Human Flower Project

Orrington, MAINE USA

flag flower bed

parker basket thumb
Princeton, MAINE USA

Friday, March 04, 2011

Camellialand: A Passing Fancy

A lot has changed in public gardens since the 1950s: e.g. solar panels have supplanted beauty queens.

imageA faery (Kerry Bishop) toured children through the forest of camellias at Descanso Gardens, Feb. 2011

Photo: Raul Roa, Glendale News Press

Nouveau Primitivism has the U.S. by the coccyx.  At a rate much faster than evolution inched us forward, we’re devolving to pre-historic concerns: not eloquence, love or grace but grub, fuel. Prehensile tails may not be far, um, behind. Somehow, the promise of “New Age” thinking has led to a Neanderthal cul de sac (i.e. cave). Who’d have guessed that “mystic crystal revelations” meant gluten-free diets, carbon-footprint detection and exercise bras?

An acquaintance told me recently how pleased she is with her young son’s elementary school. “They have such a great green energy policy,” she said. When was an education judged by what kept the lights on? Now is when.

In the human-flower realm, one telling example of Nouveau Primitivism comes from Descanso Gardens, between Pasadena and Glendale, California. We actually came upon this story last February but were too dismayed to report on it then.  After a year of such de-flowering accounts, here’s the new normal.

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Posted by Julie on 03/04 at 09:28 PM
Culture & SocietyEcologyGardening & LandscapeSecular CustomsPermalink

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Photography: Endebted to Lavender

Photo-archivists have discovered that dried lavender oil made possible the world’s first photograph.

imageA coat of dried lavender oil and bitumen on a silver plate made photography possible


Photography, real photography – with smelly chemicals and reels, and paper in shiny black pouches – requires a conceptual step we never mastered. As with molds in sculpture, you have to work through an inversion. In the old fashioned darkroom, photographers develop the negative and are somehow able to “see” what the photographic opposite will look like once that negative’s exposed to light, stopped, and fixed on paper.

There’s at least one too many formal abstractions in all this for us to comprehend. (There’s also the trick of getting unprocessed film out of the camera, spooled, and locked into a canister, all done in the dark…another story.)

Historians have held a long running debate about who first figured out the intricate process. Who “invented” photography, orchestrating light and chemistry to sustain an image?

Recent studies at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles now point to Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, a Frenchman. Beginning around 1793, he experimented with what he called “heliography” at his country estate near Chalon-sur-Saône. Produced long before safe-lights and film canisters, his first works were actually thought to be etchings. Not so. By 1826, after three decades of experimentation, Niépce made what experts now consider the world’s first photograph.

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Posted by Julie on 03/01 at 02:27 PM
Art & MediaSciencePermalink
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