Author: Bernard Villarreal

Forensic Architecture Conducts Independent Investigation of the Beirut Port Explosion

Forensic Architecture Conducts Independent Investigation of the Beirut Port Explosion

A group of Forensic Architecture researchers released a 15-minute video to report on how the explosion of a Beirut Port warehouse transpired, 3 months ago. As the outcome of the research, the video gives a full understanding of why and how the explosion occurred, as well as providing information on how to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Actually, a group of Mada Masr’s journalists decided to invite the Forensic Architecture team to help them in conducting a proper investigation of the horrific explosion incident. Mainly because they were frustrated with the way various government agencies are carrying out the investigations,

Led by Samaneh Moafi, the FA researchers used various photos and videos they collected from various social media sites. They also obtained leaked photos that came from inside the warehouse, where the huge pile of ammonium nitrate was kept. Doing so enabled them to recreate the events, by using 3D models of how the explosion began, which resulted in the death of more than 200 people and caused injury to 6,500 others during the blast in August 4.

Almost 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate was stored for years in the government’s port warehouse, despite being located near densely populated neighborhoods. While the chemicals were seized from a ship headed for Mozambique, the warnings about the hazards posed by the seized chemical were likewise ignored for years.

Recreating the Explosion of the Beirut Explosion Through 3D Models

In utilizing visual markers to pinpoint areas and in computing the cone of vision of a camera, the FA researchers were able to determine the earliest indication of a smoke plume. According to the team of researchers, smoke plumes are known to constantly change and at every instant take on different forms. This knowledge helped them combine other videos that do not have a time stamp.

Through all the videos and images they collected from different angles and locations, the forensic team were able to confirm that the warehouse was indeed filled with ammonium nitrate and other explosive materials. What made the condition worse is that the the ammonium nitrate was contaminated, as everything inside the warehouse was poorly stored in manners that violated regulations, as they were similar to creating a makeshift bomb.

Today, there’s a change on how social media is being perceived, departing from the bad reputation earned from numerous negative criticisms. The FA research demonstrated the significant value of information that can be gathered through the internet and across social media networks. They pointed to a single photo from Twitter that supplied enough info for them to create a 3D model and to establish the timeline of the explosion.

About Forensic Architecture

In the year 2010, Eyal Weizman established a multifaceted research group based in the University of London. Since then, they have investigated various human rights violations worldwide, involving corporations, militaries, police, and governments.

They visualized their cases through virtual reality, by creating 3D animations and physical models of the setting. All of their sources are available online, usually from footage and photographs taken and shared by ordinary people.

Most of the FA’s members have educational background in architecture. According to Samaneh Moafi, what they create is known as architectural resource.

Da Vinci was a Versatile Genius Yet Many of His War Machine Plans Failed

Da Vinci was a Versatile Genius Yet Many of His War Machine Plans Failed

Leonardo Da Vinci was the epitome of a Renaissance Man, not only for being a great artist but also for pioneering the concepts of several modern inventions. He was a scientist, an engineer, a mathematician, a philosopher, an architect and anatomist all rolled into one. Yet while some contemporary technologists found some of the italian genius’ concepts doable, most of Da Vinci’s plans for war machines often failed.

Why Da Vinci Was Into Designing Plans for War Machines

Aside from being an artist of high repute, Da Vinci was also famous for being a skilled tradesman who can design and build anything. In 1485, Prince Ludovico Sforza of Milan had hired Leonardo Da Vinci to build war machines, in anticipation of other rulers who wanted to forcibly annex Milan to their kingdoms.

It was during that time that Da Vinci came up with numerous plans to improve the most famous military weapon at the time, the ballista, or what we know of today as the crossbow. One such concept was to improve the shooting power of the ballista by turning the weapon into a “rapid fire crossbow.”Another planned innovation was that of a giant crossbow, a gigantic ballista that would have been big enough to launch cannon balls and fireballs as munitions.

However, Da Vinci’s war machines were never built at all. Historians and engineers later found out that except for the rapid fire crossbow, most of the Renaissance Man’s drawings and instructions for building a specific type of war machine, were destined to fail.

Da Vinci Wanted His War Machine Plans to Fail

Many of Da Vinci’s war machine plans contained errors in mathematical calculations that were mostly basic, which modern day scholars believe were intentional. That is considering Da Vinci’s mathematical skills in calculating the designs of his other concepts, such as the bicycle, the parachute, the helicopter and the use of solar power, which is just to name a few.

