Score Another Accomplishment for Da Vinci
He was one of the driving artistic forces of the Italian Renaissance, an influence on all art that came after, an engineer and scientist, inventor, someone capable of drawing with one hand while writing a treatise backwards with the other, and ... the father of evolution?
Not quite, but apparently Leonardo Da Vinci was so convinced of the close relations between apes, monkeys, and men
that he didn't consider it a point that needed argument:
He explicitly says "apes, monkeys and the like" are not merely related to humans but indeed "almost of the same species". In other words, Leonardo, writing simply on the basis of his own observations more than 500 years ago, says pretty much the same thing the modern science writer Jared Diamond, on the basis of DNA evidence, argues in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee. Nor is this a stray observation. Leonardo says it again, in a note on internal anatomy: "Describe the various forms of the intestines of the human species (delle spetie umana), of apes and suchlike. Then, in what way the leonine species differ ... "
Next thing you know, someone will find somewhere in his notebooks descriptions of the calculus, quantum physics, velcro, and the smoothie.
Labels: art, Da Vinci, engineering, evolution, science
Korean Renaissance Exhibit
I haven't seen it yet, but hope to travel down to Manhattan to take in the Metropolitan Museum's Art of the Korean Resaissance
. (Be sure to click on the multimedia link that has 11 images of objects in the exhibit.) The more usual association of Renaissance is European, but apparently the time from the 15th to 17th centuries was a period of artistic experimentation. Unfortunately, a series of invasions wiped out most examples of the work, as might have happened had such tribes as the Franks and Visigoths invaded Europe after DaVinci, Dürer, and Dante had finished their work. You can find more information on the exhibit here
Also be sure to look at the special exhibits page
of the Met's web site. It looks as though there are some other displays that would provide some interesting contrasts, including drawings from Raphael to Renoir, arts of the Ming Dynasty, and early Buddhist manuscript painting
Labels: art, visual arts
Some Interesting Colored Pencil Techniques
I was noodling on the web, trying to find some sites that covered using colored pencils. (I'm expanding beyond graphite/charcoal/ink.) Surprisingly, to me at least, I found some interesting techniques on Crayola's site
. I'm particularly taken with the idea of impressing a set of lines into some thick paper and then rubbing over the surface with a colored pencil (obviously doesn't have to be Crayola). I think you'd have to avoid the standard CP advice of keeping the tip really sharp and, instead, using the side of the pencil. I could also see this working with pastels.
Labels: art, colored pencils, drawing, technique
Charlie Jade - an Intriguing SF Show
Occasionally, when I have down time (waiting as I am now for comments back on outlines and articles), I'll see what oddness is on the Sci-Fi channel. And today it's a show called Charlie Jade
, a series about a detective trapped in a parallel universe. The concept is interesting enough, but the execution is marvelous and quite unlike what you will see in American television -- perhaps because it is a coproduction of Canadian and South African media companies. Largely filmed in South Africa, it has an unselfconscious multiracial casting that is unlike most of what I see in the U.S. There are no "quirky" or specifically "ethnic" characters that become a calculated faux representationalism. On one hand, society collectively pretends that filling the quotas is the same as being unbiased.
At the same time, there is a sense of the other meaning of representationalism, a philosophical approach in which the mind is said to actually perceive representations of objects and not the objects themselves. (In contrast to the Socratic concept of the ideal and human perception of shadows of representations of reality.) I find it interesting that South Africa can appear to have, at least in terms of entertainment, a far more relaxed attitude.
But forget the social musings for a moment. This is also a gorgeously and intelligently filmed series. The angles and approaches to lighting are far different than you find here. For example, in many dramatic series, harshly blown out highlights from powerful overhead lighting, ala The West Wing
or the newest Battlestar Galactica
, has become de rigeur.
In Charlie Jade
, there is an impressive use of color and filming technique. Using two different palettes, one of muted cools and the other of muted warms (not quite as harsh as, but similar to the color cast you get when using tungsten-balanced film outside and daylight-balanced inside), they set up contrasting worlds. The lighting doesn't call as much attention to itself but still underscores the tone of the story telling.
Apparently there was only one season filmed, though a second is written and ready for production. Hopefully someone will fund it -- and maybe some U.S. production companies will pay attention and start thinking differently about how they approach the medium. It's time to shake up the predictable.
Labels: color, lighting, science fiction, SF, television
Filibuster and the Right of the Minority
The New York Times ran an opinion piece calling for the end of the filibuster in the Senate
. Certainly filibusters can be vexing when you are part of the majority that wishes to pass a bill. But the United States was not established to be an absolute democracy in which plebiscites determine all policy. In the tenth Federalist Paper, James Madison argued for the need to guard against factions of like-minded people whose interests might run contrary to the rights of others. The consideration was central to the formulation of our government and is no less important today than in the 18th century.
In fact, given the pressures to conform, to adopt either this or that political philosophy, I think today we see the demon of the majority. One group feels that it should be able to compel another to act the way it finds fitting. Given the pressure that political representatives feel to conform to public whim to more certainly enable their reelection, the filibuster is one of the few mechanisms left that can give a concerned minority the ability to say, "Stop. You may not run roughshod over us simply because it seems possible." Certainly restore the process to one that requires active participation, a single person or group to undertake the effort to actually waylay debate. But to call for the end of the filibuster is to call for the reign of popularity. That may seem desirous today, but supremacy of popular vote is a fickle thing, and tomorrow you might long for the ability to stop the wheels of progress.
Labels: filibuster, Politics