El Gringoqueño

All a man needs out of life is a place to sit ‘n’ spit in the fire.

Category: Art (page 2 of 2)

What is art? All the debate that’s fit to print goes here.

Plot is a Four Letter Word

Plot is a four letter word. -- Alex Keegan
Plot is the picture frame. -- Me

Plot is like the picture frame. A frame is something that all pictures need to some degree, but a beautiful frame with a black velvet Elvis painting isn't going into the Louvre any time soon. Conversely, the most beautiful, insightful, imaginative painting in the world isn't going to suffer much in a weak frame. The picture makes the frame, the frame accents the picture.

This is forgotten all too much in all forms of storytelling, most notably movies. Repeat after me. Plot is the picture frame. Take a look at the most recent Star Wars movies. What could be a Tolkien-esque epic tale of the rise and fall of empires, people, relationships, ends up being a b-movie with flat characters, starring the computer generated imagery. The plot is so intricate, so twisted, so melodramatic, and overcompensating of a weak painting that is falls as flat as pastel sailboats hung above the couch.

It's the characters stupid.

I am re-reading a book at the moment, Stendhal's The Red and the Black. Wow, what a plotless book. This kid Julien is wandering around ala Huck Finn (albeit an adult Huck Finn, ahem), listlessly, pointlessly. Things happen to him. He winds up with a rich family in the country. A seminary in the city, and finally as a rich city family's secretary. *yawn*. Pretty boring stuff, eh? The novel is set in the early 1800's. Perhaps it's one of the Sense and Sensibility type period pieces... you know, the ones that women like. But there's something about this book, something that grabs me and won't let me go. Maybe it's the unlikely protagonist, Julien, his inability to be honest with himself, who in the end is honest with himself despite his attempts to culture cynicism.

The Red and the Black is perhaps the most beautiful painting in the world placed simply in a beveled piece of matte paper. It is not dialog driven, plot driven, situationally driven. Ask me what has happened serially, and I would have problems. It violates the show, don't tell rule beaten into all beginning writers. Perhaps as you mature you get to break some rules, but geez, it would seem Stendhal's downright lazy. Note the following passage as the scene is dictated in the most abstract manner, with little window into the actual goings on, the details:

I must drink some punch and dance a lot, she told herself; I'll pick the best of the crowd, and make an impression at all costs. Good, here comes that impertinent celebrity the Comte de Fervaques. She accepted his invitation; they dance. It's a matter of seeing, she thought, which of the two of us will be the more impertinent; but so that I can make proper fun of him, I must get him talking. Soon all the rest of the quadrille only dance for appearances' sake. No one wished to miss any of Mathilde's stinging repartee. M. de Fervaques was getting flustered, and as he could only produce elegant phrases instead of ideas, he was making faces; Mathilde, who was in a bad mood, was merciless to him and made an enemy out of him. She danced until daybreak and at length withdrew in a state of terrible fatigue. But in the carriage she went and used up the small amount of strength she had left on making herself sad and miserable. She'd been despised by Julien and couldn't despise him.

He does this a lot, tells you what the people are talking about, or hints at some dialog, but never reveals it. It would seem lazy perhaps. Maybe he couldn't think of the clever things that he was putting into people's mouths. Easier to just talk about them instead of showing them. It would seem that way, but then there are passages that suck you over the event horizon into the most awful wonderful despair. Here the Madam de Rênal the wife of Mousier de Rênal, the richest most powerful man in Verrières, has fallen in love with Julien. She is his senior by 10 years and is now consumed with guilt over her passion.

Shortly after the return to Vergy, Stanislas-Xavier the youngest child threw a fever; Mme de Rênal was suddenly overcome by terrible remorse. It was the first time she had reproached herself for her love with any consistency; she seemed to understand, as if by a miracle, how gross was the immorality she had allowed herself to get caught up in. In spite of her deeply religious nature, up until then she had not considered the enormity of her crime in the eyes of God.

In the past, at the convent of the Sacred Heart, she had loved God with passion; she started to fear him likewise in her new situation. The battles which ravaged her soul were all the more terrible because there was nothing rational in her fear. Julien discovered that any attempt at rationalization aggravated rather than soothed her: she took it as the language of hell. However, since Julien himself was very fond of little Stanislas, he was more welcome when talked to her of the boy's illness. This soon took a very serious turn. Then unremitting remorse deprived Mme de Rênal even of the ability to sleep; she retreated into a desperate silence: had she opened her mouth, it would have been to confess her crime to God and to mankind.

