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This Way to Chloë Bass’s Outdoor Art Show – The New York Times

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Dear New Yorker, are you elated that museums have reopened but find yourself a bit queasy about being indoors with hundreds of other art lovers? There’s a very fine museum exhibition you can see now, in the flesh but outdoors.

The Studio Museum in Harlem, with construction of its new building in progress, was already organizing off-site exhibitions before the pandemic. And one of them, the New York artist Chloë Bass’s show, “Wayfinding,” remains on view at St. Nicholas Park through Sept. 27. With themes of caring and attention, it has become only more meaningful. And it is the first solo museum exhibition for the artist.

“Wayfinding” revolves around three questions: “How much of care is patience? How much of life is coping? How much of love is attention?” Three billboards, positioned throughout the park, pose these queries, in gray type on mirrored surfaces. They reflect the park and the surrounding city, and can thus almost disappear. The texts can be hard to see — as such questions can be hard to answer.

“I was creating at a monumental scale at a moment when monuments are seen as an imposition, or really haven’t aged well,” Ms. Bass said by phone. “I don’t live in Harlem, and I didn’t want to make something incorrect. Something that reflects your landscape as it’s changing offers a gentle interpretation of what the monument can mean.”

Wayfinding refers to architectural and graphic features that allow people to situate themselves — like signage in large government buildings or hospitals, for example. Ms. Bass’s signs along walkways bear reflective text on matte silver backgrounds. By repeating and varying wording, Ms. Bass explores various intimacies, some ominous. One reads, “There are times when I have agreed with you only in order to go to sleep.” Another: “There are times when I have agreed with you only in order to stay alive.”

Credit…Scott Rudd

The artist found herself interested in the ways urban dwellers orient themselves, especially when she learned that gentrifying urban environments can leave aging residents disoriented. A dryly funny 30-minute audio guide, accessible by a phone number given on a didactic panel, offers no specific guidance on moving through the park, but can be “emotionally orienting,” said the artist.

Ms. Bass started out studying the life of the individual, then expanded to investigate pairs. Writing in The New York Times in 2018, Will Heinrich described her multimedia gallery installation “Book of Everyday Instruction” as having an “elegant, unbalancing poetry.” She plans to expand to the level of the metropolis. With an urban park in a diverse neighborhood, she is partway there.

Life goes on around the art. One recent day, women took an exercise class; families cavorted on the playground; parks employees mowed the grass. One of them — trimming around the posts of the sign “How much of love is attention?” — appeared through his precise work to illustrate the text itself. He smiled at that notion and said, of his caretaking, “I was born in Harlem. I love to do it.”

Aiden J. Baptiste-Boissiere, a chef from Washington, D.C., who was visiting the park, said, “It gives you reason to pause and think and apply it to your life.”

“Some people forget kindness,” he added. “People close off. Be kinder to people.”

Chloë Bass: ‘Wayfinding’

St. Nicholas Park, St. Nicholas Avenue (between 128th and 141st Streets), Manhattan; through Sept. 27; studiomuseum.org.

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Students explore art themes in Re/LAUNCH/ing, vol. 1 – St. Albert TODAY

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Now that school is back in session, a new collaborative art project has been launched.

Re/LAUNCH/ing is aimed at hitting the same high notes that its predecessor with.draw.all did, but with the added emphasis on the intrinsic value of art to the artist.

At noon on the last Thursday of each month, StAlbertTODAY.ca will be displaying an online gallery of art created by high school students. This month’s rendition features 12 creations from students at Paul Kane, Bellrose and St. Albert Catholic High.

