Bibliographies: Breathing Books

I spent a wonderful day at the Nordik on Wednesday. The snow lightly fell on my head but disappeared before it hit the steam of the hot pools. I practised tummo and other breathing techniques in both the heat and the cold. It was blissful.

With the COVID pandemic breathing became, for me, like Heidegger’s hammer: paid attention to only when broken. Graham Harman’s work is on point here and in a lecture he once talked about how no one misses an object like oxygen or the chair that you are sitting on unless something happens to it. If the chair that you are sitting on disappears, you become aware of it. As working from home set in, I began to focus my attention on my breath and attention on my mind as a healthy mental habit.

As is my routine, I looked to expertise on breathing, reading as much as I could and watching videos and learning sessions. I will blog on this more later but the Netflix series called Headspace was really good! It makes mediation very accessible.

I began to track my meditation sessions in Oak (iOS). My habit is now 188 days in a row that I stacked (more on this later) in order to make it that way. I spend 30-60 minutes a day in both meditation and breathing, finding myself wanting to spend more time than that occupied solely with the present.

Here is a screenshot of my iBook collection of breathing books and a few personal growth “mind mastery” type books. Wim Hof is a popularized form of Tummo breathing but is easily accessible. He has guided breathing sessions that I use often. His cold therapy is challenging but each time I shower, I finish with cold water. It certainly does wake me up!

Learning to breathe properly is the key. Moving away from shallow breathing in the chest and into diaphragmatic breathing. This is a technique that I learned in yoga class decades ago. One easy Buteyko technique to ensure that you learn proper breathing from the start is placing your hands befind your head. Yes, just put your hands behind your head and breathe. Either through your nose or mouth, you will find that it is difficult to breathe the wrong way. As I felt the right way to breathe, into the diaphragm, I recall this while I am breathing during the day to ensure that I am on track. And I am also drinking more water.

Dante, Tacita Dean and ballet streaming on my big screen? Mkay.

I was reading this interview with British artist Tacita Dean where she discussed her role in the set design of the Royal Ballet production of The Dante Project. It turns out that they are streaming the production!

I am very much looking forward to seeing the set design by Dean, one of my favorite contemporary artists as her art transitions as the “place” upon which this visualization of the Commedia occurs. Her art is the frame of the theatrical performance which isn’t that strange when you think about set design and its historical traditions. Beginning with chalk as a medium (which always makes me think about Dean’s work on Twombly), Dean’s visualizations have certainly changed in both medium and method over her career as I gather will be shown in this ballet – from chalk at the Gates of Hell to film and the arrival of the light in Paradise. Her philosophical point about the typological differences between medium and technology seem to me to be a key feature of her Aristotelian methodology. And while Hal Foster may decry this as bad news, perhaps I am more sympathetic since I concur more with Dean’s approach to visualization and the encyclopedic tradition.

So one new addition on my lists of things to do over the holidays is to enjoy this production. I didn’t get a chance to write about it but the BCBallet show Garden that was at the NAC a few weeks ago was really great and, much like seeing the production of Blindness, gave me much needed access to the arts! Now my only issue is to find the right evening to stream 3 hours of Dante!

And I am learning that I need to write less and use my visualizations in this blog.

James Hyman’s The Battle for Realism

I have been looking forward to reading The Battle for Realism and I finally decided to, at the least, start it the evening before my vacation since it deserves my attention. One of the ‘verticals” that I read in is Cold War history, one area in my graduate studies, this with Brian Loring Villa. As an aside, I have come to realize that this was an “academization” of earlier attraction / allure (Garcia again) to the fictional “spy” characters as portrayed in both novels and motion media that I shared with my older brothers and my father. Who knew that all those late nights trying to stay up to midnight to watch James Bond movies on television with my dad would play out like this? FYI – this was pre-videotape / NetFlix for those who don’t understand what I just wrote.

From the cover flap: The author proposes that realism in Europe during the early Cold War years occupied a radical vanguard position and stood in opposition to the competing claims made for American abstract expressionism. He examines two distinct visions of realism—social realism and Modernist realism—and explores their political implications and ideological significance.

One recent work that intersects diplomatic and art history that led me to Hyman is Mark Greif’s The Age of the Crises of Man. While Greif discusses literature and not visualization, it is the same space for me. Clement Greenberg’s work on abstract expressionism is of relevence as is the social realism of Continental artists. I finished Greif as I began work on Peggy Guggenheim so it is still fresh in my mind.

Working Philip Guston and Cy Twombly in here was difficult but very intellectually rewarding. Hint - it was in Rome, not Venice.

Greif writes about Saul Bellow’s 1944 Dangling Man (Ibn Sina – floating man – knowledge by presence- al-insan al-muta’alliq) and Ralph Ellison’s 1952 Invisible Man as works of literature that exemplify this “crises” stemming from the awesome destructive nature of the bomb and the insignificance of man in the face of science. The bomb and Auschwitz showed us ourselves better than art could. But this was what art was supposed to do best?

So from what I gather, Hyman is writing about how realism manifested itself in British painting both by British artists such as Bacon, Freud and Coldstream but also artists in Britain and how both of these groups interacted with the streams of thought from outside within this Cold War rubric of bipolarity. This also includes how British artists retained their Britishness but under the umbrella of American preponderance of power. I am reminded here of the All Too Human exhibit that I saw at at the Tate in early 2018. More on this later, I *think* that the Slade school plays in here with Coldstream.

