Friday, October 11, 2019

Press Release: Rembrandt Cyberangels Make the Bible Come Alive by Flying from Israel to Museums throughout the World


Artist Mel Alexenberg is making the Bible come alive in the age of smartphones and social media by creating a global tribute to Rembrandt on the 350th anniversary of his death on 4 October 1669.

The "Year of Rembrandt" began on 4 October 2019 with the launching of his Rembrandt inspired cyberangels on virtual flights from the Land of Israel into thirty art museums on five continents. All these museums have artworks from Alexenberg’s “Digital Homage to Rembrandt” series in their collections.

Cyberangels are a digital age expression of the biblical passage on Jacob’s dream: “A ladder was standing on the ground, its top reaching up towards heaven as divine angels were going up and down on it.” (Genesis 28:12)

They fly up from the cover of Alexenberg’s highly acclaimed book Through a Bible Lens:Biblical Insights on Smartphone Photography and Social Media. We see them spiraling up from a NASA satellite photograph of Israel as they emerge from a smartphone screen.


The Global Tribute to Rembrandt blog shows the cyberangels continuing their virtual flight from the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, home of ancient Bible scrolls. They gain momentum by going up from the tallest building in Israel, the 91 story Azrieli Spiral Tower being built in Tel Aviv in the shape of a giant Bible scroll. The cyberangels then come down into museums around the globe. 


They arrive at the cafes of each of the museums. Why cafes? The biblical words for angel and food are spelled with the same four Hebrew letters to teach that angels are spiritual messages arising from everyday life. Perhaps there is spiritual significance that museums that offer art also offer food.



Alexenberg’s experience as an art professor at Columbia University and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies gives him the conceptual and technological tools to create digital events for the “Year of Rembrandt.” His teaching biblical thought in universities in Israel enhances the spiritual energy of the events. 


The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History wrote that Mel Alexenberg’s “Digitized Homage to Rembrandt” lithograph from a computer-generated image is a most valuable addition to the national collection as a historic prototype of the use of new technology in printmaking.

The Museum of Modern Art in New York wrote that they were pleased to have Alexenberg’s computer-assisted etching of Rembrandt’s imagery as an example of innovative technological experimentation of great interest to students of the development of graphic techniques.

Alexenberg first set a cyberangel on a global flight on the 320th anniversary of Rembrandt’s death.  On the morning of 4 October 1989, it ascended from the AT&T building in New York and flew to Amsterdam to Jerusalem to Tokyo to Los Angeles, returning to New York after five hours.  

Since its circumglobal flight crossed all time zones, it flew into tomorrow arriving in Tokyo in the morning of October 5th and back into yesterday reaching Los Angeles on October 4th.  Cyberangels reshape our concepts of time and space.

See praise for Through a Bible Lens by Christian and Jewish spiritual leaders and experts on art and digital culture at Israel365.

Contact information: Prof. Mel Alexenberg, melalexenberg@yahoo.com, phone +972-52-855-1223, Ra’anana, Israel

All images in this press release were created by Mel Alexenberg who gives permission to print and electronic media to use them with texts about Global Tribute to Rembrandt.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Cybermiles in the Age of Smartphones and Social Media Erase Miles


There are thirty museums participating in the Global Tribute to Rembrandt on five continents including those from the twelve states in USA that have places called JerUSAlem.  The title of the blog posts for the museums in the twelve states shows its distance in miles to Jerusalem in Israel and to Jerusalem in the US state.  

For example: University of Michigan Museum of Art in Ann Arbor: 6,018 miles from Jerusalem, Israel; 14 miles from Jerusalem, Michigan; or 0 cybermiles, and Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, New York: 5,698 miles from Jerusalem, Israel; 78 miles from Jerusalem, New York; or 0 cybermiles 

I coined the word “cybermiles” to highlight the difference between my digital events honoring Rembrandt on the 230th anniversary of his death in 1989 and on the 250th anniversary on 2019. Cybermiles symbolizes the shift from the fax generation to the ubiquitous digital culture of smartphones and social media.

On the morning of October 4, 1989, my Rembrandt inspired cyberangel ascended from the AT&T building in New York.  It flew to Amsterdam to Jerusalem to Tokyo to Los Angeles, returning to New York on the same afternoon. It took an hour in each city to receive 28 pages of angel fragments and fax them on to the next city.  After a five-hour flight around the planet, the deconstructed angel was reconstructed for the fifth time at its starting point.  