In 2013, a group of modern day engineers were able to build a working prototype of Da Vinci’s “rapid fire crossbow.” On the other hand, present-day engineers who attempted to build Da Vinci’s giant crossbow discovered errors that became apparent, only after the massive weapon was built.

The most notable error that Da Vinci made for a war machine, was that of the armored vehicle or what is called today as a tank. Scholars became convinced that the Italian genius’ errors were intentional, because as exemplified by the tank, the wheels of the contraption were designed to move backward instead of forward.

The belief that the errors discovered in Da Vinci’s diagrams were intentional, was also in keeping with the Renaissance Man’s personality and nature. Historians have found out that the Italian artist was a homosexual as he was not interested in having relationships with women. Yet he was a lover of animals and a vegetarian as well, as reflected in one of his many famous quotes.

”..from an early age I abjured the use of meat — the time will come when men will look upon the killing of animals in the same way as they look upon the murder of men.

While Da Vinci had no choice but to work for Prince Ludovico as a military engineer, he was also a pacifist who believed that sowing fear and terror would be enough to discourage his employer’s enemies from attacking. Perhaps, Da Vinci’s non-violent strategy had worked for a few years, but as history has it, King Louis XII’s Italian War in 1499 succeeded in taking away Prince Ludovico’s sovereignty over Milan .

As an aside, if reading this guest post has piqued your interest in crossbows, you can read more on crossbows here.

Study Reveals What the Art World Can Expect from Post-Lockdown Audiences

Study Reveals What the Art World Can Expect from Post-Lockdown Audiences

When talks of reopening after lockdown went underway, the arts and cultural sector sought help from research company LaPlaca Cohen to conduct a cultural study. The goal was to find out ways museums can navigate and make reopening plans after the COVID-19 crisis, in order to best serve the community through art and culture.

However the study was conducted prior to the surge of protests over systemic racial injustice, triggered by the senseless killing of George Floyd. As a result, the report covering the period between April 29 and May 19 and entitled “Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis,” does not present changes in sentiments following the serious events that transpired after the lifting of the lockdown orders.

Nonetheless, LaPlaca Cohen is set to undertake a second study this coming September.

The “Culture and Community in a Time of Crisis” was actually presented as a special edition of LaPlaca Cohen’s Culture Track research, to present what many looked forward to in art, and what they expect from the cultural sector when museums and concert halls reopen post-lockdown.

What the Public Wants and How Important are Art Institutions?

While the authors of the study tried to paint a picture of what the American public hopes to see and experience from art institutions, the information was based on what many had busied themselves with while under lockdown. The impressions gathered from the answers given by about 124,000 respondents of the survey, was not as encouraging as the art and culture sector had hoped it would be.

About 53 percent of those surveyed indicated less enthusiasm in consuming content provided online by established arts organizations.

The largest portion of the respondents (38%) had chosen the category “Individual Performer, Artist, Band, or Ensemble.” as their single online source for arts and culture. While the second largest (17%) answer went to the “Somewhere Else”category under which Art and Design Museums, Performing Arts Center, Aquarium, Zoo orere potential choices. Around 14% of those who chose this category picked “I don’t know” as their sub-answer.

To a question that asked how they were introduced to cultural activities online, 6% answered thru Social Justice Organizations or Arts Activism, which was about the same percentage as those who got introduced by way of “Dance Groups.”

When asked how they want the arts and culture organizations to help them during the health crisis, the study summed up the answers as those that have beauty as the appealing factor and at the same time fun and lightheartedness.

While 61 % of those surveyed have awareness that art institutions and organization in their community experience financial difficulties, only 16% placed needy cultural groups amon the top priorities for charitable funding.

Of the factors given as having the most influence on decisions to visit in person, a museum or art institution or a cultural event, about half of the survey respondents selected the the availability of a COVID-19 vaccine as the top answer.

U.S. Museums and Galleries Plan to Reopen Sòon With New Rules

U.S. Museums and Galleries Plan to Reopen Sòon With New Rules

Museums and galleries in the U.S. except those in cities hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, like Baltimore, Los Angeles and New York, have plans of reopening soon. Future visitors though must be prepared to abide by new rules.

Actually, museum administrators are taking note of how supermarkets and other retail outlets handle foot traffic in ensuring safe distancing; especially in areas where people tend to crowd such as in stairs, coat checks and baggage counters.

