The Artists Exchange

SNOW DAYS

This week I saw some snow while I was out and about, only a slight scattering that thawed within a few seconds of it dropping. But that didn’t stop the usual phrase, “great we can build a snowman this weekend if it sticks”. That my friends is a big no. I do not want to build a snowman. What I want to do is build a sandcastle, on a beach, in the sun; if I have to build anything at all.

According to the tabloids in Britain, we are supposed to be heading for the coldest winter in 50-years, but even that isn’t consistent; some tabloids report 30-years, it just depends on what you read and when.

Every year in Britain we prepare our minds to deal with the worst conditions possible, and every year we realise that we are not prepared to deal with anything above a miniscule scattering. We often run out of grit for the roads, and the school run brings chaos to millions when we have a “bad” spell of frost.

I remember when I was younger, we had snow that reached up to my waist. Admittedly I was about three at the time, but the winters of years ago seemed to me to be far worse than they are today.

But nothing compares to the winters faced in Britain in the years 1684, 1740, and 1863. They were cold and grim and I have no doubt, they were much worse than even todays tabloids could predict.

During that cold period and on each of those three years, conditions were very dire. No central heating, and the Thames River froze, giving rise to London’s Frost Fair. The river was frozen solid, people gathered in a carnival atmosphere complete with gambling, bear-baiting, and ice-skating.

River Thames
New embankments mean water flows faster than it did, so now the river does not freeze in the same way as it once did.

 

Between the 1500’s and the 1800’s, British winters really were bleak, they even called the period “The Little Ice Age”. The longest Frost Fair was in 1864 when the Thames froze for a solid two-months, and way back in 1536, King Henry VIII travelled from Westminster to Greenwich on a sleigh.

The last time the river turned to ice was in 1814, and that is when the largest recorded Frost Fair took place, they even took out an elephant on to the Thames. Just how cold it was is unknown as British weather records didn’t start until 1914. There are some logs from periods before this time, Breamar in Aberdeenshire hit a record low of -27.2C in 1895.

Every year in Britain we also place bets on having a White Christmas, but in order for it to be an official White Christmas, snow has to fall in a particular spot on the 25th December. At one time this spot was the Met Office building in London, but now we can also gauge it from falling snow at Buckingham Palace, Aldergrove Airport in Belfast, Pittodrie-Aberdeen Football Club, Edinburgh Castle, the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, and even on the TV set of Coronation Street in Manchester. The definition also means that only a single snowflake has to land in one of these places.

A white Christmas in Britain is rare. Christmas itself, is only at the beginning of the period when snow is likely to fall. In fact we are more likely to see plummeting temperatures and falling snow between January and March, than we are in December. During the 18th and 19th Century, we were more likely to see snow on Christmas day, and even more so before the change of the calendar in 1752 which managed to bring Christmas day back by 12-days.

London’s last official white Christmas was in 1999, but in 1962 Britain had snow fall for 71-consecutive days, where it fell in some part of Britain every day between Boxing Day 1962 and March 6th 1963.

So we enter the season where the press and the thought of a couple of inches of snow is making all us Brits anxious. The question we have every year is why we can’t do better at being prepared for a cold snap.

It won't stick
White Christmases are rare in the UK

 

Grit costs money and it is also very bulky, meaning that additional storage space has to be found. Literally there is nowhere to store the quantities we actually need to keep every road clear. Then you need gritters, large vehicles that spread the salt, but will only be used on a few occasions each year. They too need to be stored in the warmer periods. Being prepared costs money, and austerity measures introduced to local authorities mean that they have far less to spend on such luxury than they previously did.

In colder countries such as Sweden and Norway, drivers change to winter tyres on their vehicles after a certain date. With a tad over 30-million cars in Britain that seems an impossible ask; especially when you weigh up the cost vs risk vs benefit ratio over the number of days we are in fact affected.

Britain has variable winters which make it hard to plan, in Canada you know almost to the week when the snow will come, that allows Canadians to be prepared. In Scandinavia they even have heated pavements. Impractical in Britain because the reality is that we maybe get a week or two of disruption in total over a period of months.

So my British friends, we will just have to cope with whatever comes. Be that 30-days, 50-days, or one day, just be careful when whatever comes, comes.

GOOGLE

It was inevitable that apps would start to be streamed, I am just surprised that it has taken so long. With smartphone storage often being at a premium, the amount of apps that we keep on our phones, we very often have little storage remaining to make full use of our handsets.

Google has now started streaming apps to Android phones, so even if you don’t have them installed on a handset, you can still use them. The downside to this of course is that you need an internet connection.

Google has said that it introduced the technology to help people get better search results, going on to say that often people get better search results from an app, rather than a web page. Nine apps have so far been selected to work with the streaming service as it is being tested.

