Friday, July 30, 2010

New App for Museum Goers

On April 19th, I posted "GPS for Art", wishing for certain mobile devices for museum goers.

Apparently, some of them have been realized.

An article on New York Times website states:
Among the crucial questions that occur on visits to the American Museum of Natural History: How did man get from a knuckle-dragging primate to a majestic bipedal creature? How did the mighty Tyrannosaurus rex use its tiny forelimbs to subdue its prey? And how do you get to the nearest bathroom? If you have an Apple mobile device, a new application created by the museum can help you with all of those queries.

In a news release the museum said its American Museum of Natural History Explorer application, available free from the iTunes store, is compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, and connects to the institution’s wireless network to put information at visitors’ fingertips. In addition to providing a GPS and turn-by-turn walking directions to any of the exhibitions, theaters, shops, restaurants and bathrooms in the building, the application also provides additional details on more than 140 displays (including the blue whale, of course), customizable tours, a fossil treasure hunt for the kids and connections to Facebook and Twitter.

It sure will be very convenient; however, I do hope people would study the exhibit more, instead of being drawn into the tiny screen. The danger is there and real.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Mao's Last Dancer?

A friend of mine mentioned a movie he just saw - "Mao's Last Dancer". Since the protagonist shared the same heritage with me, my friend wondered if I would like the movie but when the credits started to roll, he realized that I would not like it, since the movie was too uplifting.

I have to admit that he was right. I am always leery of uplifting art creations.

I was vaguely aware of the story. In order to give it an unbiased account, here I copied the synopsis of the movie from "A drama based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin. At the age of 11, Li was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet. In 1979, during a cultural exchange to Texas, he fell in love with an American woman. Two years later, he managed to defect and went on to perform as a principal dancer for the Houston Ballet and as a principal artist with the Australian Ballet. "

When I first heard of the story and learned the synopsis, I felt that the title, based on his autobiography, was misleading, sensational and masochistic.

Mao had died for three years when he defected and this insistence of linking himself to Mao is real troublesome. One can never be sure if how proud he is being Mao's dancer. If it is metaphoric speaking, Mao still commands legions of dancers in the world and he is hardly the last. Is he still Mao's dancer? Or simply retired? I wonder if the movie will answer.

To cap my mistrust, my friend told me that the real-life character, Li Cunxin, has become a motivational and inspirational speaker.

On his official website, Li claims:
As a motivational and inspirational speaker, Li’s unique real life story works so effectively with corporations and conferences’ various themes and objectives. It is a story that can touch people deep in their hearts.
Touching people's heart, perhaps. But how his story could motivate me? I honestly do not know.

Motivational and inspirational speaker as a career should never have existed. Human conditions and struggles are unique and chance opportunities often play tricks too. Pretending that everyone can aspire to and achieve same goal, claimed many such speakers, were deliberate cheats and sadomasochistic.

My friend was right. I would stay clear from such emotional manipulations.

"Travel the World" Exhibit at Artist Xchange Gallery, San Francisco

Artist Xchange Gallery, San Francisco has selected three paintings of mine to be part of the "Travel the World" theme exhibit in August.

La Seine / 塞納河 / Die Seine
La Seine © Matthew Felix Sun

La Seine, II / 塞納河之二 / Die Seine, II
La Seine, II © Matthew Felix Sun

Street Scene, Roma / 街景, 羅馬 / Straßen-Szene, Roma
Street Scene, Roma © Matthew Felix Sun

Artist-Opening - Friday, August 6th, 2010.

Artist-Xchange Gallery
3169 16th Street
San Francisco
CA 94103

Regular Business hour:
Mon-Sun: 1pm - 7pm


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Work of Art" on Bravo

A friend called my attention to a reality show "Work of Art" on Bravo Channel posted online by This competitive series brought together 14 aspiring artists to compete for a solo show at Brooklyn Museum and $100,000, "Survivor" style. Each week they are presented with a new challenge to prove their talent and skills.

