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Mike Caputo
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Developer, entrepreneur, history buff, futurist art lover, technologist, and wannabe pizza chef extraordinaire.
Developer, entrepreneur, history buff, futurist art lover, technologist, and wannabe pizza chef extraordinaire.

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Google Art Project for today: Gino Severini's "North-South"
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I have to say, I'm actually really impressed so far with Wumpscut's new album, Wüterlich. More complex themes, more complex sounds and imagery - much better whan what I've heard of their material in the last few years.

PS: why isn't there a Goth-Industrial category in the group? :)

I love getting movie suggestions based on soundclips in music. Most recently I saw Into the Mouth of Madness, thanks to Front Line Assembly's Plasticity. What movies have you found because of industrial music?

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I've written a number of posts about Boccioni's work, but it time nonetheless to delve deeper into the bod. Although Marinetti was the ringleader of the Futurists and laid the crucial philosophic foundations for the art collective, his associates produced the lion's share of the actual art. Among the many extraordinary artists that associated with the Futurists, Boccioni was one of the most renowned and prolific.

In addition to his extraordinary technical mastery, Boccioni had the ability to take Futurist ideals and apply them in highly metaphorical contexts. Rather than focusing strictly on the themes of machinery and speed, he had great insights into the ways in which these new technologies could impact the entire human experience. By finding powerful ways to apply them to the everyday experiences of the people, he made his work accessible while still retaining their thematic ingenuity. One of his most spectacular creations was a 3-part series, titled States of Mind.

This series revolves around something that had existed for a century in Europe: a train station. Simple in concept and a well-established technology, it may not appear that a Futurist would have anything original to say about it. But by applying a Futurist framework over a seemingly mundane subject, Boccioni uncovered an extraordinary confluence of time and space. For most of our existence, understood spatial relations at a walking pace: you could only perceive something as quickly as you could walk toward or away from something. Your friends and family could only approach or leave you as fast as they could travel on foot. But how does the brain comprehend partings at the high speed of rail? Boccioni explores this question in his incredible trilogy, starting with this first piece, The Farewells.

The center of the composition is a great train, bellowing smoke outwards and engulfing and enshrouding itself. In the distance, electrical lines and the mass of the station itself can also be seen, grounding the scene's psychological exploration with the physical infrastructure that makes these anguished goodbyes possible. The train and smoke form a V-shaped wedge through the composition, appearing to drive the groups of people apart. One of the only static elements of the composition are the numbers on the train, 6943: motionless and without feeling, it shows that the central figure of the scene is present but is not participating in the drama that it itself creates.

The composition is frenetic and confused, mirroring a real station. Jumbled figures share longing embraces on the left side of the image, and seem to swoop away with momentum as the eye follows the green masses to the right. These embraces are juxtaposed with the viewer's knowledge that they are in a losing race against the clocks and schedules of the stationmaster, adding to the tension and sadness of the scene.

Train stations were not a new subject matter for painters. But in States of Mind, Boccioni looks to interpret the human psyche as affected by the ordinary occurrences at a station. A station can be a place of reuniting, but Boccioni's title alludes to the great sadness of a goodbye. Not only will the departed leave likely for some time, but may also go a great distance. It must also be mentioned that the Italo-Turkish War erupted in the same year this was painted, further shrouding the material with sadness and the unknown.

The pieces as a whole is a brilliant utilization of Futurist ideas. It explores not the literal and simplistic speed of the train, but instead the human perception of time as funneled through the emotions of saying goodbye to loved ones. Boccioni again reveals his ability to find emotion and humanity even an era increasingly gripped by violence and machinery.

Umberto Boccioni, States of Mind I: The Farewells, 1911
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I've lurked here for a while. First post :)

I've been listening to older Wumpscut recently and recalling the power of when I first heard some of these tracks. Enjoy this old favorite.

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As an artistic school of thought, Futurism helped to define a visual language for understanding new technologies that were swiftly transforming societies. Smoke-belching factories, cars and motorcycles speeding down streets, airplanes piercing the skies: all heralding a new, exciting, and sometimes terrifying future. However, the Futurist artists found ample space to explore themes and moods beyond the industrial realm using the techniques of motion, form, and dynamism.

