- Robert Casati & Patrick Cavanagh, writing for The MIT Press Reader, explain what painters have gotten wrong about shadows for centuries:
In many cases, the rules of physics that apply in a real scene appear to be optional in a painting; they can be obeyed or ignored at the discretion of the artist to enhance the painting’s intended effect. Some strong deviations, such as Picasso’s skewed faces or the wildly colored shadows in the works of the Fauvist school, are meant to be noticed as ingredients of the style and message of the painting — they serve communication purposes. On top of that, an alternative physics operates in many paintings, one that few of us ever notice but is just as improbable. These transgressions of standard physics — impossible shadows, impossible colors, impossible reflections or contours — often pass unnoticed by the viewer and do not interfere with the viewer’s understanding of the scene. Because we do not notice them, transgressions of physics reveal that our visual brain uses a simpler, reduced physics to understand the world. Artists can endorse this alternative physics precisely because these particular deviations from true physics do not matter to the viewer: The artist can take shortcuts, presenting cues more economically and arranging surfaces and lights to suit the message of the piece rather than the requirements of the physical world. In discovering these shortcuts or strategies of image compression, artists act as research neuroscientists or as visual hackers, and we can learn a great deal from tracing their discoveries. The goal is not to expose the “slipups” of the masters but to understand the human brain. Art in this sense is a type of found science — science we can do simply by looking.
- There have been at least 140 mass shootings in the US in the past four decades — and most of the killers got their guns legally. Mark Follman, Gavin Aronsen, and Deanna Pan report for Mother Jones:
More than half of the cases involved school or workplace shootings (12 and 20, respectively); the other 30 cases took place in locations including shopping malls, restaurants, and religious and government buildings. Forty-four of the killers were white males. Only one was a woman. (See Goleta, Calif., in 2006.) The average age of the killers was 35, though the youngest among them was a mere 11 years old. (See Jonesboro, Ark., in 1998.) A majority were mentally troubled—and many displayed signs of mental health problems before setting out to kill. Explore the above map and database for further details—we do not consider it to be all-inclusive, but based on the criteria we used, we believe that we have produced the most comprehensive rundown available on this particular type of violence. (Mass shootings represent a small fraction of America’s overall gun violence.)
- Writing for New York Times Magazine, Sam Anderson wrote about “A Visit to Ghibli Park, A Miyazaki Theme Park”:
My first impression was not awe or majesty or surrender or consumerist bliss. It was confusion. For a surprisingly long time after I arrived, I could not tell whether or not I had arrived. There was no security checkpoint, no ticket booths, no ambient Ghibli soundtrack, no mountainous Cat Bus statue. Instead, I found myself stepping out of a very ordinary train station into what seemed to be a large municipal park. A sea of pavement. Sports fields. Vending machines. It looked like the kind of place you might go on a lazy weekend to see a pretty good softball tournament.
There were some buildings around, but it was hard to tell which of them might or might not be Ghibli-related. In the distance, the arc of a Ferris wheel broke the horizon — but this, I would discover, had nothing to do with Ghibli Park. I wandered into and out of a convenience store. I saw some children wearing Totoro hats and started to follow them. It felt like some kind of bizarre treasure hunt — a theme park where the theme was searching for the theme park. Which was, in a way, perfectly Studio Ghibli: no pleasure without a little challenge. And so I headed down the hill, trying to find my way in.
- Audiobook narrators are raising concerns that Apple used their voices to train AI. Shubham Agarwal of Wired reports:
Some authors and narrators say they were not clearly informed about the clause and feared it may have allowed their work or voices to contribute to Apple’s development of synthetic voices for audiobooks. Apple launched its first books narrated by algorithms last month. “It was very disheartening,” says Furlong, who has narrated over 300 audiobooks and is one of more than a dozen narrators and authors who told WIRED of their concerns with Findaway’s agreement. “It feels like a violation to have our voices being used to train something for which the purpose is to take our place,” says Andy Garcia-Ruse, a narrator from Kansas City.
The dispute led to a reversal this week from Apple and Findaway, according to labor union SAG-AFTRA, which represents recording artists as well as actors and other creatives. An email to members seen by WIRED said that the two companies had agreed to immediately stop all “use of files for machine learning purposes” for union members affected and that the halt covers “all files dating back to the beginning of this practice.”
- The Intercept’s Trevor Aaronson tells the story of how the FBI paid a violent felon to infiltrate Denver’s racial justice movement:
FBI payment receipt records signed by Windecker show that he was paid more than $20,000 for his work during the summer of 2020, when the FBI aggressively pursued racial justice and left-wing activists based on nothing more than First Amendment-protected activities. The story of the bureau’s infiltration of racial justice activist groups is particularly relevant now, as House Republicans launch a new committee chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, that seems exclusively focused on the FBI’s alleged targeting of right-wing groups.
The FBI’s work in Denver, with Windecker as its eyes and ears on the street, demonstrates the falsity of that narrative.
While on the FBI payroll, Windecker became an organizer of Denver’s racial justice demonstrations and ultimately undermined the social movement gaining momentum there by deploying the same controversial tactics the FBI used to devastating effect against Black political groups during the civil rights movement.
Until now, little has been revealed about the FBI’s actions in the summer of 2020. The Denver undercover probe involving Windecker provides the first look behind the scenes at how the FBI viewed and investigated racial justice groups during that turbulent summer.
- The story of Thomas Commeraw, a Black 19th-century American potter who historians long assumed was White. In the Guardian, Veronica Esposito reports:
Crafting Freedom documents the fateful efforts by Commeraw and others to establish a liberated colony in Sierra Leone. “With the increasing numbers of freed Black people”, said Hofer, “there was increasing discrimination, and the Black community began wondering if it was better to stay in the US or to go elsewhere.”
