4/22/2014

Proof that artists actually are different creatures from everyone else on the planet


We might now have neurological proof that artists actually are different creatures from everyone else on the planet. According to a study published in Neurolmage, researchers believe that artists have brains that are structurally different from non-artists. It appears that there's now justifiable support for the idiom "she's just wired differently, idk."

The study, titled "Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain: A Voxel-Based Morphometry Analysis Of Observational Drawing," included 44 graduate and post-grad art students and non-art students who were asked to complete various drawing tasks. The completed tasks were measured and scored, and that data was compared to "regional grey and white matter volume in the cortical and subcortical structures" of the brain using a scanning method called voxel-based morphometry. An increase in grey matter density on the left anterior cerebellum and the right medial frontal gyrus were observed in relation to drawing skills.

The scans depicted that the artist group had more grey matter in the area of the brain called the precuneus in the parietal lobe. That region is involved with many skills, but could possibly be linked to controlling your mind's eye for visual creativity.

Lead author Rebecca Chamberlain from KU Leuven, Belgium noted, "The people who are better at drawing really seem to have more developed structures in regions of the brain that control for fine motor performance and what we call procedural memory."

Studying the brain's make-up in experts versus non-experts has been a practice in music ability, complex motor skills, and more, but accodiing to the research paper, "No studies have assessed the structural differences associated with representational skills in visual arts."

So if your anachronistically traditional parents ask why you're always drawing inside on nice days, you have science to back up your answer...more at The Creators Project 

Comic Sans has a Neue look. Who will dare to try it out?


Love it or hate it, the Comic Sans typeface makes amateur typographers of us all. Now a new version has appeared, promising to lend credibility to the comic line of typefaces.

Comic Neue, designed by Craig Rozynski, is like Comic Sans but has been designed with some key differences that are supposed to make it less unsightly. Rozynski says on his website that the typeface "aspires to be the casual script choice for everyone including the typographically savvy". Do we really need another comic script though? Was Comic Sans really that bad in the first place?

If you have been near a computer in the past 20 years, you have likely encountered Comic Sans, the "fun" typeface with rounded edges that appears to be written with a felt-tipped pen. If you are an amateur designer, it's the go-to typeface for just about any occasion that requires a relaxed approach. If you are an experienced designer, it's the last typeface you'd ever use, unless you want to be ridiculed without mercy.

Comic Sans, now approaching its 20th anniversary, was originally designed by Vincent Connare for Microsoft Bob, Microsoft's 1995 interface for various iterations of Windows. Microsoft Bob came with a dog that would interact with the user. In the initial version of Bob, the dog offered assistance in speech bubbles using Times New Roman. Connare decided that comic dogs probably wouldn't "speak" that way, and went to work designing something more interesting. He used the hand-drawn characters found in popular comic books like The Dark Knight Returns and the Watchmen series as inspiration for what would later become Comic Sans.

Since then, the typeface has been used for everything from physics presentations to papal documents and its popularity is only matched by the disdain some people have for it. People feel so strongly about Comic Sans that there is even a website devoted to banning it entirely. It is this ridicule that prompted Craig Rozynski to redesign the typeface into the new Comic Neue....more at The Guardian 

Goodbye universe - hello multiverse


What is the universe made of? The ancient Greeks conceived of the “atom”, the indivisible unit of matter. Today’s physicists talk of smaller particles – quarks and electrons, neutrinos, Higgs Bosons and photons. Understand them – and the forces that hold everything together – and we may finally get a handle on what makes it all tick.

The trouble is, the more we drill down into the subatomic world, the more complexity we find. The bedrock of reality seems as elusive as ever. Perhaps, says a leading theoretical physicist, we do not live in a world of particles and forces at all – but of pure mathematics.

Max Tegmark, professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, claims that at the heart of everything are numbers. On one level this is uncontroversial; the whole point of physics is that we can use mathematics to describe the world around us.

