Previous: it's official - i hate css (35)

Next: robert hughes (65)

learning curve

Post #598 • August 9, 2005, 7:05 AM • 25 Comments

For reasons too complicated to explain, I find myself in a position in which getting up to speed on Ruby on Rails would help me out a lot. This in turn requires that I get up to speed on Ruby. This in turn requires that I spend a lot of time doing computer stuff over the next two weeks. During these two weeks I will need all the article tips I can get from my readership, to whom I am grateful for existing. I will even consider guest posters, should anyone have any interest in doing so. Those of you who would like to be the voice of for a day or two should e-mail me. Thanks for your assistance.




August 9, 2005, 4:42 PM

Way off topic... Picasso at Costco, via Tyler Green




August 9, 2005, 5:27 PM

Three-person show of paintings opening this Thursday (8/11):

John Germain, Kathleen Staples and Daniel Weihnacht

Miami International University of Art and Design
1501 Biscayne Boulevard (Performing Arts Center area)
4-7 PM

Germain and Staples were in the recent AIM show at Dorsch (not sure if Weihnacht was also).



August 9, 2005, 5:30 PM

Miami Art Lab proprietor Eric Lopez speaks at MiamIntelligence tonight.



August 9, 2005, 5:54 PM

George, the Costco "art" page is interesting.

I especially like the way they price the Picasso "$129,999.99".



August 9, 2005, 8:15 PM

Speaking of learning curves, another one turned to the darkside ;-)ˆ



August 9, 2005, 10:32 PM

Whats next for sale at Costco.....a liver??



August 9, 2005, 10:45 PM

Pretty good review in the Guardian of Francis Bacon




August 10, 2005, 12:48 AM

Are you sure you shouldn't start your own blog, George? Or do you have one that I haven't already stumbled into?

You provide so many links to curious articles and images. I don't think you'd need any help building it - you seem to have more than a passing knowledge and interest in internet technology.

Call it "Curious George Goes Blogging" or "George Linkmeister" or "artblog.neat."

I suppose the hard thing would be finding permanent residents like Franklin-world has.



August 10, 2005, 1:10 AM

Ahab, it was a slow day so...
I thought about blogging before and decided that being a commentor was valid.
Kuspit is on the wrong track with pixels, they are just the same as the weave for a tapestry pattern, old news. He seemed infatuated with the idea of "digital", as in digital image. What he is missing is the real revolution, digital information. The odd links I post here every now and then are just an accident of being able to wander through the stacks in the cyber world.



August 10, 2005, 1:25 AM

george linked to his web site awhile back . . . i've lost the link now, but the site was impressive both for the art and for the content. a web log would be a welcome addition, i'm sure. the benefit is that your writing (ie thinking) is sort of centralized.


to jack the ripper

August 10, 2005, 2:31 AM

friends and family...



August 10, 2005, 8:27 AM

I like George's links, Ahab. At least they get us away from all this boring techie stuff.

And the Bacon article is a nice glimpse of something the Brits specialize in: art criticism that is very clearly written but nevertheless says nothing about the art.


J.T. Kirkland

August 10, 2005, 9:39 AM

A cool response to the Kuspit article by artist Lou Gagnon over at DCArtNews:



August 10, 2005, 10:19 AM

Gagnon's response to Kuspit which JT linked is interesting & worth discussing.



August 10, 2005, 11:41 AM

I was once very involved in teaching "computer imaging" in the early days when most art departments had not yet come to believe computers were cutting edge.

I believed then, as I believe now, there is no reason serious art cannot be made with a computer. I am glad my university decided not to fund the type of equipment I felt the task deserved. (Instead we have a bunch of commodity type Macintoshes that are OK for plinking around with, which is what the students do with them.) So I went back to teaching painting.

The problem is, I haven't seen any really good art done with digital equipment, nothing that can compare on any level with, say, Rembrandt or Pollock. And I've learned to never trust a computer. They can run only so long before they make a mistake.