Unlike fax technology where the cyberangel went from one city to the next on its circumglobal flight, today’s technology sees cyberangels ascend into “The Cloud” and descend into cities throughout the world.  The Cloud describes a vast number of computers interconnected through a real-time communication network such as the Internet. The Cloud is a living network of networks blanketing our planet that expresses the biblical commentary that the angels in Jacob’s dream ascend into The Cloud and come down throughout the world.

In 1989, the distance between participating cities is measured in miles. Learn more about the circumglobal faxart event at Rembrandt Inspired Cyberangels Circle the Globe.

In 2019, rather than flying from place to place, cyberangels ascend into The Cloud and drop down anywhere in the world.  Cybermiles in the age of smartphones and social media erases miles. Follow my emerging digital homage to Rembrandt as it is happening at this Global Tribute to Rembrandt blog.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Art Museums Participating in Digital Homage to Rembrandt: 1669 - 2019

Artist Mel Alexenberg launches cyberangels from Israel to thirty museums throughout the world as an homage to Rembrandt on the 350th anniversary of his death. These museums have Rembrandt inspired artworks by Alexenberg in their collections. At Global Tribute to Rembrandt are posts for each of the museums and texts on the impact of digital culture on art by the artist, former art professor at Columbia University and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies.

"Angel Announcing the Birth of Samson to Manoah" (after Rembrandt drawing in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY) serigraph by Mel Alexenberg, 1987.  Read his book Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media.  

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History wrote that Mel Alexenberg’s “Digitized Homage to Rembrandt” lithograph from a computer-generated image is a most valuable addition to the national collection as a historic prototype of the use of new technology in printmaking.
The members of the acquisitions committee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York wrote that they were pleased to accept Alexenberg’s computer-assisted etching of Rembrandt’s imagery as an example of innovative technological experimentation of great interest to students of the development of graphic techniques.  

The first group of museums below represent seven of the 12 states in which there are places named JerUSAlem. Museums in the other five states, Arkansas, Maryland, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont, are also invited to participate in the Global Tribute to Rembrandt. See http://jerusalem-usa.blogspot.comThe second group are museums in USA and third group are museums throughout the world.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City; Museum of Modern Art, New York City; Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham, Alabama; High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia, Greenville Museum of Art, Greenville, North Carolina, Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio, Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati, Ohio; University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

"Fortune 500 Angel" is a photoetching by Alexenberg created as a tribute to Rembrandt the businessman.  Read Svetlana Alperes' book Rembrandt's Enterprise: The Studio and the Market

National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, Kentucky; San Antonio Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas; Mississippi Museum of Art, Jackson, Mississippi; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri; Midwest Museum of American Art, Elkhart, Indiana; University of Wyoming Art Museum, Laramie, Wyoming.

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada; Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel; Haifa Museum of Art, Haifa, Israel; Jewish Museum in Prague, Czech Republic; Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest, Hungary; Museum of Modern Art, Vienna, Austria; Malmo Art Museum, Malmo, Sweden; Art Museum of The Hague, The Netherlands; Rembrandthuis Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England; Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia; Museum of Contemporary Art, Caracas, Venezuela.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Rembrandt's Cyberangels Launch Book on Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media


“A ladder was standing on the ground, and its top reached up toward heaven, and angels were going up and down on it.” (Genesis 28:12)                                                   

What better way to launch the book Through a Bible Lens by Mel Alexenberg than to have Rembrandt inspired cyberangels on the book cover fly up from the Land of Israel and come down throughout the world. 

The launching is a series of global digital art events during the “Year of Rembrandt” commemorating the 350th anniversary of Rembrandt leaving his artistic legacy for posterity.

The cyberangels begin their flight from the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, home of ancient Bible scrolls. They gain momentum by going up from the tallest building in Israel, home of Facebook’s R&D Center, until construction is completed for the 91 story Azrieli Spiral Tower in Tel Aviv with the shape of a Bible scroll.
Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media provides the conceptual background for the Global Tribute to Rembrandt by teaching how to transform today’s digital culture into imaginative ways for seeing spirituality in everyday life. 

