Collection: Part 1

Research Part 1

Articles: Place

Place (inside the brain)

"The past 100 years have been characterized by rapid development of technology, major sociopolitical changes and substantial growth in knowledge about human biology, behavior and the brain. These changes have been paralleled by an ever-increasing speed with which information and news are transmitted around the world. For instance, news of natural disasters, catastrophes and genocides are made widely available, instantaneously, via 24-hour cable news networks, creating an enormous pool of spectators to regional negative events."


A neural pathway, is a series of neurons connected together to enable a signal to be sent from one brain region to another. Neurons are connected by a single nerve fibre or by bundles of nerve fibres known as tracts. A neural pathway that serves to connect relatively distant areas of the brain or nervous system is a bundle of neurons, known collectively as white matter. A neural pathway that spans a shorter distance between structures, such as most of the pathways of the major neurotransmitter systems, is usually called grey matter.


A neural pathway is responsible for connecting a specific part of the nervous system to another by a bundle of axons, which are also the long fibers of neurons. The pathway helps to connect parts of the brain or nervous system that are distant, and are typically known and seen as white matter. In the vision pathway, visual information leaves the eye with the help of the optic nerve. Axons partially cross in the middle of the optic chiasm. Following this, the axons are known as the optic tract, which will bind around the midbrain in order to reach the lateral geniculate nucleus. The lateral geniculate nucleus is the area where the axons have to synapse. After this, the axons flow throughout the white matter and act as optic radiations, which finally travel back to the primary visual cortex located in the back of the brain.

Functional Aspects - In general, neurons receive information either at their dendrites or cell bodies. The axon of a nerve cell is, in general, responsible for transmitting information over a relatively long distance. Therefore, most neural pathways are made up of axons. If the axons have myelin sheaths, then the pathway appears bright white because myelin is primarily lipid.If most or all of the axons lack myelin sheaths (i.e., are unmyelinated), then the pathway will appear a darker beige color, which is generally called grey.

(words via wikipedia:



For centuries, scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying the human brain have attempted to unlock its mysteries. The role the brain plays in human personality — as well as the myriad of disorders and conditions that come along with it — is often difficult to study because studying the organ while it’s still functioning in a human body is complicated. Now, researchers at The Allen Institute for Brain Science have introduced a new tool that could make such study a whole lot easier: functioning virtual brain cells.

The fully 3D computer models of living human brain tissue are based on actual brain samples that were left over after surgery, and present what could be the most powerful testbed for studying the human brain ever created.

The samples used to construct the virtual models was healthy tissue that was removed during brain operations, and represents parts of the brain that are typically associated with thoughts and consciousness, as well as memory. Those are vital areas for the research of mood disorders and various psychiatric ailments.

(image via



Diagram of a typical myelinated vertebrate motor neuron

(image via

(Images of neurons are fascinating, as those branches, endless, monstrous figure)

There are several types of specialized neurons. Sensory neurons respond to stimuli such as touch, sound or light and all other stimuli affecting the cells of the sensory organs that then send signals to the spinal cord and brain. Motor neurons receive signals from the brain and spinal cord to cause muscle contractions and affect glandular outputs. Interneurons connect neurons to other neurons within the same region of the brain, or spinal cord in neural networks.

('sensory', which a date can active the part of the brain, I thought about using light bulbs to replace those two gates part or somewhere links to black strings as neurons.)

Information transmission within the brain, such as takes place during the processes of memory encoding and retrieval, is achieved using a combination of chemicals and electricity. It is a very complex process involving a variety of interrelated steps, but a quick overview can be given here.


Enhance Your Mood, Your Sleep, and a Lot More

5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) - In humans, 5-HTP is the immediate nutrient precursor to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT). This means that 5-HTP converts directly into serotonin in the brain (see Figure 1). Serotonin has many profoundly important functions, including a role in sleep, appetite, memory, learning, temperature regulation, mood, sexual behavior, cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, and endocrine regulation.


Figure 1.Serotonin metabolism. The brain neurotransmitter serotonin is replenished naturally by the nutrient 5-HTP, leading to more efficient functioning of neural pathways.

5-HTP is a chemical that the body makes from the dietary amino acid tryptophan. 5-HTP is linked to the brain chemical serotonin, which affects mood, sleep and pain. It can be taken as a supplement.

5-HTP is used in the production of the chemical serotonin in the brain and nervous system. Some people believe it can be used to help treat conditions affected by serotonin, such as depression, insomnia, obesity and other conditions. However, its use for treating these conditions remains debated and more research is needed.    (via



picture via 



Week 6/7: Place


Seed Cathedral, by Thomas Heatherwick, World Expo 2010




The major art installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, marked one hundred years since the first full day of Britain's involvement in the First World War.

Created by artists Paul Cummins and Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies were used in the installation.



Robert Rauschenberg



Angus Martin



Cy Twombly

There's growing demand for Twombly across all stages of his career. 


Cy Twombly, Untitled (New York City), (1968). Courtesy Sotheby's.

Untitled (New York City), a 1968 Cy Twombly “blackboard” painting, set a new auction record for the artist at $70.5 million at Thursday night’s postwar and contemporary art sale at Sotheby’s New York. It was the top lot in a solid $295 million sale (and also happened to be the priciest item Sotheby’s has sold this year).

It edged past the artist’s previous auction record by not even $1 million, but it’s worth noting that that previous record was set just one year ago, at Christie’s New York, for another painting in the same style.

“I was expecting an even higher price,” dealer Karsten Greve, told artnet News in a phone conversation. “I’m not surprised at all about the price, not at all,” he admitted, noting he thought it could have sold for as much as $75 million.

Half of Twombly’s top ten prices at auction, all north of $15 million, are for chalkboard paintings that have been sold since 2011, the year the artist died in Rome at age 83.

