Wello’s Penguin wave device. Source: Wello Oy. License: All rights reserved
July 20 (SeeNews) – Finnish company Wello Oy said on Wednesday that this week it signed a pact with Korean partner BSR CO Ltd to execute an ocean wave energy demonstration project in South Korea.
Under the terms of the newly-signed letter of intent (LoI), Wello will provide its technology expertise, while its partner will rely on its own energy plant building know how. The goal of the project will be to develop a more profitable wave energy converter.
Wello tested its Penguin wave energy converter in Scotland over the past several years. The device was shipped to Falmouth, Cornwall in early 2016 for installation at the Wave Hub site as part of the Clean Energy from Ocean Waves (CEFOW) project, which is coordinated by Finnish utility Fortum Oyj (HEL:FUM1V).
Last year, the European Commission granted EUR 17 million (USD 18.7m) in funding for that research project.
HOPKINTON – Riverview Cottage in Hope Valley was a favorite with overnight guests during the 19th century. Comfortable lodgings and great home-cooked foods could be had there and, next door, owner George Barber kept a livery stable for the care and boarding of travelers’ horses. Today, just as many people frequent that stable as they did back in Barber’s day. But they’re not coming out with newly shod transportation. They’re coming out with colorful garden flags and souvenir coffee mugs, wispy sundresses and plant terrariums.
When I was a kid, it was a very special occasion to stop into the old stable, which later took the name “Hack Livery”. I don’t think I have ever in my life seen so much stuff packed into one store, and in such a beautiful and cozy way. Baskets hang from the ceiling, crystals and precious stones glitter upon shelves, sun-catchers cast shadows upon the walls and wind-chimes jingle softly. Stepping into Hack Livery isn’t just a shopping trip, it’s an atmospheric experience punctuated by smells, sights and sounds.
But I have to admit that, as a kid, I didn’t much care about the experience. I was there for the candy. Over one hundred huge glass jars line two walls and a massive counter, each one holding the promise of heaven in your mouth. Sea salt caramels, white chocolate almond bark, Necco wafers, Squirrel Nuts, coconut watermelon slices, Boston baked beans, Swedish fish, and rock candy; never had any decision been so difficult for a kid to make.
Nearby the gargantuan candy corner is a toy section that harkens back to olden days; harmonicas, rubber snakes, mood rings, marbles and toy airplane kits. But turn around and you’re back in the new age, with Zen art sets, henna tattoo kits and inspirational stones. Take a right and the little hallway brings you right back to an earlier time where you can select glass bottles of Moxie, pineapple soda or sarsaparilla.
Toward the back of the store, and tucked throughout, is a wide array of clothing and accessories; skirts, shirts, dresses, hats, hand-bags, beach bags and socks adorned with images of dragon flies and cheerful parrots. As you reach the back of the building, you find you are suddenly surrounded by candles with scents such as mango peach salsa and saltwater taffy and hundreds of others that smell almost good enough to eat.
Venture up to the second story and you will discover an eclectic choice of throw pillows, woven rugs, framed prints, doilies and dishware. This is also where an area of the shop is devoted to things like little rain boots and stick horses and other gifts for children and babies. A few steps away it’s always Christmas.
Back downstairs to journey around the other side of the store, you’ll smell it before you see it; the wall-spanning shelves of bath and body products. Crabtree Evelyn lily of the valley spray, Naked Bee products, lavender soap and dozens of other soothing items don’t help us mere mortals to contain the cardinal sin of coveting whatever you don’t have. And all effort to do so is blown out of the water when you round the corner to the jewelry area. Amber earrings and sterling silver necklaces whisper “classy”. Turquoise bracelets and pieces with inspirational engravings quietly call out “down to earth”. But the gypsy bracelets were literally screaming to me and I had to respond.
Stuffed animals and greeting cards, books and coloring sets, creative games and popular collectibles; it’s nearly impossible to think of going into this store and not buying something. I think I’ll be back soon. On the way out I spotted a body spray called “Iris – the energy of the sea” made with oceanic minerals. That called to me too and I took a whiff before I left. Now I’m thinking it’s just not right to ignore something like that.
Hack Livery General Store is located at 1006 Main Street in Hope Valley. They are open daily from 10 to 5. You’ll see the silhouette of a horse on the building. But you won’t see any rusted horse shoes or dusty saddles in this stable. It’s amazing what you can find rambling down a country road…
Les ministres “les plus concernés” tiendront une “réunion hebdomadaire sur les questions de sécurité pendant tout l’été”, a annoncé samedi le porte-parole du gouvernement, Stéphane Le Foll.
Cette réunion hebdomadaire, “sûrement à l’Elysée”, a été décidée “pour avoir une continuité dans ce domaine tout l’été”, a indiqué M. Le Foll à l’issue d’un séminaire gouvernemental autour de François Hollande. Ce séminaire avait pour but d’aborder les “priorités de la rentrée” comme les questions de sécurité, défense, justice, en particulier dans le contexte post-attentats du 14 juillet à Nice, mais aussi Europe et Brexit.
With this year’s Istanbul Biennial, academics Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley aim to reboot the history of civilization and “redesign” the human subject altogether.
A Masai farmer uses a mobile phone to check the latest market produce prices. Kenya, one of the countries where the Masai live, has almost 20 million cell phone subscribers.
Courtesy Sven Torfinn/Panos
Biennials can often be exercises in insularity whose impact vanishes soon after opening weekend. The third Istanbul Design Biennial promises to explode the whole model. Curated by architecture academics Beatriz Colomina and Mark Wigley, Are We Human? The Design of the Species: 2 Seconds, 2 Days, 2 Years, 200 Years, 200,000 Years reboots the history of civilization with the aim of “redesigning” the human subject altogether. In conversation with Metropolis editor Samuel Medina, Colomina and Wigley, who have elected to be quoted jointly, discuss the pitfalls of “good design” and why it’s gone viral.
There’s something cosmic about your timeline if read even in a slightly future-oriented way, or as a post-humanist, post-terrestrial gesture. On the other hand, there’s something much more playful, as a commentary on the two-year intervals of the art and architecture biennial. Are you simply “trolling” the biennial as a cultural form? Which is it?
