From Greek to Latin: Visualizing the Evolution of the Alphabet

Over the course of 2021, the Greek alphabet was a major part of the news cycle.

COVID-19 variants, which are labeled with Greek letters when becoming a variant of concern, normalized their usage. From the Alpha variant in the UK, to the Delta variant that spread from India to become the dominant global strain, the Greek alphabet was everywhere. Seemingly overnight, the Omicron variant discovered in South Africa has now taken the mantle as the most discussed variant.

But the Greek alphabet is used in other parts of our lives as well. For example, Greek letters are commonly used in mathematics and science, like Sigma (Σ) denoting a sum or Lambda (λ) used to represent the half-life of radioactive material.

And the study of linguistics shows us why using Greek letters in English isn’t completely farfetched. This visualization from Matt Baker at UsefulCharts.com demonstrates how the modern Latin script used in English evolved from Greek, and other, alphabets.

It’s All Proto-Sinaitic to Me

Before there was English, or Latin, or even Greek, there was Proto-Sinaitic.

Considered the first alphabet ever used, the Proto-Sinaitic script was derived in Canaan, around the biblical Land of Israel. It was repurposed from Egyptian hieroglyphs that were commonly seen in the area (its name comes from Mount Sinai), and used to describe sounds instead of meanings.

As the first Semitic script, Proto-Sinaitic soon influenced other Semitic languages. It was the precursor to the Phoenician alphabet, which was used in the area of modern-day Lebanon and spread across the Mediterranean and became the basis for Arabic, Cyrillic, Hebrew, and of course, Greek.
Evolving into the Greek, Roman, and Latin Alphabets

Over time, the alphabet continued to become adopted and evolve across different languages.

The first forms of the Archaic Greek script are dated circa 750 BCE. Many of the letters remained in Modern Greek, including Alpha, Beta, Delta, and even Omicron, despite first appearing more than 2,500 years ago.

Soon the Greek alphabet (and much of its culture) was borrowed into Latin, with Archaic Latin script appearing circa 500 BCE. The evolution into Roman script, with the same recognizable letters used in modern English, occurred 500 years later in 1 CE.

Many of the letters which first came from Egyptian hieroglyphs made their way into modern English, but they took a long and convoluted journey. As the graphic above highlights, some letters evolved into multiple forms, while others fell out of use entirely.

And this is just a snapshot of the many scripts and languages that the modern English alphabet evolved from. Lowercase letters came from Roman cursive, which evolved into the Insular and Carolingian scripts before becoming modern lowercase English.

Like many things in the long arc of human culture, alphabets are not as far removed from each other as you might think.

Omri Wallach


"RECONNECTED by United Photo Press at Ingo Seufert Gallery, Munich, Germany"

"RECONNECTED: An International Photographic Exhibition by United Photo Press at Ingo Seufert Gallery, Munich, Germany".

The Ingo Seufert Gallery, situated in the picturesque city of Munich, is set to host an international photographic exhibition that is poised to captivate enthusiasts of visual art. The United Photo Press, a distinguished association of photographers, will showcase its latest collection titled "RECONNECTED," a celebration of the diversity and talent within its membership and among its guests.

Scheduled to run from March 13th to March 31st, 2024, the exhibition offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the world through the lenses of both seasoned and emerging photographers. The name "RECONNECTED" implies a rediscovery, an immersion into narratives and perspectives that transcend borders and cultures.

Having reached its 34th year, United Photo Press has curated an impressive selection of works spanning various themes, from breathtaking landscapes to emotive portraits, capturing moments that transcend time and space. The exhibition stands as a testament to the compelling ability of imagery to narrate stories and evoke emotions.

The Ingo Seufert Gallery, known for its commitment to promoting contemporary visual artists, provides the perfect backdrop for this photographic journey. Organizers are enthusiastic about bringing this international exhibition to Munich, offering local residents and visitors a unique cultural experience.
The vernissage, scheduled for March 13th, will be an opportunity for photography enthusiasts to meet the artists behind the works and delve into the stories that inspired each image. Throughout the exhibition period, Ingo Seufert Gallery will be open to the public, inviting art lovers to explore the extraordinary world of contemporary photography.

"RECONNECTED" promises to be an enriching and inspiring experience, fostering connections among people from different backgrounds through the universal power of imagery. Don't miss the chance to embark on this unique journey at Ingo Seufert Gallery in Munich, Germany, from March 13th to March 31st, 2024.


This Company is Making Wholly Original, Affordable, Customizable Medium Format Film Cameras

In 2016 and again in 2018, PetaPixel featured the work of Dora Goodman, a woman who was adding hand-crafted elements to analog cameras. Fast forward to 2021, and Goodman has gone steps further and finally created cameras of her own design.

When Goodman started her project almost five years ago the business was built around reskinning cameras with wood, leather, or any special material. Though a handcrafted process, the cameras were still Nikon, Pentacon, Hasselblad, or whichever brand but were just redesigned aesthetically.

Goodman and her team always dreamt of being more than a reskin service.

“We always had the dream to leave a mark in the analog photo industry and we really wanted to create actually our own cameras,” she tells PetaPixel. “Our first trials were the wooden cameras (I mean totally made out of wood), which we still love, but then we realized that is a huge amount of work and very slow, so we could not build a business only on this, even if our community loved it.”

In recent years, 3D printing has become more accessible at a low cost, and Goodman decided to look into that as a possible way to expand her business.

“We started to experiment and it turned out that this technology is working great for us! It resulted for us in cameras that function perfectly and also look great,” she says, smiling. “It is a continuously developing technology and we love that it is so flexible, it almost has no boundaries – people are printing everything from organs to houses.”

Using 3D printing has allowed Goodman and her team additional advantages over building everything from wood by hand.

“Thanks to this method, we can continuously upgrade our cameras, anytime we have a new idea we make a design, print it and in a few hours we see if it is working or if it looks good,” she explains. “It’s easy to tweak and fine-tune our products.”

No longer is it a challenge to find specific parts.

“We love that when we have an idea that we need something special accessory for a camera, we do not need to hunt for that, but we can design and print it. It is so cool! The process is fast, effective, and cost-efficient, which can result in the affordable cameras we sell.”

Goodman is focusing her business on 3D printed cameras now, and has released two custom, unique Goodman originals that she hopes will let them leave their mark on the analog photography world.

The Goodman Zone Medium Format Camera

Launched in October of 2019, the Goodman Zone Camera is available open-source but also it is possible to order from Goodman’s online store.

Goodman says that she and her team understand that it is not always easy to find new or used medium format film cameras in good condition and also at a good price, so when they designed this camera the goal was to provide a professional and affordable medium format camera an entry-level price to give everyone the opportunity to try out medium format photography.

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

Processed with VSCO with c8 preset

“Originally, we designed it to work with the Mamiya RB67 back and Mamiya Press Lenses. In the first year it was available only in a DIY kit, meaning that all the parts are pre-printed and all the necessary hardware, tools, etc are included in the package, and you just need to sit down, take some time for yourself and assemble your own camera,” she explains.

“Building your own camera is such a special process, we definitely recommend to every photographer to experience this joy it gives, and that special bond you will have with this camera.

As Goodman alluded to, thanks to the process of how they make their cameras, building out a design never has to be a “finished” process.

“Since then we are always developing the Zone, we launched a lot of small accessories, and in the last few months, the biggest development was a helical lens adapter with ground glass (also 3d printed) that makes it possible to attach a wider variety of lenses now to the Zone. Also now in January we are launching the Goodman 6×6 Magazine, a 3D printed back that fits our Zone, so from now it will have an alternative to the Mamiya rb67 back.”