One of those was at Sotheby’s London this past February. The painting in question fetched $30 million, nearly doubling in value over three years: Hollywood film producer Stavros Merjos, the seller that night, had bought it at Sotheby’s New York in 2012 for $17.4 million, a record at the time.

Cy Twombly, Ferragosto (1961). Photo: Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zurich.

Cy Twombly, Ferragosto (1961).
Photo: Thomas Ammann Fine Art, Zurich.

The “blackboard” works are part of a larger group of gray paintings created between 1966 and 1973. “Gray is one of the most delicate and difficult colors,” said Greve, noting that it’s very attractive to major artists. “Most people they would love a colorful Van Gogh painting but you should see the gray paintings by Van Gogh; They’re fantastic.”

Greve recognizes the “blackboard” paintings as part of Twombly’s genius production, and “one of his great moments,” but is quick to clarify that he doesn’t think it is the best of his work.

“Twombly’s one of the greatest artists of the last 100 years,” said Greve who has galleries in Cologne, Paris, and St. Moritz, and first exhibited the the Kentucky-born artist’s work in 1971. Twombly, he said, has become “very influential for generations of younger artists.”

A giant of 20th-century art history, Twombly appeared in the Venice Biennale in 1964, 1989, and 2001, receiving a Golden Lion in 2001. The Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art (both in New York) and London’s Tate Modern have organized surveys of his work.

Greve sees a growing demand for Twombly works across all stages of his career. “The body of his work is very small,” explained Greve. “I would say Twombly did something like 650 paintings.”

“If all the major museums in the world, if they want an important Twombly painting, there will be very soon nothing on the market anymore,” he predicted. “It will be very hard to find any good material. I’m expecting the Twombly market you will see colossal prices.”

“The whole thing started with the line,” said Greve about the “blackboard” works, noting the powerful energy and motion captured in the scribbled waves. “[Twombly] was creating his own language and he was using this type of painted surface which was astonishing and not seen before…. On the other side it’s a common language that everyone can read.”


Louise Brierley


Naughty Puppies No.12, Oil on pane, 29 x 37 cm

This painting is one of a series of thirteen finished at the end of last year. They were inspired by the no-man’s land of Hackney Marshes, that particular place where the edge of the City meets nature.

Lurking in the shadows are demonic, half-bred creatures who, perhaps in reaction to their boredom, are engaged in a kind of private anarchy.

Louise Brierley was born in Glossop, Derbyshire in 1958. She studied at Manchester Polytechnic 1977-80 and the Royal College of Art 1980-83. She has exhibited in Japan (a solo show in four national museums 1997) Los Angeles and London, most recently in The Discerning Eye Mall Galleries 2002, Triangle Space Gallery 2003 and East End Academy Whitechapel Art Gallery 2004. She received the New York Times’s award for the best artist’s book in 1996.






Articles (Research)

Altered Spaces

In positive psychology, Flow, also known as the zone, is the mental state of operation in which a person performing an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. In essence, flow is characterized by complete absorption in what one does, and a resulting loss in one's sense of space and time.

Named by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the concept has been widely referenced across a variety of fields (and has an especially big recognition in occupational therapy), though the concept has existed for thousands of years under other guises, notably in some Eastern religions. Achieving flow is often colloquially referred to as being in the zone.

Flow shares many characteristics with hyperfocus. However, hyperfocus is not always described in a positive light. Some examples include spending "too much" time playing video games or getting side-tracked and pleasurably absorbed by one aspect of an assignment or task to the detriment of the overall assignment. In some cases, hyperfocus can "capture" a person, perhaps causing them to appear unfocused or to start several projects, but complete few.

Flow is so named because during Csíkszentmihályi's 1975 interviews several people described their "flow" experiences using the metaphor of a water current carrying them along.

Jeanne Nakamura and Csíkszentmihályi identify the following factors as encompassing an experience of flow:

  1. Intense and focused concentration on the present moment
  2. Merging of action and awareness
  3. A loss of reflective self-consciousness
  4. A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity
  5. A distortion of temporal experience, one's subjective experience of time is altered


Absolute space and time is a concept in physics and philosophy about the properties of the universe. In physics, absolute space and time may be a preferred frame. Before Newton - A version of the concept of absolute space (in the sense of a preferred frame) can be seen in Aristotelian physics.[1]Robert S. Westman writes that a "whiff" of absolute space can be observed in Copernicus De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, where he exploits the concept of immobile sphere of stars.




Week 5: 2D



Penny Slinger, Rosegasm, 1970-1977. Photo collage 13 3/8 x 20 inches (34 x 50.8 centimeters). Courtesy of the artist and Blum & Poe, Los Angeles/New York/Tokyo


Penny Slinger (Born 1947, London; lives and works in California) Penny Slinger graduated from the Chelsea College of Art in 1969. Select exhibitions include ‘The Beguiling Siren is Thy Crest’, The Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2017); ‘History is Now’, Hayward Gallery, London (2015); ‘Lips Painted Red’, Trondheim Kunstmuseum (2013); ‘The Dark Monarch: Magic and Modernity in British Art’, Tate St. Ives (2009-10); ‘Angels of Anarchy’, Manchester Art Gallery (2009); ‘Surrealism Unlimited’, Camden Arts Centre, London (1978); XII Bienal de São Paulo (1973); and ‘Young and Fantastic’, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) London (1969).  (contents via

Inspired by the collage practices of the Surrealists, Penny Slinger uses the same tools to probe the feminine psyche. She chooses to be her own muse and employs photographs and life casts of herself throughout her practice – owning her sexuality and challenging the status quo with her fearless and radical aesthetic

As part of her in-depth exploration of how a woman is seen and how she sees herself, Slinger created themed series of works. The collage works exhibited here are selections from ‘50% The Visible Woman’  (1969/71), ‘Mouthpieces’ (1973), ‘Bride’s Cake’ (1973), ‘Scrolls’ (1976), ‘An Exorcism’ (1977) and ‘Mountain Ecstasy’ (1978). 

