Category Archives: Art

A long silence

It’s been a busy few months while I write my MA thesis. I might blog a little now and then on how it’s going and such, but I’m not sure I want to make this a medieval blog. You can keep a track of how I’m doing via the Twitter feed to the left of the screen. I might also one day get around to updating the “about me” page, which is quite out of date.

I’ve also been busy travelling around the place and eating into my savings. Here’s a flavour of where I’ve been since I moved back to Ireland, in no particular order:

Baptism bother

Jonathan Jones has got a bit hot under the collar over a quote from Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, who said Piero della Francesca’s The Baptism of Christ should be moved from the National Gallery to a Catholic church. The cardinal’s argument was that the painting was not art, but a work of piety.

Jones feels this is “ignorant and insensitive under its veneer of anthropological subtlety”. I’m inclined to think he’s taking the comment the wrong way. As he points out himself, the cardinal may be being provocative. But he’s as likely to be simply stating that he would rather the work be viewed in its original context, or as close as possible, seeing as the painting was taken from a church in Italy. His language is careful: “I would like to see”, not “I want to see”.

Although it’s an interesting work, I’m not as carried away with it as Jones, who said

the spirituality of this pale, mirror-like vision of Christ’s statuesque figure, with the strange gathering priests, the witnessing angels, the white town in the distance, is so intense that it doesn’t need to be in a church to exert religious authority.

In criticising the cardinal, Jones runs the risk of overriding one of art’s great strengths: that it can mean different things to different people.

Murphy-O’Connor may be following in a tradition of religious artistic appreciation. For example, the lavish illuminated pages of manuscripts such as The Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow are not designed simply to look good, but as forms of visual exegesis. They have many layers of interpretation: a lay person can appreciate them for their aesthetic values, while a cleric, who would have had much closer contact with such manuscripts, would be encourage to meditate on God and the message of whatever Biblical book was being illuminated. This is particularly the case with this, the beginning of Christ’s genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew. The carpet page becomes a meditation on the name, Jesus Christ.

What do you think? Is Jones right, the cardinal right, or neither?

Marx Manga

I kid you not.

Das Kapital, the manga version, is due to hit bookstores across Japan next month with its complex ideas ambitiously repackaged into digestible comic format.

The appearance of the famous economic treatise in the form of a comic is the latest sign of a resurgence of left-wing literature in Japan as the world’s second largest economy sinks into recession.

Links o' the day

How the Edwardians spoke. I don’t really care about Edwardians, I just like examining how language changes over the decades.

A sad day for internet freedoms in China. Traffic from search engines Yahoo!, and Google are being redirected to Chinese-owned Bastards.

How to make a floating skull illusion. Don’t tell me you’ve never wanted to do this!

Why Facebook needs money: data centres. The snowballing social networing site has taken out a lease on a 10,000sq ft facility to house data servers.

Lessons learned from a near disaster. Please excuse me while I back up my hard drive…

Canadian paedophile suspect arrested in Thailand. Oh, they’re gonna love him in prison!

And last, but by no means least, 10 ways to geek out this Hallowe’en.


Links o' the day

Mulley ups the ASNO ante. 2FM dj Rick O’Shea has sworn off Facebook for the week, and is feeling the brunt of Damien Mulley’s mischief making. Send Rick your FB love!

13 strategies for breaking bad habits and cultivating new ones. We’ve all got them, now it’s time to kick their habitual asses.

Geography of barbecue in the United States. Why did I become a journalist? To find strange stories like this one and spread them across the interweb.

The future of electronic paper. And thus, the newspaper industry. Minority Report had something along these lines.

India plans to impose restrictions on foreign investors. The economy is steaming ahead but the plan almost crashed the stock market. Way to think ahead, guys!

Face transformer. Upload a pic of yourself and change it to a different age or even see how you look as drawn by one of the masters. Via Cian Boland.