Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I passed over photos of Charles Pétillon's balloon installation in London's Covent Garden yesterday, thinking that it seemed too similar to other projects I've posted about in the past. But I love the artist's description of the project, which he calls "Heartbeat" and which employs the airy, celestial splendor of 100,000 white balloons in its 177-foot long reconstruction of a cloud. "The balloon invasions I create are metaphors," says the artist. "Their goal is to change the way in which we see the things we we live alongside each day without really noticing them."

"With Heartbeat," he continues, "I want to represent the Market Building as the beating heart of this area — connecting its past with the present to allow visitors to re-examine its role at the heart of London's life." Also a part of the installation are white lights that palpitate to a rhythm similar to that of a beating heart, so that the cloud appears "as alive and vibrant as the area itself." See more, here.

Photos by Paul Grover. Thanks, Creative Boom. See also: manmade hills / lick-able walls / a floating flower garden / and a house made of sugar.

Recommended Reading / 44.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week, via Brainpickings: a snippet from sculptor Teresita Fernández's keynote address at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of the Arts. Though the entire speech is worth reading (for me, it was an absolute gift of a find on this slow, post-vacation Monday), this bit on the beauty of broken pottery struck a particularly poignant chord.

In Japan there is a kind of reverence for the art of mending. In the context of the tea ceremony there is no such thing as failure or success in the way we are accustomed to using those words. A broken bowl would be valued precisely because of the exquisite nature of how it was repaired, a distinctly Japanese tradition of kintsugi, meaning to “to patch with gold”. Often, we try to repair broken things in such a way as to conceal the repair and make it “good as new.” But the tea masters understood that by repairing the broken bowl with the distinct beauty of radiant gold, they could create an alternative to “good as new” and instead employ a “better than new” aesthetic. They understood that a conspicuous, artful repair actually adds value. Because after mending, the bowl’s unique fault lines were transformed into little rivers of gold that, post repair, were even more special because the bowl could then resemble nothing but itself.

Find the rest of Fernández's speech, here. Photo by Jesse Chamberlin.

A few more, just because:
-A Sylvia Plath mix tape.
-The architecture of American houses.
-Chewing gum masterpieces. (Thanks, Dad.)
-An Instagram account dedicated to dirty corners.
-And, lastly, beautiful words from Elizabeth Kolbert, via Stephanie Madewell: Figueres had brought along a camera to document the Bribris’ lives. She discovered that they loved to see photographs of themselves, and so every few months she would trek out of the village, by foot and by donkey, to get the pictures developed. Once, she also brought back a postcard showing New York City at night: "I thought, Let’s see how they interpret this. So I just showed them the photograph, and I said, ‘What is this?" ‘Ah,’ they said. ‘All the little stars of heaven in rows!’ What a beautiful interpretation. They had no concept of what a lit city was. The only light they had seen at night was the stars."

More recommended reading, here. Also, many thanks to those of you who wrote to me with Detroit recommendations — I loved my time there and will post on those adventures very soon. In the meantime, have a wonderful Monday!


Friday, August 28, 2015

I'm in Detroit for the weekend, exploring a new city for a few days before summer comes to a close. Any and all recommendations, if you have them, are more than welcome! In the meantime, I thought I'd share a blurb from an essay by Sheila Heti called "Stealing Glances," which I found courtesy of Cass Marketos, and which describes the anxieties we sometimes feel about making eye contact (and what she calls "quarter-of-a-second-long relationships") with strangers on the street.

We are naturally curious about other people. From the start, as babies, we are drawn to the eyes of our parents. Imagine a cat, neurotically trying not to look directly at a passing cat. We need eye-to-eye contact. We want to see each others’ faces. It is why we take and keep photographs, watch television, hang portraits in our homes. There is something terrible about looking at each other, only to have reflected back our own (and the other person’s) thwarted, repressed desire to look. 

Somewhere we have failed magnificently. Our culture is such that a greater value even than freedom is productivity, utility. I was having a conversation with a friend about leisure, and she was saying how much she enjoys doing nothing, just wandering aimlessly around her house, thinking. “I find it so productive,” she decided. Even an activity we enjoy precisely because it is not about production we must ultimately justify by way of its productivity. This being the situation we find ourselves in, how can we ever justify to ourselves or to each other the value of those most fleeting relationships, lasting at most two seconds long, with a stream of people we will never see again? What is the utility of the quarter-of-a-second-long relationship? 

