Category: art

Love Notes…

In these days of world suffering, a touch of love notes to cheer the heart.
Published by Hoffmann & Hoffmann with the contribution of Blurb, a new edition of “In vino Veritart” The art book by Roberto Sironi and Mariagrazia Pia.

The novelty lies not only in the usual beauty of Sironi’s painting and in Mariagrazia Pia’s verses but also in the brilliance of the colors highlighted by Blurb‘s print. The visionary strategies of the two artists find the relief of a careful graphic geometry made of colors, poems and anecdotes linked to the artistic union of the two authors.


A series of poetic reflections around wine, wine in all its states, love for wine, submission to wine, moods and amorous stunts next to a glass of wine, the magic of wine, his numbness, falling in love and disappointment.
The life that turns with surprises and its magic, linked to a glass of wine like the reader to its pages and lovers to its fumes.


Roberto Sironi is a multifaceted artist, his interests range from music, theater, painting, up to cinema and writing.
Mariagrazia Pia, writer and poetess with numerous books and literary works.

The limited edition book is sold exclusively on Amazon and Blurb channels as well as at Hoffmann & Hoffmann Publisher.

https://www.amazon.com/vino-veritart-R-Sironi-Pia/dp/1714572684/b2b/info/amazon-business?layout=landing?ref_=b2b_reg_US_BOOKS_ILM_EN_200318

Will “Parasite” Open the Door for More Asian American Representation in Hollywood?

Credit: ROB LATOUR/SHUTTERSTOCK
Bong Joon-ho and Jin Won Han have won the best original screenplay Oscar for “Parasite” — becoming not only the first South Korean film to win an Oscar, but a relatively rare win for a foreign language screenplay.

It was a historic night at the Oscars for “Parasite.” Yet while “Parasite” walked away with four awards including  Best Picture, none of the actors were recognized in bringing the film to life. 

Christina Chin, assistant professor of sociology is co-author of the study “Tokens on the Small Screen” about how Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders remain underrepresented in Hollywood.

Credit: California State University, Fullerton
Christina Chin, assistant professor of sociology

According to Chin, “it was exciting to see the movie walk away with four awards including Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Picture.  May this be a hopeful sign that the Hollywood industry will greenlight more projects that give Asian and Asian American artists additional opportunities to share their creative vision, perspective, and experiences.”

Rutgers scholar Jae Won Chung, an expert in Korean cinema, is available to discuss Parasite’s historic win at the Academy Awards, and the continued need for diversity in Hollywood.

“This historic moment is a win-win for the American and South Korean film industries. It reinforces Hollywood’s self-congratulatory myth that it embraces diversity and inclusivity. Meanwhile, South Korea gets the flash of international recognition it craves. Alert filmmakers, critics and fans across the world no doubt appreciate the irony that Bong Joon-ho’s filmography has had a strong anti-establishment orientation since his 2000 directorial debut. His films offer a satirical barb often directed against the U.S. empire. And in a year with only one black nominee and zero recognition for women directors, Parasite’s win ensured that the media would focus on the Academy’s evolution,” Chung said.

Chung, an assistant professor of Korean studies at Rutgers–New Brunswick, is an expert in Korean cinema and visual culture, and modern and contemporary Korean literature.

He can be reached at jchung@alc.rutgers.edu.

Hollywood’s dirtiest secret?😗

With the Academy Awards around the corner, moviegoers and critics are busy scrutinizing the costumes, sets and performances of this year’s cinematic stand-outs.
  
When film scholar Hunter Vaughan watches a movie, he considers something else: How big of a toll did it take on the environment?

“I want to provide a counter-narrative to the typical story of Hollywood that looks at it not in terms of grandiose romanticization of the silver-screen, but through the hidden environmental tolls—the natural resource use, the waste production, the greenhouse gas emissions—that are seldom talked about,” says Vaughan, an environmental media scholar-in-residence in the College of Media Communication and Information (CMCI).

Vaughan’s new book, Hollywood’s Dirtiest Secret: The Hidden Environmental Costs of the Movies, does just that, shedding light on a wide range of surprising ecological villains, from the 1939 epic Gone With the Wind—which ignited Hollywood’s polluting love affair with explosions—to the 2009 sci-fi Avatar, an ostensibly eco-friendly digital pioneer that generated mountains of real-world waste. 

