Archive for March, 2018


Chaos and Awe: Painting for the 21st Century
Edited by Mark W. Scala

In an age of global instability, the threat of chaos looms. Or is the threat more spectral than real? The fear of chaos may simply be our response to living in a world controlled by powerful forces beyond our understanding. Chaos and Awe demonstrates the aptness and relevance of painting as a medium for expressing the uncertainty of our era. It presents more than fifty paintings, by an international array of contemporary artists, that induce sensations of disturbance, curiosity, and expansiveness—the new sublime, derived not from the unfathomable mystery of nature but from the hidden and often insidious forces of culture. Essays by art historians and “painters who write” offer context and illumination.

Zaria Forman’s large-scale compositions of melting glaciers, icebergs floating in glassy water and waves cresting with foam explore moments of transition, turbulence and tranquility. Join her as she discusses the meditative process of artistic creation and the motivation behind her work. “My drawings celebrate the beauty of what we all stand to lose,” she says. “I hope they can serve as records of sublime landscapes in flux.”

Students as Teachers

Posted: March 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

Thousands of students poured out of classrooms in the US on Wednesday in an unprecedented expression of mourning and a demand for action to stem the country’s epidemic of gun violence.

“There were lots of emotions, many people were crying. We were thinking of the 17 we lost,” said Florence Yared, a third-year student at Stoneman Douglas, who joined 3,000 of her schoolmates on the school’s football pitch, where exactly one month ago many were running for their lives.

The Minimalist Classroom

Posted: March 14, 2018 in Uncategorized

“’This world’! As if there were any other.”

Paulo Freire
(1921 – 1997)

Paulo Freire’s work has influenced people working in education, community development, community health and many other fields. Freire developed an approach to education that links the identification of issues to positive action for change and development. While Freire’s original work was in adult literacy, his approach leads us to think about how we can ‘read’ the society around us.

In 2013, Shetterly founded The Human Computer Project, an organization whose mission is to archive the work of all the women who worked as computers and mathematicians in the early days of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Dr. Ellen Stofan is a professor, researcher, and scientist who served as NASA’s Chief Scientist from 2013 to 2017. In that role, she was the principal advisor to the NASA Administrator on the agency’s strategic planning and programs. Prior to becoming Chief Scientist, she held senior positions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and New Millennium Program. Stofan is an Honorary Professor in the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London and co-chair of the World Economic Space Council. She holds master’s and doctoral degrees in geological sciences from Brown University and is an outspoken champion of young women and people of color who seek careers in STEM.

White House officials were alarmed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ struggle to answer basic questions about the nation’s schools and failure to defend the administration’s newly proposed school safety measures during a tour of television interviews Sunday and Monday, according to two sources familiar with their reaction.

Though DeVos was sworn in to her Cabinet position 13 months ago, she stumbled her way through a pointed “60 Minutes” interview with CBS’ Lesley Stahl Sunday night and was unable to defend her belief that public schools can perform better when funding is diverted to the expansion of public charter schools and private school vouchers. At one point, she admitted she hasn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools.

Happy To Join A New Band

Posted: March 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

For all you silent auditors, it might help your grade to make a well-considered comment on this post. Honors is not about sitting voiceless and passively sponging information. It’s about taking a risk and speaking up.

For example, a failure to register the enormous difference in quality between, say, the music of Elliott Carter and that of John Cage or between the paintings of [Morris] Louis and those of Robert Rauschenberg means that the real distinctions–between music and theater in the first instance and between painting and theater in the second–are displaced by the illusion that the barriers between the art are in the process of crumbling and that the arts themselves are at last sliding towards some kind of final, implosive, highly desirable synthesis. Whereas in fact the individual arts have never been more explicitly concerned with the conventions that constitute their respective essences.

–Michael Fried

Please feel free to comment on the music posted above or below. The more you join in and discuss stuff like this, the more willing I’ll be to take the time to make it available. Can’t say it will hurt your grade any either.

Rather than strictly Avant-Garde (above), these pieces (below) represent a newer school of music known as Minimalism. This music, which might rightly be considered anti-music, will sound very different than the works of the last group of composers, the Modernists. As you will notice in your reading for next, Michael Fried makes direct reference to this kind of music, attempting as best he can in 1967, when it was still relatively new, to figure out exactly what is going on here, whether or not he approves, and why that is the case. Give a listen and see if you can hear what Fried is hearing.

