Badass of the Month: Martyl and the Doomsday Clock

The Doomsday Clock first appeared in the June 1947 issue of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a newsletter-turned-journal for the discussion of science and policy related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The Bulletin included this statement on the inside of the back cover:

When the bomb fell on Hiroshima, it broke a six-year silence which security imposed on the atomic scientists. It also shattered the scientists’ “ivory tower” of detachment from the social and political implications of their discoveries. For the scientists — who had six years to consider the implications of atomic warfare before these implications exploded on a stunned world — recognized that they had a responsibility to see that this force would be used for the benefit and not the destruction of mankind.

One of the greatest works in all of information design, The Doomsday Clock was a brutally visceral symbol of how the world was now (and possibly forever) near to nuclear war. With the hour hand near midnight and the minute hand only seven minutes away, the clock cut through all the rhetoric and hyperbole of nuclear politics with a clear and clinical measurement: This is where we are. This is how close we are to the end of everything. We are seven minutes away.

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Cover, June 1947

Two years later, the clock moved forward four minutes after the Soviet Union successfully tested a nuclear weapon. Three minutes to midnight.

We do not advise Americans that doomsday is near and that they can expect atomic bombs to start falling on their heads a month or a year from now; but we think they have reason to be deeply alarmed and to be prepared for grave decisions.

The designer of The Doomsday Clock was Martyl Langsdorf, an accomplished visual artist with a fondness for landscapes. Known to the art world by her first name, by the age of 25 Martyl had sold a painting to George Gershwin at a private showing, painted a now-iconic New Deal mural of African American history, and beat classmate Tennessee Williams in a playwriting contest.

Martyl Langsdorf

Her husband Alexander was a nuclear physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project only a few years earlier. They once took a train through Japan that stopped in Hiroshima, to allow all the passengers to step off the train and spend a moment at the Peace Memorial. He stayed in his seat, crying.

Road Ink, Martyl

The Langsdorfs bought a landmark Paul Schweikher home in 1953 and never moved out, drawing the constant attention of the CIA, FBI, and State Department through their activism for peace.

Martyl died March 26th. She was 96 years old.

Clearly, I need to wear more garters

A Man’s Guide to Socks:

While garters are considered rather old fashioned, they can be quite useful if your socks keep falling down as they keep you from tugging them back up all day long.

Socks aren’t the first item in our wardrobe we give thought to; however, they are an important part of a man’s clothing. Like a weak link in a chain, poor quality socks matched with a high quality suit and shoes risks weakening the strength of your entire presentation. And they can keep your feet nice and comfortable whether you’re walking into a boardroom or hiking up a mountain. Understand your needs, work within your budget, and be prepared for whatever life throws at your feet.

Dear Maman

Louise Bourgeois has left us.

Louise Bourgeois, the French-born American artist who gained fame only late in a long career, when her psychologically charged abstract sculptures, drawings and prints had a galvanizing effect on younger artists, particularly women, died on Monday at the Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan. She was 98.

We owe her the only worthwhile public sculpture in the city. I always hoped she might gift us with another.

(Photo by Geekstalt)

Strange Worlds

Matthew Albanese builds micro-universes to take photos of places he’ll never go to.

Tornado: steel wool, cotton, ground parsley and moss.

He builds them out of household items. flour, cotton, cinnamon, rocks, tables, dollhouses, fun fur…

My work involves the construction of small-scale meticulously detailed models using various materials and objects to create emotive landscapes. Every aspect from the construction to the lighting of the final model is painstakingly pre-planned using methods which force the viewers perspective when photographed from a specific angle. Using a mixture of photographic techniques such as scale, depth of field, white balance and lighting I am able to drastically alter the appearance of my materials.

If you happen to be in NYC, he has an exhibition opening at the Winkleman Gallery on May 7th.

(Via MNN.)

A Want to Believe

Eliza Gauger introduces us to Eric Fortune:

A Want To Believe

Eric Fortune’s introspective paintings make me a touch melancholy. Part of that is the content: iconic girls in balletic poses with implied, sad goals, rendered with milky color. But it is also the very existence of such a person as Mr. Fortune, who is 32 years old and until a few days ago, totally unknown to me. Bratty yahoos like the kid who recently vomited on a Mondrian (Google it; I refuse to give that bore any more linkage) are more widely recognized as “artists” than the ramen-supping drudges who can pluck scenes like this from their live, nude brains. On demand, even. As if function, skill, and work ethic were somehow antithesis to appreciation.

But I am not yet bitter. Merely tangy.


You got your art in my architecture!

Design done right: Using technology to build a bridge between problem-solving and art. The Dutch have always had stunning currency design (I will forever lament the loss of the guilder, and what is perhaps the most beautiful banknote ever produced), and their new coder-designed 5 euro coin is amazing:

5 Euro Macro Crop

The Dutch Ministry of Finance organized an architecture competition for which a selected group of architectural offices (unstudio, nox, …) and artists were invited, including myself. The goal of the competition was not to design a building, but the new 5 euro commemorative coin with the theme ‘Netherlands and Architecture’. The winner will be rewarded with a nice price, but most of all with the honor: his design will be realized and will be a legal coin within the Netherlands.

حفظه ال

One of the world’s most famous and revered Islamic calligraphers, Khalil Al-Zahawi (also known as the “elder of calligraphers” – shaykh al-khattatin) was gunned down outside of his home in Baghdad, another casualty in the ever-escalating sectarian war on culture and learning.

Once the largest city in the world and the center of human art and science, it’s slowly being transformed by soldiers and fanatics into a city of terrified, uneducated peasants.

May their gods preserve them — it’s obvious that we cannot.

graffiti continued (or: designated riot zone)

Robin Banks (pun intended) AKA Banksy is my favourite UK graffiti and stencil artist. Activist, artist, and part of the growing movement to reclaim ‘public’ space.

“Graffiti writers are not real villains. I am always reminded of this by real villains who consider the idea of breaking in someplace, not stealing anything and then leaving behind a painting of your name in four foot high letters the most retarded thing they ever heard.”