oriental instruments


“If you must blink, do it now

Pay careful attention to everything you see, no matter how unusual it may seem

And please be warned, if you fidget, if you look away, if you forget any part of what I tell you

even for an instant

then our hero will surely perish” [x]


The first time I saw Tsubame in the submission box, I immediately clicked with her because she had a (tsugaru?) shamisen- I have a soft spot for oriental music and instruments haha 


Designer Spotlight: Carlo Bugatti 2

Part 1: http://thechryselephantineswan.tumblr.com/post/125055143371/designer-spotlight-carlo-bugatti-1-snail-chair

1. Room in the Turin exhibition

2. Fire screen

3. Throne chair

4. Settee

5. Mirror

6. Chair and desk

7. Mirror

8. Tea set and stand

9. Teapot

10. Lute 

Carlo Bugatti’s work represents one of Art Nouveau’s most eccentric variations. Highly innovative in almost every respect, Bugatti’s work made use of unusual materials, primarily exotic woods, vellum, parchment, and nacre, to create very unique, unmistakable work that seem at times more meant to be appreciated as sculpture than actually used. Apart from making chairs, cabinets, desks, and tables, he also produced a limited amount of silver, textile, and ceramic work, as well as musical instruments, screens, mirrors, and wall decors for his most fully-designed interiors. His work falls in primarily two unique phases and styles: the first occuring from the late 1880s until around 1900, and the other from 1900 until he stopped producing furniture in 1918. The two styles have many similarities, but are also highly distinctive.

The first phase of his design is dominated by a certain interest in exoticism. His works of this time draw heavily from Moresque, Arabic, and Japanese design, which he synthesized in a very modern version of Orientalism. His design of this period is dominated by strongly geometric furniture covered with decoration evoking Japanese screens, Islamic geometric patterns, and text resembling kanji and kufic script. Ogee arches, spires, columns, jagged edges, and tassels are common decorations of his furniture at this time. Dark wood predominate and define the strongly sculptural forms, while painted vellum or mother-of-pearl inlays provide most of the decoration. His furniture of this time is also defined by a predilection for asymmetry, though this is not always the case.

The second phase of his work is defined by his four interiors done for the Turin exhibition. Here his work becomes even more sculptural and geometric, but rather than favoring the rectangle, his work becomes more and more curved. Vellum becomes the main material, with whole pieces in furniture completely covered with it. The exotic imagery become less pronounced and are replaced by highly geometric insect and bird motifs. It is perhaps these works that are the most obviously Art Nouveau of his work, with the surplus of curves and insect motifs. However, they maintain a highly unique character, their subdued, pastel decoration and large expanses of off-white color having a very modern feel that predicts the predominantly single color furniture of the International Style. 

Bugatti’s style was always unique even from other Italian designers, who tended generally either to imitate the floral style of French Art Nouveau designers, follow in Renaissance and Islamic Revival styles, or design works that looked forward to the heavily angular machine aesthetic of the Futurists. Bugatti seems to draw a little bit from all three traditions, but his work also seems to draw a bit from a love of primitive culture. His use of vellum, covered with pale decoration and cryptic pseudo-script, seem to remind one of old manuscripts and lost civilizations. His style is thus one highly suitable for the end of a century and beginning of a new one. It both looks back to the styles before it while feeling very strongly like the first breath of an entirely new one.

Imagine, just for a moment, that you are aboard a spaceship equipped with a magical engine capable of accelerating you to any arbitrarily high velocity. This is absolutely and utterly impossible, but it turns out it’ll be okay, for reasons you’ll see in a second.

Because you know your engine can push you faster than the speed of light, you have no fear of black holes. In the interest of scientific curiosity, you allow yourself to fall through the event horizon of one. And not just any black hole, but rather a carefully chosen one, one sufficiently massive that its event horizon lies quite far from its center. This is so you’ll have plenty of time between crossing the event horizon and approaching the region of insane gravitational gradient near the center to make your observations and escape again.