Just in the last month, Goodman launched the ability for customers to order pre-assembled cameras, as they realized not everyone has the time and patience to build their own.
The Scura 3D Printed Pinhole Camera

Goodman’s second camera offering is available in 35mm or 6×6 formats and was launched in March of 2020. Just like with the Zone, the Scura is available as open-source so you can build it yourself, a DIY kit or, now, as a fully assembled camera and is recommended for both beginners and advanced photographers who are looking to experience the unique world of pinhole photography.

The tiny camera obscura was designed with a special curved back, so the light can reach the film evenly, which results in distortion-free images. 

Furthermore, it has a laser-drilled pinhole plate with a microscopic accuracy that is a perfectly even and smooth cut,” Goodman says. “It is a fun yet powerful pocket camera for capturing moments. 

A camera with a simple, easily manageable mechanism and minimalist design. The Scura pocket camera is tiny and super lightweight (only 0.2 kg) so it easily fits into your pocket in any condition.”

Custom Cameras

For 2021, Goodman says their goal is to create custom cameras based on the Goodman Zone body.

“We get a lot of requests from our community to build them a whole setup so they do not need to hunt lenses and backs. We want to make each of these requests special with our ideas like a special accessory, color, wooden inlay, etc, so all will be different and there will be only one from these custom editions.

Below are a few examples of custom cameras Goodman and her team have already completed.

“We love combining different materials and also we love to experience with the endless possibility of 3D printing,” she says.

In addition to the cameras, Goodman says they enjoy tinkering with other interesting gadget ideas.

“On the side, we always experiment with 3D printing and we love to create any kind of gadget that actually comes into our mind. For example, we developed a 3D printed gimbal that you can use with your smartphone and with a plastic bottle, or our recent innovation is a cold brew coffee maker (that is not launched yet but will be in a month), that is such a cool thing, and does actually make really great coffee!”

Goodman’s choice to not only offer cameras as a DIY or fully-assembled but also as open-source for anyone to build shows a dedication to making photography available to anyone, anywhere, simply for the love of the craft.

Below, Goodman provided a set of images taken with the Goodman Zone camera:

To look at the full Goodman camera offerings, check out their online store here. You can also follow Dora and her work on Instagram.


12 Best Uses For Old Laptops

As much as we wish they would, laptops don't last forever. With every software or technological advancement, the demands on your laptop computer increase until, eventually, it just can't keep up. What's fresh out of the box today will leave you yearning for an upgrade in just a few years. Suddenly, your previously treasured laptop is destined for the trash or a box in the closet or attic, next to the discarded toys of your youth.

If you're the kind of person who just can't seem to let go of old tech, don't despair, but do check on your closet-dwelling laptop. There's a chance that the chemical reactions in the battery have gone rogue, resulting in an explosion or a fire just waiting to happen. Multiple manufacturers have experienced swelling batteries over recent years and that's a concern, even if your laptop hasn't been plugged in for some time.

Once you've ensured your old laptop isn't plotting your imminent demise, you can start considering what you want to do with it. Your older laptop need not die of old age or spend its twilight years in a garbage heap. Instead, it can enjoy a fruitful second life with a renewed purpose.

Turn it into a Chromebook or Android computer
You probably shelved your old laptop not because it was broken but because it started slowing down and no longer suited your needs. Years' worth of use coupled with increasing demand eventually takes a toll on a computer, bogging it down beneath layers of digital sludge. Eventually, even running the operating system, let alone using it to do anything, becomes cumbersome. It might be that all you need is a lighter operating system to breathe new life into your old laptop.

As long as it meets some minimum requirements, you can upload a new OS like Neverware's CloudReady or PrimeOS quickly and easily. For CloudReady, your laptop needs to have 2 GB of RAM or more, 16GB of available storage space, administrative access, and suitable graphics and processor, (via Neverware). To make things easier, Neverware has a list of certified models which they guarantee will work. If your laptop was manufactured after 2007, it's likely to work just fine, (via PCWorld). You're also going to need a flash drive with at least 8GB of storage space, for installation.

Use your existing computer to load the installer onto your flash drive, then connect that to your old laptop. You'll have to bypass the automated boot when you turn on your laptop so that it accesses the USB drive as the boot device. Then install CloudReady and you're off to the races. Refer to Neverware's install guide for complete instructions.

Use it as a game server
If you've ever wanted to set up a private game server, there's no better place to get your feet wet than Minecraft. It's only the highest selling game of all time and it's not even close. Grand Theft Auto comes in at second place with 150 million sales, compared to Minecraft's 238 million, (via HP).

If you've been resistant to using your regular computer to set up a server, a spare laptop might be the right answer for you. The process is relatively simple, if you're comfortable fiddling with Notepad files and copying a couple lines of characters. Minecraft has a series of instructions outlined in their Help Center, but we can walk through the basics here.

As explained by Tech Radar, the first thing you're going to want to do is make sure you're running the current version of Java and, if not, update it. Once that's done, you'll snag the Minecraft Java Edition server file. It helps to move those new files into a dedicated folder where they'll be easy to find.

You'll need to open the eula.txt file and change the line that says "eula=false" to "eula=true" in order to accept the EULA terms and get everything working. You'll also need to update the directory to point to the folder where you saved your server files. The process can be a little laborious but if you follow the instructions in the Help Center you should be fine.

Your own personal megaplex
Even if your old laptop doesn't run very well, it should be able to play stored video files without too much trouble. Using its onboard hard drive or a connected external drive, you can store any movies and TV shows you own. If you're not using the laptop for anything else, clearing it of any extraneous software opens up more space for popcorn fodder.

Of course, you could use the laptop to watch movies directly, but who wants to do that when you've got a fancy flatscreen mounted to your wall? Since you're no longer using your laptop for games, email, or internet browsing, you can connect it to your TV and leave it there permanently.

The easiest way to do this is using one of your TVs HDMI ports. If your laptop doesn't have HDMI out, a VGA-to-HDMI, DVI-to-HDMI, or USB-to-HDMI adapter should do the job, (via Lifewire). A non-HDMI output, however, could cause some trouble with capturing audio from your laptop. You'll need to connect the audio output to your TV or sound system with the available ports and any needed adapters. If your laptop isn't too old, it should have HDMI and none of that will be a concern.

As explained by How To Geek, you can also expand your library beyond what you have downloaded by connecting the laptop to a Plex server, giving it remote access to any media you have saved there.

The ultimate retro gaming machine
We've talked before about how to scratch your retro gaming itch either using a dedicated device or a repurposed phone. Those solutions work, and they have the benefit of being even more portable than a laptop, but they're really borrowing from technology that was pioneered on computers. Turning your laptop into a retro gaming machine is perhaps the best way to relive the early days of computer gaming.

As explained by Laptop, getting your hands on emulators and ROMs is super easy and the files are so small that you can easily house just about every retro game file ever made on a single machine. That turns your old laptop from a dust-gathering piece of molded plastic to the fully stocked arcade you always wish you had. No quarters required. Of course, as we've mentioned elsewhere, the legality of game ROMs is nebulous so proceed at your own risk.

Emulated games can be played using your laptop's native keyboard, by way of the direction keys or the WASD keys, and you can even play multiplayer on many games if you split up the keyboard, but that can feel like juggling with one hand behind your back. A compatible USB or wireless game controller lets you play your endless library of games the way they were intended.

