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Who’s the medium now? Part II

Nur

Nur - Enemy of darkness and illuminator of consciousness

Xyn

Xyn - Bringer of sleep, keeper of secrets and guardian of Mysteries

Earlier this fall I encountered an pair of goddesses to enthrall me, part of a larger pantheon on display in a coffee shop. More recently I found contact information for the artist, Jonah Kamphorst, and asked for their stories; he has been kind enough to send some preliminary pointers prepared for an earlier show.

I had earlier on the evening I wrote to Jonah re-read my other recent post on fiction, reality, and communication by/through artists. This pretty clearly influenced the particular questions I posed of this artist:

Are they from a world of yours? If so, to what degree are they yet fleshed out in your consciousness?  If not, where else can I look for more?

Jonah’s response is that he created the goddesses (note the direction of the agency) for himself, but has hoped others might find them illustrative or more. Also that he has an “extensive narrative … which is nowhere near complete” regarding them.

I haven’t checked yet, but my first guess is that Jonah has less than extensive experience writing narrative fiction so far. Again, as I noted last month, many writers seem to find themselves less than entirely in control of their narrative worlds. Also, I would describe none of my favorite fictional worlds as “complete”—or at least not as “completely described.” Wholeness in a world, whether this in which we live or those into which we follow storytellers’ great tales, is to my senses crucially dependent on there being always more to discover. One should always sense that one does not yet know everything that’s going on. Even, I expect, as a world’s creator.

Certainly that’s how I maintain my self-respect as a proper Dune fanatic: by insisting that it is not a universe belonging to and best understood by Frank Herbert. Herbert was merely the first to show it to us.

Likewise, I quite without remorse discarded Farscape barely into Season 3 and Six Feet Under part-way through Season 2, feeling the writers had lost track of their characters. And, despite my continued absorption in and deep respect for the character creation from Martha Cooley in The Archivist, I feel she mistakes her plot at the end.

Nur and Xyn here, from Jonah Kamphorst’s pantheon, remind me visually somewhat of “The two sisters,” from Margaret Mahy‘s The Door in the Air, and Other Stories, although these two are not actually complements as Jennifer and Jessica are. The obvious visual influences of Indian, Celtic, and cyberpunk cultures are quite striking and super-fun in combination. The image of Xyn linked here, though, does not quite feel the same as when I first saw it; it may be a different image, or possibly I feel different enough looking at it through the computer screen. In either case, I don’t have quite as forceful a feeling today as I did earlier this fall that there is more to discover—but it’s forceful enough.

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Who’s the Medium now?

Last weekend a long-standing friend and I re-wove a fascinating set of threads from a once shimmering and strong connection that had been somewhat out of repair. Also that weekend, over brunch, she told my husband and me that she cannot enjoy art from creators she knows to be jerks.

I got a bit wistful pondering the vast expanse of good, important stories from which she cuts herself off by this judgment. I have all sorts of follow-up questions I have not yet put to her:

  • When you are intrigued by a book, must you check the author’s credentials first?
  • How do mythological frameworks play into this? (e.g. If there is no single obvious source for Orpheus‘s story, but you happen to believe classical Greek culture was depraved, is that entire archetype invalidated? Furthermore, would Greek culture invalidate Tennessee Williams’s Orpheus Descending, or is that enough a new work of art that its validity depends only on Williams‘s predelictions?)

I did ask one follow-up question first: “Does this also apply to non-fiction?” I’ll get back to the part of the conversation that flowed from that bit in future posts.

It took only one nap before I realized that my friend’s x-ray vision through a work of art into its creator (and all the various axes s/he grinds) can only be the product of a personal paradigm of art, stories and reality differing significantly from mine. To make a long story short (too late), I imagine she must see a story (in particular, but also other artistic expressions) as a medium through which an author communicates with the audience(s). Yet it’s very common particularly for authors of fiction to describe stories and/or individual characters as compelling the author to express them one way instead of another. I believe them. In my paradigm, generally, the author is the medium through which the story communicates with the audience(s).

Of course, in actuality it’s almost always a big knotty combination of author and story using each other. But in my experience, a good story feels inevitable, whether or not it happened (or could happen, or could have happened) in this physical universe in which I live.

And for you?

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Balloons

balloons
Take a look at this gorgeous photo series from The Boston Globe, featuring “balloons of all shapes, sizes and purposes – ranging from a child’s toy to a football-field-sized research instrument”. It’s such a simple theme, but so beautifully executed.

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Unusual bookshelves

If you’re looking for ways to spice up your book storage, here are two fun ideas from Lifehacker:

For the gravity defying, there’s an Invisible Floating Bookshelf:

Or if you’re just out to confuse people, try the Inverted Bookshelf:

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Space Ace, um, of Cakes

This has to be seen to be believed.

