More harp – but not as you know it!

Tags

, , , , , , ,

 

 

seckou

This project is a stunning shared musical journey between two world class virtuosos – Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and West African kora player Seckou Keita.

catrin

From Casamance in Senegal, Seckou Keita is both a member of the royal Keita dynasty from Mali (through his father), and a griot, a traditional West African praise singer (through his mother’s family, the Cissokhos, from Senegal). He has built a formidable reputation as “an inspired exponent of the kora”(The Guardian) and is “a brilliant live performer with stacks of charisma” (Lucy Duran, Radio BBC3).

One of the leaders of the newest generation of African traditional musicians, Seckou combines his own musical heritage with a willingness to embrace the traditional forms and instruments of other cultures, and has already blended his kora (21-stringed West African harp) with jazz, funk, rock, Indian classical and all manner of other musical styles.

Harpist Catrin Finch is one of Wales’ leading international musical ambassadors, and one of the world’s finest players of this most Welsh of instruments. The “Queen of Harps”. Her concert appearances with the world’s top orchestras span the globe and she has worked alongside artists such as Bryn Terfel, Sir James Galway and Julian Lloyd-Webber. Hot on the heels of her innovative collaborations with Cimarron from Colombia and Toumani Diabaté from Mali, Catrin Finch is once again proving her radical and adventurous musical spirit with this wedding of Welsh and West African musical culture.

 

The harp occupies a vital place in the incredibly rich cultures of both Senegal and Wales. The West African harp – the kora – played by Seckou is made from a dried gourd and fishing line; the Welsh harp, played by Catrin, is one of the most iconic symbols of a nation steeped in music. Remarkably, both nations share a centuries-old bardic tradition of intricate oral history, expressed through music, song and verse.

 

 

More news and views from the edge of the universe……..

Tags

, , ,

I am endlessly fascinated by the range and quality of images that are analysed and put out in the public domain from Hubble and other sources. We have come to see them as works of art as well as giving us insights into the origins of phenomena in space.

Here are some recent ones:

 

hs-2014-18-a-large_webhubble2014

MARCH 17, 2014: This colorful Hubble Space Telescope mosaic of a small portion of the Monkey Head Nebula unveils a collection of carved knots of gas and dust silhouetted against glowing gas. The cloud is sculpted by ultraviolet light eating into the cool hydrogen gas. As the interstellar dust particles are warmed from the radiation from the stars in the center of the nebula, they heat up and begin to glow at infrared wavelengths, as captured by Hubble. The space photo superficially resembles the “The Great Wave” print by 19th century Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai.

 

 

CDF-S HST/ACS/WFC Full Mosaic

This image shows a region of space containing a sample of dwarf galaxies studied by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. Hiding among these thousands of galaxies are faint dwarf galaxies that resided in the early universe, between 2 and 6 billion years after the big bang, an important time period when most of the stars in the universe were formed. Some of these galaxies are undergoing a ferociously fast rate of star formation called “starbursts.” Astronomers are striving to deduce the galaxies’ contribution to star formation in this crucial era of the universe’s history. The image is part of the Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey (GOODS).

 

 

 

hs-2014-22-a-large_webhubble2

 

APRIL 3, 2014: If someone told you there was an object in space called “El Gordo” (Spanish for “the fat one”) you might imagine some kind of planet-eating monster straight out of a science fiction movie. The nickname refers to a monstrous cluster of galaxies that is being viewed at a time when the universe was just half of its current age of 13.8 billion years. This is an object of superlatives. It contains several hundred galaxies swarming around under a collective gravitational pull. The total mass of the cluster, and refined in new Hubble measurements, is estimated to be as much as 3 million billion stars like our Sun (about 3,000 times more massive than our own Milky Way galaxy) — though most of the mass is hidden away as dark matter. The cluster may be so huge because it is the result of a titanic collision and merger between two separate galaxy clusters. Thankfully, our Milky Way galaxy grew up in an uncluttered backwater region of the universe.