'I entreat you,' Julien would say to her as soon as they found themselves alone, 'don't say anything to anyone; let me be the only recipient of your troubles. If you still love me, don't say anything”: you words can't take the fever away from our little Stanislas.'

But his endeavors to console her had no effect; he did not know that Mme de Rênal had taken it into her head that to appease the wrath of the jealous Almighty, she had to hate Julien or else see her son die. It was because she felt she could not hate her lover that she was wretched.

'Keep away from me!' she said one day. 'In the name of God, leave this house: it's your presence here that's killing my son.'

'God is punishing me,' she added in a low voice, 'he is just. I worship his justice; my crime is horrendous, and there I was living without remorse! It was the first sign of abandoning God” I must be doubly punished.'

Julien was deeply touched. He could not detect any hypocrisy of exaggeration in this. She thinks she's killing her son by loving me, and yet, poor thing, she loves me more than her son. This is the source, I'm convinced, of the remorse that's killing her; these are truly noble sentiments. But how did I manage to inspire a love like this: I'm so poor, so badly brought up, so ignorant, even sometimes so crude in my ways?

One night, the child's fever was at its height. Around two in the morning M de Rênal came to see him. The child, racked with fever, was exceedingly flushed and failed to recognize his father. Suddenly Mme de Rênal flung herself at her husband's fee” Julien saw that she was going to confess everything and ruin herself forever.

By good luck M de Rênal was very put out by this strange gesture.

'Goodnight! Goodnight!' he said as he turned to leave.

'No, listen to me!' exclaimed his wife kneeling before him and trying to hold him back. 'You must learn the whole truth. It's my fault that my son is dying. I gave life to him, and I am taking it from him. Heaven is punishing me, in the eyes of God I'm guilty of murder. I must bring about my own downfall and my own humiliation; perhaps this sacrifice will appease the Lord.'

If M de Rênal had been a man of any imagination, he would have understood everything.

'Romantic nonsense,' he exclaimed pushing away his wife who was trying to clasp his knees. 'This is all a whole lot of romantic nonsense! Julien, summon the doctor at daybreak.'

And off he went to bed. Mme de Rênal fell on her knees, half unconscious, thrusting Julien away with a convulsive gesture when he tried to come to her aid.

Julien stood amazed.

So this is adultery! He said... Could it possibly be that those two-face priests... are right? That men who commit so many sins are privileged to know the real workings of sin? What a peculiar state of affairs!

For twenty minutes now since M de Rênal had withdrawn Julien had watched the woman he loved kneeling with her head resting on the child's little bed, motionless and almost unconscious. Here's a woman of superior genius plunged in the very depths of misery because of knowing me, he said.

Time is racing by. What can I do for her? I must make up my mind. In this situation it isn't a question of what I want any more. What do I care about other people and their insipid little comedies? What can I do for her... leave her? But I'd be leaving her alone in the grip of the most appealing grief. Her automaton of a husband is more of a hindrance than a help to her. He'll say some harsh word to her through being so crude; she may go mad and fling herself out of the window.

If I leave her, if I stop watching over her, she'll confess everything to him. And who knows, perhaps in spite of the inheritance she's due to bring him he'll cause a scandal. She may tell all, great heavens! To that b... idiot of a Father Maslon, who uses a six-year-old's illness as an excuse for not budging from this house, and with an ulterior motive too. In her grief and her fear of God she forgets everything she knows about the man; she only sees the priest.

'Go away!' said Mme de Rênal to him all of a sudden, opening her eyes.

'I'd lay down my life over and over again to know what would be of greatest help to you,' Julien replied. 'I've never loved you so much, my darling angel, or rather it's only now that I begin to adore you as you deserve. What will become of me far away from you, with the knowledge that you're unhappy through my fault! But let's not think about my suffering. All right, I'll go, my love. But if I leave you, if I cease to watch over you, to be constantly there between you and your husband, you'll tell him all, you'll ruin yourself. Just think how ignominiously he'll drive you from his house; the whole of Verrières, the whole of Besançon will talk of this scandal. You'll be made into the guilty party; you'll never get over the shame of it...'

