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Art for art's sake

Art for art's sake
Visual arts, photography, album covers, architecture, classical music, CD reviews
Articles: 1, 2, 3


My own photography [23]
2008-06-02 21:16:00
This week, for the first time, a photograph of mine will be exhibited. The shot above, taken on a snowy day in spring in the park near our house, was selected as one of the 20 best submission of a local competition, and will be exhibited in our city hall for a month.
More About: Photography
Beautiful album covers [32]: The division bell
2008-05-31 07:43:00
A weird thing happened to me this week - I took out the final studio album of Pink Floyd to give it another spin, and when I looked at the cover, it suddenly went click in my head. All these years, I had always seen the design as two faces looking at one another. Now for the first time, the two faces combined in my mind to make one face looking at me. A beautiful visual trick.
More About: Beautiful , Bell , Covers , Album , Division
Bridges [16]: Budapest Chain bridge
2008-05-29 17:35:00
One of the famous bridges of Europe - and justifiably so. During our recent holiday, I crossed this bridge for the second time in my life, and I am still impressed by it. The Szechenyi Chain Bridge , to give it its full name, is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest , the capital of Hungary. It was the first permanent bridge across the Danube in Budapest, and was opened in 1849. The bridge was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark in 1839, after Count István Széchenyi's initiative in the same year, with construction supervised locally by Scottish engineer Adam Clark (no relation). It is a larger scale version of William Tierney Clark's earlier Marlow Bridge, across the River Thames in Marlow, England (information from wikipedia).
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My own photography [22]
2008-05-19 21:32:00
Keeping up with the theme of the previous post, here is one of the photographs I took in Auschwitz. This shot is from an art installation in one of the camp houses. With the lighting conditions, the blurriness was unavoidable, but I find it actually contributes to the total feeling.
More About: Photography
Video favourites [12]: Lest we forget
2008-05-17 11:50:00
One of the most emotional moments in my life was our recent visit to the remains of the concentration camp Auschwitz in Poland. For that sad occasion, I am posting a link to a video shot in the camp of the second part of Gorecki's infinitely sad third symphony. The soprano is Isabel Bayrakdaraian, and she is accompanied by the Sinfonietta Cracovia, conducted by John Axelrod. Although I still prefer the version with Dawn Upshaw (which is playing now as I post this), the one posted on YouTube is also beautiful and the shots of the camp fit the music magnificently.Click the symbol to open the video in a new window:
More About: Video , Favourites
Painters [44]: Alfons Mucha
2008-05-15 08:06:00
Alfons Mucha - DuskOne of the cultural highlights of our recent trip was the visit of the Mucha museum in Prague. Alfons Mucha (1860-1939) was one of the most important representatives of the Art Nouveau (Jugendstil) movement. His work is not spectacular but always exquisite and pleasing to look at.
More About: Alfons
Time out
2008-04-22 20:29:00
The pace of the blog has slowed down considerably the past few months (to a pace I am comfortable with myself), but the coming 3-4 weeks it will go on hold completely - holiday time!
More About: Time , Time Out
Buildings [32]: Wedding chappel Conrad Hotel Bali
2008-04-20 18:54:00
Not all buildings in this series need to be grand - I came across this beautiful small wedding chappel of the Conrad Bali hotel whilst browsing the Flickr photograph stream of one of my favourite Flickr friends, Christian Beirle (yushimoto_02), whom we have encountered earlier in the series Flickr mosiac tributes. Exquisite architecture in a stunning location.
More About: Wedding , Hotel , Buildings
Unusual concertos [40]: Piano
2008-04-20 14:24:00
With the 40th and final installment in this series, we go to the most popular of all concertante instruments: the piano. I was tempted to go for Busoni's piano concerto where a male chorus plays a prominent role, but at over 70 minutes and covering a full CD, I decided that went too far. The other unusual type of piano concerto is of course the ones composed for the left hand only. Inspired by Paul Wittgenstein, who lost his right arm in the Great War, many composers tried their hand on left-hand only piano compositions. The most famous concerto is of course Ravel's but also composers of fame like Korngold and Martinu have left their marks in this specialized genre. I chose Prokofiev's fourth concerto for the series. This 1931 composition was commissioned by Wittgenstein (As Wittgenstein had refused to play the work, saying that he could not understand it, it became the only one of Prokofiev's complete piano concertos that never saw a performance during the composer's lifetime)...
More About: Piano , Concertos
My own photography [21]
2008-04-11 10:02:00
I shot this flower macro ("abstraction in pink") last week on a business trip to Madrid. It came out quite well, given that the camera I used (my old Konica) usually does not do great in close-ups. Incidentally, I have a preference for this type of shape of a picture, which I have coined "ob-long".
More About: Photography
The best pop/rock songs [60]
2008-04-06 21:08:00
Natalie ImbrugliaMeanwhile my list of all-time favourite pop and rock songs has grown to 624 - here is another helping of ten.Heather (Carpenters, 1973 - 2:52 - 9/10)This must be one of the most curious entries in my list of classics: an instrumental by the Carpenters, whose main claim to fame is the vocal quality of Karen. Still, I have always liked this track from the album Now and then, with its simple but beautiful melody and dominating piano playing. Not surprisingly, it is not included on any compilations (not even those that run to 4 CD's), and I had to wait until 2007 to get hold of it as an MP3.Through the barricades (Spandau Ballet, 1986 - 5:56 - 10/10)In the early eighties, the British band Spandau Ballet was probably the most successful representative of the New Romantics, with hits like True and Gold. They could not manage to hold on to their successes, and quickly disappeared from the charts. The album Through the barricades is from the twilight of their short career,...
More About: Songs , Rock , Pop Rock , Pop-Rock
Buildings - special
2008-04-05 16:49:00
I have been traveling on business more than I like recently - one of the things I noticed at Schiphol airport is this brilliant advertisement by the Financial Times. So how many of the buildings in this virtual city do you recognise?More on this and related FT ads can be found here.
More About: Buildings , Special
Flickr tips [6]: in the museum
2008-03-27 21:40:00
One of the tools at the fun dumpr site lets you show off your own photographs as if they were hanging in a museum (four different lay-outs available). And it does look fun... :)
More About: Tips , Flickr , Museum
Web sites [17]: South Park
2008-03-26 12:06:00
The American TV animation series South Park is now in its 12th season. Although the quality of the episodes is far from constant, when they are good they are brilliant and amongst the best TV entertainment coming from the States. Illegal copies of the shows have been circulating on the internet for quite some time, but now the South Park Studios have launched their own site on which every single episode can be watched. My favourite: Woodland Critter Christmas (season 8, episode 14).
More About: Web Sites , Sites
Unusual concertos [39]: Violin
2008-03-23 15:20:00
I still "owe" you two concertos to round off the series: the two most common concertante instruments, but used in an unusual way. First off, we have the violin. I have opted for the 1959 violin concerto by American composer Lou Harrison (1917-2003), who chose to write a concerto with the regular symphony orchestra replaced by a percussion orchestra, very much inspired by Indonesian gamelan music.The composition is in three parts:1. Allegro maestoso2. Largo, cantabile3. Allegro, vigoroso, poco prestoThis version is by Enrico Balboni on violin and the Tammitam Percussion Ensemble under Guido Facchin, taken form a Dynamic CD (CDS221), entitled A homage to Lou Harrison. It was sent to me by a reader of the blog some time ago.MP3: Harrison's concerto for violin and percussion.
More About: Violin , Concertos
Flickr Mosaic Tributes [3]: czakusia
2008-03-22 15:05:00
1. Untitled, 2. Untitled, 3. Untitled, 4. Untitled, 5. Untitled, 6. Untitled, 7. Untitled, 8. Untitled, 9. UntitledAlthough not very imaginative in giving titles, New Zealand photographer czakusia has firmly established herself as one of my favourites on Flickr . I love her impressionist shots, that convert routine subjects to something outstanding.czakusia's Flickr page.czakusia's Flickr photostream on black.
More About: Mosaic , Tributes
The art of Lu Schaper [13]
2008-03-20 16:13:00
Confidence by Lu SchaperA recent work by my wife, very representative for the Shanghai Expressionism style that she pioneered. More of her art here.
The best pop/rock songs [59] - Fear of a blank planet
2008-03-19 15:46:00
A very special post in this series - and one that can double up in the CD Review series. It has taken quite some time for me to really appreciate the grandeur of Porcupine Tree's 2007 album Fear of a blank planet. After dozens of listens I now rank it firmly in my top25 albums of all time - the six songs all scoring at least 9/10, but in reality forming one composition of 50 minutes where the sum is definitely greater than the part. The inspiration for the album was the Bret Easton Ellis novel Lunar Park, dealing with the problems of contemporary youth. The novel is told from the perspective of the father, but in an unexpected twist, Wilson constructed the album from the point of view of the son.Lyrics link.1. Fear of a blank planet (7:28 - 9/10)The album opener and title song is a hard-hitting nervous tempo that immediately sets the scene in lyrics such as "Xbox is a god to me - A finger on the switch - My mother is a bitch - Father gave up ever trying to talk to me"or the catchy ...
More About: Songs , Planet , Rock , Pop Rock
Video favourites [11]: Fly me of the Handel
2008-03-09 21:45:00
This video from a live performance by the Ukelele Orchestra of GB has to be seen to be believed - a fantastic amalgation of famous songs all sung at the same time.Click the symbol to open the video in a new window:
More About: Video , Handel , Favourites
My own photography [20]
2008-03-05 16:43:00
The first shot that I put on the internet in which I used my wife's new Canon 400D. The postprocessing is by her hands.
More About: Photography
Airplanes [2]: Wight Quadruplane
2008-02-27 21:16:00
The more the merrier - when Howard Wright in 1917 designed a new airplane for the company White & Co based on the Isle of Wight (confused?), he took the then highly successful triplanes as the basis for his design and added a fourth. Somehow the development of razorblades comes to mind here as well. For some reason, he shortened the wings at the same time, resulting in one of the first airplanes that was longer than it was wide. All in all, the new design was a disastrous failure, not least due to the reluctance to leave the ground.
