Search Results For: turing

Capturing Chaos

Mar 6 2014 @ 10:03am

Screen shot 2014-02-19 at 11.47.27 AM

Photographer Marcel Christ combines his backgrounds in chemistry and photography to create startling images:

Through experimentation with countless liquids, the artist finds ways to give life to otherwise inanimate objects. In this ongoing series, Powder, Christ captures the expressive movement of colorful powders that pop out against a solid black background in unpredictable formations that result in an organized chaos.

From an interview with the artist:

I love to show things you can’t see with the naked eye, combined with all different subjects and textures. That includes bursts of powder and explosions. The aesthetics of destruction are very beautiful. That specific moment you see in these images lasts barely 1/10 000 of a second. A few moments later, the studio is a mess.

Find more of his work here.

Maturing With Middlemarch

Feb 8 2014 @ 3:35pm

In My Life in Middlemarch, Rebecca Mead interweaves memoir and literary criticism, illustrating how George Eliot’s classic has affected her throughout her life.  In a review of the book, Hannah Rosefield describes why the novel endures:

Mead first read the novel aged 17, living in the southwest of England and preparing for university examinations, and she has read it every five years or so since. Middlemarch is, of course, not the only novel that changes with the age of its reader, but it does attract a particular kind of rereading. Writers, academics and non-specialist readers alike talk about a distancing from Dorothea as they grow older, a realization of the irony in Eliot’s portrayal of the girl who wishes she could have married Milton or any other great man “whose odd habits it would have been glorious piety to endure.” They discover their sympathy, especially if they are academics, for Dorothea’s elderly husband Casaubon, the scholar fixated on a project that he has neither the will nor the intellect to complete. To the young, Middlemarch is about the young; to the middle-aged, it’s about middle age.

Pamela Erens elaborates:

[Protagonist] Dorothea feels an inchoate longing to do or become something that the provinces don’t provide a ready picture of. Mead experienced this, too, although she had a better image of what might lie in the big world outside, and opportunities to reach for it.

Read On

Torturing The Mentally Ill

Jan 14 2014 @ 11:46am

Reporting on the shocking treatment of mentally ill inmates in South Carolina’s prisons, Andrew Cohen asks why the state has refused to do anything about it:

On Wednesday, in one of the most wrenching opinions you will ever read, a state judge in Columbia ruled that South Carolina prison officials were culpable of pervasive, systemic, unremitting violations of the state’s constitution by abusing and neglecting mentally ill inmates. The judge, Michael Baxley, a decorated former legislator, called it the “most troubling” case he ever had seen and I cannot disagree. Read the ruling. It’s heartbreaking. The evidence is now sadly familiar to anyone who follows these cases: South Carolina today mistreats these ill people without any evident traces of remorse.  Even though there are few disputed material issues of law or fact in the case, even though the judge implored the state to take responsibility for its conduct, South Carolina declared before the sun had set Wednesday that it would appeal the ruling—and thus likely doom the inmates to years more abuse and neglect. That’s not just “deliberate indifference,” the applicable legal standard in these prison abuse cases. That is immoral.

But what makes this ruling different from all the rest—and why it deserves to become a topic of national conversation—is the emphasis Judge Baxley placed upon the failure of the good people of South Carolina to remedy what they have known was terribly wrong since at least 2000.

Nicole Flatow examines the horrors the inmates suffered:

Read On

Picturing Prufrock

Jan 11 2014 @ 2:32pm

scan0013

Julian Peters creates comic-book adaptations of poetry, with subjects ranging from Keats to Poe to Rimbaud. His latest is T.S. Eliot’s classic, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.” In an interview, Peters explains why he chose it:

First off, because it is one of my very favourite poems. The language is incredibly beautiful, of course, and lord knows I can relate to Prufrock’s indecisiveness. And it is one of those poems that has always spontaneously created a multitude of vivid images in my mind’s eye. I also think it is just the sort of poem that works best as a poetry comic. First because it lays forth a narrative of sorts, and second because it is not too concrete in its imagery, so that in converting it into visual form there is little risk of being too straightforwardly illustrative. …

[U]ltimately the most challenging aspect of making poetry comics for me is getting the pacing right. There should be a rhythmic flow to the comic that captures the corresponding flow of the poem. Achieving this is mainly a matter of how to break up the text between the panels, how to arrange the panels, how to pace the visual narrative, and where to place the text in relation to the imagery. Of course, these aspects can be judged the most successful the less the reader is immediately aware of them.

Last month, a Boston Globe profile of Peters’ work underscored the connection between comics and poetry:

Read On

Belated Justice For Turing

Dec 30 2013 @ 7:35pm

Alan Turing, the great British mathematician who cracked Nazi codes and later killed himself after the government chemically castrated him for being gay, received a posthumous royal pardon last week, 61 years after his conviction (NYT). Peter Tatchell wants the pardon extended to everyone convicted under the “gross indecency” law, which remained on the books until 2003:

Why him alone? Singling out Turing for a royal pardon just because he was a great scientist and very famous is wrong in principle. The law should be applied equally, without fear or favour, regardless of whether a person is a well-known high achiever – or not. Selective redress is a bad way to remedy a historic injustice. At least 50,000 other men were convicted under the same ‘gross indecency’ law from the time it was first legislated in 1885 until its repeal in 2003. They have never been offered a pardon but deserve one, equally as much as Turing. An estimated 15,000 men of these men are still alive. It is not too late for them to receive a measure of justice in the form of a royal pardon.