 

As well as considering the broader universe and minimising the pettiness of some aspects of life on earth, Hubble images are being used more creatively:

hs-2014-03-b-small_webblind

 

JANUARY 7, 2014: Three-dimensional printers are transforming the business, medical, and consumer landscape by creating a vast variety of objects, including airplane parts, football cleats, lamps, jewelry, and even artificial human bones.

Now astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md., are experimenting with the innovative technology to transform astronomy education by turning images from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope into tactile 3-D pictures for people who cannot explore celestial wonders by sight. The 3-D print design is also useful and intriguing for sighted people who have different learning styles. In the 3-D representations, stars, filaments, gas, and dust shown in Hubble images of the bright star cluster NGC 602 have been transformed through 3-D printing into textures, appearing as raised open circles, lines, and dots in the 3-D printout. These features also have different heights to correspond with their brightness.

 

hs-2014-02-a-webhubblebook

 

A stunning Hubble Space Telescope image of the colorful 30 Doradus Nebula, a giant star-forming region, is the focal point of an eBook on stellar evolution aimed at children with visual impairments, ages 10 to 12. The book is called “Reach for the Stars: Touch, Look, Listen, Learn.” Its developers have issued the first chapter, which is being previewed at the winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society at National Harbor, Md. The ebook will available in Apple’s iBook store to download for free on iPads in the near future.

“Reach for the Stars” is the inspiration of astronomer Elena Sabbi of the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Md., the lead researcher on the latest Hubble image of 30 Doradus, also known as the Tarantula Nebula. Sabbi and her collaborators are producing the book through a Hubble education and public outreach grant.

Although “Reach for the Stars” is being designed for children with visual impairments, Sabbi said that anyone can view and enjoy the book. “We hope it will be an inspiration and attract people to science,” she explained. “That’s the main goal. We want to convince children that science is cool, is fun, and that anybody could be a scientist, if they want to.” Sabbi and her STScI team are developing the book in partnership with SAS, a company based in Cary, N.C., that develops analytics software to help people analyze and visualize data. The company is working to make analytics and data visualization accessible to users of all abilities, including those with visual impairments.

Ed Summers, senior manager of accessibility and applied assisted technology at SAS, is spearheading the eBook’s development, leading a team of programmers, artists, and curriculum specialists. Summers, Sabbi, and Ada Lopez, a SAS science curriculum specialist, are the book’s co-authors. Like Sabbi, Summers agreed that “Touch the Stars” is not solely a book for blind children. “I feel strongly that people with disabilities don’t want separate materials,” he said. “We want to be able to access the same materials as everybody else, but in a way that adapts to individual needs. That’s why we created this mainstream book in a way that would benefit everybody, rather than something that is specifically dedicated to a relatively small audience of students with visual impairments.”

The eBook will consist of six chapters and will run about 90 pages. Every page of each chapter will begin with a question, followed by a short answer. Children with a variety of learning styles will be able to see the imagery and hear the text read to them using “read aloud” technology when they touch the audio icon at the bottom of each screen. Children with visual impairments will not only hear the text read to them but also access the book using a refreshable braille display, the “VoiceOver” screen reader, or the zoom feature that is included in every iPad.

Images, graphics, videos, and animations also will appear in every chapter. Some of the images will be interactive. Several prominent star clusters in an image of the Tarantula Nebula, for example, are marked by circles. Touch a circle and a short caption appears on the screen describing the cluster.

The first chapter answers the question, why study the stars? Other chapters will include information on the history of astronomy, the different types of telescopes, what is a star, the life cycle of stars, and the Tarantula Nebula. The last chapter will provide interviews with professionals who work in astronomy, such as scientists, engineers, graphic designers, and writers.

In addition to the VoiceOver and read aloud options, the book also will offer closed captioning, a compatibility option for people with hearing aids, and a high-contrast feature for those with low vision.

SAS also is working on some special features of its own to communicate astronomy to the visually impaired. One such feature is called “sonification,” which uses sound to convey graphical information. Readers will be asked to use headphones or external speakers to experience sonification’s full effect. The company already has incorporated the new feature in a diagram showing the brightness of stars plotted against their surface temperature or brightnesses.

