Celebrate the Women’s March with 24 Goddess GIFs Created by Animator Nina Paley: They’re Free to Download and Remix

As millions of women, men, and friends beyond the binary gear up for Women's March events around the world this weekend, we can’t help but draw strength from the Venus of Willendorf in Graphics Interchange Format, above.

Like the pussy hats that became the most visible symbol of last year’s march, there’s a strong element of humor at play here.

Also respect for the female form.

As Dr. Bryan Zygmont notes in his Khan Academy essay on the Venus of Willendorf, her existence is evidence that “nomadic people living almost 25,000 years ago cared about making objects beautiful. And … that these Paleolithic people had an awareness of the importance of the women.”

Animator Nina Paley has taken up our Paleolithic ancestors’ baton by creating two dozen early goddess GIFs, including the Venus.

As further proof that sisterhood is powerful, Paley is sharing her unashamedly bouncy pantheon with the public. Visit her blog to download all 24 individual goddess GIFs. Disseminate them widely. Use them for good! No permission needed.

Paley is no stranger to goddesses, having previously placed the divine heroine of the Ramayana front and center in her semi-autobiographical feature length animation, Sita Sings the Blues.

She’s also incredibly familiar with rights issues, following massive complications with some vintage recordings her Betty Boop-ish Sita lip-synchs in the film. (She had previously believed them to be in the public domain.) Unable to pay the huge sum the copyright holders demanded to license the tunes, Paley ultimately decided to relinquish all legal claims to her own film, placing Sita Sings the Blues in the public domain, to be freely shared, exhibited, or even remixed.

If Paley's the poster child for copyright issues she’s also a shining example of deriving power from unlikely sources.

As she wrote on her website nearly ten years ago:

My personal experience confirms audiences are generous and want to support artists. Surely there's a way for this to happen without centrally controlling every transaction. The old business model of coercion and extortion is failing. New models are emerging, and I'm happy to be part of that. But we're still making this up as we go along. You are free to make money with the free content of Sita Sings the Blues, and you are free to share money with me. People have been making money in Free Software for years; it's time for Free Culture to follow. I look forward to your innovations.

As for Paley's own plans for her goddesses, they’ll be a part of her upcoming animated musical, Seder-Masochism, noting that “all early peoples conceived the divine as female.”

Download Nina Paley’s Goddess GIFs here. Watch Sita Sings the Blues here. March ever onward!

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Join her on February 8 for Necromancers of the Public Domain, when a host of New York City-based performers and musicians will resurrect  a long forgotten work from 1911 as a low budget, variety show. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Watch the Bayeux Tapestry Come to Life in a Short Animated Film

With the news this morning that the Bayeux Tapestry will make its first visit to England, we're bringing back a wonderful little animation of the medieval embroidery that offers a pictorial interpretation of the Norman Conquest of England (1066) and the events leading up to it. Forever housed in France, the tapestry measures 20 inches by 230 feet, and you can now see an animated version of the story it narrates. The clip above starts roughly halfway through the historical narrative, with the appearance of Halley's Comet, and it concludes with the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The video created by David Newton began as a student project at Goldsmiths College.

You can find courses on Medieval History in the History section of our big collection, 1,300 Free Online Courses from Top Universities.

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Smartify, a Shazam for Art, Lets You Use Your Phone to Scan, Identify & Learn About Major Works of Art

Not so long ago, art museums were known as temples of quiet contemplation, despite daily invasions by raucous school groups.

Now, the onus is on the museums to bring the mountain to Mohammed. Those kids have smartphones. How long can a museum hope to stay relevant—nay, survive—without an app?

Many of the museums who’ve already partnered up with Smartify—an app (Mac-Android) that lets you take a picture of artwork with your phone and instantly access information about them—have existing apps of their own in place: the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, to name a few.