Ally Fogg is on the same page:

Turing should be forgiven not because he was a modern legend, but because he did absolutely nothing wrong.

Read On

Capturing America’s Conflicts

Nov 11 2013 @ 6:00pm

In honor of Veterans Day, the Washington Post has created Portraits of War, a portfolio of some of the greatest war photography of the last 150 years. Among the ten featured photographers is Mathew Brady:

dish_bradyBrady remains the single most famous photographer of the Civil War. His name came to overshadow those of other photographers, causing some mistakenly to believe that Brady had almost single-handedly created the immense photographic archive. Brady deserves credit for envisioning the possibility of using photography systematically to document the war. He would send teams of photographers – and occasionally go himself – to create images of battlefields and important leaders. His public display of “The Dead of Antietam” was the first time the American public viewed images of dead soldiers on the battlefield.

Brady’s efforts to document the Civil War pushed him into a series of bankruptcies. In the years after the war, he campaigned to get Congress to buy his collection of negatives and prints. In 1875, Congress finally bought the rights to his work for $25,000.

See the full tribute here.

(Photo of Union soldier by gun at US Arsenal, Washington DC, 1862, by Mathew Brady via Wikimedia Commons)

Capturing The World’s Brutality

Sep 3 2013 @ 8:36pm

Fisher passes along the above interview with war photographer Goran Tomasevic:

Tomasevic, who is Serbian, began working for Reuters in 1996, covering political instability in his native Belgrade. He has since become one of the best-known war photographers currently working. If you’re in the Washington, D.C., area, you can see some of his photos at the Corcoran Gallery, which is hosting a wonderful war photography exhibit through the end of September.

Capturing Egypt’s Killings

Aug 21 2013 @ 5:13pm
by Patrick Appel

Max Fisher has an interview with Egyptian photographer Mosa’ab Elshamy. He reflects on “how significant events really end up taking seconds”:

As a photographer you always have to keep the shutter on — we call it the burst mode. I have full sequences, and sometimes it starts with somebody standing, but in the sixth or seventh photo, he’s got a bullet through his head, and it all took less than a second.

The consequences of that moment, of this guy getting shot or avoiding a bullet that killed someone else — it’s a very significant thing, and more often that’s becoming lost. I try to focus on that in my pictures, I try to include as few people as possible; just a man sitting with a killed friend of his, or a mother mourning next to a daughter. It’s a very individual act, one person killing another person.

Check out a Flickr gallery of Elshamy’s work here.

Capturing Closeness

Jul 13 2013 @ 9:07pm

intimacy

Alison Barker muses on The Art of Intimacy, Stacey D’Arasmo’s treatise on intimacy’s successful portrayal in literature and art:

[U]nexamined assumptions about something as powerful as intimacy make for stories that are full of stereotypes and stereotypical behavior. This is depressing. And it’s not art. By continually rearticulating how she conceives the different types of intimate relationships wrought by the best writers in this and the last century, D’Erasmo cleverly prepares us to accept that intimacy, necessarily, is a bit of a mystery, and that it is only when writers question their received ideas about intimacy that they are able to transcend sentimentality and produce stories that better illuminate this powerful, mysterious, frequently shape-shifting human experience.

(Photo from Nan Goldin’s Scopophilia exhibit, currently being shown at the Matthew Marks Gallery, “which pairs intensely personal portraits of Goldin’s friends and lovers with classic images from the Louvre” and is featured prominently in The Art of Intimacy. © Nan Goldin, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.)

Two days ago, Richard Deitsch wondered aloud how many of his Twitter followers have photos of their happiest moment ever. Megan Garber observes that the outpouring of responses is a testament “not only to Twitter’s power as a platform for sharing, but also to cameras’ increasing ubiquity in our lives”:

We may plan to take pictures at weddings, or during proposals, or after the births of babies; many of life’s happiest moments, however, are unexpected and random and weird. The fact that more of us are regularly carrying cameras around with us means that we are newly able to capture those moments–to make the ephemeral newly permanent. And, then, shareable with Sports Illustrated writers.

Many more excellent pictures sent to Deitsch are below:

Read On

Capturing Confessionals

May 26 2013 @ 8:23pm

dish_confessional_stchristopher-660x829

For her series Reconciliation, Billie Mandle photographs American confessional boxes:

These photographs were made in confessionals, the small rooms found in Catholic churches where people confess their sins. Almost all religions have theologies of repentance; the confessional is unusual because it acts as a physical manifestation of an abstract idea. …

I was raised Catholic and so the traditions of these rooms are familiar to me. Photographing the confessional has become a type of ritual: I use a large format camera and available light, lifting the curtain of the confessional and looking into the darkness, just as I lift the dark cloth of the camera. The confessionals contain contradiction: darkness and light, corporeality and transcendence. They are rooms where people confess their sins and ask for grace surrounded by the traces of past confessions. In making these images I approach the confessionals as metaphorical spaces — rooms that suggest the paradoxes of faith and forgiveness.