For brightness, SAS is using pitch to tell people with visual impairments the brightness of a particular star when they touch it. The brighter the star, the higher the pitch. The temperature of a star will be conveyed through either the left or right ear. Cooler stars are on the left of the graph; hotter stars are on the right. Readers will hear about a cooler star through their left ear and hotter stars through their right ear.

“It’s a way to convey information that there is a trend in the distribution of stars in the diagram,” Sabbi said. “If you are trying to explore the images with your finger you can get lost. This is a much stronger way to convey the information.”

The book’s developers also will provide tactile overlays for about 10 to 12 images in the book. The overlays will have raised textures representing important features in the image. The National Braille Press is making 200 overlays that will be available for free upon request.

SAS plans to promote the book at the American Astronomical Society and other conferences next year. The company also will market “Reach for the Stars” to teachers across the country. The Baltimore-based National Federation of the Blind, a project partner, also will help with distribution through its network of teachers and parents.

A blind college intern, Chelsea Cook, who worked for Sabbi two summers ago, was the inspiration for the book project. Sabbi was trying to figure out how Cook could work with scientific data on the computer. Max Mutchler, a scientist at STScI who has produced tactile images for people with visual impairments, suggested that Sabbi contact Ed Summers at SAS. “Ed told me that I could apply his techniques to 30 Doradus,” Sabbi said. “With Chelsea, we put together a website trying to explore the nebula. That project led to the outreach grant for the book.

“‘Reach for the Stars’ shows the blind that there are no barriers to scare you,” she added. “And technology is improving so fast that we are sure you will be able to learn and to do things. Things are becoming more reachable.”

CONTACT

Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.
410-338-4493 / 410-338-4514
dweaver@stsci.edu / villard@stsci.edu

 

Our evolving universe -what an image!

Tags

, , , , , ,

hubble evolving universe

 

For all the effort and funds attached to ‘manned’ space missions, the achievement of the ‘unmanned’ Hubble telescope programme has not only stunned us with images but taken our understanding of the evolving universe (s?) light years ahead!

Astronomers using the ultraviolet vision of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have captured one of the largest panoramic views of the fire and fury of star birth in the distant universe. The field features approximately 15,000 galaxies, about 12,000 of which are forming stars. Hubble’s ultraviolet vision opens a new window on the evolving universe, tracking the birth of stars over the last 11 billion years back to the cosmos’ busiest star-forming period, which happened about 3 billion years after the big bang.

Ultraviolet light has been the missing piece to the cosmic puzzle. Now, combined with infrared and visible-light data from Hubble and other space and ground-based telescopes, astronomers have assembled one of the most comprehensive portraits yet of the universe’s evolutionary history.

The image straddles the gap between the very distant galaxies, which can only be viewed in infrared light, and closer galaxies, which can be seen across a broad spectrum. The light from distant star-forming regions in remote galaxies started out as ultraviolet. However, the expansion of the universe has shifted the light into infrared wavelengths. By comparing images of star formation in the distant and nearby universe, astronomers glean a better understanding of how nearby galaxies grew from small clumps of hot, young stars long ago.

Because Earth’s atmosphere filters most ultraviolet light, Hubble can provide some of the most sensitive space-based ultraviolet observations possible.

The program, called the Hubble Deep UV (HDUV) Legacy Survey, extends and builds on the previous Hubble multi-wavelength data in the CANDELS-Deep (Cosmic Assembly Near-infrared Deep Extragalactic Legacy Survey) fields within the central part of the GOODS (The Great Observatories Origins Deep Survey) fields. This mosaic is 14 times the area of the Hubble Ultra Violet Ultra Deep Field released in 2014.

This image is a portion of the GOODS-North field, which is located in the northern constellation Ursa Major.

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency).

Blues harp teachers – some of the best

Tags

, , , ,

I just wish I was learning blues harp now,rather than a few decades ago – there are now a number of excellent teachers who are willing to share their hard earned experience with you.

Take the opportunity and try some today.

