ReactorWeekend

Required Reading

by Hrag Vartanian on May 5, 2013

Famous artists (including Henri Matisse, left, and Georgia O'Keeffe, right) and their cats. (via Laughing Squid)

Famous artists (including Henri Matisse, left, and Georgia O’Keeffe, right) with their cats. (via Laughing Squid)

This week, a history of emoticons, Barocci in London, LA’s architecture mess, the birth of the Garbage Pail Kids, William Eggleston and baseball, how China censors social media, and more.

 The second in a three-part series on the history of emoticons/emoji is on Rhizome this week. The author, Tom McCormack, draws some connections to Apollinaire (not sure what to think of this) and makes some over the top statements, like “Just as the fresco thrived in the chapels and mansions of Early Modern Europe, the golden age of ASCII art took place on Usenet in the 1980s.” Umm…ok. Regardless, you should read this.

 Charles Hope reviews Barocci: Brilliance and Grace at the National Gallery in London, and he focuses on the late 16th/early 17th C. artist’s use of drawing:

Barocci grew up in an artistic environment in which drawing was regarded as the most important and challenging aspect of the painter’s activity, an indispensable tool for proving on nature, which was the final goal. But his contemporaries tended to use drawings for developing the general composition and studying individual figures, whereas for Barocci the actual process of producing the finished painting was largely mechanical. It is unclear whether this had something to do with his physical weakness, or was simply a personal choice. But the result is that in his pictures every element seems to be calculated with obsessive care: the extreme artifice of the result is part of the appeal, and helps to explain the pictures’ fame and their influence on artists of the following century.

 What the hell is happening at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Artagain? Well, a Getty-funded architecture show that was supposed to be one of the centerpieces of the Pacific Standard Time series is now in jeopardy since starchitect Frank Gehry has pulled out. Gehry told the LA Times: “I didn’t feel comfortable in it … It didn’t seem to be a scholarly, well-organized show.” Ouch.

 Famed graphic novelist Art Spiegelman tells the story of how Topps’ gross, awesome parody stickers, the Garbage Pail Kids, were born.

 “How William Eggleston Would Photograph a Baseball Game” by Adam Sobsey for The Paris Review

 A writer on The Verge leaves the internet for a year and then returns. He blogs about the year and what it meant for him, his relationships, and his life. Paul Miller writes:

And now I’m supposed to tell you how it solved all my problems. I’m supposed to be enlightened. I’m supposed to be more “real,” now. More perfect.

I’m going to admit that I was expecting more from this, but it was still a decent read.

 In this month’s The Believer, Zadie Smith interviews fellow English novelist Ian McEwan. And there are a few doozies:

Ian McEwan: I’ve always thought cruelty is a failure of imagination. And I know that I include within that the possibility that some people do empathize with their victims very much, in fact, that’s the reason they harm them — they get some erotic charge out of harming what they love. But that’s a special case. That’s still about pleasuring the self and not heeding to the true terror of the child that’s being tortured or whatever it might be.

At least since the early ’80s, it’s began to fill out for me as an idea in fiction, that there’s something very entwined about imagination and morals. That one of the great values of fiction was exactly this process of being able to enter other people’s minds. Which is why I think cinema is a very inferior, unsophisticated medium.

 A fascinating story about how the Merce Cunningham Dance Company decided to call it quits … with a plan:

Earlier this month the Merce Cunningham Trust released a case study detailing the extensive Legacy Plan crafted by the Cunningham Dance Foundation. The 88-page report provides details on the planning and processes behind the controversial arrangement that resulted in the establishment of the Cunningham Trust in 2000 to oversee Cunningham’s works; the dismantling of the Cunningham Dance Company after its final performance on New Year’s Eve in 2011, and six months later the shutdown of the umbrella organization, the Cunningham Dance Foundation on June 30, 2012; as well as the 2012 closing of the Merce Cunningham Studio in New York City.

 The history of Hungarian video art  (1972–2000) by Miklós Peternák via @nutblack1

 The Metropolitan Museum of Art is returning two 10th-century Cambodian (Koh Ker) stone statues donated to the institution in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They announced: “The Met recently came into possession of new documentary research that was not available to the Museum when the objects were acquired.”

 Technology Review reports on some interesting details about how China censors social media and what that can mean for the future of online censorship. For instance:

Other research shows that censorship can be driven by more than just the content of a post. A study published by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University last year analyzed 56 million messages from Sina Weibo. That study revealed that the location a person posts from can affect the chances of that post being censored. Approximately half of all posts from Tibet and the neighboring region of Qinghai that used known sensitive words were deleted, while just over 12 percent of posts from Beijing and Shanghai using terms from the list were censored.

 TechDirt suggests the “Instagram Act” in the UK isn’t as bad as many people think it is:

Ironically, then, it may well be that Google, so often the object of hatred for photographers that see it as feeding parasitically off their work by providing easy access to their online images, will also offer them with the easiest way to avoid the problems with orphan works.

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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