Marxist theory holds that there are no heroic individuals in the art world. Even the most solitary practitioner depends on the people who manufacture their supplies, the understanding of the people for whom the art is intended, and in the best cases, the critics who write about it. I suppose an artist could, in theory, draw on the beach with a sharp stick, let the tide erase it without anyone else seeing it, and be satisfied, but for the overwhelming majority of us, art is a form of collaboration. This piece is about the difficulty in negotiating that path in conceptual art, of trying to have a work carry a message that is understandable to its intended viewer without becoming either so simplistic that it becomes polemic, or so difficult that the audience refuses to engage with it. The works of this kind I find most interesting incorporate collaboration, either on purpose, or by fortunate accident. Recently a particular piece in Brooklyn, ironically starting out as a statement about a heroic individual, Edward Snowden, has ended up showing how collaboration provides layers of meaning, and so gives greater insight into both the original subject and to our own role as the viewer and ultimate collaborator.
April 12, 2015 archive
Apr 12 2015
This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
April 12 is the 102nd day of the year (103rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 263 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1961, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin becomes the first human being to travel into space. During the flight, the 27-year-old test pilot and industrial technician also became the first man to orbit the planet, a feat accomplished by his space capsule in 89 minutes. Vostok 1 orbited Earth at a maximum altitude of 187 miles and was guided entirely by an automatic control system. The only statement attributed to Gagarin during his one hour and 48 minutes in space was, “Flight is proceeding normally; I am well.”
After his historic feat was announced, the attractive and unassuming Gagarin became an instant worldwide celebrity. He was awarded the Order of Lenin and given the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Monuments were raised to him across the Soviet Union and streets renamed in his honor.
The triumph of the Soviet space program in putting the first man into space was a great blow to the United States, which had scheduled its first space flight for May 1961. Moreover, Gagarin had orbited Earth, a feat that eluded the U.S. space program until February 1962, when astronaut John Glenn made three orbits in Friendship 7. By that time, the Soviet Union had already made another leap ahead in the “space race” with the August 1961 flight of cosmonaut Gherman Titov in Vostok 2. Titov made 17 orbits and spent more than 25 hours in space.
Apr 12 2015
Obama-Castro summit caps thaw in US-Cuba relations
US President Barack Obama has said his meeting with Cuban President Raul Castro will help both countries “turn the page” after decades of hostility.
He described the meeting on the fringes of the Summit of the Americas in Panama as “candid and fruitful”.
Mr Obama said that the former foes would continue to have differences but could advance mutual interests.
The meeting was the first formal talks between the two countries’ leaders in more than half a century.
Apr 12 2015
Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
Breakfast Tune: Way Over Yonder In The Minor Key – Billy Bragg & Wilco (Banjo Cover)
Today in History
President Franklin Roosevelt dies; The American Civil War begins with the attack on Ft. Sumter; Yuri Gagarin is the first man to fly in space; Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off on its first mission; Late night TV host David Letterman born. (April 12)
Breakfast News & Blogs Below
Apr 12 2015
The potential Antarctica record high of 63.5F (17.5C) was recorded on 24 March at the Esperanza Base, just south of the southern tip of Argentina. The reading, first noted on the Weather Underground blog, came one day after a nearby weather station, at Marambio Base, saw a record high of its own, at 63.3F (17.4C).
By any measure, the Esperanza reading this week was unusual. The previous record high at the base, of 62.7F (17.1C), was recorded in 1961.
But whether the recent readings represent records for Antarctica depends on the judgment of the World Meteorological Organization, the keeper of official global records for extreme temperatures, rainfall and hailstorms, dry spells and wind gusts. The WMO has recorded extreme temperatures in Antarctica but not settled the question of all-time records for the continent, according to Christopher Burt of Weather Underground.
The state of Florida is the region most susceptible to the effects of global warming in this country, according to scientists. Sea-level rise alone threatens 30 percent of the state’s beaches over the next 85 years.
But you would not know that by talking to officials at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the state agency on the front lines of studying and planning for these changes.
DEP officials have been ordered not to use the term “climate change” or “global warming” in any official communications, emails, or reports, according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers and records obtained by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
As California’s record drought continues, Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered residents and non-agricultural businesses to cut water use by 25 percent in the first mandatory statewide reduction in the state’s history. One group not facing restrictions under the new rules is big agriculture, which uses about 80 percent of California’s water. The group Food & Water Watch California has criticized Brown for not capping water usage by oil extraction industries and corporate farms, which grow water-intensive crops such as almonds and pistachios, most of which are exported out of state and overseas. Studies show the current drought, which has intensified over the past four years, is the worst California has seen in at least 120 years. Some suggest it is the region’s worst drought in more than a thousand years. This comes after California witnessed the warmest winter on record.
Apr 12 2015
Nine things that may shatter your dreams of living in Kyoto
Kyoto now welcomes 50 million tourists a year who come to experience Japan’s traditional culture and architecture, plus catch a glimpse of the city’s famed geisha. But, as anyone who lives in a tourist hot spot knows, living there is not the same as a short visit.
As such, the following is a list of some of the things that Kyoto locals probably have the urge to remind tourists of from time to time, so allow us to shatter your illusions with some of the realities that come with living in Japan’s ancient capital.
1. Kyoto City is actually the capital of Kyoto Prefecture, so when someone says they’re from Kyoto it doesn’t necessarily mean they live in the heart of Japan’s cultural capital.