Approximately 40% of searches conducted through Google now turn up content found in apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, or Pinterest. Until recently Google has only answered queries with information that is available both on the web and in apps. Now they are showing results found only in apps.

An experimental cloud based streaming system gives users results from apps that they do not have installed on their devices. Streamed versions of the apps are available via Google’s own app, and on the Chrome browser. The downside is that users must be using a fast Wi-Fi connection, and be running a handset with Android Lollipop or newer. Lollipop was released in 2014.

The test of the app streaming and search responses is currently only taking place in the US. Google has not said when, or if, it will be expanded to other parts of the world.

This could be great one day, and maybe a way forward for Apple too. If there was maybe a set of apps within an app that could then run virtually, maybe even a subscription to access a whole range of apps might be the way forward. As it stands though, virtualisation takes a significant amount of bandwidth, so maybe it is a little too soon.

ARTISTS COLLECTING ART

I am an artist, albeit primarily digital, and I also collect art that is not digital. I am careful though, I only display art in areas that I do not create my art within. I need to be in my own zone when I create, although right now I have ten-pieces from various artists on the wall of my office at home. My office is not a space where I usually create.

But I have been wondering this week if many artists also collect art from other people? Five of my pieces currently on display in my office are pieces that I have swapped some of my artwork for with other artists, the other five are pieces that I have either made an investment in, or bought them just because I liked them.

I have a couple of my pieces hanging around my home, but not many. I don’t know too many artists who do hang their own work around their home. To me, hanging a piece of work that I produced is a lost sale, I have to be honest.

But I know that there are artists who are also as keen at collecting the art of others as they are in producing their own pieces. If an artist is relatively well known, they enjoy easier access to galleries, usually have a keen eye, and generally they do tend to know who is who in the art world.

Andy Warhol was an extreme collector, and not just of contemporary art, but also collected World’s Fair Memorabilia, and Native American artefacts, he even collected flea-market cookie jars.

If you are an artist do you hang your own work in your home or do you have the works of others? Indeed, do you have any work at all? I will be writing more on this subject in the New Year so would love to hear from you if you have a view either way. Please do get in touch.

THE INTERNET VIA A LIGHTBULB

LED light
Li-Fi is this the future?

 

Harald Haas a professor of mobile communications at the University of Edinburgh has been championing the idea that data can be transmitted by LED lightbulbs for many years, and has now produced a working model of a “Li-Fi” system.

In a recent TED talk, Haas demonstrated the prototype, transmitting video from an off the shelf LED lamp to a solar cell, then to a laptop.

Wi-Fi as we know and understand it traditionally uses radio signals to transmit data to devices. Currently Wi-Fi carries around 50% of the world’s internet transmissions. That percentage is likely to get higher over the next few years, and with already overcrowded networks competing for the same bandwidth, Wi-Fi will eventually slow to a crawl.

I measured the total of data use in my home over the last two months, having realised that a growing number of additions to my home in a technical sense, required at least a connection to Wi-Fi. The results were surprising.

Thankfully I have a reasonably fast connection in to my home, but even at high-speeds, I am noticing more and more that there is a lag appearing, and it is not because my data is capped. I have a truly unlimited allowance, and having looked at my usage over the last couple of months, I am so glad that I chose the particular package I have.

In September my household usage, including using 4G outside the home came to a grand total of 551 Gigabytes. In October, that figure increased to 589 Gigabytes, and on checking the household usage in November, by November 22nd, I had already peaked beyond at just over 600 Gigabytes of data.

Why so much you ask? I don’t download from torrents, I don’t do much of anything except stream from Netflix and other on demand sites, most of the data it seems is not being used by me, it’s being used in the background by the internet of everything, and I had no idea.

The smart fridge used around 190Mb last month, I have no idea why, or what it was doing. The car needed access to Wi-Fi to update the sat-nav, transmitting over 4Gigabytes of data to the front drive. My daughter was responsible for a large part of it, using 1.2Gigabytes of mobile data just by using the Snapchat app. She wasn’t on it constantly, but the app was pulling data constantly.

When I add in the other apps that are used in my household, the numbers started to grow. Using Netflix, Sky on Demand, and Amazon Prime Video, using the smart TV and the PlayStation 4, those alone were responsible for a considerable amount of data, but I was surprised that my art uploads, took up a whopping 105 Gigabytes including backups to remote servers. The remainder came from working from home.

As we move further and further in to the Internet of Everything, surely it would be a good idea for manufacturers to indicate the amount of data usage that a device could feasibly use per month. Just as they have an alphabetic rating for energy use. With so many people on metered connections these days, I have no idea how anyone with a couple of smart devices, and maybe a laptop, tablet and phone could possibly constrain themselves to a 40-Gigabyte data cap. In other words, the average family is going to need much more data in the future.