Make a wireless at-home file server
Are your files eating up hard drive space on your everyday computer? You could get an external hard drive or a series of flash drives to store your files and free up space on your computer, or you could turn your old laptop into a remote file server and access your files anywhere.

Turning your laptop into a file server is like having your own personal mini cloud for housing all of your digital possessions. TrueNAS CORE (previously FreeNAS) is a free, open-source solution for converting your old laptop's operating system to a network-associated file server. Installing TrueNAS CORE on a flash drive connected to your laptop will leave more room available for storage, (via How To Geek).

Once installed, you'll be provided with a URL to access the web interface and it will ask you to set up a password with you'll need to access the server from another machine. Once that's done, you'll be able to access the server remotely to set up shared folders as well as store and retrieve files over the air.

Donate its computing power to science
Science proceeds in two stages. The first stage involves gathering data and the second stage involvesfiguring out what that data means. At present, the first stage is wildly outstripping the second stage. Gathering data is like sweeping loose puzzle pieces into a box, you've got a lot of information, but it isn't providing a coherent picture. In order to do that, you have to go through the laborious process of sorting your pieces and putting them in the right order.

Scientists are limited by how quickly their minds, or their computers can parse the data, which is why they've asked the public for assistance. The latent computing power we're all holding in our handheld devices and resting computers is staggering, and it can be put to good use doing science without any real effort from us.

As explained by Vice, distributed computing in science got its start in 1996 with a program which used volunteer computers to look for Mersenne prime numbers. Later, SETI got in on the action and since then hundreds of programs have spun up, borrowing computer power from citizen scientists.

A discarded laptop can join countless others to work on searching for alien signals, computing potential new disease therapies, calculating the orientation and spin of objects in space, and so much more.

Home security system
All you really need for a rudimentary security system is a camera, some software, and somewhere to store your recordings. If your old laptop has a webcam built in, or a USB port to connect one, you have everything you need to finally find out what your dogs are up to when you're not home. It's probably something adorable!

While you could set up a webcam to continuously record, you'd eat up your storage pretty quickly and finding notable footage would be a huge pain. What you really want is software that's capable of kicking on when it detects motion. That way you're not left with several hours of an empty living room every time you're away.

As explained by Engadget, the steps are going to be slightly different depending on if you're running a Mac or Windows machine, but the overall process is more or less the same. On a Mac, software like Evocam will trigger when it detects motion, send you a still photo, and start recording. On a Windows PC, something like TinCam can do the same.

Both applications also have the ability to add additional cameras, so if you have multiple old laptops or other independent webcams, you could feasibly setup a system to monitor every room in your house.

Set up a Wi-Fi hotspot
Increasingly, being connected is an absolute requirement for daily life. Whether you're working from home, trying to watch streaming content, or play video games online with your friends, a loss of connection is a recipe for a bad time.

More often than not, unless you happen to be next to your modem, your devices connect to the network through Wi-Fi, and depending on the size or construction of your home, that can limit where you can set up shop. Too far away from the signal source or on the other side of a thick wall and you connection might drop off at the worst possible time.

You could pick up a Wi-Fi extender to boost the signal beyond its native range, but why do that when you've got an old laptop sitting around? Provided, of course, that your laptop is running Windows 10. Navigate to Settings, then Network & Internet, then Mobile hotspot. If you have the right OS, and if your laptop has the necessary Wi-Fi hardware, you should see the option to create a hotspot, (via Tech Advisor).

You'll see a toggle switch under a header which reads "Share my internet connection with other devices." You'll also see a network name and password, which you'll need to connect other devices. Finally, you can watch YouTube in your basement without being disturbed.

Make a low-def projector
There's something magical about watching a movie or playing games on a projector. Even if you could get the same size picture with better quality on television, nothing really captures the mystique of a projector. It conjures feelings of visiting a movie theater, even if you're in your own bedroom. The major hurdle is they can be expensive and require a little more setup than the plug-and-play design of a television.

That said, if you've got an old laptop, an empty cardboard box, some tape, and the loose change from your couch cushions, you can rig up a low-definition projector in about half an hour. YouTuber The King of Random put together a tutorial that is pretty simple and promises to work no matter what sort of laptop you have, as long as it can play video, (via Lifehacker).

The key to this cobbled-together movie projector is a Fresnel lens, which you can pick up online for a few dollars. They're often used to gather light and focus it into a narrow beam, but if used from the opposite direction, they can magnify an image as long as you're comfortable with some distortion, (via Edmund Optics).

Use your cardboard box to create housing for the lens, then prop your laptop upside down with the monitor pointing through the lens. Investing in a higher-quality lens should net you a better picture, depending on how much you're willing to spend.

Make a second monitor
Provided your old laptop is still mostly functional and it's running Windows 10, you can set it up as a second monitor in just a few clicks. Microsoft's Miracast feature allows you to broadcast the signal from your primary computer to your laptop wirelessly. All you have to do is go into Settings on your spare laptop, select System, then Projecting to this PC, and choose what level of permissions you want to apply. On your primary computer press the Windows key+P, click Extend, and choose your laptop's computer name, (via HP).

There are a couple of downsides to this solution. First, there can be considerable lag on the secondary display because it's being sent over the air, instead of through a cabled connection. Second, it doesn't provide you the option to tear your laptop apart and look at its insides. If you want more complicated but more satisfying results, you're going to have to break some stuff.

Bear in mind that once you open your laptop you've probably voided the warranty. The steps for liberating your LCD from the laptop vary by model so you might need to experiment, but we're sure you'll figure it out. Find the model number of your LCD panel and obtain the appropriate controller board. Hook them together, and now you have an independent LCD monitor, (via Instructables). It's going to look like you cobbled it together from pieces you found after the collapse of civilization, but it'll work.

Turn that monitor into a screen only you can see
If you truly value your privacy and you don't mind looking a little weird, a few modifications and a little crafting ability can turn your DIY LCD monitor into the ultimate privacy display.

LDC screens use a polarizing film to filter the light from the display and make it readable to the viewer. Without that film, all you'll see when you look at your screen is a rectangle of white light, (via The Verge). That will get you the privacy you desire, but it's not very useful. The trick is putting the removed polarizing film where only you can see it.

If you've already removed the LCD from your laptop to make a second monitor, you're halfway done. If not, you'll need to do that. Once it's free from the casing, carefully peel away the polarizing film from the surface and set it aside. If your polarizing film also has a layer of anti-glare film, you'll want to remove that, (via Instructables). Now you're going to need a spare pair of glasses. Cheap reading glasses from the grocery store will do. All you really need is the frames. Cut out pieces of the polarizing film in the shape of the lenses and slap them in, making sure they are oriented correctly, and you'll be able to see what no one else can.

Make a magic mirror
If you really want to feel like you're brushing your teeth in the 22nd century, you're going to need a smart mirror. Unfortunately, the cost is a barrier. They can run anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars depending on their size and functionality. If you've got an old laptop, however, you can build one for much cheaper.

We don't want to oversell this, it's going to take some work, but the result is pretty astonishing. To get started, you're going to need a mirror. Specifically, you need a two-way mirror that will show a reflection while letting light in from behind. If you're on a budget, mirrored plexiglass will also work, but it won't look as clean, (via Make Use Of). Try to find a mirror that closely matches the size of the monitor from your laptop.