Actually, it goes 200,000 years into the past! We are looking back toward the prehuman rather than forward to the post-human. Or maybe when humans started to “leave the earth” with their very first designs. Maybe the relationship between human and post-human is an ancient one. It’s a question anyway, and this show is literally a question: “Are we human?” For us the project is precisely not projective, and this is why we are challenging the two-year protocol written into the word “biennial.” Our very strong feeling is that biennials, which are breeding like rabbits, are amazing condensations of people and the latest ideas, but their two-year cycle implies that what you’re going to see is fresh work from the design studios that will therefore be the work that will likely arrive in the world soon. The biennial becomes a preview of the immediate future. Biennials are geared to this image of an immediate future, and they try to reassure that interesting people are doing interesting things or, to say it another way around, that we have a future, right? There’s an optimism of the biennial form. It’s kind of like “Look what’s cooking.” Our feeling was “But what if actually the main point would be not to reassure people that design is happily continuing as a kind of business, but to point out that this business might be a bit of a smoke screen and that the very condition of design has now changed so profoundly that we need a completely different time frame to even register it?” Instead of two years, let’s go to 200 years because that’s more or less when the typical understanding of design or industrial design began with the debates in London. And if the point is to develop a new understanding of design, we might as well go back to when humans began 200,000 years ago. Instead of doing the projective thing with some cozy image of the near future, let’s do a documentary. Let’s try to say what’s really going on with design in our world. More precisely, let’s talk about the fact that our whole world has been designed.
Given this sweeping timeframe that you’ve laid out, is there a danger of ahistoricizing design? Perhaps that’s fine if you consider it a manifesto.
Well, we are ourselves historians, but are not afraid to make some bold trans-historical propositions to see what that provokes in the work of others and in our own work. Historical specificity is actually one of the goals. Our feeling is that to launch a conversation that would outlive the biennial itself, we should write a manifesto and then invite a unique group people from different fields and trajectories to respond to it, to disagree, to reinforce, to elaborate. Manifestos can generate precise history. History doesn’t just hide inside universities. A number of the 80 contributors to the show itself, all of whom are responding to this manifesto in different ways, and many of the more than 50 participating in the publications, are historians. Their primary responses are historical and draw on very particular expert historical knowledge, while others are archeologists, brain scientists, artists, architects, and designers. Because of the expanded time-frame—from the last 200,000 years to the last 2 seconds—there’s a lot of historical argument being made by all participants.
In that spirit, we have formed a working relationship with the Istanbul Archaeological Museum—which is like a sister institution to the British Museum and one of the world’s great museums—because what we are arguing is that an archeological museum is a design museum. It’s a collection of designed objects and a serious design biennial is simply thinking about what should eventually be added to such a collection. So are very happy and honored to partner directly with the museum and we will exhibit objects from the archeological museum inside the biennial and have part of the biennial exhibition inside the archeological museum. Again, it’s all about history. If design is the invention of the human, it is historical by definition.
To the question “Are we human?” the rebuttal or retort, of course, would be “All too human,” etc. But apart from that, your curatorial statement seems to bristle against the idea of humanistic design, in its simplest sense at least. It could even be read as being almost antihumanist, in that it says that humanism is outmoded. Should designers leave that idea behind?
In a sense, the very planet itself is now a human artifact. So we have to really ask that question “Are we human?” Yes, it bristles against any kind of laziness like “human-centered design.” Part of what we are doing in the show is to demonstrate how “design thinking” has gone viral and what its implications are. It has successfully taken the concept of “good design” that was developed at the end of the 19th century and perfected in the first decades of the 20th century and mobilized it for the market. It’s a business model. The new position of “chief design officer” now has the same status as “chief financial officer” in companies that don’t do design in the traditional sense. Likewise, politicians, NGOs, departments, consultants, etc., are using “design thinking.” Everyone is using it—except for designers. If you look at the latest statements of design thinking, they are now saying that what they mean by design thinking is “human-centered design.” And what do they mean by that? Not much more than saying you should listen a lot to the humans that you’re designing for. But listening to a human is not quite the same as knowing what a human is. So yes, this biennial bristles at the complacent humanism that imagines that the human is something inherently good and needy so that if you pay attention and take care of this human, you’ll be doing a good thing. But what if the human is actually the thing that we know the least? What if the human is a big question mark? Perhaps even the biggest question mark? It’s not that there is a stable human that needs to be taken care of, but almost the other way around. Perhaps design covers over our doubts about our own condition or generates speculations about what might be human. That’s our premise. Humanistic design says, “Let’s put the human at the center.” It’s ridiculous because what it says is “I want to put this huge question mark at the center,” as if that would rationalize design decisions.
So part of what you’re saying is that it does no good to assume that the human is always a positive force in the universe.
If you were coming to Earth from Mars, it would be easy to conclude that here is one species entirely dominating the planet. But where would you meet this species? What would the first encounter be? Maybe when you hit a piece of space junk on the way in? You wouldn’t say, “Well, that’s an object and let me wait till I find out who made that.” Your first thought would be “Okay. Contact with another creature.” After passing through clouds of satellites chirping to each other, you would see airplanes and cities and maybe even the internet buzzing with countless thoughts. Would you have stopped when you see these creatures walking around on two legs and say, “I’ve found the humans”? Would you even see the fleshy bag of organs inside these creatures, or would you keep going into the genome, or into the reshaped earth or into the weather? You might conclude that a species has dominated the planet for 200,000 years, which is a pathetically short time, but that species is like a kind of cloud of design—countless overlapping spiderwebs at the scale of the planet that are part of the body of this creature. The human is occupying itself in a strange kind of way.
Speaking of spiders, how will the exhibition look beyond the human?
We have invited people concentrating on the relationship of the human and other species. Of course humans design species, which we have been doing with plants and animals for a long time. That’s why we go back 200,000 years, to observe the eventual domestication of plants and animals and think about what was the chicken and what was the egg. What if design was first? The normal story is that the human tries to survive, learns how to kill animals, and eventually gains more and more skills and starts to make beautiful objects and decorate and communicate. What if it’s exactly the reverse, and the human started being human through design? That design is not necessarily about function?
By the way, this is one of the theories, that the human species is always thinking, “I wonder if I could do that differently,” whereas every other species, once it’s figured out how to do something,
it just does it again and again forever. What if design is simply this curiosity, this constant production of alternatives? What if these alternatives, some of which turn out to have unique functional advantages, keep multiplying and feed on themselves in an ever-expanding intelligence? Then design would not be about solving problems.
That’s a pernicious axiom, that designers are mostly problem solvers.
Yes. Take social media. It’s hugely important, but nobody predicted it or its transformative importance in everyday life. Same with the internet. We know exactly the history of the internet, its relationship with the military, the ARPANET, etc. We know how the universities were involved, but it became something unexpected. We can certainly look at writers going all the way back to people like Buckminster Fuller in the ’30s who predicted a kind of global network of interconnectivity echoing radio engineers of the ’20s. The idea was there, but even the people who actually made the ARPANET linking a set of military and university hubs didn’t realize what would happen. Years ago, Buckminster Fuller said that it’s always like that, that any invention that makes a difference would be considered unbelievable before it happened. Design is unexpected, even to those who do it—which makes the designer a very interesting figure. Exactly the opposite of a problem solver. It’s not about functional needs and delivering solutions but about unexpectedly inventing new problems or new capacities. This is an argument against the market.