This is one eye-catching piece when I was browsing the website on Frieze. 



Julie Mehretu is an artist based in New York who creates huge intricate paintings featuring many layers of abstract image and icons. The photograph above is of Mural a huge 23 by 80 feet painting, commissioned by investment bank Goldman Sachs for $5million and is displayed in their new office building in New York. 

Julie Mehretu makes large-scale, gestural paintings that are built up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas overlaid with mark-making using pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. Mehretu’s work conveys a layering and compression of time, space and place and a collapse of art historical references, from the dynamism of the Italian Futurists and the geometric abstraction of Malevich to the enveloping scale of Abstract Expressionist colour field painting. In her highly worked canvases, Mehretu creates new narratives using abstracted images of cities, histories, wars and geographies with a frenetic mark making that for the artist becomes a way of signifying social agency as well suggesting an unravelling of a personal biography. (via White Cube)

Mehretu’s points of departure are architecture and the city, particularly the accelerated, compressed and densely populated urban environments of the 21st Century. Her canvases overlay different architectural features such as columns, façades and porticoes with geographical schema such as charts, building plans and city maps and architectural renderings, seen from multiple perspectives, at once aerial, cross-section and isometric. Her paintings present a tornado of visual incident where gridded cities become fluid and flattened, like many layers of urban graffiti. Mehretu has described her rich canvases as “story maps of no location”, seeing them as pictures into an imagined, rather than actual reality. Through its cacophony of marks, her work seems to represent the speed of the modern city depicted, conversely, with the time-aged materials of pencil and paint.

This is a better image of the enormous painting, if you look closely you can see faint line drawings of buildings and architecture amidst the vivid lines and blocks of colour, and the clouds of tiny little brushstrokes. I came across this work when looking for interesting ways of showing timelines as this piece is said to show ‘a history of capitalism’ and this New Yorker article features an interview with the artist where she explains: “There are four layers of markings in “Mural,” and many of them implicitly refer to the history of finance capitalism—maps, trade routes, population shifts, financial institutions, the growth of cities. Mehretu pointed to several bold, curving, orange and blue lines. “They’re in the first layer,” she said, “part of a maplike network shooting through the whole painting. The architectural drawings came next—two layers, clearly visible and meticulously drawn in pen and ink. She identified a few: an early Massachusetts bank, the New Orleans cotton exchange, the façade of the New York Stock Exchange. “There are some much earlier things,” she said, waving toward the upper part of the painting. “London stock exchanges where pigs and cows were sold, and a market gate from the ancient Greek city of Miletus, which I saw in the Pergamon Museum, in Berlin.” I think this is such an interesting way that she has worked, the fact that the painting is being paid for by Goldman Sachs means it is full of these historical notions of capitalism, though the painting itself is very modern looking. The random looking geometric shapes remind me of computers and technology and them glitching or breaking, the painting is chaotic and represents the information overload of today’s society. Though this work is very much art and not design I am inspired by the thinking behind it and though it is a very extreme example it will push me to think more abstractly with the timeline work I produce. I have put some other works by the artist that I like below:


This painting is called Stadia and I think the surrounding nature of it feels like a stadium, the variety of bright colours in little flag shapes could represent countries or teams in a sports match. I think the delicate ink work in between these shapes is a nice contrast and looks so natural and flowing like clouds or waves. (via



Mark Rothko.jpg

Inscribed 'MARK ROTHKO | 1959' on back of canvas (in reverse direction to the arrows indicating the top)
Oil on canvas, 105 x 180 (266.5 x 457)

Red on Maroon is a large unframed oil painting on a horizontally orientated rectangular canvas. The base colour of the painting is a muted maroon. This is overlaid with a large red rectangle, which in turn encloses a maroon square, suggesting a window-like structure. The maroon paint forms a solid block of colour but the edges seep slightly, blurring into the areas of red. Different pigments have been used within the red, blending shades of crimson and carmine. This changing tone gives a sense of depth in an otherwise abstract composition.

Red on Maroon was painted by the abstract expressionist artist Mark Rothko. He is best known, alongside fellow Americans Barnett Newman and Robert Motherwell, as a pioneer of colour field painting. The movement was characterised by simplified compositions of unbroken colour, which produced a flat picture plane. Red on Maroon was painted on a single sheet of tightly stretched cotton duck canvas. The canvas was primed with a base coat of maroon paint, made from powder pigments mixed into rabbit skin glue. The glue within the paint shrank as it dried, giving the painting’s surface its matt finish. Onto the base Rothko added a second coat that he subsequently scraped away to leave a thin coating of colour. The red paint was then added in fast, broken brushstrokes, using a large commercial decorator’s brush. With broad sweeping gestures Rothko spread the paint onto the canvas surface, muddying the edges between the blocks of colour, creating a sense of movement and depth. With time this difference has become more pronounced as the pigments fade at varying rates.

In early 1958 Rothko was commissioned to paint a series of murals for the exclusive Four Seasons restaurant in the Seagram Building in New York, designed by Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson. Rothko was interested in the possibility of having a lasting setting for his paintings to be seen as a group. He wanted to create an encompassing environment of the sort he had encountered when visiting Michelangelo’s vestibule in the Laurentian Library in Florence in 1950 and again in 1959:


I was much influenced subconsciously by Michelangelo’s walls in the staircase room of the Medicean Library in Florence. He achieved just the kind of feeling I’m after – he makes the viewers feel that they are trapped in a room where all the doors and windows are bricked up, so that all they can do is butt their heads forever against the wall.
(Quoted in Breslin 2012, p.400.)