Vaughan found inspiration for the book when he was a doctoral student at Oxford in England. Walking home at night he noticed a blinding glow emanating from a window. When he peeked inside, he found a building full of humming generators, snaking electrical cords and glaring lights—all set up for a practice run-through of a scene in the 2007 fantasy The Golden Compass.

“I was shocked and disturbed by the amount of resources being used just for a run-through,” he recalls.

In the coming years, he scoured through film archives and directors’ reports, toured studio lots and interviewed execs and local film crews.

He discovered an industry culture in which extravagance and waste have been not only allowed but celebrated, even as other industries have been pressured to conserve. 

Titanic waste

During the filming of Gone With the Wind amid lingering economic depression and scarcity, the filmmakers lit mounds of sets from previous films (including King Kong) ablaze for the epic “burning of Atlanta” scene, sending a plume of potentially hazardous smoke into the Los Angeles sky.

For Gene Kelly’s classic dance scene in the 1952 musical Singin’ in the Rain, producers ran countless gallons of water for a week on a backlot at MGM. When they realized they were starting to lose water pressure around 5 p.m., as residents of nearby Culver City got home from work, they altered their schedule to run the water sooner. 

“They knew that water was a resource of the commons and that it was finite, but rather than conserve it, they just ran it earlier,” he notes.

Such waste did not abate with the coming of the environmental movement.

In 1997, during the filming of the box-office smash Titanic, wastewater from the lavish set on the shore of a Mexican village polluted the nearby ocean, decimating the local sea urchin population, reducing fish levels by a third and taking a heavy toll on the local fishing industry. Three years later, during the filming of the drama The Beach, also starring Leonardo DiCaprio, film crews uprooted local flora on Phi Phi Leh island in Thailand, destroying dunes that served as a natural barrier against monsoons and tsunami. The subsequent boom in tourism related to the film took such a toll on the coral reefs that the government suspended tourism there.

The truth about digital

Then there was Avatar.

Avatar is problematic on so many levels,” says Vaughan.

A cautionary tale of the dangers of unbridled resource use, the 2009 production billed itself as entirely digital—a filmmaking method described as less resource-intensive than shooting live action. But Vaughan’s research revealed that the filmmakers produced entire real-life sets and wardrobes anyway, to get a better sense of how bodies and fabrics might move in the digital world of Pandora.

Our increased reliance on digital technology for entertainment comes at its own ecological cost, Vaughan stresses, with fiber-optic cables strung along the ocean floor, satellites and cell towers built to transmit signals and the benign-sounding “cloud” made up of server farms gobbling up energy around-the-clock. While Netflix deserves kudos for its socially progressive content, he notes, it uses inordinate amounts of server space (and associated energy and coolant), and a built-in interface which automatically starts the next show once the previous show is finished exacerbates its waste.

Award ceremonies like the Academy Awards and Golden Globes, with their lavish, wear-only-once gowns, $10,000 gift bags and private jets, also have an impact.

“They take a massive toll, both materially and symbolically,” he says.

In all, research has shown, the film industry is on par with the aerospace, apparel, hotel and semiconductor industries when it comes to energy use and emissions.

Greening future films

But the news is not all bad, stresses Vaughan.

Some studios have vowed to go carbon neutral, and actors like Mark Ruffalo, Matt Damon, Shailene Woodley and Jane Fonda are taking genuine and public steps to fight for cleaner air, water, land and environmental justice.

Vaughan is also doing his part.

With a grant from the UK-based Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), he’s working to build a Global Green Media Production Network to facilitate eco-friendly production from East Asia to Latin America. 

What can moviegoers do?

Start by asking yourself some tough questions, he writes: Would you accept the extinction of a species in exchange for your favorite movie? How many downed trees’ or highways’ worth of carbon output is it worth?

“Filmgoers can choose not to endorse movies that rely on a spectacle of explosion, materialism and waste, and they can use social media to draw attention to their choices,” he says. “If we as an audience show Hollywood we want a certain type of film, they will start making them.”

IRANIAN CULTURAL SITES

Photo by mostafa meraji on Pexels.com

Cultural heritage expert available to discuss threats against Iranian cultural sites

Ted Grevstad-Nordbrock, assistant professor of community and regional planning at Iowa State University, is available to comment on threats against Iranian cultural sites. He is an expert on cultural heritage and historic preservation.

Credit: Iowa State University

Grevstad-Nordbrock has drawn parallels between the threats against Iranian cultural sites and the “Baedeker Raids” by Nazi Germany in 1941-2. During these raids, German war planners used popular European travel guides (“Baedekers”) to identify cultural sites in UK cities for aerial bombardment. This was intended to shock and demoralize the British population. It was also a reprisal for the British bombing of historic cities in Germany’s north.

