Saturday, September 13, 2014

There is a foolish corner...

Aaron the Ripper? DNA evidence reveals Jack the Ripper to be an insane Polish immigrant, Aaron Kosminski.

Courtesy of Madden 15 you can generate your own NFL animated GIF. And courtesy of The Atlantic  we see the geographic reach of each NFL team's fans.

Morris Louis, Saraband, 1959. source
In which the case is made that split infinitives are OK: grammar controversies.

Daniel Lanois has a new album coming out in late October: Flesh and Machine. To my ears, that video reminds me a lot of Eno's Small Craft in a Milk Sea. But what I find most baffling is what that third guy is actually supposed to be doing in the video.

In other music news, early reviews of King Crimson's tour are very complimentary.

Begin Rant

OK, so here's a video from Robert Florczak that asks Why is Modern Art So Bad? Mr. Florczak is a painter himself and he's affiliated somehow with Prager University (which seems to be an ultra-conservative "educational" extension of talk-radio personality David Prager) and the Art Renewal Center (which, among other things, is anti-modernism in art - you gotta love organizations who define themselves in terms of what they're against instead of what they're for).

Now I don't care whether you like "modern" art or not - that's your opinion and preference. Plus I'll admit that I don't understand or appreciate a lot of art forms - photography and  sculpture in general, or even some of the specific pieces cited in the video. However, when it comes to painting, if the goal of painting is representation (as the video seems to suggest) then why has it remained relevant after the invention of photography?

So let's now shoot fish in a barrel - I mean address some of the video's points.

He begins with the statement that "the Masters" of painting earned that title through high standards of excellence, building upon the achievements of their predecessors, and aspiring to the highest quality. By "excellence" he appears to mean the excellent ability to accurately represent reality. In an age without photography and without means of rapid information exchange I can imagine that gazing upon those works would produce awe and wonder. Quality, like excellence, implies accuracy in representation. Fine. These paintings leave me kind of "meh" but whatever.

Then he makes the categorical assertion that profound, inspiring, and beautiful artworks were replaced by those that were simply new, different, and ugly. First, "new" in my interpretation is identical to "building upon the achievements of your predecessors." Otherwise, we'd still be doing cave paintings. And by introducing the term "ugly", he's reduced fine art to matters of taste and decor. This is followed by more broad brush categorical statements and cherry picking of specific pieces for comparison. (Kinda like pointing at a Big Mac and saying that all consumption of beef should be banned.)

Then he spouts the dying out of the "ascent to artistic perfection" by which he means how realistically can we paint a bowl of fruit. Since when has perfection been an artistic standard? And then he resorts to cherry picking again when he makes the case for universal standards of artistic quality versus artistic relativism by a) assuming that everyone agrees that his samples of master works truly are outstanding and b) choosing modern works that not everyone would like either (and one with piss in it to really get people riled up).

To bolster his claims he describes a "test" he gives his students in which he displays a Pollock and asks them to describe its merits. Well, the joke's on the kids when he reveals that the supposed Pollock is just a closeup of the smock he wears in his studio. First, the image shown was obviously not a Pollock (and I don't claim to be an expert on such things). He then builds on this error by later claiming that it's impossible for anyone to tell the difference between his apron and a Pollock. (Hey dumbshit - I could.) Second, as a fan of abstract painting I acknowledge a fear of being tricked by liking the painting made by a monkey or elephant and therefore take every online test of that type (and still sometimes only get 80% right). But his test introduces biases right away where the instructor, in a position of power over the students, presents something as a Pollock and therefore would require quite a great deal of gumption on the part of the student to disagree.

I usually don't argue analogies but he then holds up the judging of Olympic figure skating as a model for how the artistic merit of painting should be judged. Talk about a flawed model. This model would work if the judging consisted of defined elements: paint a straight line, a circle, mix two perfectly complementary colors, etc. Then you could have a computer do the judging.

He next introduces the loss of transcendency in art and contrasts that with "modern" art that just tries to shock or make a statement. Not all "modern" art (a category so broad as to be useless in this discussion) is shocking and I also don't like art that exists simply to send a message. But to say that modern works lack a sense of the transcendent is an utter fabrication. (And how exactly would his Olympic art judges rate transcendency?)

At the end he states that the way for us to correct this situation is by the galleries we frequent and the art we purchase. I agree 100%. I do not care if he and I ever cross paths in a gallery - each to our own. That's the way it should be. However, he does say "if the art doesn't sell it won't be made" which assumes that art is all about commerce. That's an entirely different debate, but his fundamental point is inaccurate. For example, how many of the great "masters" died penniless and it was only well after their death that their works sold for millions?

In summary, this guy is a self-righteous ass who wants to impose his opinions on others through weak and spurious arguments. I bet his opinions on music are equally amusing.

End Rant

We all know beans are the musical fruit. But do we really know how beans make music? This video does the explaining.

Burger King is offering this black burger for sale in Japan. I wonder how well it would do here.
Who says you can't learn anything by watching football on TV? During last night's Baylor v Buffalo game they mentioned and undergraduate who had invented a water lens for cheap water purification in developing countries.

Good god, I'm getting cranky. the brain of the wisest man. ~Aristotle

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