Rothko started work on the Seagram commission in a large new studio, which allowed him to simulate the restaurant’s private dining room. Between 1958 and 1959 Rothko created three series of paintings, but was unsatisfied with the first and sold these paintings as individual panels. In the second and third series Rothko experimented with varying permutations of the floating window frame and moved towards a more sombre colour palette, to counter the perception that his work was decorative. Red on Maroon belongs to the third series, in which the blocks of colour within the works had become more defined. By the time Rothko had completed these works he had developed doubts about the appropriateness of the restaurant setting, which led to his withdrawal from the commission. However, this group of works is still referred to as the ‘Seagram Murals’.



Mark Rothko’s technique of painting departs from Pollock’s actions. Rothko’s style is called colorfield painting. His works consist of strong formal elements, such as color, shape, balance, depth, composition, and scale. They confirm the ideas of the formalist critic Clement Greenberg, who suggested in “Modernist Painting” (1960) that artists should respect the limitations of each media. Because a canvas is a two-dimensional surface, painting should avoid any illusion of three-dimensional representation.

Even so, Rothko refused to be considered solely in these terms, arguing, “It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academic painting…. However, there is no such thing as good painting about nothing”. Rothko believed that while flat, two-dimensional forms destroyed illusion, they also revealed truth.

What is the truth that Rothko attempted to reveal? The titles of his paintings offer few answers, as Rothko begins to abandon conventional titles in 1947. Some critics have suggested that Rothko’s works refer to Western American landscape. However, Rothko declared that there was no “landscape” in his art. Instead, Rothko argued that his paintings are “fully visible” to the viewer. They do not refer to anything else. In other words, what you see is what you get. Ideally, the viewer would stand in front of his paintings, focusing on large fields of color and abstract forms, and come to terms with the self and his or her own scale. Colorfield painters believe that art could encourage the physical sensation of time and being there with the work.

Rothko’s early palette consists of bright colors. However, his colors begin to darken dramatically during the late 1950s. Increasingly, Rothko uses red, maroon, brown, and black. Also, his motifs change from an open to a closed form. Because his paintings do not have any given subject matter, this change of color and form is crucial. Consider how Rothko’s darkened colors and closed forms affect the mood of his works. 





Shipwreck, Mount Rainier National Park, 30×30 inches, oil on canvas 2017

Using a combination of oil and acrylic paint, ink, and found photographs, Seattle-based artist Mary Iverson (previously) investigates the relationship between humans and their environment in her landscape overlay paintings. Iverson builds worlds where dramatically angled, brightly colored geometric shapes are caught in webs of competing perspective lines and grids, superimposed over otherwise tranquil scenery.

Iverson described her work to Amadeus Magazine: “In following my interests and working to resolve an artistic dichotomy within myself, between my love and nature and my fascination with the shipping industry, I came upon a visual solution that metaphorically echoes what we are facing in the world today.”

These paintings are included in Correspondence, her exhibition with Scott Albrecht at Andenken Gallery in Amsterdam, NL. The show opens on November 11. You can also see more of Iverson’s finished and in-progress works on Instagram.


Shipwreck, Yosemite National Park, 30×30 inches, oil on canvas, 2017


Windmills, 12×12 inches, acrylic, ink, found photograph on panel, 2017

When I opened this new website called COLOSSAL, this series of landscape paintings. I didn't realize that they are oil paintings, full of technology elements, just as artist Julie Mehretu.


Week 4: 4D


Douglas Gordon, 24 hours 'psycho'

Scottish video and installation artist. His work is often based on a disruption of perception; by making his audience aware of their own fugitive subjectivity, he questions how we give meaning to our experience of things. An early text work, Meaning and Location (1990), installed at University College London, demonstrates not only his emphasis on the importance of context, but also his exploration of semantic anomalies. By printing the same text twice with a misplaced comma (‘Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise. Truly I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise’), he compromises and multiplies the original meaning of the words from the gospel of St Luke. In the 1994 sound installation Something Between My Mouth and Your Ear (London, B. and M. Starkmann priv. col.), he played, in an entirely blue room, 30 popular songs that were current in the six months preceding his birth. This concern with memory and perception was developed in the acclaimed video projection 24 Hour Psycho (1993; Wolfsburg, Kstmus.), a rear-projected installation of Hitchcock’s film, slowed down to last an entire day. Gordon focuses the viewer’s attention both on the intricate detail of the film in its naked state, as a progression of stills, as well as on their own recollections of a cinema classic. In 1997 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale. (via

24 Hour Psycho is the title of an art installation created by artist Douglas Gordon in 1993. The work consists entirely of an appropiation of Alfred Hitchcock's 1960 Psycho slowed down to approximately two frames a second, rather than the usual 24. As a result, it lasts for exactly 24 hours, rather than the original 109 minutes. The film was an important work in Gordon's early career, and is said to introduce themes common to his work, such as "recognition and repetition, time and memory, complicity and duplicity, authorship and authenticity, darkness and light." (via wikipedia)


Condice Breitz, 'Her', 2008 / 'Thriller'


'Meshes of the Afternoon'

Meshes of the Afternoon is one of the most influential works in American experimental cinema. A non-narrative work, it has been identified as a key example of the "trance film," in which a protagonist appears in a dreamlike state, and where the camera conveys his or her subjective focus. The central figure in Meshes of the Afternoon, played by Deren, is attuned to her unconscious mind and caught in a web of dream events that spill over into reality. Symbolic objects, such as a key and a knife, recur throughout the film; events are open-ended and interrupted. Deren explained that she wanted "to put on film the feeling which a human being experiences about an incident, rather than to record the incident accurately."

