Friday, March 24, 2017

Magda Love: Global Street Artist

Magda Love: unfinished mural at Hudson and Clarkson, lower Manhattan

In my daily trawl across the internet, I am constantly finding interesting snippets of news, information, videos, and events, that catch my eye and make me wish I was right there where the event was taking place.

The global street artist Magda Love is a perfect example of the serendipitous nature of web surfing. This talented New York based artist (an Argentinian by birth) has been creating vibrant paintings and murals right across New York City, as well as in cities and galleries around the world.

As a traveling artist, a single mother and a mentor to students throughout New York City, Magda (like most other artists) struggles with finding the perfect work/life balance. The short video below documents this struggle, while grappling with her biggest project yet – a massive six-storey wall on the corner of Hudson and Clarkson streets in lower Manhattan. 

As you can see from the Google Maps screen shot illustrating this post, the mural project is only partially completed. I got in touch with Magda yesterday, and in a message to me just this morning she writes that she recently signed the last contract to complete the mural, and that, “…hopefully, soon I’ll get back to it.”

Readers interested in seeing more of Magda’s art work will find plenty online with a simple “magda love graffiti” Google search. You can also connect with her via her Facebook page…

More information:
Magda Love online...
Magda Love: From Buenos Aires to Brooklyn...

UPDATE: After uploading this blog post, I went in search of more of Magda Love's work and found the following video that I thought I just had to add to this post. If you are interested in graffiti art in particular, and even art in general, I urge you to do your own Google search for Magda's work.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Silicon Jungle, 1985

During one of my periodic trawls through the Gutenberg website, I spotted a recent upload for The Silicon Jungle, which was published in 1985, and which is about when I first started mucking around with computers! I did a quick scan through the book and had to marvel at how arcane the world of computers was, way back when the technology was just beginning to find its feet so to speak.

Rothman’s computer of choice at the time was a Kaypro II, which he considered to be the perfect computer for his needs. I can see why—it had a very impressive—wait for it—64K of RAM. Yes, dear reader, that really is 64,000 kilobytes of RAM (Random Access Memory). Incredibly, the file size of the book cover seen here is a very modest (by today’s standards), 99,000 kilobytes.

Reading through books like The Silicon Jungle, I am reminded of the much quoted statement that was once attributed to Thomas J. Watson, the chairman and CEO of IBM from 1911—1956, which went something like: ‘I think there is a world market for maybe five computers’.

Modern research suggests that it is highly doubtful that Watson ever made this statement, but be that as it may, many other authors and experts have made their own assertions about computers and the software and hardware that is needed to run them, and Rothman was one of them. To choose just one example of many, try reading his thoughts on the humble computer mouse without laughing out loud, thirty-two years after he wrote them.

“If you’re a trained, high-volume production typist,” asked Seymour Rubinstein, the WordStar* developer, “what are you going to do with a mouse except feed it cheese?” Score one for Rubinstein. He says mice are great—if you have three hands. Doing graphics? A mouse, maybe. But damned if I’m going to take my hands off the keyboard to push the cursor from one spot on the screen to the next. It’s simply too much wasted motion. I instead just press the cursor keys right above the main keyboard. Or I use WordStar’s cursor-moving commands. And even if I hadn’t learned touch typing a quarter century ago, I’d still wonder if a mouse for word processing wasn’t the Silicon Valley version of The Emperor’s New Clothes. Next time you’re in California, maybe you’ll see Apple execs naked in the streets as well as their hot tubs. Well, maybe not. The mouse could be a great marketing tool for sales reps peddling Macs or Apple IIc’s to people hoping to do word processing. But experienced typists? Many would probably groan over all the excursions that the mouse forced them to take from the main keyboard.

By the way, my first computer was a state-of-the-art Commodore 128D. So take that, Mr. Rothman. My system had double the memory of your flashy Kaypro II. Sadly (or should that be, happily?), it wasn’t long before Rothman’s Kaypro II, and my Commodore 128D were superseded by much more powerful computers with virtually unlimited amounts of RAM and hard drive storage. If you don’t believe me, look at the advert here for a 10MB hard disk—a bargain at just $3,398.00. At that price, I bet people were snapping them up!