These institutional apps provide visitors with an expanded view of the sort of information one commonly finds on a museum card, in addition to such practicalities as gallery layouts and calendars of events. More often than not, there’s an option to “save” an artwork the visitor finds captivating—no word on what this feature is doing to postcard sales in museum shops, so perhaps print isn't dead yet.

Given all the museum apps free for the downloading, for whom is Smartify, a "Shazam for art," intended?

Perhaps the globetrotting museum hopper eager to consolidate? Its developers are adamant that it’s intended to complement, not replace, in-person visits to the institutions where the works are housed, so armchair museum goers are advised to look elsewhere, like Google Arts & Culture.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries will be the smaller galleries and museums ill equipped to launch freestanding apps of their own. Smartify’s website states that it relies on “annual membership from museum partners, in-app transactions, advertising and data sales to relevant arts organisations.”

Early adopters complained that while the app (Mac-Android) had no trouble identifying famous works of art, it came up empty on the lesser-known pieces. That's a pity as these are the works visitors are most likely to seek further information on.

One of the developers compared the Smartify experience to visiting a museum in the company of “an enthusiastic and knowledgeable friend telling you more about a work of art.”

Maybe better to do just that, if the option exists? Such a friend would not be hampered by the copyright laws that hamper Smartify with regard to certain works. A friend might even stand you a hot chocolate or some pricey scone in the museum cafe.

At any rate, the app (Mac-Android) is now available for visitors to take for a spin in 22 different museums and galleries in the UK, US, and Europe, with the promise of more to come.

Those whose knowledge of art history is vast are likely to be underwhelmed, but it could be a way for those visiting with kids and teens to keep everyone engaged for the duration. As one enthusiastic user wrote:

As a childhood Pokemon fan and avid art fan, this is a dream come true. This is like a Pokedex for art lol. If you ever watched the anime, Ash Ketchum would scan a Pokemon with his Pokedex and get the details of its name, type, habits, etc. This app does that but instead of scanning monsters, it scans and analyzes art work then gives you the load (sic) down about it.

Those with Internet privacy concerns may choose to heed, instead, the user who wrote:

Be aware, they want to gather as a "side effect" your private art collection. I just wanted to try it out with some of my art pieces (Günther Förg, Richter, etc) but it doesn't work if you don't give them your location data. Be careful!

 

Museums and Galleries Whose Images/Art Appear in Smartify as of January 2018

USA:

J. Paul Getty Museum

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)

Laguna Art Museum

Museum of Contemporary Photography

Freer | Sackler GalleriesThe Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Met Cloisters

 

UK:

The Bowes Museum

Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Ben Uri Gallery

The Wallace Collection

Royal Academy of Arts

National Gallery

Sculpture in the City

 

Europe:

Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum Twenthe

Little Beaux-Arts

Museo Correr

Museo San Donato (MPSArt)

The State Hermitage Museum

The Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts

 

Download Smartify for Mac or Android.

via Dezeen

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Google’s Free App Analyzes Your Selfie and Then Finds Your Doppelganger in Museum Portraits

Having the ability to virtually explore the history, back stories, and cultural significance of artworks from over a thousand museums generates nowhere near the excitement as a feature allowing users to upload selfies in hopes of locating an Instagram-worthy doppelgänger somewhere in this vast digital collection.

On the other hand, if this low-brow innovation leads great hordes of millennials and iGen-ers to cross the thresholds of museums in over 70 countries, who are we to criticize?




So what if their primary motivation is snapping another selfie with their Flemish Renaissance twin? As long as one or two develop a passion for art, or a particular museum, artist, or period, we’re good.

Alas, some disgruntled users (probably Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers) are giving the Google Arts & Culture app (iPhone-Android) one-star reviews, based on their inability to find the only feature for which they downloaded it.

Allow us to walk you through.

After installing the app (iPhone-Android) on your phone or tablet, scroll down the homepage to the question “Is your portrait in a museum?”

The sampling of artworks framing this question suggest that the answer may be yes, regardless of your race, though one need not be a Guerilla Girl to wonder if Caucasian users are drawing their matches from a far larger pool than users of color…

Click “get started.” (You’ll have to allow the app to access your device’s camera.)