Made by Deren with her husband, cinematographer Alexander Hammid, Meshes of the Afternoon established the independent avant-garde movement in film in the United States, which is known as the New American Cinema. It directly inspired early works by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and other major experimental filmmakers. Beautifully shot by Hammid, a leading documentary filmmaker and cameraman in Europe (where he used the surname Hackenschmied) before he moved to New York, the film makes new and startling use of such standard cinematic devices as montage editing and matte shots. Through her extensive writings, lectures, and films, Deren became the preeminent voice of avant-garde cinema in the 1940s and the early 1950s. (via


'Spellbound'. (Dali. Dream Sequence from 'Spellbound'.)


'Wild Strawberries'.

(Bergman's Dreams)


'Un Chien Andalon'




'Filmstudie' (1925), Hans Richter.


'Dreamwork' (2002), Peter Tscherkassky.


'Chumlum' (1964), Dir. Ron Rice






Week 3: 3D

Project: 3D  - Material News



Now considered the oldest message in a bottle, this post card was thrown into the North Sea in 1906.

Credit: Marine Biological Association.

 "108-Year-Old Message in a Bottle Is Oldest Ever Found" 

The oldest message in a bottle spent 108 years, 4 months and 18 days at sea.

After being cast into the sea by the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (MBA) in November 1906, the message washed up at Amrum Island, in Germany, on April 17, 2015. This year, Guinness World Records recognized it as the oldest message in a bottle ever found.

One of more than 1,000 bottles thrown into the North Sea by marine biologist George Parker Bidder, the bottle was part of a research project on the patterns of ocean currents. More than a century later, a letter containing an original postcard from one of his bottles arrived in the mail at the MBA's Plymouth laboratory in the United Kingdom.

A German woman discovered the bottle while visiting Amrum, one of Germany's North Frisian Islands. The postcard inside promised a reward of 1 shilling (a former unit of currency that was equivalent to 12 pence) for filling in some information and returning the postcard. The MBA was determined to send her the proper reward.

"We found an old shilling, I think we got it on eBay," Guy Baker, communications officer at MBA, told the Guardian. "We sent it to her with a letter saying thank you."

Bidder's 1906 experiment was a form of what is now called "citizen science." The bottles were reportedly returned at a rate of around 55 percent — largely from fishermen encouraged by the reward — and the marine biologist was able to prove that the North Sea's deep-sea current flowed from east to west.

Though this bottle's recent discovery missed its place in Bidder's original research, it now has its own place in history as the Guinness World Record holder for the world's oldest message in a bottle.

Messages in bottles have long fascinated the public and researchers alike.

Indeed, they've long been fixtures of heartwarming stories. In 2014, a bottle was discovered containing a message written by a young German man during a nature hike on May 17, 1913, Live Science reported. After the discovery, researchers were able to locate his granddaughter and give her a note from her grandfather, whom she'd never met.

Another rare find was a message in a bottle found not at sea, but under a rock pile in the Canadian Arctic. Left by American glaciologist Paul T. Walker in 1959, the message described his glacial research and was found by other researchers 54 years later.

Walker's message was particularly impactful, as he suffered a stroke during that expedition and died shortly thereafter. "We were reading some of his last words," said Warwick F. Vincent, director of the Center for Northern Studies at Laval University in Canada, and one of the researchers who found the message, as reported by Live Science.

Messages can be adrift (or buried) for decades, but some more modern messages in bottles have been discovered as well. For instance, in 2011, a bottle was found on an Australian beach, 6,000 miles (9,600 kilometers) from its origin, 14 years after being cast into the sea — during a cruise in February 1997, retired Texas Tech professor George Tereshkovich had written out a message, placed it in a bottle with his business card, and tossed it into the ocean.

"I told the wife what I was going to do," Tereshkovich said in a statement. "She thought I was seasick or something, throwing a note overboard. We continued cruising, and I completely forgot about it."

Whether a decade or a century passes, each message in a bottle has a story to tell.






'Floating Heads' , installation by Sophie Cave. (source:

The Floating Heads installation at the Kelvingrove Museum in the Scottish city of Glasgow is quite literally turning heads. Cave created over 50 of them, each displaying different emotions including laughter and despair. The heads are completely white, but are lit so that their expressions are accentuated, which gives the installation a somewhat eerie feel. Since the installation is hung over the foyer, it is one of the first things visitors see when they enter the museum.



Foo Foo 2 by Robert Bradford (via Saatchi Art)

Description: battery operated torch eyes. other working parts.



Hiroshi Fuji

using old toys that were left over 


'Car Atlas', by David T.Waller


Yayoi Kusama. 


'Bound To Fail', Bruce Nauman, Henry Moore.






Articles: Collection

 Letter in the Attic (project)

Photo:Wanted: letters, diaries, memoirs and other documents connected with Brighton and Hove

Wanted: letters, diaries, memoirs and other documents connected with Brighton and Hove

Photo: Illustrative image for the 'Letter in the Attic' page

Got any letters or diaries in your attic? In 2007-8, My Brighton and Hove and QueenSpark worked on an exciting new project to create an archive of personal unpublished papers collected from the residents of Brighton and Hove. The project was called Letter in the Attic and it aimed to show the historical value of everyday writings, such as letters and diaries.

A book, an exhibition and a catalogue

In December 2008, QueenSpark published a book based on the material we collected.  The book is a journal in which people can do their own writing, illustrated with quotes and pictures from the Letter in the Atticcollection. There is also an online exhibitionfor Letter in the Attic on the My Brighton and Hove website. The complete catalogue of the collection is also online, and displays many of the actual documents, together with transcripts.

A safe home for precious documents

One of the aims of the project was to make sure that old letters and diaries are kept safe - it's tragic how many end up in a skip!  If they wish, contributors to the project could deposit documents safely with the East Sussex Record Office , where they will be looked after for future generations. Alternatively, contributors could keep the original documents in their own care, and Letter in the Attic created copies for the archive.

