By on July 18th, 2020

 

‘Liberty Bell’ Tolls for Sites Where History Is Alive and Kicking, by Nancy Baker Cahill, via the New York Times

 

How Can You Augment Reality?

 

A conundrum ensnarled with an enigma. Reality is tub water too hot to step into, augmented reality turns the tub in your viewfinder pink. As far as I understand, augmented reality requires a viewport — technically-equipped goggles (you swim, the software counts laps in your field of view), the digital camera in your smart phone (responds to local wifi and delivers an artistic effect over your view of a whirlagigging wind farm. Lady Madonna? Cute kitten? Mobius strip?)

The turbines twirl, real wind energy is translated into real electricity. Reality. What plays out in your viewfinder at the same time? Dealer’s choice.

Or, a step into another level of consciousness, you the viewer get to choose whether the bathtub looks pink or pea green. Whether you are color blind leads to a maze that certain philosophers enjoy exploring. I leave it to them.

Humanity also recognizes visions that appear to certain people. Calls some miracles. If Mr Wobbles suddenly finds he’s in a field of sunflowers, then is he? Is he even though we’re standing and talking to him and we’re at the seashore?

Reality on the grass, alas. Gertrude Stein becomes apt here. Reality is reality is reality.

I imagine as humans get more used to augmented reality that some people will accept it the same way they do the experiences of psychedelics. They’ll lose the sense of separation between normal and created. I remember a friend talking about driving on LSD. Suddenly the car was driving along upsidedown so, ok, he figured he just had to keep driving. No other option.

Last I heard, he’s still alive.

Many of us have negotiated these metaphysic roadways. Castaneda, drug-augmented visuals, the soggy dormouse in the teapot. If we’re lucky we never have a bad trip. I was delirious for three days after surgery in 2017. I discovered that an artist had been in the room before me and left marvelously clever kinetic sculptures all over. Afterward I wrote:

Part of me (an itty bitty but real part) still believes in those artworks. In La-la land. In what I connected with. Like Dorothy and Toto after Oz. They knew the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch. They knew the Ruby Slippers. They didn’t make those up. But no one back in Kansas will buy it. They’re in a place of knowing what other people don’t, real people don’t. Because they can’t, they didn’t go there.

 

They stayed home.

 

As we stir augmented reality into our routines something has to shift. The credulous may start believing the inserted material. A horrible tale in recent news about a teen who attended a giant church party, contracted Covid, and was dosed twice by her parents with hydroxychloroquine. She’s dead. Some people will always drink the Kool-Aid.



By on July 3rd, 2020

 

Near and Far (010220 49)

 

Every Other Week

 

 

So much time tending the website, so much less time creating the art. So I’m switching to a new protocol — I’ll post new art and Playground examples every other week instead of weekly. Every second Monday will remain my target.

 

 

 

A few recent works –

 

 

From a suite of variations using the same 4 images (070220 12k)

 

 

 

 

 

Combining older artworks (052420 14bb)

 

 

 

 

 

Combining public domain images (052320 10b)

 

 

 

 



By on June 24th, 2020

 

Humiliated Dog by Karsten Winegeart on unsplash.com

 

Reboot, the abashed blogger said, looking red-faced and rather silly. I muffed my opportunity on Sunday to post new work in both the Create and Playground sectors. The collections were there, sure, but I misjudged my new software so you, my audience, never knew.

 

Please enjoy them now that they’re alive. And please follow me if you don’t already.

 

 



By on June 23rd, 2020

 

Detail of Kristallnacht, showing the child’s face behind broken glass. by Sloan Nota

 

Kristallnacht, Babi Yar, Tulsa

 

miso – a combining form meaning “hate,” with the object of hatred specified by the following element: misogyny.

 

I’ve never forgotten the fact of the Nazi Kristallnacht, an incident so horrible it does not allow you to tuck it quietly into some drawer of yourself. Or have you read Babi Yar? I actually couldn’t finish it.

