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Media Cloud – Solutions For Media Analysis


      Yabberz has an interesting collection of individuals, many of whom as commentators are truly impressive. The range seems to span between those mostly interested in presenting anecdotal chat to those who might well be considered as something resembling investigative journalists. So I'm wondering if there are any here who have used, or might be interested in using Harvard Berkman's Media Cloud information analyzer site. It verges on the "Big Data" of things, not simplistic at all. Going that extra mile, a bit of extra "work" to potentially increase one's effectiveness and credibility and value as commentator...

      Side benefit of usage just might be to further reduce the tendency to resort to ad hominems and other fallacious mechanisms...


      Media Cloud is a massive data set of news — compiled from newspapers, other established news organizations, and blogs — and a set of tools for analyzing those data. Some of the kinds of questions Media Cloud could eventually help answer:

      — How do specific stories evolve over time? What path do they take when they travel among blogs, newspapers, cable TV, or other sources?
      — What specific story topics won’t you hear about in [News Source X], at least compared to its competitors?
      — When [News Source Y] writes about Sarah Palin [or Pakistan, or school vouchers], what’s the context of their discussion? What are the words and phrases they surround that topic with?

      As Berkman Fellow Ethan Zuckerman puts it (not in this particular video), it’s an attempt to move media criticism and media analysis beyond the realm of the anecdote — to gather concrete data to back or contradict our suspicions.

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      John Trumbull


          The Capture of the Hessians at Trenton December 26 1776 -- John Trumbull

          As we approach the presidential inauguration, John Trumbull's name comes to mind. Usually when we picture early American painters they are folk artists, unschooled and untrained with only a scant knowledge of perspective. Some of their work might remind one not only of the hobbyist in the hamlet one mile down the road who likes to paint pictures but also see at times traces of medieval work. Although I have seen exquisite examples of the latter so precise and meticulous in detail that it makes me wonder about the sophistication of their craft. An example which always comes to mind is that of a rosary portraying the last supper carved out of boxwood as part of the permanent collection of New York's Cloisters. Ah, but my memory has betrayed me. It was not the last supper but a triptych of microscopically carved figures: the Journey to Nazareth and the Nativity, the Journey to Nazareth and the Adoration of the Magi, and Presentation in the Temple. This piece was of Northern European origin and created in a period more towards the Renaissance than the Middle Ages. But such craftsmanship did not emerge from a vacuum as if suspended in a bubble over time's arrow.

          1500–1510. South Netherlandish. Boxwood

          When we look at early Americana, we are reminded of the portraits of John Brewster Jr. or those of Edward Hicks or the stiff wooden figures of Ammi Phillips. Yet each of them blew life into their creations. Their portraits stare back at us and onto eternity. America was inventing herself from scratch, but there were highly trained artists among them. The father of American painting was Benjamin West who through the backing of several Philadelphia patrons send him to Europe in 1760. There he tarried in Italy for three years absorbing its aesthetic ambiance before arriving in London where he was adopted as Britain's leading painter. Unanimously elected to the Royal Academy as their second president, West served that venerable institution for twenty-eight years and played a centrally important role of instructing and mentoring early American painters. Among his students was none other than John Trumbull. Among the panoply of Early American greats were the likes of Gilbert Stuart perhaps best known for is portrait of George Washington, John Singleton Copley, Rembrandt Peale, and Thomas Sully. Two inventors with artistic leanings were included in West's list of students: Robert Fulton and Samuel F. B. Morse.

          At that time landscape painting was considered a low art. Portraiture was a bit higher. The highest visual art subject matter was that of historical painting for which most of these artists were known. However one should take note that as a mentor, Benjamin West had advised John Constable to give up portrait painting and devote his time to landscapes. Perhaps this advise had paid off as he became known as one of Britain's greatest landscapists and much admired later on by no other than the French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix.

