Behold the MusicMap: The Ultimate Interactive Genealogy of Music Created Between 1870 and 2016

A Pandora for the adventurous antiquarian, the highly underrated site Radiooooo gives users streaming music from all over the world and every decade since 1900. While it offers an aural feast, its limited interface leaves much to be desired from an educational standpoint. On the other end of the audio-visual spectrum, clever diagrams like those we’ve featured here on electronic music, alternative, and hip hop show the detailed connections between all the major acts in these genres, but all they do so in silence.

Now a new interactive infographic built by Belgian architect Kwinten Crauwels brings together an encyclopedic visual reference with an exhaustive musical archive. Though it’s missing some of the features of the resources above, the Musicmap far surpasses anything of its kind online—“both a 23and me-style ancestral tree and a thorough disambiguation of just about every extant genre of music,” writes Fast Company.




Or as Frank Jacobs explains at Big Think, Crauwels’ goal is “to provide the ultimate genealogy of popular music genres, including their relations and history.”

With over 230 genres in all—linked together in intricate webs of influence, mapped in a zoomable visual interface that organizes them all at macro and micro levels of description, and linked to explanatory articles and representative playlists (drawn from YouTube)—the project is almost too comprehensive to believe, and its degree of sophistication almost too complex to summarize concisely (though Jacobs does a good job of it). The Musicmap spans the years 1870-2016 and covers 22 major categories (with Rock further broken into six and “World” into three).

In an oval around the colorful skyscraper-like "super-genres" are decades, moving from past to present from top to bottom. Zoom into the "super-genres" and find “a spider’s web of links within and between the different houses” of subgenres. “Those links can indicate parentage or influence, but also a backlash (i.e. as ‘anti-links’).” Clicking on the name of each subgenre reveals “a short synopsis and a playlist of representative songs.” These two functions, in turn, link to each other, allowing users to click through in a more Wikipedia-like way once they’ve entered the minutiae of the Musicmap’s contents.

The map not only draws connections between subgenres but also between their relatives in other "super-genres" (learn about the relationship, for example, between folk rock and classic metal). On the left side of the screen is a series of buttons that reveal an introduction, methodology, abstract, several navigational functions, a glossary of musical terms, and a bibliography (called "Acknowledgments"). Aside from visually reducing all the way down to the level of individual bands within each subgenre, which could become a little dizzying, it's hard to think of anything seriously lacking here.

Anything we might find fault with might be changed in the near future. Although Crauwels spent almost ten years on research and development, first conceiving of the project in 2008, the current site “is still version 1.0 of Music map. In later versions, the playlists will be expanded, perhaps even community-generated.” Crauwels also wants to sync up with Spotify. Although not a musician himself, he is as passionate about music as he is about design and education, making him very likely the perfect person to take on this task, which he admits can never be completed.

Crauwels does not currently seem to have plans to monetize his map. His stated motives are altruistic, in the same public service spirit as Radiooooo. “Musicmap,” he says, “believes that knowledge about music genres is a universal right and should be part of basic education.” At the moment, the education here only applies to popular music, although enough of it to acquire a graduate-level historical knowledge base.

The four categories at the top of the map—the strangely named “Utility” (which includes hymns, military marches, musicals, and soundtracks), Folk, Classical, and World—are zoomable but do not have clickable links or playlists. Given Crauwels’ completist instincts, this may well change in future updates. In the TED talk above, see him tell the story of how he created Musicmap, a DIY effort that came out of his frustration that nothing like it existed, so he had to create it himself.

Enter the Musicmap here and try not to get lost for several hours.

via Big Think

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

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 U.S. National Archives Launches an Animated GIF Archive: See Whitman, Twain, Hemingway & Others in Motion

Does it matter to you if some people insist on pronouncing GIF with a hard “g” rather than saying “Jiff,” as if they were telling you when they’d get back from the store? (I freely admit, I’m one of those people.) Well then, you, reader, certainly belong to a core audience for the National Archives and Records Administration’s online library of animated “jiffs.” Clearly NARA knows the correct pronunciation, since they announce their new collection with the dated pun “Getting’ Giphy With It.” And they know what the internet needs most from them in times like these: “quality animated GIFs from a reputable source.”