'That's what I want,' she exclaimed, rising to her feet. 'I shall suffer: so much the better.'

'But you'll also bring about his own ruin with this abominable scandal!'

'But I'll be humiliating myself, I'll be flinging myself into the mire; and perhaps in so doing I shall save my son perhaps this humiliation in front of everyone is a form of public penitence? As far as I can judge in my weakness, isn't this the greatest sacrifice I can make to God?... Perhaps he will deign to accept my humiliation and leave me my son! Show me another more painful sacrifice and I'm ready for it.'

'Let me punish myself. I'm guilty too. Do you want me to retreat to the Trappist monastery? The austerity of life there may appease your God... Oh heavens! Why can't I take Stanislas's illness upon myself...?'

'Oh, you really love him, you do!' said Mme de Rênal, getting up and flinging herself into his arms.

At the same moment she pushed him away in horror.

'I believe you! I believe you!' she went on, sinking to her knees again. 'Oh my only friend! Oh why aren't you Stanislas's father? Then it wouldn't be a horrible crime to love you more than your son.'

'Will you allow me to stay, and to love you from now on just like a brother? It's the only only expiation that makes sense; it may appease the wrath of the Almighty.'

'And what about me?' she cried, getting up and clasping Julien's head in both hands, and gazing at it at arm's length, 'what about me, am I to love you like a brother? Is it in my power to love you like a brother?'

Tears were starting to run down Julien's face.

'I shall obey you,' he said falling at her feet. 'I shall obey you whatever you order me to do; it's all that's left for me. My mind is struck blind; I can't see what to do. If I leave you, you'll tell your husband everything; you'll ruin yourself and him too. There's no way, after this ridicule, that he'll ever be chosen for the National Assembly. If I stay, you'll think me the cause of your son's death, and you'll die of grief. Do you want to try out the effect of my departure? If you like, I'll punish myself for your wrongdoing by leaving you for a week. I'll go and spend it in a retreat of your choosing. In the abbey at Bray-le-Haut, for instance: but swear to me that during my absence you won't confess anything to your husband. Just think that I won't ever be able to come back if you say anything.'

She promised, he left, but was recalled after two days.

'It's impossible for me to keep my oath without you. I shall tell my husband if you aren't there constantly to order with your eyes to keep silent. Each hour of this abominable life seems to me to last a whole day.'

At last heaven took pity on this wretched mother. Gradually Stanislas emerged from danger. But the illusion was shattered, her reason had grasped the extent of her sin; she was unable to regain her stability. Her remorse remained, and it was as you would expect in a heart of such sincerity. Her life was heaven and hell: hell when she did not have Julien with her, heaven when she was at his feet. 'I don't have any illusions left,' she said to him even at times when she dared to indulge her love to the full. 'I'm damned, damned beyond remission. You are young, you yielded to my seduction, heaven may forgive you; but I am damned. I know from a sure sign: I'm afraid. Who wouldn't be afraid at the sight of hell? But deep down I don't repent. I'd commit my sin again if it had to be committed. If heaven would just refrain from punishing me in this world and through my children, then I shall have more than I deserve, but what about you at least, my own Julien,' she exclaimed at other moments, 'are you happy? Do I love you enough for your liking?'

It is in the passage that, I feel that one would have to be dead to not empathize with such pathos. Sure, who today would really believe that God would punish them for a transgression of the flesh. I think most people today would see Mme de Rênal's plight and send her for psychological help. However, even within the story, we note the Julien a seminarian sees her fear as folly, but he gets sucked in too. He can't help but feel her anguish, the torment at the reality that she believes to be true. So it is his love that allows him to accept her for her beliefs and look for a way to diminish her grief. I don't think you have to be a scholar or a college educated person to get this, do you? It may be old, with outdated mores, but the timelessness of the love, the undying, uncompromising love is universal.

That's what a story is all about... plot? Bah! Plot is a four letter word. Plot is the frame. This book has no plot. And you know what? All the greatest works of art don't need it either. TV show voted to be the greatest of the century: Seinfeld, a show about nothing: no plot, just interesting characters. And that, my friends, is that.

The Importance of Art and Fast Food

I’ve thought a lot about this subject, that is, the importance of art, high art and how it relates to fine dining and fast food.

