“Take a look at this startling tin alloy bust. It is called A Hypocrite and a Slanderer. When do you think it was created? Five years ago? Ten? It certainly has the air of something very modern – almost Damian Hirst without the diamonds (as it were). Would it surprise you to learn that this magnificent head was made almost two hundred and fifty years ago?”
“Émile Cohl (January 4, 1857 – January 20, 1938), born Émile Eugène Jean Louis Courtet, was a French caricaturist of the largely-forgotten Incoherent Movement, cartoonist, and animator, called “The Father of the Animated Cartoon” and “The Oldest Parisian”.
“Cohl made “Fantasmagorie” from February to May or June 1908. This is considered the first fully animated film ever made. It was made up of 700 drawings, each of which was double-exposed, leading to a running time of almost two minutes. Despite the short running time, the piece was packed with material devised in a “stream of consciousness” style. It borrowed from Blackton in using a “chalk-line effect” (filming black lines on white paper, then reversing the negative to make it look like white chalk on a black chalkboard), having the main character drawn by the artist’s hand on camera, and the main characters of a clown and a gentleman (this taken from Blackton’s “Humorous Phases of Funny Faces”). The film, in all of its wild transformations, is a direct tribute to the by-then forgotten Incoherent movement. The title is a reference to the “fantasmograph”, a mid-Nineteenth Century variant of the magic lantern that projected ghostly images that floated across the walls.”
“The technology of synthesizing sound from light is a curious combination of research from the realms of mathematics, physics, electronics and communications theory which found realization in the industries of motion picture films, music, surveillance technology and finally digital communications. As such, it’s history is an interesting cross section of 20th century history, reaching from the euphoria of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century inventors (who often struggled between “scientific” and “supernatural” explainations of their work) through the paradigm-smashing experiments of the Soviet avant-garde in the 1920’s and 1930’s to the cynical clash of ideologies of the Post-war years and finally to the dawn of the digital era in the 1970’s.
“Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry is a selection of more than 400 items from the Emile Berliner Papers and 108 Berliner sound recordings from the Library of Congress’s Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division.”
In the foreword to Art and the Atom, Reginald Fisher, then director of the El Paso Museum of Art, writes that “the semantics of this exhibition revolve around such terms as: space, energy, motion, dynamics, thrust, propulsion, acceleration, curiosity, probe, experiment, empirical, technology, mystery, experience.” He notes that the paintings were selected from pre-existing artworks “on the basis of the capacity of the particular piece to portray symbolically the essence of the research field under consideration [for recruitment].” The remaining historical evidence of this transaction between industry and artist is mute on the question of how the artists felt having their works utilized in this manner, or whether any chose to opt out.
Below is a straightforward meditation by Bisttram on the shapes and spaces that emerge when a painter contemplates a starscape. The inky midnight blue shades here echo the tones used by Van Gogh in his Starry Night, but here space is foregrounded through the omission of a ground plane. The figure–ground shift in this image has captured what the Earth-centric regulatory approach to space neglects to account for: that in space there is no “ground,” only the whole new spatial logic of the solar system environment. Titled Moon Magic by the artist, its catalog description carries the added thought, “Mysteries of the universe provide the dynamics for projects.”
The Ferranti Mark 1, also known as the Manchester Electronic Computer in its sales literature, and thus sometimes called the Manchester Ferranti, was the world’s first commercially available general-purpose electronic computer. Included in the Ferranti Mark 1’s instruction set was a hoot command, which enabled the machine to give auditory feedback to its operators. The sound generated could be altered in pitch, a feature which was exploited when the Mark 1 made the earliest known recording of computer music, playing a medley which included “God Save the King“, “Baa Baa Black Sheep“, and “In the Mood”. The recording was made by the BBC towards the end of 1951, and the programming was done by Christopher Strachey, a maths teacher at Harrow and a friend of Alan Turing. It was not however the first computer to have played music – CSIRAC, Australia’s first digital computer, achieved that with a rendition of Colonel Bogey.