I watched a some segments from a few episodes.

First challenge was to create a portrait of one of their competitors.

Another one asked the contestants to create book cover designs and one of the contestants has to read the book while working the the design, since he had not read it before.

Another episode asked them to create a shock piece.

So, here is the contour of the show.

The problem I have is that great art is not necessarily created within limited time frames. The examinations academies adopt usually are the tools to detect talents and potentials and this show does not bother to make the distinction of these aspects.

This show is more entertainment than enlightenment. What we do need in the US is something similar to The (British) Turner Prize, a contemporary art award that was set up in 1984 to celebrate new developments in contemporary art.

The prize is awarded each year to 'a British artist under fifty for an outstanding exhibition or other presentation of their work in the twelve months preceding'.

Artist Ross Bleckner summarized well in his article:
Sarah Jessica Parker's show on Bravo, Work of Art, is a joke. Albeit an inside-the-art-world kind of joke.

And the irony, or the joke if you will, is that the teacher-judges know that art, let alone "great art," will never be the result of a series of televised assignments; work produced in a classroom of sorts. I wish the show was called "artists get in a room and try to get a show at a museum that no one will care about or ever go see, but one of them wins $100,000 and some Prismacolor pencils." Not exactly the "opportunity of a life time" as Bravo has it, but closer to reality for these unsuspecting hopefuls.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Recent Painting - "Hindrance"

During the last few days of June, I put on final touches on this painting, which was started more than 15 years ago!

Before I started to retouch on this piece, the painting was dominated by the red tree over green background. It was not unpleasant but rather too simple and even silly. It was also full of hope.

Fifteen years later, I cannot let that big blotch of red dominate the canvas and covered it with layers and layers of white and grey paints. Then, I brought branches out of gray clouds and added more details, such as some writings, symbols and hand marks. What do they mean? I have my explanations but I would rather leave it to the viewers to interpret.

Hindrance / 阻力 / Behinderung

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Movement vs. System

Opera News published an interview of conductor/composer Frédéric Chaslin, whose recent book about contemporary music has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Frédéric Chaslin in his book, La Musique dans Tous les Sens (Music in Every Sense), "criticize Pierre Boulez for deliberately writing obscure, off-putting musical commentary and, worse, as a "gendarme" who employs "terror" tactics toward other composers."

Chaslin in the interview, related that his book has caused no problem in France, where Boulez is much revered.
My criticism was not mean-spirited, because I attacked the part of the Boulez system that is political rather than artistic. Ultimately I am simply citing Boulez's own words, and I don't consider it harsh to recall that he has said some very aggressive things. But other books have been written against the Boulez system, because basically Boulez is not just a personality, he's a system. So to some extent I attack the notion that there should be a Boulez system, because I don't see that an artist needs to have a system. Of course, you can found your own movement, fine. But to devise a system that forms other artists, or prohibits the artists who are not in the system — that, to me, is idiotic."
It is very interesting notion. I completely agree with Chaslin's criticism on the system, which can be applied to art world of all denominations. Great artists inevitably exert strong influences on follow artists and art world at large, which can form a movement or a school or art making; however, to insist on their stylistic approaches as the only way moving forward and form a system to train other artists and art lovers to follow their food step alone will diminish true art. Style cannot be copied; it will be be mere mannerism through cloning.

A long while ago, when I first took painting classes, my teach insisted on the abstract and flat style of his, and ridiculed my more realistic approaches. It was very bruising period and it definitely didn't inspire much in me. Luckily, his tactic didn't put me off and I persisted to pursue my own style over long years. Maybe, I will arrive at the style he appreciated most, maybe not. Yet, I can say that whatever style I have been working on, reflected my conviction and ability of the time, not just duplicate others' wisdom.

