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Betony Vernon Unicorn Butt Plug – $3,475

Now, I could begin this section with a Harry Potter-inspired joke along the lines of, “I knew that Ron Weasley was a little too distressed when the Whomping Willow broke his Unicorn-hair-core wand during his second year at Hogwarts,” but that would be incredibly distasteful. It would also be irrelevant since, despite the name, “this beautifully crafted butt plug is made out of silver and horses [sic] mane.” I mean, seriously? Horse mane? What happened to truth in advertising! Betony Vernon has clearly lost his way.

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Stacy Kranitz

The Other

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My project engages with history, representation, biography, personal narrative, and otherness in the documentary tradition. Each year in Pennsylvania, 500 people come together to reenact the Battle of the Bulge. During the reenactment, I portray Leni Riefenstahl and behave with soldiers, as she would have. I am intrigued by the complex story of a woman with a problematic set of morals. My work aims to understand people beyond the constraints of good vs evil. I have inserted myself into the Nazi reenactor photographs to subvert the viewer’s instinct to dismiss these people as different from themselves. This allows me to reflect upon atrocity, delve into my own relationship with my Jewish heritage, and contemplate the camera’s ability to re-imagine history.

Much of our conception of history is based on images. Historical images have been filtered through media and propaganda. These images become history as generations pass. Images are the dominant force that shape the public imagination. My images of the reenactment are part of the deconstruction process by which images first represent and then replace history.

The next phase of this project will explore Riefenstahl’s life between 1962-1977 when she lived with the Nuba in Sudan. I will visit the same Nuba tribes to focus on the disjunction between her fetishized images and my own exploration of the Nuba’s complex modern reality. The Nuba were victims of genocide during a recent civil war and it has deeply impacted their culture. They were forcibly relocated to camps and Islamicized. Hundreds of thousands died from warfare and starvation.

My project asks how we live in a world where genocide takes place in continuum? It reflects on the history of the documentary tradition as it poses new ways of expressing identity in relation to ‘otherness’. This project deconstructs the notion of the photograph as document, its power as a tool of propaganda, as a witness to history and a call for change.

 

Bio

Stacy Kranitz studied film and photography at New York University. Her work focuses on the ways we express aggression and violence in our daily rituals, habits and pastimes. Additional themes in her work include the relationship between music and culture, the emotional growth of children and environmental racism. She is interested in the theoretical underpinnings that bind together the evolution of the documentary tradition. Her work looks to explore important social issues while commenting on this tradition and challenging its boundaries.

Her clients include Adbusters, Dwell, Elle, ESPN, Entertainment Weekly, Forbes, Fortune, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, Metropolis, Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, People, Rolling Stone, Spin, Vice, Wall Street Journal and Wired.

She was awarded a Young Photographers Alliance Scholarship Award and also received a Story Project Grant from the California Council for the Humanities. She has shown her work at galleries in NY, CA, LA and FL.

 

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Stacy Kranitz

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smitty777 writes "Two separate studies by the Taub Institute and Harvard have discovered the pathway used by Alzheimer's Disease to spread through the brain. The studies indicate it's not a virus, but a distorted protein called Tau which moves from cell to cell. Further, the discovery 'may now offer scientists a way to move forward and develop a way to block tau's spread in Alzheimer's patients, said Karen Duff, a researcher at Columbia's Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's disease and co-author of one study published Wednesday in the journal PLoS One. "It's enlightening for us because it now provides a whole other area for potential therapeutic impact," said Duff. "It's possible that you can identify the disease and intervene (with potential tau-blocking drugs) before the dementia actually sets in."'"


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Blue notes that Firebase’s exquisite scrolling shooter Orbitron: Revolution is making its way to the PC system for explosions and fun times. There’s no date yet, but the devs boasts that they have the PC version running at 60fps at 1920×1080. That is moderately fast! Like an elite frame-rate making game thing, or something. What? It is early on Saturday. Look: Orbitron: Revolution, which has already appeared on the console boxes for some reason, is a very pretty curved Defender/Uridium sort of thing going on. Those are things we like.

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From where you stand you can clearly see what is happening but most of what you see cannot be photographed, cannot be transmitted if photographed and cannot be published if transmitted.

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I spent the past week in Prague where I was working on the World Forum on Governance.  Away from my books and art materials, I resigned myself to skipping this week's post.

However, the cultural attache at the embassy shared with me the happy news that Alphonse Mucha's masterpiece, the Slav Epic, will go on display in Prague next year, just 84 years after Mucha donated it to the city.

For those who only know Mucha for his art nouveau posters, the Slav Epic was Mucha's most important and meaningful work: 20 huge patriotic murals of key moments from the history of the Slavic people.

Mucha posing in front of two of his murals
In times of trouble and uncertainty, Mucha "wanted to talk in my own way to the soul of the nation," reminding them of their proud heritage and the heroism and sacrifice of their ancestors.

