Joseph Cornell: In the Box


I like the way Cornell uses Surrealism to tell stories of nostalgia and dreams, all wrapped in a tidy box.

Here, Alex Kittle describes his life and work

The instinct to collect may be a basic part of human nature; we acquire and amass and stockpile a variety of things, be it nostalgic keepsakes, artistic treasures, emergency snacks, or cherished memories. Parents hold on to their children’s baby teeth, bibliophiles fill their houses with books, sports fans hunt down memorabilia from their favorite teams; my own mother dutifully collected Longaberger baskets for a good ten years. I myself collect all manner of things, often to the level of hoarding, but that is a discussion for another day. Perhaps this shared tendency is why the work of Joseph Cornell strikes a chord within so many, as I have yet to meet anyone who dislikes his thoughtful and intricate assemblages of found objects. A collector as much as an artist, he has inspired generations of artists and art-lovers, tapping into that seemingly innate human interest in stuff.

Born in 1903, Cornell grew up in the small village of Nyack, New York, a picturesque spot along the Hudson River. His four years at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts became the longest period he would spend away from home. After leaving school without a diploma, he moved back in with his family and became a textile salesman like his father, who had passed away in 1917. During the 1920s he collected various paper and secondhand ephemera, but it was not until around 1931 that he began making art out of such materials. Inspired by Surrealist exhibitions at the Julian Levy Gallery–especially Max Ernst’s collages–he created three-dimensional boxes and sculptures assembled from found objects. By 1932 he was exhibiting at the same gallery, with a solo show that fall. He also experimented with filmmaking, cutting together bits of collected film strips to create collaged movies (he returned to the medium in the 50s, collaborating with auteurs like Stan Brakhage to make films with new footage).

Throughout the next several decades, Cornell worked full- or part-time as an artist, never moving out of his mother’s house in Flushing, NY (where he helped care for his brother Robert, who had cerebral palsy) but taking frequent trips to New York City and establishing an ever-growing assortment of artistic connections and friendships, from artists Mark Rothko and Yayoi Kusama to dancer Allegra Kent and poet Mina Loy…

… The wonderful thing about Joseph Cornell is he created works of high art that could easily be read as pure knick-knacks if not for their powerful associative effect. He taps into the nostalgia inherent to so many objects, deftly combining his found items so as to elicit a response related to memory or personality, expressing feeling and experience through secondhand castaways. Putting together things like glassware, maps, stuffed birds, torn book pages, and keys, he silently invites viewers to extrapolate their own connections with such everyday items. We bring along our own baggage, our own memories, our own wishful thinking, and we are able to take it personally. Generally, Cornell is not making bold political statements or irreverent art historical references; he is not caught up in the manifestos and rampant theories of many artists of his day. He is sharing his own interests and perspective with others–often specific friends, colleagues, and crushes–through his own belongings. Many early-twentieth-century artists made art out of the everyday, but Cornell made art out of his everyday, which in turn could easily become reinterpreted as our own.

Internet Weekly went to a Cornell exhibit and said:

Cornell’s style including his use of repetitive pictures like in the Medici Princess (above) also influenced Pop artist Andy Warhol … there was newspaper that Cornell sent to his relatives during the Depression called Goop Joe’s Poultry Pages.  Some of the articles, which he typed with a Smith Corona were a hoot, especially the story on Page 19 – Duck Hunter Falls Out of Boat; Drowns.  I was cracking when I read it, and then I saw a young girl read the same article and she cracked up too.  I think Cornell would be pleased to know that his humor is still relevant today especially to his potential fees, filles or faeries as he called young women that caught his eye in New York City.

An Unexpected Discovery: Planet Orbiting 3 Stars


According to Gizmodo, this planet with three suns shouldn’t even exist.

In 2014, the ESO’s Very Large Telescope was outfitted with a new instrument called SPHERE, which features an adaptive optics system for canceling out the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere, as well as an instrument to block starlight, called a coronagraph. SPHERE is now one of the most powerful direct imaging tools planet hunters have at their disposal, and it bagged an exotic triple-star exoplanet on its very first observational campaign.

HD 131399A orbits a young A-type star, HD 131399A, taking a casual 550 Earth years to complete a single rotation. Far beyond its orbit, a Sun-like star and a K-dwarf (predictably named B and C) twirl about one another like dumbbells, while also revolving slowly around star A.

“The planet is about a third of a way out [between star A, and the B/C pair],” Wagner said. “All of the stars have a lot of gravitational influence on the planet, meaning it has a very irregular orbit that’s constantly evolving and changing.”

Whether the competing gravitational tug of three stars will cause the planet to be ripped apart or ejected from its overcrowded birthplace remains to be seen. In cosmic terms, HD 131399Ab is an infant, just 16 million years old. But the fact that it has survived this long suggests there could be more worlds like it. Some could even be small, rocky, and habitable.