This suggests plans include placing vinyl stickers on floors that will serve as spots on where visitors must stand when viewing gallery displays. Admission desks will likely be outfitted with clear plastic panels, while masks will be handed out to ensure that all visitors coming in wear them as personal protection.

In addition, some others have plans of removing wall labels, and any info related to a particular exhibit can be accessed by way of a mobile app. At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Va., which plans to reopen in July, reopening plans include having a program that can determine the number of people that the museum can handle safely. The Virginia Museum is planning to put the “Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Sunken Cities” exhibit in several rooms.

Why Some Museum Plan to Reopen Even While COVID-19 is Still a Helath Crisis

The general consensus is that unlike theaters and sports stadiums, museum and gallery visitors are not new to being required to carry on in their best behavior. However museums where changes could have more impact are in children museums and galleries with science and history exhibits. Reworking and rethinking of interactive exhibits and high-touch areas will have to be carefully considered.

 

As reported by the American Alliance of Museums to Congress sometime in March, museums throughout the country are losing as much as $33 million each ever since the Coronavirus lockdown implementation. While many in the rural areas are likely to close if they do not receive federal aid, the larger museums that have had great financial exposure in relation to rent and travel costs prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, are also facing fragile financial conditions.  

 

NY Artists Chosen to Render Art Installations for the New Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge

NY Artists Chosen to Render Art Installations for the New Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge

Last January 31, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the names of the eight artists who have been commissioned to render or provide, 10 spectacular art installations along or near the shared bicycle/pedestrian paths of the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge.

Installing public art around the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge is seen as a way of enlivening Hudson River’s scenic landscape as well as a means of showcasing some of New York’s finest world-class artists.

The Selected Artists and Their Proposed Artwork/s

The art installations include four (4) bicycle racks, one (1) mural and five (5) sculptures.

The artists named to provide the sculptures include three from Brooklyn namely Fitzhugh Karol (Approach), Cheryl Wing-Zi Wong (Current) and Wendy Klemperer (Leaping Sturgeon). The two others are Ilan Averbuch of Long Island City (Tappan Zee) and Thomas Lendvai of Ronkonkoma (Untitled for Imre Lendvai).

The artists commissioned to design the bike racks are David Greenberg of Brooklyn and Christopher Flick of Bronx. David Greenberg’s bike rack “mooring” design will be used in two (2) bike rack installations, one in the Rockland path and the other in the Westchester path. Another David Greenberg submission, inspired by the stone quarrying industry of Rockland County and evocative of the common hitching post of the olden days, will also be used in the Rockland path.

The artist chosen to render the lone mural celebrating the Hudson River Valley’s biodiversity is Chris Soria of Nyack for his Flux of Being. Soria’s mural paintings involve combining layers of abstract geometric designs to which he later incorporates with silhouettes of figures.

Currently, all artworks are in different stages of development and are all slated to attain completion and/or installation later this year.

Find Out Why Many Artists Make Toronto Their Second Home

Find Out Why Many Artists Make Toronto Their Second Home

Looking for a place where you could spend endless days of basking in the beauty of nature and exploring a vast resource of inspiration for art, culture and innovations? Set your sights on being at the center of it all by setting up your own living space in Toronto, Canada.

Here, expressions of ideas anr opinions by way of art is mainstream because the city is a true haven for the culturally and artistically inclined. You can find art expressions on graffitied walls, on a bottle of beer or even applied as printed motif on the street.

Toronto owes its relaxing atmosphere to its more than a thousand recreational urban parks, its collection of world-renowned art galleries and vast cultural diversity. In fact, the city currently ranks as the 7th most livable place in the world. It is a prestigious reputation shared with other Canadian cities; Vancouver in B.C (Ranked 5th). and Calgary, in Alberta (Ranked 6th).

Below is a guide to some of the city’s top museum, just so you have an idea of why not a few artists have fallen in love with Toronto. So much so that they eventually decided to make the city their second home. Physically relocating and bringing your stuff to Toronto is very easy as you can easily find firms providing reliable and top quality moving service at affordable prices.

Learn More about Toronto’s Past and Present Through Its Famous Museums and Art Galleries

This city literally bursts with creative hubs often regarded as a blessing by budding and aspiring painters, photographers, sculptors and mixed media artists. Below are some examples of the pre-eminent museums and galleries to visit.

The Royal Ontario Museum at 100 Queens Park

The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) is the most comprehensive and largest in the whole of Canada. Its world-class reputation is founded on being home to a vast collection of 13 million artworks, specimens of natural history and various cultural objects. ROM also makes a significant contribution by serving as a prominent research institute; launching programs and exhibits that combine original heritage with contemporary arrangements and architecture.