Once again, you're going to have to remove the monitor from the laptop and get a compatible control board using the model number. Once you have that, you can attach it to the back of the mirror and connect a Raspberry Pi running the open-source Magic Mirror software. Refer to this handy Instructables guide with an accompanying video for full instructions. Package everything inside a frame and you're done. Now your old laptop can feed you the weather, news, and affirmations before you're even fully awake.




This AI imagery tool can transform famous paintings into different styles


A couple of weeks ago, we reported on Google’s AI tool that can turn any text into a photorealistic image. Well, it turns out Google isn’t the only tech company vying for a slice of the AI image generator pie. Meet OpenAI, a San Francisco-based company that created its first text-to-image system back in January 2021. Now, the team has unveiled its latest system, called ‘DALL·E 2’, which generates more realistic and accurate images with 4x greater resolution.

Both Imagen and DALL·E 2 are tools that use artificial intelligence to transform simple text prompts into photorealistic images that have never existed before. As explained in the video above, DALL·E 2 can also make realistic edits to existing images, meaning you can give famous paintings different styles or even give Mona Lisa a mohawk. The AI system was created by training a neural network on images and their text descriptions. Through deep learning, DALL·E 2 can identify individual objects and understand the relationships between them. OpenAI explains, ‘DALL·E 2 has learned the relationship between images and the text used to describe them. It uses a process called ‘diffusion’, which starts with a pattern of random dots and gradually alters that pattern towards an image when it recognizes specific aspects of that image.

OpenAI says its mission is to ensure that artificial intelligence benefits all of humanity. The company says, ‘Our hope is that DALL·E 2 will empower people to express themselves creatively. DALL·E 2 also helps us understand how advanced AI systems see and understand our world, which is critical to our mission of creating AI that benefits humanity.’

However, despite the company’s intentions, this kind of technology is a tricky one to deploy responsibly. With this in mind, OpenAI says it is currently studying the system’s limitations and capabilities with a select group of users. The company has already removed explicit content from the training data to avoid violent, hate, or adult images being generated. They also say that DALL·E 2 cannot generate photorealistic AI versions of real individuals’ faces.

design: OpenAI


Happy New Year 2024 to all, especially to our esteemed members of United Photo Press!

Happy New Year 2024 to all, especially to our esteemed members of United Photo Press!

Good evening to everyone gathered here tonight. We express our gratitude for your presence.

Within the diverse community of United Photo Press, each member brings unique values and norms, collectively forming a rich tapestry of humanity—a topic we'd like to explore tonight.

Let's delve into the concept of welfare. What does prosperity mean to each of you? Often, welfare is tied to material aspects, and traditional welfare states are intricately linked to economic conditions. When the economy faces challenges, so does welfare. These conventional welfare models, rooted in materialism, are becoming increasingly fragile. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis has underscored the interdependence of people worldwide and exposed the vulnerabilities of systems built solely on material wealth.

The pandemic has demonstrated that the current economic model and norms are susceptible to disruptions. The first fissures are already evident. In this era of uncertainty, predictions are unreliable, and the foundations of welfare are shifting. It's time to reconsider the values that underpin our welfare systems.

The crisis has revealed the need for a new form of solidarity—one that extends beyond borders and includes a global collaboration of all forces on Earth. The youth, in particular, are expressing their discontent. Their actions often reflect a sense of being undervalued and misunderstood. This dissatisfaction may lead to conflict or even participation in groups with harmful ideologies.

Solidarity is the key. It's not about mass production or suppressing the masses for the sake of health and the economy. Rather, it's about prioritizing individual well-being and investing in personal growth. If we redefine welfare to include essentials like food, water, clean air, and personal development, each individual can contribute more meaningfully to society.

In the upcoming year, let's focus on our individual values and norms. Invest in yourself and discover your unique qualities. By doing so, you become a more valuable member of society, fostering a sense of belonging for everyone on Earth. Let us strive for a world where each person feels valuable, eliminating conflicts and promoting harmony.

The new age children emerging today and those to come are more sensitive and powerful. Investing in their well-being is an investment in a harmonious future. Let's set an example for them by embracing our individuality and encouraging them to do the same.

As we move forward, forgiveness and understanding will play a crucial role in resolving conflicts globally. The shift towards what some may consider 'paranormal' will be a privilege, as intuition and higher guidance become increasingly valuable in navigating uncertain times. The normal will become paranormal, and a new society based on different norms and values will emerge.

In the grandeur of the Universe, each individual is important. Embrace your uniqueness, invest in your personal values, and live authentically. Smile at a stranger daily, creating a ripple effect of harmony.

Here's to a prosperous and harmonious 2024!

Carlos Alves de Sousa 
President of United Photo Press


The Rise of Pablo Picasso

How a young man from Málaga became one of the costliest painters on earth.

Pablo Ruiz y Picasso has been the most talked-of and written-about artist on earth. Commercially he has become the costliest painter alive and aesthetically he has remained the most influential. His pictures, like hand-painted gilt-edged stocks, have followed a rising graph of their own; he has influenced a generation of painters who copied what they understood of him and he has influenced a public which has bought him without always understanding any part of him. When he first came to Paris, as a Spanish youth of nineteen, he dressed as a laboring man because of poverty and a preference for the picturesque. Even in recent years, when seen sitting prosperous and unoccupied in a Left Bank café, he has retained a look of sombre isolation and of a man devoted to work. Miss Gertrude Stein’s friend, Miss Alice B. Toklas, says a friend of hers said Picasso looks like a handsome bootblack.

He is a Spanish bourgeois. He was born in Málaga, October 25, 1881. His mother’s people were silversmiths, originally from Genoa; his father, of Basque origin, became drawing teacher at the estimable Barcelona Academy of Fine Arts, which, had it known what the son was in future to paint, would not have thought it fine or art. Young Pablo’s connection with his father’s institution was that of a passing prodigy who at the age of fifteen completed in one day the competitive art examination which older students were given a month for. A few months later he was received at the Madrid Academy for a year; then, three years later, in 1900, he went to Paris, centre of European art.

Impressionism, the great nineteenth century iconoclastic art movement, which the public had greeted with jeers, was then on its highly respectable way out. Cubism, the twentieth century’s new revolutionary art formula, which the public was also to hoot at, was almost on its way in, though Picasso, who was to lead Cubism, didn’t know it yet. He was still busy painting like the Impressionist Toulouse-Lautrec. Picasso finally settled in Montmartre at 13 Rue Ravignan in a ramshackle edifice resembling a Seine laundry boat and nicknamed Le Bateau-Lavoir. Those were heroic Montmartre days, since a handful of imaginative, important artists were, in poverty, hatching their fabulous future. Though he was unsociable, Picasso’s talent eventually placed him with the other talented unknowns with whom he belonged—with the minor poet Max Jacob, first to discover and make a cult of Picasso; the major poet (then editor of a physical-culture magazine) Guillaume Apollinaire, first to write of Picasso; the struggling painters Derain, Braque, Matisse, Modigliani, Juan Gris, Van Dongen, and Marie Laurencin. Other friends were Frédé, art-loving innkeeper of the uproarious Lapin Agile, who used to bring his pet donkey to parties; innocent Douanier Rousseau, about to marry for the third time; and Picasso’s model, the beautiful Fernande Olivier. Everybody was, or acted, young; everybody borrowed money from everybody else, and owed money for paint and rent; everybody quarrelled, made love, drank, ate risotto because it was cheap, and worked like a steam engine. Picasso carried a revolver, kept a tame white mouse in a table drawer, couldn’t afford even the luxury of painting on his walls—as he had when a student in Spain—pictures of the furniture he lacked. When he didn’t have white paint for his pictures, he painted with blue; when he ran out of new canvas, over the portrait of a crippled flower-seller he painted the big red harlequin that later figured in the Rouart collection; when he lacked linseed oil, he painted with lamp oil. He always kept on hand a supply of lamp oil because he worked at night so people couldn’t bother him.