          General George Washington Resigning His Commission 1822-24 -- John Trumbull

          John Trumbull attended Harvard University where he was not only exposed to European history but to the portraits that hung in its halls. His love for painting may have been born on campus. When he returned to his hometown of Lebanon, Connecticut, he picked up the brush and resumed painting. However war interrupted his plans and aspirations briefly serving in the Continental Army as an officer in Connecticut's First Regiment witnessing the battle of Bunker Hill. He continued to aid the war effort as a cartographer. And although he fought Britain upholding the right of the thirteen colonies for independence, he traveled to England in1780 for the noble purpose of studying art. Again, he traveled to London four years later. In both instances he journeyed to London to study under Benjamin West who encouraged Trumbull to paint contemporary themes in particular the events that had just unfolded in the founding of a country.

          Trumbull wanted to depict the founding moments of the United States and executed eight works on the Revolutionary War with the purpose in mind to impart what had transpired for generations to come of a period in history which shone a light on individual liberty and human progress. Today we might think of this episode which brought about an independent country in not so lofty terms. However, the mindset of those days was the onward march of reason permeating society through the rule of law and effective governance that would be the epicenter of a contagion of similar changes witnessed later on in Europe with the French storming the Bastille.

          Signing the Declaration of Independence 28th June 1776 1817 -- John Trumbull

          A second edition adorns the Capitol's rotunda, but in 1831 a third and final series was never completed due to Trumbull's failing health. Five of the eight paintings for the third series were completed. These works are currently on display at Connecticut's Wadsworth Atheneum. Daniel Wadsworth founded the museum on his father's estate. His father Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth had George Washington as his guest in his home in Hartford. He was Commissary General to the Continental Army and later stepped into politics. His only son Daniel was an art patron who by founding this museum helped preserve the birth of American art now featuring a part of the oeuvre of John Trumbull who was a friend of the family. His niece married Daniel Wadsworth.

          Trustees to the museum had purchased the five last paintings of the American Revolution third series and were put on display at the Atheneum's opening in 1844. I always ask what legacy a famous artist leaves behind. The obvious answer would be his or her oeuvre – the body of work. But such work would have to be seen by the public for a society to cherish them. People would be hard put to value that which never sees the light of day and that which remains locked in safes or buried in cellars or seen only by a privileged few. Alongside the artist's output as a legacy there is also its accessibility by a viewing public.

          Yorktown Surrenders -- John Trumbull

          Artists also leave behind other bequeathals. In the case of Robert Douglas Hunter, for instance, he left behind not only valuable still lifes but the fond memories of his students who benefited from his critiques and passed onto the the next generation of pupils his understanding of the fine arts. The artist as instructor leaves behind not only a student body but the content of his lessons. Loyal disciples remember and reiterate the salient points of painting that they struggled to master under his tutelage.

          Trumbull had students as president of New York City's American Academy of Fine Arts, but unlike Hunter his students balked at his demands many of them withdrawing from his courses in 1825. The academy closed some fourteen years later on account of changes in popular taste for the visual arts and a fire that destroyed its permanent collection. While his students had turned against his heavy handed approach to painting, his inspiration remains for artists aspiring to bring life to history. Perhaps then his legacy is only found in his body of work commemorating a time and place in human history where a country far from moral perfection was founded on ideals upon which few had thought possible. His work therefore stands as a monument for those formative years.

          The Sortie Made by the Garrison of Gibraltar by John Trumbull 1788




          American Art Review Kellaway, Thomas R. ed. & publisher. John Trumbull: Visualizing American Independence pp. 64-67. American Arts Media, Inc. Leawood, Kansas. February 2017.

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          7 Days


              Great message for all of us.

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              One Of The Many Bridge World Events That Keeps Me Busy - Gates And USA TEAM


                  In Chinese, as the English Version is still in post production. Bill Gates representing the USA against the Italian Lavazza Team and two of the powerhouse Chinese teams from Beijing. The order of finish:

                  A multiple World Champion and #1 Woman in the World, American Jill Meyers with Teammate Bill Gates.

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                  Pundit Post

                  Statements To Take Very, Very Seriously


                      These were passed on to my wife by a friend. None of the three of us wrote them, but of course we all endorse them. Whole-heartedly. Like.

