Pollock and a falling iPhone

Another heavy news week for both art and technology.

Just one promotion this week, and only ten prints are available at this special price on one of my latest pieces of artwork. The offer is valid until 12th August 2015. After the promotion it will be back to full price.

This week...

Parisian Street by M.A
Parisian Street by M.A

 

Parisian Street by M.A is on a limited time offer. 36x24 inch museum quality stretched canvas print. You can buy it here.

 

And here are the main stories that have been hitting the headlines this week!

 

After the recent uncoupling of Google+ and YouTube, many people have voiced their opinions that the days of the lonely social network is over. This is a shame because I actually quite like Google+, and more so now I am actually beginning to understand how it works. But reports that the maker of Google+ has now stated that "Facebook is going to kill us".

Given the popularity of Facebook, he is probably right. There was a time when Facebook users were shying away from the platform, but it seems that a determined push by Zuckerberg has laid this to rest. If Google+ does eventually cease to operate, it will be a sad day. Social Media needs competition and the one thing Google+ gives its users is a little bit of peace and quiet.

In other news, a man dropped a smartphone from a height of 9,300ft out of a plane door. Surprisingly the device survived. More surprisingly the device was an iPhone. Not only did the phone survive intact, it was also able to make and receive calls immediately after the drop.

The question I have is just how did this iPhone survive when the general rule of thumb is that panic sets in and you have a moment of realisation that the end of the world is near, when you only drop it around 12 inches.

iPhone
Drop this less than 12 inches and see the panic set in!

Would you provide a lift to a hitchhiking robot? A robot by the name of hitchBOT has been hitchhiking across the world, through Canada and then Europe. Its latest journey was supposed to be from Marblehead in Massachusetts to San Francisco, but it only got as far as Philadelphia before someone decided to attack it. The robot didn’t survive as far as we know as it has not phoned home since. Still it was nice knowing you hitchBOT.

REDDIT

Victoria Taylor (no relation) was the Reddit employee who recently got laid off, sparking a chain of events that eventually ended up with the resignation of interim chief executive Ellen Pao. Taylor hadn’t talked about the ordeal until recently when she gave a talk at a bloggers’ conference in New York. I remain convinced that the problems recently experienced at Reddit aren’t quite over just yet.

POLLOCK

You will be more aware of Jackson Pollock’s multi-coloured ‘action paintings’ that transformed our thinking about modern art. But there is a dark side which many have not seen in his works. In 1951 Pollock abandoned the use of colour in his works and painted a series of disturbing pictures using only two colours, black and bare canvas. Tate Liverpool has an exhibition of Pollock’s darker days.

For the first time ever, this exhibition gives the audience a glimpse inside an unknown part of Jackson Pollock. People generally expect to see vibrant colours, and people expect to see the abstraction. What people will not expect is this monotone splash of blackness against the backdrop of a bare canvas. A glimpse of an artist trying to find the middle ground between abstraction and figuration. In its day, this was something entirely new.

By 1950 Pollock had become a top artist in the American art scene. At the time, a question was asked by Life magazine, "Is he the greatest living painter in the United States?" His drip paintings divided the opinions of many art lovers globally. That may have been the entire point, everyone had an opinion on Pollock’s work. At the time he was the most talked about artist and at the right side of 40-years, his future of a successful artist seemed assured.

Pollock had decided that he didn’t want to just keep creating variations of the same, despite it being a winning formula. His drip paintings were not only very successful, they were revolutionary. He had become tired of being pigeonholed, and wanted to try something new.

This is something I try to do on a frequent basis. I know which of my artworks sell, and the temptation is to do more of the same, and one day I will. In the meantime, I want to find artwork that I love to create, experiment with styles, before finally settling down with a single style. It is not about pleasing all of the people all of the time, I want to ultimately be able to please me as well as my buyers.

THE INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE

Nothing beats a bookstore
Nothing Beats A Bookstore

It seems that Amazon hasn’t quite managed to kill off the independent bookstore just quite yet. The American Booksellers Association has reported that its membership made up from bookstore owners, has risen sharply and by nearly 19% since 2009.

Of course the numbers are significantly lower than they were in the 1990’s, and in 2009, only 1,401 members were singed up. Today there are 1,632. Bookstore fronts, have increased from 1,651 in 2009 to 1,971 today, although some owners will have more than one location. The increase isn’t massive, but it does show that there is at least no immediate decline.

