Friday, September 9, 2016

xxxuuxu of the day

On a day like today, American artist Sol LeWitt was born
September 09, 1928. Solomon "Sol" LeWitt (September 9, 1928 - April 8, 2007) was an American artist linked to various movements, including Conceptual art and Minimalism. LeWitt came to fame in the late 1960s with his wall drawings and "structures" (a term he preferred instead of "sculptures") but was prolific in a wide range of media including drawing, printmaking, photography, and painting. He has been the subject of hundreds of solo exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world since 1965. In this image: A visitor looks at the piece of art "Wall Drawings" by American artist Sol LeWitt at the Haus Konstruktiv in Zurich, Switzerland, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004.

Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz.

EU copyright overhaul sparks cultural 'apocalypse' warnings

11:54 am /
The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Portugal Friday, September 9, 2016

EU copyright overhaul sparks cultural 'apocalypse' warnings

Across the 28-nation European Union, production of books, music, newspapers and cinema is very much separated into national spheres.

by Alex Pigman

BRUSSELS (AFP).- Is the EU, with Brexit and migration already in its cross-hairs, about to launch war on Europe's digital start-ups and entertainers?

The commission, the EU's powerful executive arm, is preparing to unveil a radical overhaul of copyright law in Europe, a leaked draft of which has already attracted the fury of artists and investors who see it as a threat to European culture and innovation.

Across the 28-nation European Union, production of books, music, newspapers and cinema is very much separated into national spheres and the commission, led by the federalist Jean-Claude Juncker, is driven to bring them closer.

To do so, the EU will next week unveil a controversial revamp of copyright laws that will include several bold proposals to change the way content, including big ticket sports games, are both accessed and paid for in Europe, according to the draft seen by AFP.

But film producers and sports leagues are dead set against the changes, arguing that entertainment on the continent should not become pan-European, but continue to be channelled through national markets.

'Buy one, get 27 free'
One of the most divisive proposals is a push to make national broadcasters, such as Sky in the UK or RTL in Germany, to provide online content -- including films or sports -- Europe-wide, instead of just at home.

"I can't see how you can abolish geo-blocking and continue to protect copyright," Martin Moszkowicz, of Germany's Constantin Film told the Hollywood Reporter, referring to web users that are denied access to content from their home websites when outside their country.

For broadcasters "it becomes a buy one (EU territory), get 27 for free. It would be catastrophic for all creative industries," added Moszkowicz, a producer of the hugely popular Resident Alien films.

Film producers also warn that geo-blocking is crucial to financing European cinema, which survives on national subsidies that are often financed by the success of Hollywood blockbusters. 

But consumer advocates dismiss the criticism as exaggerated.

"This is not a choice between the current bad situation and the apocalypse the content providers describe," said Agustin Reyna of BEUC, the European consumer organisation.

Another change would force internet portals such as Google or Reddit to pay newspaper publishers a licence fee when using small extracts or snippets of news content -- most notably on Google News or Huffington Post.

Critics say this idea is highly ineffective, as proven when both Germany and Spain granted similar payments with neither case producing the badly needed life support to starved newspapers.

"We believe ancillary copyright is bad, full stop, no matter how you look at it," said Diana Cocoru, head of Policy at OpenForum Europe, a Google-backed lobby group that promotes an open internet.

In addition, "the term of protection is incredibly long: 20 years," she added.

'Devastating effects'
In another highly criticised change, the commission is asking that video platforms, such as Youtube or even Facebook, use technology that can track violations of copyright and shut them down.

"This law would have devastating effects on European startups," said MEP Julia Reda, a key figure in European Parliament on digital matters.

If the popular music site SoundCloud "had to comply with such onerous restrictions when they launched, they would have likely been overtaken by a non-EU-based competitor who didn’t," she said on her blog.

This law would also stop everyday citizens from posts that included copyrighted content, like a hit song played at a wedding or photos of the latest teen heart-throb.

It comes "with no safeguards for citizens and at the expense of fundamental rights such as freedom of expression," said OpenForum Europe's Cocoru.