Grevstad-Nordbrock has conducted research of historic sites during times of armed conflict, in particular exploring how Allied governments protected historic sites in Europe from destruction during World War II, focusing on immoveable cultural heritage (historic buildings, archaeological sites) as opposed to moveable art objects (paintings, sculptures, etc.). 

He has a Ph.D. in geography from Michigan State University, a master’s degree in historic preservation planning from Cornell University, a master’s degree in art history from the University of Wiconsin-Madison and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from UW-Madison. He had 25 years professional experience in historic preservation before coming to Iowa State.

For interviews, please contact Chelsea Davis at chelsead@iastate.edu or 515-294-4778.

Song for our times: War is Hell.

Charly Chiarelli futured on “I’M Italian Magazine

Charly Chiarelli

Bravest woman that ever lived

Erica Armstrong Dunbar enlists students’ help to tell untold stories of the “bravest woman that ever lived”

Credit: Glen Wilson/Focus Features
Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman

In an iconic image, Harriet Tubman stands calmly wrapped in a shawl. But the picture that most people associate with Tubman doesn’t scratch the surface of the strength and determination it took leading 60 to 70 slaves to safety through the Underground Railroad.

With the release of the film Harriet, Rutgers scholar Erica Armstrong Dunbar said it’s a good time to shed light on Tubman’s life not only as the famed Underground Railroad conductor, but as a sister, a daughter, a wife, a mother and a woman. 

“What we know about Tubman’s life from history books really only consists of 10 years of her life, and I wanted to present her in a way that is fresh,’ said Dunbar, a Rutgers University–New Brunswick Charles and Mary Beard Professor of History and the author of She Came to Slay: The Life and Times of Harriet Tubman. “The point was to be accessible and have it be modern and contemporary, so it connects to readers across generations to make a story that is over 100 years old feel relevant today.”

Credit: Glen Wilson/Focus Features
Cynthia Erivo as Harriet Tubman

Dunbar began with Tubman’s grandmother, a woman named Modesty, who endured the Middle Passage and arrived in colonial Maryland in the late eighteenth century. Tubman’s parents, Harriet “Rit” Green and Ben Ross were enslaved by different families on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Tubman was born with the name Araminta Ross, and her family was separated as many others were during the slave trade, with her three sisters sold to different plantation owners.

“I wanted to start at the very beginning and talk about the things we don’t often hear,” Dunbar said. “I explore her teenage years and her marriage to John Tubman, who actually left her for another woman once she escaped to Philadelphia. I discuss her adopted child Gertie through her second marriage to Nelson Davis, a man 20 years her junior. A decade later, Tubman led a military expedition during the Civil War and rescued close to 750 enslaved people. After the war ended, she continued to fight for 53 years as an activist for the elderly and women’s rights. It’s important that we see all these different sides, so we can begin to look at her as a whole person.” 

To offer this perspective, Dunbar enlisted research associates from various universities, including Rutgers–New Brunswick’s Ashley Council, a second-year graduate student focused on African-American history. Council spent months digging through the Freedmen’s Bureau Archives, 19th century newspapers, census data, civil war letters, black abolitionist papers, speeches and many other historical sources. She faced the complex task of uncovering slave history, much of it told through the lens of white supremacy. 

Credit: Erica Armstrong Dunba
Erica Armstrong Dunbar

“I researched portions of Tubman’s history like the Combahee River Raid, and I started constructing narratives that challenged me to write in a more accessible way, to touch on the humanity of the reader,” said Council, who plans to become a professor of African-American history. “There is not a lot of archival material about Tubman and the history of the enslaved . Archives weren’t made to make the enslaved visible. So, I had to take history based in white supremacy and find the narratives that were hidden beneath. It isn’t something our discipline always allows and this was an amazing opportunity to be a part of a new way of telling her story.”

Dunbar was invited to attend pre-screenings of the film Harriet, which she invited her graduate student associates to join. Students also discussed Tubman’s life in conjunction with the film release during live podcasts and Twitter chats. While there are some differences between her book and the film, there were moments that shed light on the militant side of Tubman, which Dunbar was happy to see on screen. 

“She was a fierce black woman — and certainly one of the bravest women that ever lived,” Dunbar said. “She made 13 trips along the Underground Railroad, traveling more than 100 miles and never lost one single person. She reminds us of the importance of the strength of leadership in the darkest of times and to stand up for social injustice. Her story offers hope and encouragement in battling the issues happening today.”