Stairwell / 樓梯 / Treppenhaus
Stairwell © Matthew Felix Sun

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Arabian Nights, Fairy Tales of Brothers Grimm and Anderson

Last weekend, in a bookstore, I saw a new translation of Arabian Nights but decided not to investigate further. I have read it when I was in elementary or middle school, in Chinese translation. Several year ago, I tried to read it in English but gave it up soon.

It was not due to the qualities of either Chinese or English translation; rather, it was due to the clear images my original read conjured up and most crucial, the atmosphere it generated, which was so vivid and strong that no other way of telling the story (other version of translation, or even the original if I could read it) could bring out the magic I originally felt. The rather strange turn of phrases (Chinese translators tend to keep the original language structure, and worry less about being in idiomatic Chinese) and the very words used in those books were rather new and they were part of the magic. Probably the first time heard of witches, slaves, princes, gingerbread, swans, nettles, vampires were the time I read about them in those fantastic stories. The magic and fantasy were firmly espoused to the words I read.

There are several other books fell into this category, most of them were book I read when I was very young and have much to do magical elements, such as Fairy tales by Brothers Grimm, Hans Christian Anderson and Klyrov's Fables.

Other books I read in both Chinese and English don't pose such trouble for me -- I enjoyed reading Jane Austin, Leo Tolstoy, and Honoré de Balzac in both Chinese and English. As for Shakespeare, Chinese translation was only an approximation, and my new read of English version supplanted my old memory easily. English translations of several classical Chinese novels won't do either, such as Red Chamber's Dream - the English translation, however faithful and artful, won't convey the full multiple-layered meanings it contains.

Red Sail / 紅帆 / Rotes Segel
Red Sail
© Matthew Felix Sun

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Impressionism and Protestantism

I just read a review of the Birth of Impressionism exhibit at De Young Museum in San Francisco by Nick Moore for The Daily Californian. It was not an insightful review and its comments on the quality of the exhibit is not very on target either. However, it did say something interesting at the end of the review:
These painters found inspiration in the ordinary scenes of life - the cow pastures, the train stations, the crowds of people (like those packed into a busy museum) that we likely take for granted, or even find annoying. Perhaps this beautification of quotidian life is why these paintings resonate so strongly, and why the crowds remain so large.
This paragraph reminded me an internal dialogue I had when I was in the exhibit. As I mentioned in my earlier blog entry, "the exhibit was very well curated and it was not designed with showcasing blockbusters only; rather, it went length to explain how Impressionism came into fruition." The emergence of Impressionism is very similar to the emergence of protestantism to me.

At the time of the birth of impressionism, the French Académie des Beaux-Arts dictated what should be painted, both in content and style, and what people should appreciate, through its coveted Prix de Rome and its annual Salon de Paris exhibit.

"Impressionists" came, armed with a new style and new subject matters, and challenged the hegemony of the Académie. After being rejected by the Salon, they staged their own exhibits, appealed to the viewers directly. Therefore, they rejected not only the doctrine and the priestly intermediary of the Académie as well. Hence the analogy to the rebellion of the protestants against the rigidity of the catholic establishment.

Awakening / 喚醒 / Wecken

Awakening © Matthew Felix Sun

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Water Shadow Drawings by Zhulin HUANG

I just discovered an amazing video showcasing a so called water shadow drawing by Mr. Zhulin ZHUANG. Zhuang manipulates inks drops in the water therefore creates many wonderful images.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Remembering Sir Charles Mackerras (1925-2010)

The Australian conductor, Sir Charles Mackerras passed away on 15 July 2010. It is a huge loss to the classical music world.

His repertory extended to more than 200 operas, with particular authority in the works of Handel, Mozart, Verdi, Sullivan and Janáček. It was his recording cycle for Decca label of Janáček's cycle, re-evaluated the Moravian composer's legacy and firmly planted him in the canon of the top tier composers for lyric stage, in the same league of Mozart, Verdi, Wagner and Strauss.

