A walk in wintry woods
Stockholm, Sweden, 1880s
[From the Swedish National Heritage Board]
Access to Tools: Publications from the Whole Earth Catalog, 1968-1974
Videofreex. The Spaghetti City Video Manual (Praeger, 1973).
Gorgeous, complicated, fascinating. America through the lens of her colonizers.
Trevor Paglen, The Last Pictures, 2012
“Commissioned and presented by public art organization Creative Time, The Last Pictures is a project to mark one of these spacecraft with a record of our historical moment. For nearly five years, artist Trevor Paglen interviewed scientists, artists, anthropologists, and philosophers to consider what such a cultural mark should be. As an artist in residence at MIT, he worked with materials scientists to develop an ultra-archival disc of images, capable of lasting in space for billions of years.
In September 2012, the television satellite EchoStar XVI will lift off from Kazakhstan with the disc attached to its anti-earth deck, enter a geostationary orbit, and proceed to broadcast over ten trillion images over its fifteen-year lifetime. When it nears the end of its useful life, EchoStar XVI will use the last of its fuel to enter a slightly higher “graveyard orbit,” where it will power down and die. While EchoStar XVI’s broadcast images are destined to be as fleeting as the light-speed radio waves they travel on, The Last Pictures will continue to slowly circle Earth until the Earth itself is no more.”
The first legislation to protect California’s Yosemite Valley, the Yosemite Land Grant, was signed on June 30, 1864 by Abraham Lincoln. Galen Clark - an early champion of Yosemite Valley and the Giant Sequoias of Mariposa Grove - was instrumental in creating the legislation and later served as one of the park’s first guardians. (He is just barely visible at the base of this massive Sequoia tree)
Photograph of Galen Clark with Rifle at the Base of a Big Tree in Mariposa Grove, California
The Swedish lyric tenor Jussi Björling died in 1960 at the age of 49. If you read much about Björling, you’ll frequently encounter a certain theme: that none of his recordings capture the beauty of his voice. Those who heard him sing rhapsodize over that voice, and sigh that its glories can’t be passed along to later generations. When their memories go, so too will Björling’s true greatness. Recording technologies won’t help, we’re told. But maybe they do help, just in a peculiar way.
We often find ourselves fascinated by the not-quite-captured, by what barely eludes us. Consider the centuries-old tradition of the male sopranos, the castrati, who provided remarkable vocal power and technique to many generations of composers. The castrato sound survived into the twentieth century in the voice of Alessandro Moreschi, who in 1902 — at age 44, well past his best singing years — made some recordings in the Sistine Chapel. They are, it must be said, terrible: his voice is weak, thin, and characterless and he often goes off-key. Some argue that modern ears are alienated by the florid and hyper-dramatic style Moreschi favored, but this is special pleading: it’s when he sings most plainly that his shortcomings are most evident.
But Moreschi’s failure to manifest the thrilling power that the castrati were celebrated for just makes the tradition that much more stimulating to the imagination. It’s somehow exciting to think of him as an insubstantial shadow of something that was once great. Keats wrote, “Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter,” which is of course true; however, there’s something specially compelling about the melody heard but not quite grasped, not experienced to the full.
Read more. [Image: AP]
Over the past week or so, I decided to quietly dig into an abandoned archive of deleted Wikipedia articles, put together the most interesting finds, and organize them into a collection. It ended up reaching almost 200 pages. Both the process of making this and the end result were…