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May 20, 2013

"Corrugated Fountain" — The art of the ephemeral

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Long story short: sculptor James Grashow created "Corrugated Fountain," made from cardboard and based on Bernini's Roman design, over a five year period.

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It was installed outdoors at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut last year, then allowed to deteriorate as the elements took it down.

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Above, its appearance over a six-week period following installation.

Below, excerpts from William Grimes's May 13 New York Times article about the genesis of the piece.

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"Corrugated Fountain" [is] an assemblage of figures inspired by the Roman fountains of the Baroque sculptor Gian Lorenzo Bernini and animated by an insight that came to Mr. Grashow as he stewed over the fate of his papier mâché figures.

All art decays. Why not embark on a grand work that admits its own mortality, that embraces its own destruction? The ignominious end of his papier-mâché figures was, Mr. Grashow decided, a blessing. "I was liberated, in a way, to be the architect of what was inevitable, anyway."

In time, corrugated board became his preferred medium, and the object of an almost parental fondness. "It's so ephemeral," he said. "It's so grateful for the opportunity to become something, because it knows it's going to be trash."

"Corrugated Fountain" made its debut, indoors, at the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Va., and after stops in Manhattan and Pittsburgh landed at the Aldrich in April 2012. There, for the first time, it was exposed to the elements. Six weeks later, the battered and buffeted remnants were collected in a Dumpster and hauled away. But where?

"I swear I have no idea," Mr. Grashow said. "Probably to a landfill. Maybe I should have followed it and watched."

In other words, "Corrugated Fountain," as the artist intended, made its impression and then vanished.

May 20, 2013 at 08:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

iPhone Periscope Lens (you won't find this at the Apple Store)

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Also works with iPad, iPod touch, and Samsung Galaxy tablets.

From the website:

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According to Wikipedia: "A periscope is an instrument for observation from a concealed position. In its simplest form it consists of an outer case with mirrors at each end set parallel to each other at a 45-degree angle. This form of periscope, with the addition of two simple lenses, served for observation purposes in the trenches during World War I. Military personnel also use periscopes in some gun turrets and in armoured vehicles."

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Here we have a new use for this type of scope!

The use is so simple, just have the sticky metal ring on your phone, then whenever you want to use the periscope, just put it on the sticky metal ring, then you can have a periscope lens for your camera phone!

No need to install any software (apps) or any mechanical installation.

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General Features:

• Let you take pictures that the normal camera cannot fulfill

• A very compact gadget to get picture in a more comfortable way

• A spy lens too, just pretend you are playing with your smartphone but indeed you are taking pictures

• If you are an iPhone user, no worries that the sensor will be blocked, we will have a dedicated ring included

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$22.45.

May 20, 2013 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

How not to give feedback

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Alina Tugend's April 5 New York Times "Shortcuts" feature focused on the art of feedback.

And it is most definitely an art rather than a science: there is no formula, no method that will give the best result in all cases but, rather, a spectrum of possibilities which needs to be carefully selected for maximum benefit.

Alas, my once carefully considered, individually calibrated and personalized, delicate methods degenerated and degraded over 15 years in the academic anesthesia O.R. arena to the point where, toward the end, residents regularly went crying to our chairman complaining about how mean I was.

Boo hoo.

I'm the only anesthesiologist I know who's been practicing for 36 years and has never, ever, been sued.

An accident?

I don't think so.

So whether or not you like my methods when it comes to instruction doesn't mean jack to me: if you are a patient of mine, you will get the safest anesthetic it is possible to get.

That's my bottom line.

Whiners and whingers: boo hoo hoo, I feel so bad for you.

Not.

Below, excerpts from the Times piece.

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Most of us think we know how to give feedback. Positive comments are better — and more useful — than negative ones. And if you do have to point out something wrong, start with a compliment, move on to the problem, then end on a high note.

