Spite Your Face.

CN: misogyny, violence, rape. Have a care before continuing.

Rachel Maclean:

13 May – 26 November 2017
Chiesa di Santa Caterina, Fondamenta Santa Caterina, 30121, Cannaregio
Tuesday – Sunday, 10am – 6pm, free entry (also open Monday 15 May)

Rachel Maclean is representing Scotland at the 57th International Art Exhibition, the Venice Biennale, with major new film commission Spite Your Face – a modern-day, dark Venetian fairytale presented as a large-scale portrait projection at the altar of a deconsecrated church.

Rachel Maclean, Spite Your Face, 2017, digital video (still). Courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Alchemy Film & Arts in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh on behalf of Scotland + Venice.

In Venice’s Chiesa di Santa Caterina, I am sitting in a pew, looking up to where the altar would normally be, watching the distinct yet unfamiliar movements of a gigantic nose being masturbated. A blue, gloved hand runs up and down its glittering gold length, and its owner, a cartoonish young perfume-purveying influencer named Pic, groans with pleasure. “I intended it to be shocking,” says Scottish artist Rachel Maclean, of her contribution to Scotland’s presence in Venice during the Biennale, a 35-minute, looping film with no beginning or end, that follows Pic on a morality tale that pits his conscience against his greed.

[…]

It would be hard not to see the political significance of the piece, in a world where outright lies appear to be de rigeur for anyone in the public eye. “I was disturbed by the ways in which lies had been used in the Trump campaign and the Brexit campaign, in a lazy sense, to substantiate a political narrative or an idea,” Maclean says. “I started writing the script in December last year and it was a scary time…” One narrative that stands out from the film is the idea of a transformation of fortune, a rags-to-riches redemption (or riches-to-rags, depending on which order you watch the film in), that sees a destitute young boy wind up as shill for a perfume brand called “Untruth.” This creates a fake corporate illusion, in comparison to the magic “Truth” one given to him by his fairy godmother.

“I’ve always been interested in perfume because it seems absurd,” says Maclean. “Really, it’s just a bottle of smelly liquid but it’s packaged in this way that not only makes the object into something more valuable, but it also suggests that you spraying it onto yourself transforms you into something more powerful and alluring.” This idea of a transformative solution to society’s problems critiques these myths that we are told about social mobility: lean in, pull yourself up by the bootstraps, it’s the American Dream. “I was interested in the compassionless aspect of it. The narrative suggests, if you work hard enough and if you dream it, you can do it. It’s a convenient way to gloss over the lack of social mobility in our society,” adds Maclean.

Another uncomfortable moment comes right after the unforgettable nose-onanism, where Pic’s guardian angel joins him in the sexual act. Pic becomes enraged at a perceived insult and ends up brutally raping this maternal figure. It’s uncomfortable, in fact, almost unbearable to watch, even though it’s still, absurdly, carried out by the character’s nose, lengthened from all those lies. “I’ve been disturbed by the rise in visible misogyny,” Maclean says, when asked about this scene. “There’s a level of immunity to it—where we’re just not affected by it. I wanted the rape scene to feel palpably violent and difficult to watch, so that it’s able to break through the surface of that a little bit.”

Rachel Maclean, Spite Your Face, 2017, digital video (still). Courtesy the artist. Commissioned by Alchemy Film & Arts in partnership with Talbot Rice Gallery and the University of Edinburgh on behalf of Scotland + Venice.

The Creators Project has the full story, and more photos. There’s also more at Scotland and Venice.  I have no doubt this is both and impressive and disturbing work; not one I would find easy to sit through, but I would like to see it all the same.

Breitbart: 281st Place.

The substantive impact of Steve Bannon’s exit from the NSC on foreign policy remains to be seen. Photograph: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.

Seems that Breitbart has lost its way, no longer able to whip hateful, conservative bigots into a convenient froth anymore. They now find themselves playing defense, and it is not working out for them. I, I … just can’t seem to conjure up a tear.