Take, for example, the recent changes in NPR’s Performance Today where they have cut back on commentary, history, and music appreciation in lieu of just more music. Just the facts ma’am. It seems that people just want some more drive time relaxation, mood music to which to fall asleep, or just to cover the naked backdrop of their lives with sonic tapestries.

A lot of people would call such an indictment pure snobbery, that classical music has long been a refuge of the rich, an inaccessible art form protected by high fences of academia, class, and prohibitive economies. Classical music becomes a talisman of protection from the unwashed masses. As a stone it is used more often to build walls than an inviting warm home.

I watch both sides rail against each other, especially with the most recent changes in Performance Today. Classical music snobs lament the dumbing down of the program, saying essentially that there are no more refuges in which to hide from the "…pop artists, many of whom don’t deserve the time of day." Pop aficionados, offended at someone calling their art form less than art, react with similar negativity against the classical music community, calling it, "Music by dead people" "Irrelevant" and "Out of touch."

Well, I’m here to settle the debate once and for all. Now take careful notes here, because this is going to be the final word.

Classical music is to music what fine dining is to food, or what The Mission is to movie making, or what For Whom the Bell Tolls is to literature. Conversely, Pop music is to music, what McDonalds (I prefer Wendy’s though) is to food, or Star Wars is to movie making, or Tom Clancy is to literature. It’s that simple, folks.

Now, before you get offended let me explain. Before concluding from the above that I prefer or respect one genre over the other, let me just say that I eat "low art" food more frequently than I dine finely. Dining finely costs more, for one. $100 per plate is pretty steep, I’d say. However, for the creation of an accomplished chef, personally crafted for me, cooked to perfection, seasoned with skill, and served artfully, I’m willing to give of myself. But I don’t just have to give monetarily. In order to appreciate the creation, I have got to know a bit about it. That takes experience, study, and refined palette. I personally am but a student, a worm, unworthy perhaps of the creation put in front of me, but I approach it with gusto, trying to soak all of the experience from the plate in front of me, tasting the history, the study, the preparation, the ingredients. Whew! It is an infrequent experience which leaves me exhausted and satisfied to the very depths of my soul. I am filled to an overflowing, babbling, quivering mass. To do it more often would seem gluttonous, a transgression upon the soul.

I think one of the most extraordinary movies I have ever seen is The Mission with Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons. It is a deep drama about Jesuit missionaries in Brazil in their quest to keep the slave traders of Portugal at bay. There is political intrigue, the Catholic leadership making worldly political decisions in contrast to the idealistic keepers of the truth, the Jesuits. They clash, and the obvious outcome is the destruction of a people and the death of the idealists.  You finish watching this movie and are run over, depressed at the savagery of man, tired from the depth of sadness, and wishing fervently that the movie could have turned out differently but knowing it could not. How often could I watch such a movie without losing all hope for humanity? Certainly, I could not watch it more than just a few times. In fact, we own it, but it has been years since I have watched it. I am not ready, it is too rich, too bankrupting, too indulgent, too much to bear.

For Whom the Bell Tolls is by far my favorite piece of literature. In much the same way as I relish fine dining and fine movie making, Hemingway has crafted a setting, a time, a world that is at the same time compelling as it is repulsive. The drama of an American fighting for idealism during the Spanish Civil War, a prelude to World War II, his love, his politics, his sacrifice, draws me in and at the same time fills me with much sadness. I want the book never to end. When I reread it, I get progressively slower hoping that it would never end that I could preserve the literary reality forever. But alas, it always does end, Robert Jordan does indeed die, and the Fascists do take control of Spain for many years. Sigh, it’s so real, it envelopes me, takes me away, soaks in to the depth of my soul and I must put the book down for for a time or risk losing myself.

So where do I go from here? I surely cannot dine on fine cuisine every day. I have not the money, time, nor am I willing to invest of myself so frequently so much. I cannot watch The Mission more than but a few times every decade, and I cannot read For Whom the Bell Tolls or run the risk of over nourishing and mineral poisoning my soul.

Most of our lives are spent eating "pop culture", consuming "pop" food, watching "pop" movies and tv, and reading "pop" books. Pop is this case comes from Popular, or in Latin, "of the people." These are the things that sustain us, folks. The are mostly fillers, things with which to fortify the body, mind, and soul short term. We cannot exist without them, I think. We must nourish ourselves daily without paying such a heavy price, either economically or spiritually. Sometimes a burger is just a burger, a flick just a flick, and a rag just a rag.

