Friday, February 29, 2008 on the opening of a Global Seed Repository

Dot Earth Entry in the New York Times on the opening of the The Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.

Here's what had to say
Thousands of accessions have died in storage, as many have been rendered useless for lack of basic information about the seeds, and countless others have lost their unique characteristics or have been genetically contaminated during periodic grow-outs. This has happened throughout the ex situ system, not just in gene banks of developing countries. So the issue is not about being for or against gene banks, it is about the sole reliance on one conservation strategy that, in itself, has a lot of inherent problems.

The deeper problem with the single focus on ex situ seed storage, that the Svalbard Vault reinforces, is that it is fundamentally unjust. It takes seeds of unique plant varieties away from the farmers and communities who originally created, selected, protected and shared those seeds and makes them inaccessible to them. The logic is that as people’s traditional varieties get replaced by newer ones from research labs -– seeds that are supposed to provide higher yields to feed a growing population – the old ones have to be put away as “raw material” for future plant breeding. This system forgets that farmers are the world’s original, and ongoing, plant breeders.

I gave a talk at the Australasian Cultural Studies conference in Dec 2007 on a related subject. In "Are Seeds Software" I spoke of the importance of use as a guarantor of continued diversity and the backyard gardener as an important site of conservation. I will post a link when the paper is published.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

storytelling and copyright

If storytelling is the sign of a healthy community, what are the implications of a society that treats some stories as property?

From Apophenia June 18, 2003

storytelling... Sandra Ball-Rokeach

Talking with my advisor yesterday, he spoke about Sandra Ball-Rokeach at USC's Annenberg School For Communication who suggests that the sign of a healthy community is one that tells stories. Storytelling has been dramatically undervalued in contemporary society. Creating characters, talking about events, sharing philosophies all through the power of story... I guess TV has replaced this, creating a common story. But the least common denominator is far from interesting... What are the stories that emerge out of truly connected communities? Shared stories of experience and shared fables for enjoyment? Are there communities out there that still value that form of connecting?

Monday, February 25, 2008

Zhang Daqian: Painter, Collector, Forger at MFA Boston

Press release from MFA Boston:
Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) casts a long shadow over the modern history of Chinese painting. As a painter, he was known for his singular ability to mix traditional techniques and styles with contemporary ideas and currents. As a collector, he accumulated important examples from all genres of Chinese painting and left behind copious seals and inscriptions. As a forger, Zhang so mastered the art of deception that his fakes were purchased unwittingly by nearly every major art museum in the United States—the MFA included. Indeed, the first question asked by experts when a work is considered suspect is: “Could this be by Zhang Daqian?”

This exhibition focuses on all three facets of Zhang’s career and features a rich selection of works from the MFA alongside loans from private collections. Of particular interest is a master forgery acquired by the Museum in 1957 as an authentic work of the tenth century. The painting, which was allegedly a landscape by the Five Dynasties period master Guan Tong, is one of Zhang’s most ambitious forgeries and serves to illustrate both his skill and his audacity.

Be Kind Rewind Trailers and the etymology of 'Sweding'

Trailer for Be Kind Rewind (out in Oz, March 20, 2008)

Be Kind Rewind You Tube Profile

Director Michael Gondry 'swedes' (translation: re-makes) his own film trailer.

Gondry's explanation on the etymology of sweding as told Chris Lee of the Los Angeles Times:

"I wanted a name that meant nothing," Paris native Gondry said in Clouseau-esque Franglais about the invention of the verb. "I had in mind, like, the suede shoes -- a fake velvet. A sort of ultra-suede? But I always get the word wrong because I'm French."

Another version of the origins of 'sweding' is propsed by Jennifer Hillner in her Wired profile (12.24.07)Wired of Gondry.

Gondry even invented a verb to describe it. To swede: the act of making a movie from everyday materials and simple technology. The word comes from a scene in the movie where Black explains to customers why the store's remade tapes cost $20 per rental and won't be ready for a week — they're imported from the far-off land of Sweden.

So when we see an authority figure threaten to confiscate our heroes video creations, one can't held but think of copyists of another sort: the Swedes behind the bit torrent tracking site Pirate Bay.

Official-type guy: "I have a warrant to destroy all your tapes. The FBI warning its at the beginning of every video tape."

Jerry (Jack Black): "Well, we erased that."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Granting permission where none is needed

"During my conversation with her representative, Mr. Blair, he pointed me to Ms. Rowling’s Web site, suggesting that would be the best place to find her response to the RDR Books case and the Harry Potter Lexicon. “You have our permission to quote from her Web site,” he said.

I already have that right, Mr. Blair. But thanks anyway."

From "A Tight Grip Can Choke Creativity", JOE NOCERA, in The New York Times, February 9, 2008 in which "A small book publisher faces off against the titans in a Harry Potter copyright case."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Greg Curnoe's Marilyn Langstaff

Marilyn Langstaff
by Greg Curnoe
Date made: 1962
Materials: gouache, dayglo, stamp pad ink
Measurements: 28.5 x 26 cm

Friday, February 01, 2008

Wikipedia helps the smart journalists, confounds the rest

It's not a reliable source, some journalists say Wikipedia can lead you to reliable sources. "Any reasonable person has to be up front that there are weaknesses," says founder Jimmy Wales. "On the other hand, there are lots of sources that have weaknesses."

read more | digg story

(This post was automatically generated by Digg, based on the original poster's summary. )