Hurricane Sandy has local forecasters getting on their foul-weather faces and rolling out their bold-faced fonts, although there's still no telling exactly which way the storm will go early next week. Normally I'm loathe to fall under the spell of publicists who try to tie their arts events to such things - storms, the Red Sox, whatever. (Isabella Stewart Gardner liked going to Fenway, we get it, now give it a rest.) But the New England Philharmonic opens its season this saturday with - wait for it - "Atmospherics." The 8 p.m. at Tsai Performance Center program will focus on composer in residence David Rakowski's fourth symphony - wait for it! - Scare Quotes. Our local forecasters are not involved, but each movement in the symphony use titles taken from The Weather Channel website: Waning Crescent, Current Conditions, Ice to Rain and finally, Double Shot. Each movement "quotes" musical themes from pieces by other composers, including Bach, Mahler and Oliver Nelson with his jazz standard "Stolen Moments." Tickets, $25, at www.nephilharmonic.org. On the (literally) bright side, the program also includes Thea Musgrave's "Rainbow."
"Boston Modern Architecture: Spirit of Reinvention" is the topic of a panel discussion at First Church in Boston, 66 Marlborough St., sponsored by the National Trust For Historic Preservation, Wednesday at 7 p.m. Those of us who wish to get snarky about whether there's enough of it for a discussion should take a look at the booklet prepared for the event, with text by my old Boston herald colleague David Eisen. There's plenty, from the First Church itself and the Polaroid Building to our ever-controversial, brutalist City Hall and private residences like the Gropius House and the Six moon Hill development. A lot of it is hidden away on college campuses where it's seldom seen, much less visited, by the public at large. But it's there, and its future will be debated Wednesday by a group including preservation architect David Fixler; Kathy Spiegelman, Chief Planner, Allston Development Group at Harvard University; and Charles Birnbaum, President, Cultural Landscape Foundation, and former coordinator for the National Park Service Historic Landscape Initiative.
The event is part of the Modern Module program, which is "aimed at building public support for and engaging in discussions focused on the study and protection of America’s modern architectural resources." The series of events is coordinated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and funded by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Henry Luce Foundation.The program is free and open to the public, but you have to go here to preregister.
Picture by Bobak Ha'Eri under a Creative Commons license.
The MIT Museum announced today that PLR IP Holdings, LLC (PLR), the owner of the Polaroid brand, has donated a collection of classic Polaroid products and prototype designs from its archive. Among the items in the collection are rare polarized glasses from the 1939 World’s Fair, original newsprint sketches by Polaroid founder Edwin H. Land, a historic bellows camera the size of a filing cabinet, some Land-designed camera prototypes, and SX-70 cameras that should just scream 1970s. A sample of the items will be going on display at the museum in June. “The MIT Museum is excited and honored to become home to one of the world’s largest and most significant corporate R&D collections,” MIT Museum Director John Durant said in the announcement.
The collection includes every make and model of commercially produced Polaroid cameras, and myriad experimental models and prototypes that never made it to the marketplace. Potentially most interesting: sketchpads used by Land, who died in 1991. The museum plans to get Polaroid alums involved in cataloging the collection, and a major exhibit is under discussion.
This is just one of three major Polaroid collections, say the museum: "Hundreds of thousands of documents, including vintage advertisements, annual reports and patent records from the Polaroid archives were donated to Harvard’s Business School’s Baker Library in 2006. The Polaroid art collection, which includes photographs taken by prominent 20th century photographers such as Ansel Adams, is expected to be auctioned by Sotheby’s this year."
SX-70 photo: Cburnett under a Creative Commons license.