Visualization of space debris orbiting the earth: Out of roughly 3,600 satellites still in orbit around our planet, only about 1,000 are operational.
Courtesy European Space Agency (ESA)
It’s interesting the way you disentangle design from commodities. Is that the first step in requestioning what the human is?
It’s possible that designers who have lost touch with the fact that the design has gone viral are generating objects very much at the level of the commodity, these seemingly magical objects whose primary purpose is to help us forget about how weird the human is. The smoothness of the cell phone to the eye and hand is a kind of perfect example of “good design” trying to take away from our consciousness the shocking capacity to redesign the human that the very same object has. It’s this lightweight, smooth, delicate instrument that has actually entirely changed our biology, our mentality, and our planet. It’s a kind of fetish object with magical power, but equally its design acts as a form of anesthetic.
This concept of the smooth, integrated, efficient, mobile, and global object that minimizes friction in personal life and in the market is exactly the concept that was born in England in the 1830s in response to the first big wave of industrialization and globalization, and was refined as it made its way to Europe and through the Bauhaus over to the States, then was redistributed globally as a default concept of “good design.” But what do we do with that argument now that embryos are being designed and economic systems are being designed and the oceans are riddled with design and the Amazon forest is layer upon layer upon layer of design, and human design now races out beyond the solar system in the form of exploring spacecraft?
The idea is not to say that designers are misleading us or seducing us away from reality but just to consider the thought that if we were able to invent such an influential concept of design 200 years ago, this might be a good moment to try to do it again when globalization and industrialization and immaterial labor and all these things have taken such an incredible turn. Is this a moment for us to get a diversity of minds together and reboot the conversation to come up with a more relevant concept of design? That’s the spirit of this biennial.
A design biennial is somewhat of a different animal than an architectural biennial because it typically takes the form of a trade show. It’s interesting, then, that as architecture academics, you’ve chosen to tackle and critique that form.
Well, design biennials are usually trade shows, but architectural biennials are often too! That’s why we resist that model. Almost all works of celebrated designers are smooth, integrated, efficient, adjustable, following the idea of “good design.” All of this language of smoothness implies absorbing all complexity into an object and hiding that complexity, especially the complexity of our own relationship with the object, and the desire to soon end that relationship in favor of a new object. If a cell phone is so smooth and so compact, nestled into the body so intimately that we are not sure if we hold it or it holds us, it is so that we become ourselves with this object. We literally sleep with it. We can’t think without it. But its smoothness includes the lack of friction with the market. The object reassures us that “it’s all good but could be better, and by the way, there is a new model coming.” This sense of relentless motion, that each object stimulates a desire for the next, is magnified by a typical trade show biennial.
Instead of a set of products ready for the market, each of them smoothly answering agreed-upon questions in self-contained worlds, our biennial invites designs that ask questions of the visitors that overlap each other and force the visitors to make their own connections and observations.
This also informs the exhibition design, which promises to really depart from the typical exhibition format. You’ve said before that the displays will be akin to “clusters of interactive clouds,” but what will they look like?
The cloud idea that we are working on with Andrés Jaque tries to get away from the trade show model of the latest products lined up representing the brands of individual designers. The exhibition will create constellations of overlapping thoughts that act as a kind of mirror in which the visitors strangely start to appreciate some of their own capabilities. The trade show only treats the visitor as a potential consumer of sophisticated objects. What if it’s the other way around? It is not by chance that Andrés Jaque may be the architect today most tuned in to the self-production of new kinds of social agencies, interactivities, and identities. Even the name of his office—Office of Political Innovation—asks what kind of forms of social creativity could be enabled by new forms of media and architecture. This is why we’re a bit hooked on this cloud thing. It means there will be very few designer objects other than the human itself.
And in their place what content will you be showing?
We can show the visitor the human design of the Amazon, of the ocean, of the Antarctic, of the brain, of artificial intelligence, and of biological organisms. We can show a specific exhibit of the human that’s racing away from our planet in interstellar space at a million miles a day.
That speaks to a resonance that I attribute to something like the Eameses’ Powers of Ten, which gets at the sublimity of scalar expansion.
Absolutely. If you want to look back and find role models for challenging design and what’s human, figures like Buckminster Fuller and the Eameses come up a lot, and not by accident. This show is a kind of response to Powers of Ten, which is both a model for us and something to be critiqued. We have a kind of “powers of two” dealing with scales of space like the Eameses—from the genetic code to interstellar space—but also scales of time, from two seconds to 200,000 years. So there is clearly an Eamesian bandwidth.
The big difference with Venice, and with most architecture biennales, is that their main purpose is to protect the figure of the architect, saying that in today’s world architects are basically good people doing good things, as if defending their union. We are saying, well, let’s forget about good and bad actors. Let’s just imagine that whatever our current professional expertise is, it’s not adequate to save our planet, or ourselves, or even to modify the way we share our world together. It is not a matter of criticizing other biennials. It’s just introducing a hesitation in the flow to say maybe we need to redesign design. The real purpose of the exhibition is to start to gather a sufficient density of people, ideas, and arguments so that we can genuinely rethink design in an ongoing debate.
It’s urgent. When the human is in interstellar space and we can design our future children, what are we going to do with our word “design”? What are the opportunities, what could our community contribute? At that level, we are optimistic, super optimistic even. Designers, by which we mean all the diverse interactive networks of collaborative actors, are using a concept of design that has passed its expiration date, but they do have a real ability to engage with complexity. It’s just that these networks have become expert at synthesizing singular marketable forms out of that complexity and sort of cleaning the difficulties away, smoothing things over. If we give up the ambition to smoothness, there’s an extraordinary capacity in the design community to rethink design. That’s what we’re hoping to unleash.
As Syrian and Iraqi refugees arrived from Turkey at Skala Sykamias on Lesbos Island, Greece, in October 2015, they were helped by Spanish volunteers.
Courtesy Georgios Giannopoulos
On August 5, 2010, when a 97-square- mile chunk of ice broke off the Petermann Glacier along the northwestern coast of Greenland, the event and its aftermath were carefully analyzed by researchers, thanks to satellites monitoring the planet.
At Berlin’s Charité, one of the largest university hospitals in Europe, physician Thomas Klotzkowski cleans Florian Steiner, a doctor specializing in tropical medicine, in a disinfection chamber at a quarantine station for patients with infectious diseases.
I didn’t intend to go into computer science, and I definitely didn’t expect to become a manager. Instead, I started out thinking I’d be a laboratory scientist. In college, this led me to astronomy and physics, which prompted me to start writing software. And while these leaps felt intuitive, the subsequent shift into leading teams did not. In fact, I disliked my early engineering management job at Oracle so much that I took a less senior role at Netscape, just to start coding again.