                      1. I hate Russian dolls, they're so full of themselves.

                      2. I asked my North Korean friend how it was there, he said he couldn't complain.

                      3. My girlfriend started smoking, so I slowed down and applied Lubricant.

                      4. Don't let an extra chromosome get you down.

                      5. I haven't talked to my wife in three weeks. I didn't want to interrupt her.

                      6. People used to laugh at me when I would say "I want to be a comedian", well nobody's laughing now.

                      7. My wife told me to stop impersonating a flamingo. I had to put my foot down.

                      8. Throwing acid is wrong, in some people's eyes.

                      9. My wife and I were happy for twenty years; then we met.

                      10. I haven't slept for three days, because that would be too long.

                      11. The first time I got a universal remote control, I thought to myself "This changes everything."

                      12. My grandfather has the heart of a lion and a lifetime ban from the local zoo.

                      13. Say what you want about deaf people...

                      14. I've spent the past four years looking for my ex-girlfriend's killer, but no one will do it.

                      15. I saw a sign that said "watch for children" and I thought, "That sounds like a fair trade."

                      16. I refused to believe my road worker father was stealing from his job, but when I got home, all the signs were there.

                      17. I recently decided to sell my vacuum cleaner, all it was doing was gathering dust.

                      18. People say I'm condescending. That means i talk down to people.

                      19. You can never lose a homing pigeon - if your homing pigeon doesn't come back, what you've lost is a pigeon.

                      20. Whiteboards are remarkable.

                      21. I was at an ATM and this old lady asked me to help check her balance, so I pushed her over.

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                      Daniel Chester French


                          Detail from Lincoln Monument -- Daniel Chester French

                          Thus far my blogs have featured painters along with a few printmakers but no sculptors. When I visualize sculptors, I picture an artist intent on delicately hammering away with chisel against cold marble marveling at its smoothness and the sheen as though it were gently covered in patina. The marmoreal quality of stone breathes life into the work that though ashen white the color of a blood-drained corpse, its shines cold of course but radiantly so.

                          And when it is the figure of a lithe female graceful in her youthful glory perhaps draped with a toga, my eyes feast upon her like imaginary hands touching her beauty. She smiles with delight greeting all passersby or she is perpetually looking heavenward for solace. The full range of human expression is upon her – a frozen moment within an eternal myth. And in my imagination, I dare to embrace her to warm the cold marble surface and transform her into a living creature and hence Galatea. There is a painting of Galatea. The sculptor who is Pygmalion not only caresses her but betrays the stone with a kiss and voila we see her turning to flesh – a warm spirited entity coming alive in Pygmalion's embrace. Jean Léon Gérôme's masterpiece takes place not in classical Greece but inside the atelier of a Parisian sculptor who in a fit of insanity maddeningly embraces his work. Galatea leans to her side to kiss him. The artist qua alchemist transformed this calcified quarts-like adamantine substance that of metamorphosed limestone into animate flesh. Did she really lean to her side for his osculation or was she sculpted that way and he on tippy toes leaned upward to meet her lips? And in the background unseen by Gérôme or the viewer is the goddess Venus who empowers the artist as alchemist or rather theurgist.

                          Pygmalion and Galatea -- Jean Léon Gérôme

                          Perhaps she is analogous to the poet's muse who not only inspires but dictates. We have Calliope for epics, Clio for the annals of humanity's past, and Euterpe for the lyricist. We also have Erato shooting Cupids arrows and Melpomene together co-writing with William Shakespeare “Romeo and Juliet.” Five of the nine sisters were devoted to writing but none of them for the visual arts including sculpture. Gérôme must have been keenly aware of the muse's absence and hence no depiction of Venus in the saga of Pygmalion.

                          Once made into flesh, does Galatea survive or is she smitten with mortality and must succumb to old age and death? The stone when properly taken care of will survive perhaps for eons not unlike the Greek statuary unearthed in archaeological digs. The one advantage that the sculptor has over the painter is longevity. Only paintings on copper will last for awhile. But images etched in stone will withstand the assault of time but only for awhile as the lines and grooves grow shallower by the year. That which is molded or carved out into figurines last longer withstanding the siege of wind and rain and floods. Alas, under a constant assault from the heavens and from the wind, even these must succumb. With regard to the life of a stone compared to bones covered in fleshy sinews it is a matter of centuries. The life of a man or that of a woman is in decades but the life carved into marble could very well span hundreds of years. And with the rock's longevity goes its author's name.