Dunbar said it was important to involve students in her research. 

“I want students to have the opportunity to work in the archives and uncover the fragments of history that are untold. It helps them see possibilities in the field of history and the prominence of the Department of History at Rutgers. We are the number one program in African American history in the nation for a reason.”

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Broadcast interviews: Rutgers University–New Brunswick has broadcast-quality TV and radio studios available for remote live or taped interviews with Rutgers experts. For more information, contact Cynthia Medina c.medina@rutgers.edu

ABOUT RUTGERS—NEW BRUNSWICK

Rutgers University–New Brunswick is where Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, began more than 250 years ago. Ranked among the world’s top 60 universities, Rutgers’s flagship university is a leading public research institution and a member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. It is home to internationally acclaimed faculty and has 12 degree-granting schools and a Division I Athletics program. It is the Big Ten Conference’s most diverse university. Through its community of teachers, scholars, artists, scientists, and healers, Rutgers is equipped as never before to transform lives.

Kids with autism develop life skills through dance

A University of Delaware team uses dance to teach social communication skills to children with autism.

A study at the University of Delaware is exploring how dance can help kids with autism enhance their social communication skills as well as their motor skills.

The Songwriter Is Creative – the Singer, Not So Much

Photo by Marie-Michèle Bouchard

Study examines how Nashville songwriters co-write with stars

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Country music songwriters must perform a careful dance when they work with famous singers who may be less talented at writing songs but bring the needed star power to attract fans – and, importantly, to get the song recorded in the first place, research suggests. 

A study of 39 successful country-music songwriters found that they use two strategies to navigate creative collaboration with more famous artists. 

“You have these recording artists who are being required to co-write their own songs, but maybe that’s not their skill,” said Rachel Skaggs, the study’s author and an assistant professor of arts management at The Ohio State University. 

“And then you have songwriters who are brought in to help, and to collaborate, and they have to balance this. There’s the need to make money and make a living, and the need to not have their name on a ‘bad’ song.” 

The study, published in September in the journal Social Psychology Quarterly, identified the two strategies – what Skaggs has termed “bespoke facilitation” and “the manipulation dance” – that songwriters employ to co-write songs with someone who might be a famous performer, but who might not be a great songwriter. 

“There are these strategies for when collaborators don’t have the same idea of what they want to happen, particularly if one collaborator is much higher status – a more famous artist who is important to their label,” Skaggs said. 

“And if you’re the songwriter in the room with them, you don’t want to undermine that collaborator. You want to identify that they have something to bring to the table, and maybe it’s their fame, but maybe it’s not creativity. So what are the ways around that? How can you can still create something that is good, but not alienate or belittle your partner?” 

Such collaborations, between famous artists and successful songwriters, are becoming more common, Skaggs said, because of economic pressures on the music industry. 

“We often think about creativity as being this very personal, independent thing, like some kind of prodigy in a room by themselves and their creative juices just flowing, but really it’s a socially constructed process,” she said. 

But that means that highly skilled songwriters might find themselves in a room with an artist who has a great deal of celebrity, but not much skill – or sometimes, interest – in writing a song. For the study, Skaggs interviewed songwriters who are, she said, highly successful in the country-music industry. 

The songwriters’ responses indicated that most either try to take a backseat to the singer – what Skaggs called “bespoke facilitation” – or they come in with the songs mostly written – “the manipulation dance.” 

“Bespoke facilitation is basically where the songwriter might say to the artist, ‘Oh, you’re from Ohio, so we’re going to write a song called ‘Ohio Girl,'” Skaggs said. “It’s really kind of hitting on personal branding.” 

That personal branding is important in this age of social media, Skaggs said, where fans want to feel a connection to the artists they love. 

But it could also mean that the songwriter, in writing a song that caters to the artist’s personal brand, might lose reputation points among his or her songwriting community. 

“It could be seen as fluff, right?” Skaggs said. 

In the case of the manipulation dance, Skaggs said, songwriters might try to introduce ideas as though they were the more famous artist’s own. In that case, Skaggs said, the songwriters generally pre-write a large portion of the song – one songwriter mentioned writing a chorus and several verses ahead of time – then casually suggest the ideas as if they originated with the artist. 