More About: Airplanes
Flickr tips [5]: View on black
2008-02-27 20:19:00
One of the surprising disadvantages of Flickr is the inability to choose between a white or dark background (let alone customization). Those of us who still remember making actual non-digital photography albums will remember that a black background often enhances the overall quality. We have seen the possibility to display your whole Flickr photostream on black in an earlier contribution (part 2). Also for single shots though, it is sometimes desirable to give the viewer directly the option to view it on black as an alternative to the white Flickr background. The shot above is a case in point, as the light coloured sky needs a darker background than Flickr white in order not to disappear altogether.Fortunately, the versatile site fd's Flickr toys offers this option with their On black site. Just copy/paste the Flickr page url and the site will give you a link you can paste as a comment to your Flickr shot. Just compare the shot above:On flickr.On black.
More About: Tips , Black , View
Flickr Flavours [28a]: distortion theme
2008-02-19 21:38:00
THE ROTTING SUN Originally uploaded by jeffersonsky
More About: Flickr , Theme , Distortion
Flickr Flavours [28b]: distortion theme
2008-02-19 21:38:00
The Short Straw Originally uploaded by darren_crabb
More About: Flickr , Theme , Distortion
Flickr Flavours [28c]: distortion theme
2008-02-19 21:38:00
My Sister CassandraOriginally uploaded by jusacaseca
More About: Flickr , Theme , Distortion
My own photography [19]
2008-02-16 16:47:00
Technically this is not a perfect shot (the swan's wings are overexposed in the bright sunlight), but it is one that I personally like very much.
More About: Photography
The best pop/rock songs [58]
2008-02-15 21:50:00
The CranberriesHere we go again with a helping of ten of my all-time favourites...Sacrifice (Elton John, 1989 - 5:06 - 9/10)In the late eighties, Elton John recorded the album Sleeping with the past, a trip down memory lane to the music of the mid sixties to the mid seventies. The outstanding track was Sacrifice, which reaches back to his own ballads of the early seventies. Although it lacks the freshness that characterised his earlier songs, it is a great song by itself. Released as a single it was a minor hit in the USA and a majestic flop in the UK - only to reach #1 in the UK upon re-release one year later. Perhaps even more astounding: although this was his 39th UK top40 hit, it was the first solo one to reach #1!Sara (Fleetwood Mac, 1979 - 6:25 - 9/10)Overall, I appreciate the second incarnation of Fleetwood Mac less than the blues-rock of the first version. That said, the band made great songs in the second line-up as well. None better than Sara, a dreamy ballad composed and ...
More About: Songs , Rock , Pop Rock , Pop-Rock
Flickr Mosaic Tributes [2]: yushimoto_02
2008-02-07 20:04:00
1. BMW World - Munich2. Pinakothek der Moderne - Munich3. #08 Dan Flavin4. U-Bahn Marienplatz5. Munich U-Bahn - Georg-Brauchle-Ring6. Munich Airport - Terminal II7. Pinakothek der Moderne - Munich8. Munich - Karlsplatz Stachus9. Pinakothek der Moderne - MunichFor the second installment in this series, we move to germany, to Christian (yushimoto_02). I love his architectural shots that turn almost into abstractions. yushimoto_02's Flickr page.yushimoto_02's Flickr photostream on black.
More About: Mosaic , Tributes
Airplanes [1]: A-12 Avenger II
2008-02-07 17:05:00
Que? Well, it's my blog and I'll blog what I want to. :)Ever since I was a teenager I have had a crush on military airplanes (I owned over 100 Airfix models), and when I bought a book on this subject last week in Houston, I got the idea to turn this into a new series in the blog. The emphasis will be on failures (always more fun), which have the added benefit that their unusual design also has some esthetic quality. A case in point is the flying wing attack bomber that kick off the series. The General Dynamics/McDonnell Douglas A-12 Avenger II was developed as a more sophisticated stealth alternative to the highly successful F-117A Nighthawk. Just before completion of the prototype in 1991, Cheney pulled the plug on the whole project, which had suffered from severe lack of management, with estimated costs per plane having risen to a steep 100 million dollars.
More About: Airplanes
String quartets [4]: Holmboes fifth SQ
2008-02-05 15:52:00
Time to pick up the thread with this other recently neglected part of my blog. For the next installment in the string quartet series, we stay in Scandinavia. Vagn Holmboe (1909-1996) is possibly the most important composer to come from Denmark after Carl Nielsen. In particular his symphonies, concertos and string quartets are of sustained high quality. I selected his fifth string quartet (op66, from 1955), which is in three movements: [1] Pesante - Fluente, [2] Adagio, [3] Energico. This version is by the Kontra Quartet, and is taken from a Marco Polo Dacapo CD (8224026), which also contains the second and sixth string quartets.MP3: Holmboes fifth string quartet.
More About: String , Quartets
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