At first look, the opening picture just looks like a stack of toys.  But when you realize that it’s all edible, mostly made of fondant — and not just impressive fondant statues of Marvin the Martian, Audrey II, and the Alien queen (piping gel drool!), not just Han Solo frozen in carbonite, ALF, Tom Servo complete with translucent Life-Saver head, a Dalek victim, and more, but also a cake pan underside made into HAL’s brain room, a fondant Tardis, and an inside joke only a SF geek could love — that’s in addition to the Obvious Exploitable Weakness — then you start to realize it’s pretty amazing.  Oh, also, she made a brick wall out of 1,500 fondant bricks mortared with royal icing, and two tiled movie-theater carpets out of caned fondant.

Look, really you just need to click on the first link and look at the whole thing piece by piece, to appreciate its utter majesty.

The awesomeness of the creator, Kimberly Chapman, is not to be underestimated.  Her other works of cake and sugar art include a Periodic Table of Cookies, a Fraggle Rock cake, a Shelob cake and an Orc head cake.

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Because friends want friends to eat good food

HRSFANS supporting HRSFANS, especially those in greater Boston, should know that two HRSFANS are soon to open a restaurant, called “Journeyman,” in Somerville.

I don’t want to say too much more at this time, although many HRSFANS will be able to guess which two people I’m talking about.  I’m certain it’s going to be good.  In the past their cooking has been described as second in Boston only to L’Espalier (in print, no less!).

I encourage all interested parties to follow their blog (feed) and try them out after their expected open in late May 2010.

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check out these greeting cards! (no, seriously)

I’ve always been pretty skeptical of conventional greeting/thank you/etc. cards, in general. But I ran across a guy selling some really excellent cards of various sorts at a farmer’s market a couple of weeks ago, and couldn’t help but buy a few.  If you can imagine a Romanophile Edward Gorey and some of his friends going into the card-design business…that’s more or less the idea.

Anyway, today I received a thank-you note from the first recipient of one of the cards I bought. She wanted to know more about the creators, which led me to their website:

http://www.archelaus-cards.com/

The website was clearly designed by the same people who designed the cards. It’s worth checking out even if you haven’t (or hadn’t previously) the slightest interest in greeting cards.

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Don’t Keep Calm and Carry On

Apparently (so says The Guardian), there’s a popular new poster in the UK, which reads, “Keep Calm and Carry On”. This poster was originally made during World War II, in case of a German invasion. Recently rediscovered, people are supposedly thronging to it (on the order of thousands), in an age where people want some security and comfort.

As you might imagine, I’m not a huge fan of this idea. Instead, what really appeals to me is this response poster from Matt Jones: “Get Excited and Make Things”! I think that we all have some (reasonable) tendency to simply enjoy things in fandom, but I think that we do better when we take it further and expand upon what others have done, when the things we love inspire us to new things. Don’t just be a passive observer and rely on someone else to take care of everything: take an active, positive role in creating something new! Get Excited and Make Things!

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Calvin and Hobbes

I feel like I shouldn’t need to preface this, because everyone should know Calvin and Hobbes already. But for those who don’t, it’s one of the best comic strips of all time, drawn by Bill Watterson from 1985 to 1995 (and rerunning on the web at gocomics.com). If you’ve somehow never seen it before, you’re missing out. I don’t really have words for how much I love Calvin and Hobbes.

Anyway, I was recently debating with a friend how Calvin and Hobbes ended, and came across this interesting collection of post-series takes on Calvin and Hobbes. The last one is the fake Calvin and Hobbes ending that broke my friend’s heart (and temporarily mine, before I came home to confirm that it was false). If you need a boost after seeing it, you can find the real final strip here.

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A crafts blog for HRSFANS

I’m starting a collaborative blog at http://craftsblog.wordpress.com, so that HRSFANS with an interest in arts and crafts can write about the various projects they’re working on, detailing their travails and displaying their triumphs for the benefit of friends who live far away. So far, we’ve got posts on origami, cabling, two-sided embroidery, crocheted potholders, and a gryphon tapestry.

I know there are lots of HRSFAlums out there who are interested in crafts of various sorts, and you’re all welcome to join in the fun. Whether you’re an expert or a dabbler,  whether your particular passion is portraiture, papier-mache, spinning, or smithing… we’d love to have you.

You have to join word-press in order to become a member of the blog (though fortunately, this is quite painless). If you’d like to be added, comment below and I’ll send you an invite.

Kibbitzers are also welcome. We’ve got an RSS feed, and are syndicated on livejournal as “hrsfanscrafts”.

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