In hopes of a better life outside of the US, Commeraw, his wife, his three children and members of their extended family made the arduous journey to Sierra Leone on the first voyage of the American Colonization Society, but their efforts met with disaster. Malaria decimated the ranks of settlers, including Commeraw’s wife and a niece, and infighting and disorganization doomed the expedition. “Commeraw came back in 1822 and died the following year,” said Hofer. “He never resumed the trade of a potter and pretty much died a broken man. It’s a very dramatic and tragic end to his life.” Hofer added that Crafting Freedom exhibits two very poignant letters from Commeraw’s journey – one, from early on, painting a very optimistic picture, and a second from later describing the chaos and terrible reality of that voyage.
One of the morals of Crafting Freedom is that history continues to speak to us through the years, no matter how forgotten or seemingly insignificant it may be. Hofer shared that in order to help celebrate the opening of her exhibit, she made efforts to invite any living relatives of Commeraw. “I was determined to see how far I could get in his family tree to find living descendants. I did end up connecting with one such person, a great-great-great-grandson who lives in Florida.”
- Constance Grady writes for Vox about Patrick Bringley’s new memoir that talks about his experience of being a guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and what it taught him about beauty and grief:
Spending time in the Met, Bringley says, makes him realize how many different branches of knowledge there are and that it would take a lifetime to learn even one of them fully. “It imbues you with incredible humility when you realize that none of us can be an expert on almost anything. We only have one life to live, and we follow one little path. But at the same time, you can still borrow from it. You can get a taste of it.”
A Mongolian visitor, Bringley says, once approached him to ask for help as he walked through the museum. With limited English, the visitor had trouble making himself clear, but he gradually put across the idea that he wanted to know what exactly he should visit in order to “piece it all together.”
“It became clear to me in that moment that this guy had his one visit here,” Bringley says, “and his ambition was not to say, ‘Hey, I saw some cool things at the Met.’ He wanted to walk away with his theory of the world.”
- AI porn sounds like a thorny issue because of privacy, and Tatum Hunter explains why it might be a nightmare for women:
Until recently, making realistic AI porn took computer expertise. Now, thanks in part to new, easy-to-use AI tools, anyone with access to images of a victim’s face can create realistic-looking explicit content with an AI-generated body. Incidents of harassment and extortion are likely to rise, abuse experts say, as bad actors use AI models to humiliate targets ranging from celebrities to ex-girlfriends — even children.
Women have few ways to protect themselves, they say, and victims have little recourse.
As of 2019, 96 percent of deepfakes on the internet were pornography, according to an analysis by AI firm DeepTrace Technologies, and virtually all pornographic deepfakes depicted women. The presence of deepfakes has ballooned since then, while the response from law enforcement and educators lags behind, said law professor and online abuse expert Danielle Citron. Only three U.S. states have laws addressing deepfake porn.
- Sophia Stewart for Publishers Weekly about the decision to shutter Catapult’s online magazine and writing classes. The moral of the story is having a billionaire parent can’t even save your literary magazine:
Catapult was founded in 2015 by Elizabeth Koch, daughter of Charles Koch, the co-owner, chairman, and CEO of Koch Industries. In 2016, Catapult and its Black Balloon imprint merged with Counterpoint Press and Soft Skull Press.
- PBS Newshour is looking into the scrutiny social media companies are getting because parents, schools, and governments want them to take some responsibility for their part in the mental health crisis facing youth in the US and elsewhere:
- Every US-led coup in the last century mapped by Jeremy Harris:
- Oh, yes she does:
Required Reading is published every Thursday afternoon, 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.
MTV’s The Exhibit Is Back With an Inflatable Dolphin
Episode four, in which artists tackled themes of justice and injustice, was the most lifeless of the reality TV show so far.
Florida Principal Ousted Over “Pornographic” Michelangelo Sculpture
Parents complained that the famous sculpture was shown to their sixth graders.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Tickets to Sold-Out Vermeer Show Are Going for Hundreds
The online resale market for the Rijksmuseum’s smash exhibition is booming, with tickets selling on eBay for over $2K.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Miniature Worlds: Joseph Cornell, Ray Johnson, Yayoi Kusama
Through small-scale works, this exhibition at the Katonah Museum of Art in New York examines Cornell’s prominent role in the lives and careers of Johnson and Kusama.
Three Looted Antiquities at the Met Repatriated to Turkey
Nine other repatriated works were seized from Met Trustee Shelby White, whose collection was subject to a criminal investigation.
This week, the world’s lightest paint, Pakistan’s feminist movement, World Puppy Day, and were some of Vermeer’s paintings created by his daughter?
The Wider World and Scrimshaw
On March 28, join the New Bedford Whaling Museum online and in-person for a symposium on global carving traditions from across the Pacific Rim.
Who Will Decide on the Future of a Miami Native Burial Ground?
Native activists say sacred remains and objects dug up from a Brickell construction site should remain there, but mega-developer Jorge Pérez is pushing back.
How Can a Curator Approach South Asian Futurisms?
How do I acknowledge my shortcomings while reckoning with obscured histories and the exclusion of subaltern narratives in the fine art landscape? A working checklist for curators.
MCA Chicago Presents On Stage: Frictions
Will Rawls, Shamel Pitts | TRIBE, and Barak adé Soleil explore Blackness, queerness, movement, and dance in performances at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago.
The Complicated Legacy of Camilo Egas
The Ecuadorian painter, a leading figure of Latin America’s Indigenismo art movement, has been both praised and scorned for his representation of Indigenous peoples.
Tom Jones Zeroes in on Ho-Chunk Visibility
“I think about the young kids, the teenagers, and I think being able to see yourself represented in art is so powerful,” says the artist.