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January 8, 2007

Sergio Prego at Lehmann Maupin

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The Spanish artist's show is currently up at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in New York City.

Benjamin Genocchio reviewed it in the January 5, 2007 New York Times as follows:

    Sergio Prego

    To take the fullest pleasure in the exhibition of sculptures and video by the Spanish artist Sergio Prego at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, you must stand perfectly still and quiet in front of “Black Monday” (2006), a single-channel video of still life photographs of controlled fireworks explosions taken inside an abandoned factory in Bilbao, Spain. In all, the artist took more than a thousand photographs of 17 different explosions with 40 cameras. He then scanned them into a computer, cropped them and ran them together. He also composed what he calls “a sequencing of sounds,” a series of repeating ambient electronic noises that serve as the soundtrack. The results are a multifaceted representation of something that is usually invisible to the eye: explosion clouds immobilized in time and space, forming immensely beautiful sculptural shapes. It brings out the inner pyro in all of us. Sometimes these clouds even resemble dancing figures. It is as if you were looking at a three-dimensional sculpture in video, though a few frames later, the form magically evaporates. The video lasts only three and a half minutes, which gives you just enough time to get hooked before it starts all over again. It is like stepping into another dimension.

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Buried inside the gallery website is one of Prego's videos.

Here's how to disinter it:

1) Click here and you'll find yourself on the gallery homepage

2) Click on "CURRENT" in the upper left hand corner

3) Click on "EXHIBITION VIDEO" under "Sergio Prego"

4) Click on "VIEW VIDEO" above this

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photo.

Not so hard, eh?

I mean, even a TechnoDolt™ could do it.

After all — one just did.

Lehmann Maupin Gallery is at 540 West 26th Street, Chelsea; 212-255-2923; through Saturday, February 10, 2007.

January 8, 2007 at 06:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Chest Wrinkle Inhibitor

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This is one of those problems I hadn't realized existed until I read about it.

From the website:

    Chest Wrinkle Inhibitor

    Helps to smooth existing chest wrinkles and discourage new ones

    This adhesive pad inhibits wrinkles caused by side sleeping.

    Sleeping on your side can cause chest wrinkles — a sign of aging that you don't want!

    This simple solution helps to smooth existing lines and discourage new ones without chemicals or expensive treatments.

    Smooth skin with hands, then press the adhesive-backed pad into place.

    The padded design ensures comfort while you sleep and the medical-grade adhesive removes easily in the morning.

    Reusable.

....................

Huh.

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Frankly, I'm gobsmacked.

$29.95.

January 8, 2007 at 05:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

New software could end daydreaming

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There is no respite, is there, from the gradual encroachment of the digital world into heretofore sacrosanct nooks and crannies of everyday life?

Now comes emotionally-aware software able to keep track of students' attention by measuring physical signs of emotion.

Is there no end?

Here's Tom Simonite's story as published on January 5, 2007 on NewScientist.com.

    Emotion-aware teaching software tracks student attention

    Tutoring software that knows when student are losing interest in a lesson and can adjust to keep them on track is being tested by researchers in China and the UK.

    The system keeps track of students' attention by measuring physical signs of emotion. It then varies the speed and content of a lesson based on an assessment of their level of interest. Ultimately, it could improve electronic tutoring programmes, say the researchers involved, thus helping developing countries deliver education to remote areas that lack educational institutions.

    "In China, they are around 300 universities short of demand," says Vic Callaghan, a researcher from Essex University, UK, who co-developed the system with Liping Shen from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in China and others. "They are very interested in using e-learning to educate students over large distances."

    Shanghai Jiao Tong University already supplies video streams of lectures and presentation material via the internet, as well as software that lets students interact with a distant lecturer by voice or text through a computer.

    "But these systems are unable to take into account the needs and response of the student in the same way a teacher in a classroom can," says Callaghan, "that's what we are trying to do, by making a system that can sense emotion."

    To use the new learning software, a student wears a ring fitted with sensors that monitor heart rate, blood pressure and changes in electrical resistance caused by perspiration. This data is then transmitted via Bluetooth to a computer that assesses the wearer's emotional state. It judges whether they are interested and keeping up or bored and struggling.

