Sunday, November 6, 2011

Google does not own the web: Search vs. Discovery

What?! Google does not own the web? Oh, thank goodness. For a minute there I heard, "Gee, Google, what do you want to do tonight?... try to take over the web!" Look out Brain, search on the web is changing.

I personally find Google search results are a thick muddy bog to be slogged through before I reach something useful, with so many spam sites to be sifted through, having to carefully pick and choose by looking at the design and content, clipart, flashing banner ads and user comments. It's just too much.
There is too much information online, too many pages filled with stock images and no context. Search engines provide significant utility, but we still have to exert energy to find what we need after results are algorithmically surfaced. The new crop of social media companies help discovery come online and threaten traditional search. With these new tools, users are able to clip and collect the bits of the web that they are most interested in and, in the process, disregard the rest as noise. The Shift from Search to Discovery
Pinterest is one of those social media companies. It's been picking up steam in the mainstream lately. There are several reasons Pinterest is on a rise, including that it's a beautiful and brilliant way of cataloging your ideas and tastes, based on a "recommendation" of sorts.

What is Pinterest?
Pinterest provides a way to make your favorite things easy for friends and followers to navigate. And similarly it’s like walking into a virtual tapestry of people’s favorite things. It's a way to discover what you love. And, you can organize the "bookmarks" in the ways that make sense to you.

When you find something on the web while browsing, you "pin" it or save it to your profile. You look at the collection of images others have found and "repin" to one of your boards, or best yet, use one of your own original photos. You follow others after perusing their collection to see if it fits your tastes and interest, and they follow you based on your pins and activity.

I like it because it's visually appealing. You are exposed to images and ideas you would never have found on your own. The discovery is so stimulating and rewarding. When I find an image (which is usually linked back to the original website) I can "repin" it to a "board" like a scrapbook or cork board of things I love or find interesting.

It's full of positive reinforcement and validation. Followers can "like" your pin, comment, or repin.

My daughter said it makes her feel smart and creative. "I think I like Pinterest because it makes me feel like I too could do awesome stuff, but then I don't actually have to do it." Or, " I should probably ease up on Pinterest...but it's so fun!"

There are fun crafts, great places to visit, fashion, amazing art and things that will make you smile. Oh, and great recipes and food..."I shouldn't browse Pinterest when I'm hungry," my daughter told her Facebook friends.

It's something you talk your friends and family into joining so you can share cool new things with them. My daughter's friend posted "Your pinboard on things that make you smile totally made my evening :)

It's helped get me out of a rut with my cooking with this pin (and others).

I made this quinoa dish...yum!

A rocket ride
But it's a love/hate relationship, right now, with Pinterest. It's "beta-ish" (my daughter quips) and requires an invitation to join. The iPhone app is buggy, crashing often; the app icon disappears and reappears on my phone; it freezes or comes up with gray squares or blank pages. Not sure this company is technically ready for activity and growth. But I'm willing to be patient.

While I'm enjoying my feast for the eyes on Pinterest you can slog through the Google results of what everyone else is saying about Pinterest. Poit!


Friday, October 7, 2011

Colour Touches the Soul Itself

Wassily Kandinsky:
Colours on the painter's palette evoke a double effect: a purely-physical effect on the eye which is charmed by the beauty of colours, similar to the joyful impression when we eat a delicacy. This effect can be much deeper, however, causing a vibration of the soul or an "inner resonance"—a spiritual effect in which the colour touches the soul itself.

Color Study: Square with Concentric Circles, Wassily Kandinsky, ca. 1913

This inspires kid's art projects, more kid's art, and more and more.

A joyful impression!


Art on the Internet

It's been difficult to find art on the internet. Tonight I stumbled upon

You can search in a variety of ways and even by tags if you do know the artist you're looking for.
Summertime, Mary Cassatt, 1894

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mr. Stikman, Sing Me A Song

6th and Spruce, Philadelphia

Have you seen him in your city?

8th and Market, Philadelphia

Lying around on the pavement, looking melty and robotic.

He makes me happy.

Thank you, "Bob", Stikman's creator.

Stikman - a Look at Mysterious Stickman Street Art in Crosswalks...a Washington Post reporter did have an exchange with someone claiming responsibilities for these diminutive glyphs. Calling himself "Bob," to maintain his obscurity, this individual explained that "He considers himself an artistic Johnny Appleseed, spreading stikmen instead of seeds."

On the Trail of the Mysterious Stikman
Created by an unknown guerrilla street artist from corrugated plastic, vinyl records, burlap sacks or scraps of wood, metal or cloth, the robot figure, dubbed stikman, can be seen all over town. From the District to Boston and as far away as Hollywood, it has been spotted on building walls, newspaper boxes and traffic signs. But stikman is seen most often in crosswalks, as a sticker pasted to the pavement.

At first, I found something zombielike about stikman. Maybe it was the vacant stare and stiff pose. When I introduced him to a friend, she was dismissive, declaring him "creepy." Yet by the time I was pointing him out to other people, my affection had grown. He was a wallflower at a party of tourists and nine-to-fivers. He was shy, awkward and often frozen alone in traffic.

More images:
Stikman in D.C.
Philadelphia Stikman Flickr group photos
Stikman in NYC
Another Flickr collection

Related street art:
Toynbee tiles


Hat tip to my brother for discovering the origins of stikman for me.