This year was supposed to be a time of triumph for the “alt-right” website Breitbart.com and its readers. The website’s CEO Steve Bannon became one of the most powerful men in the country, a senior White House adviser with a reputation for ruthlessness in the name of forwarding his white nationalist ideology.

However, according to Vanity Fair‘s Tina Nguyen, Breitbart.com has been racked by internal struggles in recent months and is seeing its once-plentiful traffic numbers take a steep dive.

[…]

“Just a few months later, the numbers have a different story to tell,” said Nguyen. “As of May 26, 2017, according to Alexa.com—the same web-ranking analytics company that Breitbart drew its numbers from in January—Fox News is the 64th most-trafficked site in the country. Huffington Post is at 60. Buzzfeed is at 50. The Washington Post, on the strength of a series of eye-popping scoops, is at 41.”

“Breitbart,” she said, “is in 281st place.”

Web analytics can be a woolly discipline, Nguyen noted, but across the board, Breitbart’s numbers are suffering. “ComScore estimated that Breitbart had nearly 23 million unique visitors during the month of November 2016, but only drew 10.7 million in April 2017, a 53 percent drop. Last month, the site had fewer visitors than it did in April 2016, when 12.3 million people visited the site.”

[…]

Breitbart.com has walked the line of the acceptable, spewing out thinly-veiled hate pieces about feminists, people of color and anyone deemed to be “politically correct.” But now, with its enemies purportedly routed and their nominee in power, Breitbart doesn’t know what to do with the inchoate rage that it has inculcated among its users.

Full story here.

Here Lies Imzy, RIP.

Credit: Imzy.

Imzy, the “nice Reddit” has been laid to rest, and is being mourned by its users. It would seem that nice has little place on the ‘net, and has once again been chased into small pockets here and there in the netverse.

After a long bout of illness and injury sustained from battling racism, misogyny, and general depravity, Imzy — the last hope for human decency on the internet — has died. It was 2 years old.

Imzy, the “nice Reddit” created by Jessica Moreno and Dan McComas, two former Reddit executives who left the company in 2015 amid intense controversy over their anti-harassmentpolicies, will officially shut down June 23.

The reason? There’s no room for a platform that promotes basic politeness in the social media market.

In a blog post announcing the impending shut down Wednesday, McComas wrote “it is time for us to shut down the site” as Imzy couldn’t find a “place in the market.”

[…]

Imzy’s sunset isn’t just a loss for users, who regarded it as a place of belonging, it’s also a sign that the worst things about human interaction — bullying, harassment, forums dedicated to promoting racism, anti-Semitism, and xenophobia, unsolicited photos of genitalia, beheading and other snuff videos, child pornography — are likely permanent fixtures on the internet, and by extension in society.

[…]

Maybe this is what life on the internet is supposed to be. After all, the internet is just a mirror of the society it serves and a product of the biases and blind spots of a technology’s creators, so why would we expect it to be any different? Why should the internet somehow be better than the casual and blatant nastiness people experience every day?

It seems that belief in duality persists, this idea that online is distinct and separate from ‘real’ life. Yes, the ‘net is societies, writ large, often in crayon and spray paint. There’s a whole lot of ugly in human societies, so it should not be a surprise that ugly rears up on the ‘net. There’s a whole lot of kindness and creativity in human societies too, and that also shows up on the ‘net. It’s true that nice, fun, and kind don’t garner the same attention as ugly and malicious; we are all attracted to the worst excesses of humankind, if for no other reason, to tsk and be shocked that people could do such a thing. I’ve done my own tiny experiments here on Affinity, with doing nothing but art / photography / nice and fun stories in a day of blogging. When I do that, my stats take a serious hit. Blog about politics, assholes, bigots? Much better for my stats. I try to strike a balance, but it’s not always easy to do.