But life is unpredictable. I discovered challenges at Netscape that were so important and interesting that I couldn’t just stand by—I had to take the lead (which meant managing a team) and figure out how to do it in a way that made sense to me. That’s when it struck me that instead of approaching management like being a therapist (only with more process and politics to deal with), I could think of it from a problem-solving perspective.
I started to design a management system the way I would design a machine or software system, with few dependencies, single owners, minimal decision points. Using this model, we immediately saw a jump in productivity, output, and happiness. Our ultimate email and news product, codenamed Grendel, was the only piece of Netscape’s massive Java rewrite that survived, and it remained a part of Mozilla’s software for a decade.
Setting up your team the way you would set up a machine can give you a ton of leverage—as long as you realize how complicated and unpredictable the people in that machine can be. This is where quantum mechanics (and my term “quantum leadership”) comes into play. As a discipline, it makes the unpredictable understandable. Similarly, by applying these quantum principles to management, you can find solutions to your team’s seemingly unsolvable problems.
There’s a fundamental principle of quantum physics called “superposition” that asserts: If the state of an object is unknown and unchecked, the object exists in all possible states simultaneously. The Nobel Prize–winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger proposed a theoretical experiment in which a cat, a vial of hydrocyanic acid, and a small amount of a radioactive substance are placed together inside of a box. If a single atom of the substance decays during the test period, it causes the hammer to break the vial and kill the cat.
As long as the box remains unopened, however, the experimenter won’t know whether or not the sequence has been triggered. Thus, according to the principle of superposition, the cat exists as both dead and alive simultaneously until a measurement is taken—that is, until someone looks in the box.
Now, as someone who found it difficult to flip the cognitive switch from science to management, I understand that trying to map the implications of Schrödinger’s theoretical experiment to the everyday challenges of running an engineering team might feel slippery at best, but bear with me.
If observation does in fact affect outcome, and engineers and their completed projects can exhibit the property of superposition, then the dependent variable in my amateur managerial experiment is the state of success or failure of those projects, and the independent variable is the presence or absence of my (or the manager’s) observation. Every team’s project is a cat, and every manager has to constantly decide whether to look in the box at the risk of killing it.
The observer effect is real in the workplace, and you can affect the outcome of any project as a manager simply by inserting yourself. Often, a manager will take their team into a room and say, “Here’s what we need to do,” or “Here’s what I’ve been thinking,” or “Here’s one way we can think about this . . .” as they start sketching on a whiteboard. They’re trying to add value. We always want to add value. But if you’re in any position of authority and you do this, you’ve just limited the number of outcomes and your path to success pretty dramatically.
Instead, if you simply outline the problem and what success looks like—let’s say it’s increasing revenue by 100%—all paths to success are still possible, including those you haven’t thought of yourself. It’s very likely that someone on your team will think of a better solution, but as soon as you say what you think, everyone gets a whole lot less creative.
I used to make this mistake a lot when I was a junior manager. I would give my team ideas to get them started, and as soon as I thought they were headed toward failure or a dead end, I’d stop them and say something to turn them around. It seemed like it was in everyone’s best interests to avoid the wrong solution, but a mentor of mine told me that my team would never get better if I didn’t let them learn from failure.
When I finally loosened my grip and let things go, I realized that my ideas were actually only right half of the time. The other half, my team’s ideas were far better than mine. I’d been an idiot for 10 years of my career, I realized. Being a good manager is not about avoiding failure—it’s about enabling as many different paths forward as possible for as long as possible.
Okay, so how do you actually do this? You should ask questions (Socrates style) designed to influence your people the least and keep options open. For example:
What are some other ways we might be able to increase revenue?
Where are you running into roadblocks or friction?
Is there another route to where we want to go?
Let’s say your goal is to increase revenue, and you’re running into a roadblock where you can’t get above a 2% clickthrough rate on an ad, for instance. You might ask: How much do we make per click? Why? The answer is probably, “That’s just how it is.” So then you could ask: What would it take for someone to pay more? Maybe the answer is more expensive inventory. Okay, then how do we make that happen?
If no one has any immediate ideas and all you’re hearing is crickets, you have the option to open the box very slowly and carefully. You can drop a breadcrumb to lead the team to a next conclusion they can use as a jumping off point—a hint that doesn’t give away what you think they should do. But the more breadcrumbs you drop, the narrower their thinking will become, so you have to be careful and thoughtful about what you reveal.
Having too many ideas in a room is an entirely different—and much better—problem. Still, it can stymie some teams. When this happens, ask questions about probability and make a matrix (one of the few times it’s acceptable for you to whiteboard as a manager). What is the likelihood of success for each of the ideas proposed? Let your team discuss and stack rank proposals based on their probability of working. Groupthink will work to your advantage. Aggregate solutions are usually pretty good in these cases. No matter what, whether there are too many ideas or too few, never supply your own opinion, judgment or ideas prematurely as a manager.
To be successful quantum managers, we need to have vigilant awareness about our motivations for altering outcomes. Common motivations include: thinking your idea is the best, not trusting your people, or thinking you’re not doing your job unless you’re weighing in all the time. You actually want to follow a different set of instincts. Allow yourself to be motivated by observable metrics going one direction or the other, your team being visibly frustrated with the rate of progress, or a deserved lack of trust.
If we sense a project going sideways, it might be worth looking in the box and consciously changing the outcome. On the other hand, if the state of a project is entirely unknown or we sense that it’s going well, it’s better to allow for an unpredictable outcome. We do this by following these five principles:
1. Manage to multiple “states” as opposed to singular outcomes.
The wisdom of traditional mechanical management teaches us to guide our team toward a single outcome, but such a tactic assumes that managers understand projects better than the team members working on them. An effective quantum manager will do everything in their power to organize teams strategically and then step back. By avoiding prescribed paths, agreeing to outcomes, and providing each team with equal parts space and guidance, quantum managers set up their team for infinite success.
Focus on increasing the number of “states of success” if you can. Your cat doesn’t have to be either dead or alive. Your cat could be happy, not doing that well, or doing pretty poorly but still alive. These are all other outcomes. The more states of success you can define, the more paths forward your team will see.
Don’t base success on one variable like revenue. Maybe one state is becoming profitable. Another might be getting a million people to use your product. It could be getting 100,000 people to use your product for one hour a day. Point out as many metrics of success as you can to give your team more milestones and momentum.
2. Be hyper-aware of the observer effect.
As we’ve already determined, observing a team will inherently change its state—a reality that can work for or against us. The art of quantum management lies in discovering methods for gathering information about the unobservable and preparing for all forms of success and failure while keeping the box closed. An effective quantum manager will resist super-“imposing” and instead ensure superposition.
By asking probing questions that challenge and change the way engineers think about a problem, we offer struggling teams a way to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem without potentially destroying the existing work that was already succeeding.