So why are independent bookstores surviving? Last weekend on a day trip to a seaside resort, for the first time in many years, I actually walked into a bookstore. What surprised me was the knowledge of the staff. Despite having at least 10,000 books on the shelves, it appeared that the staff between them knew what every one of them contained. While you can read the Amazon reviews, nothing beats the opinions of four members of staff in a bookstore, especially when none of them actually say the same thing. All four opinions were different, and all four had obviously read the book.

When Borders collapsed in 2011, it gave more breathing room for the smaller bookstores. The end of the recession also contributed to a more kindly economic environment. But it seems people are the biggest drivers and people like interaction, and the often quirky layout of bookstores.

There is no doubt that there is always something that feels special when you open a real book. The smell, the clean pages, even the weight of a book indicates the quality that awaits inside. You’re not beholden to the cloud to provide you with the text, it’s with you all the time in a real book. The story never gets updated, if it does, then there is a new print run, a book is what it is. It fits in the hand, it fits in the lap, in a way that a computer doesn’t.

It is those preferences that appear to be keeping bookstores afloat, independent sellers are up against the huge corporations and in their own small way, they are winning a battle with every sale. Even scientific evidence suggests that people retain more information when they read paper books, as opposed to reading the same information on a screen. So the demise of the traditional book may just have been exaggerated.

FACEBOOK

Facebook has done something new again, but this time it’s only for the famous. Facebook has introduced ‘Live’, a live video streaming service that will let you take a peep inside the lives of well-known pop stars, athletes and influencers. But this isn’t available to you and me, this is only available if your way on the scale of cool.

If you are well on the scale of cool you will be able to stream video to your fans through Facebook Mentions, a companion app that allegedly makes it easier to get in touch with other ‘cool and high profile’ individuals and fans in a much easier way than you can through the core Facebook app.

For mortals, when a famous person decides to stream their life and you follow them, their video will show up in your news feed. If you are not around for a live event, Facebook will add the video to a person’s page for viewing at a later time. If you really do want to see some video in action while you wait for other ‘cool’ people to join, you can catch videos from Michael BublĂ©, Martha Stewart, and Serena Williams, now.

WANT TO BUY A NEW CAMERA?

ISO is the measure of a camera’s sensitivity to light. Increasing the ISO means you can shoot in lower light conditions. Most camera’s top out at 6,400 – 25,600 ISO, Cannons new baby the ME20F-SH is over 150 times more sensitive. In terms of exposure, this means that the new camera is around 7.5EV ‘stops’ more sensitive.

Previously the best of the bunch have included the Nikon D4S pro DSLR and the Sony A7S. Both of these by comparison to Cannons new entry, can only reach ISO 409,600. Not unimpressive by any stretch, but Cannon have made these figures look tiny. Cannon has said that the new model ‘can see the unseen’. It can record full-colour, and in full HD, where previously film makers would have had to settle for black and white footage, shot using infra-red lighting.

There is a catch to all this, the ME20F-SH makes some massive compromises in order to achieve this level of sensitivity. The physics are pretty simple. It uses a full-frame sensor with huge photo sites (pixels) to capture as much light as possible. Where the light-gathering photo sites on regular sensors are like thimbles, the photo sites on the ME20F-SH are like buckets.

The other downside to owning this particular model is the cost. $30,000 (about £19,200), will just about do the job. I doubt they will include a decent case!

CHRISTIE’S

Explore all things out of the ordinary this summer, from a Tom Cruise ‘Mission Impossible’ costume to a crown modelled by Kate Moss on her first photo-shoot. Christie’s has opened a new, free exhibition that is open to the public now until the 9th September, and it promises to be interesting.

South Kensington, London – On 10 September Christie’s South Kensington will host the third annual Out of the Ordinary auction, celebrating all things extraordinary and unusual. Building on the first two Out of the Ordinary sales, this auction presents collectors with a wealth of unique and fascinating items; from a Tom Cruise ‘Mission: Impossible’ costume, to a crown modelled by Kate Moss on her first magazine photo-shoot, to pieces of sporting history and objects with royal association. Ahead of the sale a free five-week summer exhibition will open to the public on Monday 3 August showcasing the full array of wonders. Everyone is welcome to pop into Christie’s on Old Brompton Road to explore the eclectic selection of rare, curious and out of the ordinary items.