“We thought that [triple star planets] weren’t going to be common, or at least in this extreme configuration, so we hadn’t really looked,” Wagner said. Studying these systems will expand our understanding of the conditions under which planets form and migrate about.

Aircraft Composites

Using resins in composite construction

There are several resins types that can be used with composites. Generally, use the one that your aircraft kit manufacturer advises. Some examples are: vinyl-ester, polyester and epoxy resins. Epoxy being more expensive, will not react on most materials used in aircraft construction. But it might have a negative effect on your body, epoxies can be toxic.

Polyester resin dissolves some foam like materials as easily as warm water melts sugar. It hardens quickly when mixed when MEKP catalyst is added in the right amount by weight.

Vinyl Ester Resin

Vinyl-ester is a relatively newcomer and is mainly used because of the aggressive allergic problems some people experienced with the other epoxy resins.

The right choice of resin also depends on the application. If you are building fuel tanks then polyester resin might not be the best choice as it will slowly be dissolved by the alcohol in the fuel. Either use vinyl-ester resins, aluminum tanks or stay away from fuels with alcohol.

The Perlan Project

Gliding into the Stratosphere


The Perlan Project (so named for the pearlescent stratospheric clouds in Scandinavia) is the brainchild of Einar (pronounced “Ay-nar”) Enevoldson, a former test pilot for the Royal Air Force, U.S. Air Force, and NASA. He’s piloted dozens of aircraft, including the F-86, F-14, and F-111. He’s also flown one-of-a-kind experimental craft, among them the odd, oblique-wing AD-1 and the X-24B lifting body. During the golden age of flight research, Enevoldson was a member of the elite community that included Chuck Yeager, Scott Crossfield, and other luminaries pushing the bounds of aviation.

Enevoldson retired from NASA in 1986 and went to work as a test pilot for Grob Aircraft in Germany, where he flew the Strato 2C, a high-altitude research aircraft developed by the German Aerospace Research Center, DLR. That project was canceled, but the work piqued his interest in high-altitude flight. He recalls walking down a corridor at DLR’s offices near Munich in 1992 and noticing an image tacked outside the office of an atmospheric researcher. Made with LIDAR (light detection and ranging), the image showed what Enevoldson recognized as mountain waves, but these were far bigger and extended much higher than any he had seen before. Standing in front of the image, Enevoldson immediately saw the potential to do something unprecedented. He realized that if the waves were associated with enough wind, they could propel a glider to heights previously thought unobtainable. “I really thought at this moment that this could end up being my life’s work,” he says. High-altitude glider pilot Doug Perrenod, a Perlan project team member, says the realization was the project’s eureka moment.

Mountain waves can be compared to water in a stream swiftly running over a boulder. Air is a fluid, and once winds crest over a mountain ridge and roll down the mountain’s other side—the lee side—they push up into a wave. With the right conditions, the wave can rise thousands of feet higher than the summit of the mountains.

The presence of the waves are often indicated by clouds that are lens-shaped, or lenticular. Early aviators quickly learned to avoid flying near or under the convex clouds because they are associated with severe turbulence and downdrafts. But as far back as the 1930s, glider pilots discovered they could use the powerful updrafts to climb to great heights.

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Creative Writing: Top 10 Science Fiction Magazines

Via Creative Writing:

1. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction

This is a professional magazine that began publishing in 1949 which makes it the second oldest continually publishing science fiction magazines in the country. They have one up on the oldest however, popularity. The publication is tremendously popular. It is the most widely read science fiction magazine in the country. It is consistently outstanding and publishing outstanding authors like (from their site) “Stephen King’s Dark Tower, Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon, and Walter M. Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz.” This magazine is the cream of the alien crop.” Fantasy & Science Fiction magazines represents all of what’s best in science fiction today. The publication has an Alexa rating of about 135,000.

2. Analog Science Fiction and Fact

This is a professional magazine that began publishing started publishing 1930 and is as they say “often considered the magazine where science fiction grew up.” They do it very well and have published many outstanding science fiction authors including “Isaac Asimov, Robert A. Heinlein, Poul Anderson, Spider Robinson, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Michael F. Flynn.” The publication is the oldest science fiction magazine in the country, and they are consistently nominated for award after award. This publication has done an unequivocal job over the last 80 years of keeping great science fiction writing alive in print. They have an Alexa rating of about 691,000.

3. Asimov’s Science Fiction

This is a professional magazine that began publishing began publishing in 1977 and is simply a high quality science fiction magazine that showcases some of the best in science fiction today. They publish great authors and the publication is one of the best science fiction magazines ever published, hands down. They have an Alexa rating of about 304,000,

4. Strange Horizons

Began publishing in 2000. They are a very popular online science fiction magazine. In 2007 they were nominated for a Hugo award. Works from their issues are consistently chosen for inclusion in many national anthologies. They are a science fiction magazine of the best kind. Strange Horizons represents where science fiction magazines are going in the future. The publication has an Alexa rating of about 200,000.