Bora Zivkovic to Visit Toronto

Bora Zivkovic

The Blogfather himself, Bora Zivkovic of Scientific American, ScienceOnline, OpenLab and circadian-rhythm-awesomeness is coming to Toronto next week!

Bora will be giving a talk at my alma mater York University, about Science and the New Media Ecosystem from 2:00-3:30. 

Here's the deets:

Science and the New Media Ecosystem

Bora Zivkovic, Blog Editor at Scientific American
Monday, May 6, 2013, 2:00 – 3:30 pm
Paul Delaney Gallery, Room 320, Bethune College
York University, Toronto
Abstract: The whole media landscape is shifting and changing – newspapers on the decline with blogs, Twitter and YouTube on the rise.
Science is no different. Come listen to one of the pioneers of online science communication talk about how this new media landscape is shaping how science is done, evaluated and communicated in an increasingly connected world.

John Dupuis, the Science Librarian with Bora Zivkovic from ScienceOnline2012.

There's also going to be a tweet-up Monday night! Check out the Facebook page, and here's the info: Monday May 6th, 7pm Duke of York Tavern. Map. Thanks so much to John Dupuis for organizing these events, (and Romeo Vitelli for starting the FB page!)

Both events are open to the public. I'll be at the tweet-up for sure, so say hi to the guy with the winged trilobite tattoo on his arm!

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite © to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Print Shop

Find me on Symbiartic, the art+science blog on the Scientific American Blog Network!

Science-Artists Feed grows to 100

A few months ago, I started the Science-Artists Feed after a conversation with Bora Zivkovic.  It's also carried on Visual art, illustration and imagery can have a profound impact on our understanding of science: both the scientific concepts themselves, and how scientific knowledge impacts our lives.

It's now swelled to 100 different artists' and site feeds!  Each week I'm summing up some links of things I found interesting in my Scumble series of posts. If anyone wondered whether or not this is an art movement unto itself -as I discussed with Mike Haubrich and sciartist Lynn Fellman in a recent podcast- the size and variety of this list should demonstrate it is.

Recently, I included a handful of the artists I love from deviantArt as well, including Nobu Tamura, Jacqueline Dillard, Jon Lomberg and the Bioscience group.

Here's the list in its entirety below the jump:

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.

Classic trilobite: referencing, gazing and Mitochondrial Eve

[Originally posted September 21st, 2008.  Hat tip to Jeska Corena for quoting the post.]

This week, I've been thinking a lot about social-consciousness in art. Y'know, being political and having a message for the public sphere.

There's some reasons for my preoccupation.

Tyler Handley at The Edger wondered how to classify atheist art. Jessica Palmer at Bioephemera shows the tension between illustration/photojournalism and fine art, and how poorly played it can both enhance and upset a career. Coturnix at A Blog Around the Clock has an interesting round-up of articles about art about science; I'm struck by how many are about global warming, but not surprised.

Social activism and controversies are always a part of the fine artists' agenda. It's not surprising. And it's a good thing the global warming crisis is a part of the agenda! I remember in university about 10 years ago, some wag put up a list of "10 images to be an art hack" too high up on a support pillar to take down. On it were things like, "Coca-Cola logo" (to signify evil corporations), "Kate Moss" (to signify male-controlled body image), "fetus" (to signify the abortion debate).

My friends and I used the term, "shake and bake" for this type of art; by putting an image on canvas of say, Kate Moss you were automatically addressing bulimia, women's body image, the perpetuation of the male-gaze in art, heroin chic (Trainspotting was a big movie when I was in Uni) and being "ironic" and "conflicted" by both showing her and "referencing" her. Ooo, edgy, a half-naked painting of a photo of Kate Moss.

Referencing was a big buzz word in Fine Art back then. It meant copying something, or including it in there. It was supposed to be a dialogue, while perhaps being vague on what you were saying.

It meant you didn't have to come up or reveal a new conflict to the viewer, you simply added to the dialogue. Shale and bake. Truly new conflicts were hard to smash through with. In my own small way, I tried. After reading River Out of Eden by Richard Dawkins over and over, I tried numerous pieces about the Mitochondrial Eve concept. It enthralled me that we could figure out things like this bottleneck in our prehistory. But it wasn't new of the day, so it was hard to spread the wonderment. Frustrating.

