Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A history of artistic invention

INVENT - v.t. to originate or create as a product of one's own ingenuity, experimentation or contrivance; to produce or create with the imagination Around 6000 BCE, Mesopotamian artists invent "art pottery". Pottery itself is invented earlier by Neolithic farmers in villages along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Around 2500 BCE, Egyptian chemists invent the first "synthetic color pigment", Egyptian blue, a mixture of limestone (calcium oxide), malachite (copper oxide) and quartz (silica), carefully fired to a temperature of 800 to 900 degrees Celsius. Around 1500 BCE, Egyptian craftsmen invent "glass bottles", by attaching metal rods to silica paste cores and repeatedly dipping the cores into molten glass. Around 1200 BCE, the Phoenicians invent "Tyrian purple", an expensive dye made from a Mediterranean snail. Around 610 BCE, scupltors in Greece invent "free-standing human scultpure" known as kouroi for male figures and korai for female figures, which are used as religious votive offerings. Around 570 BCE, musicians in India invent "hollowed string instruments", specifically the vina which consists of two hollow gourds connected by strings and a bamboo reed. Around 450 BCE, Greek artists invent "chiaroscuro", three dimensional painting, by using highlighting and shadowing. In 105, Chinese court official Ts'ai Lun invents "paper". His paper is cheaper to produce than papyrus or parchment. In the mid-600s, Chinese artists in the Tang Dynasty invent "porcelain", a fired mixture of kaolin (a clay) and petuntse (a feldspar). It is not until 1708 that Europeans learn the secret of making porcelain, when the German chemist Friedrich Bottger in Meissen makes porcelain from clay and ground feldspar. In 855, European musicians invent "polyphonic music", music that combines several simultaneous voice parts. In 1022, Murasaki Shikibu (a young noblewoman in Kyoto, Japan) invents the first "(romance) novel", the story Genji the Shining One, with 1200 pages in the English translation. In 1041, the Chinese printer Pi Sheng invents "movable type", for printing, made with clay blocks. 400 years later in Germany, in 1454, Johannes Gutenberg invents metal movable type. Around 1360, Germans invent "stringed keyboard instruments", starting with the clavichord and harpsichord. German wiresmiths do so by pulling wire through steel plates. The keyed monochord, the forerunner of the clavichord, dates back to the 1100s. In 1437, English composer John Dunstable invents "counterpoint" for musical compositions. In 1470, Italian printer Nicolas Jenson invents the "Roman typeface", by adapting Roman script to typography. Today's very popular Times New Roman font is descended from Jenson's. In the 1480s, Leonardo da Vinci invents the technique of "sfumato" where shadows and objects in the distance are blurred to reflect atmospheric distortions, for example, his 1485 painting Virgin of the Rocks. In 1494, Venetian printer Aldus Manutius invents the "textbook", i.e, small printed books, octavo sized (6 by 9 inches), for students. In 1501, Manutius invents the "italic" typeface, a smaller typeface based on cursive script for his new smaller books. In 1578, English writer John Lyly invents "euphuism", in his book, Euphues, the Anatomy of Wit. The writing style of euphuism is characterized by extensive use of simile and illustration, balanced construction, alliteration and antithesis. In the 1610s, Italian artist Artemisia Gentileschi invents "feminist art", painting women who wreak violence against men who have wronged them, for example, her 1614-1620 painting 'Judith Slaying Holofernes'. Her style is motivated by her being raped, and then tortured in a trial to get her to recant, as well as being motivated by the work of Caravaggio. In 1657, Savinien Cyrano de Bergerac invents "science fiction" with his story Les Etats et empires de la lune about a trip to moon. One might also attribute this invention to the Greek satirist Lucian of Samosata, who in the year 125 wrote the story 'The True History' in which he describes a trip to the moon. In 1780, Spanish ballet dancer Sebastian Cerezo invents the "bolero", danced to guitar and castanets. In 1832, German musician and silversmith Theobald Boehm invents the "modern flute", the first to use mechanical levers as keys to allow for the control of multiple tone holes. In 1847, he develops an improved version which becomes the basis of modern flutes. In 1837, the German scientist Friedrich Froebel invents structured educational entertainment for children, i.e., "kindergarten". One student of Froebel's kindergartens was Piet Mondrian, who with Theo van Doesburg, started the De Stijl style of art in 1917. In 1841, the American painter John Rand invents "collapsible metal paint tubes", replacing pig bladders in which paint tended to dry out quickly. Pierre-Auguste Renoir remarked that "without paints in tubes, there would have been no Cezanne, no Monet, no Sisley or Pissarro, nothing of what the journalists were later to call Impressionism". In 1872, the photographers Eadweard Muybridge and Jules-Etienne Marey use multiple cameras to prepare photographs of moving objects, "serial photomontages", the precursors to motion pictures. In 1879, American author Ella Cheeber Thayer invents the idea of "online romance", in her book Wired Love: a romance of dots and dashes, a story about two American telegraph operators who conduct a romance using telegraph messages. In the 1880s, Argentinians invent the "tango", dance and music that is a mix of African, Indian and Spanish rhythms. The first forms of the tango dance are based on the "acting out" of the relationship between prostitutes and pimps. Around 1905, Buddy Bolden and Jelly Roll Morton combine ragtime, the blues, and spirituals to invent what is to become known as "jazz". In 1909, Italian poet Filippo Thommaso Marinetti invents "Futurism", in his manifesto Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, in which he encourages artists to celebrate "a new beauty, the beauty of speed". Futurist painters combined the bright colors of Fauvism with the fractured planes of Cubism to express mechanization, movement and propulsion. In 1920, Marcel Duchamp invents "intellectual property art" in his 1920 'Fresh Widow', a wooden window on which he painted the word "copyright" for an object that typically would be patentable. In 1932, Alexander Calder invents "mobiles", where he suspends sheets of metal painted black, white and primary colors, from wires and rods. His inspiration was seeing the colored rectangles covering the walls of Mondrian's studio. His art forms are named by Marcel DuChamp. In 1949, American painter Dan Robbins invents "paint-by-number kits". Robbins was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's practice of assigning numbered sections of his paintings to apprentices. In 1966, Spanish author Julio Cortazar invents "hypertext" in his book 'Hopscotch'. His book has 155 chapters, with chapters 1 to 56 meant to be sequentially as in the normal fashion. However, at the end of each of these chapters is the number of an alternative chapter the reader can elect. For example, chapter 2 ends with a link to chapter 116, which itself has a link to chapter 3, giving the reader the choice of reading chapter 116 or not. Cortazar's book is cited by computer programmers creating the first computer-based hypertext systems. Cortazar, in his book, does not indicate if he was aware of Vannevar Bush's 1945 Atlantic Monthly articles on his proposed Memex information system which has an associative-indexing feature, hyperlinks. In 1968, the Plato's Stepchildren episode of the television show Star Trek invents "broadcast interracial sex" when Kirk(white) kisses Uhura (black). This kiss is more controversial than the first broadcast intercultural kiss in the 1950s on the show I Love Lucy. The kiss is less entertaining than a kiss on the cheek a few years later between Archie Bunker and Sammy Davis Jr. In 2000, artist Eduardo Kac invents "transgenic animal art" when he creates the 'GFP Bunny', a transgenic rabbit whose cells are augmented with the Green Flourescent Protein gene, which causes the rabbit to glow under a black light.

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