It turns out that it's not that simple. Those who have studied the issue have found that negative feedback isn't always bad and positive feedback isn’t always good. Too often, they say, we forget the purpose of feedback — it's not to make people feel better, it's to help them do better.

A recent research paper, "Tell Me What I did Wrong: Experts Seek and Respond to Negative Feedback," in The Journal of Consumer Research, says that when people are experts on a subject, or consider themselves experts, they’re more eager to hear negative feedback, while novices are more likely to seek positive responses.

One experiment surveyed students in beginning-level French classes and advanced-level French literature classes. Participants completed a questionnaire about choosing an instructor. They were asked if they would prefer an instructor who emphasized what students were doing well in class and talked about their strengths, such as when they pronounced new words well, or an instructor who focused mostly on what mistakes they made and how to fix those mistakes.

Those who had just started learning the language wanted the positive feedback, while those who had been taking the French classes longer were more interested in hearing about what they did wrong and how to correct it.

Why is that? One reason is that as people gain expertise, feedback serves a different purpose. When people are just beginning a venture, they may not have much confidence, and they need encouragement. But experts' commitment "is more secure than novices and their focus is on their progress," the paper’s authors said. Even labeling feedback as either negative or positive isn't helpful, said Tim Harford, author of "Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure." He noted that his karate teacher told him specific things to do, like bending his toes backward or rotating his hips. "It’s not useful to say, 'That's really good or that's really bad,'" Mr. Harford said. "We need to separate the emotional side from the technical points."

That, of course, is much easier said than done, which is why most of us have such trouble giving or getting critiques.

We don't want to be the bad guy.

Research bears that out. In a class she teaches, Ayelet Fishbach, a professor of behavioral science and marketing at the University of Chicago and co-author of the paper "Tell Me What I Did Wrong," conducts a simulation where half the class gives one-on-one feedback to the other half. Although the feedback givers were supposed to indicate that performance was unsatisfactory, that improvement was needed and to offer ways to do better, in surveys filled out later, the half getting the feedback "thinks they're doing great," she said.

While many of us tend to hear what we want to hear, Professor Fishbach says she thinks the problem lies more with those providing the feedback. "The negative feedback is often buried and not very specific," she said.

Professor Fishbach also said people giving feedback often didn't give enough information, offered it too late or told subordinates what would happen if they did something wrong rather than what they were actually doing wrong. Employees need to know in detail what they should do to get promoted, for instance. If you tell them simply that they're not going to get promoted, she said, "That’s not feedback — it's already an outcome."

Some companies have developed their own terminology for feedback. Peter Sims, author of “Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge From Small Discoveries,” said the film company Pixar used an idea it called "plussing." The point, he said, is to "build and improve on ideas without using judgmental language."

Here's an example he offers in his book. An animator working on "Toy Story 3" shares her rough sketches and ideas with the director. "Instead of criticizing the sketch or saying 'no,' the director will build on the starting point by saying something like, 'I like Woody's eyes, and what if his eyes rolled left?'"

Using words like "and" or "what if," rather than "but" is a way to offer suggestions and allow creative juices to flow without fear, Mr. Sims said.

Brain scans of people show that judgmental language — or even being told you have to do things in a certain way — lead to self-censoring, Mr. Sims told me. Such scans show that when a musician is playing scales, for example, "the part of the brain responsible for judging lights up," he said. "That doesn't happen when playing jazz improvisation."

Plussing is particularly helpful in the early stages, when there are lots of ways a character can progress, he said, but as ideas become more developed, it gets tougher.

That's the trick then: making negative feedback precise and timely enough so that it’s helpful but neutral enough so that it's not perceived as harshly critical. That’s particularly difficult in a culture like ours, where anything short of effusive praise can be viewed as an affront.

But, again, if we look at feedback as an opportunity to make someone work better rather than feel better, we're more likely to do it successfully.

