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February 18 2016

February 13 2016

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“Mural of Queen Calafia and her Amazons in the Room of the Dons at the Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco, California” from the Wikipedia entry for Calafia:

Calafia is a warrior queen who ruled over a kingdom of Black women living on the mythical Island of California. The character of Queen Calafia was created by Spanish writer Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo who first introduced her in his popular novel entitled Las sergas de Esplandián (The Adventures of Esplandián), written around 1500.

In the novel, Calafia is a pagan who is convinced to raise an army of women warriors and sail away from California with a large flock of trained griffins so that she can join a Muslim battle against Christians who are defending Constantinople. In the siege, the griffins harm enemy and friendly forces, so they are withdrawn. Calafia and her ally Radiaro fight in single combat against the Christian leaders, a king and his son the knight Esplandián. Calafia is bested and taken prisoner, and she converts to Christianity. She marries a cousin of Esplandián and returns with her army to California for further adventures.

The name of Calafia was likely formed from the Arabic word khalifa (religious state leader) which is known as caliph in English and califa in Spanish. Similarly, the name of Calafia’s monarchy, California, likely originated from the same root, fabricated by the author to remind the 16th-century Spanish reader of the reconquista, a centuries-long fight between Christians and Muslims which had recently concluded in Spain. The character of Calafia is used by Rodríguez de Montalvo to portray the superiority of chivalry in which the attractive virgin queen is conquered, converted to Christian beliefs and married off. The book was very popular for many decades—Hernán Cortés read it—and it was selected by author Miguel de Cervantes as the first of many popular and assumed harmful books to be burnt by characters in his famous novel Don Quixote.

Calafia, also called Califia, has been depicted as the Spirit of California, and has been the subject of modern-day sculpture, paintings, stories and films; she often figures in the myth of California’s origin, symbolizing an untamed and bountiful land prior to Europeans taking the land by force.

(ht to @DenengeTheFirst for retweeting this LA Times tweet: “State of CA was born in 1850, but inspiration for “California” was born in 1510. Also, she was black. http://lat.ms/1oafAKf #BHM #WeAreLA”)

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Charlie Loyd wrote about how “DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-3 satellite collected an astonishing view of San Francisco”:

We don’t often see pictures like this one. The problem is haze: as a camera in space looks toward the horizon, it sees more water vapor, smog, and other stuff in the atmosphere that obscures the Earth. But our friends at DigitalGlobe built WorldView-3 with a sensor suite called CAVIS, which lets it quantify and subtract haze – making atmospheric effects virtually invisible. Only WorldView-3 can see so clearly at this angle.

The satellite is about 17° above the horizon from San Francisco, and it is looking about 60° away from the point directly under it. At first I thought there was a typo, because 17° off horizontal should be 73° off vertical, not 61°. But while sketching it out, I realized I was assuming the ground is flat. WorldView-3 is way out over the Pacific – more than 1300 km or 800 miles to the west, and over that distance the Earth curves by about 12°!

Click through for zoomable versions of the photo and more details about its contents.

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This is an old photo of a would-be member of our Californias collection had we not lost those pieces during our 2012 move.

February 10 2016

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Robotic Sculptures Will Cross the U.S.-Mexico Border

Chico MacMurtrie’s Border Crossers are sculptural statements that bridge borders, both physical and symbolic. MacMurtrie plans to install Border Crossers at a range of significant locations, including the U.S.-Mexico border in the artist’s home state of Arizona. Here, the artist would anchor sculptures on both sides of the border. Illuminated from within, the structures would then inflate simultaneously over the border to create six glowing archways, as shown above.

Like the Amorphic Robotic Works director’s previous works—which include his Biomorphic Wall and The Robotic Church—these six sculptures employ robotics to create lightweight, transportable installations. When compressed, Border Crossers can easily fit into a travel backpack. When inflated, however, MacMurtrie’s balloon-like creations can arch over fences and walls and are equipped with sensing and surveillance technology in order to stage the choreographed installation as a “mediatized event.” As the press release explains, “Border Crossers invites the public to rethink the notion of borders in a globalized world […] This project envisions technology as a positive tool to establish dialogues beyond borders, to question borders, and to create a symbolic suspension and transcendence of borders.”

MacMurtrie’s robotic sculptures debuted late last month in San José, California in collaboration with arts organization ZERO1, in the spirit of using art as a platform for social issues. The artist will further the discussion at CalArts’ symposium on Art and Immigration, Immigration: Art/Critique/Process, in March.

Play fullscreen

Trailer for Hong Kong Trilogy: Preschooled Preoccupied Preposterous, by Christopher Doyle:

This is a story of Hong Kong told by three generations: “Preschooled” children, “Preoccupied” young people, and “Preposterous” senior citizens.

We spent a year recording interviews with over a hundred people of all ages and backgrounds. These recordings are edited to make a blueprint for the film. From this, we created a quasi-fictional narrative that the real (non-actor) person acts out while we hear (in voice-over) how they see and experience the world.

In “Preschooled,” “Little Red Cap” tries to resolve the question “Why are there so many gods in this world? Is it because so many people need to be saved?” by evangelising all the major faiths to her schoolmates. “Vodka Wong” releases plastic turtles to redeem the bad karma that resulted from his parents’ neglect of him.

