ReactorWeekend

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on February 3, 2013

The World's First Computer Art Is an Image of a Sexy Woman, "During a time when computing power was so scarce that it required a government-defense budget to finance it, a young man used a $238 million military computer, the largest such machine ever built, to render an image of a curvy woman on a glowing cathode ray tube screen. The year was 1956, and the creation was a landmark moment in computer graphics and cultural history that has gone unnoticed until now." (via The Atlantic)

The World’s First Computer Art Is an Image of a Sexy Woman, “During a time when computing power was so scarce that it required a government-defense budget to finance it, a young man used a $238 million military computer, the largest such machine ever built, to render an image of a curvy woman on a glowing cathode ray tube screen. The year was 1956, and the creation was a landmark moment in computer graphics and cultural history that has gone unnoticed until now.” (via The Atlantic)

This week, the world’s first computer art, new rules for museums and Ancient art, photojournalism’s boundaries, criticism of Foster’s new New York Public Library plan, the artist of the highly criticized royal portrait speaks up, the meaning of “outsider” art, and more.

  The rules for museums acquiring Ancient art have just become a whole lot stricter:

Going forward, museums that acquire ancient art despite a less-than-ironclad ownership record since 1970 will be required to explain the specific grounds for their decision, posting the details on the Object Registry.

  A fascinating article about what it feels like to be photographed by a photojournalist while you’re in the middle of a moment of grief. The woman was photographed mourning the people who died during the Newtown massacre:

“I sat there in a moment of devastation with my hands in prayer pose asking for peace and healing in the hearts of men,” she recalls. “I was having such a strong moment and my heart was open, and I started to cry.”

Her mood changed abruptly, she says, when “all of a sudden I hear ‘clickclickclickclickclick’ all over the place. And there are people in the bushes, all around me, and they are photographing me, and now I’m pissed. I felt like a zoo animal.”

What particularly troubles her, she says, is “no one came up to me and said ‘Hi, I’m from this paper and I took your photograph.’ No one introduced themselves. I felt violated. And yes, it was a lovely photograph, but there is a sense of privacy in a moment like that, and they didn’t ask.”

  Michael Kimmelman hates Foster + Partners designs for the new New York Public Library flagship on Fifth Avenue. Writing in the New York Times, here are two choice quotes:

“To me, what results is an awkward, cramped, banal pastiche of tiers facing claustrophobia-inducing windows, built around a space-wasting atrium with a curved staircase more suited to a Las Vegas hotel.”

“The designs have all the elegance and distinction of a suburban mall. I was reminded that Mr. Foster is also responsible for the canopied enclosure of the inner court at the British Museum, a pompous waste of public space that inserts a shopping gallery into the heart of a sublime cultural institution.”

  Remember Paul Elmsley, the artist who has been taking a critical lashing over his royal portrait of Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge? Well, Elmsley has spoken out in defense of his painting:

A major problem, Emsley and others contend, is that the portrait, awash in a half-light and seeming to capture a subtle expression of self-possession in the duchess when viewed in person, does not photograph well.

But he takes comfort from the story of another artist, Pietro Annigoni, who painted a panned portrait of Queen Elizabeth II in 1969. That same work was later reconsidered more favorably by critics and recently won a prestigious place in a National Portrait Gallery retrospective.

“Those particularly vicious and personal comments at one stage made me feel, ‘Gosh, was it wise to have gone through all this?’­ ” Emsley said. But he has gotten over those feelings, and after making the additional sketch of the duchess, he said, he remains even prouder of the original work.

“I have to accept the fact that there are many people that don’t like the portrait, and that’s fine,” he said. “As an artist, you do understand you’re never going to please everybody.”

  Critic Jerry Saltz explores the topic of Outsider artists an why we need to let them “in” from the cold:

Which brings us to the the horrible Rubicon that still separates so-called “outsider,” “self-taught,” and “visionary” art from institutionally sanctioned official art. Now that even immigration reform can happen, it’s time for MoMA — and all museums — to integrate “outsider art” into their permanent collections and erase that distinction for good.

  A sneak peek at a new book about revolutionary street art in Egypt.

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  LA Taco has an interesting interview with the Tijuana-based GIF artist Simon Pecco:

Well, you have to move through the internet because it’s what’s most effective and inexpensive, no? Besides, it’s cool because we’re all addicted … I see it as a platform where the exchange of ideas takes place  – matrix shit, the fountain and deposit of info0101010.

  Bruce Sterling thinks we should stop talking about the internet as a whole:

And there are five reasons for that: Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft. Now, when we say, “The Internet” or “smartphones” or “computers” we usually mean something shaped by one of these entities, or all of them.

With that in mind, Brian Droitcour points out this work of art:

… Michael Manning’s Microsoft Store Paintings might be seen as a proposition about what happens to internet art when doesn’t make sense to talk about the internet. The digital abstractions are painted at locations of the retail chain named in the series’ title, sometimes at the first-ever Microsoft store in Mission Viejo, CA, which opened in 2009.

  Some nice museum news:

An additional 1,800 sq. m of floor space was added to the Uffizi Galleries in Florence last year, expanding the museum’s exhibition space by 27%. Two new rooms were recently inaugurated — one dedicated to paintings by Alessandro Allori and Giorgio Vasari, and another to works by various Florentine artists from the second half of the 16th century.

  And this incredible story about a family that was cut off from civilization for 40 years and how they survived and adapted.

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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