After Vasari

writings on artists and artworks and where they exist

Category: extra curricular

Extra curricular: A Happy Hour Ode to Troubled Unions, Currency Exits, Financial Crises and European Cups

by Paul D'Agostino

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Transatlantic grousing and gripes are established traditions much like transatlantic admiration and esteem, and cross-border regards for other nations and their variable othernesses within Europe herself can be much the same. At times it’s convenient to embrace one another, in other words, while at times briery priggery rules the day. This is nothing remotely novel, to be sure.

And to be sure all the more, a great many particularly prickly situations and events might bring such vicissitudes to the fore. Political and economic matters, per force, matter quite deeply to one and all, and they can stir things up for the better or the worse.

Those are hardly the lone tumbler stirrers, of course. Football tournaments are wont to rupture or renew ever-shifting sorts of alliances as well.

And so, in the throes of great and potentially grave, so it goes, economic woes, and with the fervor of the European Cup now upon us, why don’t we just drink to all of the above?

We’ve done so before, we’ll do so again.

For at the end of the day, we’re really all great friends.

Right?

Okay, that could be debated.

Forever.

Thus for the now and the meantime at once, I offer the following freshly minted verses to give voice to a toast. They’re accompanied by drawings by Adam Thompson to further embellish the post.

Enjoy, grazie.

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A Happy Hour Ode to Troubled Unions, Currency Exits,
Financial Crises and European Cups

(So That We Might Enjoy Summer
From the Start, Together or Apart)

Loads of trenching, border-rimmed
loves and loathings long
clothed under folds and
draperies and moldings
of thin lies tether-tied:
Our so-called West.

Long we’ve thunk,
long we’ve all well known it.

So at times we’ve fared,
at times we’ve drunk to it.

And to our books and
our paintings,
our cuisines,
our histories.

And so on the so forth,
our so-called Goods.

Whether now’s woes we get over
in times distant or near,
tonight they’re just news
and numbers:

Cheers!

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Editorial note: Sometimes presumably simple questions are the most elusive to address. A deeply storied and likely eternal example of such a question is the following: What is art?

Writings on After Vasari bearing the ‘Extra curricular’ heading are attempts to explore this query in various ways, to probe the ever-nebulous boundaries of ‘art’ in hopes of grasping, however fleetingly, why it is that some endeavors and objects merit such a name.

Extra curricular: science

by A.L. McMichael

Editors’ note: Sometimes presumably simple questions are the most elusive to address. A deeply storied and likely eternal example of such a question is the following:
What is art?

Writings on After Vasari bearing the new heading, “extra curricular” are attempts to explore this query in various ways, to probe the ever-nebulous boundaries of ‘art’ in hopes of grasping, however fleetingly, why it is that some endeavors and objects merit such a name.

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In The Brodmann Areas ballet from Norte Maar, dancers interact with video projection and sound by After Vasari’s own Paul D’Agostino.
PHOTO: Norte Maar.

Science and art are, at times, uneasy bedfellows—one explores the concrete and measurable while the other incorporates our entire realm of possibility and fantasy. This was not always the case, of course. In Renaissance Florence painters were incorporated into the guild of physicians and pharmacists, emphasizing their skills in mixing and measuring pigments. Leonardo da Vinci became the essence of a ‘Renaissance man’ with his plans for a helicopter and anatomical sketches created alongside his painted masterpieces. His anatomical drawings, on exhibition at Buckingham Palace, were produced with near-photographic accuracy, capturing the nuances of how a spine supports the body and how the heart pumps blood.

Dancers are often at the forefront of exploring the human body and its movements as a nexus of art and science. The Brodmann Areas, a recent collaborative ballet at Norte Maar, was named for a map exploring the cerebral cortex. Choreographer Julia Gleich introduced the final performance by sharing with the audience, “the dances are experiments.” And in that phrase, she summed up aspects of scientific experimentation that are driven by human creativity.

Each piece danced was a meditation on kinesis and memory. In a section called “Motivi esteriori e cosi via,” a film of collaged images was projected behind the dance floor. Each figure on the stage danced a response, emphasizing the temporal nature of fleeting images and the physical presence of the studio wall. As the images disappeared or changed, the movement continued, incorporating our memories of the images as an additional medium in the work.

In a segment titled “Folium: a wrinkles on the surface of the cerebellum,” Jace Coronado danced a solo with a small ladder strapped to his back. His jubilant leaps were a manifestation of pure human achievement. The accompanying clack of castanets in Antonio Martin y Coll’s music referenced the flapping ladder. Stepping away from clinical references to the brain, the piece offered instead metaphors for subtlety, subconscious connections, repeated thoughts. The ballet was an ever-changing incorporation of dance, visual stimulation, music, and vocals that speak to the myriad connections and collaborations in the activity of the human brain.

Harnessing neuroscience is also a way to decipher creative impulses. An Xiao of Hyperallergic has recently pondered the scientific impetus for art, exploring “what’s going on in artists’ brains” while they create. Jeremy Dean has pointed out that embodied metaphors such as “jog one’s memory,” can be put to literal use: movement, gesture, and even posture are connected to problem solving.

But what about the inherent element of science that is creativity? Experiments, even when tightly controlled are the result of intellectual curiosity, of innovative problem solving. My response is to contemplate and challenge my own notions of medium and materials in the construction of art. Leonardo’s painstaking draughtsmanship was a vehicle for both scientific observation and visual expression; perhaps it offers the most tangible example of the human body as a loca sancta of both science and of art.

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