But Tegmark goes further. His Mathematical Universe Hypothesis (MUH) states that not only does maths describe the world we live in, it is the world we live in. “If you grant that both space and everything in space is mathematical,” he says, “then it begins to sound less insane that everything is mathematical.”

Tegmark, a tall, affable Swede and as far removed from the popular image of the geek as you can imagine, is one of the rock gods of cosmology, a select group of thinkers who are using their mathematical prowess to tear up all our cherished notions about the universe, and replace it with a cosmos that is so bewilderingly weird that it makes the plot of most science-fiction novels look like an Ikea instruction leaflet...more at The Telegraph 

The artist who lays eggs with her vagina – or why performance art is so silly


Milo Moiré gives birth to her PlopEgg paintings naked. It's a long way from the groundbreaking power of performance art pioneers ... and gives those who satirise the art world yet another target

Performance art is a joke. Taken terribly seriously by the art world, it is a litmus test of pretension and intellectual dishonesty. If you are wowed by it, you are either susceptible to pseudo-intellectual guff, or lying.

Is that overstating the case? Probably. There have been some powerful works of performance art – but most of them took place a long time ago, in the early 1970s, when the likes of Marina Abramovic and Chris Burdenwere risking all. Or perhaps the golden age of performance art was even longer ago, in the days of the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich in 1916. Back then, Dada performance was a real menace to society, when Hugo Ball stood in a wizard costume declaiming words that made as little sense as the world war then raging.

Today, most art that claims to part of this modern tradition of performance is an embarrassing revelation of the art world's distance from real aesthetic values or real human life. Take, for instance, the latest nude egg layer from Germany.

Performance artist Milo Moiré creates abstract paintings by pushing eggs filled with paint and ink out of her vaginal canal. She does this while standing naked in front of an audience. The nudity, apparently, is artistically essential. As for the act of pushing paint-filled eggs out of her body, it is – as no doubt you perceive – a powerful feminist statement about women, fertility and creativity.

And yet it's not a strong statement at all. It is absurd, gratuitous, trite and desperate. Anywhere but an art gathering, this would be regarded as a satire on modern cultural emptiness.

And this is the thing about performance art – it has quite rightly become the stuff of satire. When the film director Paolo Sorrentino wants to capture the brittleness of contemporary European culture in his film The Great Beauty, what does he show? Performance art, naturally. A group of arty folk watch as a woman runs towards a stone aqueduct and bashes her head against it. Afterwards she struggles to explain herself in an embarrassing interview...more at The Guardian 

MUSIC: Ásgeir - Here It Comes

MUSIC: Bon Iver - Holocene (Satchmode Remix)

MUSIC: Taylor McFerrin - The Antidote (Feat. Nai Palm)

4/21/2014

Shakespeare's Dictionary Uncovered?


Just in time for the celebration of William Shakespeare's 450th birthday, two New York booksellers have announced their belief that they've found Shakespeare's dictionary.
The book in question, John Baret's An Alvearie or Quadruple Dictionarie, published in 1580, was purchased by booksellers Daniel Wechsler and George Koppelman on eBay six years ago. The pair paid just over $4000 for the book that, if verified as Shakespeare's, would prove nearly priceless.

In the six years since the purchase was made, Wechsler and Koppelman researched the book in an attempt to build a case that the book did, in fact, come from the Bard's bookshelf. It is unsigned, however, several pieces of evidence would lead one to believe that it very well may have been a source of inspiration for Shakespeare. Thousands of handwritten annotations throughout point to some of Shakespeare's well-known works, including Hamlet, and there are eight spots throughout where the book's owner practiced writing the letters "W" and "S". The bookselling pair made attempts to bring in the academic community, and though many scholars were helpful, few were willing to risk their reputations on a concrete statement regarding the book's authenticity.

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. will release an official statement. In the meantime, Wechsler and Koppelman have compiled their research into a book that explains their case, Shakespeare's Beehive. Curious readers can also view a great deal of the information here. Via Lit Reactor