Tag Archives: art


Before I die: I’d like to make some cool interactive art like this

Take one abandoned building. Paint it with blackboard paint. Provide chalk. And a prompter for discussing a serious issue. Record the responses. And you have modern art.

If people are answering truthfully – and there’s really no reason to lie in a forum like this – then it’s an interesting insight into what people care about.

I wonder if responses change based on the socio-economic demographic of the location. I assume so.

I’m not sure why there’s a pirate here. Or what he’s writing. “Tried for pi…”

More info about the project at Candy Chang.

Art criticism imitating life: The Dunning-Kruger Effect, Modern Art, and the importance of a frame

If there’s one truth I’ve learned in my time on the Internet it’s that people will be at least 25% meaner behind a keyboard. Unless they put their real name to what they’re writing, but even then they’re probably 10% meaner because so much of communication occurs outside the words we use.

But this is just hilarious.

David Foster Wallace is considered by many to be one of the written voices of his generation. His essays regularly (and posthumously) appear in lists of the best essays ever written. He wrote some books. Including a book called Infinite Jest.

Somebody posted the first page of the book to Yahoo questions asking for “feedback”… hilarity ensued.

“This needs some serious work… your writing is not formal… it is written in informal language that imitates the qualities commonly believed to be characteristic of formal language.

I recommend checking out “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B White… that should help to clear a few things up.”

And another:

“You know your story needs more work, so you don’t need anyone to tell you what you already know.”

And another…

“No discernible voice/tone in this writing. Rambling descriptions. I, frankly, do not care where each and every person is seated. I don’t care what shoe you’re wearing.
If you take out all the unnecessary details, you’d be left with about seven words.”

Something similar happened on Flickr, when a photo by the pioneer of photo-journalism, Henri Cartier-Bresson, was put up in a “Deleteme” thread – where “good photographers” comment on the work of budding photographers by voting to save or delete the photo.

In this case this photo was roundly condemned, and advice was distributed to the photographer (for some reason this photo has been flagged as inappropriate and you have to log in to Flickr to see the thread)…

Here’s the photo.

Some of the comments:

“hard to tell at this size but is everything meant to be moving in this shot, all seems blurred”

“so small
so blurry
to better show a sense of movement SOMETHING has to be in sharp focus”

“This looks contrived, which is not a bad thing. If this is a planned shot, it just didn’t come out right. If you can round up Mario, I would do it again. This time put the camera on a tripod and use the smallest aperture possible to get the best DoF. What I would hope for is that the railings are sharp and that mario on the bike shows a blur. Must have the foreground sharp, though. Without that, the image will never fly.”

There are a couple of things going on in these situations for me – one is the idea that an artist’s name or reputation is enough to turn something substandard into something that people will describe as a “masterpiece,” while the other is that there’s a big difference between being educated and believing you’re educated – all these “experts” on both forums are assessing these works based solely on their own personal preferences developed by their own environment and experience.

Those two examples of this phenomenon at play – Dunning-Kruger meets the internet forum meets modern art – came from Kottke.org, and remind me of this little story, where Joshua Bell, one of the world’s most famous violinists played one of the world’s most expensive violins (with a $3 million plus price tag), at a train station, and nobody noticed. This was an experiment conducted by the Washington Post and covered in this story.

In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run — for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.

It was all videotaped by a hidden camera. You can play the recording once or 15 times, and it never gets any easier to watch. Try speeding it up, and it becomes one of those herky-jerky World War I-era silent newsreels. The people scurry by in comical little hops and starts, cups of coffee in their hands, cellphones at their ears, ID tags slapping at their bellies, a grim danse macabre to indifference, inertia and the dingy, gray rush of modernity.

The Washington Post piece points out the truth underlying the responses to the written works of David Foster Wallace, and the picture by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Context is king. Art requires a frame. Something to point out why people should sit up and take notice, this is the only truth that keeps the doors of the Gallery of Modern Art open – a frame provides a point of reference.

“When you play for ticket-holders,” Bell explains, “you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I’m already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don’t like me? What if they resent my presence . . .”

He was, in short, art without a frame. Which, it turns out, may have a lot to do with what happened — or, more precisely, what didn’t happen — on January 12.”

Fascinating stuff.

