Artist I’m Revisiting – Jean Giraud, ”Moebius”.
Jean Giraud has been described as the most important French Cartoonist since Hergé, who created Tintin. Giraud created several comics through his life, contributed to the story board of numerous iconic films such as Alien, and Tron, he collaborated with greats such as Stan Lee, and he produced many pieces of art that remain some my favorites since I’ve discovered him years ago. Giraud became famous early on in his career with his Western comics, but I most enjoy his later work, which is strange science-fiction-fantasy pieces. My favorite piece is probably the one above, where he takes the iconic Bridge of Sighs from Venice, and re-imagines it with a void rather than water bellow it. In all his pieces, he demonstrates wonderful imagination, makes great use of contrasts, and I particularly like his choice of colors when he uses them. They have some kind of washed out, retro pastel look to them that makes his work quite unique to me. I seem to have no trouble telling a Moebius apart from other drawings of the same genre, his style just stands out. Every drawing of his, whether it be a small panel in a comic book or a standalone piece of art, it always makes use of clever framing and eye catching perspective. His sci-fi drawings are to me as though Star Wars and Lord of the Rings had been imagined and combined by an artist from Atlantis. Further along in time and imagination than the world in which we live, Moebius’ drawings were unmistakably produced in the past. I quite like futuristic art that is produced today, but in my opinion, it almost makes me feel like I’m looking at photography sometimes, which is cool, but I think there is a lot of room for more personalized art like this. In his drawings I feel like I can see his pen strokes. Giraud did a lot of story telling as well, but I haven’t read any of his graphic novels so I cannot speak to it. Giraud died in 2012, at 73 years old. The following link is to a Pinterest Board where I put a bunch of his drawings together. I couldn’t find a good archive of his art to attach for you, so I made one there myself. If you are unfamiliar with Pinterest, you do not need an account, just click beside the the pop-up when you are prompted to log in. https://pin.it/3UrEElS
Portraits I’ve Been Looking Up – Roman Emperors. Recently in Facebook groups that I follow, I have observed very good photo-realistic renderings of the likeness of Roman Emperors appear in droves. Attached bellow is a link to an article written by one particular creator, who used the software Artbreeder (which is free and very fun to play with if you have thirty minutes) to combine pictures of ancient artwork depicting the emperor with photo realistic effects to create compelling renditions of these past leaders. It is difficult to say with any certainty whether or not these ancient busts and images of the emperors were themselves accurate. The word propaganda is Latin after all. The faces of Roman Emperors would have been known to all their citizens thanks to permanent statues installed all over the empire, that allowed for interchangeable busts, so that only a new head would need to be created whenever a new emperor was proclaimed. Now that’s what I call cost saving. Their faces were also on all coins minted by the empire during their reign. I hardly expect that these emperors would have advertised blemishes, pimples, or even ugliness, but then again, Nero certainly appears ugly in his sculptures. Perhaps he preferred the fame that came with his face being recognized than the publicity that good looks might have given him. Besides those digital renderings shown in the link I attached, others exist that are very good and easy to find, as well as wax statues (which are just as unsettling in photography as in person). I find it very interesting to look at the faces of the long dead individuals who once believed that they ruled the world. Sometimes I read stories of them, and it’s strange to put a face to people who died long before the advent of photography. It is also interesting to see the diversity of cultures from which these individuals came from. Arabs, Africans, Berbers, Italians, Iberians, Greeks, and more. I sometimes forget how diverse and interconnected that world was two millennia ago. https://medium.com/@voshart/photoreal-roman-emperor-project-236be7f06c8f
Videos I Watched – Neuralink Update, August 2020.
This might be old news for you, but I just watched Neuralink’s presentation, aired on August 28. This brain implant might be the most sci-fi project currently in production. In short, Neuralink is another Elon Musk company which has been working on creating a brain implant. What will this implant do? At first, they will use the implant to solve neurological disorders such as Parkinsons, and according to Musk, even paralysis. In this first phase, the company will use the medical applications of their device as an opportunity to test and improve the technology. It’s real potential however might be in it’s ability to revolutionize human-to-technology interfacing. Currently we are limited in our interfacing with technology by the speed at which we can type, and more often by the speed of our thumbs on our phone screens. With this implant, you might be able to run a Google Search instantaneously by thinking. This device might also one day allow us to record memories perfectly, as seen through your own eyes, and in the long run, the device might allow us to record states of being, such as the feelings you felt when you first heard your favorite song, or how you felt when you fell in love. In this most recent update, Musk spends much time reassuring us about the safety of this device and it’s ever diminishing size. It seems like Neuralink feels as though they need to convince us that this is the future. Admittedly, not many science fiction movies from the past predicted that we’d be implanting technology into our skulls. Even Star Trek used cell phones instead of implants. Little of the actual potential of the Neuralink is known, since it deals intimately with the brain, which is itself very badly understood, even by the best researchers, but I once heard Musk say it might improve your ability to think, reason, and access information to such a level, that he could imagine a future where individuals would take a loan to pay for the device and surgery, and then bank on their increased ability to earn money thanks to their newly acquired mental capabilities. It is a dystopian idea, and it belongs just next to our paragraph about Moebius’ art.
Book I Read This Week – Origins, by Dan Brown. Origins is the 5th book in the Robert Langdon Series, the same series which featured the famous titles Angels and Demons, and The Da Vinci Code. I have seen the two movies based on those two books, but Origins is the first book from the series that I read. Dan Brown wrote the novels so that they can be standalone adventures for his protagonist, Robert Langdon, and with a title like Origins, I thought it was as good a place as any to start. The character Robert Langdon, who is difficult to imagine as anyone else than Tom Hanks, is a fictional professor from Harvard University, where he teaches the history of art, and the subject of Symbology. Though of an open mind himself, Landon seems to constantly find himself embroiled in webs of secret wars waged between radical backward looking Christians and zealot atheists. Langdon’s professorial background perfectly arms him to solve the puzzles and mysteries which lead like breadcrumbs to fantastic revelations about the origins of religion, and the future of humanity. In this 5th story, Dan Brown leads us like tourists around a specialized tour of Spain. His novel teaches us about the Spanish Royalty, about the social history of Spain since the death of the dictator Franco. We learn about and visit works by the famous architect and philosopher of art, Antoni Gaudí, as well as spend time with the ideas of other illustrious thinkers such as William Blake. Dan Brown writes books that are very accessible to broad audiences, and he has a great ability to give historical, artistic, and philosophical notions important roles in his plots. In this story, the principle themes are based in the important questions “Where do we come from, and where are we going?”. I very much enjoyed this book, as it gave me something new to think about every time I put it down, and I always wanted to pick it up.