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Face to Face, Google-style reSemblance

Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — cross-posted from Sembl.net ]
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Google, apparently, has an app that some people, apparently, believe responds to a selfie with a same-looking portrait from one of the world’s great museum collections. It is, in short, a Sembl-like app for faces. Uh-oh.

The Washington Post titled their piece on the topic Somewhere in the world, there’s a painting that looks like you. And Google will find it.

Though the Google Arts & Culture app has been available since 2016, the find-your-art-lookalike feature was released with its latest update in mid-December. …

“We’re always trying to figure out cool and interesting ways to get people talking about art, and this was one of them,” Lenihan said.

In recent days, scores of people — including plenty of celebrities — have shared their often hilarious results on social media, helping Google Arts & Culture climb the App Store’s charts to become the most downloaded free app.

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I thought most of the examples shown disproved the assertion in the WP post’s title. TThe museum items Google suggested didn’t look anytthing like the selfies people had submitted. My apologies. Until I saw Sarah Lyn Rogers‘s tweeted example:

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Sembl! That really does strike me as a fine case of resemblance!

Poet to painter, my twin: Jan Valentin Saether

Sunday, January 14th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — Jan Valentin Saether, requiescat in pacem ]
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Jan Valentin Saether, priest and painter extraordinaire

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Hanne Elisabeth Storm Ofteland wrote, bless her:

I am devastated! On the 11th of January at 11:45 pm my beautiful partner-in-insanity, Jan Valentin Saether, left this planet. Safe journey back to the Andromeda Galaxy, my sweet, precious, wonderful husband. I love you so much

**

Jan Valentin Saether was — it is hard to claim such kinship in the midst of so many others with their own griefs — my twin, poet to painter. We both regarded our respective arts as gifts to be given onwards, and emphasized creative innovation within continuing tradition.

I am so sad.

This runs deep — and meanwhile I am doing fine, writing other unrelated things and allowing my grief to well up from time to time, between paragraphs, between breaths.

**

Such lovely artwork — two pieces here featuring the vesica piscis, among the most elegant of mathematical and significant of archetypal forms. My first example comes from his book, The Viloshin Letters, which I helped him with in the early days. Here the vesica shows the bursting forth of the radiance into ordinary life — key to all of Jan’s work:

The second, perhaps subtler work, was indeed first called Vesica and now Epiphany. Here the breakthrough is shown in shadow-and-light — chiaroscuro — of which Jan was such a master:

The actual work is wall-sized — depending on your wall.

I am in awe of this painting.

**

Today another dear friend, Mitch Ditkoff, beauttifully and powerfully told the story of his father’s death on FB, and wrote in conclusion:

If you are reading this, there’s a good chance that someone close to you has died: your mother, father, grandparents, child, or best friend. And there’s also a good chance you have witnessed something profound in their passing, whether you were physically with them at the time or not. Be willing to share that story with others! It is not ego to tell this story. On the contrary, it’s the dissolution of ego – your opportunity to remind another person, without preaching, just how sacred each and every breath is.

I would like to tell my story of Jan Valentin Saether, to say how much I loved him, learned from him, and felt when I heard of his passing. And to mention the sacredness of breath.

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I must have met Jan sometime in the earlyn 1980s. He was teaching in Malibu, I was living in Malibu in a friend’s house, and saw some paintings of his in a folio, one of a naked woman reaching towards the viewer — and I thought he was a rock-n-roll-star type, not only not interesting but downright unpleasant.

Next thing, I was over at his place for an evening, and discovered a fellow artist, a fellow admirer of CG Jung and the mundus imaginalis, a fellow lover of the sacred in every moment. We were still talking when his then wife brought the pair of us breakfast.

Our parallel views on the sacred gifts of the arts, and the need to combine traditional and contemporary means of expression in service to the sacred — it forged a friendship, a kinship, a twinning between us.

