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Edward Hopper’s Noir Drawings
Despite knowing the full-colored truth, I’ve always pictured the 1930s and 1940s in black and white. Laura, The Big Sleep, The Killers, Shadow of a Doubt, and countless other examples of classic American film noir define that era visually for me with their stark contrasts of dark and light paralleling the paradoxes of American society of itself. The starkly titled exhibition Hopper Drawing, which runs at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City through October 6th, examines how Edward Hopper, the preeminent painter of that era, used drawing to develop iconic works such as Nighthawks and New York Movie. As familiar as Hopper’s signature works are, seeing them in black and white through Hopper’s undervalued draftsmanship is seeing them anew.
It’s an understandable misnomer that Hopper’s a poor draftsman. If you look at his finished paintings, the mood and contrasts of light and dark take priority over precision. Attitude wins over exactitude. But Hopper learned his craft beginning with old school old world training in France. Longing to be the quintessentially American painter in later years, Hopper downplayed and nearly denied the Frenchness of his beginnings and his Francophile love of French poetry and painting. An academic charcoal nude titled Female Nude on Model’s Platform blows Hopper’s cover and reminds us that spent his final school years learning drawing in a French atelier. Seeing a Self-Portrait and Hand Studies from 1900, you recognize the 18 year old Hopper paying his dues and looking in the mirror in hopes of finding the artist he would become. A taut, precise Self-Portrait from 1945 in chalk and charcoal on paper by the 63-year-old Hopper answers any doubts of his younger self.
Hopper became Hopper when he found his home in the interplay of light and shadow—noir itself. Standing Female Nude by Window (Sketch for Etching) embodies the new Hopper of the Great War period, as the academic approach meets German Expressionism and arrives at a prototype of noir. Who is she? Where is she? What is she looking at, or for? The directness of the nude woman on the model’s platform is gone. Another mystery woman emerges in 1939’s New York Movie. A series of studies for New York Movie in Hopper Drawing show Hopper’s thought process from rough idea to final painting.
As curator Carter Foster explains in the audio guide, “What’s different [in the earliest drawings for New York Movie] is the spatial compression, the side aisle becomes smaller. The staircase becomes collapsed into an arched opening with a heavy curtain in front of it, as opposed to being much more open in the drawing.” But all of that is just the setting for the usherette slumped against a wall. “It’s not that she’s trapped, but she’s wearing this uniform that’s sort of militaristic and she’s got a specific role she’s playing within this ornate palace of escapism. That compression of space is something that is an important part of the painting’s overall effect.” The drawings provide the pieces that Hopper crushes together in the end to create the claustrophobic feeling of a crowded movie theater, even for a solitary usherette on the margins. One of the studies even provides a close up of the usherette, as if Hopper the director were exploring all possible angles before selecting the perfect shot.
But the centerpiece of Hopper Drawing is Nighthawks, of course. The painting stands at the end of a pathway of studies ranging from a bare outline of the contours of the coffee shop window to a fully realized drawing (shown above) that may actually have been drawn after Hopper began working on the painting. “We can also see how [Hopper] was working out the qualities of light that interested him by putting white chalk on the sheet to indicate sort of this harsh fluorescent light that was coming out of the diner and contrasting that to the space of the street with the rich darkness of the chalk, and getting all these subtle modulations in this particular sheet,” Foster points out. In the midst of all charcoal worked darkly into the scene, Hopper forces white chalk to mimic the burning, yet lifeless light of the coffee shop reflected on the faces of the customers. As familiar, actually overfamiliar as Nighthawks is, seeing how Hopper struggled to work out the effect of light in that heart of darkness makes the painting fresh and startling new.
Hopper Drawing ends with Sun in an Empty Room, a late Hopper noir perpetrated in broad daylight. Hopper famously claimed that all he wanted to paint was the play of sunlight on a wall. But with sunlight comes shadow. Hopper, like all the great noir minds (including Alfred Hitchcock, an admirer of Hopper’s work), knew that the scariest shadows were the emptiest, full only of our imagination. In his drawings, Hopper drew on his own imagination to empty out the nonessentials of his academic training while keeping the bare bones standing—contrast, depth, design. Hopper Drawing is like watching a fine film noir full of tension, suspense, and anticipation. There’s not even the shadow of a doubt that Hopper’s drawings help explain not just his paintings, but also the man.
[Image: Edward Hopper (1882–1967). Study for Nighthawks, 1941 or 1942. Fabricated chalk and charcoal on paper; 11 1/8 x 15 in. (28.3 x 38.1 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase and gift of Josephine N. Hopper by exchange 2011.65.]
How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.