But neither can we sustain "life" based SOLEY on them. Without high art, we run the risk of blandly floating through existence, neither aware of its depth, appreciative of its dimensions, and never ever coming fully to our senses. It is this that I feel is the most important. Experiences that demand a high price of us cannot be consumed every day, but MUST be consumed at some point. Consider them the trace elements necessary for life and health.

The Creation’s the Thing

I’ve been listening to Performance Today, a classical music program from NPR, every day for the past two months. There’s nothing that I’ve enjoyed more than my daily dose of classical music, commentary, and history. Today, Fred Child related an interesting footnote to one of Haydn’s works. Haydn’s newest piece was anticipated with great expectation. His publisher was taking pre-orders on the score while Haydn finished it up. That’s where I began to think.

Imagine, no CD’s, records, tapes, broadcasts. People (although probably only the wealthier class) actually got all excited about a new score coming out. They went out and bought the paper copy, brought it home, learned, practiced, and played it. That was pretty much the only method of reproduction that existed. If you wanted to hear a performance you’d have to go to one. You as a listener didn’t control when and where the performances happened, so if you wanted music on demand, you had to play it.

Contrast this simpler form of music on demand to today’s digital streaming, napster, cd’s, Direct TV, DVD’s etc. These days you have access to thousands of hours of music at the touch of a button, from anywhere, while you’re jogging, driving, sitting, or studying. Where are we going? Obviously consumption of music has risen each year since CD’s where introduced. Since Napster came along, CD sales have increased over 50%. I’m sure the average music collection of Americans has grown considerably as well, both in pirated and legal works.

I pondered all this while listening to music and enjoying myself. It was easy, I sat there and listened. Imagine how long it would have taken me to write Bach’s Passion of Matthew? It’s a lot easier to listen to it than to write it, or play it. Playing it would require me to study it, Bach, and other performances by Bach devoteés. I would probably have to learn other pieces by Bach first, study technique, history… wow. That’s years of preparation, careful dissection, and practice. It is certainly easier to listen to it.

However, I do so wish that I had the time to learn to perform or write. One day, I keep saying, I will dedicate myself to learning an instrument. I’d like to be able to express myself in music. Sure it is infinitely more work than listening or consuming, but to create something… this is the joy of being human. I add maybe one or two pieces of music to the world, in my own little corner. Maybe just friends and family hear it. Maybe just Laura. Who knows, but it adds a little piece of sustenance to our hungry world. It maybe feeds someone’s soul just a bit. No one artist can create the world’s repertoire, just as no one can right all the wrongs of the world, feed every starving person, or save all the children. But if we all do a little, take a leap, give of ourselves a bit instead of consuming, eating, stuffing our faces with more and more and more every day, maybe then.

So music is big business there days. "What is going to sell?" the Sony execs ask. Creation is falling on fewer and fewer shoulders all the time. Orchestras around the country have been failing at an alarming rate. Pop music, never a bastion of creative integrity has gone from hiding pre-fabbed bands, keeping the secret that Milli Vanilli didn’t actually, write, sing or produce their own songs, to just doing it right there on the TV for millions to see. Who cares if they have talent. They look good, they can dance… the corporate interests will take care of the slick packaging. Isn’t it funny that there is more food in America than ever before, but more and more of it is being grown by fewer and fewer people. Is this how the disease, pesticides, and antibiotics have sneaked in? Is anybody at the wheel? Who’s driving this bus?

It’s all connected. You name it, our military power is being consolidated into fewer and fewer hands. Smart this and smart that. You only need one person these days to take out a city. Take our Government (please); far from the days of grass roots support and involvement, we get all of our information from CNN. Just serve it up steaming hot and we’ll suck it down without even a second thought. Does it matter that it’s not quality, that it doesn’t demand back from you? No, I’d rather just sit here. No wonder America is the fattest country on the planet. Is it also why we’re the hungriest as well?

And there I sat. Wasn’t it a wonderful dream.

From Ancient Caves to the Guggenheim Museum

guggenheimday.jpgI’m not sure just how much you know about this magnificent building, but it was recently finished under much international pomp and circumstance. The Guggenheim in New York sought and found a city that would undertake the newest task of supplying a location worthy of housing the greatest modern art treasures of the world.