It speaks to Jews and Christians who share an abiding love of the Bible by inspiring the creation of a lively dialogue between our emerging life stories and the enduring biblical narrative.

The book draws on Prof. Alexenberg’s research on creative thinking in the networked world at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies and on biblical thought in contemporary life at universities in Israel. See praise for the book from Christian and Jewish spiritual leaders and experts on art and digital culture at Israel365.

Meeting Rembrandt in Amsterdam and New York

See my Times of Israel article Meeting Rembrandt in Amsterdam and New York.  Below are excerpts from my article.


Meeting Rembrandt in Amsterdam

I walked across Amsterdam along the canals from the house on Joodenbreestraat (Jewish Broadway) where Rembrandt had lived to Westerkerk (West Church) where he was buried.  There was no tombstone in the church courtyard marking his grave.  No sign in or around the church indicated that it was the final resting place of the great master.  On the sidewalk in front of the church, however, a bronze life-size statue of Anne Frank stood watch.  She had been hiding in a room overlooking the church courtyard until the Nazis discovered her and carted her off to Bergen-Belsen to die.  A postcard reproduction of a Rembrandt painting of an old Jewish man that she had tacked to the wall remained behind.

From Westerkerk, I took a tram back to my mother-in-law’s apartment.  I had traveled with my wife, Miriam, to Holland to be with her family during the shiva, the seven-day period of mourning for her father.  He had suddenly died of a heart attack in Suriname, the former Dutch colony in South America where Miriam was born.  It was the first time I had been outside of the United States.  People who came to pay their respects told Miriam how lucky she was that her father had died a natural death, unlike her grandfather and her grandmother and her aunts and her uncles and her cousins.  The Nazis murdered them all.  Not one family member that stayed in Holland survived.

Meeting in New York

I was seated at a large oak table in the printroom of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  In a quiet ritual, one Rembrandt at a time was placed on a delicate easel in front of me as the tissue paper protecting the picture was slowly removed.  As his etching Abraham Entertaining the Angels was uncovered, I saw that only two of the angels had wings.  The figure facing Abraham had no wings.  Perhaps Rembrandt wanted to show that although they looked like men to Abraham, they were really angels in disguise. 

The Torah (Genesis 18:1-8) relates how three angels disguised as men appeared to the Abraham while he was sitting at the entrance to his tent in the heat of the day.  When he looked up and saw them a short distance from him, he ran to greet them and invited them to stay to eat with him.  He rushed to his wife, Sarah, and asked her to bake cakes for their guests. 

Then Abraham ran to the cattle to choose a tender, choice calf.  The Midrash questions why Abraham ran after the calf. The calf ran away from him into a cave.  When inside, he discovered that he had entered the burial place of Adam and Eve.  He saw intense light emanating from an opening at the end of the cave.  He was drawn to the light.  As he approached, he saw the Garden of Eden through the opening.  This deeply spiritual person, the patriarch Abraham, found himself standing at the entrance to Paradise.  About to cross over the threshold into the pristine garden, he remembered that his wife and three guests were waiting for lunch back at the tent.  What should he do?  Should he trade Paradise for a barbeque?  

The Torah tells us that he chose to return to the tent and join his wife in making a lunch for the three strangers.  They sat together in the shade of a tree and enjoyed the barbeque.  We learn from this legend that we ourselves create heaven or hell in our relationships with our spouses, children, friends, neighbors, and strangers.  Visions of Paradise far off at the end of a cave or in some heavenly realm above are mere mirages or fraudulent lies.  Abraham knew that he and Sarah had the power to create heaven together in their tent.

Art is a Computer Angel

It was a few weeks later, while listening to the Torah reading in a small synagogue, translating the Hebrew words into English in my mind, that a flash of insight revealed to me that “computer angel” MaLAkH MaHSheV was the masculine form of the biblical term for “art” literally “thoughtful craft” MeLAekHeT MaHSheVeT.  I immediately knew what was missing in my paintings of food store facades – angels! 

I pulled my paintings of Brooklyn storefronts out of storage.  I understood that bringing computer angels into these paintings would raise them to a new level of significance.  They would express Hebrew linguistic connections between food and angel, between artist and angel, and between the material and spiritual realms.  The Hebrew words for food and angel are spelled with the same four letters to teach us that angels are spiritual messages arising from everyday life.  Since each of the 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical equivalent, both the word for angel and artist equal 91.   