- A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
- It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
- While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Tribalism and discrimination<p>One question the "Genetic Pressure" series explores: What would tribalism and discrimination look like in a world with designer babies? As designer babies grow up, they could be noticeably different from other people, potentially being smarter, more attractive and healthier. This could breed resentment between the groups—as it does in the series.</p><p>"[Designer babies] slowly find that 'everyone else,' and even their own parents, becomes less and less tolerable," author Eugene Clark told Big Think. "Meanwhile, everyone else slowly feels threatened by the designer babies."</p><p>For example, one character in the series who was born a designer baby faces discrimination and harassment from "normal people"—they call her "soulless" and say she was "made in a factory," a "consumer product." </p><p>Would such divisions emerge in the real world? The answer may depend on who's able to afford designer baby services. If it's only the ultra-wealthy, then it's easy to imagine how being a designer baby could be seen by society as a kind of hyper-privilege, which designer babies would have to reckon with. </p><p>Even if people from all socioeconomic backgrounds can someday afford designer babies, people born designer babies may struggle with tough existential questions: Can they ever take full credit for things they achieve, or were they born with an unfair advantage? To what extent should they spend their lives helping the less fortunate? </p>
Sexuality dilemmas<p>Sexuality presents another set of thorny questions. If a designer baby industry someday allows people to optimize humans for attractiveness, designer babies could grow up to find themselves surrounded by ultra-attractive people. That may not sound like a big problem.</p><p>But consider that, if designer babies someday become the standard way to have children, there'd necessarily be a years-long gap in which only some people are having designer babies. Meanwhile, the rest of society would be having children the old-fashioned way. So, in terms of attractiveness, society could see increasingly apparent disparities in physical appearances between the two groups. "Normal people" could begin to seem increasingly ugly.</p><p>But ultra-attractive people who were born designer babies could face problems, too. One could be the loss of body image. </p><p>When designer babies grow up in the "Genetic Pressure" series, men look like all the other men, and women look like all the other women. This homogeneity of physical appearance occurs because parents of designer babies start following trends, all choosing similar traits for their children: tall, athletic build, olive skin, etc. </p><p>Sure, facial traits remain relatively unique, but everyone's more or less equally attractive. And this causes strange changes to sexual preferences.</p><p>"In a society of sexual equals, they start looking for other differentiators," he said, noting that violet-colored eyes become a rare trait that genetically engineered humans find especially attractive in the series.</p><p>But what about sexual relationships between genetically engineered humans and "normal" people? In the "Genetic Pressure" series, many "normal" people want to have kids with (or at least have sex with) genetically engineered humans. But a minority of engineered humans oppose breeding with "normal" people, and this leads to an ideology that considers engineered humans to be racially supreme. </p>
Regulating designer babies<p>On a policy level, there are many open questions about how governments might legislate a world with designer babies. But it's not totally new territory, considering the West's dark history of eugenics experiments.</p><p>In the 20th century, the U.S. conducted multiple eugenics programs, including immigration restrictions based on genetic inferiority and forced sterilizations. In 1927, for example, the Supreme Court ruled that forcibly sterilizing the mentally handicapped didn't violate the Constitution. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendall Holmes wrote, "… three generations of imbeciles are enough." </p><p>After the Holocaust, eugenics programs became increasingly taboo and regulated in the U.S. (though some states continued forced sterilizations <a href="https://www.uvm.edu/~lkaelber/eugenics/" target="_blank">into the 1970s</a>). In recent years, some policymakers and scientists have expressed concerns about how gene-editing technologies could reanimate the eugenics nightmares of the 20th century. </p><p>Currently, the U.S. doesn't explicitly ban human germline genetic editing on the federal level, but a combination of laws effectively render it <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">illegal to implant a genetically modified embryo</a>. Part of the reason is that scientists still aren't sure of the unintended consequences of new gene-editing technologies. </p><p>But there are also concerns that these technologies could usher in a new era of eugenics. After all, the function of a designer baby industry, like the one in the "Genetic Pressure" series, wouldn't necessarily be limited to eliminating genetic diseases; it could also work to increase the occurrence of "desirable" traits. </p><p>If the industry did that, it'd effectively signal that the <em>opposites of those traits are undesirable. </em>As the International Bioethics Committee <a href="https://academic.oup.com/jlb/advance-article/doi/10.1093/jlb/lsaa006/5841599#204481018" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">wrote</a>, this would "jeopardize the inherent and therefore equal dignity of all human beings and renew eugenics, disguised as the fulfillment of the wish for a better, improved life."</p><p><em>"Genetic Pressure Volume I: Baby Steps"</em><em> by Eugene Clark is <a href="http://bigth.ink/38VhJn3" target="_blank">available now.</a></em></p>
The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.
- A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
- It is the first known giant isopod from the Indian Ocean.
- The finding extends the list of giant isopods even further.
The ocean depths are home to many creatures that some consider to be unnatural.<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzU2NzY4My9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTUwMzg0NX0.BTK3zVeXxoduyvXfsvp4QH40_9POsrgca_W5CQpjVtw/img.png?width=980" id="b6fb0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2739ec50d9f9a3bd0058f937b6d447ac" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1512" data-height="2224" />
What benefit does this find have for science? And is it as evil as it looks?<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="7XqcvwWp" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="8506fcd195866131efb93525ae42dec4"> <div id="botr_7XqcvwWp_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/7XqcvwWp-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/7XqcvwWp-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div> <p>The discovery of a new species is always a cause for celebration in zoology. That this is the discovery of an animal that inhabits the deeps of the sea, one of the least explored areas humans can get to, is the icing on the cake.</p><p>Helen Wong of the National University of Singapore, who co-authored the species' description, explained the importance of the discovery:</p><p>"The identification of this new species is an indication of just how little we know about the oceans. There is certainly more for us to explore in terms of biodiversity in the deep sea of our region." </p><p>The animal's visual similarity to Darth Vader is a result of its compound eyes and the curious shape of its <a href="https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/research/sjades2018/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer dofollow" style="">head</a>. However, given the location of its discovery, the bottom of the remote seas, it may be associated with all manner of horrifically evil Elder Things and <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cthulhu" target="_blank" rel="dofollow">Great Old Ones</a>. <em></em></p>
Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.
- Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
- Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
- In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
The newly discovered galaxies are 62x bigger than the Milky Way.
- Two recently discovered radio galaxies are among the largest objects in the cosmos.
- The discovery implies that radio galaxies are more common than previously thought.
- The discovery was made while creating a radio map of the sky with a small part of a new radio array.