What were we looking for?
  • The documents could be old or new: they could date back to the 1800s or have been written over the last few years.
  • They needed to have some connection with Brighton and Hove, but the subject-matter doesn't need to concern the city.  For example, war letters from a soldier to his wife in Brighton were included.
  • We were looking for letters, diaries and other unpublished personal papers.  This includes memoirs, if they have not been published. 
  • We were interested in postcards and photos only if there is a lot of writing on the back of the postcards, or the photos are accompanied by a piece of writing.

Letter in the Attic was a joint project between QueenSpark, My Brighton and Hove, East Sussex Record Office and the Mass-Observation Archive.  It is an A2A project funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. 



The history and lost art of letter writing

For hundreds of years, or at least since pens and paper became commonplace, people who wanted to get in touch with other people separated by distance had only one way to do it: they wrote letters, the only means of long-distance communication, at least until the invention of the telegraph in the 19th century. Beginning with Mr. Morse's innovation, modern communication technologies have slowly but all too surely eroded that necessity, first rendering letter writing one option among many and then merely a quaint habit. But where would Western civilization be without letters? For starters we wouldn't have most of the New Testament—whatever you may think of St. Paul, he was indisputably a tireless letter writer. By the 18th century, letter writing was so commonplace that one of the first prose narratives to be considered a novel, Samuel Richardson's "Pamela," was composed entirely of letters of a daughter to her parents, and the epistolary method lent that novel what realism it possessed. More contemporaneously, look to popular song for an index of just how commonplace letter writing was in our culture as late as a generation ago ("A Soldier's Last Letter," "Please, Mr. Postman," "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter," "P.S. I Love You"). 

The decline in letter writing constitutes a cultural shift so vast that in the future, historians may divide time not between B.C. and A.D. but between the eras when people wrote letters and when they did not. Historians depend on the written record. Perhaps a better way of saying that is that they are at the mercy of that record. Land transactions, birth and death records, weather reports, government documents—to the historian, nothing written is trivial, because it all contributes to the picture we have of the past. In the last century or so, as historians have turned away from their fixation on the doings of the great and included the lives of average people in their study, the letters those people left behind are invaluable evidence of how life was once lived. We know what our ancestors ate, how they dressed, what they dreamed about love and what they thought about warfare, all from their letters. Without that correspondence, the guesswork mounts.

Gaps in the historical record have always existed. American slaves were largely illiterate, often by law and sometimes by laws that threatened them with death. The epistolary record belongs to free people, and in most cases that means free white people of property. When we reflect on how dearly we would cherish letters written by people in bondage or any people who, through some circumstance of history, were voiceless, we begin to grasp the preciousness of the written record—any written record: laundry lists, ancestral records in family Bibles, love notes—and how poorly historians of the future will be served by our generation, which generates almost no mail at all.

There is e-mail, certainly, and texting, but this is communication that is for the most part here today and deleted tomorrow. And there is the enormous trove of information about daily life multiplying by the hour in the digital record—television, camera phones, spycams, YouTube and chat rooms all capture what seems like every second of every life on the planet. The problem is not that there is not enough information about what we think or how we live. The problem is sifting through that sea of data. The most common complaint of our time is that we are overwhelmed by information, unmediated and unstoppable.

Maybe we miss letters at least a little because we miss the world, the blessedly—to our eye at least—uncomplicated world where letters were commonplace by necessity. Surely, though, there is more to our fondness than mere sentimentality. When we read a letter, we develop an image of the letter writer unavailable to us in any other way. Abraham Lincoln's speeches leave us in awe of the man. His letters make us like him, because we hear a more unburnished voice and more unbuttoned personality. Lincoln the letter writer was less shackled by thoughts of how history would read his words. He loosened the reins on his humor, his anger and his melancholy. He was, in a word, human. Moreover, his correspondence proves that the more one writes—and Lincoln wrote a lot—the more relaxed the writer becomes, the more at ease he or she is in the act of writing and the more able to fully express thought and emotion. Writing a lot of letters will not turn you into Lincoln or Shakespeare, but if you do it enough, you begin to put your essential self on paper whether you mean to or not. No other form of communication yet invented seems to encourage or support that revelatory intimacy.



O'Connell quotes this lovely passage from a piece by Catherine Field in the New York Times.

A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber communication can never do. You savor their arrival and later take care to place them in a box for safe keeping.



BBC Radio 4 Short Cuts 

Series 12 Postcards

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One of the oldest cases of schizophrenia in Gogol's Diary of a Madman

Besides intrinsic historical and literary interest and clinical usefulness by providing good exemplar cases, the study of the history of a disease can provide clues to its pathogenesis—it is necessary, but not sufficient, that the cause of a disease be at least as old as the disease itself. Here I note one of the oldest and most complete descriptions of schizophrenia, in Nicolai Gogol's classic short story Diary of a Madman (1834).

Summary Points

  • Nicolai Gogol's classic short story Diary of a Madman (1834) contains one of the earliest, and most complete, descriptions of schizophrenia
  • Beyond intrinsic and historical interest, this case is important because it has implications for the antiquity, and possibly the aetiology, of schizophrenia
  • From a literary point of view, the story can be appreciated as a sketch—albeit a most brilliant one—of the disease

History of schizophrenia

It might seem unnecessary to need to prove that schizophrenia is an old disease because “every town had a fool.” However, the only case of schizophrenia that possibly meets the diagnostic criteria for the disease (see box) much before 1800 is that of Edgar or Poor Tom in Shakespeare's King Lear.3-5 This has led to the tentative suggestion that some factor—a virus, environmental toxin, or perhaps “modernity itself”—in play since 1800 has greatly increased the incidence of schizophrenia.3 As the signs of schizophrenia can be noticed without any laboratory test or even specialised training, the extreme dearth of old cases of schizophrenia cannot trivially be due to lack of advanced diagnostic equipment or medical education in days of yore. The “mad” ravings of a local town “fool” could have been secondary to mania, temporal lobe epilepsy,6 substance misuse or withdrawal, vitamin deficiencies, or heavy metal poisoning.

Diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia (according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, third edition)

  • The person must have at least two out of five symptoms—(i) delusions, (ii) hallucinations, (iii) disorganised speech, (iv) grossly disorganised or catatonic behaviour, or (v) negative symptoms (such as alogia, avolition, etc)—for a substantial portion of a one month period
  • Continuous signs of disturbance must continue for at least six months
  • Since the onset of disturbance, the person must have substantial social or occupational dysfunction
  • Required exclusion criteria are substance misuse or dependence, general medical condition, mood disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder







Week 2: Collection



Robert Frank, Halifax Infirmary, 1978. 

Medium: Photograph with hand-applied pale blue-gray pigment, gelatin silver print. 

Robert Frank’s 1979 work, Halifax Infirmary, 1978, depicts a man’s chemotherapy treatments while battling cancer.Throughout the work and particularly in the centre section where there is no patient, there is a bright light in the window, harkening back to the nuclear glow of radiation. While nuclear medicine began with Röntgen’s discovery of X-rays, it continued with cancer treatments in the 1930s. Nuclear medicine wasn’t recognized as a potential medical speciality until 1946, when Sam Seidlin wrote about using radioactive iodine to successfully treat a patient with advanced thyroid cancer in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Considered one of the most influential figures in the history of photography, Robert Frank has redefined the aesthetic of both the still and the moving image through his photos and films. His work has been the subject of exhibitions in the US and abroad since his first solo showing at the Art Institute of Chicago in 1961.

Frank's 1958 book entitled 'The Americans', had, according to critic Sean O'Hagan, "changed the nature of photography, what it could say and how it could say it". It remains perhaps the most influential photography book of the 20th century.

In the 1970's, Frank largely gave up "straight" photography to instead create narratives out of constructed images and collages, incorporating words and multiple frames of images that were directly scratched and distorted on the negatives. This unique photograph, titled and extensively annotated in the negative, signed and dated in ink, and etched 'The wind will blow the fire of pain across everyone in time', is an example of his later work. It depicts the story of a man, Stanley B. Lawson, who enters the Halifax Infirmary in Nova Scotia and later, according to Frank's notations, succumbs to the surgery.

This photograph was seen on display at 'Pier 24 Photography', San Francisco, in the exhibit entitled "Collected".


The Collection

The Robert Frank Collection at the National Gallery of Art is the largest repository of materials related to renowned photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank. Spanning Frank's career from 1937 to 2005, the collection includes vintage and later prints, contact sheets, work prints, negatives, three bound books of original photographs, technical material, and various papers, books, and recordings. 

(The gallery itself is a giant informative space as a range of collections - history, objects, throughout different periods of time, and how they display the pieces to audiences.)

In 1972, Mick Jagger reached out to Frank and ask him to come to the Bel Air villa, the Los Angeles home where Mick and his band was staying while they finished their new album. Their new album was something unlike anything they’ve done yet, something raw and uniquely American. Jagger wanted its album cover to reflect the band as runaway outlaws using the blues as its weapon against the world. The album’s cover had to reflect this feeling of joyful isolation, grinning in the face of a scary and unknown future. It had to be perfect.

Frank was originally meant to shoot the band as they walked along the seedy Main St. of LA that they were supposedly exiled from, and those photos are all on the album’s back side where the band looks just as strange as the freaks from Frank’s photo. You can see more footage of those sessions here. However, his tattoo parlor photo caught the attention of John Van Hamersveld, who was hired by the Stones to put together the album package. Hamersveld had already worked with the Beatles and Hendrix and had already designed the classic poster for the 1966 surf documentary The Endless Summer, but Hamersveld knew right away that Frank’s photo, which he found among his many Americanouttakes, was destined to be used for this new album. Impressed with the photo, Hamersveld took Frank’s work and turned it into the famous album cover that we all know and love.

The final product is below:


Robert Frank, Tattoo Parlor, 1958. Concept and cover photography for the Rolling Stones album Exile on Main St, 1972. (via

It’s fitting that Frank, an exile himself, would create the image of one of the greatest works about exile and American life. Frank was also a filmmaker, and he filmed the band on their 1972 tour supporting the album he photographed. His filmed was called Cocksucker Blues and it was never officially released due to it being too obscene. Imagine that.



Gillian Wearing

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Gillian Wearing, My Polaroid Years.


From the artist:

I started taking self-portrait Polaroids in the late 80’s.  They were not intended for anyone to see but myself.  They are like early versions of ‘selfies’. I was presenting myself in a lot of the images unaware of the mess in my room or the location I was shooting in.  This unawareness was one of the reasons I became interested in looking at the photographs again. I was looking at myself as if I was studying someone else. I rediscovered all these images and was trying to decipher who this person was.  There is a similarity in my posing and the poses of a lot of young women you now find on Instagram and Twitter, etc. Whilst thinking we are, or wish to be 'unique' we find that the collective resemble one another in poses that are learned and/or copied from an early age.



Joseph Cornell


Joseph Cornell, Crystal Cage (Berenice).

“Collage artists are a kind of weird fit in the canon of art history,” Zoubok admitted, citing Joseph as an example.


Cornell is also represented at the fair, at the booth of New York’s Richard L. Feigen & Co. Among several pieces, the showstopper is Crystal Cage (Berenice), a suitcase full of photos and papers collected by the assemblage sculptor that tell his invented story of a brilliant young girl. “He’s kind of creating a universe in a very small box,” said gallery president Frances Beatty of the piece, which is priced at $3.8 million.








