A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Enjoy our special posts in the fields of Earth & Planetary Sciences (EPS Blog) and Social Sciences & Arts (SSA Blog)

A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

A prison opera and digital transformation boost diversity of artistic voices

O Tempo (Somos Nós)', performance June 3rd 2022, Leiria, Portugal © Gil de Lemos/SAMP

A special opera performance in Lisbon improves inclusivity for the marginalised while digital literacy will create new artistic opportunities.

Four professional Portuguese singers performed the main roles in a new opera based on Homer's "Odyssey" at a packed concert hall in Portugal's capital Lisbon in mid-June.

Also on the stage that evening were 16 amateur performers from the central Portuguese city of Leiria, where they are members of the city's "school prison" population. The prison houses offenders in the age range of around 16 to 21 years.

What's more, a second group of Leiria inmates took part in the performance by video link from a stage that was located back in the jail 150 km away.

Welcome to TRACTION, a European research project that tackles social exclusion through the use of opera. The people behind it are redefining what is often perceived as an elite activity so that some of society's most-marginalised groups – young offenders, migrants and the rural poor to name but three – can find expression for themselves.

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The latest project of Xavier Cortada

Credit: Cortada.com

Xavier Cortada's Public Art

Over the past three decades, Cortada has created art across six continents including more than one hundred and fifty (150) public artworks and dozens of collaborative murals and socially engaged projects. Cortada's work aims to address our relationship to place, to each other, and the natural world. He has developed innovative art solutions to public art-making that explore our ability to coexist with nature.

Cortada's site-specific public art range from free-standing and suspended sculpture, fountains, plazas, ceramic tile murals, mosaics, paintings, and large-scale digital works. His Florida public art commissions include works at Port Everglades, the Frost Art Museum, the Florida Turnpike, Florida Botanical Gardens, Curtis Park, and at ten Miami-Dade Housing Authority sites.

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Great Art Explained: Hieronymus Bosch

Credit: The Garden of Earthly Delights in the Museo del Prado in Madrid, c. 1495–1505, attributed to Bosch; via Wikipedia

The Garden of Earthly Delights

We could use tons of words to describe the work of Hieronymus Bosch but that won't be enough. His pictures are so full of various figures, allegories, and metaphors, more of which could be deciphered only through the imagination of the medieval mind. On the other hand, visual art is traditionally hard to be transcribed into words and is often ineffable. That is especially the case when we are talking about his most famous triptych – The Garden of Earthly Delights  (c.1503-1515) – that represents heaven, earth, and hell. Its obvious connections with Biblical texts give us some ideas about the possible meaning but that is definitely a small part of the massive scenes represented in the picture and fails to elucidate the surrealistic imagery and hallucinatory-like visions populating it.

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Money Killed Art. Here's how we take it back​

Credit: Gettyimages

Art is Dead

Western Culture holds a particular proneness to metaphysical killings. First, it was God, then the Meaning, the Self, later on, the Author, and now we are aiming at Art. However, each time a new God, Meaning, or Self has been summoned up from the old ones. It appears that such dynamics are part of our tradition and are symbolically represented by the archetype of the Phoenix, forever resurrecting, back from its ashes. If we search for the sources of these revolutionary movements in history, we could trace them back to ancient Greece's shift from mythological thinking to Philosophy, or even before that in Mesopotamian and Egyptian periodical movements from one Supreme God to another.

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The Hidden Troves of Etymology

Credit: Gettyimages

What does Synaesthesia mean?

Have you heard about the term synesthesia? If you haven't, the time has come. From a neuropsychological trait to a literary device, it has a wide range of meanings. Generally, synaesthesia indicates an interplay between the senses, when the information registered by one of the senses simultaneously affects one or more of the others. For example, it is the situation when you had a visual impression of sound or a tactile experience of an odor.

 It is estimated that synaesthesia is a genetically linked trait that affects from 2 to 5 percent of the general population. Aside from synaesthetes, which are experiencing it involuntarily, many artists and poets have deliberately applied various practices to attain such psychological conditions. Thus they would achieve a certain creative outcome. However, we use such synaesthetic expressions in our everyday speech, such as "a cold eye," "a burning view," "a soft wind," "a hard voice," etc.

