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Post #976 • March 23, 2007, 9:27 AM • 33 Comments

Practical art criticism? Try natural art criticism.

Time to ask yourself a troubling question: If you could become a tetrochromat, would you? (Reddit)

Stine Vogt and Svein Magnussen showed 16 pictures including these two to trained artists and non-artists (psychologists) enrolled in Norway's top graduate programs in their respective disciplines, using eye-tracking cameras and software to monitor where they looked. (Andrew)

Helvetica: the movie. (Kottke)

There's a new stage of grief! Unrelated to anything; I just think this is funny.

It's a New York story of courage and defeat followed by 50-year commitment to classical figurative painting. Next week, at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., a New York group of painters who bucked the tide of fashion will celebrate a painterly triumph. (AJ)

Unintentionally hilarious/mortifying/vile moments in the comics. (Reddit)

Department of Skills: Contact juggling.

Department of Administration: Next week I'm attending An Event Apart Boston on Monday and Tuesday. Posting may be erratic and design-related. Speaking of design, it's time for a new one here at You have been warned.




March 23, 2007, 3:38 PM

Man, am I ever glad that OldPro and Matty aren't around here anymore. What a couple of assholes!!!!



March 23, 2007, 3:53 PM

Sometimes I feel like I'm running the digital art-world equivalent of Cheers.



March 23, 2007, 4:25 PM

"Can I get a lite beer and a pastrami on rye, heavy mustard?"



March 23, 2007, 4:59 PM

Watch your back, Craig. We know where you live.



March 23, 2007, 5:03 PM

Cheers didn't have food, Beware, except for one time when someone made Chili, and once when Diane tried to start a tea room. Only pretzels, which Norm ate. The food was upstairs At Melville's Seafood.



March 23, 2007, 5:26 PM

Opie, I think you're supposed to start by saying "it's a little known fact."

Franklin, I think you dropped this: link.



March 23, 2007, 6:04 PM

Oopsie. Thanks, Hovig.



March 23, 2007, 11:10 PM

Belated response to an earlier post here on the Spanish painting show at the Guggenheim. I finally made it uptown for a look, it closes on the 28th and this was the last pay-what-you-wish Friday

Nothing new here, hands down Velasquez and Goya stole the show.



March 23, 2007, 11:36 PM

A roundup add ons:

Rembrandt’s Ghost (New Yorker)

From the Guardian, Susan Sontag makes a passionate case for the moral superiority of the novel in a mass-media age

"Time exists in order that everything doesn't happen all at once
... and space exists so that it doesn't all happen to you."

From The universe is a string-net liquid say Xiao-Gang Wen and Michael Levin and it sounds like they can make this stuff in the lab too.
On the geek scale of 1 to 10, this is a 10.



March 24, 2007, 10:42 AM



Marc Country

March 24, 2007, 1:57 PM

For some reason, I expected Ahab to jump in at the mention of Melville's Seafood...



March 24, 2007, 2:18 PM

He's blubbering about it right now.


Marc Country

March 24, 2007, 4:30 PM

Graphic for Franklin's next re-design...



March 24, 2007, 9:00 PM

I prefer studioblubber.



March 25, 2007, 3:43 AM

I really enjoy(ed) Edgar Allen Poe's A Tell Tale Heart .
A good metaphor it is.


Marc Country

March 25, 2007, 10:11 AM

Way to bring the free association full circle, Ahab. Kinda spooky, though...



March 25, 2007, 11:41 AM

Yes, Hovig, you're right. "It's a little known fact" is like it's opposite: "it's a popular misconception", and an equal vehicel for displaying one's mine of trivia. However in this case I have an unfair advantage because I have been a "Cheers" fan since the day it started and still watch all the reruns.


Marc Country

March 25, 2007, 6:11 PM

Opie, I hope, somewhere out there, there's a bio written on you that outlines such 'little known facts' as your love of certain 80's sitcoms, your devotion to astrology, and ta selection of your other interesting idiosycrasies. Such tidbits would make for fasinating wall text to accompany a retrospective exhibition, say, or an online archive of your writings, perhaps.



March 25, 2007, 6:50 PM

Well, thanks, Marc. the idiosyncracies abound, but I think "Cheers" is the only 80s sitcom I really like. I happen also to be a devotee of "the Rockford Files", which is not a sitcom but for my money the best of all action/detective shows, with Dennis and Rocky, the egregious Angel, the absolute bad guys and the occasional appearance of Isaac Hayes. I am not "devoted" to astrology but find it interesting, just as any predictive mechanism is interesting that features high complexity, great age and exact forecasting reliability. I am also an expert on Scrimshaw (look it up) and have written a murder mystery, anong other things. But enough. Just permit me to make a prediction: sooner rather than later the "Big Bang" theory will be modified out of existence.

But making art remains the hardest thing of all.