Luigi Russolo's Solidity of Fog uses Futurist language masterfully to create a brilliant new glimpse into the substance and nature of fog itself. Its allure comes with stillness and calm, but can easily be accompanied by foreboding, mystery, or even danger. Hindering our ability to see our surroundings often triggers a sense of instinctual fear, but Russolo balanced this by washing the entire piece in calming blue hues. This subtle anxiety pairs with wonderful illusions of focused and refracted light to create a compelling piece.

There is a great orb in the composition; it isn't easy to tell if it is the moon, or a streetlamp. The ambiguity seems intentional. The light pulses out from its point of origin, fighting to pierce the dense fog, emanating out in rings. Vague buildings or vehicles shroud themselves in the distance, while sullen-looking figures loom throughout the piece. Their urban formalwear suggests that, surely, they are en route somewhere, but the permeating fog brings a powerful sense of stillness to the scene.

Indeed, the scene seems to be slowed - almost stopped - by the weight of the water lingering in the air. Rather than using Futurist techniques to convey speed, Russolo has flipped the script and used it to convey slowness instead. In the absence of modern technology, can a quiet moment in the fog slow down time itself? It is this human-scale perception that adds a notable counterpoint to the typical themes of Futurist work.

Luigi Russolo, The Solidity of Fog, 1912
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For all art lovers: I recommend this great browser extension for Google Chrome. Every day, you are treated to a unique piece of art as the background for a newly-opened tab. I post this today especially, because it features a #Futurist  piece by Gino Severini, an artist that I've previously featured in my collection.
Google Art Project
Google Art Project
chrome.google.com
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Last week I re-did my floor with tile after ripping up the laminate. It was a tiring effort, but it got me thinking about buildings and their design and construction - and in what ways they have changed, and not changed, over time.

Futurists were involved in architecture, although their legacy was not immediately realized in the construction of grand works - instead, it started with drawings and sketches. A primary mover in this area was Antonio Sant'Elia; an architect based in Milan who became associated with the movement, he penned the Futurist Architecture manifesto in 1914. In this, he declares a break with "jumbled" neoclassical trends and instead calls for the creation of a completely new branch of architecture, one that utilizes modern science and suits modern needs: "We must invent and rebuild the Futurist city like an immense and tumultuous shipyard, agile, mobile and dynamic in every detail; and the Futurist house must be like a gigantic machine". (http://www.unknown.nu/futurism/architecture.html)

Sant'Elia's immense forms were not meant to be ugly or even shocking - he wanted to harmonize architecture with humanity in its current state. In his manifesto, he wrote "...just as the ancients drew inspiration for their art from the elements of nature, we—who are materially and spiritually artificial—must find that inspiration in the elements of the utterly new mechanical world we have created, and of which architecture must be the most beautiful expression, the most complete synthesis, the most efficacious integration..." And while some of his visions may seem huge and isolating - going against today's "New Urbanism" models of human-scale architecture - Sant'Elia was a visionary who may have been right to state that the time had arrived for a re-assessment of the purpose of a building. In his manifesto, he laments the endless copying of older art styles and exhorts that new, re-imagined architecture can better serve the new, re-imagined humanity that he saw emerging from the industrial revolution.

He created a number of rather incredible drawings, although he did not live long enough to bring any of his works to fruition. His sketches, as he states in his manifesto, represent an incredible break from the past. Inspired by practical industrial architecture, his designs were unlike anything in the world at the time - indeed, they are more familiar to us in 2015 than with anyone in the world of 1914. That is because we have all seem the artistic ancestry of his work: his sketches and concepts left immutable influences over the monumental architecture of Fritz Lang's Metropolis, which subsequently inspired the entire discipline of "futuristic" sci-fi architecture as seem in films such as Blade Runner, Akira, and The Matrix. Many elements of his visions would be resurrected in later Bauhaus and Modernist trends. And while some of his visions veer toward brutalism - by espousing bare, exposed material such as steel and concrete - his ideas have plenty of continuity. In Portland today, I see an identical push for "raw" materials in new and restored architecture here in Portland, particularly exposed wood and brick elements, in a push for authenticity and to reveal the building's true nature. Clearly Sant'Elia wanted to break from past architectural patterns, but instead, some of his theories have become part of the rotating aesthetics. Whether he would appreciate this or not cannot be known, but either way his visions live on in our world.

Antonio Sant'Elia, from Città Nuova, 1914
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