The Art of Solitude

The challenges and rewards of being alone By Stephen Batchelor Iwas introduced to the practice of mindfulness by S. N. Goenka in 1974, a few weeks after being ordained as a novice monk. Together with a group of young Tibetan monks and Western students of Buddhism, I attended a silent ten-day Vipassana retreat in Dharamsala, India. During the first three days we cultivated mindfulness of breathing by focusing on the sensation of the breath as it passes over the upper lip. After a while the fugitive passage of inhalations and exhalations consolidated into a stable point of sensation at the center of the lip. This … Continue reading The Art of Solitude

Against Aloneness in the Web of Life: Ernst Haeckel, Charles Darwin, and the Art of Turning Personal Tragedy into a Portal to Transcendence

An antidote to isolation by way of tiny marine creatures and a broken Romantic heart. BY MARIA POPOVA In the waning winter of 1864, Charles Darwin opened a package that stopped his breath. “It is one of the most magnificent works which I have ever seen,” he exulted in his response to the sender — a young, still obscure German marine biologist by the name of Ernst Haeckel (February 16, 1834–August 9, 1919), who would go on to coin the word ecology a century before the great marine biologist Rachel Carson made it a household word in catalyzing the environmental movement. Haeckel would become a … Continue reading Against Aloneness in the Web of Life: Ernst Haeckel, Charles Darwin, and the Art of Turning Personal Tragedy into a Portal to Transcendence

Photography as a Zen Art

by M.H. RUBIN Sometimes you know about two things in completely different parts of your brain, and then one day, for no reason, you put them together and your head explodes — a cascade of understandings like the last scene in “Usual Suspects”. After 40 years of taking pictures, that happened to me. One idea changed me overnight. And if you have a camera it will change you, too. There is absolutely no doubt that it’s important to understand how your camera works if you want to take consistently great photos. Even with the powerful automatic (and artificial intelligence) built in, … Continue reading Photography as a Zen Art

Can Visual Content Remain Trustworthy?

 by PAUL MELCHER The battle is on. The forces of truth against forces of deception. With visual AI making it easier to fake visual content, its credibility is at stake. And with it, the income of thousands upon thousands of people worldwide who depend on the credibility of visuals to thrive: newspapers, magazines, photographers, newswires, webcasters, television news, videographers, journalists, and photo agencies, among many others. The stakes are very high. If we no longer trust our photos or videos, we lose our primary knowledge of what is truly happening outside of our immediate surroundings. With it, the ability for … Continue reading Can Visual Content Remain Trustworthy?

Old Book Illustrations: An Online Database Lets You Download Thousands of Illustrations from the 19th & 20th Centuries

by Josh Jones  The Golden Age of Illustration is typically dated between 1880 and the early decades of the 20th century. This was “a period of unprecedented excellence in book and magazine illustration,” writes Artcyclopedia; the time of artists like John Tenniel, Beatrix Potter (below), Arthur Rackham, and Aubrey Beardsley. Some of the most prominent illustrators, such as Beardsley and Harry Clarke (see one of his Poe illustrations above), also became internationally known artists in the Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, and Pre-Raphaelite movements. But extensive book illustration as the primary visual culture of print precedes this period by several decades. One of … Continue reading Old Book Illustrations: An Online Database Lets You Download Thousands of Illustrations from the 19th & 20th Centuries

PLAYING THE JOKER IS NOW THE GREATEST ACTING CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME

by Miles Klee  Hollywood has set a weird precedent by treating the clown who does crimes like a Shakespearean role Joaquin Phoenix was nominated for an Oscar three times, for three powerhouse performances, before striking gold with his turn as the titular antihero of Joker. First he was Commodus, the vindictive emperor of Gladiator; then he was Johnny Cash in the biopic Walk the Line (Cash himself approved the casting); lastly, and most memorably, he was Freddie Quell in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a near-feral Navy vet and drunk who winds up in thrall to the debonair leader of a pseudoscience cult. They say … Continue reading PLAYING THE JOKER IS NOW THE GREATEST ACTING CHALLENGE OF OUR TIME

Photographic Style Can’t Be ‘Canned’

About the author: Simon King is a London based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects… Conversations around photographic style have always felt a little odd to me for a few reasons. It’s something I get asked about a lot by my students, as they feel that without a style, a visual signature, then they will find it very difficult to differentiate themselves from other working artists. So much of today’s communication is done through brands and visual identity that it’s a natural response for photographers to seek to find some way … Continue reading Photographic Style Can’t Be ‘Canned’