Category Archives: Behind the Scenes

1.21 Gigawatts: Artist Spotlight – John Conway, Bringing Dinosaurs Back

 

-Sarah Keartes

London-based artist John Conway spends his time in many walks of life—prehistoric life, that is.

Conway focuses on two genres of art: “paleontological reconstruction and, well, everything else,” a combination which allows for breathtaking imaginative overlap.

“John’s art melds illustrative skill and a variety of approaches with scientific detail and imagination,” science writer Brian Switek, who specializes in evolution, paleontology, and natural history, told Flux in an interview.

The path to creating accurate representations of prehistoric flora and fauna is riddled with challenges—the biggest perhaps being the initial research.

“Things are particularly difficult for artists here, even the most scientifically minded of us,” Conway said. “Scientific literature simply isn’t written with the problems of artists in mind; the crucial information on the appearance of fossil animals and environments can be spread across hundreds of papers, and even then there are huge gaps.”

Reconstructing plant life is particularly difficult as a decent-sized painting might have dozens of species, and gathering information on each is a daunting task.

“I’ve been putting a lot of effort into this over the last couple of years, and I’m still nowhere near where I’d like to be,” he said.

Conway’s fascination with paleontology began during childhood. Sparked by Bob Baker’s book The Dinosaur Heresies, his love for dinosaurs quickly intertwined with his passion for art.

“Certainly by the time I was fifteen, I was very into painting—especially nineteenth century landscape painters, and some modernists, as well as the paleontological artists,” he said.

It didn’t take long for Conway to dive into his own paleo-art career. At seventeen, he went to work for a museum in his hometown of Canberra, Australia, where he painted life-sized murals behind the dinosaur skeletons. Six years later, it was time for bigger and better.

“I grew up in a very dull city,” he said. “I left [Canberra] at age 23, while halfway through a philosophy/biology degree, to take up a very glamorous job working in Hall Train Studios making pterosaurs and dinosaurs.”

Hall Train, located in Ontario, Canada, is one of the leaders in the design and creation of exhibit paleo-environments, which are featured in natural history museums, science centers, and theme parks around the world, as well as one of the world’s foremost suppliers of dinosaur animation for television.

Credit: John Conway
“A year later, I moved to London and have been freelancing successfully (and mostly unsuccessfully) ever since…the money is terrible” Conway said.

On occasion Conway is challenged with completely reconstructing animals from the fossils, up. To do this, he must first draw all of the individual bones and assemble the skeleton, then comes the challenge of reconstructing muscles and other soft tissue using relatives through phylogenetic bracketing.

Greg Paul and, more recently, Scott Hartman have done an amazing job recreating dinosaur skeletons—I use those where available,” he said.

Conway’s non-paleo-art spans a vast variety of subjects, from alien life forms, to abstract representations of lyrics and mythologies, to beautifully obscure portraits of musical instruments.

“I’m very jealous of music and its apparently privileged connection to emotion in our brains. I have the rhythm of a drunken caffeinated turkey,” he said jokingly. “It has recently dawned on me that I will not live long enough to become a composer, an architect, a city planner, a singer-songwriter, an academic philosopher, a filmmaker, a paleontologist, a novelist, an engineer, a rock-star programmer, a shipbuilder, and a Lego-set designer.”

Though there is a distinct separation between Conway’s paleontological art and the rest, all of his work shares a similar aesthetic. He has an incredible ability to create life and motion is his computer-native art, much of which is still life recreation.

“He does far more than try to get the dinosaurs right: he gives them a kind of vitality that is sometimes lost in attempts where technical details trump the goal of trying to restore the animals as they once lived,” science writer Switek said. “People want to know what these animals looked like, and so it warms the cockles of my petrified heart to see John and other artists really do their homework while pushing the boundaries of what we can imagine about dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals… Their work helps bring new science out to the public, and I am very thankful for that.”

Conway’s art has been featured worldwide, in countless blogs, publications, and in documentaries for National Geographic, BBC, and the Discovery Channel. Most exciting was the internet response to his book, All Yesterdays: Unique and Speculative Views of Dinosaurs and Other Prehistoric Animals.

“In 2012 I decided to pursue a direct-to-people strategy of selling my work… All Yesterdays seemed like the most complete, and best suited of our various projects,” Conway said.

The beautifully illustrated book, which was co-written by C.M. Kosemen and Darren Nash, helped define a new paleo-art movement and is recognized as a celebration of Mesozoic life.