It may interest some of you to know that LaMonte Young, who is generally recognized as the father of the Minimalist school, is a direct descendant of LDS prophet Brigham Young, and grew up in a log cabin just off Bear Lake. The sounds of howling winds and droning high-tension power lines left a deep impression on him as a boy and had a profound influence on his music.

Finally, these composers, for what it’s worth, are currently considered by expert consensus to be the best thing he have. Whereas Philip Glass was once the most recognized Minimalist composer on the scene, Steve Reich has over the last decade or so taken the lead. Most recently, Reich’s work has has been broadly recognized and performed in conjunction with the celebration of his 70th birthday.

Interesting note: I can practically guarantee that, in addition to Kraftwerk, it was the guys below, in particular Reich, to whom David Bowie was listening when in 1976 he moved to Berlin, stopped making rock music, and tried to go “avante-gard”. The result was the trilogy Low-Heroes-Lodger, which he made with the help of Brian Eno. These “rock” albums were in turn converted into symphonic music by Philip Glass.

Anyone wanting to discuss this music but unsure of how to begin, might want to consider it terms of the very famous “masterpiece” below by Jasper Johns. What does this painting teach about what we should be listening for in the music posted above? Is it really a masterpiece, and if so, why?

Jasper Johns
Fool’s House, 1962
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

Contemporary Sanctuaries

Posted: March 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

Based on recent class discussions, how might you compare and contrast these two chapels?

Mark Rothko
Rothko Chapel
Dalla, Texas

Ellsworth Kelly
Austin, Texas

Lies spread faster than the truth

There is worldwide concern over false news and the possibility that it can influence political, economic, and social well-being. To understand how false news spreads, Vosoughi et al. used a data set of rumor cascades on Twitter from 2006 to 2017. About 126,000 rumors were spread by ∼3 million people. False news reached more people than the truth; the top 1% of false news cascades diffused to between 1000 and 100,000 people, whereas the truth rarely diffused to more than 1000 people. Falsehood also diffused faster than the truth. The degree of novelty and the emotional reactions of recipients may be responsible for the differences observed.

White House officials were alarmed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ struggle to answer basic questions about the nation’s schools and failure to defend the administration’s newly proposed school safety measures during a tour of television interviews Sunday and Monday, according to two sources familiar with their reaction.

Though DeVos was sworn in to her Cabinet position 13 months ago, she stumbled her way through a pointed “60 Minutes” interview with CBS’ Lesley Stahl Sunday night and was unable to defend her belief that public schools can perform better when funding is diverted to the expansion of public charter schools and private school vouchers. At one point, she admitted she hasn’t “intentionally” visited underperforming schools.

Another Unlikely Inventor

Posted: March 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

Anti-Bombshell Inventor

Posted: March 12, 2018 in Uncategorized

I’ll be at this free movie Tuesday night, if anyone should care to join me.

Tuesday at 7 PM – 9 PM
Salt Lake City Public Library
210 E 400 S, Salt Lake City, Utah 84111

This March, Utah Film Center’s curated film exhibition features stories of diverse women across the globe. Our program includes profiles of innovators, singers, and civil rights champions and also showcases remarkable stories in the everyday lives of women.

Join us for our FREE screening of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, presented in partnership with Natural History Museum of Utah and Salt Lake City Public Library.

Directed by Alexandra Dean
89 min | 2017 | USA | Not Rated

*Post-film discussion with Stacy Bamberg, Department of Bioengineering, The University of Utah.

Hollywood star Hedy Lamarr was known as the world’s most beautiful woman – both Snow White and Cat Woman were based on her iconic look. However, her arresting looks and glamorous life obstructed the recognition she deserved as an ingenious inventor whose work helped to revolutionize modern communication. At the beginning of World War II, Lamarr and composer George Antheil developed a radio guidance system for Allied torpedoes, which used spread spectrum and frequency hopping technology to defeat the threat of jamming by the Axis powers. Although the US Navy did not adopt the technology until the 1960s, the principles of their work are arguably incorporated into Bluetooth technology, and are similar to methods used in legacy versions of CDMA and Wi-Fi. This work led to their induction into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2014.

Winner: Best of Fest–2017 Nantucket Film Festival; Official Selection: 2017 Tribeca Film Festival

Watch the trailer:

Film is free and open to the public. No tickets needed.