A lightbulb moment: Let there be (environmentally friendly) light

I love this little design project from Mirscher’traxler and I’m wondering how hard it would be to copy at home…

The start of this project was a focus on light sources.
Instead of completely designing a newly shaped lamp, ‘Relumine’ plays on the fact that we all have to switch from old light bulbs to new energy saving light sources.

Each ‘Relumine’ uses two, discarded lamps, which are disassembled, sanded, newly lacquered and adapted with newer technology, before they are connected by a glass tube which holds a fluorescent tube.
By introducing a different mean of light source to the old lamps, their look and feel changes completely. They become one new unit, each with its own character.
Together these two lamps need less energy than each one in its previous life.

Pop culture M&Malism

These are cool. I’ll be posting more from where they come from shortly.

2/28/09: the simpsons

2/28/09: the simpsons

3/2/09: the blue man group carving a pumpkin3/2/09: the blue man group carving a pumpkin

3/3/09: kermit the frog about to walk across hot coals3/3/09: kermit the frog about to walk across hot coals

3/4/09: papa smurf gets angry, turns into the hulk3/4/09: papa smurf gets angry, turns into the hulk

Via here.

A proposition on artistic success

We spent yesterday afternoon at Brisbane’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA). Prior to hitting the corridors of culture I had a little “discussion” with Simone. Here is a proposition she vehemently disagreed with – for you to critique or agree with. Please, join in in the comments.

The true difference between a great artist and a successful artist is marketing.

I’m defining “success” as being “featured in a gallery” and I’m describing “great” as in “of a quality suitable to be featured in a gallery”. I think that for every artist that makes it there are several others of an equivalent level of ability who do not taste success.

I’ll share some further thoughts either in the comments (if you join in) or in a subsequent post.


Supersizing the Last Supper

You know that famous painting – the one the Da Vinci code is all about… well, there have actually been a bunch of “last supper” paintings over the years – and it seems Jesus and the 12 (or 11 depending on what time of the evening the painting captures) are eating a little bit more each time.

That’s the subject of a new study of 52 of the paintings, conducted by a pair of American brothers.

Using computer-aided design technology, the pair scanned the main dish, bread and plates and calculated the size of portion relative to the size of the average head in the painting.

Over a thousand years, the size of the main dish progressively grew by 69.2%, plate size by 65.6%and bread size by 23.1%, they found.

The study, published in Britain’s International Journal of Obesity, is co-authored by Mr. Wansink’s brother, Craig, a professor of religious studies at Virginia Wesleyan College in Norfolk, Virginia, and an ordained Presbyterian minister.

A time, a place – Ben has a new space

Ben “everybody’s favourite blogger” McLaughlin has a new blog. Not content with being awesome on Vanishing Point he’s now being awesome and posting pictures of his brilliant paintings (and he’s selling them). Here’s an example.
Grandad’s Chair (2006)

Grandad’s Chair (2006)
Oil on canvas
22 x 30cm

If he starts selling his little sketchy cartoon-like things too I’m going to be pretty tempted to decorate my house with his art. Especially if he turns the logo he drew for me into a print.

The bread of life

An artist who was perhaps tired of unverifiable claims of Jesus appearing in believer’s daily bread has recreated the crucifixion using slices of toast.

From here.

“British artist Adam Sheldon recreated Jesus’ crucifixion using some pieces of burned toast and a scraping knife. His work of art is now on display at the Anglican Church of St Peter, in Lincs.

33-year-old Adam Sheldon took on the project at the request of his mother, who worships at St. Peter’s Church. Before starting work on his 1.8 ,meters long, 1.1 meters wide masterpiece, Adam scraped the Last Supper on three pieces of toast, to perfect his technique.

He used a regular toaster to burn the pieces of bread, then dried and flattened them so they would fit in a giant frame. Using a scraping knife he managed to create the lighter parts of the artwork, and darkened the background with a blowtorch.”

Spellbinding art

I love books. The idea of defacing them kind of hurts… but maybe if you find an old copy of something atrocious like Joel Osteen’s “Your Best Life Now” it would be worth turning it into something truly wonderful and edifying… like these sculptures that were used in an advertising campaign in Prague…

I love gangster books. Both novels and the “true” confessions of mob informers who use their tell alls to fund life on the run. I was going to write a gangster novel once. Then I got distracted.

By medieval books… I love medieval books – all those swords…

But swords get tired pretty quickly… what really gets exciting is undersea monsters… and pirate ships…

There are heaps of other creative book based artworks here. Well worth your time.