As you fall toward the black hole, you notice some things which strike you as highly unusual, but because you know your general relativity they do not shock or frighten you. First, the stars behind you — that is, in the direction that points away from the black hole — grow much brighter. The light from those stars, falling in toward the black hole, is being blue-shifted by the gravitation; light that was formerly too dim to see, in the deep infrared, is boosted to the point of visibility.

Simultaneously, the black patch of sky that is the event horizon seems to grow strangely. You know from basic geometry that, at this distance, the black hole should subtend about a half a degree of your view — it should, in other words, be about the same size as the full moon as seen from the surface of the Earth. Except it isn’t. In fact, it fills half your view. Half of the sky, from notional horizon to notional horizon, is pure, empty blackness. And all the other stars, nearly the whole sky full of stars, are crowded into the hemisphere that lies behind you.

As you continue to fall, the event horizon opens up beneath you, so you feel as if you’re descending into a featureless black bowl. Meanwhile, the stars become more and more crowded into a circular region of sky centered on the point immediately aft. The event horizon does not obscure the stars; you can watch a star just at the edge of the event horizon for as long as you like and you’ll never see it slip behind the black hole. Rather, the field of view through which you see the rest of the universe gets smaller and smaller, as if you’re experiencing tunnel-vision.

Finally, just before you’re about to cross the event horizon, you see the entire rest of the observable universe contract to a single, brilliant point immediately behind you. If you train your telescope on that point, you’ll see not only the light from all the stars and galaxies, but also a curious dim red glow. This is the cosmic microwave background, boosted to visibility by the intense gravitation of the black hole.

And then the point goes out. All at once, as if God turned off the switch.

You have crossed the event horizon of the black hole.

Focusing on the task at hand, knowing that you have limited time before you must fire up your magical spaceship engine and escape the black hole, you turn to your observations. Except you don’t see anything. No light is falling on any of your telescopes. The view out your windows is blacker than mere black; you are looking at non-existence. There is nothing to see, nothing to observe.

You know that somewhere ahead of you lies the singularity … or at least, whatever the universe deems fit to exist at the point where our mathematics fails. But you have no way of observing it. Your mission is a failure.

Disappointed, you decide to end your adventure. You attempt to turn your ship around, such that your magical engine is pointing toward the singularity and so you can thrust yourself away at whatever arbitrarily high velocity is necessary to escape the black hole’s hellish gravitation. But you are thwarted.

Your spaceship has sensitive instruments that are designed to detect the gradient of gravitation, so you can orient yourself. These instruments should point straight toward the singularity, allowing you to point your ship in the right direction to escape. Except the instruments are going haywire. They seem to indicate that the singularity lies all around you. In every direction, the gradient of gravitation increases. If you are to believe your instruments, you are at the point of lowest gravitation inside the event horizon, and every direction points “downhill” toward the center of the black hole. So any direction you thrust your spaceship will push you closer to the singularity and your death.

This is clearly nonsense. You cannot believe what your instruments are telling you. It must be a malfunction.

But it isn’t. It’s the absolute, literal truth. Inside the event horizon of a black hole, there is no way out. There are no directions of space that point away from the singularity. Due to the Lovecraftian curvature of spacetime within the event horizon, all the trajectories that would carry you away from the black hole now point into the past.

In fact, this is the definition of the event horizon. It’s the boundary separating points in space where there are trajectories that point away from the black hole from points in space where there are none.

Your magical infinitely-accelerating engine is of no use to you … because you cannot find a direction in which to point it. The singularity is all around you, in every direction you look.

And it is getting closer.

—  An awesome description of event horizon from a Reddit user.

Precious Metal: While Jada Pinkett Smith Remains Big Will’s Hollywood Wife She Refuses To Play Second Fiddle To Anyone

When Smith approached Honore four years ago to start up a band, he was a frustrated LA. session guitarist for folks like Erykah Badu. He was feeling pigeonholed as a hip hop and R&B man. This, from a guy who caught the music bug when he saw Roy Clark picking the banjo on Hee-Haw, which, Honore concedes, is unusual for a kid growing up on the black side of segregated Baton Rouge, La. Like Smith, he never bought into the idea that his skin color meant he had to stick to one kind of music.