Find the rest of the esaay, here — it's beautiful. Have a wonderful weekend! Photo by Emily Johnston.

Non-Career Advice: Hauna Zaich.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Non-Career Advice is a series that asks people - young, old, and in a range of occupations - for words of wisdom unrelated to work, career-building, dollars, or getting ahead.

Name: Hauna Zaich / Teacher
Also: Poet / penpal / epicure
Age: 29

Sometimes, all they need is love. "On my desk, I keep two written reminders that I like to reference if my patience is being tested. One of them says, the student who needs the most love will ask for it in the most unloving ways. I think back, and there are so many instances in my life where I wish I'd known that. I could have really used it. When I was younger, I took rudeness personally. I had a hard time seeing past a person's words. Now, especially with my students — but also in my friendships, relationships, and family life — I try to think, you must really be hurting. How can I help you through that pain? Some of the people I've loved the most deeply have also been some the hardest to love — but they need that acceptance more than anyone else. They just may not know how to ask for it."

Thanks so much, Hauna. More from the Non-Career Advice series, here, including wise words from Brian Paquette, Emily Johnston, and Dez'Mon Omega Fair. 

Globe Plotters.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

For tired eyes on a Tuesday morning: a dose of old-world magic courtesy of London-based globemakers Bellerby & Co. Founder Peter Bellerby — whose globe-crafting journey began after an unfruitful search for a suitable model to gift his father —outlines the arduous process of licensing, programming, molding, balancing, and goring here. It all sounds very complicated to be sure, but wow. They make it look good.

Visit Bellerby & Co. for more information. (Their Instagram, predictably, is incredibly beautiful, too.) Via My Modern Met.

Recommended Reading / 43.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Every Monday, words to start the week. 

This week via GQ: Stephen Colbert, on embracing discomfort:

"I like to do things that are publicly embarrassing, to feel the embarrassment touch me and sink into me and then be gone. I like getting on elevators and singing too loudly in that small space. The feeling you feel is almost like a vapor. The discomfort and the wishing that it would end that comes around you. I would do things like that and just breathe it in...Nope, can't kill me. This thing can't kill me.

 Find the full story by Joel Lovell on GQ, here. Photo by Sebastian Kim.

A few more, just because:
-Make, don't buy.
-A German book critic reviews the Ikea catalog.
-Millennial (female) morticians offer a thoughtful reexamination of death.
-My First Time: a video series featuring writers discussing the early stages of their careers. Each is "a portrait of the artist as a beginner and a look at the creative process, in all its joy, abjection, delusion, and euphoria."
-From Kurt Vonnegut, found via Jesse Chamberlin: "Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why."

More recommended reading, here. Have a wonderful Monday.

Weekend Note / 08.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Weekend notes are short-form POVs.

I love borders. August is the border between summer and autumn; it is the most beautiful month I know. Twilight is the border between day and night, and the shore is the border between sea and land. The border is longing; when both have fallen in love but still haven’t said anything. The border is to be on the way. It is the way that is the most important thing. 

Tove Jansson, “Moominvalley in November”.


I've never liked August. It's always struck me as a slow month, and a lonely one, as everyone vacates the city in droves for late-in-the-season getaways. It's also around this time each summer when I begin to lose patience with the heat, taking up Dracula-like residence in my top-floor apartment. "Remind me why everyone looks forward to summer again?" I asked Lily this afternoon, as we sat in the center of an elaborate system of fans, our laptops balanced precariously atop stacks of books to distance us from their radial heat.

Still. Tove Jansson writes about borders beautifully. So beautifully that I feel warmed to the idea of August, if anything, for its in-betweenness and for what lies on the other side.

Mikio Hasui, whose words I posted here last Monday, based an entire photo series on the fog that obscures tree-covered mountains. "I was thinking that if the fog wasn't there, and it was just a mountain covered in autumnal leaves," he says, "the experience...would've been pretty boring. It was beautiful because it was hidden."

August contains all the exquisite romance of moments leading up to something wonderful - of what's perfect and pure and unspoiled because it has yet to happen. Most uncomfortable transitions in life, now that I think of it, have given way to something better. Opened doors to strange and startling places. Illuminated possibilities crisp, bright, brilliant as fall. 

Thank you so much for reading. Wishing you all, near and far, a wonderful weekend.

Photo by Max Wanger.


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