MOVIE STARS & MODELS

A highlight of the auction and exhibition is the C.I.A. Suspension suit worn by Tom Cruise in the 1996 film ‘Mission: Impossible’ (estimate: £5,000-7,000). Cruise, as Ethan Hunt, wore this costume during the iconic scene in which a team of agents successfully break into the CIA's headquarters to steal a copy of the non-official cover (NOC) list to clear Hunt’s name within the Impossible Missions Force (IMF).

Also featured in the sale is a felt crown made by leading British milliner Stephen Jones and modelled by the legendary Kate Moss on her first magazine photo-shoot, aged 14 (estimate: £5,000-8,000). The shoot was organised by stylist Claire Hall and photographer Kate Garner, who had spotted Kate Moss amongst the hundreds of model cards at the Storm model agency.

Kate Moss was signed to Storm but unknown to the fashion world at the time. The photographs from the shoot were commissioned by i-D magazine for use in their May 1989 issue. This lot is offered for sale together with an unpublished photograph by Kate Garner of Kate Moss wearing the present lot and a copy of i-D magazine, No. 69, May 1989, featuring the photo shoot.

SCIENCE & THE NATURAL WORLD

Dinosaurs will be prowling Christie’s salerooms this summer. A rare and exceptionally well-preserved skull and neck of the Middle Jurassic (circa 165 million years ago) plesiosaur is expected to realise between £60,000 and 90,000. This specimen is the best-preserved skull known of this species, and took over 600 hours to prepare after excavation. Complete plesiosaur skulls are exceedingly rare. This skull contributes significantly to knowledge of the cranial anatomy of the species.

Another extraordinary opportunity for dinosaur collectors and enthusiasts is a massive bronzed fiberglass model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex (estimate: £10,000-15,000). This fearsome creature stands at over 2½ meters tall and is more than 7½ meters long.

ROYAL TREASURES

Two items with royal association feature in this year’s sale. The first is a Floris royal arms ‘Diamond Edition’ perfume, made in honour of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee (estimate: £3,000-5,000). This perfume, made by revered British perfumers Floris, is one of just six special creations; one of the edition was presented to Her Majesty The Queen for her Diamond Jubilee. This bottle is being sold to raise money for Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee Charitable Trust.

FURTHER HIGHLIGHTS

The second item is a Tower of London black-painted wood sentry box (estimate: £3,000-5,000), stencilled with 'Tower J H', which is thought to refer to the Tower of London Jewel House.

A highlight of this year’s auction is the pair of running shoes worn by Sir Roger Bannister CBE when he broke the record for the four-minute mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds on 6 May 1954 (estimate: £30,000-50,000). A rare race meet programme from the Iffley Road athletic ground, dated 6 May 1954 (estimate: £800-1,200) features pencil annotated notes for each race, detailing the record breaking sub-four minute mile ran by Sir Roger Bannister.

From the studio of satirical cartoonist Ronald Searle, creator of St Trinian's School, comes a pine door signed and graffitied by friends of the artist from the artistic and literary world, including Stephen Hawking’s signature and a humorous self-portrait signed by Searle (estimate: £2,000-3,000). A designer chair is decorated by Sir Peter Blake with figures that appeared in his works as early as the 1950s and 1960s, such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (estimate: £5,000-8,000). Originally part of a charity auction in aid of the Artists’ General Benevolent Institution and the Chelsea Arts Club Trust, chairs by Philippe Starck and French Fine Furniture were painted by distinguished members of the Chelsea Arts Club including Maurice Cockrill, Keith Coventry, Ken Howard, Patrick Hughes, Bill Jacklin, David Shrigley and Gavin Turk.

Further highlights include a polychrome decorated wood ‘Burton’ caravan, circa 1920s and refurbished in 2015 (estimate: £25,000-35,000). This type of caravan is also known as the showman's van and historically was typically used by staff and proprietors of travelling funfairs and circuses in the early 20th century.

So that’s today’s roundup of this week’s art and technology news and you will be able to see even more from the weird and wonderful on Sunday!

 

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