Charles Darwin's "Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals" (1871) was the first photographically illustrated science book ever published. Now Peabody Essex Museum Curator of Photography Phillip Prodger has just published "Darwin's Camera" (Oxford University Press), examining how photography influenced Darwin's groundbreaking work toward the theory of evolution and how he "changed the way we see." Blurb: "Phillip Prodger brings his deep knowledge of the history of photography to reveal Darwin's innovative use of the medium as both evidence and illustration for his ground-breaking theories." sez Martin Barnes, Senior Curator of Photographs, Victoria and Albert Museum. Friday at 7:45 p.m. at the PEM, Prodger will give a presentation called Children, Animals and Charles Darwin: How Photography Shaped the Theory of Evolution. Recommended for adults and teens, the free event is co-sponsored by the Essex County Ornithological Club, and will be followed by a book-signing. Questions: 866-745-1876.
First the Smithsonian, then the Guggenheim, now the Museum of Science. Nobel Prize-winning scientist Dr. Harold Varmus (left), President of New
York’s Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and his son, jazz
composer and trumpeter Jacob Varmus (right), are bringing their “Genes & Jazz” program to the MOS on Nov. 4. Their gig compares cell biology to musical
development through a multimedia experience featuring the Jacob Varmus
Quintet. It comes in three parts: The Cell, Evolution, and Cancer.
“We both felt that there were unexplored similarities between jazz and
science,” Jacob Varmus told the New Yorker. “They
both involve investigating patterns and structures and how things work.
Science and jazz are also both fringe communities in this country, and
so we figured we could tell a parallel story.” Tix, $15, at the box office, at 617-723-2500, or at mos.org/events. Pix: PLoS (left) and his web site (right).
I guess I finally have to accept that summer is ending now that I've gotten the press release for MIT's 9th annual Great Glass Pumpkin Patch. Oct. 2-3 the artists from MIT's Glass Lab will sell roughly 1500 of their amazing creations to benefit the lab, which is an art program connected with MIT's Department of Materials Science and Engineering. (And if that previous item tells you anything, it's that we need to support the arts and humanities at MIT, eh?) Friday is actually a reception with no sales but plenty of time to ooh and aaah, 5-8 p.m. Sales run Saturday 10 a.m. at the Kresge Oval (48 Massachusetts Avenue, in front of MIT’s Kresge Auditorium). The MIT arts office informs that six glassblowers working in teams of three take anywhere from 7 to 60 minutes to pump out a single pumpkin; that the pumpkins sell for anywhere from $25 to $500, and that (only?) 12 were broken during last year's sale. Not bad. (Pic: Philip Bailey/MIT)
George Fifield founded the Boston Cyberarts Festival back in 1999, and he's still in charge for the 2009 edition, running April 24-May 10 around Eastern Mass. and online. Virtual reality and visual art, electronic music and the legacy of dance's Merce Cunningham are among many topics explored explored more than 60 exhibitions, performances and workshop. I interviewed Fifield (right) by email over the last week or so, on topics from the economy to Shepard Fairey and the computer virus as art.
HubArts: How has the Cyberarts Festival been affected by the economic downtown, as an event and an organization? And how is the economy reflected in the work you'll be presenting?
Fifield: The structure of the Cyberarts Festival is a large collaboration of arts and educational organizations all producing, within their own mission and budget, exhibitions or performances or events about artists working with new technologies. In fact it's the largest collaboration of arts organization in New England. So we have been very lucky that many organization have agreed again this year to do an exhibition or performance for the Festival and its as big as ever. Of course our own fundraising has been hit as have everyone else's.
But the economy has certainly provided grist for some of the art. One is Children of Arcadia (left), which is a virtual reality work that will be up at the Cambridge Arts Council Gallery. It a living 17th-century Baroque painting you can explore, which combines the physical world of downtown Manhattan with a virtual environment called Arcadia. It is continually reading real world data from the internet on the health of the U.S. through stock market and other indices and translates this data into either a utopia or apocalypse. In other words, when the country is doing well, the virtual skies are clear and the birds are singing, but when the country is doing poorly the skies are overcast or lightning and thundering and the buildings are falling into ruin. So if you want to know how the country's doing, head on over to the Cambridge Arts Council.