Smith joins her guitarists in the makeshift studio on wheels. She sometimes rolls separately from the band, and the mood changes a bit when “boss lady” hangs here. “We play the dozens all the time,” Honore says.

“But we don’t mess with her because she does get her feelings hurt,” Graves adds.

“But Will plays! He’ll bang all day long!” Honore says.

The G-rated hip hop star hasn’t been around that much for this tour, but he was there for a lot of the Ozzfest run. Smith says it opened her husband up creatively. “He was really inspired, checking out the dope ass musicians that were on that stage,” she says, “just seeing the difference of live music and what it does to the spirit of man.”

Smith says her husband is now getting jiggy with more rock-oriented signatures and live instrumentation. He’s even called Honore and other band members to get input on how to work with different sounds. “Everybody thinks that cat is one dimensional,” Honore says. “He’s not.”

The subject of Will’s transformation brings up one of the band’s biggest challenges: How does one get more black folks into this? “For black audiences, I think it’s important that we start expanding ourselves,” Smith says. “You know, black people say, ‘Oh, rock 'n’ roll is our music.’ Yeah, but you don’t listen to it. Why’s that?’”

She even complains that there’s no category for rock at the BET Awards, which she co-hosted last year along with her husband. She shakes her head in dismay. “Sometimes I feel like we’re our own worst enemy,” she says. “Because we limit ourselves more than anybody.”

For now the band will settle for a growing fan base of die-hard metal freaks, melanin deficiency and all. After the set Smith and company spend an hour at the souvenir stand signing CD covers, glossy photos, and T-shirts that read, “THIS AINT NO R&B SHIT!”

Ultimately, the pressures of employability are bringing to fruition Max Horkheimer’s lamentation on the ‘loss of interiority’ in advanced capitalist societies: societies in which ‘the wings of the imagination have been clipped too soon’, as individuals are increasingly forced to adopt a more practical and instrumental orientation to the world and others (Horkheimer, 1974: 25). A side effect of this loss of interiority is that we, as a society, may be losing our grip on the criteria to judge an activity to be worthwhile and meaningful, even if it does not contribute directly to the project of employability or the needs of the economy. Gorz poses the question: ‘When am I truly myself, that is, not a tool or a product of outside powers and influences, but rather the originator of my acts, thoughts, feelings, values?’ (Gorz, 1986). In a society where non-work is often merely an extension of work - time for recuperating, consuming anaesthetising products and entertainment, or sensibly cultivating one’s employability - I contend that this question has become worryingly difficult to answer.

David Frayne, The Refusal of Work: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Work, ‘The Colonising Power of Work’  

The idea of rationalization forms a bridge between intellectual history and the history of social and economic relationships. It describes the essence of modern social practice and thought. It is, in Foucault’s sense, a discourse. My argument is that it is a gendered discourse, that the instrumental orientation and the impersonality that govern modern social organization and thought should be understood as masculine. This means that male domination, like class domination, is no longer [just] a function of personal power relationships, but something inherent in the social and cultural structures, independent of what individual men and women will.

Thus regardless of woman’s increasing participation in the public productive sphere of society, it remains, in its practices and principles, ‘a man’s world.’ The presence of women has no effect on its rules and processes. The public institutions and the relations of production display an apparent genderlessness, so impersonal they do seem. Yet it is precisely this pervasive depersonalization, the banishment of nurturance to the private sphere, that reveal the logic of male dominance, of female denigration and exclusion. Invisible, the structure of gender domination is nevertheless materialized in the rationality that pervades our economic and social relations. The apparent gender neutrality is a kind of mystification, like the mystification that Marx identified as commodity fetishism—an illusion created by the social relations themselves.
—  Jessica Benjamin, The Bonds of Love: Psychoanalysis, Feminism, and the Problem of Domination p. 187

The new incarnation of the 1973 Buchla Music Easel is a portable, performance-oriented instrument as close as possible to the original. We have used the same circuits, mechanical design and graphic theme that made the original an ergonomic dream to grab hold of and create organic electronic music from the soul.