But cracking down on Google-owned Youtube is a key demand of some the world's biggest music artists -- including Coldplay and Lady Gaga -- who said in a letter to Juncker last June that Youtube was stealing value from streaming services, such as Spotify.

The new copyright law "is a unique opportunity for Europe’s leaders to address the value gap," the letter said.

The package of proposals will prove to be highly contentious and is due to be released by the Commission on September 14.

It would then go to the European Parliament and EU states for approval, which could take months, if not years, given the push back.

© 1994-2016 Agence France-Presse

Alice Tavares da Silva | Exciting major art world discovery of lost Magritte painting comes to light

11:47 am /
The First Art Newspaper on the Net   Established in 1996 Portugal Friday, September 9, 2016

    Exciting major art world discovery of lost Magritte painting comes to light

    Curator of Historic Art at Norwich Castle, Giorgia Bottinelli (left) and conservator, Alice Tavares da Silva, examine Magritte’s La Condition Humaine, © Norfolk Museums Service.
    NORWICH.- An extraordinary art world mystery relating to a missing painting by the famous Belgian surrealist artist, René Magritte (1898 – 1967) is inching closer to being solved due to an exciting recent discovery in Norwich.

    Dr Giorgia Bottinelli, Curator of Historic Art, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery explains: “We have discovered that the painting La Condition humaine (The human Condition) of 1935 by René Magritte, in the collection of Norfolk Museums Service, provides another piece in an international art world jigsaw puzzle.

    “La Condition humaine was painted over a quarter of an earlier painting by Magritte entitled La Pose enchantée (The enchanted Pose), which was first exhibited in 1927 and is only known from an old black and white photograph.

    “The last reference to La Pose enchantée, a large painting of two female nudes, was in 1932, after which it completely disappeared. Even Magritte’s Catalogue Raisonné lists its whereabouts as unknown.

    “What happened to the missing painting is now, however, slowly coming to light in a remarkable series of events. It seems that for some reason, Magritte must have decided to cut the painting into quarters, and then painted four completely different paintings over the top. So our painting La Condition humaine has in fact been successfully hiding part of La Pose enchantée for more than 80 years.”

    The explanation for the disappearance of La Pose enchantée came to light in 2013 when, to the amazement of the art world, two paintings were discovered to have been part of the missing canvas, one in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the other in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. Two, however, still remained lost. That is until now when the third, the lower-right quarter, emerged in Norwich.

    This exciting discovery is the result of dedicated detective work by conservator Alice Tavares da Silva, working on behalf of Norfolk Museums Service. In February 2016 Alice examined Magritte’s La Condition humaine in advance of it being loaned to the forthcoming major Magritte retrospective exhibition at the Pompidou Centre in Paris.
    She discovered that the edges of the painting are, unusually for Magritte, painted over and round the stretcher with what appeared to be form and colour unrelated to the composition painted on the front. Further research led her to a report from conservators at MoMA.

    While preparing for another Magritte exhibition in 2013 the MoMA conservation team examined his work entitled The Portrait of 1935. They too found the edges of the canvas were painted over the stretcher, which they found curious. The painting was then x-rayed and the results excitingly revealed an underlying composition, that of a half-length female nude. This was a major clue, which following further investigation and help from conservator Brad Epley, at Houston's Menil Collection, enabled the MoMA team, led by Michael Duffy, to prove conclusively that Magritte had in fact painted The Portrait over the upper-left quarter of the missing painting La Pose enchantée.

    This discovery led to an additional painting by Magritte, The Red Model, in the collection of Moderna Museet in Stockholm, being closely scrutinized by art conservators. The Red Model was also painted in 1935 and was close in size to The Portrait. Lo and behold that too was discovered to have another painting hidden under the pigment. This turned out to be the lower-left quarter of La Pose enchantée.

    On reading the report Alice said: “I realised there were striking similarities between the Norwich painting and these two other works by Magritte, notably size and the date of execution. More so, the paint visible on the edges seemed to relate very closely to the composition of La Pose enchantée.