    "We've built a prototype that can moderate the flow of educational information as a result," Callaghan told New Scientist. For example, it can slow down or change topic if a student seems disinterested, or appears to be falling behind. The software might also try a different mode of delivery, switching from text to video, for example.

    "It can also learn that certain types of material are more stressful to the student than others," he adds. This could help the system determine which material is most difficult for a student and requires further focus.

    The team plans to test the system on students in real learning scenarios in China. The results should help them improve the system's ability to judge attentiveness accurately and also develop course material better suited to long-distance learning.

January 8, 2007 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Solar Keychain Flashlight

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The inexorable rise of solar continues.

From the website:

    Solar Keychain Flashlight

    Light when you need it — no batteries necessary!

    This keychain flashlight's tiny solar cells charge it while you drive, so you have a ready light source available at all times.

    Two bright LED bulbs provide light for three hours on a full charge and since the light has no batteries it's never out of juice.

    Use it to illuminate car locks or ignition, search for items in your glove box or in case of emergency.

....................

181184t

$14.95.

January 8, 2007 at 03:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CliveJames.com — 'When this website took to the air... in 2004, it was the first personal multimedia extravaganza of its type anywhere in the world'

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I'm not taking issue with that claim: I mean, I also went live in 2004 but I sure wasn't offering — nor am I today — anything approaching multimedia.

Though I know where they have stuff like that.

But I digress.

I just read about James's website in this past weekend's Wall Street Journal, where he selected his five favorite books of poetry.

The Wall Street Journal described him as a "British critic and polymath."

I'm not arguing about that either.

I like CliveJames.com: No ads, and four icons at the upper left which take you to what they say: Text, Audio, Gallery and Video.

James has put most of his wood behind the Video arrow, as you'll find if you noodle around a bit.

January 8, 2007 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Flight Pillow

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From websites:
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Flight Pillow

Finally! Sleep Comfortably In Cramped Airline Seats!

This ergonomically designed, L-shaped pillow may be used on any high-backed seat, including airplanes, trains, buses and cars.

Your head holds it in place; soft, supportive hypoallergenic fill stays firm yet comfortable as you lean on it.

It creates a bolster for your head in any seat, even in the dreaded middle seat!

The Sunday Times Traveller called this L-shaped pillow "the best we ever tested."

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It prevents neck strain by supporting both the back and side of your head, so you can rest comfortably even on the longest flights.

Filled with sumptuously soft polyester fiber filling, it has an anti-pill fleece cover that can be removed for machine washing, and rolls up to pack easily in its own handy carrying bag.

Put an end to "pain in the neck" travel.

10½" x 6" x 6".

14 oz.
....................

Navy: $29.85.

Light Blue: $35.83.

Pink: $35.83.

Gjhghgh

Grey: $39.95.

January 8, 2007 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Why Guy Trebay is the best fashion writer in the world

Never was his mastery more evident than in last Thursday's (January 4, 2007) New York Times Styles section front-page story featuring his "Fashion Diary."

In order, the following appeared in perfect context in the course of his article:

Miranda Priestly
The Decemberists
My Morning Jacket
Kinko's
Sarah Lerfel
Colette (the boutique)
Möbius strip
Roland Mouret
The Gap
Lucy Liu
Stella McCartney
Bauhaus
Paul Bunyan
Bearapalooza
atavism
Devandra Banhart
Peter Orlovsky
Allen Ginsberg
sadhu
Supreme Trading
Black Betty
Matisyahu
Proust
visual mnemonics
Patti Hansen
Yasmeen Ghauri
Guinevere van Seenus
Raquel Zimmerman
cyborg
Louis Vuitton
Lara Croft
CGI
Convent of the Sacred Heart (private high school in NYC)
Yura & Co.
L.L. Bean
Ugg

I rest my case.

Here's the story.