“It’s been amazingly well received critically and got heaps of coverage,” Conway said. “Though we are far from the only artists to produce the kinds of reconstructions you see in the book, I think it has come at just the right time, giving articulation and focus to what many of us have been feeling about paleontological reconstruction latterly.”

For Conway, paleontological art is about more than simply science communication.

“Honestly, such a goal would bore me. I think it should also have another goal, which has to do with enriching our lives through aesthetic experiences—shifting our feelings of the world,” he said

Want to know more about John Conway and his art? Visit his website or contact him on Twitter.

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The Epic Journey of an Accidental Sports Anthem: “Seven Nation Army”

-Casey Klekas

I should have been doing homework. I was watching sports on a friend’s computer, instead. F.C. Bayern Munich was playing F.C. Barcelona and after each of Bayern’s four goals played the song “Seven Nation Army.” Since its release in 2003 that song has become a global sports anthem. How did that happen?

Well, I’ll tell you.

Picture, if you can, a band of Belgians drinking beer. The year is 2003 and the sport is football (not the one with pads and pigskin and Peyton Manning). The Belgians were in hostile Italian territory to support their own F.C. Brugge against A.C. Milan. Legend has it, the Belgians were boozing up in a local pub, numbing the pain of an expected loss, when The White Stripes’ “Seven Nation Army came on the jukebox. If you haven’t heard the song or you ain’t got no soul, you should beware its invigorating effects, especially when played on drink-sodden ears. Soon, the Belgians were singing in the streets, beckoning the power of a Jack White guitar riff as they marched into the football stadium. F.C. Brugge pulled off a very unlikely victory, and “Seven Nation Army” followed them home as a lucky charm.

Three years later, Brugge blasted the song while hosting A.S. Roma in a UEFA Cup game. They lost to a triumphant soundtrack. However, “Seven Nation Army” made its way back to Italy where it was adopted as something of a national theme song. Italy went on to win that year’s World Cup and “Seven Nation Army” blared over the ensuing Roman riots. Asked about his song’s sports success, Jack White said, “I am honored that the Italians have adopted this song as their own. Nothing is more beautiful than when people embrace a melody and allow it to enter the pantheon of folk music. As a songwriter, it is something impossible to plan, especially in modern times. I love that most people who are chanting it have no idea where it came from. That’s folk music.”

America reclaimed the song later in 2006. Inspired by the events in Europe, the song started playing in college stadiums around the country. I always knew where “Seven Nation Army” came from. As a matter of fact, it was the first song I ever bought on iTunes. I guess I just didn’t know where it had been.

Miss Independent: The UO Women's Water Polo Team's Efforts Outside the Pool

-Eleni Pappelis

Sophomore Jenness Howery is an athlete at the University of Oregon. She participates in the university’s women’s water polo team but has been a swimmer since high school. She swam for Sheldon High School and was introduced to water polo her junior year. Having not gotten enough of her new found extracurricular, she joined the University of Oregon’s club women’s water polo team which she claims is the best decision she ever made.

The women water polo team at the University of Oregon consists of twenty-seven girls. Because club sports at the university are insufficiently funded, it is the women’s water polo team’s responsibility to fund expenses such as pool time and money to travel. The girls practice Monday through Thursday in Springfield. The team partakes in five traveling tournaments a season, January through April, and nationals extend through May which is based on the outcomes of regional tournaments. These tournaments take place in states such as Washington, Arizona, and California.

Howery explains, “It’s really important that we fundraise. Obviously it’s important to help girls who can’t pay the full amount to participate, but it’s also important to make sure to be successful inside and outside the water.”

Each year, the team comes up with fun and creative ways to fund themselves. Some activities include cleaning up Matthew Knight Arena after games or events, sending letters to friends and family to donate money, and selling donuts, cookies, and shirts. Restaurants such as Track Town Pizza and Panda Express participate and have donated a percent of their profits on a scheduled day to the team.

One of Howery’s favorite fundraisers is a banquet held for the highest donors. This banquet is waited by the team and includes a silent auction with prizes from gift baskets to resort vacations. Howery explains that this particular event is special to her because the whole team is bonding to support themselves.

These ladies consistently make it to nationals, and have been working hard to uphold the success they make for themselves.