At one time he was so poor that he and Max Jacob occupied the same bed in turns. Jacob, who besides being a cultivated poet was an impoverished novelty-shop clerk, slept at night while Picasso worked; when Jacob got up in the morning to let Picasso go to bed, the floor would be carpeted with drawings, which Jacob had to walk on and from which his footprints later had to be cleaned by art experts, since every early Picasso fragment eventually became so valuable that it could be sold. These first few Paris years in Picasso’s young twenties were viewed as a period of art, partially happy and entirely human, and were thus rare for him. At this time he painted his sad groups of the blue-colored Blue Period (after pleasant trips home to Spain) and his precious, romantic, rosy-tinted Rose Period figures (after a journey to Holland, which he found gloomy and didn’t like). This was also the feverishly fecund Harlequin Period, during which he painted the tumblers, harlequins, and jugglers whom he admired at the Médrano Circus; when he sympathetically painted the beautiful thin skulls of the poor, topped by gay clowns’ hats; when he portrayed the spangled acrobat, his wife, and male child, posed like a new Holy Family in lovely disguise. This was Picasso’s only art period of sentimental and sociological sensibility, and he probably didn’t mean it to be either. He was simply a young painter who was painting.

The first picture Picasso ever sold was bought the day after he arrived in Paris in 1900 by a Mademoiselle Berthe Weill, who ran a bric-a-brac shop and bought anybody’s first picture at any time. The next year, Vollard, the great eccentric art merchant, gave Picasso an obscure little exhibition called “Scènes des Courses et des Cabarets” and bought some pictures which, as was his habit, he hid in his cellar, where they brought Picasso no renown. Soulié, a mattress dealer on the Rue des Martyrs, also bought Picassos, apparently for a horse dealer with leanings toward art speculation. The art merchant Sagot, who kept his pictures in an old pharmacy and gave artists handouts of stale medicines, also purchased Picassos—at cruelly low prices. Once, when Picasso refused 700 francs (then $140) for three big paintings, Sagot offered 500 francs and, to Picasso’s helpless, hungry fury, got them the day after for 300. Picasso was then alone in his spirited resistance to the art merchants’ racket. As a chorus girl traditionally hopes for a butter-and-egg man, so in France the poor, unknown artist must hope to be kept by an art merchant, to whom he cedes a long term contract for his future at a low price. Even when a beginner, Picasso refused to do this, as he also refused to manifest group solidarity and show his pictures at the Salon des Indépendants. In purchasing Picasso as a discovery, Russian, German, and American collectors were ahead of the French, who had also been slow in taking to Impressionism. The first collector to buy Picasso was Shchukin, the rich Russian industrialist whose Picassos now hang in the Soviet Museum of Modern Western Art in Moscow. The expatriate German collector-merchant Kahnweiler was another early buyer.

However, just before this time, Gertrude Stein, rich in enthusiasm but modest in means and then about as unknown as a writer as Picasso was as a painter, began her famous and eclectic Picasso collection and her friendship with him, which, through squabbles and over years, have been two of the most important personal elements in the Picasso legend. For her first Picasso, she and her brother Leo paid Sagot 150 francs and all three quarrelled about the picture’s merits. It was the early, exquisite, conventional nude, “A Little Girl with Basket of Flowers.” Miss Stein, who was already ripe to prefer stranger sights in art, thought the girl looked classically flat-footed; Sagot suggested they guillotine the girl and keep only the head. After Miss Stein became friends with Picasso she bought directly from him; she says that from 1906 to 1909 the Stein family controlled the Picasso output, since no one else wanted it. By 1919 she could no longer offer to buy at 100 francs pictures that were worth thousands, so Picasso gave them to her. In 1906, she posed eighty times for his portrait of her, after which he wiped the face off, saying he couldn’t “see” her any more, and then finished the likeness in Spain, where he couldn’t see her at all. He also gave her this portrait because, as he later said, at that time in his career the difference between a gift and a sale was, after all, negligible. He also said, when friends complained that the portrait didn’t look like her, that someday she’d look like the portrait. This has never happened, and became less likely than ever to happen when she cut her hair, which upset Picasso more than any of her other friends because his portrait showed her with her hair long. The 1906 Stein portrait was a boundary mark; it showed that the gay, romantic period was definitely at an end, that the intellectual, serious search for Cubism was now on.

Why Cubism had to be invented still puzzles a large public. At the time, the poet Apollinaire, in his famous essay on the subject, said that Cubism was “a search for a new composition with formal elements borrowed not from the reality of vision but from the reality of conception”—words which bewildered Parisians no less than the paintings themselves. More bluntly defined, Cubism was apparently an effort scientifically to give painting not two but three dimensions, these to be attained, in theory anyhow, by depicting the subject—whether an apple or a man—as if it or he consisted of visible geometric facets. Thus, in practice, the Cubist portrait of a handsome man looked like a still life of beautiful building blocks. Cubism also was probably an early prophetic Zeitgeist reflection of the non-naturalistic machine-age civilization. In any case, Cubism marked the point in modern art where the artist and public no longer saw eye to eye no matter what both were looking at; when the artist, indeed, began deliberately painting what he did not see and what no one else could check up on.

Who, from what source, at what date, and with what picture, invented Cubism, which Picasso at any rate was to dominate, is still a delicate dispute. The first authentic example of Cubism, modern museum men say, was done in 1907 by Picasso—his big painting “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” Miss Stein says Picasso’s three 1908 pictures of some cubelike cottages in Spain were “the real beginning of Cubism.” She also says that some African Negro masks (whose exotic angularity also reportedly aided in formulating Cubism) were perhaps shown by the sculptor Maillol to the painter Matisse, who then showed them to the painter Picasso, though there was also the tradition that Picasso first saw the masks through the painter Derain. She says still further that probably the name “Cubism” was invented by Apollinaire. Jean Cocteau says Cubism was a name invented by Matisse to deride a south-of-France picture by Braque in the 1908 Indépendants show; Apollinaire says that the Negro sculpture “which was destined to influence new French art” was discovered by Vlaminck and that the friendship between Picasso and Derain in 1905 “gave birth to Cubism, which at first was, above all, a sort of impressionism of the forms which Cézanne had envisioned toward the end of his life.” Picasso himself simply and plurally says, “When we made Cubism we didn’t mean to make Cubism but to express what was in us.” Although the French public at first said only that Cubism was crazy, a leading art merchant added, “I am now buying Picasso not because I have any taste for him but because he will be worth a lot of money someday.” By 1910, Cubism was a regular French studio school, with Jean Metzinger as its first academic theorician and Gleizes, Delaunay, and Léger as faithful exponents. Picasso’s precise early version of Cubism was so much copied that he called one of his best impersonators “the louse that lives on my head.” One night, at the beginning of the World War, Picasso and Miss Stein were taking a walk when they saw a camouflaged truck for the first time. He was amazed by its resemblance to Cubist art, and, in the tone of a man who has just been plagiarized, said, “Why, it is we who invented that!” Later, when a new field uniform for the French army was being discussed, he told Cocteau, “If they want to make an army invisible at a distance, all they have to do is dress the men as harlequins.”

