At its most basic, quarantine is a strategy of separation and containment—the creation of a hygienic boundary between two or more things, for the purpose of protecting one from exposure to the other. It is a spatial response to suspicion, threat, and uncertainty. From Chernobyl’s Zone of Exclusion and the artificial quarantine islands of the New York archipelago to camp beds set up to house HIV-positive Haitian refugees detained at Guantánamo and the modified Airstream trailer from within which Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins once waved at President Nixon [above], the landscapes of quarantine are various, mutable, and often unexpected.
Geoff Manaugh is a contributing editor at Wired UK and former senior editor of Dwell magazine. He’s also the guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, March 5, at 2 pm ET.
You can hear this provocative ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.
At this point, millions have visited the glowing world of Pandora, in director James Cameron’s Avatar. The highest grossing film in history, with nearly $2.5 billion earned worldwide, it is, as of this past weekend, still the third-most popular film in the U.S., and has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
What fewer have seen, however, is the real glimmering world of Avatar, namely, the humming, 10,000 square-foot server farm at WETA Digital, in Miramar, New Zealand, above, where the film’s photo-realistic images, above right, were wholly generated. The system literally “occupies spots 193 through 197 on the Top 500 list of the most powerful supercomputers.
Thirty four racks comprise the computing core, made of 32 machines each with 40,000 processors and 104 terabytes of memory. Weta systems administrator Paul Gunn said that heat exchange for their servers had to be enclosed. The “industry standard of raised floors and forced-air cooling could not keep up with the constant heat coming off the machines,” said Gunn. “We need to stack the gear closely to get the bandwidth we need and, because the data flows are so great, the storage has to be local.”
By the time the production was in its
last month or more of production those 40,000 processors were handling 7 or 8 gigabytes of data per second, running 24 hours a day. A final copy of Avatar equated to 17.28 gigabytes per minute of storage.
That’s. A. Big. File. Imagine if someone accidentally deleted it.
Fix your peepers on this classic photo of ’70s Knicks legend Walt “Clyde” Frazier, above, decked out in front of his classic black and silver Rolls Royce. (Best detail: The still-shinin’ twin towers of the World Trade Center, beaming peacefully in the background.)
Frazier was a true fashion plate, right, and the NBA’s go-to guy for style during the wild, rah-rah 1970s. Keep in mind that, back then, most basketball players went little beyond whatever polyester parachutes they could find at the Big & Tall Men’s Shop. A GQ man, before the term existed, Frazier’s deep interest in the limits of looking superb utterly stood out.
Unlike today, though, Frazier kept the off-the-court electricity separate from his on-the-court work. Unlike today, where athletes’ distractions seem to always get in the way of their day jobs, somehow, his luminescent lifestyle, and his intense interest in the latest wears, never overshadowed his ability to do the task, right, that paid for all those jackets, pants, and tailoring. And, of course, that superb piece of British motorcraft.
Though known today for the cheezy lines of his Just For Men commercials, right—”Emmitt: Your gray facial hair has put you in a rocking chair!”—back in the day, #10 was known for massive sideburns, his “WCF” vanity plates, atop, and always being the point guard to whom opposing teams feared getting close. As it should be. Rock on, Clyde.
Ever since I was was in 4th grade, watching the older kids in our suburban grade school fly control line model planes, like this one, right, before class, I’ve possessed a soft spot for the sport of flying scale fueled aircraft. I’ve never had the money or the spare time to commit and truly learn, not to mention master, the art, but I’ve always thought, and think, I might, one day, hunker down and do so.
Imagine my surprise, though, when, peeking into the field several years later, I learned of the astounding levels to which skilled would-be flight jocks and plane builders had taken this pastime. See that B-52 in video still, above? Most people, upon spying the image, would conclude some lucky fan had squeezed off a shot of the U.S. Air Force’s workhorse, off on another mission.
The world gets smaller and smaller, and Vanity Fair’s gets even tinier, still: Their new, March 2010 Hollywood cover, above, shot by Annie Leibovitz, features a bevy of SPF50-dependent, semi-translucent beauties.
They are, l-r, Abbie Cornish, Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall, Mia Wasikowska, Emma Stone, Evan Rachel Wood, and Anna Kendrick.
It’s almost, like, given the kind of talent available and doing amazing work today, if you do a magazine cover of nine young women in film, right, and they’re all white, it’s just because you want it white. You’re making, intentionally or not, a racial power statement.
I wonder: While discussing Haiti over lunch, did any of these actors say, “Wow: This sure is one Caucazoid photo shoot”? Better yet, did anyone refuse to be part of something which so genteely hangs out the NO COLOREDS sign?
I don’t know if these women have thought about this, but, just like global warming, every bit of race adds up, and if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. At least, consider that the next time you’re cast in a project—like this one—that sends relations back sixty years.
Like a lot of legendary photographs, Albert Watson’s portrait of the Rolling Stones’s Mick Jagger, above, begins with another concept that isn’t working out.
Says the renowned lensman,
The original idea for the shooting was to have Mick Jagger driving a Corvette, with the leopard in the passenger seat. The big cat, a wild animal, seemed to suit Jagger, who likes to jump around a lot onstage, of course. However, putting the leopard in the car with him ended up being so dangerous that we had to build a partition. So, while we were waiting, I thought, “Let me try a quick double exposure with the leopard.” I shot the leopard first and drew its eyes and nose on the viewfinder of the camera. Then I rewound the film and photographed Jagger, fitting his eyes and nose over the eyes and nose of the leopard on the viewfinder so they matched. I didn’t think it would work, and I almost threw out the film. But of the twelve shots, four of them matched, and this was the best of the four that worked.
What’s amazing about the image is how, by combining the two subjects, Watson suggests a deeper truth about Jagger, inflecting his almost feline, preening aura; his famed, virtually predatory libido. I happen to think Watson’s creation story is nonsense, or, at best, incomplete. For example, did the leopard’s pupils and Jagger’s somehow match perfectly, or were the rock star’s orbs stripped in, later?
What’s without contest, however, is that this is an amazing photographic image. So is this 1985 photo by Henry Diltz of Tina Turner at LA’s Universal Amphitheater, right. Both do what photography does best: Isolate the moment with verity; freezing it so that we may contemplate and examine it in a way that is impossible in life.
Gail Buckland is a guest today on my WBAI-NY / 99.5 FM radio show, NONFICTION, this afternoon, Friday, January 8, at 2 pm ET.
We’ll also be speaking with photog Sue Kwon, whose Street Level: New York Photographs 1987-2007 documents the seething energy of the metropolis in which she lives from a personal p.o.v. Kwon works by getting close to the people and cultures that fill the city, working at eye level, crafting typically black and white images of the sights that meter daily life of the five boroughs; for example, this image, above, of Black Israelite proselytizers.
You can hear both Gail Buckland’s and Sue Kwon’s ideas by tuning in at 2 pm. If you’re outside of the New York tri-state, check out our live stream on the web. If you miss the live show, dig into our archives for up to 90 days after broadcast.
The Body Double English Rose Duvet Cover Bedding Set, above, will make people who stumble into your lair think that you’re stretched out there, buck naked, and covered in ruby-red roses. That is, unless, like most of Earth’s women, you’re brown. Or you’re a guy. Double-sized w/ two pillowcases. Machine-washable, 50/50 cotton-poly. $40.