Vienna’s Modernism

Do scientists recognise and respect beauty? The question is considered at Vienna’s Leopold Museum. B. Reinhold writes that ‘the expressionist Egon Schiele (1890-1918) is one of the most important representatives of Viennese Modernism. He irritates and provokes, and still attracts the attention of the censors one hundred years after his death.’


Schiele attacks popular ideals of beauty, with the primary source of irritation being the starkly depicted nudity and sexuality. Everything baulks at the feeling of sensuality and eroticism. 

The pictures have an uneasy physical presence because they are neither voyeuristic nor pornographic.

Squatting Female Nude, 1910 © Leopold Museum, Vienna

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This art visualizes the massive tensions of his time. Vienna was a center of innovation in science and technology, yet also the capital of the crisis-stricken Habsburg multi-ethnic state. This led to nationalism and ultimately Hitler’s racial fanaticism. The social structure and gender roles started to fluctuate. 

Pier Battle

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A historic pier in East Sussex was destroyed by fire in 2010. It has won a prestigious architecture award after a multi-million pound redevelopment. Hastings Pier reopened in April 2016 and has just won this year’s Royal Institute of British Architects Stirling Prize as the UK’s best new building. They call it “a masterpiece of regeneration”.

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Among Hastings’ residents are 3,000 shareholders who bought £100 stakes in “the people’s pier”.

Walking on Water

Some insects walk on fast-moving water.

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ME Santos et al (Science 358, October 2017) identify two genes that control fan development on the mid-legs of Rhagovelia.Rhagovelia_antilleana_StreamEnvio_LR-1720x1146.jpg

Genes in a single lineage help these Hemiptera inhabit previously inaccessible environments.

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Irish Sun

The 17th-century Beaulieu House in Co Louth is one of the first country houses built in Ireland without fortification. Now it’s the site of Ireland’s first solar farm. The estate’s first owner was the Plunkett family and in 1666 Sir Henry Tichborne was granted a patent by Charles II.

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The present house was designed by Dutch artist Willem van der Hagen, who settled in Ireland in the 1720s.

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K. O’Sullivan reports in The Irish Times that the present owner is installing 20,000 solar panels, a five-megawatt, fixed-array solar farm spread across 23 acres that can generate enough electricity to power 1,500 homes a year.

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Photovoltaic cells are becoming more efficient in such applications.

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Queer Monster

Nineteenth Century ideas of evolution and development form the basis of many artistic fantasies. This year’s video work by Alex Da Corte is called “Slow Graffiti” and mixes many of them: psychological, embryological and hierarchical.frankenstein-slide-LRLJ-master768.jpg

It seems to be far from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein fantasy. Mary Shelley’s monstrous allegory is approaching its 200th birthday and the story remains darkly resonant with artists and scientists alike.

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When you’re gay and grow up feeling like a hideous misfit, fully conscious that some believe your desires to be wicked and want to kill you for them, identifying with the Monster is hardly difficult.

But for the original Monster, being scary is always coupled with being sad. This melancholy is captured in Da Corte’s new film “Slow Graffiti,” which premiered in Vienna this summer. 

Da Corte recaptures the fact that the Monster’s rage lies in his anger from being abandoned and isolated. He is heartbroken. The video is an experiment in empathy for the supposedly unlovable, continuing the queer tradition of sympathy for the Monster: “Man will not associate with me.” Da Corte’s video fixates on odd dislocations of intimacy.

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We-Heart.com magazine says that the show is ‘A riot of ‘perfect’ pop culture references, Da Corte’s installation sees a video screened every 20 minutes in a seating area — a shot-for-shot remake of Jørgen Leth’s 1967 short The Perfect Human (1967), featuring the artist masked as Boris Karloff and Frankenstein’s monster set to a score by Devonté Hynes; lending an unease to the artist’s disjointed wasteland of Instagrammable aesthetic. The contemporary desire for perfection … we’ve created a monster.’

Tenners

The Bank of England £10 note has a new design and security feature.

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Jane Austen replaces Charles Darwin. Charles Dickens was of an earlier generation.

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The notes are made of Biaxially Oriented Polypropylene (BOPP), a non-fibrous and non-porous polymer that is processed through the following steps:

  • Opacifying – two layers of ink (usually opaque white) are applied to each side of the note, except for any areas deliberately left clear;
  • Sheeting – polymer substrate roll is cut into sheets to suit a flatsheet printing press;
  • Printing – traditional offset, intaglio and letterpress processes are used; and
  • Overcoating – notes are coated with a protective varnish.

Compared with paper banknotes, those made using BOPP are harder to tear, more resistant to folding, more resistant to soil and are waterproof.

Unreal Colour

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An American photographer, Peter Turner, has died aged 83. Pete created spectacular images, some for the covers of record albums. His saturated colours often altered reality and confused observers on his global assignments.

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