Saturday Links – 20th October 2012

I hope everyone is having an amazing and enjoyable weekend!  Check out these links to see some fun and interesting art found around the internet this week.  It’s 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) and sunny here in College Station, Texas…perfect weather for American football!  Stay happy and healthy, my friends.

Hammering coins into the bark of trees to wish for good health and recovery from illness is a tradition in Gwynedd, Wales, that dates back to the 1700s.  Click here!

This video by Phillip Scott Johnson details 500 years of female portraits in Western Art.  It’s been floating around the internet since 2007, but is always enjoyable.  Click here!

With all of the news about stolen or vandalized art, take a look at this stories from ArtLoss.com.  It’s wonderful to see that art can be recovered even years later!  Click here!

These Angry Birds piggy macarons are amazing and adorable!  Click here!

Red makes incredible portraits with unique materials.  Click here!

Drawspace.com has free lessons if you want to practice your drawing skills, but don’t have time to attend classes.  Click here!

Surrealist photography before Photoshop.  Click here!

Check out this amazing gallery of deep sea creatures.  Click here!

Studio Roosegaarde has created an amazing lotus dome made of hundreds of mylar flowers that react to the viewers body heat.  The result is an incredible piece of interactive art.  Click here!

This film by Renaud Hallee uses fire as a musical tool.  Click here!

Damien Hirst created this incredible sculpture, The Anatomy of an Angel, in 2008.  Click here!

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Art Spotted: Weaver Nests, Virginia, South Africa

These hanging nests were made by an undetermined species of weaver bird in the small town of Virginia, South Africa.  Weaver birds belong to the family Ploceidae and are related to finches (family Fringillidae) and are sometimes called “weaver finches.”  These birds are amazing builders and usually build large, intricate nests like these in a day or two.  They are common throughout sub-Saharan Africa and there are 23 species native to South Africa.

Nature photography, which focuses on outdoor photography of plants, animals, landscapes, and macro images of natural elements, has been around as long as photography itself.  In fact, the first photography ever taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce in 1826 was a landscape image taken from his window in Saint-Loup-de-Varennes, France.  This image included ghostly renderings of trees, outbuildings, and the courtyard he could see from his room. A large part of nature photography is working to make yourself aware of the beauty and art inherent in the natural world around us.  People weren’t photographed until late 1838/early 1839, approximately 12 years after Niépce invented photography.

View from the Window at Le Gras by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, 1826, the first photograph ever taken

To discover more about weaver birds: click here!

To discover more about South African birds: click here!

Art Spotted: Wayang Kulit with Gamelan Orchestra

Wayang Kulit is a traditional form of Javanese shadow puppet theater and is accompanied by a gamelan orchestra.  It consists of two dimensional intricately carved and painted puppets traditionally made of water buffalo hide and attached to bamboo sticks.  The dalang, or puppet master, manipulates the puppets behind a screen with a bright light to create the shadow imagery.  Adaptations of epic romantic Indian myths as well as modern local events are used for the productions.  Performances can last for hours, sometimes even overnight.  The first Wayang play was recorded in 930 CE (AD).

Click here for more information on Wayang Kulit: here!

Click here for more information on gamelan orchestras: here!

What is art?

For the entirety of written human history we have been debating what does or does not constitute art.  One of the most beautiful and intriguing aspects of art is that its definition is vague and allows us, as both individuals and groups, to modify what we classify as art according to our experiences and preferences.  Art is a truly personal experience and, while there are general trends as to what cultures accept as art, the amount of variation seen in the definition within groups (as well as between them) is staggering.

3D illusion street art, image courtesy http://theultralinx.com/2012/06/stunning-3d-illusions-street-art-gallery.html

Art, as defined by Dictionary.com, is “the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.”  The word originally comes from the Latin artem meaning “work of art; practical skill; a business, craft.”  It appears in Middle English during the early 1300s (appropriated from Old French) with more of an emphasis toward scholarship and learning, such as sciences and liberal arts.  In English, “art” did not take on the meaning associated with creating painting or sculpture until the 1610s.  The phrase “fine arts” did not appear until 1767, when it was first recorded as “those which appeal to the mind and the imagination.”

Lego brick art, courtesy of http://brickartist.com

When discussing art in the Western tradition, it is typically divided into fine arts and applied arts.  Fine arts encompasses objects and performances geared toward aesthetics or concept, and may not serve any practical function.  Traditionally, the “greater” fine arts included painting, sculpture, architecture, music, & poetry, while drama and dancing were relegated to minor fine arts.  However, with time the scope of the fine arts has broadened to include most visual and performing arts.  Collage, decollage, calligraphy, film, photography, installation, assemblage, print making, conceptual art, mosaics, and fiber arts are all relative newcomers to the fine arts.

Ballet Rehearsal by Edgar Degas, 1873, oil on canvas

The applied arts encompass the application of aesthetics to objects that have function and everyday use.  Fields included under this umbrella include furniture design, graphic design, ceramics, jewelry, glass, quilting, textile art, industrial design, film posters, advertisement posters, fashion design, interior design, architecture, and photography.  The phrase “decorative arts” is sometimes used interchangeably with applied arts, but typically does not include graphic and industrial design.

Organic chair by Tronahue J Veluz

There is also large amount of overlap between fine and applied arts.  Photography, architecture, and fiber arts (textiles and yarn art) have been appropriated into both categories depending on the specific circumstances surrounding each object.  Art is also coming to include areas that have traditionally been considered “crafts,” such as quilting and yarn arts.  This could be due to a lessening of emphasis on extensive education in the artist’s chosen field.  Art is no longer relegated to those with the time and resources for lengthy educations and the number of self-taught artists is on the rise.  It will be fascinating to see where art takes us next and how our definition of art changes in the future!

Alex Wong during his tenure with the Miami City Ballet. Image courtesy http://ziggytawt.blogspot.com/2010/08/dance-in-motion-3.html.

Art Spotted: Amelanistic Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

The American International Rattlesnake Museum is located in Albuquerque, New Mexico and houses the largest collection of live rattlesnakes in the world.  Among them is a very rare amelanistic Western Diamondback rattlesnake (Crotalus atrox) named Marilyn.  Amelanism is a rare, but naturally occurring, condition caused by the lack of the biological pigment melanin.  In snakes this condition typically expresses with a unique yellow coloring on the scales.  Marilyn looks especially yellow given the contrast between her scales and the dark rocks of her habitat.  Amelanistic coral and corn snakes typically express with bright red and yellow coloration on their scales.

Albinism, sometimes used interchangeably with amelanism, is characterized by the lack of all biological pigments in the body, of which melanin is only one of many.  When amelanistic and albino specimens occur in the wild they usually do not survive to adulthood as they are more visible to predators.  Marilyn should live a long life of 20-30 years and grow to a length of over 6 feet at the AIRM.  The museum is dedicated to promoting principles of animal conservation and education about rattlesnakes to the public.

The American International Rattlesnake Museum’s homepage: Click here!

Marilyn’s bio page: Click here!