View our complete schedule of upcoming FREE film screenings at

Narcissus Unbound

Posted: March 10, 2018 in Uncategorized

“Our research shows that directly after developing theatrical performances as a way to honor the gods during religious festivals, the people of sixth-century Athens realized what a terrible thing they had done,” said research associate Hannah Brubaker, whose team of translators and anthropologists are working to catalogue reams of writing in which classical Greeks confessed that the idea of a professional class of people wearing costumes and masks while standing on stage and performing stories was a horrendous mistake. “It appears the Greeks almost immediately recognized that this new craft would create an entire subcommunity centered around the worst attention-seeking narcissists in their society and inspire a litany of terrible productions that they would all have to sit through. The Athenians in particular, being the most refined, sensitive, and sophisticated of the Greeks, instantly wished they had never conceived of theater in the first place.”

Readings For March 12th

Posted: March 9, 2018 in Readings

Here are the next readings. I only expect you to read Aristotle for our next session, but feel free to read Brecht and Artaud if you like. For your reassurance, the Aristotle is quite easy and the Brecht, while potentially confusing, is mercifully brief. We’ll worry about Artaud later. Have an astounding weekend!

The Philosopher
(384-322 BCE)
“The Poetics”

Bertholt Brecht
(1898 – 1956)
The Epic Theater
“Radio as a Means of Communication” (1932)


Antonin Artaud
(1896 – 1948)
The Theater and Its Double – 1938

(video shows a scene of Artaud in Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc, which is framed within Jean-Luc Godard’s Live Your Life, Susan Sontag’s favorite film)

Amalia Pica uses sculpture, performance, installation and photography to explore the nuances of communication. Her 2013 work A ∩ B ∩ C (read as A intersection B intersection C) references the fact that, during the 1970s, Argentina’s military junta forbade Venn diagrams and the related concept of intersection from being taught in elementary schools, viewing it as potentially subversive. In A ∩ B ∩ C, performers manipulate translucent colored shapes, producing configurations that use intersection as an invitation to reimagine collaboration and community. Returned to the walls at the performance’s conclusion, the shapes seemed endowed with a new communicative potential.

b. 1978
Neuquén, Argentina

JAM verb \ˈjam\

intransitive verb

1a: to become blocked, wedged, or stuck fast; b: to become unworkable when a movable part becomes blocked or stuck the gun jammed

2: to force one’s way into a restricted space

3: to improvise on a musical instrument with a group : to take part in a jam session musicians jamming together

transitive verb

1a: to press into a close or tight position; b(1): to cause to become wedged or stuck so as to be unworkable (2): to make (machinery) unworkable by becoming wedged or stuck c: to block passage of, d: to fill to excess

2: to push forcibly : to apply (brakes) suddenly and forcibly

3: to cause (a part of the body) to be painfully crushed or squeezed jammed his finger in the door

4a: to make unintelligible by sending out interfering signals or messages jam a radio broadcast; b: to make (a radar apparatus) ineffective by sending out interfering signals or by causing reflection of radar waves


Posted: March 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

Every child deserves an education. Unfortunately, young girls and women ― half of the world’s population ― are rarely given the same opportunities as boys to learn, study and succeed.

The Only Woman In The Room

Posted: March 8, 2018 in Uncategorized

Interesting to read this after yesterday’s IT1 discussion of male character building through physical discipline.

She was hanged in effigy and mocked in cartoons; laughed at by Congress for demanding equal rights for women and fined for casting her “illegal” vote in 1872; shouted down at public meetings and ridiculed in the press by the upright and uptight columnists of the day. That Susan B. Anthony, champion of the women’s movement in the U.S., had to suffer these ignominies is well known.

Less well known is the grueling physical hardship she endured in her long and tireless quest to get women the right to vote. For 45 years, Anthony traveled relentlessly, giving close to a hundred anti-slavery and woman’s suffrage speeches a year. This meant that she quite literally lived on the road – travelling through snowstorms and blizzards by train, wagon, boat, skiff and sleigh. She stumped her way through New York, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, California and even – against the advice of other suffragists – “polygamous Utah.” Often the only woman in the room, she spoke at any public venue that opened its doors to her – from African-American churches and saloons to teachers’ institutes, railroad depots, abandoned barracks and tobacco factories. Once, she even lectured from atop a lumber wagon.