Be Content With Silence

“When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”
― Ansel Adams

Silence Antoine-Augustin Préault Dallas Museum of Art

Silence
Antoine-Augustin Préault
Dallas Museum of Art

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

(label text)

Antoine-Augustin Préault
French, 1809-1879

Silence
c. 1842
Patinated plaster
Anonymous gift and General Acquisition Fund, 2014.10

French sculptor Antoine-Augustin Préault created eerie contrasts of shadow and light in this composition featuring merely a face and a hand. Linear drapery enshrouds the androgynous figure’s face, drawing attention to its gaunt features, half-closed eyes, and skeletal hand. A finger lifted to the lips is a gesture commonly found in ancient funerary sculptures that glorified the dead. Portraiture or reliefs bearing images of the deceased performing this gesture were intended to conjure pleasant memories, but Silence, with its brutal evocation of frailty and death, breaks from the well-established canon.

Préault designed Silence for Jacob Roblès’ tomb at Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, which is the city’s largest and most famous burial ground. The medallion’s compositional elements combine to convey a somber nature perfect for the purpose of a tomb. Its superb round, dark hardwood frame with a deep ogee, or S-shaped molding, enhances the sculpture’s dimensionality and melancholy theme.

“Does not everything depend on our interpretation of the silence around us?”
― Lawrence Durrell, Justine

When the Pretty Women Walk Over My Grave

“It’s not what I’d want for at my funeral. When I die, I just want them to plant me somewhere warm. And then when the pretty women walk over my grave I would grab their ankles, like in that movie.”
― Neil Gaiman, American Gods

Funerary Figure (tau-tau) Dallas Museum of Art Dallas, Texas

Funerary Figure (tau-tau)
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas, Texas

(label text)
Funerary figure (tau-tau)
Indonesia: South Sluawesi, Sa’dan Toraja People
19th century or earlier
Wood
The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc. 1980.2 McD

The Toraja carve tau-tau, smaller than life-size funerary figures, to commemorate the deceased when a high-ranking funeral is held. Only members of the highest-ranking aristocracy are permitted to have permanent tau-tau. This unusually small funerary figure appears to be archaic in style and probably predates even the oldest effigies seen beside Toraja tombs today.

The bun or hair knot at the back of the head of this tau-tau indicates that it represents a female. Her mouth is open and may remind one of The Scream, a modern painting by Edvard Munch. The expression is not precisely understood, but it may have been meant to capture bearing of an authoritative aristocratic woman accustomed during her lifetime to public speaking and giving orders, as this tau-tau appears to be doing

Cortex of the Brain as a Mosaic of Tiny on/off Elements

“Like his master I. P. Pavlov before him, he imagines the cortex of the brain as a mosaic of tiny on/off elements. Some are always in bright excitation, others darkly inhibited. The contours, bright and dark, keep changing. But each point is allowed only the two states: waking or sleep. One or zero.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Irving Arts Center, Irving, Texas

Mosaic, Irving Arts Center, Irving, Texas

Mosaic, Irving Arts Center, Irving, Texas

In college, I took Art History – mostly in a hopeless, vain attempt to meet women. I really fell into it, though. I think I learned more useful knowledge in that course than in any other. The problem is, I came to the class, in a dark, quiet dungeon under a Fake Romanesque stone building – the darkness only pierced by the beam of the slide projector, the silence only broken by the instructor’s drone – after four hours of advanced organic chemistry laboratory. Sometimes I would forget to remove my goggles and would frighten the other students.

The difficulty was making that left-right brain switch during a quick hike across campus. I remember looking at some Byzantine Mosaics from Ravenna and trying to understand and appreciate the art… but all I could think was, “I wonder what dyes they used to get that blue?”

Mosaic, Irving Arts Center, Irving, Texas

Mosaic, Irving Arts Center, Irving, Texas

The mural at the Irving Arts Center pays tribute to some of the best-known icons of the city. You can see the TRE Train, The Las Colinas Mustangs, and the long-imploded Texas Stadium (now replaced with Jerry’s Death Star).

