OU blog

Personal Blogs

Dr Who?

New blog post

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 22 Feb 2015, 15:43

Recently the Belgian Artist Frederik De Wilde exhibited a square blacker than any human being has ever seen before. Blackboards look black to us but actually reflect as much as 10% of the light falling on them. De Wilde's black square reflects 0.01% - one thousand times less.

There is an impressive image here. New Scientist magazine have described it as an attempt to paint nothing.

The work is a reflection of the celebrated Black Square that the Russian Malevich showed in St Petersburg in 1915. The image above is an image of Malevich's work that I found in Wikimedia Commons. This painting had huge influence at the time and I believe at the end of his life the artist had it hanging in his bedroom. Today it is in a fragile state (with the black foreground crazing to reveal the white below), and in another echo from the past De Wilde's NanoBlck-Sqr #1, which uses carbon nanotubes on a white frame, is so delicate that you are only permitted to view it under supervision.

But neither Malevich nor De Wilde have captured what nothing looks like. The blind have a better understanding, which you can share. What do you see round the back of your head? You've no eyes there, so you just saw (or didn't) nothing. And it's not a bit like black.

This might seem trivial or frivolous, but it's not at all. I have a big blind spot (nearly half my vision) and people ask me frequently what I see there. They expect it must be a black patch. But it's not: it's nothing. That's very hard to explain. And impossible to paint. It wouldn't be an empty canvas, a sort of visual equivalent of John Cage's composition 4'33''. And it wouldn't be a black square. It would have to not exist.

 

 

Permalink 2 comments (latest comment by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015, 02:30)
Share post
Dr Who?

Sonnet and Haiku

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 10 Feb 2015, 02:28

One of the verse forms I most admire is the sonnet, and another is the haiku. There are many differences but both display a classic structure and an economy of expression.

A favorite sonnet of mine is Shakespeare 73.

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin'd choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
 
In me thou see'st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death's second self, that seals up all in rest.
 
In me thou see'st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum'd with that which it was nourish'd by.
 
This thou perceiv'st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.
 
I tried to compress this into a haiku. Here is my attempt.
 
It's autumn now
Smell of burning leaves. Winter follows
Hold tight, hold tight.
Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

Warm in Bed?

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 7 Feb 2015, 01:54

Everything else being equal, will you be warmest

a) Sleeping on the floor?

b) Sleeping on a mattress on the floor?

c) Sleeping on a mattress on a bed?

I've tried all three. I think most will agree b) beats a). But what about c) versus b)?

I felt warmer, and explained this by the air between the bottom of the mattress and the floor being a thermal layer.

However a friend disagrees (strongly). In their view the air gap between mattress and floor makes no difference. Any warmth that percolates down from my body to the air layer below will simply flow out the sides, and so only the mattress sits between me and the temperature of the floor.

Who is right in this heated debate? Can anyone comment?

 

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

My Current Book

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 30 Jan 2015, 02:11

Life, A User's Manual, by Georges Perec

I've often heard of this book but never read it. Glad I didn't before, because it means more to me now.

Two thirds to go, but summarized

A Parisian apartment block appears as a doll's house, but with the lives of inhabitants minutely described (unlike a real doll's house).

At the same time it's a chessboard, perched on a jigsaw puzzle.

The moving part is the lives described and the sympathy shown.

I was surprised by all this. I'd really like to know how other people react to the book. Please write in.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

People and tree rings

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 10 Jan 2015, 00:36

Before reading this I never thought about how human populations, like trees, carry evidence about past weather events.

In a bad year trees add narrower tree rings. Children grow less.

The impact of the 97/98 El Nino storms on rural populations in Chile caused people to grow up nearly a hand's width shorter than otherwise expected. That's a lot.

 

 

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 10 Jan 2015, 05:25)
Share post
Dr Who?

I keep another blog...

Visible to anyone in the world

... where I write about visual perception and matters to do with disability and my personal experience of it.

If you are interested you can visit partialinsight.wordpress.com

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

Frozen Lake Haiku

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Tuesday, 6 Jan 2015, 01:33

Ducks were skidding

On a frozen lake.

