Flour’s been around for 10,000 years, and was one of — if not the first — plant to ever be cultivated by humans. So the history of flour — and the things we can make with it — is closely tied up with human technology. The part that we use for white flour is are the insides of tiny, individual seeds of grass. It used to take the most muscular men hours to grind wheatberries into an edible meal, and even then, it could only be made into a starvation-delaying, gloppy mush. A few hundred years ago, separating the germ from the bran and endosperm advanced from being powered by humans or animals, to getting milled with the power of flowing water. The flour this yielded made a lot more than mush, but a cookbook from 1747 still instructs you to beat a cake batter “all well together for an hour with your hand, or a great wooden spoon.” These days, electric mills slice open wheatberry seeds and a highly sensitive machine separates each particle of ground up endosperm by its miniscule weight, to give us white flour. This sounds like the last word in milling technology, but to this day we can only remove about 75% of the endosperm, but it makes up 83% of the seed. More exact milling could mean higher grade flours for ever-better textures. That’s just milling techniques – to this day research scientists still dedicate themselves to wheat science and we can only hope that one day, all that mental exertion will translate to a baked good of unimaginable deliciousness.

Flour (via Kaufmann Mercantile Blog)

Great primer on the history and application tips for various types of flour.

The History of Glitter in Less than 3 Minutes

(via The Etsy Blog)

The New Spoke & Wheel Approach

Olga Viso, executive director at the Walker Art Center

Twelve days ago the Walker Art Center launched their new website and the response from the cultural community has been nothing but positive. Their approach was to ignore the static standard exhibition and collection focused approach that has in the past only served to highlight the disconnect between curatorial, education and communication departments - that designers have tried to cover up with pomp and flashy graphics. 

Instead the Walker has took a more strategic look at content creation and the experience of users who may or may not be visiting the galleries but who still desire “an experience of art”. In redesigning/developing their new site, the Walker is not presenting new content as much as presenting a intuitive and logical interface for discovery. By claiming their identity as center, the Walker’s new site collects and even features cultural content created elsewhere along side the myriad of blogs they’ve been publishing since 2005 on the subjects of community, new media, design, visual art, performance, and film. The genius of this approach is not the accumulation itself, but the interface for approaching it. Everything is related and each string you pull from the Walker’s ball of yarn leads you down a different path. 

Exploring www.walkerart.org is an experience of a new millenium’s attention-span at work. Designed for the maximum use of the ‘Open In a New Tab’ key command, their is nothing linear about the flow of content. Image heavy but not reliant, as a first-time user, it feels as though the directions one could travel are limitless and that no matter which one chooses to follow, three more options will emerge.  While the traditional navigation bar keeps us grounded on the top of the page, to the left a covert navigation ”eye” tool helps us the dive into the site by filtering by genre the content one sees, while a ribbon on the righthand let’s us know without reading what exactly we’re looking at. This site feels less about looking at works of art (something the internet is inherently bad at) but rather the ideas and context that is shaping the conversation around works and making.

What this means is that ripening must then be artificially induced, in a specialized architecture of pressurized, temperature- and atmosphere-controlled rooms that fool the banana into thinking it is still back on the plant in tropical Ecuador. New York City’s supermarkets, grocers, coffee-shops, and food cart vendors are served by just a handful of banana ripening outfits — one in Brooklyn, one in Long Island, a small facility inside the main Hunt’s Point Terminal Market, and our field trip destination: Banana Distributors of New York, in the Bronx.

Earlier and more concrete evidence of the making and use of felt dates to ancient fresco painting in Pompeii, where images of quactiliarii (feltmakers) have been found decorating the walls of homes and shops. It is possible that these fabricators dressed marble sculptures of Venus, goddess of love and beauty, and Cybele, Earth Mother, in felt robes as an advertisement of their goods. In fact, the supple, silken drapery that we usually imagine in the ancient world are incorrect — the Romans swathed themselves in togas made of heavy wool felt.

Great talk that I caught a few months later at Cooper Union, while directly relevant to the challenges facing web designers interested in typography - the real story for me in the design system that allows for agency of both concept and form within the same product. Simply brilliant!

(If the embedded clip doesn’t work, watch it here).

Prompt 2: Today by Liz Danzico

Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing. The force of character is cumulative.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

If ‘the voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks,’ then it is more genuine to be present today than to recount yesterdays. How would you describe today using only one sentence? Tell today’s sentence to one other person. Repeat each day.

- Liz Danzico

My response:

Today is the cool breeze on your face as you write that reminds you to look out the window.

Above is a response to the second of 30 daily writing prompts that are a part of Domino Project’s Self-Reliance challenge. Join the twitter conversation #trust30.

Prompt 1: Gwen Bell – 15 Minutes to Live

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. Our age yields no great and perfect persons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fear. It something isn’t it. It gets you in all the right places and manages to seep into all the wrong ones. Evolutionarily speaking, fear is a tool. It is the reason that our species has survived. Our brains adapted due to fear, our senses reflexively input our environment as a means to alert us to potential fears, and the adrenaline that fear releases is a high that we return to again and again. And yet, as Emerson acknowledges, fear keeps us from so much. When we have outmoded our sensory alerts for inbox updates, what role does fear have in our society today?

While we may be living a few generations off from the “age” in which Ralph Waldo Emerson first made this observation, I would ponder that fear plays no less a role in our lives today. But is it necessary?

Love is the typical counterbalance for fear. Religions have for centuries suggested that love and faith can heal fear. But in my own life I have noticed that the times when I have felt the most love are also the ones that have brought me to closest to my fears. Fear that your parents are going to be okay - mine got into a plane crash in the Adirondack Mountains when I was 15. Fear that the girl you are in love with is going to love you back, and if and when she does, that the feeling will last. Fear that you’ll never achieve your dream, the job that fits, the future that is bright. These are a few of my fears, but in stating them here and in looking a little closer at them (we only have 15 minutes) I find myself wondering if fear isn’t a sense in itself, making the moment in which we experience it more vibrant. Sharpening the edge of our lives, so that we can more acutely experience what lies on the other side of fear.

So with a metaphorical minute left, I ask you not to be afraid, but to remember to embrace fear for what lies beyond.

Above is a response to the first of 30 daily writing prompts that are a part of Domino Project’s Self-Reliance challenge. Join the twitter conversation #trust30.

by Amelia Black
e: ameliablack@gmail.com
t: @ame_black
w: ameliablack.net