(Photo: Saint Christopher by Billie Mandle, from Reconciliation)

(Hat tip: Pete Brook)

Capturing Carbon In The Wild

May 15 2013 @ 9:31am

Lawrence Krauss wants more research into extracting existing CO2 from the atmosphere as a way to address climate change. He notes that, unlike other forms of geoengineering, “direct air capture would treat the disease, not merely the symptoms”:

First, one removes CO2 from the air by using a sorbent, which is a material that can absorb gasses. Next, the CO2 has to be extracted from the sorbent and sequestered, presumably by pumping it deep underground at relatively high concentration or by binding it to minerals—a bit like how we handle nuclear waste. But another possibility includes actually converting it back into fuel. One particularly attractive possibility that has been proposed involves using an “exchange resin” sorbent which binds CO2 when dry and releases it when wet. In this way the evaporation of water could actually be used to help reduce the energy burden associated with binding and subsequently extracting the CO2.

Scott Rosenberg wonders whether geoengineering, through either carbon dioxide removal or solar radiation management, is “a slam-dunk no-brainer or a regrettable last resort”:

Read On

The Turing Tetris

Apr 25 2013 @ 3:41pm

Computer scientist Thomas Murphy has designed an artificial intelligence, PlayFun, that can figure its way through videogames by relentlessly testing strategies that lead to high scores. Gary Marcus explains further:

The program proceeds by automating trial and error. It records everything in the Nintendo’s memory, and correlates every simulated press of a joystick with particular memory locations in the game that represent a player’s score. Any action that increases the score gets weighted more heavily; actions that decrease the score become less likely. In essence, Murphy aims to overpower the Nintendo through sheer brute force, not by what humans would consider actually playing the game. He writes that the “central idea … is to use (only) the value of memory locations to deduce when the player is ‘winning.’ The things that a human player perceives, like the video screen and sound effects, are completely ignored.”

Capturing Tragedy

Jan 30 2013 @ 3:40pm

6a00d83451c45669e2017ee807ff6c970d-800wi

In the wake of the Newtown shootings, NPR ran an item accompanied by the above picture. The news outlet was later contacted by the woman shown in the picture, Aline Marie, who noted that “no one asked [her] permission to post [the picture].” Coburn Dukeheart relates her feelings about the experience:

“I sat there in a moment of devastation with my hands in prayer pose asking for peace and healing in the hearts of men,” [Aline Marie] recalls. “I was having such a strong moment and my heart was open, and I started to cry.” Her mood changed abruptly, she says, when “all of a sudden I hear ‘clickclickclickclickclick’ all over the place. And there are people in the bushes, all around me, and they are photographing me, and now I’m pissed. I felt like a zoo animal… yes, it was a lovely photograph, but there is a sense of privacy in a moment like that, and they didn’t ask.”

Dukeheart also spoke with the photographer, Emmanuel Dunand:

[W]hen he took Marie’s photo, he knew she was suffering, but that he simply didn’t want to bother her. He thought that leaving her alone was the most respectful thing to do.

NPR solicited reader comments on whether photographers should “interact with their subjects in moments of grief” to ask permission and names, or if it is “more respectful to leave them alone.” Dukeheart summarizes the responses here.

(Photo: Aline Marie prays outside St. Rose of Lima church in Newtown, Conn., on the day of the school shooting. Marie noted in her message to NPR that she was “not asking [them] to take the photo down, nor [was she] offended.” By Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images.)

Capturing The Clothes We Consume

Dec 10 2012 @ 8:04am

Screen shot 2012-12-05 at 11.39.08 AM

For his series "Baled," Wesley Law photographed bundled items at Goodwill liquidation centers:

It took him nine months. And when he finally got access, he found an awesome panorama — thousands of items leftover from Goodwill stores around the country, crammed together in bales as large as 5 feet tall by 7 feet wide, awaiting transport to new destinations. Initially, Law thought he'd shoot the scene as a landscape, to capture the size and scope of the facility and its contents. But on a second visit, he started considering the bales individually. "I realized when I got close to these things that they each have their own personality. They have their own identity," he says.

From Law's artist statement:

We are not forced to live among our refuse, knowing the immediacy of its decline, unaware of the process it undergoes. Our waste is conveniently carted off by mainly unseen forces. The average American discards 4.34 pounds of garbage each day. The majority of which ends up in a landfill or gets shipped overseas. Almost 200 million pounds of donated clothing was sold in 2011 by one non-profit in particular. The vast unknown quantities not sold were baled and sent away.

(Image by Wesley Law. Check out his Kickstarter here.)