Piccadilly Circus
This could be a hot spot of Li-Fi

 

But it is not just the amount of data that we consume in our homes, it is also about how that data travels. Increasingly home users are doing the job of a network specialist from just a few years ago. Having to set up additional access points so that data spectrum crunch doesn’t leave the spare bedroom without Wi-Fi access.

Over the last year alone, I have seen an increase in the number of SSID’s being transmitted in my street. For those who are a little less technical, an SSID (Service Set Identifier) is the broadcast name transmitted by each router. The increase is 200%, all of which are most likely to be competing for the same bandwidth at overlapping frequencies, all slowing down the connection that you will get at home. Of course there is a science behind it all, I will cover some of that in a future blog post.

Me being “Geek”, I have a purpose built network in my home. Not everyone does. But even having a purpose built network that runs multiple access points, on multiple channels, doesn’t stop the occasional lag. The thing is, this issue has been around for many years. We need something new, something disruptive, something that can support our current connectivity backbone to deliver faster speeds. We also need faster broadband speeds, which goes without saying.

Transmitting data through a visible light spectrum is not new. Alexander Graham Bell transmitted sound via a beam of sunlight in 1880 using a photophone, similar to a solar-powered wireless telephone. Amazing when you consider this was 1880.

In recent experiments, Li-Fi stands to become much faster than Wi-Fi, researchers have garnered speeds as fast as 224 Gigabits per second during testing. This makes sense as the Li-Fi is focussed on a particular area, usually the Wi-Fi spectrum is greatly dispersed.

Haas as set up a company pureLiFi, and has begun producing LiFi routers for a limited user base. The probability of this reaching domestic homes seems to be a while away as yet.

But the possibilities are seemingly endless, in theory anything with an LED would be a potential LiFi source. The LED on your kettle, all those stand-by lights, and this could bring about a surge in the Internet of Things era. Imagine outdoor LED street lights, cheaper to operate than traditional street lights, with the added benefit of being able to produce a viable signal across any city or town.

The Chinese are working on this technology too, Chinese researchers have developed a prototype, powering several laptops with a single LED bulb, and even NASA is in on the act, recently announcing their plans to study the potential uses of LiFi in space. Maybe this is the future answer to the streaming of those apps?

CHRISTIE’S INAUGURAL NEW YORK AUCTION OF HANDBAGS & ACCESSORIES

New York on the 18th December 2015

New York – Christie’s is pleased to announce the inaugural live auction of Handbags & Accessories will be held on Friday, 11 December 2015 in New York. Comprised of 223 bags, the auction will offer an exquisite selection featuring brands such as Hermès, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Judith Leiber, with a range of styles including rare exotics, limited editions, one of a kind bags, as well as handbags to begin your collection with estimates starting at $1,000.

All of the handbags and accessories will be on view to the public December 4 through December 10, at Christie’s Rockefeller Center galleries.

SWISS ART L’ART SUISSE SCHWEIZER KUNST L’ARTE SVIZZERA

Zurich – From Ticino to the canton of Schaffhausen and from Grisons to Geneva works by Swiss artists from nearly all cantons will be represented in the upcoming Christie’s SWISS ART auction, taking place on 8th of December at the grosser Vortragssaal, Kunsthaus Zurich for the 32nd time. 2015 marks Max Buri’s 100th death anniversary and it is with great pleasure that the sale will offer one of the painter’s famous works Handorgelspieler, consigned for sale from a Swiss private collection and offered for the first time at auction.

Max Buri and Ferdinand Hodler became friends at the turn of the last century and Hodler’s influence on Buri’s oeuvre has since been very noticeable. Buri’s main interest and focus point was to represent the people which surrounded him. Apart from art, the two friends shared another common interest, music, and at one of Hodler’s visits to Buri’s studio, he noticed a piano accordion which he wanted to possess.

The two artists decided to exchange Buri’s musical instrument for a painting by Hodler. Buri picked The Grammont, a landscape painted in 1905, which, not only Hodler, considered as one of his masterpieces. It was sold at Christie’s in 2002 for CHF 4.25 million and is today part of the Christoph Blocher art collection.

All the above is important to understand the importance of Buri’s painting offered for sale, the piano accordion represented in the painting is the one which became the property of Ferdinand Hodler! The painting will be offered with an estimate of CHF 200,000-280,000.

From the canton Graubünden, Christie’s Zürich offers for the first time a painting by the German artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938). Kirchner moved from Berlin to Davos in the summer of 1918 and Stafelalp mit Amselfluh (estimate: CHF 500,000-700,000) was one of the first paintings Kirchner created in his new environment.