 

Babi Yar is a ravine in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv and a site of massacres carried out by German forces during their campaign against the Soviet Union in World War II. The first and best documented of the massacres took place on 29–30 September 1941, killing approximately 33,771 Jews. Wikipedia

 

 

At one time I felt I must understand the Holocaust. At Babi Yar I could stomach it no more.

 

 

Butchery. The unfathomable ability to commit cold murder of terrified others. And still live with yourself forever after. Seemingly normal beings, the whites at Tulsa, bartenders, investors, actors. Swept up in a frenzy of hate that blinds them to the simple equations of humanity. To terror in the eyes facing the ghoul in you.

 

 

Was the ancient Greek Procrustean iron bed where unwary travelers were stretched or amputated to fit — was that a true tale? Not even a frenzy but an after-dinner routine. A sociopath. Did he waste food on them for dinner before they discovered his hospitality?

 

 

Can the perpetrators of Babi Yar, Kristallnacht, Tulsa be described as anything but sociopaths? And yet they faded back into their barrooms, their counting houses, their troupes as if they’d merely burped once in polite society.

 

 

Perhaps later they became more fervent in their religion.

 

 

The Tulsa attack was ‘carried out on the ground and from private aircraft.’ White people got into their airplanes with bombs. Premeditated bombs. That they felt the right to drop. Their consciences in cold storage. But not dead, oh no, not dead.

 

 

 

 



By on June 19th, 2020
Website Change by Sloan Nota (061220 11dd)
Website Change by Sloan Nota (061220 11dd)

Website Protocol Change

(Less Art for More Art Savvy)

 

 

Those of you following this website from the beginning know that it is still in a shakedown mode. My coder, metazai Productions, says railroad folks call this the teething stage.

 

The groupings of art I’ve been posting have been more or less eight images each. But it occurs to me that my sheer volume of output may be overwhelming.

 

What I want is that you find things to look at and ponder in the art and the accompanying topic, not that you blitz through examples. So I’ve started posting about four images per topic. Each group has a theme, a story, as usual, but not every dish is on the menu.

 

Looking is a skill that there’s no end to getting better at. Bare-eyeballs is the kind I mean. Forget lenses, machines, AI. Just you and what you’re looking at.

 

Size and resolution matter. The bigger your screen, the better you see. We think we’ve outgrown that. How? Eyes don’t have any new skills than they had before.

 

 

Ask questions of what you see. You ask, you answer, how can you be wrong? However if you don’t ask questions however will you learn?

 

 

Where I grew up you went up a short road, then had to turn right or left. For home, I’d turn left. At some point, probably in college, I realized that my eyes were glued in a scanning pattern for that corner. I noted the same inconsequential landmarks every time I turned. It was darn near impossible to change that longstanding routine. I’d been practicing ever since getting into the driver’s seat.

 

 

Seeing can easily devolve into a physical habit during which you’re thinking blah-blah-blah about your lunch.



By on June 13th, 2020

White Humans

White Humans are Whites who identify as humans rather than as better-than-any-other-humans. Simple. I’m white as skim milk and secretly wish I could be browner for beauty’s sake. But I’m not fool enough to sincerely wish that.

 

Dear Black, Asian, Latinx, Samoan, Maasi humans, I was  born white. It happens when your parents are white. They can’t help it. Same as you can’t help mirroring those who gave you life. Most humans know that before they’re teens.

 

Honestly, I can’t deny that I’ve rolled in White privilege like a frisky horse in grass. I can’t help that either. Wouldn’t you? But I keep wanting us all on the same greased chute into life. I’m a White Human. And I don’t care whether you have a different eye flap than me or another tone of skin.

 

Well not much. Because I am a woman and I admit that strangling the sexism out of my brain has not been completely successful. I bet you’re sexist too. If you live in a New York loft or a house of straw and mud. Apache, Haitian, Parisian. Sexism. Us.

 

 

And to that extent I admit to you I’m a racist. I bet you are too. I was reading Ta-Nehisi Coates and getting mad. OK sir, but what about us women? You can’t be that aggrieved while ignoring the rape, mutilation, income inequality. Etc. Of women.