3. Know when to open the box.
Eventually all quantum managers will find themselves in a situation that leaves them no other choice but to open the box. Unfortunately, any predictions we make about the state of our cat will be wrong — unless we predict that it exists in a combination of any and every state simultaneously. In the case of a milestone plan, a team might be working so hard that they feel both exhilarated and exhausted at the same time. Hopefully, most well-oiled machines will achieve some degree of success, even in the worst case scenario. If not, and the cat dies, any previous need to keep the box closed disappears, and managers must immediately understand as much as they can about what happened.
So, what’s the tactic? Use the time you might have spent generating your own ideas for how to solve problems—or generally stressing your team out with micromanagement—to devise non-judgmental, thought-provoking questions. It takes time to construct these. A lot of managers freestyle it and jump right in but end up saying too much or falling back on their own opinions. Asking questions designed to empower and not instruct requires a lot of forethought. Consider putting 10 minutes on your calendar before any meeting to think through which questions will be helpful and won’t interfere with your team’s ability to win.
4. Understand and create strategic entanglements.
The theory of quantum entanglement—what Einstein referred to as “spooky action at a distance”—finds that basic particles can be linked together in such a way that when something happens to one, it also happens to the other.
Since most of us don’t have a particle collider, we can instead use quantum management to entangle and motivate positive traits on our teams, a strategy that accelerates progress, increases quality, and boosts morale. In short, if you put something positive in motion, generally more positive things will happen. Here are a few types of quantum management entanglements:
Accountability: Encourage an accountability entanglement by holding yourself to the same standards to which you hold your team; they’ll mirror your behavior. It’s human nature to mimic. People look for inspirational leaders. If you’re rigorously accountable, your team becomes more accountable. Whatever you say you’re going to do, just do it. You want to set up systems where you’re creating behaviors tied to something in a spooky way. You see things organically unfold because you’ve changed your behavior. Also, you have to set up your machine so that someone can be accountable. I can’t make someone guarantee delivery on something if it’s dependent on someone else. Encourage people to be very clear about what they have to do and what they’re going to do by being that way yourself first.
Empathy: Direct teams toward projects that will improve their day-to-day operations. The more your team interacts with their product, the more invested they’ll be in the outcome. This tends to be easier if you’re building consumer software, like at Instagram. I use Instagram, as does everyone on the team, so we feel the same pain as our users. But what if you’re building some sort of enterprise system for long-distance truckers and you don’t even drive? Look for even minor or tangential ways to empathize with your users. As an example, when I worked at LiveOps, we were building call center infrastructure. We looked to our own customer service department to get their feedback and pipe it back into our product development loop. Entangle yourself with your customers to understand what they’re experiencing on a deeper level, why it needs to be better, and how you can improve it.
Incentive: Drive better results by linking your team’s rewards to the success of the project, not just how they individually perform. Remember that rewards don’t have to be monetary — global impact, visibility within the organization, career growth, or increased passion for the project can all incentivize engineers to perform better. A lot of managers forget how important their approval is. The bulk of your team is there and working as hard as they can to please you. That’s just the way it is, so you have to let people know when you’re pleased, when you’re excited, when you’re impressed. If you don’t, and if your team doesn’t get this type of reinforcement, you’re literally limiting their potential.
Togetherness: Reduce stress, boost creativity and increase productivity by giving engineers the time and space to build camaraderie. Happier, compatible teams create long-lasting positive outcomes. I take my teams out to dinner and encourage them to go out together without me. I seat my teams together because proximity builds relationships. The more you know someone, the more you trust them. The more you trust the people you work with, the better the product you’re going to build. Quantum managers encourage people to get to know each other on a personal level. They start meetings with people sharing about their lives, not just their work. They seed conversations about topics that are much more expansive than the task at hand so people truly get to know each other.
5. Embrace the challenge of self-observation.
As managers, it’s difficult to recognize if we’re using our quantum leadership techniques effectively because, like Schrödinger’s cat, we exist in a state of success and failure simultaneously. Seeking constant feedback from those outside our quantum management box—like from our peers managing other segments of the business—allows us to stretch and grow without limiting our own outcomes.
In 2016, companies competing in any form of innovation can no longer pay employees for mindless, repetitive work. Employees have to create, to challenge, to think nimbly, to respond quickly, and to keep up in a rapidly changing environment. Yet, despite this transformation in the workforce, few organizations have invested in the development of corresponding management approaches, or have considered how traditional corporate infrastructure can negatively influence team dynamics.
Conventional wisdom tells us that it’s the responsibility of bosses and managers to keep their team on course. But visible hierarchy tends to limit creativity. If no one knows each other’s titles or levels of seniority, ideas speak for themselves. As soon as a chain of authority is introduced, ideas no longer stand on their own merit.
I’ve witnessed dozens of extremely intelligent leaders make the same mistake because some part of them believed the myth that managers know best. This mistake — and the meeting in which it’s made — looks nearly identical across organizations, regardless of the problem being solved or the people trying to solve it. Almost always, this mistake is made during a crisis when the manager meets with his team to address it. Perhaps revenue has dropped significantly in a short period of time. The manager reiterates the dire need to drive it back up, then waits for his engineering team to respond. There is a moment of silence. The team is thinking.
Now, I can’t say with certainty why what happens next happens next. Maybe the manager is absolutely terrified that no one has a viable solution, or maybe she genuinely wants feedback on her idea, but either way, the mistake inevitably follows. The manager steps up to the whiteboard and sketches out a solution to their engagement problem, and, just by virtue of her seniority and the power behind her suggestion, she effectively closes off the possibility of her team producing a superior solution. In essence, she (or he, of course) unwittingly kills the cat.
As a manager, I know this mistake intimately. I, too, have killed the cat many times. As a quantum manager, however, I also know the incredible rewards we reap when we resist the urge to prescribe a path, when we refuse to look in the box—even when we fear it’s on fire and think we’re the only one holding an extinguisher. I’ve found myself at this crossroads many times, most notably at my last startup, Luminate. Engagement had suddenly fallen off a cliff. At the time, I had plenty of reasons to think the box was on fire and enough experience working on engineering teams to believe that I could teach my team how to build an extinguisher.
As the founder of the company, I didn’t want us to fail. As a human being, I wanted affirmation that my idea was a good one. As a quantum manager, I bit my tongue. Ultimately, I didn’t engage in the brainstorming process because I knew my team would latch onto anything I offered. Instead, I just told them what winning would look like: a 300% increase in user engagement seemed like a lofty goal, but I pitched it anyways. A few days later, my team returned with a solution that I could never have imagined, and the results were stunning.