NARA’s archive of jerky, silent, digital moving pictures resides at their GIPHY channel, and contains an “animated history of all flavors including major historic events, celebrities, National Parks, newsreels, animated patents, dancing sailors,” etc…

"... wait, what’s that?," you say, “animated patents”? Yes. Admittedly, not all of the collection’s GIFs make the quippiest of reaction shots. The archive does, as Allison Meier writes at Hyperallergic, “tell US history in motion.” But animated images of static photos—some dating from before the days of animation---tend to look a little stiff, as in the GIF below, made from two different exposures of a Walt Whitman portrait. Or the already exceedingly stiff portrait further down of a young Mark Twain and friend.

Meier compares these GIF anachronisms to the New York Public Library’s “Stereogranimator,” a neat online tool that allows us to experience a 19th century mechanical version of the GIF. In that regard, they join antiquarian interest with digital curiosity. But when we think of animated GIFs, we generally think of weird little vignettes, like the image at the top, which shows us architect William Van Alen dressed as his famous Chrysler Building, from a 1931 gathering of the Society of Beaux-Arts Architects (which we’ve featured in a previous post).

You’ll find plenty of nostalgic GIFS, such as (if you’re a GenX’er) that of Woody the “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” public service owl, above.

Naturally, the archive contains its share of images with world historical significance---like the exploding swastika in Nuremberg from the end of World War II, above---and cultural significance, such as the tippling Hemingway and boyish Beatles, below.

Scenes from classic films and TV shows, advertisements and public service campaigns... the resource “currently has over 150 NARA GIFs,” writes Meier, “with more continuing to be added.” Is this a publicity stunt? Absolutely. “GIFs help keep us relevant,” remarks Darren Cole of the National Archives, “but also further the agency’s mission of providing access to our holdings to the public.”

In light of the popularity of “history image accounts” on social media, notes Meier, the NARA GIFs “are a savvy initiative to connect a wider audience with the richness of the National Archives"---a way that allows users to accurately document sources and place images in context. Each GIF on the NARA channel links back to the National Archives Catalog, with various levels of description and sourcing information. Gimmick or no, it’s a pretty cool resource full of some pretty cool GIFs—even, believe it or not, those “animated patents.”

via Hyperallergic

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

100,000 Free Art History Texts Now Available Online Thanks to the Getty Research Portal

paul klee getty portal

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library," Jorge Luis Borges famously wrote. Were he alive today, he might well regard the internet as becoming more paradisiacal all the time, at least in the sense that it keeps not just generating new texts, but absorbing existing ones and making them available free to readers.




And while his well-known story "The Library of Babel" envisions a magical or extremely high-tech library containing all possible texts (which the internet has started to make a reality), recent additions to the vast library of the internet have done him one better by incorporating not just pages of letters, but intricately designed and lavishly illustrated art texts as well.

raven matisse

Take the Getty Research Portal, which has just, for its fourth anniversary, unveiled a new design and a total volume count surpassing 100,000. "In assembling a virtual corpus of digitized texts on art, architecture, material culture, and related fields from numerous partners, the Portal aspires to offer a more expansive collection than any single library could provide," writes project content specialist Annie Rana at the Getty's blog The Iris. "Furthermore, with these freely downloadable materials, scholars and researchers can now be in possession of copies of rare books and other titles without having to travel to far-flung locales."

OC Getty Portal Kandinsky

More than twenty institutions now share their collections at the Getty Research Portal: recent joiners include the Art Institute of Chicago’s Ryerson and Burnham Libraries, the Bibliotheca Hertziana-Max Planck Institute for Art History in Rome, the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbüttel, the Menil Library Collection in Houston, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum Library and Archives in New York, and the Warburg Institute Library in London. But wait, says Rana, there's more, or at least more on the way: "Dialogues with art libraries and institutions in India, Iran, and Japan are in the works as the project also looks to increase international coverage."

OC Getty Portal The Building in Japan

Still, the selection of items looks quite international already. The post highlights a few items of high potential interest to Open Culture readers, such as Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven illustrated by Edouard Manet and translated into French by Stéphane Mallarmé, as well as a monograph on, an exhibition catalog about the work of, and writings by the Russian abstract painter and art theorist Wassily Kandinsky. But even though the Getty Research Portal seems only to have plans to grow larger and larger, everyone browsing through it will surely find something suited to their artistic interests, from Paul Klee (top) to Roy Lichtenstein to Japanese architecture and everything in between; you have only to step through the portal to find it.