I had the pleasure of attending his performance of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier in San Francisco Opera, pacing Renee Fleming and Susan Graham. He served at San Francisco Opera as principal guest conductor at the time. The pleasure of hearing live will be a long-lasting memory.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Swiss Author and Dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt

Recently, I heard a story on NPR about Cuba's premier theater company Teatro Buendia's performing at the Goodman Theatre's Latino Theatre Festival in Chicago.

Upon hearing that "the company is performing La Visita de la Vieja Dama, adapted from Swiss author and dramatist Friedrich Duerrenmatt's Der Besuch der Alten Dame (The Visit of the Old Lady), I immediately longed to be there.

This play has always occupied a special spot in my heart. I saw a Chinese adaption on television when I was about eight years old and its majestic yet sinister characters, biting cynicism made a great impression on me and ever since, I longed to see it in theater.

Over the years, I saw some student productions on Youtube, heard amazing operatic recordings of the operatic adaptation, but never got a chance to see any of its reincarnations.

I have suggested my local theater to engage Rita Moreno for the title character Claire but she graced us with something else. So, my waiting continues.

To the people who are not familiar with Dürrenmatt, the plot of the play is such: Claire was seduced and abandoned by her sweetheart Ill and left the town heartbroken. Years late, a fabulously rich widow, she returned to offer to rescue the down-trodden hometown, on condition that the townfolks to kill Ill. Outraged, people rejected her brazen proposal. Yet, people started to purchase things they could not afford and get loans and credits ever bigger. Even Ill's daughter and son joined the folly. People still rejected the old lady's proposal but the pressure was building up on Ill and finally, he, realizing that his own sacrifice would be an atonement for his sin, in a transforming moment, decided not to run away but accept the inevitable verdict and offered himself to be killed by the congregation of the townfolks. Claire left with the huge coffin she brought to town at the beginning of the play, with her sweetheart's body inside, after having left an enormous amount of money.

This is a very biting play but not all bleak. It has a lot of humorous moments as well. A brilliant tragicomedy.

Another wonderful play of his is Romulus the Great. Romulus was the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire. In Dürrenmatt's play, Romulus deliberately neglected his duty, and sabotaged every effort of his ministers, generals, empress and other nobles to save the empire from collapsing. He saw the empire as an evil entity and must be destroyed to liberate the people under its yoke. Romulus became a visionary tragic hero, instead of the usual view of dim-witted ninny.

During the bleak days of George W. Bush's rein in the US, time to time, I wondered if how history will treat His Majesty Bush. The prevailing view is that he was a dim-witted ninny; however, I wondered often if he might be a closeted visionary and revolutionary, who saw the evil deeds of the United States of America and the havoc is had created to the world, his deeds included, and was determined to undermine the United States of America by all means, in order to achieve his goal of kill the evil imperialist empire, the United States of America.

Was I dreaming a fantasy? I'm still not sure.

The Triumph of Saint George / 聖喬治的勝利 / Der Triumph des Heilige George
The Triumph of Saint George, 2003
© Matthew Felix Sun

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Birth of Impressionism at De Young Museum, San Francisco

Last Sunday, I visited De Young Museum's Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay exhibit.

De Young Museum, San Francisco, 12 July 2010

The exhibit was very well curated and it was not designed with showcasing blockbusters only; rather, it went length to explain how Impressionism came into fruition. It was thoughtfully assembled and was deeply thought provoking. That said, it did not mean that the show didn't have enough lustre.

In deed, though far from incorporating every major work from Musée d’Orsay, it did boasted works by Manet, Monet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Degas, Cézanne and Coubert.