 

 

So here we all are. Imperfect, abjectly human, pimpled, third grade teachers wanting  kids to thrive, pimps. Hooked noses, button noses, blond, white-once-brown, jet black. Crooked toes, crossed eyes, hunger. Anyone here not belong to that group?

 

 

And I’m tired of hearing Black Americans. How about Black Humans? Isn’t that the point? Black Americans can’t come out of your mouth without dragging hundreds of years of intolerable history along with it. You can’t say it without hearing chains clank. But Black Human? Level playing field. Which biology tells us, folk wisdom (when wise) tells us, common sense tells us. We’re human animals in a world of other animals. We’re animals with pretty music and Vermeers, but we’re meat. Meat.

 

No Munchkins, no Oz. That guy behind the curtain whispering trash? He had to fly home to Kansas. Good luck to him assembling a following in Kansas.

 

Best of all would be “We’re humans.” But none of us has gotten that far yet. But now there’s ferment in the human lab, beakers bubbling, odors changing. Let’s get going folks, change.

 



By on June 9th, 2020

“Careful, You Know It’s Not About Black Lives” Using free characters from PixelSquid.

Yesterday I discovered a new form of digital media and my eyes lit up. Today I browsed through its 25 page catalog of characters. (One of many catalogs.) Turns out many many of them are licensed depictions of Mario — even 8-bit flat Mario, and even of Boston Dynamics’ yellow creature-machines — even on skis. You can download them but there are corporate strings everywhere. Aesthetically it’s nice because the strings stay invisible.

 

 

They want $199 a year (or $12.99 per character) to remove the white netting of their watermark from your bit of image. This does nothing to address the corporate toes you’re in danger of mashing. It feels a little rushed to market, lumps to be massaged out — but maybe that’s just me.

 

 

Main thing is their characters catalog is as cloying as a rootbeer sunday triple fudge banana split with chopped candy on top. They are cutesy-pie adorable to the sensibilities of maybe a 12 year-old. My their eyes are big!

 

 

This at the same time the malodorous Tucker Carlson declares today’s demonstrations against racism “Definitely not about black lives.”

 

Presto, two strong urges joined. My desire to see Carlson trip face-first into a mass of Great Dane excrement and my desire to see what mischief could be done with white-netted Cute. Slapdash but heartfelt.

 

___________________

 

It should be noted that the only characters I noted who had been chopped of in the middle as if by fishmongers were the mermaid tails. Could it be they were inviting people to fantasize a snarky top? I took the bait.



By on June 7th, 2020

How Materials Affect an Artist’s Art, pt 1

Shredded Graffiti (081518 35c). Based on photos from textures.com.

 

 

It was only this year that I realized how much my artworks are affected by where I’ve collected the constituent images. Each for unique reasons. When I’m on free-images.com the content I get has certain size protocols. Often three fit perfectly across my 4000×3000 pixel canvas. This has led fluidly to a convention of vertical stripes.

 

 

With textures.com (formerly CGTextures.com) I find using Photoshop layerblends the compelling tool. Many of their photos are what we often call textures anymore. A patch of rusted concrete, a swatch of cloth, a building with modern same-same windows. My usual goal is to create an abstraction. Areas of color and texture with balance.

 

 

Time has obliterated when I began using textures.com. I remember it was a birthday present to myself, which helped me remember when to renew. I rarely get birthday presents from myself.

 

 

They use a team of photographers with calibrated cameras. The quality is steady. They are documentary statements. Here’s a canal in Venice, here’s a daisy, here’s a forklift. All nouns. Offered up in useful categories.

 

 

What I’ve done with the wealth of images is incalculable, growing as an artist over time. You need to know that their help when you need it is reliably helpful and free of snark. You are allowed a limited amount of downloads daily for free, which is what I dutifully used daily until I got addicted. There are advantages to buying premium packs, including a Freelance and Indie category for folks who earn less than $100,000 yearly. Not what cinema studios are charged.