“They’ll get in the room and maybe it’s hard to corral the artist, and so they’ll say, ‘oh, what was that you wrote a minute ago, artist, that was so good?’ And they’ll introduce something they have already written,” she said. “And – it’s kind of deceptive, right? But it seems to work.” 

That strategy – the “manipulation dance” – seems to be especially effective in cases when a songwriter wants to push the artist toward something with “more artistic merit,” Skaggs said. 

“Maybe that could be a Grammy-nominated song as opposed to only a chart-topper,” she said. 

Skaggs said her findings could also be applicable in other partnerships where collaborators are mismatched in some way – an office environment, for example, or a group project in a school or volunteer organization.

Contact: Rachel Skaggs, skaggs.131@osu.edu

Written by: Laura Arenschield, arenschield.2@osu.edu

3D-Printing Musical Instruments Produce Better Sound Than Traditional Instruments?

Photo by David Lusvardi

Investigators in China created a functioning 3D-printed ukulele and used acoustics to compare its sound quality to a standard wooden instrument.

SAN DIEGO, December 5, 2019 — Music is an art, but it is also a science involving vibrating reeds and strings, sound waves and resonances. The study of acoustics can help scientists produce beautiful music even with musical instruments fashioned with high-tech methods, such as 3D printing.

Xiaoyu Niu, from the University of Chinese Academy Sciences, and other researchers studied the sound quality of a 3D-printed ukulele and compared it to a standard wooden instrument. Niu will present the group’s results in a talk, “A Comparison on Sound Quality of PLA 3D Printing Ukulele and Single Board Wooden Ukulele,” at the 178th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, which will be held Dec. 2-6, at the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego. Niu’s talk is part of a session on “General Topics in Musical Acoustics,” to be held beginning at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 5.

The ukulele studied by Niu’s group was created with a 3D printer using a type of plastic known as polylactic acid, or PLA. This substance has become quite popular for producing 3D-printed objects, since the printing can be done at low temperatures.

Niu found under the same plucking force, the wooden ukulele was louder than the 3D-printed one. The investigators also found the timbre of the two instruments was different. The wooden instrument exhibited more high-frequency vibrations than the 3D-printed ukulele.

“We found that the A-weighted sound pressure of the 3D-printed instrument was less than that of the wooden one,” Niu said. A-weighting is used to account for the relative loudness of low frequency sounds perceived by the human ear.

To explain these differences, the investigators carried out computer calculations using a software package known as COMSOL. They first modeled the ukulele shape mathematically. Using formulas for sound resonance and acoustics, they were able to explain the differences between a standard wooden ukulele and the new high-tech 3D-printed version. Niu and co-workers plan to continue their work to further improve this mathematical model.

Niu’s presentation 4aMU1, “A Comparison on Sound Quality of PLA 3D Printing Ukulele and Single Board Wooden Ukulele,” will be at 9:00 a.m. PT, Thursday, Dec. 5, in the Coronet room of the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego.

———————– MORE MEETING INFORMATION ———————–

USEFUL LINKS

Main meeting website: http://acousticalsociety.org/asa-meetings/
Technical program: https://asa2019fall.abstractcentral.com/planner.jsp
Press Room: http://acoustics.org/world-wide-press-room/

FALL INTO THE VOID

The Strange case of perfect suicide

Susanna Casubolo is an Italian writer with several books write ranging from psychology to detective novels. Fall into the void is coming out these days in all international sales channels.

This is the translation of “Nel vuoto” a thriller in Italian language published by Hoffmanna & Hoffmann in 2018. Translated by Dave Master, the book tells of a girl who, with the help of her faithful dog, finds herself, (for a series of circumstances) investigating the case of a suicidal man. In the story, love and disappointment cross, mysteries and tenderness, wrapped in the nice and affectionate compaction of “Scheggia” the faithful dog that will help Martina in the investigation.
A fantastic gift for Christmas, in hardcover or ebook format for a quick read in place.

One morning, a lawyer is found dead atop a parked car below the terrace of his apartment, an alleged suicide. Three months later, Martina — a nurse who seeks to live closer to work — rents the now vacant apartment without knowing its dark history.


Accompanied by her loyal dog “Scheggia,” Martina has a flair for mysteries. Though unaware of the danger that comes with solving them, she and her new friend Antonio, a local music teacher, set out to solve the mystery of the suicide. Follow them both, as they delve deeper and deeper Into the Void.

Reader Giusi Nigro

A pink investigation, for pet lovers and Italian dreamers! Lovely the contribution of Scheggia”

Fall into the void