*Note: WordStar was one of the most popular early word processing programs. Of course, it was soon to be relegated to the dustbin of software history with the rise and rise of Microsoft Windows and the new graphics-based word processing software which included MS Word, WordPerfect, Lotus Word Pro—and those pesky mice that somehow found their way into the hands of every computer user.

53,000 Free Books and Counting
I know I have mentioned the Gutenberg website before, but it won’t hurt to mention it again. The site is a clearing house for almost fifty-four-thousand books, all of which are in the public domain, and all of which can be either read online, or downloaded for free to eReaders such as Kindle’s, iPads and other portable devices that can use the ePub format. If you are a keen reader, and you have never checked out the site, you are surely missing out on a great treasury of amazing literature.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

New York City Round-Up #1

LinkNYC by The Numbers
Last year when I was in New York City, I began to notice a number of tall, futuristic-looking kiosks located on Manhattan pavements. I soon learned that they were part of a bold new experiment, funded (and owned) by Google. The kiosks provide free WiFi access to users as well as allow people to make free telephone calls, use USB ports to charge devices, access maps, and initially at least, use the built in browser for the usual online purposes.

Unfortunately, I never got a chance to use the kiosks since those that I did find, seemed to have been commandeered by one of the many street people in the city. Not that they didn’t have a right to use the kiosks, but from what I could see, they would sit by the kiosks, sometimes for hours, listening, watching, reading, and accessing who knows what content. Well, as it happens, we do know what some people were accessing (although not necessarily street people), with the result that the internet browser function of the kiosks has now been disabled after complaints that people were using the kiosks to watch pornography.

The installation of the LinkNYC kiosks was just a few months into its schedule when I visited New York over the summer of 2016. After a full twelve months of ongoing work, the system continues to be expanded across the city. Michael Garofalo, in this online article provides the following statistics about the program. All data is current as of the week of February 27, 2017.

631 LinkNYC kiosks currently active, of a planned 7,500
1,256,450 unique devices connected to the Wi-Fi network to date, approximately one for every seven New Yorkers
115 million Wi-Fi sessions served to date
870.86 terabytes of data transferred to date, the rough equivalent of streaming 33 years of high definition video on Netflix
150 feet wireless signal range of each kiosk
600,000 Wi-Fi sessions served in year one by the city’s most popular kiosk, at 1313 Broadway in Herald Square
$0 spent by New York City taxpayers on the system, which is operated by a franchisee and generates revenue through advertising and sponsorships

More Information

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Native American Art at The Met, Fifth Avenue
Housed in the old Customs House close to the foot of Manhattan, and across the road from the Bowling Green (4 and 5 trains) subway, is New York City’s National Museum of the American Indian. There is also another National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC, and no doubt there are more museums touting their own collections in cities across the United States. 

Not to be outdone or ignored, is the collection of Native American artefacts housed at the Metropolitan Museum on Fifth Avenue. 

Mary Gregory reports that: A small but extraordinary collection of Native American masterpieces is in its final days at the Met Fifth Avenue. Consider a visit to this show as a concise course in Native American art history. From the second century to the 20th, from the Plains to the Southwest to the Northwest Coast, “Native American Masterpieces from the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection” highlights some of the best works ever made in each age and place. It’s like a greatest hits compilation, and not a single piece disappoints.

The exhibition ends in ten days—March 31, 2017—so be quick. See it before it ends.

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Leslie-Lohman Museum reopens with 250-work Exhibition
A bit less conventional for some, perhaps is a new exhibition which opened this month at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art in New York’s SoHo neighbourhood.

Clair Wang writes: The large, wooden cross hibernating in the back corner of the spacious studio resembles a cactus from afar. Pinned against a white wall, its body is punctured by dozens of colorful glass vials, each containing an assortment of objects that represent a day in the life of mixed-media artist Edward A. Hochschild.

The “Vial Cross” is one of roughly 250 works displayed at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art’s current exhibition, “Expanded Visions: Fifty Years of Collecting,” which opened March 10. The exhibit is the Wooster Street museum’s first following an expansion that nearly doubled the size of its original space. The effort, begun in October, will allow the museum to operate year-round, offering a mix of ongoing and future exhibitions, film screenings and artist lectures.

26, Wooster Street, New York City
Ph: +1 212-431-2609


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