Friday Link List

Good one for ya this week!

1. Ditch the  mouse, just use your eyes {npr}.

“You have infrared light that is projected toward your face. And the infrared light is then reflected in your pupil. And by seeing those reflections, we can pretty easily — well, not easily,” he adds with a laugh — “with our algorithms, we can easily calculate where you’re looking.”


2. The Golden Age for Writers {esquire}.

Writers have always been whiners. For nearly a hundred years, since at least the time of F. Scott Fitzgerald, the death of the novel has been presaged. And now, egged on by BuzzFeed and video games and just general hypercaffeinated, e-mail-all-the-time ADHD, the book is apparently, finally, about to die. At least we’ll have good stuff to read while we wait. This fall alone, the number of big books published by major writers is astounding: Michael Chabon, Zadie Smith, Junot Díaz, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Salman Rushdie, and about a half dozen others. Not that the list has stopped anyone from complaining. Literary circles have been so full of pity for so long that they can’t accept the optimistic truth: We’re living in a golden age for writers and writing.


3. The United States of Subsidies {fresh air}.

Interview with the author of The New York Times series, the United States of Subsidies. The series explores the lengths states and municipalities go to lure companies to setup shop in their jurisdiction, or in some cases to simply convince them to not leave.

Another example from Texas, Amazon has promised to open new distribution facilities there and hire 2,500 workers in exchange for about $250 million in tax revenues, revenues that they wouldn’t have to pay. So you do the math and say this amounts to about $100,000 per job in lost tax revenues, and most of the workers who would be paid, you know, with this new facility would get about 20 to $30,000 a year.

4. Why do artists behave so strangely? {andrew sullivan}.

A painting is a weak and vulnerable thing because it is just not necessary. Smelly oil paint smeared across a canvas cannot be justified in this conditional, transactional world. Yet vast, complex institutions and networks have emerged to do just that, whether through the auction house (art as priceless luxury item), the museum tour (education), or the local chamber of commerce (art as community service, cultural tourism, or urban revival). That art is ultimately gratuitous, that its existence is a gift to the world, creates anxiety and insecurity in the art world. Everyone involved, from art collectors and dealers to critics and curators have to justify their interest in this seemingly “useless” activity—and justify the money they make or spend on its behalf. Art simply cannot be justified.

Get on over to the Barnes


Nature at the Barnes Foundation

The Barnes is a tiny art gallery and arboretum with an eclectic collection of French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and early Modern paintings worth billions of dollars. Among the artists on display at the Barnes:

  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir (181)
  • Paul Cézanne (69)
  • Henri Matisse (59)
  • Pablo Picasso (46)
  • Chaim Soutine (21)
  • Henri Rousseau (18)
  • Amedeo Modigliani (16)
  • Edgar Degas (11)
  • Vincent van Gogh (7)
  • Georges Seurat (6)
  • Edouard Manet (4)
  • Claude Monet (4)

For an excellent primer on the Barnes and the controversy surrounding its relocation from Merion to Center City, check out this article in the Times and the 2009 film Art of the Steal.

Some of my favorite (lesser known to us) artists at the Barnes:

Amedeo Modigliani

Amedeo Modigliani

Charles Demuth

Charles Demuth

Charles Prendergast

Charles Prendergast

Make it a point to visit the Barnes before it leaves Merion for good. The environment is relaxing and a complete about face from standard urban-centric galleries. Well worth the trip.