Later, Jan asked me to take over his Sunday lecture series while he went to Oslo for a month or so. A few Sundays later, I was in mid sentence in a lecture on poetry when Jan came into the room. I got up out of the chair and offered it him, and he sat down and continued my own half-formed sentence seamlessly, turning the metaphor from sacred poetry to sacred art.

Later still, he invited me to teach creativity at Bruchion — the school of the sacred his studio in Culver City had become, named for the area in ancient Alexandria that housed its celebrated library. It was during one of my talks on creativity there that I began to play around — on the table-tennis table — with the elements that would decades later become my HipBone Games.

Jan Valentin Saether was the priest — of the Ecclesia Gnostica — who celebrated my marriage to Annie, mother of my sons.

Jan was my last and best fellow artist and friend — my twin.

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Years ago I wrote a paragraph about his paintings:

Jan Isak Saether’s work bears little resemblance to current fashions in the world of art. At first glance perhaps, it reminds us of the works of the old masters. But as we peer deeper, we sense a curious quality: Saether’s work does not bring us the easy, settled feel that we associate with the old, but a disturbing hint of drama, of the unexpected. It is as though one of the old masters had rejoined us in this latter part of the twentieth century, and after studying and absorbing all that the great moderns from Kandinsky to Francis Bacon had to offer, has turned his mind and heart to the stormy times in which we live, and out of that thunderous darkness has generated lightning. Recent currents and fashions in art have brought us visions of what it is to be human that are by turns bleak, comic, deranged, and superficial. In Saether’s work, by contrast, we find a portrayal of our humanity that contains both glory and shadow. Saether is no throwback to the past. He is a Velasquez who has learned from Bacon, a true student of both modern and ancient masters who now turns his hand to the great synthesis. It is often said that we can recognize the true artists because they give us new eyes with which to see the world, and create new worlds for us to see. Jan Saether’s work faces the future as only a work rooted in the past can, and we are the richer for his courage in bringing his deep dreams into our lives.

That captures my admiration, but not my love.

My love for Jan Valentin Saether can only be told by the loss, the grief I shall feel in my remaining days.

Each breath we have is sacred.

I shall miss him, in my quiet way, furiously.

Best Trump Ouroboros ever — and other phrasings of interest

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

[ by Charles Cameron — politics gets literary fast in this one ]
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An amazingly candid gesture from Donald Trump‘s back-story:

In a 1997 interview with Howard Stern, he described escaping from his own wedding reception—his second, when he married Marla Maples—as quickly as possible to look at coverage of the wedding.

How “Fox & Friends” Rewrites Trump’s Reality

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The only vaguely comparable gesture I can think of for its severity is the one in which an unstable genius by any account, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, chose not to attend his own daughter Ruth‘s wedding because he weighed up “the realization of my inner life” against “the work required to achieve an external life” and decided not to attend lest he miss a poem inbound during the journey or ceremony — or was it Cézanne he praised, “for not losing an afternoon of painting even to attend his only daughter’s wedding”? Surely they can’t both have missed their daughters’ respective weddings!

Or can they, almost?

Here’s a poem by Richard Michelson from More Money than God:

Cézanne Forgets His Wife’s Funeral

The day Rilke missed his daughter’s wedding,
the lesser poets, pens capped, were making love
in the Bavarian countryside, or feeding the chickens
on their fathers’ farms. But Rilke is bent over, chiseling
each syllable, although the chiselers who run the world
pay by the pound. Here, in the cherry orchard of his
patron’s château, he pauses, listens for the nightingales
singing their Keatsian songs, masking the pitiful sound
of his grandmother’s dying. What’s your excuse?

..

But in truth I am late again, running lights
and thinking of Cézanne, who is smiling
as he folds up his easel. Hortense, come quickly,
look
, he calls out; only then, remembering.

**

Well, that little meander through Rilke and Cézanne was a little more romantically endearing than the Trump matter..

Other oddments I’ve run across recently — I’ll use the comments section here to collect others —

A Freedom Outpost ouroboros:

Evidently now writing about Facebook censorship is grounds for being censored on Facebook.

