Archive for September, 2008

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Tyler Mueninch

September 30, 2008

[Minor time update below for those thinking about stopping by].

It’s been really hectic here at the IHC with board retreats and new projects underway and a slew of new grant awards (more on that later) but I’m fast running out of time to clue you in on a pretty cool event with IDADA’s First Fridays this week.

Tyler Mueninch, who I’ve written about before, will be having a full exhibition at the Harrison Center for the Arts. The exhibition is called “bristled.” As the author himself says,

This series originated in my father’s studio, where we made paint brushes and other handmade tools. About halfway through the work I was doing for a show last October he showed me how to make some of my own brushes and encouraged me to use them on my paintings. This body of work is the result of some of that work.  Many times the brushes are the subject, in a kind of ambiguous space. The handmade brushes were an exciting way for me to work outside of my own set of rules.

The Harrison Center is at 1505 N. Delaware Street in Indianapolis historic Old Northside Neighborhood. Do you know what’s right across the street? The home of Meredith Nicholson, a.k.a. The Indiana Humanities Council offices, which will be open for visitors from 5pm-7pm and we too have Mueninch’s work on display. So, if you like what you see at the Harrison Center, feel free to pop over our way and see more before you head on down to the other galleries.

The Harrison Center will be open from 6pm-9pm for the exhibition.

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Meandering Indiana – 8

September 16, 2008

I was shocked to learn recently that Sullivan County lies due south of Terre Haute, not off in the Hoosier National Forest somewhere as I supposed. Shocked, because that means I’ve driven through the county lots and lots of times without knowing it was there.

Since I’ve visited the “Pocket” (SW Indiana) on countless occasions, I’ve apparently shot down I-70 to Terre Haute, driven straight through to Vincennes, done that ridiculous curlicue to stay on US 41, and then on to Evansville, without paying a bit of attention to Sullivan County, which sits smack in the way. On the return trip, I usually check my gas gauge and think, no, I can make it to Terre Haute and again not stopped. Well, I apologize, and next time, it will be different, so help me.

What finally made me see the light was a grant application from the Sullivan County Historical Society for one of the Indiana Humanities Council’s emergency flood grants (still available). In detailing the story of their trials with the floods & rain, they pointed out that Sullivan County — the county seat of which is Sullivan, Indiana — has had its notable citizens.

For example, the SCHS is the repository of the papers of Antoinette Leach, the first woman in Indiana to be admitted to the bar (June 14, 1893). She was admitted when the Indiana Supreme Court found that an “error” (yeah, right) had been made by the Greene County Circuit Court, which refused to allow her to practice law.

Another remarkable native of Sullivan County was William Harrison Hays, Sr. Not only did Hays manage the campaign for the presidency of Warren G. Harding, but he was also the first president of what became the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). As such, he lent his name to the Hays Code of 1930 which sought to uphold moral standards in the making of Hollywood films. It lasted until the 1960s when it was replaced by the MPAA film rating system. The Hays archive is also housed at the SCHS.

Another feature of Sullivan County that I really need to see is Merom Bluff, described as a mountain range (!) and said to have a fantastic view overlooking the Wabash River. So there’s my proposed meandering itinerary, for once not in the past but in the future. All I need is a tank of gas, a place to have lunch, and I’m all set.

This entry was posted by: Nancy
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Secret of the Universe Revealed?

September 10, 2008

As previously noted, I often listen to Mike & Mike in the Morning on ESPN radio. They don’t always stick to sports, either. This morning they were discussing the new particle collider, whether it really needs a 17-mile underground ring, and whether it would help us understand the universe. Excellent questions.

Mike Golic, the true jock on the ESPN team, remarked that the topic made him think back to his freshman year at Notre Dame. A philosophy professor strolled into the classroom on the first day, held up his cup of coffee, and told the students that through a study of this styrofoam cup, they would learn whether there is life after death. Mike Greenberg then asked his radio partner whether they ever did, and Golic said he didn’t remember. He did, however, recall that the course material involved some Kierkegaard.

What do we learn from this story? 1) A particle collider cannot tell you everything. 2) Neither can a philosophy professor, but good try. 3) All kinds of people can be intrigued by the humanities. 4) And not always on NPR.

I know this is true because I’ve met a variety of folks interested in one aspect of the humanities or another. Also, I once taught at Purdue, and I had a few of Golic’s brothers-in-arms (defensive linemen) in my classes. We had some enjoyable discussions about literature, especially when the novels involved college mores and co-ed dorms.