Art Gallery of Ontario

Another destination counted as one of the largest galleries but encompassing North America is the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). Located in a complex building in downtown Toronto, taking up 48k square feet of physical space to house its more than 95,000 collection of artworks that include includes works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Cézanne, Gauguinsome, and Van Gogh.

Formerly and originally known as Art Museum in Toronto, then later, Art Gallery of Toronto, before it was renamed as the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) has transformed the entire of the Junction Triangle at the west end of the city into an artist’s hub, when it recently made the 5-storey, 55K square feet of a former sheet-casting factory, its new home. Here, art aficionados or simple lovers of arts can find many thought-provoking exhibitions to intrigue their minds.

The Scrap Metal Gallery

The Scrap Metal Gallery is an industrial style facility, as obviously suggested by its title, Yet it is a gem for those who are looking to showcase or explore artworks visualized today by both established and emerging artists.

The Power Plant

The Power Plant is an art gallery that took on the old power house at Harbourfront Centre; having an extensive scenery with Lake Ontario as its backdrop. This is an important destination to those always on the lookout for modern visual arts. TPP has no permanent art collection as it is well known for hosting exhibitions put up by diverse groups of Canadian and international artists

The Mercer Union

The mercer Union is an artist-centrc gallery founded by a non-profit organization, specifically to help artists achieve pivotal projects and their most artistic ambitions. That being the case, Mercer Union also holds artist talks, seminars, workshops and off-site public projects.

Roberto Ferri : Modern Baroque Painter Whose Works Verbalize Visions Seen Beyond the Senses

Roberto Ferri : Modern Baroque Painter Whose Works Verbalize Visions Seen Beyond the Senses

Roberto Ferri, is a modern, baroque-inspired painter whose artistry gives body and form to dreams, or some may say, to nightmares that nearly everyone experiences. Ferri’s signature works are intriguing representations of men and women that either symbolize purity or imperviousness to disgrace, as they appear in sinuous forms and intriguing poses that seemingly depict the spirit and flesh of angels or demons.

Roberto Ferri’s Background as a Contemporary Baroque-Style Painter

Born in 1978 in Taranto, Italy, Ferri studied and learned about painting at the Liceo Artistico Lisippo Taranto, a local art school from where he graduated in 1996. Determined to learn more about ancient painting, particularly of the 16th century, he moved to Rome in 1999 to quench his unbending quest for knowledge by enrolling in the Academy of Fine Arts.

While studying at the academy, he was greatly inspired by Caravaggio and other painters of Academism, Romanticism and Symbolism of the Baroque period. In 2006, the Taranto-grown artist, graduated with honors from Rome’s Academy of Fine Arts, and by the age of thirty, was able to establish himself not only locally but also internationally.

Roberto Ferri’s collection of important works, captioned as “Beyond the Senses” went into exhibit not only in Italy but also in France (Paris and Provence), in America (Boston, New York, Texas, and Miami), in Spain (Barcelona and Madrid) in Dublin, Qatar, and Malta. In 2011, Ferri’s “Beyond the Senses” was featured at the controversial Palazzo Cini during the 2011 Venice Biennale.

Reclaimed Creations : Sayaka Kajita Ganz Creates 3D Sculptures Out of Discarded Plastics

Reclaimed Creations : Sayaka Kajita Ganz Creates 3D Sculptures Out of Discarded Plastics

Japanese artist Sayaka Kajita Ganz chose discarded plastics as medium for her reclaimed creations; 3D sculptures of different animal forms inspired by her belief in Shinto animism. Although she empathizes with all types of discarded objects, she currently focuses her artistry and energy on discarded plastic materials.

She looks into household items as sources of plastic wastes with which to create different animal forms that project self-awareness and a sense of movement.

Her fascination for plastics as medium, stems from the variety of their colors and curvilinear forms. The materials allow her to manipulate and put them together the way artists use their brush strokes, while her goal is to create 3D impressions similar to the effects applied by Van Gogh in his paintings.

The Essence of Sayaka Ganz’s Reclaimed Creations

Sayaka Ganz describes her reclaimed creation as one that encourages perceiving harmony even in situations that appear chaotic. She points at the gaps, holes and lightly hinged joints in her sculptures, which one sees when viewing her artpiece up close. Yet when viewed at a distance, one will see the harmony revealed by the sculpture despite its chaotic composition.