Cyberangels Honor Rembrandt on his 350th Jaartijd When the Curtain Comes Down

Alexenberg in the garb of Rembrandt's friend Rabbi Menasseh Ben Israel in Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam

See article in Times of Israel Cyberangels Honor Rembrandt on his 350th Yahrtzeit.

My wife Miriam whose native tongue is Dutch tells me that Rembrandt would recognize the Dutch word jaartijd for "date of death." It is pronounced in English yahrteid.  It sounds like the Yiddish word yahrzeit, the word I use in the title of my Times of Israel article since it expresses the concept in Judaism that a person should be honored on the day he died rather than on his birthday. It’s like applauding after seeing a great play when the curtain comes down rather than when it goes up when we don’t yet know the story.

I present the conceptual background for the Global Tribute to Rembrandt in my highly acclaimed book Through a Bible Lens. See praise for the book from experts on art and digital culture and Jewish and Christian spiritual leaders at Israel365.  On the book’s cover, cyberangels spiral up from a NASA satellite image of Israel as they emerge from a smartphone screen. It is based on my serigraph “Angels Ascending from the Land of Israel” in the collection of the Israel Museum.

Alexenberg's Rembrandt inspired serigraph "Angels Ascending from the Land of Israel" in the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem

Monday, September 16, 2019

Cyberangels Flying between Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam and Israel Museum in Jerusalem

Artist Mel Alexenberg launches cyberangels from Israel to thirty museums throughout the world as an homage to Rembrandt on the 350th anniversary of his death. These museums have Rembrandt inspired artworks by Alexenberg in their collections. At Global Tribute to Rembrandt are posts for each of the museums and texts on the impact of digital culture on art by the artist, former art professor at Columbia University and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies.


As a tribute to Rembrandt on the 350th anniversary of his death Rembrandt House Museum in Amsterdam is presenting an exhibition "Inspired by Rembrandt: 100 Years of Collecting by The Rembrandt House Museum." The museum's website state:   

"Rembrandt has always fascinated us—not just in this Rembrandt Year, 350 years after his death, but down through the centuries. Rembrandt’s etchings have motivated artists in all kinds of ways, and Inspired by Rembrandt explores his impact on their art. This time The Rembrandt House Museum is dipping into its own collection, for the museum is not just his former home and workshop. For more than a hundred years it has also been collecting art on paper. And not just Rembrandts, but art by his followers—from his own time and contemporary artists." 

My serigraph “Digitized Homage to Rembrandt: Day Angels” is in the collection of the Rembrandt House Museum. It was part of my event applauding the great master by faxing his digitized angel around the world via AT&T satellites on October 4, 1989. 

Top image: I am dressed as Rembrandt’s friend Rabbi Manasseh Ben Israel beneath the facade of Rembrandt House Museum. I am holding my “Day Angels” print in Rembrandt's studio where I placed a fax machine on his etching press to receive my Rembrandt inspired cyberangel as it arrives from New York to send on to Jerusalem, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and back to New York. For full story see Circumglobal Flight of Rembrandt Inspired Cyberangels.

Second image: On October 4, 2019, cyberangels begin their flight from the Israel Museum's Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem, home of ancient Bible scrolls. They gain momentum by going up from the tallest building in Israel, home of Facebook’s R&D Center, until construction is completed for the 91 story Azrieli Spiral Tower in Tel Aviv with the shape of a Bible scroll.

Third image: Cyberangels spiral up from a NASA satellite image of the Land of Israel on a smartphone screen on my newest book Through a Bible Lens They launch the book throughout the world from the artist/author’s studio in Israel. See praise for the book at Israel365.

Fourth image: Serigraph "Angels Ascending from the Land of Israel" in the collection of the Israel Museum. I was invited to create it at the museum affiliated graphics center in Jerusalem when I was head of the art department at Pratt Institute and research fellow at MIT.  

Bottom image: My serigraph in the collection of Rembrandt House Museum.

Press Release: Rembrandt Cyberangels Make the Bible Come Alive by Flying from Israel to Museums throughout the World

Artist Mel Alexenberg is making the Bible come alive in the age of smartphones and social media by creating a global tribute to Rembrandt ...