“The Venus Effect” is a fascinating concept in painting and film that shatters the illusion of the perceived, the perceiver and the preceptor. In the example below, the woman is peering into a mirror.
At first glance, we think she is looking at her own reflection, but the angle of the mirror deceives us, because she is really directly looking at us, not herself. In fact, the artifice of assumption is something of an aesthetic cheat because we fail to realize she is watching us while we watch her. She is incapable of viewing her own reflection in that particular angle of yaw.
The quickest way to lose any social argument is to hide behind claiming the wellbeing of your children is at risk while not standing in front of them and offering them direct protection. If you’re truly concerned about the welfare of your offspring, instantly act on their behalf, and don’t slog into the courts to beg a remedy to a simple matter of privacy that could be solved simply by drawing the curtains.
There’s an old saying in the Deaf Community when it comes to watching other people’s Sign Language conversations from across the room — “eyes for for?” — meaning “my eyes are for watching, and if you don’t want to be watched, then move out of my line of sight. Make your own privacy.”
Today, we could say the same thing about a camera in situ — “photos for for?”
There’s a big hoo-hah here in New York City over the right of a family to demand privacy in their floor-to-ceiling windowed apartment — even though they leave the curtains open — so anyone, and everyone, can see directly into their living space.
One neighbor, Arne Svenson, found the patterns of the family’s windows intriguing and took a series of images of them as part of his “The Neighbors” photography series. Here’s an example from his fascinating collection:
I work on the Upper East Side in New York City, and as part of my job take a walk — sometimes twice a day, when necessary — to the main building of Weill Cornell Medical College, to pick up and drop off mail at the mail room and to pick up and drop off any deliveries that may be needed among the various departments of the College. It is quite a pleasant walk, chiefly because of all of the sights that I am fortunate to see, and the beautiful architecture I can enjoy daily.
Since the day that I read the article The Mechanist on Not Being an Artist, I have often thought back to it, particularly when I am walking to my office and I pass what I consider to be the most elegant yet dangerous mode of street transportation — the motorcycle. I have given it much thought because every time I see a well designed and built motorcycle, my first thought is that I am lucky to have come across it and that it is as if I have entered a museum — only that I am clearly the sole visitor to the museum, and there is no admission fee.
Recently, I came across a motorcycle that was so lovely that I had to take a picture of it with my phone to share with you. Here it is in all of its glory.
When I was a child, Peanuts was one of my favorite comics in the Sunday newspaper — for that was the only day of the week that my father bought the newspaper, as it had plenty of coupons for our bi-weekly grocery shopping trips. I also got collections of the comic from when my father would go to garage sales — so even well before you could find hundreds of the comic online for free, I had access to strips from the fifties and sixties.
I live my life trying to create Art and Beauty in all conditions and I also do my best to recognize and celebrate Art and Beauty in others — even if they do not recognize those gifts in themselves. I know a sandwich maker can be an Artist. It’s all about intention and the cut of the knife and the slice of the bread and, of course, choosing just the right condiments. While an Artist can create a sandwich, a sandwich is never really a piece of Art because Art — in its essence — must have the capacity to endure. Sandwiches, by their very nature, are crafted to be temporary and dissolved. Albert Einstein was an Artist as was Alexander the Great.
Imagine my surprise the other day when a new online friend sent me a gift — something he’d made with tools and machines he’d created in a faraway land — and I wrote him an email to thank him and celebrate his talent and my “You’re an Artist!” compliment was wholly rebuffed. I’d unwittingly insulted The Mechanist by identifying his keen aesthetic.
We’re in trouble in the good ole USA. Our academies of higher learning are giving in to the bad behavior of the students seeking to earn diplomas from their educational institutions. Our values as a civilization are under attack by leading educators who wish to dumb-down the curriculum to better suit students who are applying to colleges stupider, less talented, and much more self-interested than ever before. The disconnect between classroom realism and real life reality is enough to make your brain explode in flames as you come to realize our great nation of minds is quickly decaying into a leveling pit of repurposed mediocrity: