Weeping Paintings
Oct15

Weeping Paintings

You don’t really expect a seemingly dry painting to suddenly start oozing streaks of wet paint, seven years after its completion. So when Otto Piene’s Harvest, which was finished in 1993, began to weep white paint in 2000, owners, conservators and the artist were all rather surprised. Although Harvest is Piene’s only work to start weeping, the strange liquefying process has happened to dozens of other artworks from...

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Dear eBay, I Love You. Sincerely, Conservation Science
Sep11

Dear eBay, I Love You. Sincerely, Conservation Science

Dear eBay, I love you. Yours Sincerely, Conservation Science I’ve been conducting a rather unconventional poll. It consists of a single question posed to unsuspecting conservation scientists, typically during conference coffee breaks or at the hotel bar thereafter: “Um. So have you ever bought anything on eBay… I mean, for your scientific work?” What’s amazing is that researchers working with cultural heritage objects as diverse as...

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Come To Culture Lab: Science On Art And Artifacts, A Conference Session This Saturday In Dublin At ESOF
Jul11

Come To Culture Lab: Science On Art And Artifacts, A Conference Session This Saturday In Dublin At ESOF

I’m looking forward to moderating a session on art and artifact science at the Euroscience Open Forum  (ESOF) conference this Saturday morning from 10:45 am – 12:15 pm in the Liffey B room. If you’re in Dublin at ESOF, do stop by! Here’s what you’ll be in for… (the shortened version of my pitch to ESOF): When you mention art or cultural heritage science, most people think about authentication of a priceless...

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Stinky, Degrading Film And How To Stop It
Apr05

Stinky, Degrading Film And How To Stop It

Like humans, fungi have a taste for old movies. The problem is that they like to eat the film rather than watch it. Adding insult to injury, fungi produce copious amounts of stinky odors from their consumption of classic flicks. In fact, this fungi flatulence can cause headaches, nausea and irritated eyes in humans. (In particular, one airborne fungal molecule called 1-octen-3-ol.) For this reason film archive staff fear any sort of...

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Finish Fetish Chemistry
Oct26

Finish Fetish Chemistry

Consider this cultural cocktail: the 1960s and 70s surfing scene in Los Angeles, that era’s emerging aeronautical and chemical industries, plus a splash of flavor from Hollywood and the Beatniks. The result is a group of artists called the Finish Fetish who produced minimalist sculptures often made from materials newly available in those decades, such as polyester. Finish Fetish is “extra spit and polish in pop and minimal art...

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When Acrylic Paints Get A Spa Day
Oct17

When Acrylic Paints Get A Spa Day

When acrylic paint was introduced in the late 1940s it was a boon for artists with a penchant for instant gratification: Acrylics dry within hours, compared to the weeks and sometimes months it takes for oil paint to completely harden. But few things in life are perfect, and acrylic paint is no exception. In order to keep pigments stable in the acrylic polymer base, paint makers had to include additives called surfactants....

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