    Where You Least Expect It

    Has it ever seemed clearer that fashion is not about clothes? Has it ever appeared more inevitable that the cult of the designer is slated for the cultural slag heap, there to join all those other monuments to the outmoded notion of the grand career (retrospective albums, DVD collections, the Great Novel)?

    Fashion, like an awful lot of other stuff in the culture, is cracking apart before one’s eyes. You’re doomed if you try to see the field as some powerful system run by chic sadists (“Bore someone else with your questions,” said Meryl Streep’s Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada,” snapping at her simpering minion in the weary tone of a burned-out dominatrix).

    Fashion doesn’t come just from the runway anymore, if it ever really did. And it doesn’t come from “Project Runway” either. Rather, it seems to happen spontaneously and then spread like some mostly benign contagion, a germ carried in the air and contracted in this store, that magazine, this corner of the city and in ways that fashion bibles rarely bother to note.

    Trends emerge, apparently from nowhere: they are fashion. This process can be intoxicating to watch. Suddenly young people in rock bands like the Decemberists and My Morning Jacket begin dressing as if playing a rock club was no different from running copies behind a counter at Kinko’s. In place of stage costumes, they favor cheap sweater vests and no-brand thrift shop jeans. They make such a success of looking frumpy that their frumpiness develops into a style despite itself.

    How can one tell? Well, already last season in Paris, Sarah Lerfel, a farsighted owner of the celebrated boutique Colette, was talking about a trend that sounded a lot like the Return of Grunge.

    Fashion in that sense is a Möbius strip, a flexible circuit, both variable and closed. Designers shine one season on the face side of the loop, the arc turns and suddenly you can’t see them anymore. A year ago the name of Roland Mouret — a self-taught son of a French butcher, holder at some point of most every job there is in fashion (stylist, model, gofer, art director) — was on everyone’s lips. The hobbled skirts and elevator stilettos he promoted in the fall of 2005 were greeted by some as precisely the antidote to a sartorial landscape grown neutral and drab.

    It was meant to happen in a big way for Mr. Mouret. The fix was in at Vogue. And then ... well ... nothing. A couple of movie people were spotted wobbling down that purgatorial road to nowhere, the red carpet, in his creations. Some stores, like Bergdorf Goodman, bought the collection. Yet the predicted breakout did not take place; the gyre turned and Mr. Mouret faded away. Until late this November, when, with hardly any fanfare, there he was again, proudly adorning the racks at the Gap. The Gap?

    “I was interested in the opportunity to make my designs available to a broader audience,” the designer said, after a small capsule collection of his was shipped to select local Gap stores, including one on 17th Street in Manhattan, where the actress Lucy Liu was caught waiting with an armload of $88 tunic dresses outside a dressing room. (They quickly disappeared.)

    Was Mr. Mouret selling out? He was not. He was just doing what every designer from Stella McCartney to Karl Lagerfeld to Vera Wang has recently done, buying his ticket to board the mass-market gravy train. As it happens, this is a fine thing that has happened to fashion, since the democratization of design is a value that has been trumpeted by every theoretician of the applied arts since the Bauhaus.

    It is thrilling somehow to see visual ideas first created to be pitched to the rarefied tastes of a group of mandarins leak out to the broader population. It is a pleasure to realize that our tastes, after all, are not formed at the whim of some underfed dictators of editorial chic. And there is a lot of fun to be had in tracking the serendipitous way that cultures, both high and low, unexpectedly collide.

    Think of how hipsters have suddenly started looking like Paul Bunyan. Think about how the grizzled, bearded look now affected by half of Williamsburg this winter was only a short time ago derided as an affectation of gay bears, a small minority of hyper-masculine men who affect potbellies, clodhoppers and lavish chin whiskers.

    We are talking full shrubs here, not mangy soul patches, the kind of beards that gay bears once seemed to be the only ones to flaunt (the better to attract each other at bars and roundups like the annual Bearapalooza or the Furball in Canada).

    Is it because atavism runs deep in fashion that the style abruptly leaped across the population boundaries and has now made a startling appearance among the ranks of cool young men, mostly straight?