Notable works in this exhibition include:
  • The Fife Player by Edouard Manet (1866)
  • Racehorses Before the Stands by Edgar Degas (1866–1868)
  • Family Reunion by Frédéric Bazille (1867)
  • The Magpie by Claude Monet (1868)
  • The Cradle by Berthe Morisot (1872)
  • The Dancing Lesson by Edgar Degas (1873–1876)
  • The Floor Scrapers by Gustave Caillebotte (1875)
  • The Swing by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1876)
  • Red Roofs, Corner of the Village, Winter Effect by Camille Pissarro (1877)
  • Saint-Lazare Station by Claude Monet (1877)
  • Rue Montorgueil, Paris. Festival of June 30, 1878 by Claude Monet (1878)
  • Snow at Louveciennes by Alfred Sisley (1878)
  • L’Estaque by Paul Cézanne (1878–1879)
  • Portraits at the Stock Exchange by Edgar Degas (1878–1879)
  • The Birth of Venus by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1879)
I was lucky enough to have seen many of the works included in this exhibit in d'Orsay. Below are a sample of the pictures I took there two years ago. The show is deeply satisfying. Don't miss it. It's much cheaper than going to Paris.

The Fifer, Édouard Manet, 1866

Moonlight over the port of Boulogne, Édouard Manet, 1866

Arrangement in Gray & Black No. 1: Portrait of the Painter's Mother, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, 1871

Boy with a Cat, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1868

The Floor Scrapers, Gustave Caillebotte, 1875

Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst:
- Last Call - "The Girl With A Pearl Earring" in De Young Museum, San Francisco
- My Favorite Paintings in Mauritshuis, Den Haag, Netherlands
- "Compliments to Vermeer" - Controversial Solo Exhibition of the Renowned Chinese Painter JIN Shangyi
- Paintings As Pivotal Elements
- Last Chance to See Terracotta Warriors in San Francisco Asian Art Museum
- Venetian Masterpieces from Vienna at De Young Museum
- My Favorite Works at De Young Museum, San Francisco
- My Favorite De Young Museum Collections

Monday, July 12, 2010

First Time Italian Renaissance Sounded in My Ear

The first time I heard the pronunciation of Italian Renaissance (in Chinese) with my own ears was a watershed moment for me.

I had read about Renaissance at that time but this word had never entered into the vocabularies of the people I had any conversation with. The sound of Italian Renaissance (Yi-Da-Li Wen-Yi-Fu-Xing Shi-Qi) sounded like the best wine to my years.

I was in elementary school but had been a veteran of museum and art exhibition going, thanks to my well-educated parents, and particularly my father, who was working in the province culture bureau, therefore, we were able to visit galleries, museums, movies, theaters, dances at least weekly, if not more. However, most of the exhibitions were in the line of socialist realism, which became boring rather quickly and I was never too enamored with sweaty steel mill workers or peasants. The relieves from all these are in the form of pastoral landscape and idyllic lies didn't really existed in then China, and those relieves soon grew into banality.

One can imagine how I responded when suddenly I was confronted with artworks (reproductions, alas) from Italian Renaissance time. It was a special exhibit hosted in Liaoning Province Fine Art Museum in Shenyang. I believe that the show was curated by Italian Culture Ministry and though all the works were reproduction only, mounted in lightboxes, like the advertising boxes we see daily now, they really shook me to the core at an impressible age.

Liaoning Gongye Zhanglanguan

Those images truly opened my eyes and I was absolutely smitten by masterpieces originated in Florence, Vatican, Rome, Padua, Milan, etc. Finally, I was gratified to know that beyond the banality existed something of true beauty.

At that humble time, I never thought that I might have chance to see many of these amazing works with my own eyes! Such as the Birth of Venus by Botticelli in Uffizi!

Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, c. 1486
The Birth of Venus, c. 1486, by Sandro Botticelli, collection of Uffizi Gallery, Florence

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Scientific Art Authentication

A while ago, a allegedly Leonardo da Vinci drawing surfaced. It looked beautiful and if it was indeed done by Leonardo, then it was a sensational discovery and a happiest addition to the world art gallery. Its authorship was, however, disputed. But not long, a fingerprint was discovered on the drawing which matched a fingerprint on a proven Leonardo drawing. Case settled. Or did it?