Here is that painting, Mitochondrial Eve:

Not perhaps my strongest work back then, and I've almost painted over it a few times. This one was painted on an antique wood panel to prevent warping, using traditional materials (rabbit-skin glue....eewwww) so it will likely look at me with it's not-up-to-my-standards look for quite some time.
I had roommates also in the Fine Arts, one majoring in dance, one in theatre. We'd joke a bit that in both their disciplines, collaboration is essential; whereas in visual art, you're expected to stand smoking in the corner saying, "They're all hacks, no one understands my genius. puff".

But back to social messages. Are they all shake and bake? All instantly microwaveable into some sort of painting/sculpture/installation that everyone brings their own political/social/media-savvy background to?

No. There can be something strong enough to break through and galvanise people. But I think the world of visual Fine Art is tough. We are surrounded by astounding images every day, so standing still and letting a painting perform long enough to affect one's mindset as it unravels and wraps up a viewer is a difficult thing. I try it from time to time.

And once, I was so overcome, I simply sat down in the middle of the gallery, on the floor. I stretched my legs out, and just enjoyed the still oil painting on the wall and let it affect me. Security didn't mind this gothy-punk just sitting there; I was causing no harm and others could walk around me. And the painting was marvelous. I consider it now my very favourite. Science and myth thrown together on a canvas. John Atkins Grimshaw's Iris. (The science comes from the part you cannot see in a photo: thin glazes of oil forming a rainbow following the tragic arch of Iris's body).

Try it. Find an image about a current issue like global warming. Perhaps it's a block of ice in a gallery kept at temperatures cool enough to drip only slowly, or tiny plastic polar bears on the floor of the gallery. Perhaps something on the computer screen, something from antiquity, something in your local museum or art gallery or a book.

Ponder it slowly.

Be unafraid to find it shallow.

Be unafraid to say, "that's it?"

Be willing to enjoy the art of the small message for its small message.

And keep moving on, and slowing down to look until one commands your gaze. Let it mesmerise you with its memes and forms. My hope is that it will provide a rallying point for rationality in its beauty.

[Comments on original post here.]
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Original artwork on
The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
Creative Commons Licence.
Print Shop

Illustrator interviews at SONSI

This week on SONSI (the Southern Ontario Nature & Science Illustrators) I've kicked off a series of interviews, beginning with the legendary Barry Kent MacKay.  (I only sent out the questions this morning!  Fast!)

I owe the idea and casual format of these interviews in no small part to Coturnix.  No one does internet communication better!

It's a terrific interview for getting into the mind of a lifelong bird illustrator and animal conservationist.

Check it out here.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

ScienceOnline2010 tablet workshop; or, playing with Bora's face

Click on the scio10tablet label to see all posts. Many thanks to Darren of the Park Research Center for the enthusiastic help setting up Gimp and the drivers on the session laptop!(picture by Ben Young Landis and tweeted during the session. Thanks Ben!)

After a mad dash from the airport, I settled in at ScienceOnline2010 to do a workshop about digital tablet technology. Bringing two tablets through customs wasn't hard, though I had to explain what they were a number of times.

The two models we played with were a Wacom Bamboo and a Wacom Intuos 3. The Bamboo had been solemnly lent to me by my 8-year old sk8tr nephew who said he was "giving you -no, lending you this on one condition: you bring it back." Fair enough.

Our workshop attendance was relatively small, which was perfect. After a quick introduction to tablets, the group split into two groups of three and began to play. We used Gimp, which as an astonishingly versatile free program able to do many of the things Photoshop and similar programs can do. My hope was that the group would enjoy the pressure sensitivity of the pen and tablet, and begin to think of how that could be fun to make images.