Ironically, G&G then went on to talk about Lou Piniella and the Chicago Cubs’ losing streak, which again brought up the topic of life after death, at least in my mind.

This entry was posted by: Nancy
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Meredith Nicholson (Open) House

September 5, 2008

As part of First Fridays the Harrison Center for the Arts is having an Urban Times artists reception and open studio night. And do you know what’s right across the street? The Meredith Nicholson House–the office for the Indiana Humanities Council. We will be having an open house with some snacks and some wine, so if you’re nearby, head over here then head over there, or head over there then head over here.

Or do what we’ll be doing. Going over there then coming back, then going over there, then coming back…

While you’re here you can check out the paintings by Tyler Mueninch we have on display.

Good times.

When: Tonight (September 5, 2008) starting around 6.

@1500 N. Delaware Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46202

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Idle Thoughts on Intellectual Assembly Lines

September 5, 2008

Here Bruce LaDuke puts “crowd sourcing” into a historical context that raises some interesting questions about the future of intellectual endeavor. Go here  if you don’t know what that term means and want a neat (and timely example) of how it works.

I’m not at all sure what an assembly line looks like in an intellectual setting and I’m even less sure of what it might mean in terms of how the various human component will be viewed by society at large. Just taking a casual glance back at the way we’ve treated human assembly lines in the past there seems an ambivalence of attitudes.

On the one hand, a craftsman able to perform every function of a line: a person who can build an engine from beginning to end, is given more respect than a person with just one of the necessary skills, boring cylinders, for example. We make television shows of organ makers, for example, but none on the guys that press the brass into the sheets the organ makers use. On the other hand, boring cylinders is hard work and requires a trained hand. Moreover, America’s factory workers are the backbone on which our prosperity is built. I’ve been very proud of all my relatives in various blue collar jobs and have never once faulted them for not being a craftsman, and I know I’m not alone. 

I don’t know if I will feel different about the intellectual assembly line. By now Wikipedia has been out long enough for me to 1) have participated in editing pages and 2) know people who have. But it hasn’t been around long enough that I know anybody whose soul employ is being one of the crowd sources.

At any rate, as a writer I don’t see myself sharing a skillset with the Wikipedians any more than I think the similarities between press releases and poems is anything more than superficial. It’s not a looking down on what they do. I find their work worthwhile in my day-to-day life. I just would never compare what they do to what I do.

But that’s just Wikipeida. Open source applications are a growing realm for this sort of intellectual assembly line. I imagine already that certain people are really good at creating certain kinds of widgets, themes, and other applications that are built for specific interactivity. If a really wonderful calendar widget comes out for Firefos, how long do we wait for its creator to make the same basic interface for Chrome? I’m coming from a place of ignorance here but breaking application work out from more holistic programming seems like just a subset of the larger craft. Do webapp specialist get viewed as peers of programmers or as something else altogether?

Of course, science has been using an assembly line system for awhile now so maybe I’m decades late in even wondering about this stuff.

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Technology, History, Politics

September 4, 2008

Last Friday Mills over at edwired ran a nice post that blends technology, politics, history, and personal narrative wherein, among other things he asks: 

These days, the pressure to be able to hit “send” first is so great that the new deadline is five seconds ago, not before the press has to start running or before the 11:00 newscast. What does this immediacy do to the quality of reporting? What does it mean for the way the public interacts with that information? Does the first take become the take? These are all questions historians of politics will be asking themselves in the coming decades.

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Trendspotting the Global Curve

September 2, 2008

One of my latest reading projects is a book that’s a couple of years old, but hey, I just came across it. The book is A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel H. Pink.

Pink argues that, under the current conditions of the global marketplace, the Information Age is no longer where we Americans need to compete. Instead, we can only hope to succeed if we master the right-brained aptitudes of the Conceptual Age.

What intrigued me about the book was the list of these essential contemporary skills:

  • Design
  • Story
  • Symphony
  • Empathy
  • Play
  • Meaning

As I’ve been following Jim’s thoughts on the humanities — their application and their worth — Pink’s catalog of elements keeps coming to the top of my admittedly somewhat left-brained mind. You see, those are all facets that belong to the humanities.

Let’s start with an obvious feature of literature and history, Story or “engaging narratives” in Pink’s words. Telling stories remains one of the most powerful forms of human communication and also one of the highest forms of artistic achievement.

Pink would add that it’s a great way to make money. Gosh, no, not by way of the Great American Novel, but there are tons of commercial uses. Think about it. Telling stories effectively has any number of applications — and value — for corporations, political parties, families, and communities.

This entry was posted by: Nancy