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Major exhibition of Nam June Paik, "father of video art," opens at Smithsonian in December 2012

The Smithsonian American Art Museum just announced a major exhibition of Nam June Paik, set to open December 13, 2012. “Nam June Paik: Global Visionary” will offer an "unprecedented view into the artist’s creative method" through key artworks and material drawn from the Nam June Paik Archive, acquired by the Smithsonian from the artist’s estate in 2009. Well worth a trip to DC, and required viewing for any of you who count yourself among the present generation of YouTube uploaders, Vimeo auteurs, and TwitVid self-surveillance sharers. This man's legacy is part of why video is a common medium for fine art and personal expression today. Snip:

Korean-born Paik (1932-2006), known as the “father of video art,” almost single-handedly transformed video into an artist’s medium through his sculptures, installations, videotapes and television projects. Paik is recognized worldwide for his innovative, media-based artwork that is grounded in the practices of avant-garde music and performance art. His art and ideas embodied a radical new vision for an art form that he knew would be embraced around the world and that would change visual culture.

PDF of the press release is here.

Image via Wikipedia (shot by Lim Young-kyun in 1983).

Inside the Smithsonian's meteorite lab

This is a very cool, behind-the-scenes peek at how researchers at the Smithsonian deal with the problem of studying meteorites without contaminating said meteorites.

This is a big issue. We study meteorites to learn things about what has happened and is happening outside our own planetary system. If, in the process of that, we end up covering the samples with the detritus of Earth, then the message gets muddled. If you're studying a meteorite, you want to be reasonably sure that you're not accidentally studying dust or bacteria from this planet. Clean rooms like the one in this video make it easier to examine these samples in a way that is less destructive.

Learn more about the Smithsonian's collection of Antarctic meteorites.

Video Link

Smithsonian building archive of printable 3D scans


The Smithsonian, the world's largest museum, is planning on producing 3D scans of its collection and making them freely available to the public to print out at home on their 3D printers (or incorporate into their virtual worlds). CNet's Daniel Terdiman has the story:

Update: Sarah Taylor Sulick from the Smithsonian sez, "Unfortunately we have no plans to make 3D scans of our collection freely available for the public to print. The CNET story is a bit misleading on that point. Our 3-D team mentioned that we COULD go there theoretically, but as of right now it is not part of our plan. The reality is also that we have 137M objects in our collection and only 2 people working on this project. So we are no where near being able to scan everything and essentially never will be."

Now, with that high-end scanner, as well as less expensive tools that include normal digital cameras and freely available cloud-based digitization software, Metallo and his fellow 3D digitization coordinator Vince Rossi are slowly setting out to begin building a new Smithsonian digital archive. They hope this initiative will eventually lead to scores of 3D printed exhibits, as well as countless 3D models that could theoretically be used in the museums, in schools, or just about anywhere people have an interest in the Smithsonian's vast physical holdings...

Metallo and Rossi's goal is clear: they want to build a large collection of 3D scanned objects and archaeological sites that can support the entire Smithsonian complex. They've got technology on their side--with minimally invasive laser scanners they can capture the geometry of just about any object or site with accuracy down to the micron level.

But their resources are few, and the two told CNET that they have to be smart about the projects they choose to digitize. They have to know that their work is going to tell a story in a new way or give researchers new tools in order to justify spending the time it takes to do the work.

Smithsonian turns to 3D to bring collection to the world (via /.)

(Image: Red Eye on Demand/Smithsonian)

Sexy upskirt shot, ca. 1870

From the Smithsonian's snapshot series, a special image for Valentine's Day:

Caged crinoline, also known as a hoop skirt, was the most distinctive silhouette of the late 19th century. This photo shows a hoop skirt, named because of its series of concentric hoops of whalebone or cane. It replaced the popular petticoat of the late 1500s to mid 1800s. Multiple petticoats were sometimes worn to create the full, dome-shape, small-waist silhouette popular in women’s fashion through the mid 1800s. During the late 1800s, hoop skirts like this one lightened the weight of multiple petticoats by creating the same fashionable silhouette but with fewer layers. It only required one or two petticoats worn over the hoop skirt. Unlike shaping undergarments before the 19th century, hoop skirts were worn by women of every social class. In 1846, David Hough Jr. introduced the first hoop skirt in the U.S. The hoop-skirt form, like the bustle and corset, gives insight into the complexities of dress in the 19th century. This item is one of 137 million artifacts, works of art and specimens in the Smithsonian’s collection. It is not on display.

Looks so comfy!

(thanks, Jessica Porter Sadeq)