11/27/2009 10:28:58 AM
Lucky for all of us, graphic designer Simon Page was on it. His posters for this year-long sky party, a project of the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO, are stunning... and they are for sale.
(Thanks, Creative Review.)
11/25/2009 1:58:49 PM
Cracks a wall that look like Africa, disfigured pumpkins that seem to resemble South America, and steaks that look like the United States are all compiled on the Strange Maps blog. The second edition of this “accidental geography” lesson shows that maps are everywhere, if you’re looking for them.
Source: Strange Maps
11/24/2009 11:46:28 AM
Photographer Robert Gumpert has been documenting the criminal justice system for decades. His new project is a website called Take a Picture, Tell a Story, where he matches photos from the inside with recordings of his subjects talking about whatever is on their mind. It's a riveting experiment in documentary photography. "While working on a short project documenting the closing of San Francisco County Jail 3, then the state’s oldest county jail, a simple idea and phrase kept nagging at me," writes Gumpert. "The phrase, 'I take your photo, you tell me a story' sums up the idea. It was 2006 and San Francisco Sheriff Hennessy said yes. Now this ongoing project has a name and a place to be seen and heard."
(Thanks, Prison Photography
11/17/2009 10:56:11 AM
Printmaker Abigail Uhteg made each of the 35 copies of her latest book by hand at the Women's Studio Workshop in Rosedale, NY. The process is documented in a fabulous video consisting of some 3,000 photos. Enjoy!
(Thanks, Coudal Partners.)
11/10/2009 12:01:58 PM
These groups of artists, many of them men, live together and play music night and day. Easily identified by their patchwork clothes and the instruments they carry, they live as outsiders, rejecting social hierarchies in favor of a collective mindset.
No, I’m not talking about an anarchist folk-punk band in Seattle, but the Baul musicians of Bengal, their more spiritually minded Eastern kin. Musician and writer Valentine Harding writes in the September-October issue of Resurgence about visiting a group of Bauls in West Bengal, India, who carry on this centuries-old folk tradition. A musician named Ananda welcomes her to his ashram, or “place of spiritual practice,” a small communal group where the Bauls live in harmony with nature:
Every morning and evening, Ananda and others play kirtan and bhajan devotional songs, their music greeting the dawn or fading into the night sky. All Baul music is intimately connected with Nature’s rhythms. Ananda says, “The birds, trees and animals listen to our music, and when we sing, we connect with their inner being.”
One of the Bauls’ biggest fans, Harding writes, was the Bengali poet, writer, philosopher, and social reformer Rabindranath Tagore, who became entranced by their music and their ideals and incorporated Baul themes into his poetry, music, and drama:
Tagore’s praise of Bauls and his adoption of their themes in his work enhanced their reputation, because in spite of being regarded as saintly musician-mystics, they nonetheless had a low status and lived on the fringes of society. Fortunately, today in West Bengal and Bangladesh, Bauls are becoming more respected by many people for their way of life, their spirituality and their music, and are often seen as representing ideals for a more equal and just society.
Baul music’s higher profile has put in onstage at the World Sacred Music Festival, the Morocco-based event that now has touring offshoots around the world, and the Fireflies Festival of Sacred Music in Bangalore, Bangladesh. Singer Kartick Das Baul (pictured), one of the form’s better-known exponents, has even sung in many Bengali films and has performed with the Kolkata-based jazz band Just Us at Fireflies, according to the Indian arts and entertainment website Buzz18.com.
Kartick Das Baul’s main gig, though, is with the Baul folk band Oikyotaan, which according to its website “aims at reaching a space where folk and contemporary music complement each other.” The band has made a film titled Notun Projonmer Baul (New Generation Baul) and hopes to establish a Baul foundation to promote and preserve Baul culture.
Listen to samples of Baul music at the Resurgence website; listen to samples of Oikyotaan’s music at the band’s website; and see the New Generation Baul trailer here:
Sources: Resurgence, Buzz18.com, Oikyotaan
Image by mdemon, licensed under Creative Commons.
11/6/2009 12:16:54 PM
Even if you haven’t read the books or seen the movie (soon to be movies), it’s been impossible to ignore the cultural phenomenon of Stephenie Meyer’s wildly popular Twilight series. A mind-blowing statistic cited in the new American Prospect caught my eye: “In the first quarter of 2009, Twilight novels composed 16 percent of all book sales,” writes Sady Doyle. “Four out of every 25 books sold were part of the series.”
(Think about that for a minute. A series of books that began publishing in 2005 and ended in August 2008 accounted for 16 percent of all book sales in the first three months of 2009.)
Doyle demonstrates that the Twilight books and films—and their fans, who are visibly, overwhelmingly teenage girls—have been “marginalized and mocked” by a wide range of media: MTV, Time magazine, The New York Times, and other outlets favor adjectives like “shrieking” and “squealing” to describe these enthusiastic droves of readers. “Yes,” Doyle writes, “Twi-Hards can be loud. But is it really necessary to describe them all by the pitch of their voices? It propagates the stereotype of teen girls as hysterical, empty-headed, and ridiculous.”
Feminists, too, have widely criticized the books, and for good reason. They offer a humorless, stalkerish, absurdly overprotective Prince Charming in the vampire-protagonist of Edward Cullen, for whom Bella, the angsty teen-girl narrator, is willing to do anything (including—spoiler alert!—becoming a vampire herself). I’ll admit that when I finished reading the four-book series, the first thing I did was call my Edward Cullen–obsessed teenage sister, who did not appreciate my ensuing lecture about why the characters’ 19th century–style relationship was not something to aspire to.
Doyle concedes that the books are “silly,” what with their unlikely chastity and the characters’ sappy, unconditional, and constantly verbalized mutual adoration, but, she argues, these fantasies do offer teen girls much-needed “shelter from the terrors of puberty.” On the other hand, “male escapist fantasies—which, as anyone who has seen Die Hard or read those Tom Clancy novels can confirm, are not unilaterally sophisticated, complex, or forward-thinking—tend to be greeted with shrugs, not sneers. The Twilight backlash is vehement, and it is just as much about the fans as it is about the books. Specifically, it’s about the fact that those fans are young women.”
Even phenomena on the nerdier side of the pop-culture spectrum—Star Wars, Star Trek, X-Men, and Harry Potter—escape the severe criticism that's heaped upon the Twi-Hards. How are Twilight and its fandom so different from these films, or even Marvel comics? Doyle asks. “The answer is fairly obvious, and it’s not—as geeks and feminists might hope—the quality of the books or movies,” she writes. “It’s the number of boys in the fan base.”
That’s why, no matter how drippy and problematic feminists may perceive the series to be, they should care about the Twilight backlash, Doyle argues. I’d like to interpret that as, let’s keep discussing our Twilight qualms with teen-girl allies—but let’s also try to understand why it appeals to them, and consider what that tells us about teenage girl-hood today.
(And let's definitely watch, and encourage Twilight fans to watch, the hilarious, sexism-busting video "Buffy vs. Edward (Twilight Remixed).")
Source: The American Prospect (excerpt only available online)
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