Artist: Ava Currie
Art 10
Pencil
Artist Statement: €œ”The comforts of the countryside landscape study. Memories of lazy summers at my grandparents’€™ house.”
Camille BuenviajeArtist: Camille Buenviaje
Grade 12
Mixed Media
Title: Always You
Artist Statement: “My psychological self portrait is a three-year-old version of myself in which to reminisce on my childhood. The chaotic organization and missing pieces represents the forgotten memories.”
Dax Ziesel 2020 BCHSArtist: Dax Ziesel
Art 31
Pencils, ranging from 2H, HB, 2B, 4B, 6B and 8B.
Title: “€œLacertil”
Artist Statement: “€œI am truly satisfied with the outcome of this drawing. Inspiration for my work derived from my interest in animals, namely large lizards like the iguana. My greatest struggle with this piece, which was steadily resolved, was knowing where to begin with the essential details. There are various ways to demonstrate the elements of shading, texture, and value with one pencil alone in a drawing, so I sat cluelessly pondering after the rough sketch. However, in the end, the project was a success and has exceeded my own expectations.”
Halle CrottyArtist: Halle Crotty
Grade 10
Pencil Crayon
Title: Paint Blob
Artist Statement: “I created this realistic drawing of a blob of paint using pencil crayon techniques.”
Hannah ChinnArtist: Hannah Chinn
Grade 11
Ink
Title: Chains and Gears
Artist Statement: “A still life close up of bike gears drawn in ballpoint pen.”
JuliannaManansalaArt10Artist: Julianna Manansala
Art 10
Pigment Pen
Title: A miniature piece
Artist Statement: “A miniature drawing, focused on precision and details.”
Justine La Riviere 2020 BCHSArtist: Justine La Riviere
Art 10
Pencil
Artist Statement: “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then we will realize we cannot eat money.”
Kaitlyn CabralArtist: Kaitlyn Cabral
Grade 11
Ink
Title: Obstruction Ahead
Artist Statement: “Resilience, strength and fear. Inspired by the psychological study of the trolly problem. When faced with fear or a difficult decision, are we strong enough to follow our intuition and take action or will we tense up under the pressure and fright? Whichever decision is made, we must rise above and keep moving forward.”
Lauryn TaylorArtist: Lauryn Taylor
Grade 10
Graphite
Title: Keys of Comfort
Artist Statement: “Piano has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. When I did not know how to play, I would listen and sing along to my mom and sister. Sitting at the bench of my family’s piano has a certain familiarity that is comforting and relaxing. My hands know where the keys are before I know myself.”
Lily MalthouseArtist: Lily Malthouse
Grade 10
Ink
Title: Still Life
Artist Statement: “In my art piece, I used an arrangement of fruits as my reference to create a still life composition. I completed this with a simple art tool, a ballpoint pen, which made it possible to create both soft and intense shadows. For this piece, I focused most on value study and recreating a deeper contrast image.”
RJ SmithArtist: RJ Smith
Grade 12
Acrylic on canvas
Title: Deep-Sea Dream
Artist Statement: “This piece is inspired by my dreams. I am always daydreaming. Sometimes even if you are talking right to me, my mind will be off in a fantasy making up stories and exploring different worlds. Some of the art I have created is inspired by my dreams. This particular piece comes from my knowledge that I might never experience the depths of the sea, I can dream up what it might feel and look like, but I will most likely never experience it first hand. Painting this dream was the best way to bring my vision to life. With guidance in class, I was able to improve my skills in painting perspectives, highlights and lowlights.”
Shaelyn Emond 2020 BCHSArtist: Shaelyn Emond
Art 10
Pencils I used are 8B, 6B, 4B, 2B, HB, 2H and my Papermate mechanical pencil.
Title: “€œRoscoe, An Unforgettable Counterpart”
Artist Statement: “€œI told my friend, Elora about our nature-themed pencil project and she suggested I draw a car deep in a forest. I thought it would be too out of place for a vehicle in perfect condition to be out in the middle of nowhere. So considering the nature theme, I made it into an overgrown jeep. The reason I chose a jeep is because my favourite character from a show that has now ended drove this jeep, which had many issues with it, all throughout the show. He probably valued it so much because it was from his mother who passed away. The jeep was more than just a ride to get you places. It saved himself as well as his friends and family many times and was like a child to him.”

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James Baker and the art of power – The Economist

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The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III. By Peter Baker and Susan Glasser.Doubleday; 720 pages; $35.

DURING THE confusion that followed the attempt on Ronald Reagan’s life in 1981, Alexander Haig, the secretary of state, proclaimed at the White House podium: “I am in control.” Breathless and sweating, Haig reassured no one. While he floundered, someone else took command. James Baker, the chief of staff, monitored Reagan’s condition, kept the government running and crisply briefed colleagues. Throughout the tense day Mr Baker proved unflappable, say Susan Glasser and Peter Baker (no relation to their subject) in a new biography.

Widely regarded as the most effective chief of staff ever, Mr Baker ran the White House for both Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He was also Reagan’s treasury secretary and Bush’s secretary of state, and led five presidential campaigns. Pragmatism and competence were his hallmarks. “There was little idealism involved and a fair degree of opportunism,” write the authors of “The Man Who Ran Washington”. By their account, Mr Baker “was not above political hardball to advance his team’s chances at the ballot box. He never lost sight of what was good for Jim Baker.” But he got things done.

Ms Glasser (of the New Yorker) and her co-author and husband (of the New York Times) are well-placed to chronicle Mr Baker’s life. They interviewed 170 people, including three former presidents and Mr Baker himself. Now 90, and a careful steward of his own reputation, he may have mixed feelings about the result. Yet it is a masterclass in political biography. The authors portray the man in full, managing to be both brisk and comprehensive.

