Monday, February 28, 2011

Black as Night 

Fire Down on the Labrador - D. Blackwood, 1980 image via Mayberry Fine Art

It's a funny old thing. I went to the AGO recently not to see their "blockbuster" Maharaja show but to see a comprehensive selection of David Blackwood prints. I don't think I've seen so many Blackwood prints in one place at one time. The effect was decidedly devastating. Blackwood's Newfoundland is a place of near permanent tragedy, frozen in winter and darkness. I get it. Those are the stories he's drawn to and wishes to tell and thus preserve. But shit, it's depressing. In fact, at one point I had to sit down and was overwhelmed with sadness, a very pointed and jarring sadness. Not remembering Blackwood was from Wesleyville, I didn't realize how much of his subject matter was set there. We have plenty of family from that Northern point of Bonavista Bay — though I'd be hard pressed to name any of them. I think just knowing that these depictions were so close to where my father grew up affected me in an unanticipated way. I had to fight back tears and I don't know why. The power of art or something.
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thinking of You... 

St.John's Harbour 2011, February 26, 17:42

I have a widget on my computer which includes a CBC Web cam that overlooks St. John's harbour and I happened to see it just at around 5:30 PM, St. John's local time. It's a terribly fuzzy image but I still saw the lady I knew as my home town, even though I've never actually lived there. I saw the gray, late afternoon sky filtered through heavy, still clouds while the street and porch lights were just starting to come on. There is something about those big iron cold clouds above barren trees and brightly painted row houses stuck on St. John's hills that calls to me. It's not something that beckons me like some asinine faux folk song sang like melted cheese spewing from a sentiment dipped singer. Still, it gets my attention. As if I had been flipping through a neglected paperback and an old photo fell out. At first you'd pick it up in a huff then you'd notice it, examine it more carefully, turn it over in hopes of finding a hand written note or even a date. You recognize the image and it churns up a snap of synaptic charges going off in your head like static sparks after removing a sweater too quickly. It's like that. All I'm saying is, "I miss you. Take care."


Friday, February 18, 2011

P021711PS-0705, originally uploaded by The White House.

For some reason, this photo of Obama dining with Technology Business Leaders seems strangely reminiscent of the Simpsons' Stone Cutter episode.

Or maybe it's just me. It's probably just me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dear Watson 

By now you know that IBM's Watson kicked ass on Jeopardy. It's interesting to hear how people were either rooting for or against the computer. What I found more interesting was how the other contestants, and the host Alex Trebek, seemed to react to "Watson". Of course, what they were reacting to was not the box housing the equipment, wires and logic boards but a monitor displaying an active graphic relating Watson's "thoughts". From the display you could see the computer "thinking" and it's "confidence". In reality, it's displaying an algorithm that shows the computer working on the problem and relating the projected probability of correctness. What's brilliant about this Joshua Davis creation is that it in no way looks like a face (spheroidal, sure, but not a face). I think if people did relate to the machine, it was simply because it had an expression and that's what made the connection.

Contrast Watson to IBM's Big Blue — who in their right mind wanted a faceless, Fascistic monolith to defeat a person, or even any weird Robert Zemeckis digital zombie and it's immediately obvious just how Watson's "face" is so engaging. Watson is so much more personable than HAL, even if it does share the same snarky tone and dark threat to defeat all human counterparts.

via the FastCo Design Blog

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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nadège Patisserie 

Macaroons. Beautifully made in beautiful colours, and sold in beautiful packages.

It was a wet, dirty February day in Toronto. One of those days when the city looks its worst. Dirty, grungy snow thawing to reveal lost water soaked mittens or tuques, broken bags of dog crap and the general refuse of the street that had been trapped under layers of ice. Whenever there's a thaw, it's always like that. One wonders how crappy the Earth looked after the Ice Age had thawed. It's surprising you don't see the remains of wooly mammoths when the winter snow recedes. It's on a day like that when a city like this need a place as bright, airy and spring like as Nadège. I've said before that Toronto doesn't deserve a patisserie like Nadège, but it definitely needs it.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Year of the Rabbit 

It's a week too late to wish anyone luck for the Chinese New Year, but when I saw this great bit of animation celebrating the year of rabbit, I had to share it.

Year of the Rabbit from Frater on Vimeo. via The Fox is Black

I'll tell you a little secret, when I see a film that I really like, it's almost too much to bear because seeing it is so inspirational, I want to stop and immediately go make my own movie. That's the way I felt when I saw Snatch, Fanny and Alexander 1 and it's the way this short made me feel.

FN1 True story: when I watched Fanny and Alexander, I had to stop the movie because it was just too beautiful. Then, I immediately went upstairs and created an animated Christmas card.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Seen in January

Still from Limits of Control via Chris and Phil Present

Thirteen movies and one television show over 31 days from six countries seen from one couch.
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