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Great Art Explained: Rodin

Credit: The Thinker in The Gates of Hell at the Musée Rodin; via Wikipedia under CC BY 2.0

The Thinker

Arguably, the most famous modern sculpture. Most of us have seen it, even though unintentionally. It was part of a multitude of modern art exhibitions, movies, research, art albums, and even advertisements. It is undoubtedly the most popular sculpture made by Rodin. Moreover, The Thinker has the aura of captivating history behind it. From the time it was conceived up to the moment of its well-known parameters and title, it underwent hundreds of transformations. In fact, it was first a part of a large group of figures on the most monumental work made by Rodin – The Gates of Hell. The main figure, at this time, titled The Poet, was a representation of Dante Alighieri. Later on, Rodin began to examine and elaborate its shape in many slightly different designs until the moment when the figure started life on its own. The Thinker has tens of originals around the world, which put forward the question of authenticity.
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Great Art Explained

Credit: The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, 1907-08, via Wikipedia

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

Paintings are visual mysteries, which are often difficult, and sometimes even impossible, to be verbally described. They use a language that aims to our perception and could include otherwise mutually excluding elements. For example, there are many debates about one of the most popular pictures of all time – "The Kiss" - painted by the most prominent member of the Vienna Secession movement – Gustav Klimt. Is it showing a romantic consumption of love between a man and a woman, or maybe the woman is turning her head away from the thrusting advances of the lover? We could only wonder. Like many other painters, Gustav Klimt hasn't left an explanation for that question and many other of his pictures and murals. Once he said: "If you want to know me better, just look at my pictures" and that is what we do.

Below you can enjoy a short but elucidating video explaining "The Kiss" and the art of Gustav Klimt.

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Thoughts to reflect on: Borges

Credit: Borges in 1979; Gettyimages

Jorge Luis Borges

1. "A writer - and, I believe, generally all persons - must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art."

2. "So plant your own gardens and decorate your own soul, instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers."

3. "When writers die they become books, which is, after all, not too bad an incarnation."

4. "Heaven and hell seem out of proportion to me: the actions of men do not deserve so much."

5. "A book is more than a verbal structure or series of verbal structures; it is the dialogue it establishes with its reader and the intonation it imposes upon his voice and the changing and durable images it leaves in his memory. A book is not an isolated being: it is a relationship, an axis of innumerable relationships."

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The Polish Nightmare Artist

Credit: Zdzisław Beksiński, 1996,  fot. Wojciech Druszcz / EAST NEWS.

Zdzisław Beksiński

When referring to dark, nightmarish artists, people often cite Giger, or Francis Bacon (the painter), and their alternative macabre perception of the world. The first with his frustrating fusion of body and machine, and the latter, with the permeating anxiety of his blurry expressionistic figures caught in their existential dreadful scream. Truly, two scary examples of fine art. However, today we are going to focus on one artist, which is maybe less known but certainly, he completes the atmosphere of horrifying artistic beauty - Zdzisław Beksiński (24 February 1929 – 21 February 2005). He was a Polish painter, photographer, and sculptor. He is mainly known for his dystopian surrealistic imagery of death, decay, fleshy skeletons, bleak deserts, apocalyptic architecture, and synthesis of bodies and objects. Although his pictures are depressing and dark, they evoke a state of contemplation and thoughts about the nature of life and how do we use our time on the planet, what is our attitude to each other. Critics are often seduced by the idea to interpret his art as a reflection of the turbulent ages that he lived in. However, Beksiński remained unrelenting in his conviction that his paintings don't need any words to dismantle their meaning. Furthermore, he even abstained from giving his pieces any title. They are rather dreamlike visions for visual perception and meditation.

Below you could take a look and decide for yourselves.

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Great Art Explained: Sandro Botticelli

Credit: Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (c. 1484–1486). tempera on canvas; via Wikipedia

Botticelli's Birth of Venus

One of the most popular and revolutionary paintings in the Western world. It aroused many debates and commentaries on what exactly is the meaning of it. Of course, on the surface, it is easy to discern the personages from the Greek Mythology – Zephyr, Aphrodite (Venus), Chloe (Flora), and the Horae of spring (or summer). Yet, what are their function here; what is the meaning of their gathering on the canvas of Botticelli; is there something more? The picture is not exactly a representation of an exact moment drawn from the imagination of ancient Greek mythology. It is rather second-level mythology (in Roland Bart's sense), created by Botticelli himself. Botticelli was deeply influenced by both Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico Della Mirandola, the Florentine champions of the Humanism, Gnostic and Neo-platonic philosophies, which thrived in the Medici's court. In that regard, his pieces were an Early form of Renaissance art and many symbols and philosophical concepts were embedded in them.

Below you can enjoy a video with one of the possible explanations of that mesmerizing and mystic painting.

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Oolite Arts’ Home + Away Residency at Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Credit:  Cortada creates wax sculptures in preparation for bronze casting at his Anderson Ranch studio. (Photo by Trae Broomfield, Anderson Ranch)

Xavier Cortada's residency works

During his Oolite Arts' Home + Away residency at Anderson Ranch Art Center in Aspen Snowmass, Colorado, artist Xavier Cortada is creating a series of new works to advance his social practice in Miami. Using state of the art facilities at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Cortada is creating both 3-D printed pieces and hand-carved wax sculptures that will be cast in bronze.

Cortada's sculptures will be displayed at the African Heritage Cultural Arts Center (AHCAC) in Liberty City at the end of April for his ArtCARE exhibition. Addressing juvenile justice in the context of broader structural issues impacting Miami communities (systemic racism, social inequity, climate gentrification), the exhibition will serve to launch a community-building participatory art project and reforestation effort he is developing through AHCAC as part of the Socially Engaged Art in Law course he is co-teaching at the University of Miami.

Cortada was selected to attend the residency at Anderson Ranch Art Center by jurors Amy Galpin, chief curator of the Frost Art Museum, Leilani Lynch, Curator at The Bass and Lorie Mertes, Executive Director, Locust Projects. The residency extends from February 6 to March 9, 2022.

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Great Art Explained

Credit: Portrait of Dalí by Allan Warren, 1972; via Wikipedia

Salvador Dali's 'The Persistence of Memory'

It is certainly not necessary to be an art historian to know the name of Salvador Dali. Arguably, the most popular painter of 20th-century side by side with Picasso, though it was to a large extent because of his constant self-promoting. However, by no doubt, Dali was a meticulous master of the brush and an artist with unique and alluring imagination. The topics of his pictures were always as provocative – death, sex, decay, excrement, dreams, irrationality – as was his personality. He was often and is still criticized for his self-centered, ego-maniacal obsessions, and parading. Dali was all the time surrounded by deliberate scandals, he loved giving shocking interviews, quibbling, and arguing about what was considered piquant topics at the moment. For example, he would say that is fascinated by the personality of Adolf Hitler or that he (Dali) is a monarchist. He was often speaking about himself in the third person, a habit usually associated with Roman emperors, or maybe he was pretending to be so special that he is a stranger even to himself. Maybe, in a way, he was. We cannot be sure what was true and what was just part of his farce.

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Neil deGrasse Tyson: Science is in Our DNA

Credit: Gettyimages

Homo Scientia

What is the most human feature, the thing that distinguishes us from all other species? What makes us human beings? Is it the fact that we play, or dance, or maybe, that we use language? Another good pretender for such a trait is that we create our artificial world, in which we live whereas other species live in the natural world as it is. We call our species Homo Sapiens but if we take a look at the written human history, it is questionable that being reasonable and wise are our most distinctive characteristics. So what it is? Neil deGrace Tyson has an answer that you can hear in the video below.

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What does the artist say

Credit: Picasso in 1962; via Wikipedia

Pablo Picasso

"We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies."

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Motivational Quotes

Credit: Portrait of the American artist Andy Warhol at his exhibition dedicated to Black transvestites in the US. Ferrara, November 1975

  Andy Warhol

"Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years when they could just say, "So what."
"My mother didn't love me." So what.
"My husband won't ball me. So what.
"I'm a success but I'm still alone." So what.
I don't know how I made it through all the years before I learned how to do that trick. It took a long time for me to learn it, but once you do, you never forget."

The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

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On this date, 183 years ago...

20220119-130222562px-Portrait_de_lartiste_par_Paul_Czanne_FWN_434 Credit: Self-portrait 1875, Musée d'Orsay; via Wikipedia

Credit: Wikipedia

Paul Cézanne was born

Paul Cézanne (born January 19, 1839, Aix-en-Provence, France—died October 22, 1906, Aix-en-Provence) was one of the most influential French artists of the Post-Impressionist era. His ideas and works were pivotal in the development of the visual aesthetics of Modernist and Avant-Garde painters of the 20th century. He laid the foundations for many artistic movements, most notably Cubism. Artists like Matisse and Picasso claimed that he "is the father of us all." However, his art was often misunderstood and discredited by the public.

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On this date, 27 years ago...

Image credit: Wikipedia

Edvard Munch's "The Scream" recovered after theft

On this date, 7th of May, 1994, Edvard Munch's most prominent painting "The Scream" was found after being stolen from Oslo's museum for almost three months. Norway's most famous painting was recovered undamaged about 40 miles south of the capital at a hotel in Asgardstrand. It was intact and undamaged.

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Thoughts to reflect on: Giorgio de Chirico and his Metaphysical painting

Photo credit: Giorgio de Chirico in his studio; gettyimages.com
Giorgio de Chiricho
Giorgio de Chirico (10 July 1888 – 20 November 1978) was an Italian painter born in Greece. He is famous for founding the scuola metafisica (metaphysical movement) along with Carlo Carra – another Italian painter. Even before he met Carra, de Chirico had developed his metaphysical style of painting, inspired by painters like Arnold Böcklin and Max Klinger. His other great influence was the philosophical works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, and notably the Greek mythology and Roman Architecture. De Chirico's metaphysical paintings had a huge impact on the later Surrealist movement, which is more than obvious in the paintings of Salvador Dalí and René Magritte – timeless perspective, illusionary figures, intense and extraordinary imagery. Paradoxically, the later career of Giorgio de Chirico passed under the mark of classical techniques and iconography, which he advocated in his article Valori plastici entitled "The Return of Craftsmanship". Although he was often criticizing his own earlier metaphysical paintings and became a major opponent of Modern art in general, he often made reproductions of his earlier works and is remembered mostly for his metaphysical visionary paintings.
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The most talented artist of all times

Image credit: Wikipedia

The Genius of Michelangelo

Classical western art, as we perceive it today, owns its grandiose impact on European culture mainly because of two great epochs – the ancient Greece antiquity and the Italian Renaissance. Of course, meanwhile, the nature of art was a subject of an infinite amount of transformations and metamorphosis, but the idea of Art as the peak of human genius and highest ideal was the fundamental achievement of these two periods. Human imagination thrived with great enthusiasm, devotion, and unlimited possibilities! Humanitarian concepts raised the understanding of human beings as the wreath of Nature, and the greatest goal – the pursuit after the perfection of both knowledge and artistic expression. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Florence was the main center of Art and Renaissance thought. Annually, hundreds of artists, poets, and philosophers appeared on the scene. Some of them are still among the most eminent painters, sculptors, and thinkers as Donatello, Brunelleschi, Marsilio Ficino, Leonardo Da Vinci, and many others. Nevertheless the imposing company, there was one artist who dared to break through the limits of what was then possible in fine arts and architecture. His name was Michelangelo and he became one of the greatest sources of inspiration for later artists and researchers.

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Florence - an entire city of Mind-blowing History and Beauty

Image credit: Pixabay

The Magic of the Renaissance

In the 14th century, a drastic change in the way people were thinking and the art they were making started happening in Europe. One city - Florence, had the most important role in this change. The home of Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Niccolo Machiavelli has preserved so much of the renaissance art and architecture created there, that now it is considered the Living museum of this period.

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