They lay out his flaws, including his temper, cynicism, tendency to blame underlings and allegations of skulduggery. They decry his lack of vision in the last years of the cold war: he and Bush merely reacted to the Soviet Union’s demise, they argue, rather than devising a bold approach of their own. Yet the book also depicts a manager capable of handling almost any situation, from the Gulf war to the presidential recount in 2000, which Mr Baker confidently oversaw for the Republicans. He closed deals by focusing on the signature line rather than the fine print.

He was Jim to presidents and cabinet secretaries but “Mr Baker” to everyone else. Despite his patrician manner he could swear like a Texas roughneck; “ratfuck” was a favourite term for Washington backstabbing. He grew up among the Houston aristocracy, where the oilfield meets the tennis club. Bush, a fellow blue-blood, became his doubles partner, and the book explores their lifelong friendship. When Mr Baker learned from a doctor that his first wife’s cancer was terminal, he told Bush but not the patient herself. One key to his success, the authors write, is that he was adept at leveraging their connection. “Everyone knew that he was Bush’s good friend and that when Baker spoke, he was speaking with the authority of the president.”

His own name appeared on just one ballot: in the race to be attorney-general of Texas in 1978. He lost. Over the years he harboured presidential ambitions and, in 1996, came close to running. If he stayed out he could be remembered as the most important secretary of state since Henry Kissinger, a diplomat tested by great events and equal to them. If he ran and failed, he would be one more might-have-been. He weighed the options and made his choice. As so often, he was probably right.

This article appeared in the Books & arts section of the print edition under the headline “All the presidents’ man”

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The Art of Communicating Risk – Harvard Business Review

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Executive Summary

Sometimes during a crisis we don’t know how bad the situation really is. Consider the following scenario involving a data privacy violations: A company discovers that sensitive data about a user is exposed in an unencrypted database for 24 hours. Has anyone accessed it? If so, what, if anything, can they glean from it? Firms facing the question of whether and how to communicate risk often err too far in either direction. When organizations alert their customers to every potential risk, they create notification fatigue.  When firms wait too long to communicate in an effort to shield users from unnecessary worry customers interpret time lags as incompetence, or worse, as obfuscation.  The answer is to trust that customers can process uncertainty, as long as it’s framed in the right way. Using techniques from behavioral science, the authors suggest better ways to communicate uncertain risks in way that will protect customers and foster trust.

jayk7/Getty Images

Most organizations can cope with straightforward bad news, and so can most people. We absorb the shock, and move on. But what happens when we don’t know how bad the news actually is?

When it comes to crises, the news companies must deliver is often potential bad news. How should a technology company react when it learns that it might have suffered a breach of your data, or a supermarket discovers it might have sold you contaminated lettuce, or a medical device maker learns that patients may have a defective hip replacement? Communicating about uncertainty — what people call ‘risk communications’ in practice — has become one of the most important challenges faced by anyone who needs to convey or consume information.

Risk communications are more important than ever during the current pandemic. Scientists, policy-makers, and companies alike are uncertain of many basic facts about Covid-19 with crucial implications for personal and societal decisions. How infectious is this new virus? How likely is it to kill people? What will be its long-term economic, social, and cultural consequences?

Even before Covid-19 hit, communications were increasingly becoming an important part of corporate and organizational management. Consider the following scenario involving a data privacy violations: A company discovers that sensitive data about a user is exposed in an unencrypted database for 24 hours. Has anyone accessed it? If so, what can they do with it right now? What will they be able to do with it five years from now, with machine learning techniques that will be available at that time? The answers are typically, we don’t really know. That is not an assessment that most organizations or individuals know how to deliver in an effective way. This has major consequences for individual firms and for firms collectively. The tech sector, in particular, has suffered a large and growing trust deficit with users, customers, and regulators, in part because tech companies struggle to communicate what they do and do not know about the side effects of their products in ways that are transparent and meaningful.

When we talked to experts across eight industry sectors, we uncovered a common dilemma: firms facing the question of whether and how to communicate risk often err too far in either direction. When organizations alert their customers to every potential risk, they create notification fatigue. Customers tend to tune out after a short while, and firms lose an opportunity to strengthen a trust relationship with the subset of customers who really might have been at most risk.

When firms do the opposite — for example by waiting too long to communicate in an effort to shield users from unnecessary worry — there is also a price. Customers interpret time lags as incompetence, or worse, as obfuscation and protection of corporate reputations at the expense of protecting customers. The more mis-steps firms make in either direction, the greater the trust deficit becomes, and the harder it is to thread the needle and get the communications right.

To make matters worse, individual firms have a collective effect when they communicate about uncertainty with customers and other stakeholders. The average citizen and customer is the target of many such communications coming from a variety of sources – with a cumulative impact on notification fatigue and ultimately the level of ambient trust between firms and the public. It’s an ugly bundle of negative externalities that compound an already difficult problem.