You will have to try a few, as each has their own approach which suits some better than others. Also you may concentrate on a tune or player and use that to try out some of the online tutors.

Adam Gussow 

 

 

First choice has to be Adam as he has led the explosion in blues harp teaching on the net. He has been generous and his tips come from study, analysis and much hard experience on the streets.

 

He is also a writer and researcher:

gussow devil

 

Tomlin Leckie

 

 

I like Tomlin’s approach – he never blinds you with his playing,and never talks down to you. His approach is straight  forward and clear. He keeps on improving his teaching.

Will wild

Good player,but sometimes he assumes you may know more than you do.

Ronnie Shellist

Another good player,but sometimes you think he is ‘winging’ the lesson,although I am sure he is well prepared.

Ronnie  also coordinates the Global Blues Summit, which is an online event webinar.

There are many others –Jerry Portnoy, JP Allen, Paul Lamb,, Hakan Ehn, Jon Gindick, Jason Ricci, Annie Raines -explore and you will find one or two that suit you best.

Some are just good players and less than good teachers, but each one to her/his own!

Music from Zimbabwe – a taster…

Tags

, , , ,

Some people will have heard of Thomas Mapfumo and his “Chimurenga” music, others may have heard of the Mbira players such as Chartwell Dutiro and Stella Chiweshe, thanks to Real World music releases, but the richness of Zimbabwean music still has to be explored. I have  had the joy of playing with Chartwell in Bristol and meeting Oliver Mtukudzi in Harare.

Thomas Tafirenyika Mapfumo is known as “The Lion of Zimbabwe” and “Mukanya” for his immense popularity and for the political influence he wields through his music.

In the 1970s Zimbabwe’s people fought a war of independence against their white Rhodesian rulers. Out of that grew chimurenga which is based on the Shona majority’s chiming, cyclical rhythms, patterns and melodies of the mbira resulting in a hypnotric almost trance-like music. Mapfumo took that traditional music and added electric guitars, horns, and a drum kit. With his electronic interpretations of traditional mbira music he became a huge star in Zimbabwe. Being that some of his lyrics addressed the struggle for independence the white Rhodesian government felt threatened by his popularity, As a result, in 1977, Mapfumo was detained in prison for 90 days because of his song Hokoya (Watch Out).

Thomas in 2008 (New Mexico)

Stella Rambisai Chiweshe

Stella Rambisai Chiweshe is one of the few women playing the male-dominated mbira-based music of the Shona people. Born in the late 1940s, Chiweshe grew up in Zimbabwe’s forest region of Mhondoro, about 45 miles from the capital city, Harare. Chiwese began learning to play the mbira dza vadzimu in 1964. It was very unusual for a girl to play mbira at that time and Chiweshe had to face the disapproval of her community, where woman performers were often treated as “loose women.” Chiweshe perservered to become perhaps the best known player of the instrument outside Zimbabwe.

 

 

The mbira dza vadzimu is a sacred instrument used by the Shona people of Zimbabwe to call on the spirit of their ancestors in ceremonies called “bira.” In these traditional cermonies the repetitive, chiming melodies and rhythms of the mbira combine with the hosho (gourd rattles), singing, and sometimes drumming (on the ngoma), to inspire the ancestors to offer advice and guidance through a spirit medium.

In 1974, Chiwese recorded her first single “Kasahwa,” useing a borrowed mbira, The song was a hit and she went on to record 24 singles over the next six years. She joined the National Dance Company in 1981 and began to travel to other countries to perform. These days Chiwese maintains a home in both Zimbabwe and Germany and tours extensively throughout Europe and the Eastern United States. In early 1998 she appeared as one of three women showcased on the Global Divas tour.

 

 

(ref:Africa Music Encyclopedia )

Oliver Mtukudzi

Mtukudzi began performing in 1977 when he joined the Wagon Wheels, a band that also featured Thomas Mapfumo. Their single, “Dzandimomotera”, went gold and Tuku’s first album followed, which was also a major success. Mtukudzi is also a contributor to Mahube, Southern Africa’s “supergroup”.