Image from http://pages.uoregon.edu/duckpolo/index.html

On Trend: Style Profile–Mitchell Burnem


-Rache’ll Brown

Basketball shorts and baggy sweatshirts with no rhyme or reason usually make up the typical outfit of a teenage male—but not for 18-year-old Mitchell Burnem. Black v-necks and fitted pieces dominate this Eugenian’s wardrobe to make up a style that can only be described as simple and clean. Burnem shared the secret to his style, and offered some advice for guys who may be struggling.

Is there anything or anyone that inspires your style?

Nick Wooster, he has a really big online presence. A lot of people take pictures of him on the street and stuff and he always looks good. And Scott Disick from Keeping up With The Kardashians; he dresses so well and always looks so good. Plus he is really funny.

What is your perfect outfit?
I do a lot of running around, so probably like jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. Just really simple but still looking nice.

What trends do you think are attractive, or unattractive, for girls?
I don’t know about attractive, but for unattractive: Ugg boots, definitely. I don’t understand them. I think they are hideous. And those jean-colored leggings? I hate those too.

Are there any trends you’ve seen guys wearing recently that you really like?
Those waxed jeans are really cool. I guess Kanye made them big.

Are there certain pieces that you invest more in?
Mostly shoes, like Jordans. I like Jordans a lot, and all the ones I want are really expensive so I save up for those. Actually, I probably spend way more money on jeans than anything. I like Nudies, PRPS, and APC jeans.

Do you have any advice for guys that aren’t fashionable?
I would say it’s more about how your clothes fit than what you are wearing. If your clothes are baggy and like, dirty I guess . . . Just make sure your clothes are clean and they fit. Even if you don’t have that great of fashion, if pieces fit then it still looks good. Also, invest in some fitted, dark denim jeans. You can dress them up with a blazer or go for a more casual look with sneakers—they’re really versatile.

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Duck & Cover: She Loves to be a Dirty Duck

-Eleni Pappelis

After trying nearly every sport offered at Beaverton High School, there was only one that stuck with Zoe Wilson. At the age of sixteen, Wilson started playing rugby at the recommendation of her friend. Her school never had a women’s rugby team before Wilson’s friend, Sierra, rallied a team together. Wilson decided to give the sport a shot and went with Sierra to the first few practices. She immediately fell in love with rugby. This interest soon developed into a passion. She more noticeably felt this connection while transitioning to a college team.

Wilson was a freshman when she joined the Dirty Ducks women’s rugby team at the University of Oregon. It was during her first season that Wilson’s dedication to rugby was tested.  With a close score against Stanford, players rushed down the field fighting to win another “try” against their rival team. Unexpectedly, Wilson tore her meniscus in her left knee during the play.

“It was really hard because I just wanted to keep playing,” Wilson says. “It was really frustrating.” However, she did not let this physical pain hinder her from finishing the game.

Eyes teary from the initial shock of her injury, Wilson quickly composed herself and demanded that she would be put back in the game to play. She set aside her pain to devote all of her remaining ability to rugby.

Wilson is now a sophomore and captain of Oregon’s Dirty Ducks Rugby Club. As a result of her injury, she wears a knee brace whenever she participates in practices or games. The damage in her knee makes her more susceptible to future injuries and could possibly lead to a necessary surgery. Wilson believes that only the most serious of injuries could force her to stop playing rugby.

“I get a lot out of rugby, “she explains. “It allows me to feel like the person I want to be.”  Wilson’s experience proves that rugby is much more to her than simply a game. It demonstrates her strong character. Wilson is driven to win and dedicated to stay tough to support her team. She is determined to play the hardest she can, even if it means receiving a few wounds.

Pop-Culture Connoisseur: It’s That Time of Year Again – Awards Season

Pop-Culture Connoisseur is an entertainment column.  Here you will find reviews, recommendations, and my take on some of the latest happenings in the world of books, music, TV, and film.

-Brianna Huber

As the daughter of a life-long movie buff, I have come to look forward to awards season every year, especially since starting my journalism classes back in 2009 and developing a greater appreciation for the creative process that goes into media production.  I consider the Academy Awards (a.k.a. “The Oscars”) the pinnacle of the awards season, and just last week this year’s nominees were officially announced.

Unfortunately, as is the case almost every year, I haven’t seen even half of the films that have been nominated for awards.  I have a feeling this is the case for a lot of people, at least once we venture outside of the standard categories of “Best Picture,” “Actor/Actress,” “Music (Original Score),” etc. and into the land of “Foreign Language Film,” “Animated Short,” and “Short Film.”  I feel accomplished if I’ve seen even one of the nominees in a “Documentary” category.  This feeling of cinematic illiteracy led me to wonder how Oscar nominees actually get chosen in the first place.  I had always imagined they were chosen by a small, elite group of bigwig executives sitting together in a closed room.  That isn’t exactly the case.