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Explore Harvard’s Iconic Spaces with 360° Interactive Videos

For me, nothing captures those occasional feelings of post-graduate yearning like "I Wish I Could Go Back to College," a N-quite-SFW track from the Broadway musical, Avenue Q.

With all due respect, it feels like the five members of Harvard University’s just-graduated Class of 2016 sharing their recollections in the interactive 360° video project, Harvard Students Say Farewell, left a few crucial details out. (Note: Youtube 360 videos only work in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, or Opera browsers.)

It’s completely safe for prospective parents, not a keg or condom wrapper in sight. (The project is hosted on Harvard’s official Youtube channel.)

Unsurprisingly, Harvard appears to have been the participants’ universal first choice of college. Hasty Pudding performer, Joshuah Campbell, above, a self-described “Black kid from the country,” confides that it was the only place he applied to.

He may have arrived wondering how he would fit in, but four years later, his grubby dorm room is one of the “iconic” Harvard locations viewers can explore digitally as he briefly reflects upon his experience.

That’s about as down and dirty as this series gets. The human subjects seem to have been selected with an eye toward diversity and humility, rather than the clenched Boston Brahmin jaw that once defined the institution.

Meanwhile, the libraries, quads, and theaters through which this new breed of Harvard men and women wander attest to the place's ongoing exclusivity.

Sreeja Kalapurakkel, above, a member of the Harvard South Asian Dance Company, knew what she was getting into, as a student at a respected Boston secondary school. Shortly after graduation, she sung Harvard's praises somewhat more frankly on her Facebook page:

Each day of my time at Harvard was filled with everything that makes life beautiful: darkness, struggle, despair, loneliness, friendship, hope, perseverance, light. Every experience, every lesson, every friend transformed me into someone more human and gave me something new to fight for.

Harvard, like every other college in the land, has relaxed its policy on ending a sentence in a preposition.

Ana-Maria Constantin arrived sight unseen from her native Romania to pull us out onto the deck of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.

On to the locker room! Hockey captain Kyle Criscuolo joins the Detroit Red Wings, reflecting that Harvard student athletes enjoy no special treatment. In future, the university may want to require them to listen to Will Stephen’s lecture, "How to Sound Smart in a TED Talk." Criscuolo sounds sincere, but also stiff, as if reading from a sheet of paper, or the digital equivalent thereof.

(Thereof is an adverb, by the way. Not a preposition. I checked.)

Harvard Art Museums Student Board member Rachel Thompson paints herself so meekly, I’m tempted to check with her freshman year roommate. Was she really so filled with self doubt? I've always assumed Harvard acceptance letters would puff the recipient up. Good lord, imagine the effect the rejection letters must have!

Use a mouse to explore the immersive environment on your computer, or the YouTube app to navigate on a mobile device. Use a virtual reality headset and the Harvard Crimson staff’s vocabulary list to enhance the experience even more.

The complete playlist is here.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine, and a Northwestern University grad. Follow her @AyunHalliday

Stephen Fry Launches Pindex, a “Pinterest for Education”

Who can now deny that, in the internet, we have the greatest educational tool ever conceived by mankind? Surely no Open Culture reader would deny it, anyway, nor could they fail to take an interest in a new startup aiming to increase the internet's educational power further still: Pindex, which calls itself "a Pinterest for education." No other company has yet staked that territory out, and certainly no other company has done it with the support of Stephen Fry.

The Telegraph's Cara McCoogan describes Pindex, which launched just last month (visit it here), as "a self-funded online platform that creates and curates educational videos and infographics for teachers and students," founded and run by a four-person team.




Fry's role in the quartet includes offering "creative direction," but he's also put his unmistakable voice to one of Pindex's first videos, an "explainer about the Large Hadron Collider, dark matter and extra dimensions. Other videos will focus on science and technology, including ones on the Hyperloop, colonising Mars, and robots and drones. Mr Fry is expected to do the voiceovers for several of these."

Have a look around the site and you'll also find a collection of material on gravitational waves, some creative writing resources, an infographic guide to nutrition, details on a variety of fun science experiments, and much more besides. There's even a guide to Pindex itself, which explains how to use the site and what you can get out of it going forward, whether as a teacher, a student, or just someone into learning as much as possible — a pursuit that, even in what Fry calls "a time when it is easy to lose faith in an online world that seems to centre around trolling, bullying, hating, trivializing and belittling," gets more rewarding by the day.

via The Telegraph

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Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities, language, and style. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

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