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Spam As Art

Every time I check my spam folder, I'm amused by the subject lines. They seem to fall into two categories: first, there are human-edited lines that try to trick me into clicking; second, there are crazy nonsense subjects, presumably assembled through some algorithm (most appear to use Markov Chains). I can usually distinguish the randomized stuff from subjects written by a human -- today I received the clearly human subjects: "Customer Notification," "CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!," "talk to me," and so on. Bor-ing. Where it gets interesting is when the human-written stuff has some (unintentional) artistic merit, or when the randomized stuff borders on plausible. For example, I also received spam today with the subject "But Gabe Henderson," which seems to imply much deeper content than the random pseudo-poem about "replica watches" contained in the message body.

We've covered Spamusement, an online cartoon based on spam subject lines (including the famous "you were wrong cabinet sanchez"), and before that spam poetry and eloquent spam. But as spammers continue to hit us with both randomized and handcrafted come-ons, the use of spam as art is also evolving.

Take Linzie Hunter's Spam One-liners, a Flickr set featuring nice textual treatments of spam subject lines including: What to look for when buying a repl1ka watch, No more lonely nights for Linzie, and You'll love the new non obese you. Nice.

File Spamshirt under Ideas I Wish I'd Had -- it's a tee shirt company which prints spam subject lines on shirts. (Check out the gallery.)

There's even an art exhibition devoted to spam-as-art. Sónar 2007 will feature a bunch of spam artists, and provides links to their work online. (Best bet: The Spam Letters.)

All this art coming from something so crass and awful gives me great hope for humanity. As soon as someone finds a way to make Robocalls into art, sign me up.

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Art
The Getty Center, Surrounded By Wildfires, Will Leave Its Art Where It Is
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The wildfires sweeping through California have left countless homeowners and businesses scrambling as the blazes continue to grow out of control in various locations throughout the state. While art lovers worried when they heard that Los Angeles's Getty Center would be closing its doors this week, as the fires closed part of the 405 Freeway, there was a bit of good news. According to museum officials, the priceless works housed inside the famed Getty Center are said to be perfectly secure and won't need to be evacuated from the facility.

“The safest place for the art is right here at the Getty,” Ron Hartwig, the Getty’s vice president of communications, told the Los Angeles Times. According to its website, the museum was closed on December 5 and December 6 “to protect the collections from smoke from fires in the region,” but as of now, the art inside is staying put.

Though every museum has its own way of protecting the priceless works inside it, the Los Angeles Times notes that the Getty Center was constructed in such a way as to protect its contents from the very kind of emergency it's currently facing. The air throughout the gallery is filtered by a system that forces it out, rather than a filtration method which would bring air in. This system will keep the smoke and air pollutants from getting into the facility, and by closing the museum this week, the Getty is preventing the harmful air from entering the building through any open doors.

There is also a water tank at the facility that holds 1 million gallons in reserve for just such an occasion, and any brush on the property is routinely cleared away to prevent the likelihood of a fire spreading. The Getty Villa, a separate campus located in the Pacific Palisades off the Pacific Coast Highway, was also closed out of concern for air quality this week.

The museum is currently working with the police and fire departments in the area to determine the need for future closures and the evacuation of any personnel. So far, the fires have claimed more than 83,000 acres of land, leading to the evacuation of thousands of people and the temporary closure of I-405, which runs right alongside the Getty near Los Angeles’s Bel-Air neighborhood.

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This 77-Year-Old Artist Saves Money on Art Supplies by 'Painting' in Microsoft Excel
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It takes a lot of creativity to turn a blank canvas into an inspired work of art. Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi makes his pictures out of something that’s even more dull than a white page: an empty spreadsheet in Microsoft Excel.

When he retired, the 77-year-old Horiuchi, whose work was recently spotlighted by Great Big Story, decided he wanted to get into art. At the time, he was hesitant to spend money on painting supplies or even computer software, though, so he began experimenting with one of the programs that was already at his disposal.

Horiuchi's unique “painting” method shows that in the right hands, Excel’s graph-building features can be used to bring colorful landscapes to life. The tranquil ponds, dense forests, and blossoming flowers in his art are made by drawing shapes with the software's line tool, then adding shading with the bucket tool.

Since picking up the hobby in the 2000s, Horiuchi has been awarded multiple prizes for his creative work with Excel. Let that be inspiration for Microsoft loyalists who are still broken up about the death of Paint.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the artist's process in the video below.

[h/t Great Big Story]

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