Link to What's New This Week. Issue for Week of August 4, 2003

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Dear Habermas
A Journal of Postmodern and Critical Thought
Devoted to Academic Discourse on Peace and Justice

Current Issue:
Volume 17, No. 7, Week of August 4, 2003

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Previous Issue: Volume 17, No, 6, Week of July 21, 2003
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Latest Update: August 5, 2003

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The Aesthetics of Play

Topic of the Week: The Aesthetics of Play
Thursday, July 31, 2003: Last week we looked at the aesthetics of answerability, with which we have by no means finished. Answerability is for us a key concept upon which depends interpersonal respect, making it fundamental to ideas of community. But this week I was more absorbed by building detailed resources for your Fall classes at UWP and at CSUDH.

As part of that activity I found myself entering the Berkeley server numerous times. I had put up some "blogs" that I discovered by following pages of Open Computing Facility's computing staff, and had just gone looking for the OCF home page to explain to you and to me what it was. Turns out it's the location of a government-sponsored computing lab at Berkeley. And turns out that it seems to hold most of Berkeley's computing equipment. But where was that playful staff whose "blogs" I had followed? So, naturally, I kept going until, lo, I stopped cold before this weeks's photo, for which you'll have to scroll about halfway down the original file at Berkeley.

Read the article. You won't understand every word, but the idea is summed up quite effectively: "This is what structural biology is for -- it shows us how extremely simple nature's solutions can be."

So that's how water gets into our cells. Look! You can see it! Now I wouldn't want to spend all day in a lab, working at getting tools that would enable us to see it. But I'm delighted that someone else wants to do that. Last week when we spoke of answerability, we didn't say much about "play." But play is at the heart of answerability. It's often what makes us want to answer, to question, to join in the decision-making, and to celebrate the results.

Play includes story telling. And as I put up my lecture on story telling through photo essays, I began to realize that this cell membrane, AQP1, had a local story to tell. The scientists at Berkeley were just helping it tell its story by putting all their expertise to work. All the stories matter. AQP1's story in this case is just this beautiful picture and an understanding of its structure. Thanks to Biophysicist Bing Jap and his team of scientists, we now know that story. I hope that for the scientists, their work had the satisfaction of play, as mine does. Something so beautiful should come from the aesthetics of play and answerability.

AQP1 attracted me because it was beautiful, and I wanted you to see the beauty of some of the science that most of my behavioral science people shy away from. But when I came back to my computer this morning, there was gibberish on this file, no AQP1. Vowing not to work so late next time, I went rather desperately searching for AQP1. And in that process I found Mirsky, just sitting there quietly in my art program, abandoned, alone. What was he doing there? Why, of course, he was another sample of aesthetic play. Here was the world from a completely different prespective. No angstroms here. And he was almost pure play:


Mirsky is one of the computer kids that puts up blogs, if that's the right name for diaries. I had chosen this one to share with you because I liked it so. I like the use of words as art, I like that it's much clearer that it's Mirsky's work than any title for it. I like the colors and the layout. I like the drawing; reckon it's a tape machine of some sort, but it likes like boobs to me, all of which adds to the craziness of this piece. I'll bet at a sub-conscious level it's his mother, urging him towards seriousness. Mirsky's Diary, I think. I found it as a link, favored, I presume, on the homepage of one of the OCF staff, Bem Ajani Jones-Bey. I'm not sure what prompted me to link to "robotfindskitten.org," other than the spirit of play, and somehow from there I got to Mirsky, who was somewhere linked on the site robotfindskitten.org.

Mirsky's story of his delight at discovering he'd been "published" (I think that's what he means) is hilarious. He seems to have gone hopping about in delirious joy, to the annoyance of some fellow worker. I wish we had photos of that. And his story of how his site became so popular merits attention, too. This is play, kids. Don't do it. You could get in trouble. They're real touchy about porn on the Internet. By the way, I never found "robotfindskitten.org" that had intrigued me in the first place. It helps in playing on the Internet to let the links take you where they will. You'll find the most amazing things sometimes as favored links on computer techs' sites.


Bem Ajani Jones-Bey
Link on photos for their sources at OCF.

Now, in conclusion, think how you've learned to "know" to some very small extent, the scientists who hunted down the structure of AQP1 and the techs of OCF. Maybe this will explain how when our students from Wisconsin meet our students from CSUDH, they meet like old friends, in spite of the fact that they've never seen each other before. The sharing of just a few tiny details makes us "really real" to one another. From there, respect is easy.

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A Range of Sources on Global Events

Left/Right Perspectives - Cursor - New York Times
Arts and Letters Daily - The Economist - The Guardian
Wall Street Journal -The Weekly Standard - The Nation
Los Angeles Times - Chicago Tribune - The Washington Post
Cursor's Al Jazeera Archive - Ha'aretz - Palestine Monitor

Indymedia - BBC News - New Profile - Progressive Sociologists Network

Announcements:

    Sex in Deep Space Art Exhibit Sex in Deep Space

    City Gallery, West Holywood. August 8 - 30, 2003.