Though their strategy was remarkable from an engineer’s perspective, what I learned from the exchange as a manager turned out to be even more valuable. By not offering my own idea, I enabled the creation of a better one. By not suggesting a destination, we all ended up somewhere extraordinary—a place I didn’t even know we were going.
Plastic six-pack rings are the bane of conservationists — images of sea birds and turtles entangled in them serve as constant reminders that consumer culture and the environment don’t get along. But thanks to an innovation from a Florida-based brewery, we can feel a little better about enjoying a six-pack.
Saltwater Brewery has partnered with the ad agency We Believers to create what they say is the first fully edible beer can packaging. Made from byproducts of the brewing process such as wheat and barley, their six-pack holders are fully biodegradable and completely digestible. Rather than ensnaring curious animals in a corset of litter, the company’s six-pack rings could serve as a satisfying snack. And if nothing is biting, the rings quickly decompose.
Plus, the drink holders are just as strong as the plastic variety, which should keep those Screamin’ Reels safe, as well.
Drink Packaging as Food Source
The company 3-D printed a test batch of 500 holders in April, according to AdvertisingAge, and it plans to scale up production to meet its current output of 400,000 cans of beer a month. While the edible holders are more expensive to make, Saltwater Brewery wants set an example for other beer producers and encourage them to adopt the idea. They say if their edible holders become commonplace, they could potentially be as cheap as the regular plastic rings.
First Solution to Remove Plastic
Other designs for six-pack holders have emerged in recent years, such as the top-hugging holder made by PakTech, and favored by craft breweries for its unique look. Although the design uses more plastic, the company says that it won’t harm wildlife in the same way, and reduces the amount of other packaging materials. Plastic is still, well, plastic though, and it is difficult to completely eradicate the impact our disposable packaging has.
The six-pack ring crisis is not as dire as it was in the 1970s, when images of trapped wildlife first began to appear. Six-pack rings are now widely made from photo-degradable plastic, meaning that they dissolve in sunlight and should eventually fall apart. However, the current standards specify that the rings should be made to break down within 90 days, leaving plenty of time to harm wildlife. And, they don’t completely disappear, at least not for a long time, so they could still pose a risk to animals that eat them.
Moving away from plastic entirely and embracing sustainable solutions could be a much better idea. It’s not just drink holders that threaten wildlife however. Plastic of every size and description floats in the oceans, according to the Ocean Conservancy’s 2015 report. The organization’s investigation found plastic inside many species of marine animals, and that these plastics often absorb and hold on to dangerous chemicals.
Six-pack rings make up only a small percentage of the plastic we toss, but the idea is heartening nonetheless.
a great idea! I think everyone who reads this needs to urge bottlers
to change to this ASAP. What an awesome way to reduce the massive
amount of this crap in our landfills and oceans.
I hate beer but because of this I am considering buying a 6 pack of their beer.
Visit Bend, Or, you might acquire a taste for beer…
I have been there (I prefer Ashland myself…theater and all) and I can assure you that I have tried desperately to acquire that taste and have failed miserably every time to the point where I’ve learned that inhaling my drug of choice is a far better preference and I don’t want to beat my wife while I’m high …. cool side effect, no ?
Yes, nice aspect of living in Oregon…
Doin’ some Blue Diesel right now! Got any chocolate?
Sounds like a great idea. I’d like to see this type of responsible packaging expand to other markets.
Definitely! Soft drinks, especially. Think about how many cans of colas are consumed every year. And it should work for those 16 oz. cola bottle rings, also.
Awesome idea. This is the sort of thing that influences my buying decisions. If the product was available here, I would buy it instead of other beers, just because of this innovation.
This is awesome. Let’s tweet and share share share!!!!!
Anyone who doubts the transformative power of literature should have a look at the comments Franny and Zooey has inspired here on the Reading group. This book has changed lives.
“I loved this book,” wrote one commenter. “It spoke to me at a certain time in my life when, like Franny, I was a literature student struggling with disillusionment. The narrative inspired me to make the choices I subsequently took. This novel and Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters are seminal works, novels for our troubled times. And the quotation from Sappho still makes the hair rise on the back of my neck.”
Another wrote movingly of the book’s power to conjure a lost era:
I was a devotee of Salinger’s writing in the 1960s/70s and loved Franny and Zooey. Zooey in particular amazed me – dapper, hectoring, some amalgam of Zen and street smarts – as he bore a resemblance to my elder brother, not least in his behaviour around me. (Yes, I was subjected to erudite confessional onslaughts for years.)
I read Franny and Zooey as a teenager, 35 years ago, and it launched an existential crisis that took me a few years to pull myself out of.
I found it moving to read these reflections on the book – but also, I have to admit, confounding. Franny and Zooey didn’t get me in the same way. Possibly, this is because I’m at the wrong stage in life – like The Catcher in the Rye, this struck me as a book that has to catch you at a certain time to really work. But it’s equally possible that the book would never have struck home. This instalment of Salinger’s series about the Glass brothers and sisters is a strange, difficult thing. It isn’t just that it is, as Salinger notes in his dedication, a “pretty skimpy-looking book”. It’s odd in other ways. It’s unusual to have two novellas next to each other. It’s even more unusual for those books to contain so much dialogue – and yet so few quotation marks. There are great pages-long chunks of speech, especially in the Zooey section. It looks more like a Plato dialogue than a work of fiction. There are exhausting, unrelenting disquisitions on religion, the Glass family history and Zooey’s own deepest feelings.
To put the most negative spin on it, Franny and Zooey is a stagey, motionless, self-indulgent series of rants from two solipsistic characters whose high opinion of themselves is topped only by an author who can’t stop himself praising their intelligence and good looks.
“Few writers since Joyce would risk such a wealth of words upon events that are purely internal and deeds that are purely talk,” said John Updike in a New York Times review. He also complained that in spite of its low word-count, “Zooey is just too long; there are too many cigarettes, too many god-damns, too much verbal ado about not quite enough.”
I can see where he’s coming from.
Updike wasn’t alone in harbouring doubts. Franny and Zooey’s detractors can be just as fervent as its admirers. Janet Malcolm in the New Yorker describes its original critical reception as “more like a public birching than an ordinary occasion of failure to please”. Joan Didion skewered Franny and Zooey as “self-help copy” and said “it emerges finally as Positive Thinking for the upper middle classes, as Double Your Energy and Live Without Fatigue for Sarah Lawrence girls”. The critic Maxwell Geismar said the Zooey novella was “an interminable, an appallingly bad story”. George Steiner labelled it “a piece of shapeless self-indulgence”.
If nothing else, such notices might provide some insight into Salinger’s long silence – even if he had already anticipated many of the complaints. One of Franny and Zooey’s parlour tricks is to point out its own faults – and mock them. Salinger has Buddy Glass describe his family in their early days as resident geniuses on a radio programme, “insufferably ‘superior’ little bastards that should have been drowned or gassed at birth”. In the knowingly meta preamble to Zooey, Salinger also says his lead character has asked him to “call off the production” because “he feels that the plot hinges on mysticism, or religious mystification … a too vividly apparent transcendent element of sorts, which he says he’s worried can only expedite, move up, the day and hour of my professional undoing”.