Not terribly democratic, if true..

A note from friend JM Berger:

.. and there was something about whether Steve Bannon was a scapegoat or a lightning rod — a fine distinction for ontologists to ponder.

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Discuss, eh?

If you want to warn about global warming, this photo might do it

Monday, September 11th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — the elements speak Power to power]
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Images speak louder than words: the right images cut to the heart. Billions of dollars extinguished in freak storms also speak.

It may be that some of those who have been denying global warming are about ready to — reluctantly — take it sweriously as a matter for stragetic gaming.

Realism from Miami’s mayor:

As Hurricane Irma forces millions to evacuate, Mayor Tomás Regalado says: “If this isn’t climate change, I don’t know what is.”

Oh, and Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh indicates he’s evacuating Palm Beach days after suggesting Hurricane Irma is fake news:

Image:

Oh no, that’s not Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, nor is it the apocalypse, just a foretaste. It’s a photo of California burning.

Mother Nature speaks in water, wind and fire. First responders can respond, up to a point. Funding is crucial.

Hey. Job would understand:

At this also my heart trembleth, and is moved out of his place. Hear attentively the noise of his voice, and the sound that goeth out of his mouth. He directeth it under the whole heaven, and his lightning unto the ends of the earth. After it a voice roareth: he thundereth with the voice of his excellency; and he will not stay them when his voice is heard. God thundereth marvellously with his voice; great things doeth he, which we cannot comprehend. For he saith to the snow, Be thou on the earth; likewise to the small rain, and to the great rain of his strength.

Humbled yet? Is this the time for a few minds to change?

Hurricanes don’t lie. The earth is now under attack from water, wind and fire.

To see this in the microcosm, take a look at Rohingya, by water and fire — Upshortly

Oh, ah, dark hell by Hieronymous Bosch

:

That’s Judgment Day— how many signs — accelerando & crescendo — you wanna see?

Thank you. Out.

Okay, Renaissance photography?

Wednesday, August 30th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Caravaggio at Berkeley, maybe ]
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So, David Burge has tweeted that this photo looks “like a Renaissance painting of stupid”:

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First, let’s get Karl Popper out of the way: I don’t think that’s a fa;sifiable statement. But does it ring true for me?

I’d go with Caravaggio, maybe, a bit of a street-brawler himself, who can project himself into the brawl of the arrest of Christ —

— and notice whose hands, fingers interlaced, are calm amid the hurly-burly,

Caravaggion himself fled Rome to escape a death penalty for murder, perhaps that’s a pre-requisite for his tenebrist style of painting, perhaps not, who knows? And the photographer? Dare I ask? Apparently the photo credit goes to Marcus Yam/LA Times via Getty Images.

**

The photo again, since it may have risen out of screen, out of mind.

The photographer certainly (my view) has an eye for framing, but that’s largely what photography is all about, isn’t it?

That slashing diagonal — powerful. Who’s the guy standing, left, a bit detached? Not a Buddhist, I think, in that balaclava. Is that individual. isolated, or the entirety of the clash, what Burge sees as painterly — forget the Renaissance for a while here — ?

Black-clad anarchists attack conservatives at Berkeley rally runs the headline in the South Chibna Morning Post, and they’d know, right? South China, Northern Cal..

I’m weary.

The brush strokes — there are no brushstrokes in photography. Unless you use an app to put them there. Is there a brish stro0kes equivalent? Chiaroscuro — light-dark contrast — arguably, the sun’s too bright for much of that in Berkeley, and the anarchists’ black will have to make up for it. Not so when Christ is arrested — that’s simply dark, and Caravaggion illuminates the players.

How much light-dark contrast does the headline’s reference to “black-clad anarchists” add to the viewer’s perception of the image? Is it the word “black” or the word “anarchist” that does it?

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Following the news is a complex affair.

But a lover affair in any case, if that’s your preference, as it is mine — it gets me from Berkeley and stupidity to Caravaggio and Chirst, okay?


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