 

 

As a side note, Allegorithmic’s Substance software for 3d textures also subscribes to this pricing policy, even now when Adobe has swallowed them up.

 

________________

 

 

I have a companion piece that I’m going to publish today as well. Together they fill in the idea.

 

Monday’s collection will feature artworks using photos from textures.com.



By on June 7th, 2020
Violino Bicchiere Pipa Calamaio by Pablo Picasso, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65820143
Violino Bicchiere Pipa Calamaio by Pablo Picasso, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=65820143

How Materials Affect an Artist’s Art, pt 2

Say you’re an artist and you walk into an art supply store. Be generous to yourself, make it Sennelier in Paris. The Seine is opposite the door. You have in mind an artwork that is all red, but in different media. Crimson, lipstick, tomato red. Reds with blue, reds with yellow. How do you decide the cut-offs for purple and orange? A decision the artist inside you makes on the spot.

 

 

In Sennelier’s hundreds of shallow wooden drawers you feast on red variations in oil paint, soft pastel, oil pastel, maybe silk dye. (How will it perform on primed canvas?) Then you lug your finds to your studio and the same artist you consulted in the store must decide how to deploy these media together on your canvas. Without their chemical differences foiling your work.

 

 

Not me. My supplies are digital. Almost always free, definitely public domain. At Sennelier you can buy decorative rice papers or a sheet showing bird species in Northern Europe. You can incorporate them into your artwork but unlike a tube of vermillion paint you’ve upped the complexity because these count as images. That will be a part of your bigger image.

 

 

A Robin Redbreast carries more meaning than a swatch of fire-truck red. You’re stuck with that. The evocative color name doesn’t live in the hue — a paint company employee earned some money for naming it. Instead your paper patch of Robin Redbreasts will not conjure a puffin for your viewer.

 

 

A friend recently posted a kitten balled up asleep in someone’s palm. I thought that inside that puffball was a whole personality waiting to erupt. Same with the tube of paint — you can use it for a landscape, an abstract, a portrait of a construction worker on an I-beam. What erupts is you and your personality. Not inherent in that tube.

 

 

OK, not inherent in the Birds of Northern Europe either. But however you employ that poster in your artwork you bring the notion of birds into it. Unless you paint over it — then it counts as a piece of painted paper stuck on your canvas.

 

 

The point here is that when you look at a painting you rarely remark, “Oh gosh, that’s paint!” Paint and the substrate it’s painted on made a marriage consummated hundreds of years ago. A painting is a concept modernized people accept, an entity but not its constituent parts. As an omelet isn’t eggs and herbs and Havarti, it’s an omelet.

 

 

Picasso and Braque while inventing Cubism used elements that would have seemed unlawful in their day. No serious artist would be fool enough to employ scraps. (Give them a raspberry!) My artwork owes much to the pioneers of “Yes you can.”

 

 

A now-browned scrap of a news story will call your attention to it even today. It’s outside the canon of paint and draw. Still modern in other words, a sly lover who sneaks into the marriage bed when one spouse is gone.



By on June 7th, 2020
photo by Nathan Dumlao, nathandumlaophotos.com

Death for No Damn Reason

 

When I saw white police taking a knee to protesters I almost let out an involuntary sob. At last, white people, us, were sick of White Supremacy too. Maybe sick of the soul-empty Trump voters and their vile shenanigans. We’ve had years of them now. Look at this woman’s face to understand. We’re in.

 

The protests are sweeping not only this country but also foreign shores. The deaths of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery are atrocities that didn’t need to happen. Willful murder of innocent men. Willful. Needless.

 

I find myself torn. I have marched around Boston Common more times than I can count. I should be dizzy. I remember once that I got out of synch with the crowd, walking in a clear spot, and I imaged FBI cameras clicking somewhere. Oh well, I’ve already done it. No tip-toeing backwards to cover.

 

Now Covid-19 is a coiled snake, ready to bite. It’s not a nice death. So although I want to throw my fist into the air and roar I’m sitting home and contemplating what it means to age.

 

Hooray for humanity. Hooray for conscience.