In that same preamble, Salinger brings up the conceit of the novella being a “sort of prose home movie”, an idea he occasionally returns to awkwardly (as when he describes Franny’s hair having a centre-parting “most fortunately for the viewer”), but otherwise entirely forgets. Not least because the long, static conversations would be astonishingly boring, even by home-movie standards. As Updike also pointed out in that New York Times review, the juxtaposition of the two novellas is uncomfortable. Yes, they are connected, but they were also first published years apart in the New Yorker and contain contradictions in content and theme. Is the Franny character consistent? Is the chatty, catty college girl (who is quite possibly pregnant) in Franny the same as the defeated waif in Zooey (whose possible pregnancy is never mentioned)? It doesn’t hang together well.
But that’s enough grousing. Because, in spite of all such reservations, Franny and Zooey is still a fine work of prose craftsmanship. It also broke my heart. The more I read, the more it struck me that Franny is suffering from depression. Zooey is doing nothing less than trying to argue his beloved sister out of a mental illness. Initially, it is just about possible to say she’s suffering from an extreme case of undergraduate ennuiand possible stress relating to her relationship and physical condition. As things progress in the second story, the worry grows that she’s on the same suicidal path as her brother Seymour. The fact that Zooey is trying to reason her back to normality just adds to the tragedy. His whirling circumlocutions and passionate investigations are an attempt to take on madness itself, an impossible last-ditch attempt to rescue someone he loves. And, as Salinger also slowly, skilfully reveals, it’s also an attempt to rescue himself. By the time we see him sweating, sitting in silence for 20 minutes in his lost brother’s abandoned bedroom, we know that he suffers just as much as poor Franny. All of his talk is a symptom of his own illness.
“It’s like being in a lunatic asylum and having another patient all dressed up as a doctor come over and start taking your pulse or something,” says poor suffering Franny. “It’s just awful. He talks and talks and talks.”
It’s a tender, sympathetic portrait and one that surely reflects back something of the author himself. Which makes it all the sadder. The fact that I couldn’t relate to it in the highly personal way of other readers comes as a relief rather than regret – and is no reason to condemn a brave work of art and empathy.
You’ve got to admit, Smartphone cameras are only good to bust boredom. I mean, you cannot take out your phone out while cycling on Himalayan terrains or scuba diving in the Indian Ocean. You need something that is compact, lightweight, rugged and adjustable. That is where you need an action camera or a wearable camera. Here are five cameras which can make way to your shopping list if you are planning an adventurous trip.
HTC RE Camera
HTC RE camera has all you need in a wearable camera. It is sleek, stylish and operable with the single hand. RE camera has 16MP CMOS sensor and 146-degree wide angle lens, which is capable of recording 1080p full HD videos and photos. You can control its setting by any Android or iOS device. The camera is IPX7 compliant, which implies that RE camera can be submerged 1 meter under the water for 30 minutes in normal temperature. HTC RE camera is available in all leading stores for around INR9000 and weighs 65.5 grams.
GoPro hero+ can capture 1080P HD videos and 8MP images with a ultra-wide lens of aperture f/2.8. WiFi and Bluetooth enabling lets you access content via GoPro app. The camera is good for low light imaging, underwater shooting and you can mount it on a bike or on your head. The camera weighs only 123g is available for INR23, 990.
MeCam HD is the mini hands-free wearable camera. It can shoot 1080p HD videos with high-quality glass lens and the internal gyroscope for image stabilization. MeCam HD weighs 70g and can be clipped to your shirt, mounted to a helmet or can be worn as a pendent. The camera has built-in WiFi to let you control the camera with the smartphone and you can share the photos by its app on Android and iOS. The camera is not available in India but you can buy it on eBay.
Sony HDR- AS200V
Sony HDR AS200V action cam comes with WiFi and GPS and comes with 8.8MP EXMOR R CMOS sensor with Zeiss Tessar wide angle lens. The camera is amazing for low light imaging and weighs only 93g. The camera comes up with the SPK-AS2 case which makes AS200V waterproof (up to 5m), dustproof and shockproof. Sony AS200V is a good deal for INR 26,990(MRP).
HX-A1M is a waterproof, dustproof and shockproof camera that weighs only 45 grams. The camera has a 4MP 1/3” MOS sensor with f/2.8 Panasonic lens which is capable of recording 1080p HD videos and low-light imaging. The built-in WiFi lets you control the camera and share images. The camera is priced 18,490 and is available at all leading e-commerce websites.
Alors que le téléfilm de conclusion de la série Looking sera diffusé ce samedi 23 juillet sur HBO, retour sur les 2 saisons de cette œuvre atypique et attachante.
Looking c’est quoi ?Les amours, les joies et les peines de trois amis gays à San Francisco. Entre regrets, valses hésitations et autres impulsions du moment, Patrick, Agustin et Dom partagent leurs déceptions, leurs rêves, leurs désirs, la vie en somme.
Lorsqu’elle a débarqué sur HBO en début d’année 2014, on n’attendait pas grand-chose de Looking qu’on imaginait à tort comme un nouveau Queer as Folk ou un pendant masculin en moins bien de The L Word, qui n’apporterait rien de nouveau. Il faut se méfier des à priori et c’est encore plus vrai en matière de séries. Car si le premier épisode nous avait laissé dubitatif, nous confortant dans nos idées préconçues, le reste de la saison 1 nous aura renversé par sa sensibilité et sa délicatesse ainsi que par une écriture des plus subtiles, qui s’affranchit de la communauté qu’elle évoque pour parler à tout le monde. Les auteurs sont parvenus à trouver un juste équilibre en dépassant l’apparence de série de niche qu’elle arborait pour se parer d’une liberté de ton et d’une fraîcheur revigorantes. Car Looking est une série qui s’adresse à tout le monde, c’est une série à hauteur d’hommes et de femmes aux prises avec les vicissitudes de l’existence et l’orientation sexuelle de ses personnages n’empêche nullement d’évoquer des thématiques dans lesquelles chacun peut transférer ses propres interrogations. Que ce soit la réalité de la crise économique, la peur de s’engager, le délitement des sentiments, la recherche de stabilité professionnelle et affective, Michael Lannan offre aux téléspectateurs l’occasion de se projeter dans les situations qu’il fait vivre à ses personnages. Car Looking est une série de personnages, finement croqués et divinement interprétés. Que ce soit Jonathan Groff qui fait profiter Patrick d’une composition d’une extrême finesse, Murray Bartlett qui permet à Dom de bénéficier d’une réelle profondeur ou encore Frankie J. Alvarez qui confère toute son insouciance et son mal être à Agustin, le trio central de Looking est parfait. Autour d’eux, Raul Castillo, Russell Tovey, Lauren Weedman ou même le sémillant Scott Bakula (Code Quantum, NCIS New Orleans), tout le casting permet à la série de conserver une justesse admirable. Alors qu’elle aurait très vite pu sombrer dans la caricature, Looking ne nous prend pas en otage avec une quelconque surenchère émotionnelle puisque l’humour vient contrebalancer régulièrement l’émotion sans pour autant l’annihiler. En centrant son récit sur les problématiques émotionnelles que rencontre ce groupe d’amis, la série parle de vous, de nous en prenant le pouls de notre vie quotidienne.