That city was Bilbo, Euskadi (BILL-bo, eww-SKA-dee) (Basque spelling of "Bilbao" (BILL-bow) as in bow wow (dog bark)). In a city still trying to overcome the difficult times of industrialization and civil war, civil strife, and national identity, it is difficult to imagine what the Guggenheim means to them. It is certainly a mark of national pride. Critics in the community of Basque artists are quick to point out that the museum is nothing more than an American icon dropped like a big golden arch on top of an already repressed culture… call it McArt.

Whatever the case, it has brought a lot of attention to a city that is trying to define itself apart from Spain and Spanish notoriety. They have done it by building the building that was said to be unbuildable. Basque engineers and contractors designed many firsts, from types of I-beams to special suspension techniques to pull off a great coup for the Basque People.

So we went through the galleries, as of now not that great a collection, but it’s getting there. Once they (Guggenheim) get beyond the dumping of art from their basement in New York to fill space here, and start putting together a unique collection that has a personality all of its own, then we’ll see some great things from Bilbao. I have to say that among all the works in the Museum, I enjoyed the most the works of contemporary Basque sculptors and painters. In all honesty, I found their work more relevant than most other things, like American pop icon Andy Warhol, and some of the various modern art competing for eyeballs alongside fire extinguishers, hoses, and stairwell exits. I swear one time I actually mistook a fire hose connector as a piece of art. It was placed at the same eye level as the rest of the works, and when I didn’t see a placard next to it, I figured out what it was. I had a good chuckle about that one. There are other pieces worth mentioning too (if only for their irrelevance), a teenager’s room enclosed in glass with books and clothes strewn over an unmade bed, to the giant billboard sized (actually about three stories) that had was just one word. You know, I can’t even remember what it said… it was nothing important, even though it was trying so hard to keep everyone’s eyeballs. There was the ballpark style billboard with the rotating shutters that had three messages. First a picture of a jar of Vaseline and a cucumber, later the words "the problem with relationships" and later a peach and a hammer. I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t make much sense. It seems out of place in most settings excluding any California art school.

There were the paintings that were only white, there were painting that were only red, there were paintings that were only blue. Notice a trend. I wonder if it’s patriotic brainwashing or something. Anyway, they are mostly about color, attempting to understand art and the world better through only one color. What is red, yada yada yada. We’ve been through it folks. How much merit does it have. I don’t think they built the Guggenheim to house canvases of red, white, and blue on a McSesame McBun.

Of course there were bright spots. Laura loves Joan Miró for his abstracted language, use of symbols, and extremely empathetic portrayal of the dark years in Spain this century (during the civil war and under Franco). For many he was a voice… er rather gave voice to the emotions and the tearing and confusion that existed at that time. It was his art that better than any other served as the hieroglyphs of the middle portion of this century, what we felt, who we were, and where we were going. Andy Warhol by comparison was but fifteen minutes of that time, perhaps while Miró was on the toilet or something.

It’s worth a visit if you get a chance to go by there sometime. I’d like to take another look in a few years to see how it’s developing.

From the New to the Ancient

We went to some ancient caves in the country. We witnessed what few have seen, paintings that were over 12,000 years old, charcoal and iron oxide drawings of horses, deer, bear, fish, goats, and cows. They were so remarkable because they signify that humans have been living in this area for… well a very long time. This particular cave was basically in someone’s back yard, protected by an iron gate. Years ago it may have been the summer hunting home of our human ancestors as they sought game and enjoyed the valley of plenty.

Some of the drawings were simple outlines, themselves sophisticated abstractions of the 3d world. Others were fully colored with rust and have withstood over 120 centuries in that still cave. I stood there before those simple scratches on the caves trying to imagine this person there, with stick in hand, under torchlight, depicting something. Why did they do it? I tried hard to see that person. I squinted through the battery powered halogen lights until I swear I could see it, there in the dark, an arm reaching out with a stick rendering immortality.

They may have believed that by drawing these animals they might render them more vulnerable, perhaps they would be able to hunt easier, like capturing their soul, their spirit.

And then a thought popped into my head, something that Tom had said to me while we were playing basketball the day before. "Visualize your shot." I swear I could sometimes see that ball make the arch and drop, swish, before I shot it.