So without too much ado before I write the entire article – my larger argument is that art was now political not because of the power of art as propaganda as Greenberg and others portrayed it or how they saw how they could utilize it, seeing its power both in the New Deal but also for mass mobilization in Cold War Europe and by the Soviet Union, but it was a pragmatic turn – art could no longer hold itself to as a tool of truth and or beauty so its absorption into the particular mode of liberal capitalism promoted diplomatically by the US in Europe enabled its critical use as a diplomatic tool against the Soviet bloc. New Deal collectivism became the novus homo abstract expressionist auteur which later was visualized as cowboys in American and Italian film, samurais in Japan.

Science threatened that specific key element of the visual art storyline in the late 1940s just as photography threatened key elements of studio canvas paintings in the 19th century. Others modalities of visualization such as impressionism in the 19th century and abstraction were highlighted, leaving realism to the technology of the lens rather than the brush. Movies would later occupy much of this visual cultural space of propaganda, shifting the narratives of legitimacy for the brush elsewhere. I’ll stop here since it is already too disconnected and isn’t assembled properly.

At some point I will actually write this piece on Rauschenberg and Twombly in Rome and the Cold War but I will just leave this here to remind myself.

Data Vulnerabilities

Statistics Canada data servers have been offline for a few days. At first there was some confusion since I assumed it was something on my end but a note was put up at the STC site saying that it was due to an “overabundance” of caution. I have been following the Log4J vulnerability, called Log4Shell. Not confirmed but since AWS and other cloud servers are on the list in Github so is this what they are cautious about?

GitHub Log4Shell patch – Cyberreason and LunaSec mitigation.

GitHub list of impact on manufacturers and components.

Microsoft Security Blog

What I’m Watching this week

The Great British Bake Off – I binged every season of this show that I could find during the first year of the pandemic. This is really good tv where skilled craftspeople are challenged and supported in a really enjoyable way.

Star Trek : Discovery Season 4 – Not the strongest start to the season but any time that gravity is involved, so is time. Im hoping the writers add something new to this rather overdone “let’s change time” storyline.

Dexter Season 9 – I just started watching episode 1 of season 9 of Dexter. I did enjoy this show when it was on a few years back. I’m hoping that this will be a “must watch” in my weekly rotation.

OMG I hate American Survivor. I much prefer the Australian show but hate-watch this show with friends. I cannot stand the entire cast and the show itself is off the rails.

However, last week we had pizza from Pizza Nerds and we were all very pleased!

Blade Runner Black Lotus. I have only seen two episodes but this Japanese-American anime builds on the franchise. I re-watched both Ridley Scott’s and Villeneuve’s before I started. I can’ even count how many times that I have watched the original. The original movie is embedded in the symbology of media culture. The Blade Runner universe is vast so I look forward to the rest of this series.

Another animated series that is ongoing that expands on the Star Wars universe. Star Wars : The Bad Batch was a good series so I am giving this one a shot too.

Murder Island. This was only six episodes where 4 teams of amateurs work with actual police to solve a murder written by Ian Rankin. I binged this last week during the first snow of the season. Its a good concept since most people think that they are Sherlock, Poirot and Ms.Marple rolled into one. Spoiler alert – they aren’t.


Starting to reintegrate blogging back into my life.

I’m posting some of my older assemblages as video files. I was thinking to export them as gifs but I think that mp4 is a better format cross platform and across devices. Unsure. WordPress is giving me a 2mb limit on video files so I can’t get more than 10 seconds at that rate. I was testing HEVC but it might not be as ubiquitous as required to not worry about accessibility. This reminds me of when Macromedia Flash was a thing and designers like Hillman Curtis were looking at how to compress animations to take advantage of limited bandwidth. The solution might be to just post videos at Vimeo and link to this space.

This Philip Guston video is very first one that I did on completely on my iPad Pro in Affinity Photo and LumaFusion. And while my iPad Pro is a great tool, perhaps I am too old school? I haven’t been too productive with Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer or LumaFusion compared to the desktop apps like Photoshop, After Effects or Avid that I learned my craft on. I have chalked it up to the whole pandemic and the shift to working from home. I wanted to completely transition to my tablet but it didn’t work for me without a way to integrate my desktop media catalog into a new workflow and using my scanner for my analog work which is an important component of my artistic assemblages.

I will blog more about Guston but one way that I think through art is by dis-assembling it. When I dis-assemble art into component objects I get a better understanding of the compositional choices made by the artist.

More to come on this as I integrate a laptop back in.

The basic elements of each workflow is the following:

  • Media creation
    • Camera + SD card – Digital and devices images
    • Tablet – content assemblage / edits
    • Laptop – DAM, photo/vector, 3D, edit, motion graphics
    • Image scanner – Mamiya and legacy Analog devices
  • Content / Media Storage
    • NAS shared folders – cloud enabled
  • Tools
    • Digital Asset Manager
    • Photo Manipulation
    • OBS Broadcast
    • Video editing
    • Motion Graphics
    • 3D
    • Audio
  • Output
    • Blog
      • Text
      • Visualizations
    • VLOG – TBD

Fujikawa, from the series Fifty-Three Stations of Tōkaidō – Edo period, 1840-1842

This is another one from around 2010. Like Guston, it was originally Flash but rebuilt in Luma Fusion on my iPad. I really enjoyed working on these prints.

Unripe tomatoes and other herbs from my garden

It is so hot and humid this long Canada Day weekend. I did find the energy to shoot some macro photos with my Olympus 60mm before I water my planter boxes in the back yard. My basil is starting to flower but the mint is thriving. 

Flowers from the front yard

The weather has been fantastic for my planter boxes. The sun was bright this morning and some new flowers are blooming.

These are with my Olympus 60mm and Panasonic GX-8.