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Interestingly, it was always the case — from the day I began as an anesthesia attending at U.C.L.A. Medical Center on July 1, 1980 to my final supervised anesthetic at the University of Virginia Hospital on June 30, 1995 — that the very best residents loved working with me.

And it was mutual.

They could play the game the way it was meant to be played, at the very highest level.

When I hear from one of them decades later as I do from time to time and they tell me — as one did a couple years ago — that "When I really get into trouble and the sh*t hits the fan and the patient starts to circle the drain, I stop and think to myself, 'What would Joe do?,'" well, that's sweet music indeed.

May 20, 2013 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

Rabbit Ring

PhpThumb

One size fits all size 7 fingers.

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$12.

May 20, 2013 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME: Vacuum-Sealed Couples (It's a Japanese thing, you wouldn't understand)

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From If It's Hip, It's Here wherein is written "Haruhiko Kawaguchi, who goes by the name Photographer Hal, is a Tokyo photographer and artist whose project FLESH LOVE literally vacuum-packs couples of all types in 100 x 150 x 74cm plastic bags. The idea is to keep love fresh forever. Once the air is sucked out of the bag by a vacuum cleaner, Kawaguchi only has about 10-20 seconds to take his pictures. Any longer and he would risk causing harm to his subjects."

Wrote Kawaguchi:

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When you embrace your lover, sometimes you wish to melt right into them.

To realize this wish, I've been photographing couples in small, cramped spaces like motels and bathtubs.

As my work has become more and more intense, I've noticed that communication is indispensable.

This time, I reached the point of photographing couples in vacuum-sealed packs, on a set that I've constructed in my own kitchen. The lights are in the ceiling, so I just flip one switch and have everything ready.

I have a few different-colored paper backgrounds, which I can leave rolled up in the corner until needed.

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This gives me 10 seconds to take the shot.

In this extremely limited time I can't release the shutter more than twice.

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"Thus far 80 couples, many of whom Kawaguchi met at nightclubs in Tokyo, have participated in the project."

"Kawaguchi says that his female subjects have reacted much better to the bizarre vacuum-packing process than his male subjects. Women have remained calm while the men have been prone to struggle for air and feel claustrophobic. In one case, a male even wet himself. The women's most common concern is they they look good."

FLESH LOVE received the First Place award in The Art of Photography Show 2011 held in San Diego. France's Photo and art magazine AZART featured it inside and on the cover of their March 2011 issue.

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[via reader Jo Woo Bay, lately on a hot submission run here, who added "Let's see how long my mojo lasts..." — going strong last I looked!]

May 20, 2013 at 04:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Adjustable Measuring Cup

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Reviewed by Pierce Presley in Cool Tools as follows.

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OXO has a serious presence in my kitchen, but the one- and two-cup adjustable measuring cups I added four months ago might be the last items I would sell. They are darned near perfect.

I've used other plunger-and-sleeve style adjustable measuring cups, and they were great for measuring odd quantities or volumes without using several different-sized cups (or one size several times), but sticky or oily stuff got in between the plunger and the sleeve, making reuse impossible without stopping to disassemble and clean the cup.

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OXO has taken a page from the AeroPress coffee maker and solved this problem by using a similar gasket on the end of the plunger that seals against the sleeve and pushes the measured item out. The plunger rides in helical grooves in the sleeve, so one twists to adjust the measurement or eject the measured item. This makes additive measurements of a second item easy and allows more controlled ejection, too.

The grooves stop short of the extent that would allow you to pull the plunger from the bottom of the sleeve, ensuring that the gasket wipes the sleeve. End result: the only part you usually wash is the gasket itself.

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The sleeve is marked in multiple units, with one set for liquid measure and one set for dry; the latter assumes some empty space at the top, great for coarse items, lightweight flours — and shaky hands.

These cups fulfill OXO's stated mission of not just reproducing tools, but finding ways of improving the functionality by a noticeable amount.

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$9.99–$11.99.

May 20, 2013 at 12:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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