I am not a social person, at my keyboard, or away from it. I find socializing to be exhausting, and can only handle it in limited amounts, so for someone like me, the internet is ideal, because I can wander away when it all becomes too much. That’s why I don’t indulge in social media much, because being involved with social media means being involved with people, and all the consequent obligations to those people. I don’t think there is any particular reason nice can’t thrive on the ‘net, there are pockets of it all over the place, if you go looking. PZ has written about Mastodon a couple of times, and seems to enjoy it. If you’re trying to be a massive media giant, maybe it doesn’t work so well, I don’t know. Imzy had a great deal of money in October, $8 million. I won’t pretend to understand why it’s now being considered a failure, and those in charge don’t seem to want to explain it fully. Perhaps if there was less focus on the money, nice would thrive better on the ‘net, I don’t know. Seems to me that greed and nice don’t go hand in hand, but what do I know?

Think Progress has the full story.

The Disappearing Data Project.

Since President Donald Trump took office in January, thousands of government records that were previously public have gone offline—from a massive database of records on animal welfare at the Department of Agriculture to climate change data across the government.

The move has confirmed some of the worst fears of scientists who raced to back up government data on climate change ahead of Trump’s inauguration. Those efforts have archived terabytes worth of data on private servers. But government records on everything from labor violations to animal welfare are still at risk of being taken offline or destroyed altogether.

That’s why ThinkProgress is launching Disappearing Data, a project to recover government data that’s been taken offline.

[…]

To do that, we’ll need your help. If you notice that government data has gone offline, email ThinkProgress reporter Joshua Eaton at jeaton@thinkprogress.org.

Full details at Think Progress.

Facebook’s Internal Rulebook.

Facebook’s policy on threats of violence. A tick means something can stay on the site; a cross means it should be deleted. Photograph: Guardian.

The Guardian has an in-depth look at the ongoing problems of Facebook.  If you’re on FB, you’re no doubt already familiar with all these problems and inconsistencies, but you might want to still take the time to do the reading, it’s very interesting, to say the least. As I remarked on this post, the big problem with FB is that they are well aware of the fact that no matter how much people get upset, they won’t kill their account and walk.

As for the above graphic, one of many, “To snap a bitch’s neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of the throat.” is allowed because it’s not considered to be a credible threat, too generic. Given the sheer amount of women murdered every single. damn. day., I have a whole lot of problems with that, to say the least. Someone, somewhere, will appreciate that information, and put it to use. All I have here is WTF FB?

I had been considering going back to FB, for an Affinity feed, but have been very hesitant to do so. This made up my mind. No. My personal principles won’t stand for it.

*Ob. Disclaimer: Yes, I know most of the effing world is on FB, and that’s fine. I’m making a judgment call for myself, no one else.

Full story at The Guardian.

Cool Stuff Friday.

the artist in front of “Tyrannosaurus” in Chiba prefecture (2016).

“Asura” in Akita prefecture (2015).

Toshihiko Hosaka began making sand sculptures in art school and has been using beaches and sand boxes as his canvas for almost 20 years. His work defies what we typically think of as sand art as he sculpts and carves the loose, granular substance as if it were some malleable form of clay.

There is no core, mold or adhesive ever used throughout the process: just sand. The only trick Hosaka uses (and this is commonly accepted) is a hardening spray applied to his sculpture only after it’s been completed, in order to prevent wind and sun from eroding it for a few days.

Looking at his work, you can hardly credit it, that’s it’s just sand, nothing more, because it’s truly amazing and intricate. He has done sculptures of Musashi Miyamoto, Godzilla, Alice in Wonderland, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Asura, and a massive Kraken, among others. All the ones listed you can see at Spoon & Tamago, and be sure to visit Toshihiko Hosaka’s website!

An octopus sings about overfishing:

Overfishing Song from “Papa Cloudy’s Restaurant” from Studio Creature on Vimeo.

Artist Chuck Miller is fascinated with bodies, as many artists are, however, what fascinates Miller the most is fluidity and complexity of flesh. You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

Milena Ogrizovic beside Monument of the Fallen Fighters. Designer: Dajana Vasic.

