Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Improvising with light: Nova Express psychedelic light show

Paul Brown is best known for his work as an artist creating visual art that uses self-generating computational processes. Yet before Paul started creating art with computers, he worked with Nova Express, one of the main psychedelic light shows performing in Manchester and the North of England during the 1960s and early 1970s.

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Why is it so difficult to throw away fetuses?

It has been five years since I started my research on anatomy in 19th century Belgium, but I remember my first visit to an anatomical collection like it was yesterday. It was the beginning of autumn and the temperature was cool enough to cause a slight numbness in my hands. I was not yet used to the piercing smell of alcohol and formaldehyde; a smell that soaked into my clothes and skin, and that I immediately associated with death.

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The ‘New Woman’ & American literature

In late 19th and early 20th-century America, a new image of womanhood emerged that began to shape public views and understandings of women’s role in society. With the suffrage and labor movements, the “new woman” emerged. These modern women were attending colleges, rejecting domesticity, asserting themselves politically in public, and becoming a part of the cultural landscape through literature. As the 12th century progresses, the voices of women pushed for more self-discovery and freedom from society’s traditional limitations.

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Re-thinking post-war theatre architecture

The official opening on 14 June 2018 by the Queen and Duchess of Sussex of Chester’s new cultural ‘hub’, Storyhouse, offers a timely moment to consider the theatre as a building type. Storyhouse is an interesting re-thinking of what an Arts building can be. It combines a theatre, cinema, library, and café, in an attempt to break down boundaries between artistic and institutional structures.

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Animal of the month: 10 facts about lions

Lions have enchanted humans since early Antiquity, and were even represented in European cave paintings from 35,000 years ago. They are regularly the main characters in folklore and allegory, appearing everywhere from African folktales to the Bible. It is not hard to see why lions are so ubiquitously revered. Their fearsome yet stunning appearance, combined with their endearing hunting tactics and formidable roar, answers any questions as to why early societies named the lion ‘King of the Beasts’, and indeed explains why this name is still used today.

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Women artists in conversation: Tiff Massey Q&A [Part II]

Tiff Massey is a young artist whose work ranges from wearable sculpture to large-scale public interventions. In the first of this two-part interview, Massey spoke with Benezit Dictionary of Art editor Kathy Battista about her work as well as her vision for bringing art education to underserved areas of Detroit. In the second part of the interview, Massey speaks about her influences and beginnings as an artist.

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Women artists in conversation: Tiff Massey Q&A [Part I]

Tiff Massey is a young artist whose work ranges from wearable sculpture to large-scale public interventions. She is the first African-American woman to graduate from Cranbrook Academy of Art’s MFA in Metalsmithing. She cites her influences as ranging from 1980s hip-hop culture and her hometown of Detroit to African art and Japanese fashion.

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Securing the future of the Male Voice Choir

During a ‘question and answer’ session at a recent music convention, four contemporary composers of choral music faced a plethora of musicians from all types of backgrounds and traditions. Amongst a selection of interesting and searching questions asked, one brought an eerie silence to the room. The question was: ‘Would you consider writing for a male choir?’

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From early photography to the Instagram age

In our contemporary moment, as our digital spaces are saturated with feeds and streams of images, it’s clearer than ever that photography is a medium poised between arresting singularity and ambiguous plurality. Art historians have conventionally focused on the singularity of the photograph and its instant of capture. But the digital turn has prompted many scholars to reconsider photography in its many serialized incarnations.

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Sustainable libraries: a community effort

To celebrate Earth Day, Katie D. Bennet takes a look at how environmentally conscious libraries from all over the world are using using sustainable architectural methods to achieve their green-goals. The team at the Vancouver Community Library shed some light on the steps they have taken to build an environmentall sustainable library that aligns with the ideals of the community.

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Women artists in conversation: Zoe Buckman [Q&A]

Zoe Buckman is a young artist and activist whose work in sculpture, photography, embroidery, and installation explores issues of feminism, mortality, and equality. She was born in London in 1985 and lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. Buckman was a featured artist at Pulse Projects New York 2014 and Miami 2016, and was included in the curated Soundscape Park at Art Basel Miami Beach 2016. Her new public work, Champ, produced in collaboration with the Art Production Fund, is located on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Sweetzer Avenue in front of The Standard in West Hollywood.

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The unexpected role of nature at Amiens Cathedral [slideshow]

Medieval church designers drew on nature in surprising and innovative ways. Organic forms appear in unexpected places, framing the portals that provide access to sanctified spaces, punctuating interior walls and supports, and hanging from the vaults that soar above the beholder. These foliate sculptures are often characterized as mere ornamentation, devoid of meaning or purpose.

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A visual history of the New York Crystal Palace [slideshow]

When New York’s Crystal Palace opened in 1853, it quickly became one of the most celebrated landmarks in the city. But five years later, the building was gone—engulfed in flames and reduced to a heap of smoldering debris. The below photographs from The Finest Building in America recapture the sensation and spectacle behind the New York Crystal Palace: a building that mattered so much to antebellum Americans and New Yorkers, yet was never rebuilt.

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Using the arts for change on International Women’s Day

With every generation comes difficult and contested times that shape history. In the United States, where we are experiencing one of the most divided society in decades, the sentiment feels omnipresent and pervasive. For women and those of nonconforming gender, the issues at stake are even more expansive than the gun laws, environmental concerns, or tax reforms that are on the minds of our citizens.

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Women artists in conversation: Narcissister

Narcissister is a Brooklyn based artist whose work includes performance, dance and activism as essential elements. She continues the tradition of second wave feminist artists, such as Adrian Piper, Lorraine O’Grady, Carolee Schneemann, etc., who challenged the status quo in their examination of gender roles, sexuality and equal rights. Narcissister wears a trademark vintage mask in most works, obscuring her identity and provoking the viewer to think of the artist as an “everywoman” rather than about an individual experience.

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