Addendum: My daughter found this one in near South station in Boston.

Near South station in Boston

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Sketching is good for the soul


Sketching in Nature

Liz Steel

Urban Sketchers

(look at the cool widget on the right side of his site)

Rebecca Venn

Stephen Gardner





The Seattle Sketcher

Mattias Inks

Even when they're not your sketches.

Thanks all for the lift tonight!


(Hat Tip to SketchBlog for putting me on to so many great artists. Be sure to visit their sites or blogs!)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Speaking of yarn art...see nature's version

See Spiders That Decorate Their Own Webs, on The Ark in Space. [If you or your kids love animals, you'll love this site. Don't miss the Cats are evil post. :-]

Now that is the original yarn bombing!


Photo by CharlesLam

Sunday, June 5, 2011

About the power of art

John Constable, The Hay Wain
Brain scans reveal works of art can give you as much pleasure as being in love.

I like that.

Professor Semir Zeki, chair in neuroaesthetics at University College London talks about the results of a recent study, as reported here:
What we found is when you look at art – whether it is a landscape, a still life, an abstract or a portrait – there is strong activity in that part of the brain related to pleasure.
We put people in a scanner and showed them a series of paintings every ten seconds. We then measured the change in blood flow in one part of the brain.
The reaction was immediate. What we found was the increase in blood flow was in proportion to how much the painting was liked.
The blood flow increased for a beautiful painting just as it increases when you look at somebody you love. It tells us art induces a feel good sensation direct to the brain.
Zeki’s study confirms what arts educators have always known, that beautiful images generate pleasure and a sense of well being.

That's an invitation to visit a nearby art museum or to seek out an art exhibit, or maybe just stop and smell the roses.


Professor Zeki's other musings.
What is neuroesthetics?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Urban knitting, yarn bombing is street art

My fascination with urban art continues...I have this mix of emotions, though.

I love it! Something that drives an artist to create beauty, where all can enjoy, in their own way, with their own medium.

I hate it! It's graffiti. It will become old and shabby. Someone will have to clean it up.

Inoffensive, pleasant, free, art, cool, beautiful, fun, cozy, grandma, handmade, benign, adorable.

Guerilla, a huge waste, yarn bombing, vandalism, littering, time-wasting.

"A global phenomenon."

"The street is the extension of the art gallery."

"A moment in pop culture."

"Retro handcrafted cheeriness."

Toyota hired Magda Sayeg to knit a Prius a Christmas sweater last year for a promotional video. [Must-see video]

"Captain hook" dresses this L.A. bear over and over.

But why?

Why dress a bear, a tree, a pole, a pothole?

Some want to add a feminine touch to the world, some love the unseen interaction with people; "it puts a smile on faces", softens our man-made world with woman-made stuff, makes a statement.

Why not!!!!

Watch for June 11 - International Yarn Bombing Day


References and photo credits:
Graffitti's cozy, feminine side, NY Times
Urban knitting article, by Deputy Dog
Julianna Santacruz Herrara's Flickr stream
Urban knitting Flickr group
Magda Sayeg
Wool love-functional fiber art blog
Twilight taggers , a how-to blog
Crochet Vandals Do Graffiti...Like Your Grandma NPR article and video

Sunday, May 8, 2011

I See

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the Philadelphia Magic Gardens, a grotto or a labyrinth or a dream world or something, of color, shine, reflection, texture, pattern. The sun was out, the temperature just right, a beautiful day.

Every square inch inside and out is covered with bits of tile, pottery, china, glass bottles, South American figurines, mirrors and bicycle wheels held together with colored grout.  

I've seen some of Isaiah Zagar's mosaic murals around the city, like this one I snapped in last September, on 4th and Gaskill. (Go to the Street View of this Google map and turn around 90 degrees. The full murals are on the Northwest corner, on the wall of a parking lot.)

The magic of the Gardens flowing out into the community. He's done over a 100 walls in Philadelphia.

 I'm a big mural fan, as many of you know, but these mosaics are my new fascination.

It's something that photography doesn't do justice to...the reflection of a thousand tiny mirrors...

 ...the constant need to stand back...

...and then walk up very close to see the detail...


...and stand back...

...and up close.

The gritty grout in vibrant colors.

The faces...

...and body parts...

...and animals...

...and words of wisdom, "Art is the Center of the World"...

...the solution...

... as well as fine china!

Private inner workings of the mind, made evident.

Seeing the world from a different perspective.

He said, " whole career, [I've been] trying to make a total encyclopedic vision that has no parameters and no end. My work is marked by events and is a mirror of the mind that is building and falling apart, having a logic but close to chaos, refusing to stay still for the camera, and giving one a sense of heaven and hell simultaneously."

 He's asking us...Do you understand? Do you see?  Can you see the world as I do for a moment?

Yes, Isaiah, I see. Thanks for sharing yourself with me today.


If you have visitors from out of town, definitely take them for a cheesesteak at Jim's and then to see the Magic Gardens (11th and South St.). Admission, $5. Inspiration, conversation, imagination, priceless.

Isaiah Zagar
YouTube shorts
Absolutely Isaiah,  article
Mosaic Art Source blog

Mosaic artists work on Flickr:
Institute of Mosaic Art
Megan Cain Mosaics
Junk Mail Mosaics
Ancient Mosaics