With his husky voice, he has become the most recognized voice to emerge from Zimbabwe and onto the international scene and he has earned a devoted following across Africa and beyond. A member of Zimbabwe’s KoreKore tribe, Nzou Samanyanga as his totem, he sings in the nation’s dominant Shona language along with Ndebele and English. He also incorporates elements of different musical traditions, giving his music a distinctive style, known to fans as “Tuku Music”. Mtukudzi has had a number of tours around the world. He has been on several tours in the UK, US and Canada to perform for large audiences.

Unlike Mapfumo, Mtukudzi has refrained from directly criticizing the government of President Robert Mugabe. However, some of his most emotive hits prodded the aging authoritarian ruler, including “Ndakuvara,” which bemoans the political violence engineered by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party and “Wasakara (You Are Getting Old),” which most Zimbabweans took as a direct plea for Mugabe to retire.

He is the father of five children and has two grandchildren.Two of his children are also musicians. His son Sam Mtukudzi, a successful musician in his own right, died in a car accident in March 2010.[2][3] Mtukudzi also has four sisters and one brother, who died.

(Ref: Wikipedia)

 

 

A list of some of the more well known Zimbabwean musicians

  • Thomas Maphumo and the Blacks Unlimited
  • Stella Chiwese
  • Robson Banda and The New Black Eagles
  • Bhundu Boys (Jit)
  • Black Umfolosi
  • Blackites
  • Chartwell Dutiro
  • John Chibadura
  • Leonard Denbo
  • Beulah Dyoko
  • Four Brothers
  • Legal Lions
  • Dumisani Maraire
  • Dorothy Masuka
  • Lovemore Majaivana
  • Jonah Moyo
  • Oliver Mtukudzi
  • Ephat Mujuru
  • John Pounds
  • Shangara Jive
  • Jona Sithole

afro.mix.org is a great resource for music info and sites from several African countries such as Sierra Leone

Blues beyond Crossroads

Tags

, , , ,

gussow devil

 

Blues beyond Crossroads is the latest book by Adam Gussow, blues harp player, teacher and researcher and explores links between blues music, musicians and ideas of the devil and hell.

Watch his own introduction to the book:

 

Adam has also brought together, as playlists, much of his researched discography on spotify and you tube .

Beyond the Crossroads: The Devil and the Blues Tradition, by Adam Gussow (University of North Carolina Press, 2017).

Gussow is an associate professor of English and Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi and a longtime member of the blues duo Satan and Adam.

 

 

 

 

Great Female Blues Harp Players

Tags

, , , ,

 

As in many spheres, women take second place when  human achievement is recorded and made public, and blues harp playing is no different.

We can list John Lee Williamson, DeFord Bailey, Rice Miller,Walter Horton, Junior Wells,Little Walter, Sonny Terry, Sugar Blue,Charlie Musselwhite, Paul  Butterfield  , James Cotton,George Smith , Carey Bell and many others…but can we remember the female players?

So lets champion some of the great women , both past and present while looking to the future.

Lets start with today, with some great playing by Rachelle Plas,from France (Mellow Down Easy -Little Walter):

 

 

Now lets also go back in time and enjoy the playing and show-womanship of Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton:

Rock me baby

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjF-ysKN41Q

 

little red rooster

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYaCb0ZGu3Q

 

 

and a great version of ball and chain –with Buddy Guy’s band

 

 

and moving back to the “modern’ age with Rachelle Plas , who is a particular favourite of mine:

A couple of  clips illustrating how slow and sensitive her playing can be as well as one showing her faster rocking capabilities

tribute to Sonny boy

 

whammer jammer

 

Although she may be the star of the future there are many other female harp players :

Mariana Borssato – Saint Louis Blues: some clean notes…

 

 

 

Tiffany Harp is a traditional American Blues Harmonicaplayer. She was born in Southern Brazil, Itajai, Santa Catarina.(

Live:

talking

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6HCxU5iRMpE

 