    “I was then able to superimpose an image of an exposed edge with the black and white illustration of La Pose enchantée and conclude that the Norwich painting was painted over the lower right quarter of the original composition. It was a hugely exciting discovery so I immediately arranged to take the painting to the Hamilton Kerr Institute, at the University of Cambridge to be x-rayed and analysed*. The results confirmed my initial observations that La Condition humaine was indeed the lower right-hand quarter of the missing painting.

    "What is additionally thrilling is the fact that, now that we have found the third missing quarter, we have the necessary amount of information to add to MoMA's existing colour reconstruction and are able to get a more complete idea of what La Pose enchantée would have originally looked like in colour. Until recently we have only known of its existence from a black and white photograph."

    Dr Giorgia Bottinelli, Curator of Historic Art, Norwich Castle Museum & Art Gallery, concluded: “The mystery of the whereabouts of Magritte’s La Pose enchantée has almost been solved. Remarkably, one quarter is in Norwich, one in New York and one in Stockholm. All we need to discover now is where the fourth and final, upper-right hand quarter is. Then this exciting art world jigsaw puzzle will be complete”.

    Let’s Pause Before Bowing at the Altar of Algorithms


    Let’s Pause Before Bowing at the Altar of Algorithms

    For several weeks this summer, in certain cars of the New York City subway, Spotify, the music-streaming service, bought out all the ad space to promote one of its newer features: Discover Weekly. The service sends users a personalized playlist of music every Monday.
    New-music discovery is one of the fiercest battlegrounds on which competing music-streaming services fight, and as they do, they have a tactile decision to make: should humans or computers take the lead?
    In other words, will that delightful new song that pops up in your playlist do so primarily because a music expert, after considering beat and vocals and instrumentation, decided you’d like it, or because an algorithm cycling through vast bits of data, personal and global, arrived at the conclusion that you would.
    If the song’s good, it probably doesn’t matter by which method it was selected. But what was interesting about Spotify’s ad campaign is how much it emphasized its use of algorithms, presenting them even as less impersonal than, perhaps, some nameless song analysts in a snazzy tech-startup office somewhere.
    “The Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify really is like unwrapping a birthday present every Monday. Algorithms, you get me like no other,” read one Tweet that later appeared in a subway ad.
    “It’s scary how well @Spotify Discover Weekly playlists know me. Like former-lover-who-lived-through-a-near-death experience-with-me well,” crooned another.
    Spotify Discover Weekly Ad - Algorithms
    Apparently in the age of Big Data, our relationships with algorithms can be more intimate than our relationships with people.
    If this is creepy — and it is creepy — that’s because intimacy was the exact thing computers were supposed to remove from our daily interactions. After all, another promise of the Discover Weekly service is that it works equally for everyone, unlike its predecessor, the record-store clerk, who blew past as you flipped through Nickleback to suggest the next hippest artist to the cute girl browsing the selection of Nirvana.
    Music is a special case. It’s a place where we want bias. We want the record-store clerk to linger by us a bit longer because he likes us and our taste more than he does that of the other shoppers. Perhaps this is why we so eagerly hope that the algorithms that select our music favor us, even when we know algorithms aren’t supposed to favor anyone.
    In her new book Weapons of Math Destruction, Cathy O’Neil argues we should take the conclusions of many other algorithms just as personally. Bias, she laments, has tainted a whole host of other algorithms, ones we rely on to make decisions for us that we expect — that we assume — will be fair to everyone evaluated. In a wide-range of realms including criminal justice, job evaluation and hiring, and political and product messaging, we count on algorithms to make judgements that for decades were made by people whose whims influenced outcomes. The promise is that the algorithms do this fairly.
    A judge may be acculturated to believe that black males are more likely to reoffend, but when an algorithm suggests the sentence he gives, gone are the charges of race being a factor. A teacher may be the principal’s poker buddy, but when his students’ test scores are crunched by a computer and out comes a dismal rating of his ability, it’s time for him to go."The problem is that so many algorithms that dictate our lives are often based on junk assumptions."TWEET THIS QUOTE
    In the age of algorithms all a decider has got to do is feed in the raw data and wait for a number to pop out. Gone is the trying deliberation of casting judgement, of weighing each of those variables, calling on a limited set of prior experience, and trying to push emotion aside. An algorithm knows everything, feels nothing, and never wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. The decider doesn’t even have to know how the thing works. That’s the era when magic is spelled STEM.
    So why then do so many of the algorithms’ outcomes that O’Neil documents seem to recreate the racial biases and arbitrary decision-making of that earlier, personal era? Why are our sentencing algorithms treating black males more harshly and firing prized teachers?
    Her answer isn’t mind-blowing: algorithms are powered by math, not magic. The equations behind them must be constructed by people and the inputs must be measured and transformed into numbers, again in a process dictated by people. The biases of our culture are recreated in the system. Neither surprising is the construction of her book to readers of the popular-science genre: it’s a series of case studies that all reduce to the bite-size conclusion of whether or not the particular case represents a Weapon of Math Destruction, or WMD (a groaner, indeed, but at least we all know what she means).
    What’s fierce about O’Neil’s book is her authority and how specifically she can diagnose the problem and proclaim a bold solution. Far from a yesteryear nostalgist, O’Neil, who earned her professional credentials working in the very tech-mathematics combine she criticizes, doesn’t see all algorithms as pernicious. The problem, she finds, is that so many algorithms that dictate our lives are often based on junk assumptions, operate in the dark with no lay understanding (and often little professional understanding) of their mechanics, and unlike the racist judges and nepotistic functionaries of the past, don’t have anyone to complain to. Moreover, algorithms often lack self-correcting feedback mechanisms, instead their errors are treated as the cost of doing business and because we’ve fallen for the seeming magic of the algorithms they are rarely interrogated as they should be.
    More worrisome, O’Neil shows that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to determine when an algorithm may be giving objectionable results — that I, adjudged a good credit risk, may only be seeing internet ads for low-interest auto loans, while you, determined to be a poor one, are bombarded only with ones of usurious payday loans, without either of us knowing what’s on the other’s screen. Call this the pandering politician problem: if a candidate tells each voter exactly what they want to hear — a product political firms wielding algorithms are ever working to hone — and is able to do it in private, who’s to know when they’ve broken their campaign promises? Who’s to stop them offering each of us personally tailored lies?
    The answer seems to be no one, and it’s here, when offering a solution, that O’Neil turns most to the past. Looking back at how the nation confronted the ills of previous technological change, O’Neil returns with a simple answer: regulation. In neoliberal Silicon Valley such a proposal may be heretical, but you can’t STEM your way out of everything.
    Until then, perhaps we need a new subway ad: “Algorithms, you get me like no other, even though I don’t get you.”
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    Illustrations | Leo Tolstoy’s Poignant Letter to Gandhi on the Laws of Love