After the war, when the alien Kahnweiler’s scholarly Cubist collection, which had been seized by the French government, was sold for low prices by an anti-Cubist auctioneer (whose head Braque punched, to teach him about modern art), Cubist paintings, like any commodity in a bear market, slumped. Now the New York Museum of Modern Art’s recent Cubist acquisition, “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon,” has just been valued by art experts at $20,000, the highest figure any contemporary canvas, even by Picasso, has reached. When, years ago, the collector Shchukin first saw the picture, he wailed that its ugliness marked the end of modern French art. Many people still think the historic young ladies from Avignon are a frightening lot.

By 1912, for those painters who had struggled in Paris to create the new art, the big moment had passed, because prosperity was creeping up on them. Poverty had united Picasso and his comrades; success separated them. He moved from Montmartre to the nicer Left Bank, and they, too, went their more comfortable ways.

From 1896 down through 1939 (according to experts, when they can agree), Picasso’s pictures fall into about twenty-six styles, most of them such typical Picassos that they look as if they had been painted by twenty-six different men. No other painter of his stature has ever offered so many completely differentiated versions of himself as Picasso. For forty years he has been in a constant fit of metamorphosis. Starting in his youth as the most gifted graphic artist of his time—i.e., the one most able to delineate likenesses of things or people in the grand manner—he has spent his years detailing unlikenesses in an increasingly varied and cerebral manner. He has also, his classicist enemies maintain, debauched the aesthetic tradition of Europe by the power of his painting personality and has made ugliness the style. When a painter fails to settle down into one matured mood, critics usually figure he hasn’t found himself. Picasso is deemed to have found himself two dozen times over and, among his special public, has made much of his reputation precisely on his restless, drastic mutations—which he silently invents in his own seasons and which only his devotees garrulously explain throughout the years. Assuming that Picasso (or anyhow part of Picasso) will be considered a master two hundred years from now, collectors and experts in the twenty-second century will have a hard time identifying a Picasso as easily as they identify, for instance, a Titian today, except for the fact that Picasso usually carefully and legibly signs his pictures with his name, often adding the year in roman numbers, plus the month and day on which the picture was completed. However, modern French experts say that all Picasso’s styles, no matter how different, and whether autographed or not, have one recognizable entity, a thing they call le signe, meaning the graphic “line” peculiar to him which they count as a signature in itself.

To the public, out of his twenty odd periods the most intelligible and appreciated are the melancholy Blue (1901-04); the picturesque Harlequins, Clowns, and Saltimbanques (1905); the sentimental Rose (1905-06); the Analytical Cubism, especially because of the fine, fertile, popular compositions featuring bits of guitars and newspapers (1909-12); and the Classic Figures (first part of the 1918-25 style). The faces and eyes of three women also date and differentiate some of his works. The almond-eyed French Fernande Olivier is visible through the romantic Rose Period. The second feminine, straight-eyed face is that of the Russian ballet dancer Olga Koklova, whom Picasso married in the Paris Russian Church in 1917. Through her, the Spaniard in Picasso was temporarily exotically influenced by the new popularity of anything Slavic; Picasso was the first of the big painters to shock aesthetes by descending to the task of making some of Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet stage sets—for “Parade,” “Tricorne,” “Pulcinella”—and the cruel, truncated décors for the ballet “Cuadro Flamenco.” The enlarging domestic influence of Madame Picasso marked the early 1920 period of gigantic female nudes, sometimes also attributed to the influence of Greek sculptures or just to big French women bathing on the Juan-les-Pins beach. A typical and tender 1923 line-edged classic portrait of Picasso’s wife eventually won the Carnegie Institute art prize in 1930. In 1927, when some experts consider Picasso terminated his many experiments with Cubism, he painted a final Cubist portrait of his son, Pavlo, dressed as a harlequin. Picasso’s marriage was ended by divorce in 1937. Since then the profile of Dora Maar—a profile usually painted with two handsome sloe eyes and both handsome nostrils visible—as marked Picasso’s recent deliberately deformed and decorative curvilinear portrait work. Dora Maar is a Yugoslav of good family who shortened her name from Markovitch and is now a well-known professional photographer in Paris.

A complete list of Picasso’s various artistic activities and periods is a lengthy affair, since it also comprises periods classified as Negro, realist, abstract, monochrome, planes, papier collé, pointillism, neo-Impressionism; a period of neo-Renoirism called “Homage to Renoir” (at which old Renoir took umbrage), classicism, heroicism, an adult or second Roseism, imitations of his own Cubism, rectilinear forms, sumptuous still lifes, portraits in which people look like still lifes of machinery, surrealism, sculpture, fantasies molded from wire, tin, or pressed paper, the so-called unheimlich or unpleasant manner, enormous natures mortes, and sleeping women. In 1933 he had a period known as the Relâche Period because during it he did not paint at all. Then came bullfights, extraordinary legendary man-animal figures, and finally the Spanish war and his much-discussed mural of the bombed city of Guernica.

The Spanish war profoundly affected Picasso, theretofore politically indifferent. His patriotism, previously visible principally in the nostalgic Spanish shadows of his Blue Period, became passionately republican. He refused to shake Italians by the hand because they were bombing his land; his broadsheet, “Songes et Mensonges de Franco,” he sold in postcard format for charity; he gave “Guernica” for propaganda to the Spanish Pavilion in the Paris Exposition; in optimism, he gave big sums to the Spanish government to buy planes; and finally, in defeat, he gave money to the Spanish refugees in the French border camps. The Spanish war furnished a terrible, trite human tableau which distracted Picasso for the first time from a preoccupation with his own visions. Since the Spanish war ended, the only show of Picasso’s paintings in Paris (at the Galerie Rosenberg, his official merchant since the first World War) displayed nearly nothing but peaceful, pretty flowers.

The first major retrospective show of his works ever held in Europe took place in Paris in the spring of 1932 at the Galerie Georges Petit. It was followed by an even larger show in the autumn at Zurich. “Picasso, Forty Years of his Art,” the current retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art here, is the biggest Picasso exposition yet assembled, covers work from 1899 through 1939, and includes three hundred and sixty items, of which one hundred and fifty are canvases. About twenty drawings and originals of book illustrations from private European collections failed to arrive at the last minute owing to the difficulties of shipping since the war. Two of the Gobelin tapestries, as well as a rug Picasso designed, are also shown. He has interested himself in modern crafts, thinks an artist should apply himself to anything stimulating that turns up, has made patterns for linoleums and tile mosaics, and at one time experimented with painting pictures in furniture paint.

According to correct Spanish usage, Picasso should (and occasionally did in his early days) sign his pictures Pablo Ruiz, which is his real name; his father’s name was Ruiz, his mother’s was the Picasso. In the Spanish formula which combines both parents’ names for the child—i.e., Pablo Ruiz y Picasso—the mother’s name is written last. It was her name that Pablo Picasso chose to be known by.

Being an iconoclast, Picasso believes painters should paint in comfort and that French studios are either too hot in summer or too cold in winter. He paints at his ease in a pair of bourgeois Paris apartments at 23 Rue La Boëtie. He and some selected paintings live in the downstairs flat, his palettes and other canvases live upstairs. Though he no longer paints exclusively at night, he is a restless man, always working at or fiddling with something, and his output is tremendous. There are thousands of Picasso canvases now in collections, private hands, or commercial circulation in Europe and America. He also owns stacks of his work which he has never offered to sell; when war broke out in September he stored some of his most valuable canvases in steel safe-deposit closets in a bank. Because he hates sweeping or having things moved, the dust in his atelier is epic, as is the confusion caused by drawings on chairs, sculpture in the corners, paint tubes on the floor, and an assortment of the pretty rubbish painters, like little girls, pick up—lengths of frayed, colored velvet, odd old boxes, stray pieces of once fine furniture from earlier periods.