Cheryl Arena,

WINNER of The 2009, 2013 & 2015 Blues Audience Newsletter Reader’s Poll for
“Most Outstanding Harmonica Player”

 

Annie Raines,

 

 

Roxy Perry, *

 

 

Beth Kohnen,

 

 

Lynn Ann Hyde

 

Big Nancy big band, bring it on home

 

Kellie Rucker

 

Sandra Vasquez -another Latin American harp player

 

Louise Hoffsten

Sweet Louise 1988

 

Trina Hamlin

 

Octavia

 

 

Tracy K

 

 

Kat Baloun

 

Norman Davis has created the DEFINITIVE website on female harmonica players.  It’s entitled, not surprisingly, “Hermonicas”

Here’s a few notes from this excellent site:

One of the first women to become popular playing the harmonica was Mary Travers who sang and also played violin, accordion, spoons and jaw harp. She became widely popular in French-speaking Canada as Madame Bolduc in the late 20s and 30s and made her first records in 1929. She was most likely the first woman to record on the harmonica.

One of the first women known to play blues harmonica was Minnie Wallace. She was a singer and the mother of blues singer Lucille Hegamin. She played in the Memphis Jug Band, but the harmonica on her few recordings was played by someone else. Very little is written about her in the blues history books.

In 1950, John Brim recorded “Strange Man” featuring his wife Grace on vocals and harmonica. Grace Brim would become known as the “Queen of the Harmonica” and she made several recordings in the ’50s with and without her husband.

Grace Brim

 

 

I’ve recently had my attention directed to several excellent YT videos by women players headlined “Mulheres Gaitistas”–“Women Harmonica Players.”  Here’s a webpage you should check out:  http://www.myspace.com/mulheresgaitistas

 

Little Jenny – out go the lights

 

In 1952, singer/guitarist Norman “Guitar Slim” Green recorded two songs with a woman identified only as “Turner” on harmonica. That same year Big Mama Thornton recorded “Hound Dog” for Peacock Records in Texas. She did not play harmonica on the recording. The B-side was “They Call Me Big Mama.” The record climbed to number one on the Billboard R&B charts, where it stayed for seven weeks and sold almost two million copies. Big Mama collected only about $500 for her big hit.

I hope this short review has whetted your appetite to search out more female harmonica players. More to come….

The power of SOLITUDE

 

Solitude is independence. – Hermann Hesse When you acknowledge the integrity of your solitude, and settle into its mystery, your relationships with others take on a new warmth, adventure and wonder. – John O’Donohue In solitude the mind gains strength and learns to lean upon itself. – Laurence Sterne One can be instructed in society; […]

The Power of Solitude — Steve McCurry’s Blog

David Hockney – more ways of seeing !

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

John Berger  led us into the worlds of seeing, particularly in art. David Hockney, through his practical exploration of ways of seeing takes us into new realms and perspectives on art.

berger

Let us start with John Berger, from his own utterances:

“Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak.”

“Soon after we can see, we are aware that we can also be seen. The eye of the other combines with our own eye to make it fully credible that we are part of the visible world.”

“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. Each evening we see the sun set. We know that the earth is turning away from it. Yet the knowledge, the explanation, never quite fits the sight. “

“The invention of the camera changed the way men saw. The visible came to mean something different to them. This was immediately reflected in painting.” 

These and other quotes are from his book “Ways of seeing”.

All photographs are there to remind us of what we forget. In this – as in other ways – they are the opposite of paintings. Paintings record what the painter remembers. (John Berger)Unlike any other visual image, a photograph is not a rendering, an imitation or an interpretation of its subject, but actually a trace of it. No painting or drawing, however naturalist, belongs to its subject in the way that a photograph does.

“What makes photography a strange invention is that its primary raw materials are light and time.”

and from his ground – breaking, Bafta award-winning series:

However, Hockney takes us further back, before the advent of photography, back to when artists used whatever technology was available , such as convex mirrors and prisms to get the ‘correct’ perspective on paper. Hockney’s love/hate relationship with technology, first to enhance his perspectives on seeing and then to jettison the technology so as to return to painting ensures his reverence for painting and reminding us about the limitations of such technology, particularly in photography.

