“Why is geometry often described as “”cold” and “”dry?” One reason lies in its inability to describe the shape of a cloud, a mountain, a coastline, or a tree. Clouds are not spheres, mountains are not cones, coastlines are not circles, and bark is not smooth, nor does lightning travel in a straight line.”
― Benoît B. Mandelbrot, The Fractal Geometry of Nature
Tag Archives: public art
The Only Truth Is Creation
There is neither painting, nor sculpture, nor music, nor poetry. The only truth is creation.
I like sculpture. Though I am not picky – I especially like a certain flavor of sculpture. I don’t know what it is called, but I know it when I see it – modern, yet semi-representational, it has to have a certain strength and a feeling of movement.
One example is The Drummer in The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, New Orleans Museum of Art.
Another is, arguably my favorite sculpture, Large Horse, by Duchamp-Villion.
So, that is not the only thing I like, but it is something that I always like.
One day, a while back, I was on a bike ride from downtown through Uptown, Dallas. I was with a fairly large group, riding downhill, riding fast, when out of the corner of my eye I caught an unexpected glimpse of a sculpture. A sculpture I liked. In a flash, it was gone. I didn’t even remember the street I was on – only the general part of town I was in. It took a long session of exploring with Google Maps until I found the sculpture at the corner of Blackburn and Cole.
Today I had to drive Nick down into Uptown to pick up his car and on the way out I stopped and took a couple of photographs. Then I had a web search to find the sculpture – it’s a famous one, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space by Umberto Boccioni. It’s a Futurist sculpture – with a well-known version in The Museum of Art, New York.
From the museum website:
Unique Forms of Continuity in Space
1913 (cast 1931)
Boccioni, who sought to infuse art with dynamism and energy, exclaimed, “Let us fling open the figure and let it incorporate within itself whatever may surround it.” Breaking with the tradition of self-contained sculpture, Boccioni opens up the silhouette of this marching figure, who forges ahead as if carved by forces such as wind and speed. While born of Futurist aspirations, it also remains evocative of an ancient statue: the wind-swept, striding Victory of Samothrace in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
I have no idea how this cast (or reproduction) came to be placed in front of a high-end apartment complex in Uptown, Dallas. It’s cool, though I seem to be the only person aware of it.
Giants Are Not What We Think
“Giants are not what we think they are. The same qualities that appear to give them strength are often the sources of great weakness.”
― Malcolm Gladwell, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants
Sculpture of David, in front of the First Bank & Trust Tower on Poydras street, downtown New Orleans – Enrique Alferez
Fade Surprisingly Quickly
“Memories, even your most precious ones, fade surprisingly quickly. But I don’t go along with that. The memories I value most, I don’t ever see them fading.”
― Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go
I have always loved the Art Deco Murals along the Esplanade in Fair Park. I think they are among the many unappreciated public artworks in the city. The ones along the southern side have been beautifully restored.
However, the murals on the North Side – exposed to the southern sun – are very faded and in need of loving care (and very hard to photograph). I hope they get some, they are just as gorgeous as the others.
Why Are You Wearing That Stupid Man Suit?
Donnie: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Frank: Why are you wearing that stupid man suit?
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
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?”
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
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.
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.
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:
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
Steel Horses sculpture by Peter Busby. Plano Parkway and Windhaven. Austin Ranch, Plano, Texas.