Because he can never make up his mind what to do with his belongings, Picasso has gradually accumulated five different dwelling places. These he has taken on not as a well-organized man expanding into new forms of life but as somebody irresolute who has hired havens. He has a small weekend house at Le Tremblay; a country property, Boisgeloup, near the medieval Norman town of Gisors; for summer painting he recently acquired his friend Man Ray’s modern penthouse at Antibes. Picasso’s newest Paris dwelling—if he can ever decide to move in—will be on the Rue des Grands-Augustins, where several years ago he rented two floors in the magnificent seventeenth-century mansion which was formerly the town house of the Ducs de Savoie. The place is said to be a noble architectural curiosity, with broken floor levels, nests of small rooms, and sudden great salons. In anticipation of eventual residence, the painter long since installed modern necessities and what he calls his Maginot Line—a grille which cuts across the staircase leading to his front door and would prevent visitors from reaching his doorbell. Friends say he hates hearing his doorbell ring but hates it more when it doesn’t ring at all. Wherever he lives, he lives simply, eats out a lot in small restaurants, and, in the modern intelligentsia French style, as a rule not only entertains his friends but even sometimes writes poetry not at home but in a corner café. His poetry is in the association-surrealist manner.

Picasso’s domestic entourage consists principally of a chauffeur named Marcel and a factotum named Sabartés, who is a friend of long standing and a compatriot. Picasso clings to his well-worn Spanish connections, and has painted portraits of Sabartés, who, in turn, has written articles about the painter. Among those close to Picasso, his despotism, indecisions, hermetically sealed character, and energetic talents arouse a curious loyalty. The painter’s chauffeur can, in a pinch, give the dates of his master’s canvases. Today Picasso’s car, incidentally, has the look of a second-hand elderly Hispano of the kind that seats seven bolt upright, but when he bought it brand-new, at great cost, it seemed like a chariot for Picasso’s brief experiment with luxury.

As a man, Picasso is complicated and more confusing to others than he is to himself. He says that if one took the tendency one likes least in oneself and strengthened it, one would probably have one’s true character. He is indecisive and dominant; he makes promises because people seem to like promises, but he never keeps them. By procrastination he lets circumstances overtake him and solve him along with themselves. Because he is a Spaniard, he takes cruelty for granted, either in art or life. Since he is short, physical strength fascinates him. He greatly admires boxers. He himself has boxed, on two isolated occasions, with Derain and Braque, both big men and amateurs of the sport. He’s fond of animals, has owned kittens, a St. Bernard, a Mexican hairless, and an Afghan hound. His pets are run on the principle that they must look after themselves. He suffers from cold, used to wear a coat that hung to his heels, likes only the hot Spanish climate, and formerly complained that the chillier French landscape smelled of mushrooms. He is not a concertgoer; when young he said he knew nothing of music and didn’t understand it. He is kind to young painters, visits their expositions, hears their questions out, and gives no advice. He would rather be praised by them than by the art critics.

In speech he is discursive except on big topics; then he eagerly treats himself and the listener as if they were two problems entitled to a solution. Miss Toklas says his conversation is flabbergasting and that he is invariably willing to be proud, even at a sacrifice. Racially and constitutionally, he is a tragic-minded man, sad, sarcastic, with malice in speech taking the place of wit. His most-quoted phrases are usually too libellous to print. When he quarrels with friends, the reconciliations have to be arranged in the complicated Latin manner. He is a hypochondriac who has a little kidney trouble. He has small, handsome hands and feet which please him, and a rebellious, pendent lock of hair which, as the French say, cuts his forehead like a scar. His eyes are remarkable; he has a wild little right eye like a Spanish bull’s and a kinder, larger, and more human left eye. When he enters a room his brown glance seems to register everything in it in a sudden inclusive flash, like a photographer’s lens taking a group photograph. Once, when he was looking at some Rembrandt etchings, the owner said it was as if Picasso’s stare would pull the lines off the paper, the way the sun’s heat dries up the pattern of moisture on an old leaf.

There was a period in the nineteen twenties when, whirled along by the fashionableness of the postwar Russian Ballet, Picasso frequented that mixed artistic, monied, demi-aristocratic, semi-mondain Paris circle called le beau monde, where he was a welcome figure, since personalities were the rage. In the last two years, Picasso has been principally seen in public at the St. Germain-des-Prés café tables of the Flore. The small group most often seen with him include serene Paul Eluard, the surrealist poet; Madame Apollinaire, and the Cahiers d’Art editorial group, who are the painter’s art publishers. Even in a crowded café there is a feeling of dominance, abundance, and experience concentrated in the dark presence of Picasso. In his absence, what he may be doing or has done is a source of apparently stimulating speculation to his devotees. Is he painting or is he only drawing today? Did he wear his new gay tie yesterday? What did he say last week and who wrote it down—for his group first, and for posterity second? For many admirers, and with his multiple professional achievements as warrant, Picasso emanates the aura of genius in which they like to reside, though all they get out of it is proximity.

He is generous to his poor friends; he offers them gifts in kind rather than money, perhaps out of respect for Iberian standards of friendship, perhaps out of respect for cold cash. He gives hams, wine, invitations to dinner, and, above all, he gives his valuable drawings, which the friends can sell when they are in distress. Though he once refused to sign a series of new etchings because he wasn’t satisfied with it, for a poor friend with a once-signed old etching which dealers declared was a forgery, Picasso re-signed “Picasso, Picasso, Picasso” all over the margin. Because he asks—and gets—the highest prices, his enemies say he is money-mad. What he says about this is, like everything he says, full of common sense. “I am anti-commercial,” he says, meaning that he is against the merchant-inflated art market, “but I am interested in money because I know what I want to do with it.” When he sells a new picture these days the price is usually around $5,000. If its period becomes popular, the chances are that its value will increase, although not indefinitely, at the rate of a hundred per cent a decade. A good Picasso of the Harlequin or Rose Period, for instance, now brings about $15,000. Since Picasso himself says that he has painted in his lifetime about four thousand pictures, an efficiency expert could compute that he turns out an average of two pictures a week.

He says a painting has an integral life of its own when it is being worked on; thus he was not surprised when he started painting a portrait of the poet Jean Cocteau and it turned into a picture of some girls rolling hoops. “I act with paintings the way I act with things,” he says. “I make a window the way I look through a window. If the open window isn’t any good in my picture, I paint a curtain and close the window the way I would in a room.” He also says, abstrusely, that before he came along painting had been the sum of additions but his painting is the sum of destructions. When an intrepid American lady asked him what his painting was supposed to mean, he answered, “Madame, on ne parle pas au pilote.” Usually all he will say is that a painting means whatever the person looking at it sees for himself. Picasso can, if he chooses, still draw perfectly in the academic manner. When somebody said he drew better than Raphael, he said that might be all very well but what he would prefer to hear was that he had a right to draw as he pleased even if it was the opposite of Raphael. He has a detached attitude about the future of his work. Of a painting of his which he considered bad but which he had sold, he said calmly, “Time will sort all those things out. . . . A picture lives by its legend, not by anything else.” One of the strangest pictures in the Picasso legend is one belonging to the Spanish painter Zuloaga; it is a Picasso painted in his teens. It is of a pretty Harrison Fisher type of girl with pink cheeks and a stylish hat.