Here are the results of the workshop! (And apologies for the long wait! Has it been 2+ weeks already?These exercises were to allow everyone to get a fee for the pen and tablet, and try a bit with how the sensitivity responds. The initial drawings above were cautious and careful, as it can be disconcerting to move your drawing-hand while looking elsewhere at a screen at the result. This technique however, is a one made popular by the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, a traditional pencil and paper book. It includes exercises doing just this: follow the contours of the object you're drawing, and don't look at the page you are drawing on. It allows your eyes to have time to practice moving in unison with your hand.
Here's the examples when we tried varying the line pressure:

We played with Bora's image a bit. Everyone took a turn on separate layers, including Bora himself adding a dapper aviator's scarf (later made hard to see by the Magic Wand tool).

Original photo:

Completed image:

Many thanks to Janet, Ben, Evelyn, Bora, Allie and John! And Bora's dinosaur.
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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
under Creative Commons Licence.
Work above by conference attendees - thanks for playing everybody!

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Interview at A Blog Around the Clock

Coturnix at A Blog Around the Clock is conducting a series of interviews about the attendees of last January's Science Online '09 unconference.

You can see my interview here, and the rest in the series by clicking here.
What do I want to be when I grow up? It even includes a picture of me not moving and smiling at the same time. The series promises to cover a diverse group of bloggers to be sure.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow
Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery *** Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ***

Ethics of blogging university papers?

Ever since Coturnix at A Blog Around the Clock wondered where all the good art historian blogs are, I've thought about sharing some of my own interpretations and analysis of art history.

Some papers I wrote in university may make for some interesting discussion and hopefully illumination; but is it ethical? I can remember the university held onto copies of the students' work so they could check future papers against plagiarism, but is there some ownership over these papers by the universities?

I put the question to Twitter last night, and thereby to Facebook. Tweet:
Anyone know an ethical reason not to use my old university essays as blog posts? Property of the university or my brain?

So far, I've received about a dozen responses, most clearly of the opinion that my brain owns the words, and as cautioned, to be sure to include citations. I thought I'd open the discussion up here on the blog for longer comments than 140 characters allow.

And if I do start posting portions or a series based on older essays - anyone interested in representations of the mysterious centres of thought in fin-de-siecle Symbolist painting?

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery ### Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ###

Coming soon...

Art and design by Dave Ng of The World's Fair, art by Glendon Mellow of The Flying Trilobite.
Editor, Jennifer Rohn of Mind the Gap, series editor Bora Zivkovic of A Blog Around The Clock. Winning contributers listed here, cartoon & poem here.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.

Flying Trilobite Gallery ### Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ### 2009 Calendar available for a limited time

Art & Science at ScienceOnline '09 discussion continues...

ScienceOnline this past weekend really has me reassessing what I'm doing as a blogger and with my artwork. The conference as a whole and the Art & Science session in particular seem to be continuing as discussions in the blogosphere.

Here's a few links.

-Conference blog & media link page (new ones at the bottom)

-ScienceOnline'09 Flickr set

-Ryan Somma at Ideonexus has a concise overview of the Art & Science session. In addition to the 5 categories I had outlined, Ryan has suggested an entirely appropriate type of artistic science: "Found Art".

-Lenore Ramm of Eclectic Glob of Tangential Verbosity reports feeling inspired to possibly create art once again

-Brian Switek of Laelaps mentioned cave art in the comments here and explores the connection in "The Plight of the Pleistocene Poet".

-Betül of Counter Minds summarized her excited views of the conference

-Bora at A Blog Around The Clock has posted a few photos of the seriousness and shenanigans on the Friday night.

-Jessica Palmer at Bioephemera (can Tatjana and I refer to her as our ephemeral third moderator? Or am I being lame?) shows how the intersection of real science and artistic fancy can be a ball of confusion, (that's what the world is today). Hey. Hey.

-Eva of Easternblot has left a comment here about that elusive grail of mine, art directing the course of scientific research. That's two examples! (First example found here, in the comment and fascinating paper by Andy of The Open Source Paleontologist.)

I may continue to use this post to collect up various links. Working out what to do with myself and my artwork is another matter.

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Original artwork on The Flying Trilobite Copyright to Glendon Mellow under Creative Commons Licence.
Flying Trilobite Gallery ### Flying Trilobite Reproduction Shop ### 2009 Calendar available for a limited time