Where a fox thought it would catch them.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

Haiku without a season

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 5 Jan 2015, 01:24

You knew I was lying.

Cried the liveforeverbird.

You knew. You knew.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

Haiku for winter

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 29 Dec 2014, 01:36

In summer the old man puts up a brave face.

Easier in winter.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

My other blog...

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Friday, 19 Sep 2014, 01:49

... is about vision and what it's like to lose part of it:

http://partialinsight.wordpress.com

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Zara Wilson, Tuesday, 6 Jan 2015, 13:00)
Share post
Dr Who?

New mist

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 7 Sep 2014, 01:12

Wading through tiny mist

Suddenly it's autumn

Yesterday summer.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

Warm and cold haiku

Visible to anyone in the world

It's winter now

Our warm feeling for war

Dismays me more than ever.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

Summer haiku

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Sunday, 24 Aug 2014, 03:03

 

Why was I brought into existence cries the philosopher.

The grasshopper does not answer.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

Rain haiku

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014, 00:22

It's easy now

Living with a bunch of ghosts

Except when it rains.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Masami Watanabe, Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014, 05:26)
Share post
Dr Who?

Volunteering

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 18 Jun 2014, 00:23

Not that much to say really. Just that having a stroke decided me to volunteer for the Stroke Association. I think it's an impressive organisation.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

Haiku

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 9 Apr 2014, 00:36

Old man

Why do you still keep the big plates for the winter feast?

Time.

Permalink Add your comment
Share post
Dr Who?

My new blog

Visible to anyone in the world

If you find your way here stranger, I have become visually impaired and now blog about my experiences at

http://partialinsight.wordpress.com/

I hope you may like to follow me there.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Elizabeth Hartnett, Sunday, 27 Jul 2014, 09:28)
Share post
Dr Who?

"After the rain"

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Monday, 29 Dec 2014, 01:42

After the rain

The stickleback

Came back up the stream again

And the hedgehog to the lane.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Richard Walker, Sunday, 10 Mar 2013, 01:44)
Share post
Dr Who?

New blog post

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 10 May 2012, 01:30

Spring rain,

And a frog on the path.

Tread carefully old man.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Anthony Dooley, Thursday, 10 May 2012, 12:00)
Share post
Dr Who?

a haiku

Visible to anyone in the world

I dislike the booted

gardener crushing snails.

But applaud the thrush.

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Martin Humby, Friday, 13 May 2011, 10:18)
Share post
Dr Who?

A swarm of bees in May

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Thursday, 13 May 2010, 19:06

...is worth a load of hay, so the saying goes.

Here's a photo of a swarm of wild bees I saw today.  These bees live in the masonry of a church tower and generally swarm about this time of year.

Item Thumbnail

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Peta Ward, Thursday, 13 May 2010, 21:30)
Share post
Dr Who?

haiku

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Wednesday, 14 Apr 2010, 00:39

Spring

7cf30a1168f4c723e2366de8133614b0.JPG

First blossom petals,

On my remaining hair.

Spring again!

Permalink 3 comments (latest comment by Elizabeth Hartnett, Sunday, 27 Feb 2011, 20:37)
Share post
Dr Who?

Ultra and infra

Visible to anyone in the world

Mice can communicate using very high frequencies.

Elephants can communicate using very low frequencies.  Maybe dinosaurs did something similar.

Slight aside.

Here's a recording of human singers that I've always rather admired.

Volga boatmen


Permalink
Share post
Dr Who?

Connections (2)

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 3 Apr 2010, 01:58

A  You got it!  Same middle name.

 

Now here are Netrebko and Villazon in a famous performance.  I wish I'd been there.

The connection with my post before last is - same singing gene.

And that's why birds sing too, and we think of it as song.

But do mice laugh?  Did tyrannosauruses sing?

Permalink
Share post
Dr Who?

Connections

Visible to anyone in the world
Edited by Richard Walker, Saturday, 3 Apr 2010, 01:51

Q  What's the connection between Alexander the Great and Kermit the Frog?

 

(See next post smile)

Permalink
Share post

This blog might contain posts that are only visible to logged-in users, or where only logged-in users can comment. If you have an account on the system, please log in for full access.

Total visits to this blog: 1011290