Marc Country

March 25, 2007, 7:08 PM

No need to look up Scrimshaw, here. I'm Canadian...

(Re: astrology: Ok, I thought 'devoted' was probably putting it too strong. My apologies. Do you consider the Chinese zodiac at all, Opie, or are you strictly a western sun-sign-er?)



March 25, 2007, 8:20 PM

Scrimshaw to a Canadian may refer to Esquimaux work, which is also called scrimshaw, but the broad center of the subject is work done (for the most part) on 19th C whaling vessels.

I never bothered with the Chinese Zodiac. Classic astrology works with the interrelationshp of planetary positions, with a few stars thrown in. The sun sign thing is strictly for the fun pages in the newspapers and bar pick-up lines.



March 26, 2007, 10:30 AM

It's a little known fact that Cheers ("where everybody knows your name") is only a few blocks away from a West Cedar Street in Boston. I leave it as an exercise to the astrologers and theosophists among us to find the connection.



March 26, 2007, 10:41 AM

it is a conspiracy engineered by Madame Blavatsky, Evangeline Adams, Jackson Pollock and Sam Malone.



March 26, 2007, 11:40 AM

Franklin I'm enjoying your piece on Van Gogh.



March 26, 2007, 12:01 PM

The De Kooning Code. Sounds like your next writing project. Can I have an autographed copy?



March 26, 2007, 12:25 PM

Sure Hovig. You won't believe the profound clues imbedded in that "Woman" series, or how they chemically induced senility on him when he threated to expose them.



March 26, 2007, 6:36 PM

Tetrachromacy ? Sure, a few more cones would be cool.
I read somewhere about human color perception and its evolution as related to natural hallucinogens.
Anything further on this ?



March 26, 2007, 7:53 PM

Tetrachromacy if for girls.

Coneheads have nothing to do with cajones.



March 26, 2007, 8:03 PM

Nice Scienceblog link Franklin.



March 27, 2007, 5:52 PM

How would being a tetrochromat improve your painting? Would this be similar to having 6 fingers to play the piano, because I do.

Attention ladies, I have 6 fingers.



March 27, 2007, 6:06 PM

Would there be any practical advantages to tetrachromacy? Dr. Jordan notes that
a mother could more easily spot when her children were pale or flushed, and
therefore ill. Mrs. M reports that she has always been able to match even subtle
colors from memory -- buying a bag, for example, to match shoes she hasn't laid
eyes on for months. And computers, color monitors, and the Internet raise a
whole raft of possibilities. Just as someone with normal three-color vision
surfs rings around a dichromat on the Internet, a tetrachromat, looking at a
special computer screen based on four primary colors rather than the standard
three, could theoretically dump data into her head faster than the rest of us.

If Dr. Neitz or Dr. Jordan finally finds Madam Tetrachromat, the discovery will
confirm that the human nervous system can handle four-channel color vision. And
that confirmation would raise the possibility that, within a couple of decades,
gene therapy will make tetrachromacy just another option that wealthy parents
could check off on the list when they are designing their daughters.



March 27, 2007, 6:48 PM

No Doc or rich parent but an irrelevant peasant at best he is.
However color chanels are expanding and this is exciting.
It is interesting to observe a phychologists visual path - allways on the face and eyes. The try to see what they wish to see, and project their own subjectivity into an interpretation which is biased. An artist sees things for what they are in real time /space relations - allways thinking about composing and designing - not analyzing, imposing, and imbuing in order to understand.



March 28, 2007, 12:16 AM


That was an interesting article on tetrachromism.

The observations about the 4 channel computer screen seem suspect. There are a lot of colors we (3c) can see that cannot be displayed on a computer screen. For example, a photograph looks different when printed out than it does on the computer screen, we can see all those colors, but the screen can't display some of the ones we can print, and the printer can't reproduce some of the colors we can see on the screen. (even if everything is working perfectly)

Also, from what I've read, I don't think a tetrachromat would necessarily need a "4 channel" system to the brain, whatever is there would probably work just fine.

There is an evolutionary or genetic argument one could make for this. While it might be possible genetically to have a 4th receptor, it only needs to be "different" in it's frequency response which is a one element change. Requiring a whole "4th channel" would suggest more than one gene needs to be involved, making the whole process less likely

The cones in the eye are not as ordered as we think, they are not neatly ordered on a grid like a camera sensor for example. They are much more irregular in their placement and the brain figures out the colors by comparating the input of two sequential signal inputs and the eye movement. Even the most subtle eye or head movement would make the same ray of light land on a different cone, the brain is comparing these two inputs, along with the ambient light to "sense" the color. If this sounds inplausible, the brain "ignores" the blind spot, it's the same thing.

Having a receptor that was sensitive in another color range would facilitate the distinctions between two similar colors, that the rest of us might not be able to discern.



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