Category Archives: Art

I’d like to illustrate this blog more, but I’m cautious about appropriating artwork

There are lots of reasons to want to use more art on this weblog. It’s attractive, for one; it displays good taste to have interesting artwork to illustrate your points; and the reader who is tuned to the visual image has a lot more likelihood to appreciate a crisp image than they will a wall of text. That’s all good.

I also am very aware that in most cases the works that I’d like to share references to are copyrighted, and in some cases (looking at you, Getty Images) the copyright holders have been aggressive in pursuing their digital rights.

I sigh in amazement at the companies set up to do wholesale copyright infringement, Pinterest and Google Image Search and the like of this world that scoop up imagery wholesale and are not shy about reusing it for their own purposes. The hope is that the worst case is a DMCA takedown, and the best case is an artist who I’d ask permission of who would be thrilled to have a low resolution version of their illustration, photo, or artwork adorn this blog.

The artwork in question is from Jasper Johns; it’s entitled 0-9 and, if the title of the image is to be believed, dates from 1958-1959. I don’t know precisely which museum or collector owns this piece. If I can figure out exact credit, I’ll share it. The image is used with the belief that a low resolution version of the original artwork is fair use.


Blogging is easy.

Blogging is easy. All you have to do is write twice a day without any direction and stay on target until you find out what the target was.

Everyone who writes a blog struggles with the tension between staying on focus and writing whatever you damn well please. Without an editor to nix your worst impulses, you can easily go far, far astray from whatever initial impulse brought you to writing and whatever attractive topic led you to have readers.

A useful mechanism of self-guidance for me is to ensure that every post fits into at least one existing category. It doesn’t help that I have to date created two hundred and thirty eight categories into which something might fit. That at least is honest; this weblog doesn’t have one narrow focus, and it’s been running for ten years, so some divergence of interests is not just anticipated but expected.

For an illustration of the simplicity of this approach, see Dan Cooney’s painting “The Simplicity of the Semantic Web”. (All rights reserved, used with permission.)


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Stadium Bridges art survey

The City of Ann Arbor is conducting a survey to get public input on several proposals for monumental public art to accompany the newly build Stadium Bridges. There are four proposals in all. The Ann Arbor dotcom has a review of the works. The City of Ann Arbor project page includes links to full proposals from artists.

Fill out the survey!

The artists, and their works, are

Sheila Klein, "Untitled". Maize and blue striped poles, trees in planters on the bridge, a sculpture of cheerleaders.

Matt Passmore with Rebar Group, "Dot Matrix". Aluminum tubes topped by "Botts Dots".

Volkan Alkanoglu, "Lady Ann". Angular panels forming the shape of a flower, looming over a pedestrian passageway.

Catherine Widgery, "Arbor Winds". Embossed trees in panels under the bridge, and tree-themed pennants on poles at the top of the bridge.



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DIA free weekend for Ann Arbor residents April 20-21, 2013

The Detroit Institute of Arts is offering free admission to Ann Arbor residents for the weekend of April 20 and 21, 2013 as part of their Inside|Out program. Details from the DIA web site:

“Community weekends” are another new component of this year’s program. Residents of participating communities will enjoy a designated Saturday and Sunday to visit the museum free and see the actual art work installed in their cities’ works. Visitors will receive a 10 percent discount in Café DIA and the museum shop, $1 off Detroit Film Theatre (DFT) tickets and free admission to showings of the DFT 101 film series. 

The DIA has installed outdoor art in various locations around downtown Ann Arbor, a project which was first planned in 2011 (Ann Arbor Chronicle story).

Quantified Self show at the Gallery Project

From the news release:

The Gallery Project presents Quantified Self, a multimedia exhibit in which 34 local, regional, and national artists examine how individuals collect and often project information about themselves and others in the digital world. Artists examine the quantified self from two unique perspectives: one, how information about individuals is collected, stored, processed, and used by these individuals and communicated to others; and two how entities collect information about individuals and groups for commercial and other purposes. Examples are self-projections in cyber space, self-monitoring of health and other behaviors, obsessive collecting of self-defining artifacts, and visualizing personal and group data.

Image: Cece — You're It by Peter Adamczyk.

The gallery opened today, August 30, 2012; the reception is on the evening of August 31, 2012, and I'll probably miss it. Artists that I recognized included Edward Tufte who had three very lovely prints from one of his books on display, and Mark EJ Newman who had some remarkably presented cartograms

Visit them at 215 S. Fourth Ave in downtown Ann Arbor, across from Eastern Accents (and thus handy to visit after A2B3).

On public art in public places in Ann Arbor’s City Hall

Tonight's Ann Arbor City Council meeting discussed at great length the expenditure of some sizable sum of money for art that would be installed in the secured lobby of the Justice Center part of City Hall, where would you have to go through a security check to visit it.

What I have noticed from visits to City Hall is that the art that's there is quite accessible is a tile mural that you can not only see without going through a checkpoint, but is even so ready to hand that you can touch it.

A proposal was put forth to not spend the money on art and to renovate some bathrooms in the building instead. This left a missed opportunity to instead ready-made art as part of that installation. (photo: wikimedia commons, from the original photo by Alfred Stieglitz).

image from

QR codes made from sugar cubes at the Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire

The NQRT project had its first sighting in the wild at the 2011 Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire. Ryan Burns organized a group of passers by to our booth to assemble a pound of sugar cubes into a scannable QR code, and Jamie Lausch and I took over mid-way and explained what we had done and helped people make "cootie catchers" with the "Save the date" message for the October 2011 event.

IMG_66031Left to right: cootie catcher, not-quite-cubical sugar cubes, white glue, Ryan Burns, assembled code, Edward Vielmetti, the second pound of sugar cubes, thermos, a2geeks sticker. Not pictured: Jamie Lausch. Photo via Ryan Burns.

Here's the finished product, in a form that your decode should be able to decode.

The cootie catcher turned out to be one of the fun parts of this, and provided a challenge. I wasn't able to find any design help for "anamorphic cootie catcher", the image-warping challenge of making the code distorted enough so that when you photographed its corners on the cootie catcher that the perspective was right to see it properly.

Interested in more details? Follow the code, or follow @NQRT on Twitter where news will accumulate, or contact me if this sparks creative fun ideas.