ReactorWeekend

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on April 13, 2014

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Carbon testing suggests that the “Jesus’s Wife Papyrus” is not be a modern fake, as some believed, and the test has concluded that the carbon black ink on this fragment was “perfectly consistent with another 35 or 40 manuscripts that we’ve looked at,” that date from 400 BCE to CE 700 or 800. (image copyright Karen L. King, 2012)

This week, how to protect your passwords online, ignorance is bliss, the Jesus Wife Papyrus is not fake, 8 million flower petals in Costa Rica, Minimalism redux, million-dollar painting trashed, Bush paintings’ lazy sourcing, Koons on inflatables, and more.

 If you were online this week, then you’ve probably heard of the Heartbleed virus, which has impacted countless major websites and web services. Mashable has compiled a useful chart to tell you where to change your passwords.

 Just in case you were wondering about the relationship between ignorance and being pro-war… Vox cites a study that suggests the worse you are at finding Ukraine on a map, the likelier you are to want to bomb it.

 There has been a lot of discussion about the diminishing boundaries between news and art photography. The Financial Times writes about the blurring boundary:

These days, however, as Pieter Hugo, Zanele Muholi, Alec Soth, Mikhael Subotzky and others create artworks in documentary-photography formats and photography is widely accepted as a valid artistic medium, certain photojournalists are also increasingly capturing the attention of the art world. In fact, the word “photojournalist” is out of vogue, giving way to the wider umbrella term “documentary photographer”, which crosses over into both spheres.

While Bag News Notes does a specific analysis of how news agencies package photos with captions that highlight controversial aspects of the image. For instance:

Photo 2 – Raab’s caption:

Church, Alabama Avenue SE, Washington, DC 2010

Photo 2 – Politico caption:

A limousine sits outside Anacostia’s Allen Chapel on Sunday morning. Allen Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church has been serving Washington’s black community since before the civil war. After the war, the area attracted many former slaves, who purchased small plots of land around Good Hope Hill.

Comment: This caption squarely focuses the sideshow on African Americans. In terms of the visual, the church may be the center of black civic life, but it’s also stereotypical.

 Roberta Smith of the New York Times takes a look at the Jewish Museum’s expansion of their landmark Primary Structures exhibition from the 1960s, but not everything is rosy:

The current show is, then, a compensatory curatorial action, a bit of historical revisionism. It presents artists from other parts of the world who might have been in the original. This is a great idea in theory, but its execution here is weak. The show itself feels skimpy and parsimonious compared to what might have been. Too large for the galleries allotted, it has been compromised by being divided into two parts, and its catalog, while clever, is insufficient.

 Unbelievable: A painting that recently sold at auction in Hong Kong for about $3.7 million is feared to have been thrown out in the trash, according to reports from China:

Officials in Hong Kong are reportedly searching landfills after the South China Morning Post said security footage shows a guard kicking the painting to a pile of garbage. Janitors then took the garbage away, according to the report.

The auction house has given up on retrieving the painting, which probably ended up in a landfill.

 Greg Allen makes the case that George W. Bush’s paintings were based on Google Image Search results, rather than any true “insight” into the figures they represent:

By outsourcing the editorial decisions about the source images to Google and Wikipedia, the rest of the paintings’ decisions can be claimed by The Decider himself. The sources serve as an index of Bush’s subjectivity, interpretations, and technique, only some of which is hinted at in his walkthrough. Maybe there’s an audioguide? Whether they are successful artworks in critical or aesthetic terms is an entirely separate question. But it is disingenuous, dishonest, or delusional to claim Bush’s paintings are not art.

They are the art of our time. The art of the 21st century. The art of the Bush Era and the Global War on Terror that made him famous. And for many who care deeply about art, that is very depressing. And damning. We yearn for art’s relevance in our society, for art to have an impact on our culture. We want people to experience art and to feel it’s important. Unfortunately, George Bush’s paintings accomplish all those missions. They’re the newsiest paintings to come along since George Zimmerman’s eBay auction.

gwb_merkel_google-640

 Photographer Nick Meek was commissioned by an ad agency to photograph Costa Rica covered in 8 million flowers petals for a Sony promotion. The visual effect is quite impressive:

flower-costarica-640

 The evolution of low-income housing in Los Angeles is a fascinating look at cultural attitudes towards government and its role. Lyra Kilston, who also contributes to Hyperallergic, examined the postwar period that saw a radical shift in attitudes towards public housing:

However, this golden era was abruptly eclipsed. During the Cold War, Southern California emerged as a stronghold of McCarthyism. Private sector real estate boards, property owner leagues, and the politicians seeking their votes launched an outright war against public housing, which was portrayed as “part of a conspiratorial effort by well-placed communists [...] to destroy traditional American values through a carefully calculated policy of racial and class struggle.” The local housing authority was demonized and compared to the Gestapo. This conflict was so incendiary that public housing became the primary issue during Los Angeles’s 1953 mayoral race, and the incumbent candidate who supported it was branded a communist and lost. The winner, Norris Poulson, instantly canceled the city’s public housing contract with the federal government.

 Jeff Koons discusses his fascination with inflatables in this video interview with SandenWolff Productions:

 The PEN American Center organized a “Literary Protest for Free Expression in China” last Thursday, which featured a video message from Ai Weiwei, and appearances by Sergio De La Pava, Jennifer Egan, Ha Jin, Alison Klayman, Chang-Rae Lee, and Victoria Redel:

 A new auction authenticity ruling:

A recent decision in New York’s Supreme Court could cause chaos in art forgery cases. The ruling places a fresh burden on collectors seeking to challenge the authenticity of works. It suggests that, even if a work is obviously fake, a case could be thrown out unless the claimant produces an expert who examined the work before its sale and after the dispute, and who can testify that it is the same work as the one sold.

 Shelley Bernstein, the Brooklyn Museum’s tech guru, has penned a post about social media engagement at the institution and some changes she would like to make. It’s a fascinating look at the social media realities of a major museum, for instance:

As of today, we have left Flickr (including The Commons).  We’ve seen a steady decline in the engagement level at Flickr and it was clear it was time to leave the platform, though we still love it.

… We have left iTunesU in favor of sharing content via YouTube and SoundCloud.  We just were not seeing the statistics to continue with iTunesU.  We found the administration of the account laborious and the statistical reporting onerous.  It was clear to us from an administrative standpoint, it was a drain on staff time that simply wasn’t giving back enough as a distribution channel.

 If you’re reading this then this probably doesn’t impact you, but there is some concern that the way people read is changing because of the internet:

Humans, they warn, seem to be developing digital brains with new circuits for skimming through the torrent of information online. This alternative way of reading is competing with traditional deep reading circuitry developed over several millennia … If the rise of nonstop cable TV news gave the world a culture of sound bites, the Internet, Wolf said, is bringing about an eye byte culture.

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning EST, and it is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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  • Jeffrey

    Just shows you how much auction houses really care about the art.

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