Maybe that’s it, perhaps what I could begin to see through the dark was something familiar, something that even through 12,000 years of separation, felt close, felt familiar, more than just an old scribble that invokes more questions than answers. Archaeologists and scientists study those drawings wondering why most of them point to the back of the cave (or was it out), why they drew so many horses, but really only ate deer. What did they signify? Why did they do them?

Maybe they were visualizing their shots, learning more about these animals that lived with them. An art teacher once told me that drawing was 99% observation. I fully believe that, and I think that intuitively ancient man without written language to communicate, realized that rendering by drawing was the beginning to understanding better the world they lived in. By recreating creation in abstracted forms, we can begin to make sense, grasp the truth from a different perspective, understand it in a new way. The ancient humans were no different then we, they were not as unsophisticated as we would like to believe, silly, superstitious people who thought that by drawing animals they would be able to hunt them better. What is that? Magic? How silly.

Maybe what’s silly is how quickly we dismiss those old lessons, the first lessons. "My God, that really captured the spirit of the moment!" we exclaim. "How well you’ve captured her spirit in that photo!" "That song really takes me back." "I cried during Titanic." "She has her mother’s spirit." "I feel the anguish in Picasso’s ‘Gernika’."

We’ve been learning that lesson throughout the centuries as artists seek out new abstractions, new ways of looking at reality.

Isn’t if funny how we’re still drawing on walls? Why do we do it, what does it mean? In the end I can only say that I believe it is representative of our struggle to understand ourselves and to communicate what we understand to others. If my trip from some of the newest to some of the oldest has taught me anything, it has only let me know that we share more in common with our ancestors than I thought. Rather than primitive savages running around in a fog of barely conscious sentience, scared of everything, and fearful of their surroundings, struggling to separate themselves from the animal kingdom, I see them as sophisticated, intelligent, aware, emotional human beings who knew there were things they did not know and sought them out.

Is Art Made by Computers Art?

OR what sort of Art might a computer make? Would we accept it as Art?

If computers might indeed someday become sentient or intelligent, then why would we assume they would want to create art. When we think of computer art, we think of pretty computer generated colors, swirls, mathematics, fractals, raytraced solids, quirky animations, etc. But these are the sorts of art WE make with computers.

Maybe computers would make completely unintelligible art, art that is neither visual, audial, or textual. Maybe a computer will find art in the making of a network connection run better. Maybe a computer will creatively skip processing steps in order to arrive at the same answer. Computers might fill idle time with "entertainment" which could be as complex as finding bugs in each other’s operating systems, or running their CPU idle processes (hey, WE watch TV).

I guess art/humor/beauty/hate depend so much on culture, it would be hard to conceive of those things by a computer. It’s like asking how someone will be when they grow up without knowing where and with whom.

How can we know the computer as equal, as sentient/intelligent before it is born?

We wouldn’t share:

  • the same native language "binary" (we speak it, but only passingly),
  • the same cuisine (raw electrical energy, Americans like cow meat),
  • the same customs (they might have a handshake, but we keep forgetting what to put in the packet header),
  • the same bodily function (they coredump, we… well),
  • sexual orientation (would they be homosexual/heterosexual/asexual? We as humans still can’t decide even if homosexuals are okay… what would we do with computers that are mated via hub with 20 different computers? Call it polygamy? Does the Alpha Server reign supreme over it’s tribe of Microsoft Clients *G*?)
  • the same concerns (we worry about the morning commute, the kids, our savings… what would it be like to worry about being unplugged by a careless cleaning crew, to commute through a jammed network cable, to not have arms, to not have eyes, to not have smell, etc.)

What happens when the race we’ve created begins to find that it doesn’t really have much in common with us, when we find that they aren’t much fun to talk to? They don’t care about sports, politics, getting laid etc. What happens when the little children that needed us for so much, every keystroke, every brushing, every time they needed to be let out to play in the yard, every scrap of technology, know-how, advancement, runny nose, bad day, college tuition, and approval stop needing? We think we understand them, and because we share so little in common we project our biases onto them. We call them mindless machines, and we turn our backs on their rights. Do we use them to test viruses, cosmetics, Microsoft software?

MOST people would say that computers weren’t sentient, and you would be one of those people, because "Most People" said it.

So we probably would decide that computers still can’t create art, because we expected them to create art we would like.

Isn’t that just typically human though?

Newer posts

© 2017 El Gringoqueño

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