Roy Lichtenstein’s signature Benday dots, exaggerated the texture of newsprint so the invisible became visible and the aesthetic became superior instead of simple.

Exceptions to the deconstructing details in dots are really disguised as other processes in painting; primarily the grid. Without the grid, Jennifer Bartlett’s dots and circles would have no unifying element to her work. Neither would Chuck Close’s ovals, amygdaloids, and spirals. Cubism? Could not exist. Cubism is really the grid, in chaos.

In recent years however, the famed dot, has surfaced with sharp corners and crisp edges. A global technological environment may be responsible. Points have become pixels with opposite effect. Where dots described, pixels, blur. The big picture, is wholly nullified. Process is undetectable. Read more

Valentino dress

A Valentino Day haiku for you:

Sweating between sheets,
Extreme bliss lost in pleats, I
Achieve fashion feats.

Hands trace a body’s
curves; My fervent desire
Arouses lost verve.

Soft skin seduces,
And fashion induces; I
Father the world, chic.

OK, so I’m not going to be a poet anytime soon. You can still have a Happy Valentino Day regardless! Oh. And if you feel the need to send a little Valentino my way, I’m not going to stop you. (Don’t let anyone else either!) xo

IMAGE | Greg Kadel | Hand Maiden’s Tale, Once upon a time, women were fickle. Sometimes they were girlish. Sometimes they were boyish. Sometimes they were half and half… | Valentino Plissé tulle diamond embroidered gown, $85,000, to order at Valentino stores | Mokuba ribbon (worn as belt) | The New York Times Magazine | 25 February 2007

Exit

Nowadays, entering the dating world can be very tricky. There are too many points of entry, with no direct intent in evidence. Simply, starting something is the equivalent of ending nothing.

To rely on the other person of interest to provide some answers during courtship is taking an open-ended, unsatisfying, risk. A reaction can range from neglect to indifference; playing hard to get to being just plain busy. A response so casual it’s hard to determine when leaving the door, if “this is just chai” or “about having children.”

Dating has quickly adapted to the fast and loose rules of Facebook, not feedback, where falling in love is as easy as a push of a button; an “add as a friend,” or “a listed as.” Conversations among contacts can be the product of boredom, loneliness, intrigue, flirtation, or a combination of any of the above, with plans never fully realized beyond the flashing cursor on the screen. Read more

Andrew Kuo NoAge Santos

“Google Graphs.” Does it exist? No. Should it? Yes. Why? I hope you’re sitting for this one. (Really. Sit down; get settled. This post is a long one.)

Anyone who knows me, or has been in my company for somewhere between a dinner party and an e-mail-to-phone-calling-scheduling-for-coffee length of time will no doubt have to endure one of my diatribes about the organization of information.

Organizing information is not only the hear and now, but it is the future. (Please refer to “Data Analysis,” section 3.5, page 180, of the reprotext found below your seat.)

If the twentieth century was about the proliferation and access of information, than the twenty-first century, must be about the organization and analysis of that information. Simply, if the inventive quality of information is saturated in a modern era, than the analysis of the information is not; especially when there is so much to research and cross-research in a multitude of ways.

I first learned about DocuBurst from an article in The Toronto Star about two years ago. An interactive and graphic index, DocuBurst is the brainchild of Christopher Collins who, along with, Sheelagh Carpendale, and Gerald Penn, developed the project as part of his PhD research at the University of Toronto. In Collins’s terms, DocuBurst (document + sunburst), is a tool to help “visualize document content using language structure.” (Refer to “Semiotics and its Discontents” in the Notes section; located at the back of the reprotext.)

DocuBurst’s function is two-fold. One, it provides the frequency in which a searched item appears (like a regular index). Two, it visually displays an overview of the magnitude of the searchable item within context of the document content. It does this by highlighting desired item searches, including words that occur before and after the searched item, and by a radiating pinwheel graphic, which bridges “is a” relationships to the searched item, rather than, “see also” relationships, (think related, not relative) to determine detailed and relevant information with each subsequent layer of burst. The interactive aspect of DocuBurst allows the search to occur at any point in the document (the index of the index of the index) while colour coding quickly shows words connected to the searched item.

If DocuBurst’s explanation sounds involved, you should see it’s pinwheel information graphics. Specific searches tend to lead into stunted sun rays, “bursts” away from the central search, thus commenting more on the DocuBurst itself, rather than searched item. (See, Spiro Novak’s essay “Rays Away: How Smart Devices Steer from Searches to Solstices,” Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999, in the Bibliography of the reprotext.)

In order for the graphic organization of information to be effective, it must provide a general overview, not a detailed one. Specifics potentially can take away from the overall picture. The purpose of the project, defeated, entirely. Read more