A Closer Look

Michael Snow’s 1967 experimental film Wavelength consists essentially of an extraordinarily slow 45-minute zoom on a photograph on the wall of a room. William C. Wees of McGill University points out that this raises a philosophical question: What visual event does this zoom create? In a tracking shot, the camera moves physically forward, and its viewpoint changes as a person’s would as she advanced toward the photo. In Wavelength (or any zoom) the camera doesn’t move, and yet something is taking place, something with no analogue in ordinary experience.

“If I actually walk toward a photograph pinned on a wall, I find that the photograph does, indeed, get larger in my visual field, and that things around it slip out of view at the peripheries of my vision. The zoom produces equivalent effects, hence the tendency to describe it as ‘moving forward.’ But I am really imitating a tracking shot, not a zoom. … I think it is safe to say that no perceptual experience in the every-day world can prepare us for the kind of vision produced by the zoom.”

“What, in a word, happens during a viewing of that forty-five minute zoom? And what does it mean?”

(From Nick Hall, The Zoom: Drama at the Touch of a Lever, 2018.)

Turn, Turn, Turn

terry snail house

In 1930 French architect Emilio Terry offered a model of a spiral house that he called en colimaçon (“snail-style”), illustrating his view that architecture expressed a “dream to be realized.”

It looks odd, but the interior is relatively conventional. “Although the snail shape has been imposed on the exterior,” writes Ulrich Conrads in The Architecture of Fantasy, “no advantage is derived from it, either regarding the total volume or the interrelationship of the spatial sections.”

Emphasis

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Vladimir_Lenin_Leon_Trotsky_Lev_Kamenev_1920.jpg

In 1920, after Lenin delivered a speech in Petrograd to troops departing to fight in the Soviet-Polish war, Russian artist El Lissitzky challenged his architecture students to design a speaker’s platform on a public square. The result was the Lenin Tribune, a rostrum that can bear its speaker aloft to address a crowd of any size. In a letter to the art historian and critic Adolf Behne, Lissitzky wrote:

I have now received some sketches of former works and have reconstructed the design. Therefore I do not sign it as my personal work, but as a workshop production. The diagonally-standing structure of iron latticework supports the movable and collapsible balconies: the upper one for the speaker, the lower one for guests. An elevator takes care of transportation. On top there is a panel intended for slogans during the day and as a projection screen at night. The gesture of the entire speaker’s platform is supposed to enhance the motions of the speaker. (The figure is Lenin.)

Here the message reads PROLETARIAT. Lissitzky later said he regretted not publishing the design when Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International was attracting attention, so that the two might have competed against one another.

Spun Art

Moscow programmer Ani Abakumova makes portraits by spanning circular hoops with lengths of colored thread.

A computer dictates the placement of the threads, but she produces each portrait by hand.

More at her Instagram page.

Legacy

In 1924 the eccentric Lord Berners composed a “Funeral March for a Rich Aunt”:

The musical direction is Allegro giocoso — “fast and cheerful.”

Self-Image

Daniel Rozin makes interactive digital artworks that respond to the presence of the viewer, in many cases serving as mechanical or digital mirrors.

“In an interactive piece such as my Mirrors or Easel, the piece has no content without the viewer and the piece celebrates the likeness of the viewer,” he says. “This suggests that the important part of this equation is the person, not the artifact.”

(Thanks, Seth.)

Water Colors

Hawaiian artist Sean Yoro paints murals positioned near or in large bodies of water. He paints on the sides of shipwrecks, abandoned docks, and submerged walls, often on themes of climate change and rising sea levels, balancing on a paddleboard and using environmentally friendly materials.

“Combining both my art and environmental passions happened almost by accident at first, when I started creating murals along ocean walls,” he told the Met. “I always had underlying messages of sustainability and awareness, but this was the first concept I could literally combine these two aspects of my life influences into one. Every project since then has seamlessly integrated both values into their own unique stories naturally.”