Renovation

Scientific advances in materials science and image analysis enable the work of renovation tackle more ambitious challenges. A recent example of this is the Hudson Theatre in Manhattan.

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One of Broadway’s oldest surviving theatres, first opened 114 years ago, has been renovated and reopened earlier this year –

05HUDSON3-jumbo-v2.jpg— with Jake Gyllenhaal in the revival of “Sunday in the Park With George”. It becomes Broadway’s 41st and newest playhouse, 114 years after it became one of Broadway’s first. Then, it opened with a production of “Cousin Kate” starring Ethel Barrymore.

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The theater was built by Henry B. Harris, above left, who ran it until 1912, when he perished on the Titanic. His wife, Renée, also above, survived and returned to New York to operate the theater. She became one of Broadway’s first female producers but she lost it to foreclosure in the Depression.

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Located on 44th Street just east of Broadway, the ornate theater has led a life as various as Manhattan itself, with stints as a TV studio (1950s), a reborn theater and then a porn palace (’60s), a rock venue (’80s), and, for the last 20 years, an event space for Millennium Hotels.

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After the renovation by the Ambassador Theatre Group of Britain the Hudson is ready to be a showplace again and one of the few new theatres on  Broadway.

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Long Exposures

Jason Shulman photographs entire movies with ultra-long exposures, creating impressionist photographic images:

Alice in Wonderland 1951 –

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Dr Strangelove 1964 –

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Le Voyage dans la Lune 1902 –

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The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974 –

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The Wizard of Oz 1939 –3543-3.jpg

Plastic

The “Plastic Show” at the Almine Rech Gallery in London is by Melissa Castro Duarte.

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It brings together works by DeWain Valentine and four of his contemporaries — Mary Corse, Robert Irwin, Craig Kauffman and John McCracken — who were all experimenting with newly available materials in Venice and Santa Monica in the 1960s.

Valentine’s acrylic sculptures suggest the air is “becoming a substance”: They’re vast glossy blocks, columns, discs and lozenges that change color as you move around them and gaze in and through them. “All my work is really about the sky and the sea,” he says.

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The high sheen of his sculptures comes from buffing and lacquering, techniques used in his parents’ garage. Works in the show by John McCracken, by contrast,  are constructed from plywood and fiberglass with a glossy shell of polyester resin, just like a surfboard.

Polyester is a synthetic polymer made of purified terephthalic acid (PTA) or its dimethyl ester dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and monoethylene glycol(MEG).

PTA is 1,4 benzenedicarboxylic acid: C6H4(COOH)2, mol. weight: 166.13

DMT is 1,4 benzenedicarboxylic acid: C6H4(COOCH3)2, mol. weight: 194.19
MEG is 1,2 ethanediol: C2H6O2 , mol. weight: 62.07

Digital Grotesque

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Digital Grotesque is an architecture that defies classification and reductionism. It explores unseen levels of resolution and topological complexity in architecture by developing compositional strategies based on purely geometric processes.

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In the Digital Grotesque project,  algorithms create a form that appears at once synthetic and organic. The design process thus strikes a delicate balance between the expected and the unexpected, between control and relinquishment. The algorithms are deterministic as they do not incorporate randomness, but the results are not necessarily entirely forseeable. Instead, they have the power to surprise.

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The resulting architecture does not lend itself to a visual reductionism. Rather, the processes can devise truly surprising topographies and topologies that go far beyond what one could have traditionally conceived.

Digital Grotesque is between chaos and order, both natural and the artificial, neither foreign nor familiar. Any references to nature or existing styles are not integrated into the design process, but are evoked only as associations in the eye of the beholder.

The leading architects of this new approach are M. Hansmeyer, Zurich, and B. Dillenburger, Toronto.

http://www.michael-hansmeyer.com

http://www.benjamin-dillenburger.com

Books Smell

On March 4th the New York Times asked whether books smell the same. The question was inspired by Vladimir Nabokov who wrote:

“Nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”

For many people, the smell of books, in particular, is one of memory’s most powerful messengers, especially as the printed page gives way to the digital.

Over the past year, a Columbia University preservation expert and a curator at the Morgan Library & Museum in Manhattan have been engaged in an unusual poetic-scientific experiment in the little-visited olfactory wing of history, trying to pin down the powerful connection between smell and memory — in this case, collective memory.

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Jorge Otero-Pailos, director and professor of historic preservation at Columbia University, smells a bookcase in Pierpont Morgan’s study at the Morgan Library & Museum.

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Robert Prather, assistant to Carlos Benaim, master perfumer at International Flavors and Fragrances, preparing fragrance samples
Thousands of molecules will be categorized to determine which of them constitutes the smell profile of objects and surfaces from the Morgan Library.

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Rorschach Tests

Nearly a century after Hermann Rorschach invented his ink blot test, a controversial assessment that he used in psychiatric clinics. Patients gave many different interpretations of the shapes and figures in Rorschach’s blots.

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Now, in the journal Plos One, R. Taylor et al at the University of Oregon, claim to have an answer. They analysed ten Rorschach ink blots and found that the five black and white patterns varied in their fractal complexity. The less complex the fractals in the blots, the more images people tended to see.

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Rorschach’s Blot Seven is shown at the top (a). Note the tell-tale fractal signatures of irregular curves or shapes at the edges of the symmetrical image. Some people see a woman’s head with a ponytail. Below (b) the inkblot has been altered with the fractal borders removed. The ability to see hidden patterns is reduced.

2514.jpg      H. Rorschach

Fractals are patterns that repeat themselves over different size scales. The most familiar ones appear in nature, in the branching of trees, the edges of clouds, and the contours of coastlines. When the ratio of fine to coarse details is high, scientists say the image has a high fractal complexity.

“Your eyes are amazing pattern detectors, but why are they getting fooled? It’s almost as if they are getting trigger happy, seeing things that aren’t there,” Taylor told The Guardian. His work on fractals began with studies of Jackson Pollock’s spectacular drip paintings

Mirrors

Not known for her interest in science, the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama shows such applications in her exhibition at Washington DC’s Infinity Mirrors at the Hirschhorn Museum.yk-infinityrooms-img-05.jpg

The mirrored environments are too small to take beyond the inner detail. They take the images away from the artistic and make the viewer search for technological and scientific explanations rather than any senses of feelings within the content.

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