He has used convex lenses, standard photography, polaroids (joiners), fax machines, iphones and ipads all to extend his own ways of seeing so as to represent these new ways in his painting.

Lets consider his polaroid ‘joiners’ :

One of Hockney’s concerns is that photography shows a moment in time whereas painting can show more than one moment in time.

He  challenged his point by putting together a collage of polaroid images (in itself an instant image) and to show the passing of time (see the Bill Brandt’s different hand positions)

 

 )nbbrandt joiners

Noya and Bill Brandt with self-portrait, Pembroke Studios, London, 8th May 1982

 

As a deeply thoughtful painter, he uses photography to explore more perspectives, which seemed to culminate in his huge collage ‘ a bigger Grand Canyon ”

bigger grandcanyon

A Bigger Grand Canyon” 1998 oil on 60 canvases, David Hockney

 

Henry Allen from the Washington Post describes the paintings:

He creates this space with hardness and softness of edge. He combs one color over another. He lightens and darkens, juxtaposing flat and glossy; using every tool in the oil-painting shop manual, it seems. It’s been a while since a famous artist painted a landscape using this much technique. Landscape painters of the 19th century used the manual, too — Thomas Moran, Frederic Church — but they used it to enlighten us with the sublimity of wild nature. Hockney provides no mist-shrouded peaks with eagles. There’s no sublimity here, unless it’s in the space between all these buttes and edges. If the sublimity is in the space itself, of course, that means it lies in the parts of the painting where there isn’t anything at all. How unsettling.

Photography can unsettle, but the beauty of the paintings and how they are put together ensures that we have to keep looking and exploring as if we were there , looking in different directions at once.

Henry Allen describes how Hockney explored through polaroid and again move to his love of painting to ‘improve’ on his earlier artistic and cognitive explorations:

In 1982, Hockney stood in front of this same view with a camera, about an hour after dawn. Over the next 30 minutes, he took 60 color photographs, moving his camera along one shot at a time, trying to match the edges of each picture by memory, six rows of photographs that each captured one-sixtieth of the view.

Over the years, he kept reassembling them in collages, until, last year for a show in Cologne, he blew them up large enough to make an 18-foot picture. It didn’t work.

“The moment I saw it, I realized you didn’t feel it across the room,” he says. Only oil color would have the impact he wanted.

He set out to paint 60 canvases that would blend the photographs together, crank up the color, and retain the collage oddity that made the picture possible: 60-point perspective, one point for each panel.

Which is to say: Instead of looking toward one vanishing point, you’re looking at 60, staring at a picture that goes off in 60 slightly different directions at once.

and finally a description on how this evolved:

Across the hall are drawings that lay out the painting in parts and whole; also, two of the photo-collages. After you see the painting, the collages have all the vibrancy of a sun-faded magazine cover. In their jagged immediacy and busyness, though, they recall the thrill of the first Hockney photo-collages you saw years ago, a thrill that was partly the hope that progress in the arts wasn’t entirely dead, that one thing could still lead to another.

Then you look back across the hall at this tour de force fireworks finale, optical illusion, catechism of 20th-century isms and 24-foot parade float commemorating the history of oil painting and and you realize that the collages did lead to something: a painting that takes us all the way back to the Big Bang beginning.

 

 

Perhaps Hockney should have the last word:

Photography can’t lead us to a new way of seeing. It may have other possibilities, but only painting can extend the way of seeing.

Undaunted Humankind Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 2016 — Steve McCurry’s Blog

Difficult to picture ‘hope’ but Steve McCurry manages it beautifully:

“A landscape might be denuded, a human settlement abandoned or lost, but always, just beneath the ground lies history of preposterous grandeur. . They are everywhere, these individuals of undaunted humankind, irrepressibly optimistic and proud. – The Carpet Wars, Christopher Kremmer Life in a war zone means that death is always present in the lives of children and […]

via Undaunted Humankind Kabul, Afghanistan, March, 2016 — Steve McCurry’s Blog