                          The St. Paul's School War Memorial" ("Death and Youth") -- Daniel Chester French

                          Painters take up sculpting to evolve their two-dimensional art. Often the art instructor stresses the importance of drawing with a raised stylus whirling in the ether tracing the outline of the subject against the backdrop of air. This alone conditions both hand and eye that when placing graphite or charcoal upon paper, the image appears as though in all three dimensions. The drafter has sculpted with line the subject matter at hand. This training of drawing in the air may very well have been practiced by aspiring painters during the Renaissance when paper and paint were scarce. One, after all had to manufacture his own supplies, drying pulp for paper and grinding pigments for egg tempera. Perhaps a lot more time was spent in preparation than the actual painting itself. Thus the inner eye what they might have termed in Latin as the Oculi Mentis or mind's eye was crucial in developing the talent of let us say a da Vinci or di Caravaggio. They were obliged to dwell within the depths of the imagination while conforming to the rigors of the day. And so we are thus led to the classicism of the French painter Gérôme but also the American sculptor Daniel Chester French.

                          French showed promise in his youth. When reaching the precious age of ten, this Vermonter's family settled in Concord, Massachusetts. A neighbor by the name of May Alcott was an artist who inspired the young French. She was sister to the renown writer Louisa May Alcott. Showing a precocious talent for sculpting, French was accepted to the New York studio of John Quincy Adams Ward. While instruction lasted for only a brief period, Ward's mentorship and friendship lasted a lifetime placing the young French on a professional footing.

                          Abraham Lincoln (1920) in the Lincoln Memorial, Washington, D.C -- Daniel Chester French

                          Back in Boston he studied anatomy with William Rimmer also working from casts at the Boston Atheneum.. By 1873, his fame grew as the public began recognizing his talent. He was commissioned to sculpt a statue memorializing the Minutemen of the American Revolution by his adopted town of Concord, Massachusetts. The bronze statue was unveiled commemorating the centenary of the Battle of Concord. This was his debut into the art world. Following the well trodden path of artists, French journeyed to Europe to polish his skills.

                          After receiving training in European classicism, French returned to Massachusetts. He was in his fifties when he sculpted the “Mourning Victory” memorial for three fallen brothers of the First World War commissioned by the surviving sibling James C. Melvin. Now one would think that the lonely sculptor plods along day after day in his studio chipping away at marble. That is not quite how it works especially for accomplished artists. The actual execution of this work in marble was done by Piccirilli brothers from a full-size plaster. Even Rodin worked in this manner. It was not unusual for the master sculptor to design the piece and have it reproduced in a foundry or by highly skilled stone masons. The lone sculptor plodding by himself is indeed a myth except when one is an emerging artist with limited capital. Then perhaps he plods alone hoping for success.

                          Picture of Mourning Victory of the Melvin Memorial 1906-08 -- Daniel Chester French

                          French left a legacy not only in his work well preserved in metal or stone whose impressions inspire generations of sculptors and even painters but his daughter also became an accomplished sculptor. Margaret French Cresson had studied under Abestania St. Leger Eberle and George Demetrius. Her focus was on marble busts and portrait heads as well as bornze memorial plaques. She exhibited in Paris, Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. and other venues. She became an associate academician to the National Academy of Design in during WWII later becoming full academician by 1959. Her husband was a diplomat but also a writer and an architect. The marriage lasted a mere eleven years due to his untimely passing. Both are buried in Pennsylvania. Thanks to her efforts her father's home in Concord has been preserved and now is a museum as well as an historical heritage site. As they say and it is highly pertinent in this regard, the fruit never falls far from the tree.

                          The Angel of Death and the Sculptor (Milmore Memorial) - 1889/93 -- Daniel Chester French



                          Amerian Art Review . Dearinger, David B. Daniel Chester French: The female form revealed. Pp 58 – 63 & pp.111-112. American Arts Media, Inc. Leawood, Kansas February 2017.

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