In “Preoccupied,” young people occupy the streets of Central, Hong Kong. They stop the city to think about what they want for their future. Twenty-eight-year-old “Thierry the Feng Shui Master” and her crew of underground rappers and artists give voice to their discontent.

“Lady Swim” and “Mister Li” look “Preposterous” as they go on a speed-dating tour of the city trying to reconcile their new energies and the obligations convention has imposed on them.

The characters of each generation wonder how to live, here and now. At the end of their journey, they find no answers. Yet what they do find is that they are not alone in asking the universal questions that we all share: who we are, how we fit in, and what our city wants to become together.

Also of note is the description of “Our Way of Filmmaking”:

Chris compares filmmaking to JAZZ, where the give and take of the collaborators takes a work beyond the individual’s intent, where the dance between the camera and the actors focuses each individual’s energy into something unanticipated and unique.

As Chris notes, many of his films like CHUNGKING EXPRESS (dir. Wong Kar-Wai) or PARANOID PARK (dir. Gus Van Sant): “There is little or no formal script: we take people we trust, put them in a safe space, and we shoot.”

In this HONG KONG TRILOGY, we used a process of finding the film by asking real people questions… a less AUTEUR way of looking at the world, and hopefully a more REAL and DEMOCRATIC one.

Malik, Abteen Bagheri:

part of the tribute series for mainline dazeddigital.com/tribute

MALIK director: abteen producer: kay cinematographer: isaac editor: sergei music: dj koze shot entirely on GoPro

February 09 2016

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Agnes Denes, “Tree Mountain - A Living Time Capsule - 11,000 Trees - 11,000 People - 400 Years”, Finland, planted in 1996., from What it Means to Plant a Forest, via stml:

A massive earthwork and artificial mountain, this land reclamation project involved planting 11,000 trees in an intricate mathematical pattern derived from a combination of the golden section and a sunflower/pineapple pattern designed by the artist.

Previously, previously, previously.

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Entrance to the public library at the National Gallery of Modern Art, Bangalore. No photos allowed inside, alas. -jt

February 08 2016

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Shanty Mega-Structures | Lekan Jeyifo

These images juxtapose sites of privileged and much coveted real-estate throughout Lagos, Nigeria with colossal vertical settlements, representing marginalized and impoverished communities. The images consider how slums are frequently viewed as unsightly eyesores to be inevitably bull-dozed, leaving their inhabitants completely displaced. Razing the homes and settlements of marginalized people is a practice that occurs from Chicago to Rio de Janiero, and throughout the world. So in this instance the dispossessed are given prominence and visibility albeit through a somewhat Dystopian vision that speaks to the fact that these communities often suffer from a lack of appropriate sanitation, electricity, medical services, and modern communications.

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Embaba district, Cairo

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Syd Mead

February 07 2016

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DR Congo fisherman, photographed by Ghassen Marzouki, 1995

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Nova York shop in Huambo          

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(from) “Noigandres 4 - poesia concreta”, Edited by IRWA industria grafica, São Paulo, Brazil, 1958; Works: Décio Pignatari, Hambre; Décio Pignatari, Life;  Haroldo De Campos, Fala Clara; Haroldo De Campos, Branco; Haroldo De Campos, Mais e menos; Augusto De Campos, Uma vez; Augusto De Campos, Eixo fixo; Ronaldo Azeredo, Ruasol; Ronaldo Azeredo, Velocidade


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Bhai-O-Scope (2015) at Art Fair Delhi. Part of the project Medicine Corner. The artists known as BLOT (Basic Love of Things) investigated regional medicinal practices in India and compiled their discoveries into this “Travelling Museum.” Besides the graphics and samples the unit shows videos and dispenses a comic book about the project.  The work lives up to the artists’ reputation for creating “juxtapositions of trans-media content that seeks to connect the experiences of diverse cultures.” -jt

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February 06 2016

Mexico City, December 2015. I went from my little Mexico in Brooklyn to Dallas, which is a Mexico. Later I spent a few days in Santa Fe, a Mexico different from my Brooklyn Mexico. In Mexico City I was full of prior Mexicos, the Mexicos of my heart chorusing the visible Mexico of the city. Now you are there. You must have landed by now. And now I realize that yet another Mexico of mine is your journeys to Mexico, what I have sensed of it through your senses. Mexicos proliferate, all the way to the horizon.
Teju Cole
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Announcing: Wake Up You! The Rise and Fall of Nigerian Rock 1972-1977”:

Rock in the wake of war: Our decade long investigation into Nigeria’s rock music scene during the 1970s culminates in the release of two album and books. Vol. 1 coming April 15, 2016.

The Western world was in the throes of peace, love, and flower power as Nigeria descended into Civil War in 1967. The rock scene that developed during the following three years of bloodshed and destruction would come to heal the country, propagate the world-wide ideal of the Modern Nigerian, and propel Fela Kuti to stardom after conflict ended in 1970.

Wake Up You! tells the story of this time, pays homage to these now-forgotten musicians and their struggle, and brings to light the funk and psychedelic fury they created as they wrested free of the ravages of the late 1960s and created thrilling, original Nigerian rock music throughout the 1970s.

(via Okayafrica

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