Borobudur as a high-resolution simulacra   Leave a comment

Another example of a virtual reconstruction of the past — amazing.

Buddhist Art News

The Jakarta Post
Jocelyn Wright
February 15 2014

Gargantuan: The final project is immense, including 65 Gigabytes of data. It includes 400 interactive files that offer viewers 360-degree panoramic views of aspects of the temple. (Courtesy Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur)

Gargantuan: The final project is immense, including 65 Gigabytes of data. It includes 400 interactive files that offer viewers 360-degree panoramic views of aspects of the temple. (Courtesy Taman Wisata Candi Borobudur)

“Borobudur is a place where man meets the divine within himself,” says Titus Leber of the Buddhist temple that sits 40 kilometers from Yogyakarta in Magelang, Central Java.

For most tourists, a visit to the temple, which first came to European attention in 1814, takes less than a day. However, for Leber, an Austrian-born writer, director and multimedia creator, it took significantly longer.

He spent four years developing Borobudur: Paths to Enlightenment, a virtual encyclopedia cataloging all of the stories depicted on every one of the temple’s panels.

“In every sense of the word, Borobudur is a gold mine,” he said.

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Posted February 17, 2014 by leeadairlawrence in Uncategorized

erasing a border…   Leave a comment

For the sake of simplicity, I am merging this blog into ArtLERT where musings about borderlands will meet thoughts about art… see you over there!


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Posted October 15, 2013 by leeadairlawrence in Uncategorized

the making – and unmaking – of a sand mandala   Leave a comment

Art? Ritual? Devotional image?  Sand mandalas made by Tibetan Buddhist monks are all three plus much in-between.   In February I spent five days watching them make a mandalaat the Mattie Kelly Arts Center of Northwest Florida State College in Niceville, Florida. My report is in yesterday’s WSJ and, here below, are photos I took throughout the process.

The monks are from the Drepung Loseling Monastery in south India; they are in the US for about 15 months, based out of the Mystical Arts of Tibet in Atlanta.  From here they travel across the country creating sand mandalas, chanting and/or performing Tibetan music and dances.

between mental and physical realities   1 comment

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This is a fascinating glimpse into an artist, mostly self-taught, who recorded the world around him year after year after year.  David Byrd’s  home is full of canvases that were seen ‘publicly’ for the first time by Andrea Hull’s camera and in a show a neighbor and fellow artist, Jody Isaacson, helped bring about.  What particularly fascinates me here are the scenes Mr. Byrd painted from his years working in a psychiatric hospital, where patients were caught between their physical and mental realities.

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by David Byrd

You can watch the 10-mn video on the site of Seattle Art Zone, a PBS program devoted to the arts.  Link to the 4/5/2013 show and click on Art Zone Web Extra: David Byrd created by Andrea Hull.  You can also try this direct link (which sometimes works…).

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by David Byrd

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by David Byrd

Frames rule   1 comment

Slap a piece of wood around a painting, and you’ve created a border  — a signal that the viewer is leaving one kind of space and moving into another.  Carve and gild that border and you’re declaring that what is inside is special, very special.

And sometimes the frame itself can grow so exuberant, so loudly and proudly does it proclaim the specialness of what it contains that viewers have to work really hard to tear their attention away from the  border…to the special object it is framing.

Altar in a baroque church in Lecce -- is there any other kind?

Altar in a baroque church in Lecce — is there any other kind?

Truth in translation?   Leave a comment

Ever wonder just how tricky translations can be?  Here’s a little case study.  I saw that a Russian website had picked up  my review of the Islamic galleries at the Louvre so I decided to check it out.  HCylindrical box Spain 968ere is an excerpt from the original in English:

The narrative tries to insert into [the show’s] chronological account a sense of what makes a work “Islamic.” An introductory panel, for example,. . . .    By pulling books out of the chronological narrative, the curators reinforce an impression that they are building a definition of “Islamic art.” But they don’t, not really, for we immediately return to a progression of artistic developments in a world where trade and conquest trigger exchanges of aesthetics and technologies.

Now here is the Russian translation (presumably created automatically through Google translate or other software):

Повествовательная часть и комментарии к экспозиции составлены таким образом, чтобы в свете этих хронологических событий придать произведениям искусства «исламский» смысл. Например, во вступительной части. . .
Из-за того, что хранители музея и устроители выставки выставляют книги вне хронологического контекста, еще больше усиливается впечатление, что они искусственно создают понятие “исламского искусства”.  Хотя, на самом деле, это не так, поскольку мы все равно сразу же восстанавливаем в памяти последовательность этапов развития искусства во всем мире в целом, где в результате развития торговых отношений и захвата чужих территорий никак нельзя было обойтись без взаимного влияния и обмена эстетическими традициями и технологиями.

And this is how ‘Google translate’ converted the Russian back into English:

The narrative portion of the exposure and comments are designed in such a way that in the light of these historical events to make works of art “Islamic” meaning. For example, . . .

Because of the museum’s curators and organizers of the exhibition for the book is a chronological context, further reinforces the impression that they artificially created the concept of “Islamic Art.” Although, in fact, it is not so, because we are still immediately evocative sequence of stages in the development of art in the world as a whole, where the development of trade relations and annexations was impossible to do without mutual interference and sharing of aesthetic traditions and technologies.

So the question is: did the  translation transmogrify the text or  does the translation, by its very oddness and misunderstanding of the English, in fact show up some (unintended) ambiguity in my original?

Posted February 1, 2013 by leeadairlawrence in Art, Islamic art

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Crossing over   1 comment

The whole notion of thresholds and borders between the sacred and profane got me to thinking about facades of churches and how they signal this border/threshold and perhaps none more loudly than baroque facades designed with Counter-Reformation zeal in the Italian town of Lecce.

Lecce’s Chiesa di Santa Croce

Talk about a border teeming with life forms…

detail from the facade

At first glance, not as terrifying as some thresholds, but as you step closer and let your eyes sweep upward they are pretty awesome —  as in daunting, impressive and not a little fearsome.  There is no question that you are leaving the familiar world behind.

Borders   1 comment

One reader commented…

“And the “borderland” is often the richest, most productive and releaving place to be. In ecology, scientists study and celebrate the “edge” — the edge between sea and land, between fresh and salt water, between one climatic zone and another. There they find not only an incubator for distinctive forms of life occupying that borderland niche, but a particularly revealing place from which to look at and understanding the places on either side of the border.”

Think of the borders we create between the sacred and the profane–

main entrance to the Duomo in Orvieto, Italy

Posted October 19, 2012 by leeadairlawrence in architecture, Art, Religion

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causeway into Angkor Thom

Whether or not the ancient Khmer had a word for it,  they certainly knew how to express the power of transitions and threshholds in stone.  Sure wish “liminality” had some of that oomph.

gate into Angkor Thom

nature adds its own drama  in Ta Phrom

doorway in Preah Ko temple

Seeing across borders   Leave a comment

in Mrauk U – July 2012

Just before leaving for a trip to Asia,  I reviewed a show at the Peabody Essex Museum that was all about how Europeans’ visions of China gave certain Chinese works a boost in the art market — works with  goldfish, for example, were popular sellers — and sometimes even spawned new genres, like watercolors chronicling the various stages of tea and silk production.   Now every time I raise my camera and frame a photograph I think of just what it is that I am choosing and how my notions of Myanmar (mostly based on my trip here in 1977 when it was still known as Burma) shape the country that I (want to) see.

Posted July 20, 2012 by leeadairlawrence in Asian art