Take a selfie. (I suppose you could hedge your bets by switching the camera to front-facing orientation and aiming it at a pleasing pre-existing headshot.)

The app will immediately analyze the selfie, and within seconds, boom! Say hello to your five closest matches.

In the name of science, I subjected myself to this process, grinning as if I was sitting for my fourth grade school picture. I and received the following results, none of them higher than 47%:

Victorio C. Edades’ Mother and Daughter (flatteringly, I was pegged as the daughter, though at 52, the resemblance to the mother is a far truer match.)

Gustave Courbet’s Jo, la Belle Irlandaise (Say what? She’s got long red hair and skin like Snow White!)

Henry Inman’s portrait of President Martin Van Buren’s daughter-in-law and defacto White House hostess, Angelica Singleton Van Buren (Well, she looks ….congenial. I do enjoy parties…)

 and Sir Anthony van Dyck’s post-mortem painting of Venetia, Lady Digby, on her Deathbed (Um…)

Hoping that a different pose might yield a higher match I channeled artist Nina Katchadourian, and adopted a more painterly pose, unsmiling, head cocked, one hand lyrically resting on my breastbone… for good measure, I moved away from the window. This time I got:

Joseph Stella’s Boy with a Bagpipe (Maybe this wasn’t such a hot idea with regard to my self-image?)

Cipriano Efsio Oppo Portrait of Isabella (See above.)

Adolph Tidemand’s Portrait of Guro Silversdatter Travendal (Is this universe telling me it’s Babushka Time?)

Johannes Christiann Janson’s A Woman Cutting Bread (aka Renounce All Vanity Time?)

and Anders Zorn’s Madonna (This is where the mean cheerleader leaps out of the bathroom stall and calls me the horse from Guernica, right?)

Mercifully, none of these results topped the 50% mark, nor did any of the experiments I conducted using selfies of my teenage son (whose 4th closest match had a long white beard).

Perhaps there are still a few bugs to work out?

If you’re tempted to give Google Arts and Culture’s experimental portrait feature a go, please let us know how it worked out by posting a comment below. Maybe we're twins, I mean, triplets!

If such folderol is beneath you, please avail yourself of the app’s original features:

  • Zoom Views - Experience every detail of the world’s greatest treasures
  • Virtual Reality - Grab your Google Cardboard viewer and immerse yourself in arts and culture
  • Browse by time and color - Explore artworks by filtering them by color or time period
  • Virtual tours - Step inside the most famous museums in the world and visit iconic landmarks
  • Personal collection - Save your favorite artworks and share your collections with friends
  • Nearby - Find museums and cultural events around you
  • Exhibits - Take guided tours curated by experts
  • Daily digest - Learn something new every time you open the app
  • Art Recognizer - Learn more about artworks at select museums by pointing your device camera at them, even when offline
  • Notifications - subscribe to receive updates on the top arts & culture stories

Download Google Arts and Culture or update to Version 6.0.17 here (for Mac) or here (for Android).

Note: We're getting reports that the app doesn't seem to be available in every geographical location. If it's not available where you live, we apologize in advance.

via Good Housekeeping

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.

The Film Posters of the Russian Avant-Garde

To commemorate the centennial of Russia’s October Revolution (it seems like only yesterday, comrade!) Taschen has yet again delivered an impressive tome of a book, entitled Film Posters of the Russian Avant-Garde. Collector Susan Pack has put together this selection of 250 posters by 27 artists for films both well known and lost to history.

The book first came out in 1995, but this new edition is smaller and multilingual, like many of their new releases.

The style still impresses and influences today, with its combination of photo-realist faces and the jagged energy of constructivism.