Picasso is his own type of genius. “Work,” he says sombrely, “is a necessity for man. Man invented the alarm clock.”

Janet Flanner


Why the Internet Isn’t Fun Anymore

“The social-media Web as we knew it, a place where we consumed the posts of our fellow-humans and posted in return, appears to be over,” Kyle Chayka writes in a new column. Who’s to blame? Elon Musk? Mark Zuckerberg? Maybe it is all of us, for becoming passive consumers of content rather than participants or creators. Chayka traces the problem to the consolidation and commodification of the Web. “I have been trying to recall the times I’ve had fun online unencumbered by anonymous trolling, automated recommendations, or runaway monetization schemes,” he writes. “It was a long time ago, before social networks became the dominant highways of the Internet.”

Lately on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, my timeline is filled with vapid posts orbiting the same few topics like water whirlpooling down a drain. Last week, for instance, the chatter was dominated by talk of Taylor Swift’s romance with the football player Travis Kelce. If you tried to talk about anything else, the platform’s algorithmic feed seemed to sweep you into irrelevance. Users who pay for Elon Musk’s blue-check verification system now dominate the platform, often with far-right-wing commentary and outright disinformation; Musk rewards these users monetarily based on the engagement that their posts drive, regardless of their veracity. The decay of the system is apparent in the spread of fake news and mislabelled videos related to Hamas’s attack on Israel.

Elsewhere online, things are similarly bleak. Instagram’s feed pushes months-old posts and product ads instead of photos from friends. Google search is cluttered with junky results, and S.E.O. hackers have ruined the trick of adding “Reddit” to searches to find human-generated answers. Meanwhile, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, in its latest bid for relevance, is reportedly developing artificial-intelligence chatbots with various “sassy” personalities that will be added to its apps, including a role-playing D. & D. Dungeon Master based on Snoop Dogg. The prospect of interacting with such a character sounds about as appealing as texting with one of those spam bots that asks you if they have the right number.

The social-media Web as we knew it, a place where we consumed the posts of our fellow-humans and posted in return, appears to be over. The precipitous decline of X is the bellwether for a new era of the Internet that simply feels less fun than it used to be. Remember having fun online? It meant stumbling onto a Web site you’d never imagined existed, receiving a meme you hadn’t already seen regurgitated a dozen times, and maybe even playing a little video game in your browser. These experiences don’t seem as readily available now as they were a decade ago. In large part, this is because a handful of giant social networks have taken over the open space of the Internet, centralizing and homogenizing our experiences through their own opaque and shifting content-sorting systems. When those platforms decay, as Twitter has under Elon Musk, there is no other comparable platform in the ecosystem to replace them. A few alternative sites, including Bluesky and Discord, have sought to absorb disaffected Twitter users. But like sproutlings on the rain-forest floor, blocked by the canopy, online spaces that offer fresh experiences lack much room to grow.

One Twitter friend told me, of the platform’s current condition, “I’ve actually experienced quite a lot of grief over it.” It may seem strange to feel such wistfulness about a site that users habitually referred to as a “hellsite.” But I’ve heard the same from many others who once considered Twitter, for all its shortcomings, a vital social landscape. Some of them still tweet regularly, but their messages are less likely to surface in my Swift-heavy feed. Musk recently tweeted that the company’s algorithm “tries to optimize time spent on X” by, say, boosting reply chains and downplaying links that might send people away from the platform. The new paradigm benefits tech-industry “thread guys,” prompt posts in the “what’s your favorite Marvel movie” vein, and single-topic commentators like Derek Guy, who tweets endlessly about menswear. Algorithmic recommendations make already popular accounts and subjects even more so, shutting out the smaller, more magpie-ish voices that made the old version of Twitter such a lively destination. (Guy, meanwhile, has received so much algorithmic promotion under Musk that he accumulated more than half a million followers.)

The Internet today feels emptier, like an echoing hallway, even as it is filled with more content than ever. It also feels less casually informative. Twitter in its heyday was a source of real-time information, the first place to catch wind of developments that only later were reported in the press. Blog posts and TV news channels aggregated tweets to demonstrate prevailing cultural trends or debates. Today, they do the same with TikTok posts—see the many local-news reports of dangerous and possibly fake “TikTok trends”—but the TikTok feed actively dampens news and political content, in part because its parent company is beholden to the Chinese government’s censorship policies. Instead, the app pushes us to scroll through another dozen videos of cooking demonstrations or funny animals. In the guise of fostering social community and user-generated creativity, it impedes direct interaction and discovery.

According to Eleanor Stern, a TikTok video essayist with nearly a hundred thousand followers, part of the problem is that social media is more hierarchical than it used to be. “There’s this divide that wasn’t there before, between audiences and creators,” Stern said. The platforms that have the most traction with young users today—YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch—function like broadcast stations, with one creator posting a video for her millions of followers; what the followers have to say to one another doesn’t matter the way it did on the old Facebook or Twitter. Social media “used to be more of a place for conversation and reciprocity,” Stern said. Now conversation isn’t strictly necessary, only watching and listening.

Posting on social media might be a less casual act these days, as well, because we’ve seen the ramifications of blurring the border between physical and digital lives. Instagram ushered in the age of self-commodification online—it was the platform of the selfie—but TikTok and Twitch have turbocharged it. Selfies are no longer enough; video-based platforms showcase your body, your speech and mannerisms, and the room you’re in, perhaps even in real time. Everyone is forced to perform the role of an influencer. The barrier to entry is higher and the pressure to conform stronger. It’s no surprise, in this environment, that fewer people take the risk of posting and more settle into roles as passive consumers.

Many newcomers to this field have no idea how the infamous World Wide Web came about. To truly understand what the Internet is, one needs a historical perspective on its origins.

The Internet originated in the United States during the Cold War era. The goal was to develop a system for exchanging information between computers so that it would always be possible to receive information, even if one of the networked computers was disconnected or destroyed, or if one of the connections between computers was interrupted.

At that time, the objectives were solely military, and for a period of time, this method of connecting computers was exclusive to the American military forces. In 1969, the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) developed ARPANET.

Through this information exchange system, it became possible to deliver the intended information to its destination in a short amount of time and without the risk of information exchange being interrupted. The study and development of this network involved packet switching, which means that information is divided into "small packets" and sent via the best available routes, with the information being reassembled at the receiving end, as each packet contains the necessary information to do so. Another problem to be solved was making the information viewable even using different computers and operating systems, among other variables.

In addition to connecting military computers, a network was created between four American universities. ARPANET allowed these university networks to connect and exchange information. This laid the foundation for the Internet as we know it today. Despite this, control of this network remained in the hands of the military, with restricted access.

In the late 1970s, protocols were developed to enable communication between computers and networks, regardless of the equipment or software used. In 1983, ARPANET was split into two networks: MILNET and ARPANET.

The first was exclusively for military use, while the second was dedicated to research and development. This made the Internet increasingly accessible and expanded its user base. Additionally, the TCP (Transmission Control Protocol) and IP (Internet Protocol) were adopted, contributing significantly to its development. IP enabled communication between computers, while TCP ensured greater data transmission security, among other functionalities.

From this point on, the Internet continued to grow in terms of users. Although it was initially designed for academic and educational purposes, it has now become an increasingly popular means of communication among users.

Kyle Chayka