We believe it doesn’t have to continue this way. Decision science and cognitive psychology have produced some reliable insights about how people on both sides of an uncertainty communication can do better.

The inherent challenge for risk communicators is people’s natural desire for certainty and closure. An experimental Russian roulette game illustrates this most poignantly: forced to play Russian roulette with a 6-chamber revolver containing either 1 bullet or 4 bullets, most people would pay a lot more to remove the single bullet in the first instance than to remove a single bullet in the second instance (even though the risk reduction is the same). Kahneman and Tversky called this “the certainty effect,” and it explains why zero-deductible insurance policies are over-priced and yet people still buy them.

But while they don’t like it, people can process uncertainty, especially if they are armed with some standard tools for decision making. Consider the “Drug Facts Box,” developed by researchers at Dartmouth.

As far back as the late 1970s, behavioral scientists criticized the patient package inserts that were included with prescription drugs as absurdly dense and full of jargon. The drug facts box (developed in the 1990s) reversed the script. It built on a familiar template from people’s common experience (the nutrition fact box that appears on food packaging) and was designed to focus attention on the information that would directly inform decision-making under uncertainty. It uses numbers, rather than adjectives like ‘rare,’ ‘common,’ or ‘positive results.’ It addresses risks and benefits, and in many cases compares a particular drug to known alternatives. Importantly, it also indicates the quality of the evidence to-date. It’s not perfect, but research suggests that it works pretty well, both in extensive testing with potential users through randomized trials and in practice where it has been shown to improve decision making by patients.

So why aren’t basic principles from the science of risk communications being applied more widely in technology, finance, transportation, and other sectors? Imagine an “Equifax data breach fact box” created to situate the 2017 data-breach incident and the risks for customers. The fact box could indicate whether the Equifax breach was among the 10 largest breaches of the last 5 years. It would provide a quantitative assessment of the consequences that follow from such breaches, helping people assess what to expect in this case. For example: “In the last five data breaches of over 100 million records, on average 3% of people whose records were stolen reported identity theft within a year.”

Or, imagine a “Deepwater Horizon fact box,” that listed for the public the most important potential side effects of oil spills on marine and land ecosystems, and a range for estimating their severity. We’ve come to the view that these two examples and countless others didn’t happen that way, largely because most people working in communications functions don’t believe that users and customers can deal reasonably with uncertainty and risk.

Of course, the Equifax breach and Deepwater Horizon oil spills are extreme examples of crisis-level incidents, and in the Equifax case, disclosure was legally mandated. But firms make decisions everyday about whether and how to communicate about less severe incidents, many of which do not have mandated disclosure requirements. In the moment, it’s easy for companies to default to a narrow response of damage control, instead of understanding risk communications as a collective problem, which, when done well, can enhance trust with stakeholders.

To start to repair the trust deficit will require a significant retrofit of existing communications practices. Here are three places to start.

Stop improvising. Firms will never be able to reduce uncertainty to zero, but they can commit to engaging with customers around uncertainty in systematic, predictable ways. A standard framework would provide an empirically proven, field-tested playbook for the next incident or crisis. Over time, it would set reasonable expectations among users and customers for what meaningful and transparent communication looks like under uncertainty, help increase the public’s risk fluency, and limit the damage inflicted by nefarious actors who prey on the public’s anxieties about risk. Ideally, this standard would be created by a consortium of firms across different sectors. Widespread adoption by organizations would level the playing field for all firms, and raise the bar for smaller firms that lack the required competencies in-house.

Change the metric for success, and measure results. Avoiding negative press should not be the primary objective for firms that are faced with communicating uncertainty. In the short term, the primary goal should be to equip customers with the information they need to interpret uncertainty and act to manage their risk. In the long term, the goal should be to increase levels of ambient trust and to reduce risks where possible. Communicators need to demonstrate that what they are doing is working, by creating yardsticks that rigorously measure the effectiveness of communications against both these short and long term goals.

Design for risk communications from the beginning. Consider what it would mean if every product were built from the start with the need to communicate uncertainty about how it will perform when released into the wild — that is, “risk communication by design.” If risk communications were pushed down through organizations into product development, we’d see innovation in user experience and user interface design for communicating about uncertainty with customers. We’d see cognitive psychology and decision science skills integrated into product teams. And we’d see feedback loops built directly into products as part of the design process, telling firms whether they are meaningfully improving customers’ ability to make informed choices.

People are naturally inclined to prefer certainty and closure, but in a world where both are in short supply, trust deficits aren’t an inevitable fact of nature. We’re optimistic that organizations can do better collectively by making disciplined use of the existing science.

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