Week 1: Idea Factory


    Sensualism is the persistent or excessive pursuit of sensual pleasures and interests. In philosophy, it refers to the ethical doctrine that feeling is the only criterion for what is good. In epistemology it is a doctrine whereby sensation and perception are the basic and most important form of true cognition. It may oppose abstract ideas.  

                                                                                                       _ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Epistemology studies the nature of knowledge, justification, and the rationality of belief. 

Sensation is the body's detection of external or internal stimulation (e.g., eyes detecting light waves, ears detecting sound waves). 




Pleasure Principle

In Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the pleasure principle is the driving force of the id that seeks immediate gratification of all needs, wants, and urges. In other words, the pleasure principle strives to fulfill our most basic and primitive urges, including hunger, thirst, anger, and sex. When these needs are not met, the result is a state of anxiety or tension.

Sometimes referred to as the pleasure-pain principle, this motivating force helps drive behavior but it also wants instant satisfaction.



Scopophilia or scoptophilia (from Greek, skope?, "look to, examine" and philia, "tendency toward"), is deriving pleasure from looking. As an expression of sexuality, it refers to sexual pleasure derived from looking at erotic objects: erotic photographs, pornography, naked bodies, etc.


Marc Quinn. Flesh Painting (On Sensualism), 2012




The Valpincon Bather 

Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres

Ingres had earlier painted female nudes, such as his Bathing Woman of 1807, yet this work is widely regarded as his first great treatment of the subject... however The Valpinçon Bather lacks the earlier painting's overt sexuality, instead depicting a calm and measured sensuality.



    “The female nude in Western painting was there to feed an appetite of male sexual desire. She existed to be looked at, posed in such a way that her body was displayed to the eye of the viewer”.                _  John Berger

The female nude in Western painting – hairless, buxom, invariably with skin as white and unblemished as a pearl – was there to feed an appetite of male sexual desire. She did not have desires of her own. She existed to be looked at, posed in such a way that her body was displayed to the eye of the viewer, there only to be consumed. Of course, there was hypocrisy in this, too – “You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her,” wrote Berger, “Put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting ‘Vanity,’ thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.”

Naturally, the way female bodies were presented culturally as objects to be looked at had an effect on women, on the way they came to see themselves – as a sight, a vision. In the words which opened this article, Berger pins down a feeling which, although perhaps not universal, is familiar to many, many women. It comes with adolescence – maybe the first time a man yells at you from a moving car – and is the sense of living life one step removed, living as your own spectator. You are never yourself, you are yourself as you appear to others. To men, yes, and to the women with whom you are supposed to compete for their attention.

In Ways of Seeing’s final episode, Berger discusses how the goddesses of art became the models of contemporary advertising, and suddenly it was no longer only men looking at images of women lustfully. Advertising tells us that buying a product will transform us by showing pictures of those who have already been transformed by it – these are people we should aspire to be like or be with. An image of an underwear model is desired by men and envied by women. “This state of being envied is what constitutes glamour, and publicity is the process of manufacturing glamour,” Berger says. “Glamour is supposed to go deeper than looks, but it depends upon them, utterly,” he says.

Glamour, envy and the act of looking – these are the foundations on which our current fashion and social media obsession rests. Consider the Victoria’s Secret Angels. A fleet of women so beautiful, so primped and preened that the name bestowed on them is otherworldly. The Angels present the ultimate female fantasy, with one donning the multimillion dollar jewel-encrusted ‘Fantasy Bra’ for her strut down the catwalk – each year held in a different global location. They are living, breathing advertisements, existing for mass consumption – the show, seen by millions of mostly women, is the most watched fashion event in the world. December’s event has generated almost 100,000 Instagram posts alone.

    Together, with their breasts lifted, their faces contoured, their bodies waxed and their hair extended, they present a vision of Western female beauty standards so perfect that it is stunning. The Angels – who depict themselves on social media eating healthily and posting workout videos with the phrase #trainlikeanangel, and who we see undergoing pre-show make-overs in pink satin robes – have been transformed. The implication is that, through the purchase of products, the brand’s customers can be transformed too. Bounding down the catwalk, the Angels are less static than the nudes who were passive, coyly regarding their male voyeurs. But the impact remains the same – they exist to incite desire, to embody the ideal

    Of course, this is one brand – the Angels are the tip of an iceberg of imagery which makes its way into our brains via social media, television, runway shows, magazine adverts and many other outlets. The fashion industry is built on selling a female ideal, and the Angels are a strong but not singular example of this. Berger didn’t want to put an end to advertising, and he certainly didn’t want us to stop looking at classical art – but with his collaborators and a late night TV slot, he helped to kickstart a quiet revolution in the way we view the world around us. He encouraged us to question the images which have been the foundation of our culture. That is a truly worthy legacy – and one we must continue.

                                                                                                                                              _ DAZED , text by Emma Hope Allwood



Auguste Rodin
The Kiss

"Rodin is perhaps most famous for his ability to convey the feeling of human connection and romantic movement... There’s incredible passion and bonding apparent in his man-and-woman duos, and a clear sense of harmony between the sexes. 

For his time – and even for France – some of Rodin’s work was also quite radical in its sexuality, not just sensuality. Putting it bluntly, he felt sex was an ultimate form of art. He was also one frisky Frenchman, by all accounts. So Rodin used sensual contours, the gloss of bronze, and deliberately explicit poses to excite viewers of his work..."



An Idyll.jpg

Niccolo Pisano
An Idyll: Daphnis and Chloe





The Dream of The Fisherman's Wife

Octopi and shell diver is the most famous image in Kinoe no Komatsu, published in three volumes from 1814. The book is a work of shunga (erotic art) within the ukiyo-e genre. In the text above the image the woman and the creatures express their mutual sexual pleasure from the encounter.













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