His hectic and strong colour contrast technique and fan-like depictions of the clouds and alpine meadow are still very much in the style of the artist’s important works created in Germany. The pictorial language of the painting can be compared to the eminently important alpine triptych that was created the same summer and is today part of the Kirchner Museum in Davos, which opened in 1992. Kirchner moved to Davos due to health issues and his doctor was Dr. Lucius Sprengler and when Mr. Sprengler’s daughter Lissy married Karl Luckhard the Stafelalp became their wedding present.

Félix Vallotton (1865-1925) is probably the most important painter of the canton Vaud and was born in its principal town Lausanne, which he left in 1882 to move to Paris to enrol at the Académie Julian.

The present work Chemin ensoleillé was painted in 1914, in the outskirts of Paris and can be described as “the silence before the storm”. The painting depicts a quiet street, painted during the summer, in which the flatness and the play of shadows cast in the sunlight is what a viewer expects of an important painting by Vallotton. This is reinforced here by the light-flooded side walls which makes the scene more abstract and lead the eye of the observer to the back of the painting where children are leading the viewer even further towards the background of the street (estimate: CHF 500,000-700,000).

Varlin, in real life Willy Guggenheim, and after whom a street is named in his native town Zurich, is represented with three major paintings in the sale, A view of the Galleries St-François in Lausanne, painted in 1942 (estimate CHF 80,000-120,000), A view of the eye clinic in Zurich, painted two years later (estimate CHF 60,000-80,000) and a two-fronted, bigger than life-size representation of his bed and a view of the bed in the artist’s studio in Bergaglia, painted between the years 1970-75 (estimate CHF 80,000-120,000).

Das Bett/The Bed was created at the pinnacle of his creative life and is one of his most outstanding pieces. What is normally a peripheral object is here the main theme: influenced by the English school of painting, what appears to be a sketchily drawn mattress that dominates the work, is in its composition, a carefully controlled piece of work, and is the result of the artist's painstaking effort at execution.

Through the movement of its rapid lines, the work has a tremendous dynamism that reflects the painting's modernity and brings to mind the realistic, expressive tradition demonstrated in the works of Chaim Soutine and Francis Bacon. The reverse side of the painting shows the inside of Varlin’s atelier. Here, too, the bed is the main focus of the work.

Amongst other things represented in the painting is a portrait of his longstanding friend, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, who visited Varlin in Bondo many times. The poet also describes some of these scenes, making one aware that the shabby bed had a special symbolic meaning for the artist.

One of the top lots of the contemporary section of the sale is Daniel Spoerri’s (b.1930) I Guirati, a 12 figures sculpture representing the judge, the defendant and 10 members of the jury made in 1985 in a series of 8. All 12 sculptures offered for sale are of the same series “6” and have been privately owned. Originally, Spoerri created this installation of twelve bronze figures for his world famous Giardino di Daniel Spoerri in Tuscany. Beginning with the judge, each figure, mounted on a pedestal, is parallel to the next, in descending order, with the final figure in the picture being on the same height as the defendant.

The judge, a well-nourished Michelin man enthroned upon a cylinder, faces the defendant. The ten members of the jury, all with meat-mincing mouths and wearing hats - symbolizing various presidential dignitaries - stand together with the judge, opposite the defendant who, with his simple beret, provides a strong contrast. Taken as a whole, the atmosphere created is oppressive. Through the manner of its composition, the observer readily identifies with the defendant, making the installation automatically interactive (estimate: CHF 90,000-110,000).

Charly was produced in an edition of 20 and is one of Niki de Saint Phalle’s signature pieces made between 1981 and 1982. The art work is not just a chair: it is Charly, a close friend of the artist and when taking a seat, the sitter will be cocooned by Charly and becomes one with Charly and the work of art (estimated: CHF 60,000-80,000) – a sensation to try out!

The last lot of the sale is by Saint Phalle’s husband Jean Tinguely entitled Ma Fraiseuse (estimate: CHF 70,000-90,000), created in 1963 and can be best described by the artist’s famous words “When I get my hands on junk, magic happens.”

So that’s all for today, remember to get in touch if you would like to be featured in an upcoming blog that takes an in-depth look at the world of print on demand artists. There is a huge amount of competition and one of the things I will be trying to do next year is to highlight some of the artists you really are missing out on. All you need to do to be featured is send me a link to your work together with a short biography. Tell me what inspires you, and I will add the best to the feature.

I will also be setting up "The Artists Exchange" on Facebook in the coming days. A group where artists promote other artists. So keep an eye out for this new group on my Facebook page at https://Facebook.com/beechhousemedia

 

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