Your eyes and ears on the world of art and culture:

In light of our 82nd birthday trip to SFMOMA, we wanted to find out what critics are saying about their favorite museums. You won't find SFMOMA there but you'll find it here.

A very rare codex has been found at Oxford University with the use of high-tech imaging techniques. The codex, hidden for centuries under a later document beneath a layer of gesso, was discovered using hyperspectral imaging. The top layer was deemed to have been made c. 1560. The later beneath will hopefully reveal the existence of archaeological sites in Southern Mexico.

The Huntington Library in San Marino, California has found thousands of Civil War telegrams, many in code to avoid Confederate eyes, locked away in a foot locker for over 100 years. In all there are 35 documents and ledgers written between 1862 and 1867 and preserved by Thomas T. Eckert of the War Department. In an effort to decipher the telegrams, the Library has enlisted the aid of volunteers who use cipher charts as an aid. As the Huntington comments, "they bear witness to unheralded lives caught in a sweeping historical narrative whose prejudice, racism and defiant politics reverberate today."

Sally Mann has long been one of my favorite photographers, although I have to separate my artistic eye from my parent's trepidations. In her latest book, "Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs", Mann takes us back from her southern upbringing to her emergence as a nationally esteemed photographer, documenting the dogged patience required to get just the right light and just the right image of her children.

A brief introduction to the music of Morten Lauridsen by a friend has quickly made me enamored of his powerful and eloquent music. If you are not familiar with it, you might begin here, noting his fascination with poetry. The excerpt was taken from "Shining Light: A Portrait of Morten Lauridsen", the award-winning documentary. You will find more excerpts at his website and here on youtube. We have also made his music the topic of our Site of the Month,

Experts in the European Union have decided that Dan Flavin's lightworks are not art but rather simple "light fittings", making them the target of a 20% VAT. The legal battle over what constitutes art versus commerce was highlighted in 1928 with Brancusi's "Bird in Space" sculpture as the artist attempted to bring the piece into the United States. Today the use of ordinary materials like florescent lighting and television sets has ignited the controversy as contemporary society tries to capitalize on art while the artists struggle to survive.

Whether our world is real or merely a simulation is an object of increasing attention as virtual reality, interactive games, and artificial intelligence invade our linear perception of life as we know it. Forecasters predict a soon-to-be-experienced environment of simulation in which we love, work and play in partially or totally imagined situations.

Whitaker's "Woman with Red Gloves has been included the the GutfreundCornett Gallery exhibition called "Vision: An Artist's Perception" recently shown at the Kaleid Gallery in Jose, California. A catalog of the exhibition is available here. Another catalog featuring Whitaker's digital painting, a juror's award recipient, can be found online from the "Chaos" exhibition shown recently at the Arc Gallery in San Francisco, CA.

The face of a 2000-year-old Egyptian woman has been painstakingly recreated using 3D printing technology. Aged somewhere between 18 and 25 years old, the mummified head has been at the University of Melbourne for at least 100 years, most likely part of the collection of Frederic Wood Jones who participated in Egyptian digs in the 1930's. This site offers a time-lapse video of how the reconstruction was done. Other researchers are studying how the woman lived and died, including the finding of teeth abscesses.

c. Corinne Whitaker 2016