  • Wednesday, August 6, 2003. Sex in Deep Space:

    City Gallery
    8444 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, CA 90069
    For information, call 323.658.1085, or contact: Marc Arranaga 213.300.4687
    Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and by appointment
    E-mail: mailto:salerno@thebrewery.net
    Web site: http://www.marc-jasper.com/sexindeepspace.htm
    "Even with the over-saturation of sexual imagery in commercial culture, in the hands of artists it can serve as an entry point to tremendous depths of feeling and perception. That feeling of being utterly transported by a work of art unites the pieces of five disparate artists in a special exhibition, Sex in Deep Space, at City Gallery in West Hollywood. Mounted by Marc Arranaga and Chip Tom, two of L.A.'s most innovative independent curators, Sex in Deep Space features the art of Dianna Cohen, Jason Eoff, Barrie Goshko, David Allan Peters, and Michael Salerno. The exhibit runs August 8-30, with an opening reception on Friday, August 8, 7-9 p.m. Admission to the reception and the exhibit are free.

    Dianna Cohen's medium, the plastic shopping bag, may seem to be the farthest thing from a sensual magic carpet. In her hands, they become playfully asymmetrical and joyously multicolored constructions, offering tactile temptation as they lay flat against or spill off the wall in voluptuous folds. Still embodying the abstract principles that drive a consumer economy, Cohen's ostensibly trashy materials take on undreamed-of seductive qualities.

    Jason Eoff plays with resins to create pieces with glossy, candy-like surfaces replete with stars and asteroids. His paintings, with their "lickable" glazes, simultaneously connote the interrelated, transporting pleasures of the palate and the pudenda.

    Combining traditional media with digital technology, Barrie Goshko manipulates small pieces of the natural world to expose the intricacies and oddities of the everyday. Ordinary flowers resemble alien fauna; and for all of her scientific examination, Goshko's lush imagery, often with bright blood-red backgrounds, evokes the surge and pulse of sex and reproduction in nature.

    The paintings of David Allen Peters represent excavations into a brilliantly sensual geology. He applies layer upon layer of paint, finishing off with a slick, high-gloss black surface. He then chisels into the black surface to expose riotous colors, suggesting our fascination with diving into space and the need to discover and connect with new forms of life.

    Michael Salerno's simple lines strive for an authentic experience free from any concern other than self-exploration. Automatic and repetitive linear gestures build overall compositions of atmospheric color fields, each generating a building tension for the eye, leading the viewer to distant landscapes, situations and locales of the imagination.

    Art historian Marc Arranaga became the curator of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center's Advocate Gallery in 1999. Under his leadership, the Gallery has undertaken collaborative work with community organizations to explore a wide array of histories, cultures, and worldviews. In 2002, he created an academic lecture series aimed at providing first-hand opportunities to engage with emerging scholarship in the fields of art history and cultural studies. An independent curator, he now serves as the Gallery's Curator in Residence.

    Chip Tom is an independent curator with 20 years experience in the contemporary art field. He has curated exhibitions at the Centre D'art Contemporain in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as at numerous museums and galleries in the United States.

    The curators extend special thanks to Toby Mazzie of City Antiques.

    To acquaint you with some of Michael Salerno's work:

    Painting by Michael Salerno
    Painting by Michael Salerno, and essay explaining work.

  • Friday, August 1, 2003: I now I'm putting up more than anyone can cover. But the identification of the topic of the week and the lectures that include it, should assure that you know basically what to cover. Beyond that, there's a reason for so much, so that you have some guided choice to play.

Using Academic Language Effectively:

Merriam-Webster Dictionary Search:

Today's Word: From the Word.A.Day Site

  • Friday, August 1, 2003. Words We Confuse:Common Errors in English Great site, maintained by Paul Brians, Professor of English, Washington State University.

Social Theory across Disciplines:

Peace and Social Justice
Essays, Comments, and Discussion Questions

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Lived Experience:

Emancipatory Narratives

  • Friday, August 1, 2003. Local Culture: Talking Culture through Photo Essays Two completely different samples of photo essays, where the authors make subjects come alive.

  • Saturday, August 2, 2003. Putting Together a Photo Essay: Writing for a Photo Essay Notice that you are welcome to substitute magazine or newspaper pictures, small objects, whatever. Photos have just become traditional because they're easy. Later this semester we'll use camcorders.

Kids, Etc.: Stuff to Share with Others

Art Shenanigans

    Original at Bost Museum of Fine Arts. Link on photo to go to original.
    The Slaveship. J.M.W. Turner. At the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Link on photo to go to original

  • Sunday, August 3, 2003. New Book on J.M.W. Turner out. Force of nature"Turner: A Life," James Hamilton, Random House: 496 pp., $35. Book review from the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, August 3, 2003.

    "A portrait of a female Yanomami by French-born photographer Claudia Andujar, who works with the indigenous people as an artist and humanitarian." (Claudia Andujar) <

  • Sunday, August 3, 2003. Art Photography of Indigenous People: The Yanomami. Contemporary Art in Paris 'Til October 16, 2003.

    jeanne's version of the cell-membrane. Nature does it better.

  • Saturday, August 2, 2003. Playing with the freebie art software. I played with the cell-membrane. Didn't have much time. But it was fun. Suggest you try it with the Paint program. Or maybe just with some oil pastels. Think I'll save this one for Easter.

  • Saturday, August 2, 2003. Superbad The Superbad Site of Digital Art I found this link on the Art Department's Computer Art site. Looks like fun.

Academic Assessment

UWP and CSUDH Classes Linked through Dear Habermas in Fall 2003