It is like the stock market. Once everybody believed it would go up forever, it fell. Now that everyone thinks computers are cutting edge, they aren't.



August 10, 2005, 11:51 AM

well, i think that trying to compare the posibbilities of art done on or with a computer to other things we have already accepted or at least accepted as told to us as art, this is a matter of personal criteria. if you seek to make images like a rembrandt make it like rembrandt, or better yet, dont do it all , since rembrandt already did that. make something that will have to be qualified on its own. So, as for what can be done, or how real it feels, or that backdrop of code as more important are minor issues, personal preference. As for art, it might be dead. Or at least that is what all these testimonies to it's rotting corpse seem to be pointing to.



August 10, 2005, 12:09 PM

Apologies if anyone thought I was telling George off. Just the opposite. I find his contributions of links and images worth considering, often surprisingly so.



August 10, 2005, 1:37 PM

OP; re #12, thanks your always good for a laugh and I needed one today.



August 10, 2005, 1:41 PM

Re Kuspits-digital

The status and significance of the image changes in postmodern digital art: the image becomes a secondary manifestation -- a material epiphenomen, as it were -- of the abstract code, which becomes the primary vehicle of creativity. Before, the creation of material images was the primary goal of visual art, and the immaterial code that guided the process was regarded as secondary.

While the transition has been slow, I agree with the starting premise. Until the advent of photography the visual artist was the primary producer of images for the culture. In the current era, image making has been democratized by new technologies.

Sec. I: ... Here is the key point: The traditional assumption that every appearance is grounded in objective reality, guaranteeing its own objectivity, is undermined by the discovery of this matrix of sensations. Above all, it is undermined by its digital articulation. Careful perception of the matrix of sensations, culminating in the realization that they have a digital rationality, consistency and precision to them -- that they are not as indeterminate and inexact as they seem to be when they first come into consciousness -- subverts everyday perception, causing an epistemological crisis..

Here I have some questions. The question of "appearance" being undermined by digital articulation requires some further thought.

First, what is digital articulation? Regardless of the source of input a digital mark, the pixel, is a quanta of information. The granularity of a digital image is the result of the limits of our technologies, our abilities to draw the silicon bits compactly. Since when we are talking about digital images, for the most part we are talking about images reproduced on a display device as light.

Right here we run into major issues with the reproducibility of color, specifically the different color gamuts (map of the achievable colors) of the different devices. Also a factor here is the inflexibility of all image gathering hardware to respond to changing light conditions in the same scene, a feat handily accomplished by the human eye. There is no digital display color to match cerulean blue, but then there is no paint for the cyan on a display, the two colors are outside each others gamut.

Finally, there is the eye, that marvelous extension of the brain. The eye is not a digital device, it does not gather the image by mapping this spot onto the retina like it was a pixel. The brain creates the image in a holistic process from the sensation of the eye. Vision is a thinking process, it filters information and decides what to emphasize. An example, sweep your hand in front of your face or look at a moving car, what do you see? A camera captures the movement as a blur, the eye notices the movement, but at reasonable speeds, maintains its perception of the hand (or car) Moreover, this filtering can be affected by certain drugs like LSD. Under their influence the moving hand is followed by a blur trail, pretty but not useful as a survival trait.

Sec II: ...The matrix of sensations was more fundamental than any object. The object was dispensed with. The task of painting was no longer to represent objects but to present the matrix of sensations in all its exciting immediacy, to use Alfred North Whitehead’s concept of "presentational immediacy." The matrix was no longer embedded or sedimented in objects, but exposed as objective in its own right.

Magritte had it right, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" An object and its representation ate not the same. No matter how we paint our matrix of pixels they won't be a pipe. Did anyone ever think a picture of a pipe was a pipe? Without some order, pixels are just sandy noise, add some order and you get a crude image which the brain will attempt to comprehend and assign an object value. This process by the brain to distinguish object-forms is hierarchical and persistently powerful. Objects don't go away under digitization they just get grainy.