Three days ago, I opened my new New Yorker magazine and was drawn to a long article:
The Mark of a Masterpiece - The man who keeps finding famous fingerprints on uncelebrated works of art by David Grann.

The beginning of the article related how the work was proven to be a Leonardo's work and briefed readers the process it was employed. Then, I saw the reproduction of the drawing. It was an excellent reproduction, much better then the ones I saw on newspaper before and online (another argument for keeping printing). I admired the drawing greatly and savored its beauty. However, I was suddenly disturbed by something I saw - though the draftsmanship was undeniably superb, something was off. The single braid of the figure, a beautiful young woman, had a strange spatial relationship to her shoulder and neck. Instead of in the middle of the neck, it was on the same plane as her left shoulder. It looked strangely out of place. I showed it to a writer friend of mine, and he said that it looked like two works pieced together. Anyway, this put serious doubts in my mind regarding the authorship of this still beautiful drawing.

Reading on, I realized that David Grann had doubts of his own and he proceeded to tell us his doubts and told us stories how the scientific authenticator, Peter Paul Biro, was suspected of planting fingerprints on other paintings he had authenticated.

It's not conclusive but enough doubts raised.

It was a fascinating article and reads like a detective novel.

But, the main argument I want to make here is not on the authenticity of the work - that should be left to Leonardo specialists who had or will have the opportunity to examinate it closely.

Instead, I want to comment on relying on science to determine an artwork's authorship and its value.

Instead of appreciating beauty, the scientific authenticator treated the art creation as a subject and whenever the authorship is established, the value of the work, market value, not artistic value too. This process is both precise and chilly. Even silly.

Granted, artists themselves are brandings and sometimes I am guilty of judging an artwork by its authorship too. But I have been trying to judge by what I see, how it pleases me. I am not shy of criticizing certain works by my favorite artists if I don't like, and will not hesitate to praise some better efforts by some artists I don't care for in general. Artists are not machines and they cannot create consistently masterpieces. Every work would be evaluated and assessed individually. This is not to say that a grade B Leonardo shouldn't be valued higher than a grade B second or third rate modern day artist. A Leonardo is a Leonardo which carries a special weight of history.

Scientific findings can help us to determine measurable facts, but not to determine values. And then there is pseudoscience. Neither genuine nor pseudoscience is a good judge on artistic achievements.

It is hard thing to be both subjective and objective in evaluating the artistic value of an artwork but it is also necessary. Do we need a scientist tell us what to worship? I don't.

Since I used this particular drawing as the starting point of my argument, I include the image of the drawing and several videos related to the process below:

La Bella Principessa - Attributed to Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452-1519)

Monday, July 5, 2010

Artists in Movies, Plays and Operas

A new play - Red about painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) was a recent hit in London and New York. Portraying artist, particularly painters and sculptors, particularly the working process, though easier than novelists, might be just as hard as portraying composers and poets.

Alfred Molina and Eddie Redmayne in Red at the Donmar Warehouse

However, there have been many successful efforts, particularly as motion pictures.

The most recent popular success was The Girl with Pearl Earring on Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), both due to the wildly popular novel it based on and the mesmerizing beauty of Vermeer's work.

Another recent effort from France Séraphine portrayed self-taught French painter Séraphine Louis, known as "Séraphine de Senlis" ("Séraphine of Senlis") (1864-1942), who painted in naïve style. The movie garnered great reviews and definitely I will seek it out.

The most original and daring work to me is Caravaggio on the life of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) by the Derek Jarmin. His film was as sensual as the works of the master.