Throughout the former Yugoslavia, mysterious and beautiful monuments dot the landscape, initiated by Yugoslav revolutionary Josef Broz Tito and designed by modernist architects. Increasingly forgotten, these brutalist concrete sculptures, which were public monuments to the country’s fallen soldiers of World War II, are revived in Serbian photographer Jovana Mladenovic‘s series Monumental Fear, which not only explores the former country’s triumph over fascism, but echoes the painful split that led to several Balkan states. Mladenovic’s series is also a tone poem meant to celebrate the creativity of the Serbian people, many of them artists facing uncertainty in the wake of the Brexit vote.

After studying photography at Belgrade’s University of Arts, Mladenovic moved to London to pursue her interest in fashion photography at the London College of Fashion. But she soon realized she was more interested in conceptual art and photography. Though she was happy to be in London, exploring avant-garde impulses, Mladenovic started thinking about her home country—specifically, its brutalist Yugoslavian communist monuments unveiled in the decades following World War II.

Fascinating and beautiful work. You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

And last, but certainly not least, Mr. Rogers!

Mr. Rogers is singing about how it’s ok to hug a pillow or pine after a teddy bear, and even though it seems like I’m too old for such things, I feel my stomach drop and I’m suddenly having trouble breathing. I feel like a kid again, and thanks to the 18-day Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood marathon currently streaming on Twitch, over 2 million people have already had the chance to feel the same. The Twitch stream is playing the entire Mister Rogers archive back-to-back in chronological order, including rare episodes that only aired once on terrestrial TV.

Twitch reached out to PBS with an idea for a Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood revival in the lead up to the show’s 50th anniversary. They launched the marathon on May 15, partially thanks to the overwhelming response to marathons of Bob Ross’ The Joy of Painting, Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, and Julia Child’s The French Chef on the streaming platform. “We were excited to build on that momentum with this experimental initiative,” Lesli Rotenberg, a Senior Vice President at PBS, tells Creators.

You can read more about this at The Creators Project. The Twitch Mr. Roger’s Stream.

Fear! They Must Fear!

Tucker Viemeister.

Conservative allies are now poking and pushing the Tiny Tyrant to indulge in more firings, because naturally, the fault of the current mess lies with them! And them! Oh, and them too! One GOP operative even managed to blurt out a tiny bit of conservatruth, the importance of fear, because what good is a regime without that?

President Trump’s allies are pushing him to make drastic changes as the White House deals with persistent leaks and a communications strategy they believe has spun out of control.

There is a broad sense among Trump’s media boosters and early supporters that his staff is failing him, beginning with chief of staff Reince Priebus and extending to press secretary Sean Spicer, whose job security has been the subject of endless speculation.

Now, some of the most influential figures in conservative media are openly auditioning for Spicer’s job, calling for the ouster of communications director Mike Dubke or pushing the White House to fight back against the media by ending press briefings altogether.

Some of those measures — in particular the measure to freeze out the press — are catching on among Trump’s conservative base.

“I have always been against the White House doing daily press briefings and agree that an overhaul of how the communications team deals with the media is in order,” said Mark Meckler, cofounder of the Tea Party Patriots. “We are dealing with a media that is, by and large, hostile to conservatives, hostile to Republicans, hostile to ideas of limited government, fiscal responsibility and constitutionalism, and certainly hostile to this president. So the president and his staff should act accordingly.”

Why yes, of course, people being generally hostile to such ideas, that has nothing at all to do with ideas, no. Instead, stomping all over media and attempting to restrict information, that’s the ticket, yeah!

Hannity accused reporters of seeking publicity for themselves through public combat with the White House.

He said the White House should strike back by having reporters submit questions in writing, “giving the White House time to respond with clarity and specificity.” Following that, Spicer or deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders could then take a handful of questions from reporters on prearranged topics, Hannity said.

“If the White House follows this plan, I think the destroy-Trump propaganda media will have a much harder time misrepresenting the Trump administration positions and you, the American people, will be better served,” he said.