“She may know a little, may think of herself, face and body, as ‘pretty’…but he could never tell her all the rest, how many other living things, birds, nights smelling of grass and rain, sunlit moments of simple peace, also gather in what she is to him.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Birds, Eyeballs, and the Second Mouse

“The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.”
― Willie Nelson

Mural, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Mural, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

It is late in the day – later than I thought – too late… though I have no idea what it is too late for. I am on my bicycle and worn out – long since dropped down into my emergency gear so I can get home alive. Everyone else has given up and I should be waiting on my train, but I am anxious and can’t help finding some murals and taking some pictures.

Close to our bows, strange forms in the water darted hither and thither before us; while thick in our rear flew the inscrutable sea-ravens. And every morning, perched on our stays, rows of these birds were seen; and spite of our hootings, for a long time obstinately clung to the hemp, as though they deemed our ship some drifting, uninhabited craft; a thing appointed to desolation, and therefore fit roosting-place for their homeless selves. And heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience; and the great mundane soul were in anguish and remorse for the long sin and suffering it had bred.
—-Moby Dick

Detal, Mural, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

Detal, Mural, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Texas

The reality is in this head. Mine. I’m the projector at the planetarium, all the closed little universe visible in the circle of that stage is coming out of my mouth, eyes, and sometimes other orifices also.
–Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49

Valuable Things Are Never Easy To Understand

“I am the twentieth century. I am the ragtime and the tango; sans-serif, clean geometry. I am the virgin’s-hair whip and the cunningly detailed shackles of decadent passion. I am every lonely railway station in every capital of Europe. I am the Street, the fanciless buildings of government. the cafe-dansant, the clockwork figure, the jazz saxophone, the tourist-lady’s hairpiece, the fairy’s rubber breasts, the travelling clock which always tells the wrong time and chimes in different keys. I am the dead palm tree, the Negro’s dancing pumps, the dried fountain after tourist season. I am all the appurtenances of night.”
― Thomas Pynchon, V.

I was waiting with my bicycle at the Galatyn Park DART train station for some friends to arrive when I noticed patterns, codes obviously, cut into the steel of the railing by the station artist, Jim Cinquemani.

Galatyn Park DART Station, Richardson, Texas

Galatyn Park DART Station, Richardson, Texas

The first one was easy. That’s Morse Code. I don’t know it by heart, but I know how it works. It spells out the name of the place, Galatyn Park.

Galatyn Station, DART, Richardson Texas

Galatyn Station, DART, Richardson Texas

So I confidently dove in to the puzzle of the second missive. It’s obviously some sort of Teletype Code. Since I already knew what it probably said, I thought it would be easy. A seven bit code (ASCII is usually seven bits) – but what is that one bit that is always on? And the message is twenty-six characters long… There are so many different codes, with strange encoding patterns and a lot of mysterious control codes.

I’m old enough to have worked with paper tape – back when kilobytes of information were all we had to work with. This looks like computer paper tape – but it might be an even older technology.

I never was able to figure it out. I’ll work on it awhile – and then maybe email the sculptor and see if he will tell me.

Finally, the last two codes:

Fence at Galatyn Park Sation.

Fence at Galatyn Park Sation.

Galatyn Park DART Station - with car passing behind.

Galatyn Park DART Station – with car passing behind.

These are obviously analog output. Maybe voice recordings? No way to decode – but they do look cool.

“It’s been a prevalent notion. Fallen sparks. Fragments of vessels broken at the Creation. And someday, somehow, before the end, a gathering back to home. A messenger from the Kingdom, arriving at the last moment. But I tell you there is no such message, no such home — only the millions of last moments . . . nothing more. Our history is an aggregate of last moments.”
― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

A Book Where Men May Read Strange Matters

“In their faces–plenty of them were handsome, but ruined–I’ve seen the remnants of who they almost succeeded in being but failed to be, before becoming themselves.”
― Richard Ford, Canada

Deep Ellum Art Park
Dallas, Texas

stencils