Many of the artists never saw the films they were advertising, but plainly not a bad thing here. Artists like Aleksandr Rodchenko (who was also a designer and photographer) and the Stenberg Brothers (sculptors and set designers) mixed photos with lithographs, incorporated the film’s credits into the actual art, and worried not about selling the story beyond a basic excitement level. This was art designed to get people in the door, regardless of the film. And, if you think about it, it’s art that could not exist in this current era. Who would commission a film poster blindly? Nobody, my friend.

Still, it was in no way ideal for the artists. They often had less than a day to finish something, and the printing presses were pre-revolution vintage and in various stages of repair. And very few, we can assume, thought their posters would be saved and collected. Pack’s collection often contains the only surviving copies of a certain work.

Stalin stopped all this once he took power and insisted that only socialist realism be depicted in art. This style has its own collectors, for sure, but there’s always a tinge of kitsch to it all, because it reveals the lie that was the Stalin era. Whereas the dynamism of these early posters still maintain their aesthetic hold, springing from a time where hope, excitement, and revolution were pulsing through the country and its populace.

via Vice/Hyperallergic

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Ted Mills is a freelance writer on the arts who currently hosts the artist interview-based FunkZone Podcast and is the producer of KCRW's Curious Coast. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedmills, read his other arts writing at tedmills.com and/or watch his films here.

Take a Virtual Tour of The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the World-Famous Collection of Renaissance Art

The Uffizi Gallery in Florence doesn't particularly need an introduction, seeing that it's one of the most widely-visited museums in Italy, the home of great artistic works from the Renaissance. If you pay the Uffizi a visit, you can see Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, Dürer's Adoration of the Magi, Caravaggio's Bacchus, Michelangelo's The Holy Family, and Rembrandt's Self-Portrait as a Young Man. Or you could do the same by dialing up the Uffizi's Virtual Tour, embedded above, or available here. It's essentially a Google Street View tour of the entire museum. It's admittedly a little tedious. But if you have a lot of time and a handy floor plan, you can still immerse yourself in a collection that's been enchanting visitors since the 18th century.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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Watch Gyorgy Ligeti’s Electronic Masterpiece Artikulation Get Brought to Life by Rainer Wehinger’s Brilliant Visual Score

Even if you don't know the name György Ligeti, you probably already associate his music with a set of mesmerizing visions. The work of that Hungarian composer of 20th-century classical music appealed mightily to Stanley Kubrick, so much so that he used four of Ligeti's pieces to score 2001: A Space Odyssey. One of them, 1962's Aventures, plays over the final scenes in an electronically altered form, which drew a lawsuit from the composer who'd been unaware of the modification. But he didn't do it out of purism: though he wrote, over his long career, almost entirely for traditional instruments, he'd made a couple forays into electronic music himself a decade earlier.

Ligeti fled Hungary for Vienna in 1956, soon afterward making his way to Cologne, where he met the electronically innovative likes of Karlheinz Stockhausen and Gottfried Michael Koenig and worked in West German Radio's Studio for Electronic Music.




There he produced 1957's Glissandi and 1958's Artikulation, the latter of which lasts just under four minutes, but, in the words of The Guardian's Tom Service, "packs a lot of drama in its diminutive electronic frame." Ligeti himself "imagined the sounds of Artikulation conjuring up images and ideas of labyrinths, texts, dialogues, insects, catastrophes, transformations, disappearances," which you can see visualized in shape and color in the "listening score" in the video above.

Created in 1970 by graphic designer Rainer Wehinger of the State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart, and approved by Ligeti himself, the score's "visuals are beautiful to watch in tandem with Ligeti's music; there's an especially arresting sonic and visual pile-up, about 3 mins 15 secs into the piece. This isn't electronic music as postwar utopia, a la Stockhausen, it's electronics as human, humorous drama," writes Service. Have a watch and a listen, or a couple of them, and you'll get a feel for how Wehinger's visual choices reflect the nature of Ligeti's sounds. Just as 2001 still launches sci-fi buffs into an experience like nothing else in the genre, those sounds will still strike a fair few self-described electronic music fans of the 21st century as strange and new — especially when they can see them at the same time.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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