Après cette première saison et cette réussite artistique qui ne rencontre pourtant qu’un faible écho, HBO commande malgré tout une saison 2, passant même de 8 à 10 épisodes. Reprenant l’évolution de ses personnages tout en tentant de les faire évoluer, les scénarios continuent de confronter Patrick à des choix cornéliens, notamment sentimentaux et sa difficulté à s’engager et accorder sa confiance sans réserves lui vaut de très beaux moments empreints d’une belle sensibilité et parfois aussi d’une mélancolie qui nous étreint. L’empathie que l’on ressent pour le personnage l’est tout autant grâce à sa caractérisation qu’à l’interprétation très nuancée de Jonathan Groff. L’évolution de Dom passe par ses changements professionnels ainsi que par les soubresauts que va connaitre sa relation avec Doris son amie et colocataire et Murray Bartlett continue de lui conférer une vraie émotion et un véritable background. C’est Agustin qui pâtit le plus dans cette seconde saison des nouvelles orientations du récit, son histoire amoureuse prenant totalement le pas sur son avenir professionnel. C’est dommage évidemment mais Frankie J. Alvarez n’en est pas moins bon. Cette saison 2 est dans la droite lignée de la première provoquant l’émotion et sachant faire passer les sentiments au premier plan, loin devant des facilités scénaristiques. Par ailleurs les scènes de sexe ne sont jamais gratuites et ne cèdent jamais à un côté graveleux ou provocateur. La série bénéficie en plus d’une bande son réellement emballante, passant d’un genre à l’autre avec une même réussite.
Et pourtant à l’issue de la saison 2 HBO annonce l’annulation de la série en raison de trop faibles audiences. Un crève cœur pour la communauté de fans que Looking a drainé durant ses deux années d’existence. En lot de consolation, la chaîne offre malgré tout un téléfilm de conclusion à la série qui devrait apporter des réponses à nos interrogations sur l’avenir des personnages. C’est peu, mais c’est déjà beaucoup, à une époque où nombre de séries sont annulées sans sommation. On saura donc dès ce samedi 23 juillet si ce téléfilm est un prolongement toujours aussi subtil aux atermoiements de l’époque et s’il perpétue le reflet fidèle d’une génération que 18 épisodes ont auparavant brillamment montré.
Spanning the summer months, two exhibitions at the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery explore ideas of utopian landscapes and the long-lasting power of objects. From a second century Roman bronze lamp to an 1865 oil painting of a homestead in Wyoming, both exhibitions examine the various ways in which people have assigned meaning and ideologies to images and objects throughout history.
The wide-ranging works on display move seamlessly through the ancient and modern worlds, encouraging viewers to draw connections and through-lines from themselves to their ancestors.
Curated by Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery Director Joseph S. Mella, “Pastorals, Landscapes and the Arcadian Vision”features over 50 paintings and works on paper that demonstrate how notions of nature as a tranquil, idyllic landscape evolved from the 17th to 20th centuries.
The “Arcadian Vision”part of the title refers to the mythologized Arcadia, a mountainous region in the Peloponnesian peninsula, that emerged in the first century BCE when the Roman poet Virgil wrote the “Eclogues and Georgics.” These poems re-create Arcadia as a place of country life in its purest form, removed from the civilized city.
“Pastorals have often been created as a fiction for an educated, urban audience,” said Mella. “Whether manifesting in poetry or in the visual arts, this genre helps the consumer envision a peaceful and harmonic world in contrast to an urban one of bustle and conflict.”
Among the many generations of painters represented in the show, a close connection between poetry and the visual arts links them together. A selection of poetry excerpts is included throughout the exhibition to reinforce this relationship.
Italian masters Titian and Georgione popularized the pastoral landscape during the Italian Renaissance in the 16th century. Vanderbilt’s exhibition picks up in the 17th century with Dutch Italianate painters and printmakers Jan Both and Nicolaes Berchem and the intimate etchings of Dutch genre artist Adriaen van Ostade. It then traces the steady popularity of landscapes in France through the work of Claudine Stella, Philippe Caresme and Théodore Rousseau. Work by English and American artists are also included.
The show follows the theme through the modern era. Two small 1950 woodcuts by French artist Aristide Maillol illustrate Virgil’s “Georgics and Eclogues,” while Thomas Nason’s “Connecticut Pastoral” from 1936 illustrates a quintessentially American vision of Arcadia.
The student-curated exhibition, “Out of the Vault: Stories of People and Things,”explores the journeys of 12 works of art across space and time and the meanings people have assigned to them throughout their histories. These pieces, ranging in origin from ancient Mesoamerica to contemporary Nashville, are all from the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery collection.
Included in the exhibition are preColumbian gold pendants, carved wood sculpture from Baroque Spain, carved wood objects from China, sculpture with Christian religious symbolism, everyday objects including a lamp, headrest and carved wooden cassone chest, bronze sculpture, a contemporary ceramic water-carrier and a compilation of sound art pieces.
“Out of the Vault”is the third student-curated exhibition in a partnership between the Department of History of Art and the Fine Arts Gallery. The curators are Haley Bowse, Lilia Briskin, Joe Eilbert, Sophia Jorasch, Gabrielle Levitt, Lauren Linquest, Edward McElwreath, Sarah Robinson, Vivian Saxon, Rebekah Smith, Clancy Taylor and Daniel Weitz.
The students reflect on the objects and their histories in essays for the exhibition’s excellent online catalog, which is available on an interactive interface in the gallery and also online at http://scalar.usc.edu/works/exhibiting-historical-art/index.
If you go
What: “Pastorals, Landscapes, and the Arcadian Vision”and “Out of the Vault” at Vanderbilt University Fine Art Gallery
When: Exhibitions on view through Sept. 9
Where: 1220 21st Ave. S. The gallery is located on the second floor of Cohen Memorial Hall, Peabody Campus.
Hours: Through Aug. 23: noon-4 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 1-5 p.m. Saturday. Aug. 24-Sept. 9: 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday; 1-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday