ooh, shiny

sunflowers by van Gogh How rich art is; if one can only remember what one has seen, one is never without food for thought or truly lonely, never alone.    — Vincent to Theo, 1878
The Vincent van Gogh Gallery is the site for van Gogh online. It’s endorsed by the van Gogh Museum (<brag> I’ve been there! </brag>) and features, well, everything: 2200 images and 874 letters, every surviving thing that Vincent ever painted, sketched or wrote. Chronological and subject matter indices, a canonical works gallery, commentary and analysis, biography, an online forum and more, available in thirteen languages on a clean, well designed site. Bravo, Mr Brooks.

small pendant by artist Sandra Marchewaart-o-mat vending machine The Art*o*mat is just plain cool. In 1997, Clark Whittington converted a recently-banned cigarette vending machine to sell his black&white photos for $1 each. Today, his company Artists in Cellophane operates 60 art vending machines in 18 states, featuring the work of over 300 artists from 10 different countries. I note that there are no artomats in Oregon yet; I wonder what it costs to sponsor one?
Way cool update: the artist whose pendant is shown here, Sandra Marchewa, showed up in comments. You can see more of her art here. While I’m updating, it appears there’s now an Art*o*mat in Oregon, at Lane Community College — but still none in Portland…

he found it

shitty old chair, nothing moreThat’s art — sorry, Art — you’re looking at there. Dave Barry came across it at a Miami Beach art show, and he couldn’t make any more sense of it than I can:

…a ratty old collapsed armchair – worn, dirty, leaking stuffing, possibly housing active vermin colonies. I asked the gallery person if the chair was art, and she said yes, it was a work titled “Chair.” I asked her what role the artist had played in creating “Chair.” She said: “He found it.”    [pic]

Dave further notes that “Chair” (actually “chair”, otherwise known as “Untitled (ellipses) II”), by brilliant scam artist Rodney McMillian, is for sale: a mere $2800. I wouldn’t touch the feculent thing for twice that, but here is one James Scarborough blurbing in artcritical.com:

Rodney McMillian’s work limns absence as an unmitigated presence. His take on absence is more sensuous than cerebral. He doesn’t deconstruct the idea of absence and then rebuild it as a dialectical opposition which posits that what’s not seen, felt, experienced is as significant, perhaps moreso, as that which is. [...] The subject… is not our reaction to a void but our innate tendency to venerate the void itself as something sacred and iconic. [...] As a repository and sum of former posteriors that have dented its cushions, of previous elbows that have grazed the armrests, the chair offers not a weedy patina of desuetude but an apotheosis of its former occupant.

Uh, what? I’d get those innate tendencies looked at, mate. The comedy just writes itself here, and I don’t care if I am shooting fish in a barrel: these idiots are funny. My hat’s off to your man Rod, though; he’s found some festering piece of crap in a bin somewhere and he’s conned these wankers into putting it in a gallery. I bet some fool will even buy it.

pretty

Metafilter’s signal:noise ratio renders the comment threads a waste of time, but with the magic of RSS I can scan the front page for old school posts like these:
From magullo, a link to this polished amateur continuation of the Library of Congress’ exhibit and project on the pre-WWI work of Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii. Prokudin-Gorskii took three black and white exposures of each scene he shot, using a different filter for each; then, by projecting the plates back through the same filters he could create a single colour image on a wall. The LoC, and now Addison Godel and friends, have used modern image manipulation to reproduce some of these extraordinary images. [pic ; I made the grayscale one in Photoshop.]
   Russian settlers ca 1910, black and white image    Russian settlers ca 1910, colour image
Godel has it exactly right:

…I’d always felt that the past was somehow obscured by being viewed solely through a greyscale window. To see places, buildings, and especially people in color was to understand, on a very deep level, that they had at one time really, truly existed – that the “Typical Russian Peasant of Figure 32″ was not merely some gaunt presence in the side of a textbook, but a genuine person who, if not for temporal chance, could have been my neighbor or my friend.

Shibori is a labour intensive Japanese textile dyeing method, and this is a labour intensive post from user lobakgo. Techniques similar to tie-dyeing are used to create patterns like those on the left,from which extraordinarily detailed images like the one on the right are built with months of painstaking effort. [pic 1, pic2]
   selection of Shibori patterns    Shibori image of house in winter landscape
This also ended up on MeFi, but I got it from jwz: the industrial photography of Edward Burtynsky.
   oil refinery image by Edward Burtynsky    mine tailings image by Edward Burtynksy

up yours, Peter Jackson

So I finally saw LotR:RotK, and it sucked. Hard. I’m probably too late to do anyone any good with this, but if you haven’t seen it, don’t. Jackson treats the characters and the story without respect, pretty much exactly as I’d expected him to do in the first two movies. I was suprised when he exceeded my expectations with FotR and TTT, but the signs were there in some of the egregious abuses of character and plot, and the third movie makes it abundantly clear that Jackson simply does not understand the nature of Tolkien’s work. He reduces it to Hollywood pabulum — Graydon (in this thread) is exactly right when he says, “The generosity has been leeched out of [the story], along with the restraint.” Even viewed as schlock RotK is a lousy piece of work. Editing, pacing and visual continuity are all sloppy. The spousal unit postulated time/money problems and/or studio interference, but in the end Jackson must take the blame for turning a grand and epic tale into a stupid action flick.