Nominees are voted on by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which is a professional honor society for members of the film industry, not the fancy governing body that I had assumed.  Membership is by invitation only, but I was surprised to find that AMPAS members include the very actors, directors, producers, and technicians that are hoping to be nominated for the awards.  To qualify for nomination, the film must meet certain requirements.  Nominees are selected for each category by their peers – film editors nominate film editors, and directors nominate directors – but everyone gets to vote for the category of “Best Picture.”  Members can vote for five nominees in a category.  Once the votes are in, the results are tabulated and nominees are announced.  About a week later, final ballots are mailed to Academy members who then have two weeks to make their decisions and return their ballots.  The votes are tabulated in absolute secrecy and then sealed until the moment the envelopes are opened on-stage at the awards ceremony.  For the category of “Foreign Language Film,” a country is allowed to submit one film for consideration each year.

So put simply, the Oscars are awards given out for achievement in film by peers within the industry.  Those who are the best at what they do choose who to recognize within their own field.  That sounds like a good plan to me.  After all, who else is more qualified to say what outstanding costume design is than someone who has studied and become highly skilled at costume design?  As elitist as it may sound, I don’t think the general public is always qualified to decide who should be recognized for achievement in the field of entertainment.  The public sometimes gets it wrong.  Fans will often band together and boost the vote for someone they consider to be the ‘hottest’ actor or the nicest person.  While those qualities have their place, I don’t think they should be deciding factors in all awards shows.  I trust Oscars to be awarded based solely on talent to those who are best at what they do.  Sometimes though, people that I feel deserve an Oscar go unrecognized, and that sucks, but I can’t have my cake and eat it too.  In the end, now that I have a better understanding of it, even though I’m sure it has its own set of internal biases, I generally trust the process of the Academy, which is why in film, I feel that the Oscar really deserves the prestige with which it has been bestowed.

The Oscars will be hosted by Seth MacFarlane and air at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 24th on ABC.

Image from http://oscars.org

Fashion for the Abolition of Human Trafficking

-Rache’ll Brown

Since watching Lauren Conrad on The Hills I have been vying for a job in the fashion industry, so when I was offered the opportunity to volunteer backstage at the Abolition Project‘s fashion show to raise awareness and donations for human trafficking, I was all over it. Of course, I opted for hair and makeup, and it was a blast! Seeing all of the designers’ visions come to life was absolutely amazing. All of the volunteers, designers and models had such a great time backstage, and having the opportunity to get involved was awesome.

The show was put on Monday, November 19th and boasted nine designers and over 280 volunteers. It runs one more night at the EMU Ballroom for $10 – tickets can be purchased at the door, which opens at 7 p.m. tonight. Escape Eugene’s sudden flash flood with a fabulous night indoors supporting a great cause – it’s worth it!

Flux Playlist: Get Pumped!

-Flux Blog Staff

It’s finally here. The one week of the term that we dread above all others: dead week. With the winter term finally coming to an end, it can be easy for students to get sidetracked with plans on how they will spend their Spring breaks. But before we can sell back our books and work on our tans, we must survive the deadlines and finals that come along with dead week. We here at the Flux blog understand it can sometimes be hard to find motivation to study when promises of sunny weather are just around the corner, so we thought we would put a playlist to get people pumped up and motivate them through the next couple of weeks. So grab your books, find a nice spot in the library and check out our pump up playlist!


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

 

Mike

  • Purexed -P.O.S.
  • Blue Orchid -The White Stripes
  • POWER -Kanye West

Diana

  • You and I -Medina (Deadmau5 Remix)
  • House Party -Meek Mill ft. Young Chris
  • We R Who We R -Ke$ha

Sam

  • We Will Rock You -Queen
  • When They Come for Me -Linkin Park
  • Click Click Boom -Saliva

Whitney

  • Superbad -James Brown
  • Fancy -Drake ft. Swizz Beats
  • Can’t Tell Me Nothing -Kanye West

Jessica

  • Hell’s Bells -AC/DC
  • Howlin’ for You -The Black Keys
  • Shutterbug -Big Boi ft. Cutty

Callie

  • Viva la Vida -Coldplay
  • Don’t Stop Believin’ -Journey
  • Waking Up in Vegas -Katy Perry

Tamara

  • Cinema -Benny Benassi (Skrillex Remix)
  • Sunshine -David Guetta
  • Jump on Stage -Girl Talk

Coffee with Karen Karbo

-Elliott Kennedy

“If a subject is really good, it has a sticky factor,” says Karen Karbo, smacking her hands together and wrapping her ring-clad fingers together, making her red beaded bracelet clatter. “You think about it and you can’t stop thinking about it. If you’re really a writer, that’s what you do and who you are.”