Other recent notables on the life of artists include

- Little Ashes on painter Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) and poet Federico García Lorca (1898-1936)
- Pollock on Jackson Pollock (1912-1956)
- Vincent & Theo on Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)
- Carrington about a British artist Dora Carrington (1893-1932)
- Hua Hun (Soul of Painting) depicted the strange story of a Chinese woman painter Yuliang Pan (1899-1977)
- Frida on iconic Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)
- The Agony and the Ecstacy about Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475–1564)
- Goya's Ghosts on Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes (1746 – 1828)

One of my favorite such movies was not a bio-pic rather a documentary on the philosophy and the process of the great artist Andy Goldsworthy (born 1956): Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time

Lastly, the great German painter Matthias Grünewald or "Mathis" (as first name), "Gothart" or "Neithardt" (as surname), (c. 1470 – 1528) was created for operatic stage by composer Paul Hindemith - Mathis der Maler. The opera has not been presented as frequently as it should be but as least the melodic symphony Mathis der Maler is well known. Other painters in operas are the Tosca's lover Cavaradossi, Marcello in Puccini's La bohème and the Painter in Berg's Lulu.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

WYSI(n)WYG - What You See Is (Not) What You Get

An internet error added more spice to my argument that one must not always trust one's own eyes, as reported in my blog posted on 1 July, A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words - However, Should You Trust It?

FIFA, the international governing body of football (if you insist, soccer), not only couldn't produce competent referees, failed on their website today as well. After Germany defeated Argentina in the quarter-final match (4:0), FIFA erroneously placed Argentina's flag as the team who advanced on its schedule page.

Of course, the mistake was corrected later on, but the evidence remains:

FIFA's Mistake

Sometimes, what you see is NOT what you get, shall we call it WYSInWIG?

David Malouf's "Ransom"

I just finished reading David Malouf's brilliant novel Ransom. It opened with the sadness and anger experienced by Achilles and King Priam after the death of Patroclus and Hector. The book then related the well know story from a new angle, telling how King Priam came to the decision to the the thing never done - to approach the killer of his son as a father, not a royal figure, and ransom for the body of his son. It described in vivid but economical details how he reached such decision and how he went on the night journey, accompanied by an old mule carter hired from the market. The story threw open window to the entrapped people (both Achilles and Priam and the people they represent, the Greeks and the Trojans) who tried to untie the knots history and gods bound them to, with comforting or tragic results. The book was short but it never felt slim rather epic and visionary in every way. The beauty of the languages make me chew them over and over, and I could hear music and see clear pictures at many turns of the phrases.

It is a perfect source material for a painting, or a cartoon for tapestries. I also believe that it can be a great foundation for an opera à la Benjamin Britten's Curlew River, sparse yet intense, orderly yet dissonant. Perhaps a composer like Hans Werner Henze (Die Bassariden, Das Floß der Medusa, Elegie für junge Liebende, L'Upupa und der Triumph der Sohnesliebe), Harrison Birtwhistle (The Mask of Orpheus, The Minotaur), or even Jake Heggie (Dead Man Walking, To Hell and Back, Moby-Dick) should take a look at this?

Matthew Felix Sun's Live Drawing_1373

Devastating Novel "The Land of Green Plums" by Herta Müller
Ashamed of Oneself - Reading Book "Never Let Me Go"
- Molotov's Magic Lantern: A Journey In Russian History by Rachel Polonsky and Some Journeys of My Own
- Review of "As Above, So Below" by Rudy Von B. Rucker
- Banned Books in Mao's China

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words - However, Should You Trust It?

People used to say that "A picture is worth a thousand words". It is still valid, however, a hard question must be asked: "Should we trust it?"

Adobe has done itself pride in providing the best image processing and manipulating tools. Their newest version of Creative Suite is a true wonder. According the video embedded below, one can use it insert, remove objects at will, and bend the limbs or superimpose images in almost anyway you fancy. The tool is powerful for designers but can be deadly to journalism.

After viewing the video, I will never trust images put forth as newsworthy photos. In the past, I always approached images with careful deliberation. Now, it is on an entirely different plane.

Finally, we are entering the new monstrous era worthy of a Frankenstein, I'm afraid.

Thank you Adobe, and thanks a lot!