    Leo Tolstoy’s Poignant Letter to Gandhi on the Laws of Love

    For the occasion of Leo Tolstoy’s birthday on September 9th, 1828, we took a moment to brush (or shove) aside Anna Karenina and War and Peace to look at some of the renowned author’s first-person musings. Tolstoy’s correspondence with Mahatma Gandhi, which took place over the last two years of the Russian writer’s life, offers a bright crystallization of Tolstoy’s lifelong search for meaning and his resultant wish for peace. As Maria Popova wrote of Tolstoy’s letters, they are a “clarion call for nonviolent resistance,” a passionate plea for the belief in love over force.
    I heard someone say recently, I can’t remember where, that the only way to summarize War and Peace is to hand someone a copy of War and Peace. You might say the same of the conversation between the author of some of the most revered novels ever published and an inspirational resistance leader who has inspired generations of nonviolent protest. (And at such a lower word count!) Still, Tolstoy’s final letter, written weeks before his death in 1910, contains a particular passage that is simple, intelligent, and precise enough to be, at least, worth illustrating.
    So for Tolstoy’s birthday this year, we offer this handy, hand-drawn text of a short excerpt of Tolstoy’s clarion call.
    tolstoy's letter to gandhi
    The full letter from Tolstoy to Gandhi can be found for free here.