She compares this to how she perceives problems and of her tendency to look closely at details; of focusing mainly on the gaps and differences of opinions. Yet if she steps back, she gains a larger perspective of the current problem. In stepping away, she is able to perceive that there are different approaches to solving a problem but all leads to a common goal.

Currently, Ms. Ganz’s sculptures are included in the “Can’t You Sea? | Ocean Plastic ARTifacts” exhibit at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina along with five other visual art artists. Since June 28 of this year, Ms. Ganz also launched her “Reclaimed Creations Traveling Exhibitions”, which will be at the Stamford Museum and Nature Center in Stamford, Connecticut until September 02, 2019.

The Living Bees Sculpture of Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny

The Living Bees Sculpture of Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny

Meet Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny, the famous Slovakian artist behind the highly acclaimed “Living Bee Sculpture”as exemplified by his first bee-autiful “Honeycomb Vase”

Libertíny’s works celebrate the natural powers of bees for construction when making a new home for their still infertile young queen. Using his profound knowledge of patterns and their repetitive occurrences in the natural environment, Tomas constructs a light skeleton framework and sets up the conditions with industrial precision. Live bees swarm and regurgitate food that the framework provides for the insects. Their output then forms the core of his sculptural work.

Although Tomas Libertiny is not the first to use insects in creating artwork, Libertiny distinguishes his “Living Bees Sculpture” through his method:

“Where the work of others are destructive as far as insects are concerned, mine is constructive.”

How Libertiny’s Living Bee Sculptures are Made

In specific exhibition events, massive numbers of bees are released to complete final work on a laser-sintered framework. Tomas’ artistry in applying beeswax to the framework allows him to gain control over the bees; luring them too feed and regurgitate where beeswax were applied.

The industrious bees will then create honeycomb skin with precision, thereafter constructing a hive by filling each cell with honey. After which, bees work to remove honey from cells to clean the wax cells, whilst returning the honey they produced after cleaning.

In his “Unbearable Lightness,” 40,000 bees were released to complete a sculpture of a crucified Christ. The beeswax-filled framework held a twist, as Libertiny introduced red dye. That way, the bees at work will fill the cells with red honey to effectively depict the martyred body of Christ.

“Unbearable Lightness” won Libertiny the “Designer of the Future award, as well as contracts to exhibit and/or acquire his work at museums, including including New York’s MoMa.

When asked why bees do all this work him, the artist’s simple reply is that it is because, “I am providing them food and shelter.” He comments that the beehive installation manifests their eagerness to impress their new queen. At the same time, it poses as testament of love and dedication, including the resulting tragedy of their individual sacrifice when protecting the beehive they created.

What Makes a Willy Verginer Wood Sculpture Different from Traditional Wood Carvings

What Makes a Willy Verginer Wood Sculpture Different from Traditional Wood Carvings

Willy Verginer, is an Italian sculpture who hails from Ortisei, a town in one of Italy’s most historic provinces, Tyrol. His artworks are mainly figurative sculptures made purely from wood, but often mistaken as stone carvings or a chunk of plaster moulded into lifesize forms. Actually such impression gives credence to Willy Verginer’s techniques.

First off, he processes carvings of human or animal figures only from blocks of wood that have been dried naturally for more than six years to ensure morphing will not occur. He then conceptualizes images that convey subtle messages with the help of a trusty hatchet and chainsaw, and then refines the features using chisels and small tools, to create a realistic looking lifesize figurine.

Yet what makes master sculptor Verginer’s work standout, aside from the precision by which he chisels out folds, wrinkles and creases of imaginary flesh and textile, are the touches of acrylic colour he adds to each sculpted wood.

Willy Verginer’s Sculptures Come Alive with Application of Acrylic Color

The most eye-catching quality of a Willy Verginer sculpture is his application of a band of acrylic color, which gives a concept of time, location or specific idea to the figurine. A band of color can be anything; orange, blue, green, black, gold, silver, whichever hue can depict an unseen location or condition in which the sculpted figure is situated.

One of the most striking Verginer sculpture exemplifying the concept is that of a child painted in blue to make him look as if swimming in a body of water. Another is a figurine of a man trying desperately to solve a leakage of some hazardous silver metallic substance coming out of a container, to which the mercurial silver color has already seeped and spread to the man.

Willy Verginer’s actual sculptures are on display in numerous private and public Italian and international art galleries. Photographed collections of his most stunning sculptures can be viewed at his website.