The New York Times notable author untangles her fingers to reach for her frothy latte. Vero Espresso House is buzzing with the sounds of clinking mugs and tapping keyboards, but I can still her softly murmur “Mmmm,” with the first sip of steaming coffee.

The California-native first studied journalism at the University of Southern California—but only briefly. One piece of criticism showed her that the fact-based world of news was not well-suited to her writing style.

“I had written something where I described a lady as having a ‘really bad haircut.’ My professor said that was too much editorializing,” says Karbo. “I argued that it wasn’t editorializing and it really was just a bad haircut, but he didn’t go for it.”

After changing her major several more times, Karbo graduated with a double Bachelor’s in English and biology. Drawing heavily on her college years for inspiration, Karbo published her first book in 1990.

Trespassers Welcome Here was inspired by Karbo’s time working in the Russian department at USC. Her second book, The Diamond Lane, hints at personal details, such as her Master’s in film and cinema studies. Karbo’s third book and only memoir, The Stuff of Life, chronicles her relationship with her father during the last few months of his life.

“Reliving [his death] wasn’t a great time,” Karbo says. “If it’s emotionally resonant, our natural instinct is to push it away. But that’s the gold, the meat, the passion.”

Hearing the story of Karbo and her father, I remember something else Karbo had said earlier: Find where you intersect with the story. Abandoning my organized line of questioning and closing my notebook, I asked, “How did you deal with it?” And then I shared my own story.

My father died at the age of 60, killed suddenly by a small glitch in his otherwise healthy heart. Her father died at the age of 75 of lung cancer, brought on by years of chronic smoking. Our stories seemed similar in so many ways, and there in a small college town on an ordinary rainy day, we intersected.

“I wrote,” she says, answering my question.

And for the past eight years, Karbo has been writing up a storm, publishing six books and planning a seventh. The Minerva Clark three-part children’s series was written expressly for her daughter, Fiona. Most recently, Karbo has been writing a “Kick Ass Women” series, which includes biographies about Katherine Hepburn, Georgia O’Keefe, and Coco Chanel.

“I chose these women because of their complete faith in their own instincts,” Karbo says. “There was no self-doubt or second-guessing—not to say there weren’t mistakes. But they never betrayed themselves in hard times.”

From the Pacific Southwest to the Great Northwest: The Story of UC Eugene

-Jamie Hershman

The University of Oregon, also known as UC Eugene, has a large California population. But what is the lure of this rainy campus when California  has beautiful, sunny skies to offer?

I am one of those students who wanted a “change of scenery.” Born and raised in Southern California, I had a choice: University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) or University of Oregon. Everyone thought I was crazy when I made my final decision to attend the UO, but I knew it was right. The lure? I honestly am not quite sure.

When people ask why I chose Oregon, I don’t really have an answer. My immediate response: “When I visited the campus, I just fell in love.” And those who I’m talking to just nod their heads and smile, reminiscing on their first visit to the beautiful Ivy League style the campus resembles.

But there is much more than just the campus that lured me here. Maybe it was the amazing journalism school that UO has to offer. Or who can forget the (almost) unbeatable football team and school spirit parading around campus?

With many Californians flocking to Oregon, UO has stepped up its standard for admittance. One of the reasons I applied to UO was the fact that as a high school student with above a 3.0 GPA and having passed over 15 college prep high school classes, I was automatically accepted without having to write an essay. But as of 2012, that rule has been cut and all students must now submit an essay to even be considered for admittance. The new standards put University of Oregon on a higher standard for academics, and thus have even more eyes and ears interested in our outstanding campus.

With so many factors playing into the transfer between west coast states, there’s still that one question that stumps all who don’t attend UO. Why would people trade in the California sun for the Oregon rain? I’m still stumped on that one, even though I’m one of those students. Really, it’s all of the other aspects that make UO so amazing that all us Californians would trade in some warm weather for just a little bit of rain.