Oh my, just look at that radiating pile of wrong. We certainly wouldn’t want a president and spokespeople who were capable of actually thinking before talking, no, that would be bad. Instead, we’ll quash media by treating them like naughty kindergartners. Trump administration positions are not being misrepresented. They are being represented, which is why you’re all in such a stew. Can you imagine the reaction if anyone suggested such a plan with an earlier president? The cries of “Unamerican!” would roll like thunder across the land. As for being better served, count me out on being an American people.

Trump’s allies blame the uproar on a failure of Trump’s chief of staff to assert authority inside a White House bitten by daily leaks to the press that paint a chaotic and unflattering picture of the president.

“It all comes back to the chief of staff,” said one GOP operative with close ties to the White House.

“Nobody respects him; nobody is afraid of him,” the operative said of Priebus. “You need someone in there who makes people feel their career in Washington would be ruined by running afoul of the president.”

Ah, and there we have it, the core attitude of the Plutocrat Party™.  Fear! Fear is the key. Sounds Regime to me.

The Hill has the full story.

Soothing Silicone.

Can you tell I’m not in the mood for politics today? I’m not. I haven’t even checked the news, and I’m not going to check today. If the world explodes this day, I’d rather not know anyroad. Instead of anxiety, depression, and paranoia, have some soothing silicone:

Silicone Annealing – Cruz Culture.

Mixing Silicone for Rubber Moulding – Butser Rubber Ltd. (Yes, that name made me laugh.)

Life on the line: kneading pigment into silicon – Stephen Woolverton.

Cool Stuff Friday.

The Infinite Now from Armand Dijcks on Vimeo.

Over the past months I’ve been working with Australian photographer Ray Collins to bring his amazing oceanscapes to life in the form of cinemagraphs, a blend between photography and video. Each cinemagraph is created from one of Ray’s stills, and sets it in infinite motion, making a unique moment in time last forever.

These cinemagraphs inspired André Heuvelman from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra to get together with pianist Jeroen van Vliet to record a very moving custom soundtrack, which I combined with a selection of the cinemagraphs.

You can see the original cinemagraphs at armanddijcks.com/cinemagraphs-waves

Ray’s images can be found at raycollinsphoto.com

André Heuvelman’s music: andreheuvelman.com

Stunning and mesmerizing work by all!

The Canadian Museum of History has unveiled a unique new exhibit that brings the faces of a 4,000-year-old Indigenous family back to life.

The museum revealed the three-dimensional forensic reconstruction of a shíshálh family whose remains were found in an ancient burial site near what is now Sechelt, B.C. The digital images move and blink in the incredibly life-like display.

“To look back on some of our people that existed within our territory 4,000 years ago, and to be in close proximity of their images — it’s a humbling experience,” Chief Warren Paull of the shíshálh Nation told CBC News.

“I see cousins. I see family.”

You can read more about this here. Amazing work.

SHE INSPIRES installation view.

Women’s history has long been marginalized in mainstream education, relegated to its own niche of study and overlooked in favor of male-dominated historical narratives. SHE INSPIRES, a group exhibition at The Untitled Space, highlights these lesser told histories through the work of over 60 contemporary artists. Each piece in the show is an homage to an important woman. Curator, Indira Cesarine, tells Creators, “SHE INSPIRES aims to honor and celebrate women who have impacted our culture and tell their stories which should be rightfully included not just as ‘women’s history,’ but everyone’s history.”

[…]

SHE INSPIRES is on display at The Untitled Space in Soho through May 20th. Click here for accompanying events and more information.

You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

The Slow Mo Guys take on mousetraps on a trampoline.

“At Least You Don’t Beat Us Like Other Parents.”

All the trigger warnings on this one. This was difficult to watch, to say the least. “It’s just a prank, bro!” If you’d prefer to read about these parents and their lucrative youtube channel, head over to The Guardian. The first 9 minutes or so of the video deal with the DaddyOFive situation.