    In the late summer of last year, one spotted a scant few beards around town; then, come autumn, whole blocks of the Lower East Side were crawling with guys who looked like the musician Devendra Banhart, who in turn seemed to have copped his look from Peter Orlovsky, the poet lover for three decades of Allen Ginsberg, the late literary genius who, after his first visit to India, affected a beard woolier than anything you’d see on a mud daubed sadhu.

    By this past holiday season, whether at clubs and bars like Supreme Trading or Black Betty in Brooklyn, the bearded hipster-mullah-hippie look had proliferated to the point where one could barely distinguish musicians from the local Hasidim. (In the case of the popular rapper Matisyahu, an Orthodox Jew, the distinction was moot.)

    Shifts of taste and style are trivialities, of course, without any serious meaning. But they do perform one important function, as Proust pointed out: they notch our hours and moments and decades and leave us with visual mnemonics, clues by which to remember where and in which dress and what jeans (and wearing what cologne) one was at a particular time. Tracking the way styles evolve gives us insight, too, into the forms of beauty we choose to idealize.

    Models who were vacant optimistic cheerleader types prevailed in the politically clueless 1970s (Christie Brinkley, Patti Hansen, Shelley Hack); brooding brunettes took over during the Age of Reagan (Linda Evangelista, Cindy Crawford and Yasmeen Ghauri); and off-kilter aristocratic types (Guinevere van Seenus, Stella Tennant, Erin O’Connor), emblematic of upper class women, came to the fore during the second Bush imperium.

    What fashion now prefers as a beauty ideal is another type, the robot, personified by the stunning Raquel Zimmerman, a blond Brazilian of German heritage whose physical proportions are so symmetrical that many designers use her body as a template. That Ms. Zimmerman also has a kind of vacant cyborg aspect cannot be altogether incidental. Possibly this is the reason why Louis Vuitton hired her for a new ad campaign in which her face has been made up and manipulated so aggressively as to render her less humanly expressive than Lara Croft.

    Was this intentional? Who knows? But it is no stretch to extrapolate from Ms. Zimmerman’s popularity to a time when live models will be dispensed with altogether, in favor of creatures written in CGI. That is not to suggest there is a master plan. There rarely is. Or is there?

    The guessing game keeps fashion fun for observers, that and its magpie habit of plucking from the cultural grab bag anything bright or unexpected with which to keep us amused.

    I am thinking of a microfad recently noted among privileged young women in elite neighborhoods of the Upper East Side, the wearing of bedroom slippers on the streets. “It started at boarding schools two years ago, when every single boarding-school kid was wearing them,” Signe Conway, a senior at the Convent of the Sacred Heart, explained last week, as she stood outside Yura & Co., a coffee shop that doubles as a private neighborhood clubhouse.

    Ms. Conway, 17, was wearing a pair of fuzzy suede moccasin-style slippers, the sort lined with shearling and with a roll of fur turned down on each side. The slippers are sold by L .L. Bean; they caught on when girls’ school administrators banned the wearing of the now ubiquitous Ugg boots.

    Like flip-flops in January, slippers on the sidewalk flout logic. They blur lines. They catch the eye and jolt one into the subtle realization that boundaries between public space and private are permeable. The gesture is small but it reminds one that fashion is a monumental system built on coded details.

    If one suddenly decides to colonize the sidewalks and treat them as though one were home in the bedroom, it is fashion that issues the license to proceed.

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Edwina Ings-Chambers of The Financial Times comes second; it's a mystery to me why that paper continues to relegate her work to an afterthought when she's so obviously the alpha babe of the next wave.

Maybe she and Trebay will break away from their parent publications and start an online fashion site: that would be dazzling.

January 8, 2007 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Drop Dead Rug

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Created by young British designer Alex Carpenter of Udderstuff, it's a rug in the shape of the classic dead body chalk outline.

Carpenter notes, "The shape mimics that of an unfortunate soul which may have come to pass right there on your living room floor with their silhouette remaining as evidence."

Price on request (email: alex@udderstuff.co.uk).

January 8, 2007 at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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