Sec III: ... Indeed, in my opinion Seurat’s pointillism makes him the first digital artist. For Seurat painting was a systematic science. He refined the touchy-feely Impressionist color patch into an electromagnetic point of precise color -- a pixel in principle if not in technical fact.

The first artists to deal with a precursor of pixels were the weavers. Any pattern produced on a loom is essentially a matrix of different colored yarns. In fact, weavers had a much broader palette of colors to work with than are currently available in contemporary digital imaging which is stuck with RGB phosphors.

Sec IV: A digital image is a double vision: a code in the process of crystallizing into an image, and a self-regulating matrix of "electrifying" sensations. It is because the sensations electronically vibrate that the digital image can never be a reification of the matrix and the code.

One might question here the difference between a digital and analog image on a display device. TV sets, which I consider to be the initiators of the postmodern era, and computer screens. Early TV sets were analog displays but the image as light emanating from a cathode ray tube is the same as on the first computers. I am aware of the technical differences, but from the standpoint of an image disembodied from the object, there is no difference.

Sec V: I skipped this section on image manipulation.

Sec VI: Digital Artists and the New Creative Renaissance The most important aspect of digital art is that it makes the creative act -- creative functioning or the creative process -- explicit as it has never been before in any kind of art, indeed, in the entire history of art. There are more possibilities of freedom in digital art -- that is, the "mental elements" are "free[r] to enter into various combinations" and thus to be manipulated -- than in architecture, painting and sculpture.

Well, there certainly are now a different set of possibilities available for artists. Digital imaging and the computer are only tools and only as good as the user. The big deal was the discovery that a stick of burnt wood would make a mark

From a personal point of view, I think Information Technology is revolutionary in that it allows the artist to access information in a way and with an ease never before possible. In this respect I can come to terms with part of Kuspits premise.

FWIW, I spent ten years helping to develop state of the art digital imaging solutions. This included extensive research into a process called error diffusion halftoning and the development of color gamut mapping solutions for accurate rendering. I used a loupe a lot. Dots.
In addition I wrote a lot of software which produced visual representations of information in two and three dimensions.



August 10, 2005, 2:17 PM

Is a pipe a pipe?

No, and Kuspit's not a critic

He's a logorrheic type

of lingual arthritic



August 10, 2005, 8:10 PM

george you are the coolest. i enjoy all of your posts on this page.



August 10, 2005, 8:12 PM

thank you jt kirkland for your url. interesting to see whats happening in dc (is that where you are? i only skimmed..)



August 10, 2005, 9:26 PM

Just got through Kuspit's logorrheia (agreed). Started taking notes on his leaps of logic or unstable statements. Noticed George got there first. Then read Gagnon's rebuttal.

Add to George's weavers stained glaziers and ancient mosaicists. Or brick layers. One brick, one brick, no brick, no brick, one brick, one brick = a gap. Now that's digital. Is LEGO material or digital?

Underline that Kuspit can't seem to differentiate between the thing, the apprehension of the thing (haptic, optic, otherwise), the name of the thing, the representation of the thing, the objecthood of the representation, the name of the representing object and so forth. Needs a course in philosophy or logic before attempting that sort of argument again.

Good on Gagnon for reasserting the fleeting but unbeatable sensation of the now and real experience of an all-body interaction with our world; and the hands on making of things that to some extent reify these indescribable/indefinable events.



August 10, 2005, 9:37 PM

I tried to read Kuspit's book on Greenberg a few years ago, but decided that anyone who can misread Greenberg so thoroughly (and then presume to write a book on the guy), didn't deserve my time, so tossed it aside before I got to the end. Same with his digital piece.
Thanks for reading the article guys, and deciding that it's junk. Saves me the trouble.


J.T. Kirkland

August 10, 2005, 10:09 PM


Yeah, I'm in DC. Glad you enjoyed...



Other Projects


Design and content ©2003-2023 Franklin Einspruch except where otherwise noted