The origin of the Slavic homeland around 200 - 300 AD: peaceful Slav farmers flee invading Goths (seen galloping away from the burning village with their loot).  As the young Adam and Eve of the Slavs escape, a holy man with outstretched arms implores the gods for mercy.
Mucha's reference photo for the holy man
"The Celebration of Svantovit: When Gods Are At War, Salvation Is In The Arts."  The earliest Slavic center of civilization from 700-900 AD was centered around the shrine of Svantovit (later destroyed by Danish warriors in the 12th century)  The Introduction of the Slavonic Liturgy: Praise The Lord in Your Native Tongue 
"After the Battle of Grunwald: The Solidarity of the Northern Slavs." Here we see the first great defeat of the previously invincible Teutonic Knights, demonstrating the rising power of the Slavic empire. "After the Battle of Vitkov: God Represents Truth, Not Power"
"Peter Chelcicky at Vodnany: Do Not Repay Evil With Evil." A famous Slavic pacifist implores the victims of a Hussite raid not to become too caught up in revenge.  "The Defense of Sziget by Nikola Zrinski: The Shield of Christendom"
Mucha presented his murals to the city of Prague in 1928, but some criticized them as old fashioned and nationalistic.  By 1933 the canvases were rolled up and placed in storage, and Mucha's hopes for his native land seemed farther and farther away.  In 1939 the Nazis invaded Czechoslovakia and the gestapo arrested the aging artist.  He died shortly after his release.  The Slav Epic murals were stored away in a basement that flooded, damaging the paintings.  After many years, the canvases were retrieved and restored, and were put on display in 1968 in southern Moravia.  In 2012, these lovely works will return to Prague where they will be displayed with the honor and dignity they deserve.

"The Abolition of Serfdom in Russia: Work in Freedom is the Foundation of a State"
I think Mucha's accomplishment was an act of courage comparable to the accomplishments he was celebrating.  He put aside his commercially successful decorative art to make a lasting statement about the spirit of his country. He originally planned to make each painting approximately 20' x 26' but war, political repression and economic hardship repeatedly forced him to change his plans.  After his first few paintings, the Belgian factory which manufactured the oversized linen was occupied by the German army and converted to military use.  Mucha switched to painting on sailcloth from Scotland, and later was forced to reduce the size of the last murals.  Still, he persisted.  The Czech avant garde artistic community ridiculed his work as a "monstrosity of spurious artistic and allegorical pathos which, if exhibited permanently could harm the taste of the public."  His murals were nearly confiscated during World War I for their "Czech patriotic content" and he made plans to bury them in the woods to protect them.  The work was frowned upon by Nazis in World War II and by communist occupiers in the postwar era. 

Time and again, Mucha was presented with obstacles but he persisted and left behind an important work of art.

"Jan Amos Komensky: A Flicker of Hope."  A religious exile dies in his chair by the sea, looking out at eternity and thinking about returning to his beloved homeland.


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From 1886, you know.

As Adam and I lay out boxes of tissues (for crying, you disgusting pig) in order to discuss To The Moon for a Verdict this afternoon, it makes us wonder: what games have made you cry? Yes, yes, Tomb Raider: Angel Of Darkness. We’ve all done that joke. But really, bravado aside, when did you get moved to weeples?

I’ve written about the two previous games that saw me shed a tear a couple of years ago, and I talked to Charles Cecil about the process four years ago (wow, our site’s really old). (I mention these to stave off complaints from those claiming we always go on about this – twice in four years, whingebags.)

So go on – defy convention and name the game that made your eyes all dribbly.

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See, this is just ridiculously pretty.

Action RPG Bastion was released on Steam yesterday. I’ve been weaving my way through its enchantingly morose worlds, and although still a good way from the end, I am absolutely ready to tell you Wot I Think.

(more…)

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Mario Tama / Getty Images

Tourists and onlookers view the World Trade Center site from the plaza of the Millenium Hilton Hotel on July 19, 2011 in New York City. The hotel is across the street from the World Trade Center and suffered significant damage in the 9-11 attacks. It was refurbished and reopened in May, 2003.

Mario Tama, a Getty Images photographer, was at home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan on Sept. 11, 2001, when he got the call that something big was happening at the World Trade Center site. After grabbing his cameras and coming around the corner, Tama saw the huge hole in the north tower and immediately thought of war – a subject he hadn’t covered before. 

The events of 9/11 turned out to be Tama’s introduction to war photography, something he never wanted to do. Even after photographing Hurricane Katrina and the start of the Iraq War – two events with much human suffering – Tama says 9/11 is the “most shocking thing I’ve ever covered.”

So when Tama was asked to shoot a special series of photographs for the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, he understood the significance. But living and working in New York City, he’d been to the site so many times over the years (by his estimation at least 125 times), he felt he needed a new way look at it in order to reinvigorate his senses.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

During a blessing of the World Trade Center cross before it was moved into its permanent home at the 9/11 Memorial Museum on July 23, 2011 in New York City. The cross is an intersecting steel beam discovered in the World Trade Center rubble which served as symbol of spiritual recovery in the aftermath of 9/11.

Tama was looking for a different kind of camera to shoot with when he ran into another photojournalist, Craig Ruttle, who suggested he check out the Lomo camera known as the "Sprocket – Rocket." Manhattan is vertical, a city island of skyscrapers and vertical spaces. But Tama sees the former World Trade Center site as horizontal, as a crater, so the panoramic nature of the Lomo format seemed right to him.

Additionally, he felt that shooting on film, something he hadn’t done since before the attacks, would help bring him back in time. In particular, Tama would be using black and white film, which he thought would better connect the current location with its history. Tama vividly remembers the day of the attacks, but because of the dust covering everything, he sees that day in his mind's eye as essentially black and white. 

Over the last month or so, Tama went back to the site again and again with his Lomo and photographed it. He plans to continue going back there with his new camera until Sept. 11, and will be there on that day covering the memorial events.

Mario Tama / Getty Images

A couple embraces on the Hudson River waterfront with Lower Manhattan and the rising One World Trade Center in the background on July 6, 2011 in Jersey City, New Jersey.

 

Tama says he has been to Ground Zero so many times it often feels like "just another piece of real estate," which he characterizes as a "great thing" because it helps him cope. Still, he expects the approach of the anniversary to be heart-wrenching. But just knowing, he says, that people around the world care about what happened on 9/11 and can empathize what he and so many others are feeling will make it easier to complete his work.

More photos from Mario Tama's 9-11 project in our slideshow.

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