Archive for September, 2008

Tuesday 30th September 2008 (and the next day as well) is Jewish New Year’s day otherwise known as Rosh HaShanah.

Rosh HaShanah is held by tradition to be the final day of the six-day creation, on which humankind was created. In order to celebrate the official birthday of our species, we do a lot of praying and eating to reaffirm our acceptance God as sovereign over the world and our place as his underlings.

This is all in preparation for Yom Kippur (Thursday 9th October 2008) when we stand in judgement for what we did (or didn’t do) over the last year. As I said in a previous post, the whole drift of this period is to make us think at least once a year about where we are, where we’re going and what we need to do to improve ourselves. Judaism believes in total accountability so there is no passing the buck.

In English and the few European languages I am familiar with, people tend to wish each other a “happy new year”. In Hebrew you wish a Shanah Tovah – a “good year” or in full “LeShanah Tovah Tikatev YeTehatem” (“may you be inscribed and sealed for a good year”). This echoes the belief that on the basis of our past year’s performance, God decides what kind of year we are going to have in the next year. He doesn’t do this arbitrarily but aims the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” (Act 3, Hamlet, William Shakespeare) for best effect so that even one as dense as ourselves will understand where we are going wrong and where we need to improve.

As I said “total accountability” – this belief throws back to us responsibility for our seemingly random fate as well. We can change it (or at least sweeten it) by focussing, changing ourselves and improving.

So may you all have a great year – let’s make it one!

…and finally…

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Hadron collider rap

I read about this on CNet news. Cool in a geeky kind of way. Thought I’d share.

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Photoshop art

Ancient artist wrote a piece about technologically created art and mused on the subject of whether this is art. I have touched on this subject in the past, where my discussion was more on the subject of whether an artist can sub-contract others to do his artwork. This is a similar discussion because it would appear that the computer is a sub-contractor to the artist who isn’t creating the art himself.

However I would hold that the computer is a tool not a surrogate creator.

I think that technologically generated art is art as long as it is made clear to the viewer what it is and what it isn’t. Passing off a computer generated image as a hand crafted one is fraud, but if photography is an art form then Photoshop must definitely be a valid tool as well.

I think that we need to separate between artistic merit and craftsmanship. A high level of craftsmanship can make a building, a machine or a painting a work of art. However can an item of little or no craftsmanship be art? On this hinges the question. Duchamp and his successors would say that art is an intention not a physical attribute of the object. I would hold that there must be a physical manifestation of the intent, because without that what can I see of the art? If you want to craft intentions and ideas, make philosophy not art.

So I think that the issue here is that the tools used by the artist need to be made clear in order that the level of craftsmanship in the piece not be mis-interpreted by someone who imagines that it was hand crafted.  Photography and computer manipulation of images can be done skillfully and those works are art. However like a family snapshot album is not generally art, similarly thoughtless, routine and mundane computer edited images are just that and not art.

You might want to giclee print it on canvas and hang it on your wall because it is decorative, but you might do that with many other things that are not art either.

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Clint Watson has written a piece on his blog:Interruption is the Enemy of Productivity. It takes time to get into “the zone” and you can’t be really productive if you keep getting interrupted.

This is why I only paint at night and why I hate Fridays. I can’t paint when I have small children running round the house and housework chores naggingly waiting to be done. Even if I have made a conscious decision to take an hour out for art, they keep nagging me to get back to work. This cuts down my work time, but I’m not going to get anything done then anyway.

Clint took this from a post by Kris Jordan on a presentation by Jason Fried of 37 signals where he is talking about writing software and running a start-up. Writing software is also an art.

Jason also mentions the fallacy of getting more work done by working longer hours and several other good practices for the software or visual artist. Worth a read and taking to heart.

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Quite a lot to report.

I have been busy painting this week and I finished up the Huleh Valley picture as you can see on the right. I like it a lot. It has a lot of depth and that misty distance came out fantastically. My only reservations may be in the row of trees at the front which I spent quite a while on and revising. I think I got them right in the end.

The predominant color in the picture is cadmium yellow, with trees mainly in olive green, some phthalo blue and a bit of yellow ochre here and there.

After getting this one out, I turned my attentions back to the pool that I had been wrestling with a few weeks back.

After getting some of my self confidence back, I decided to give this another go and so far so good. I’ll see if I can get some more time on this during the coming week though I will be going to bed early in order to get up for Selihot (penitence prayers) all week which start at something like 6:00 every morning (BTW, that’s only half and hour earlier than I would get up anyway).

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This was the title of a post on Seth Godin’s blog yesterday. Seth says forget the falling stock markets and get out there and create value.

In general I agree with him. Everyone, whether they be a creative type or not should be concentrating on creating real value for the World and the human race.

However, contrary to what Seth says, the direction of the economy and the fortunes of the people who play it out in the investment houses and stock exchanges of the world do make a difference to all of us. If only they were wiser and they too would search for value not wealth then maybe the World economy and the lives and fortunes of its inhabitants would be safer in their hands.

In Judaism its called tikun olam.

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No that’s not the name of a new movie, this is my schedule for this week.

The children all went back to school two weeks ago at the start of September, so now is the season to go meet the teacher and hear what s/he has in store for us in the coming year. Luckily only four out of the five have their meetings this week and also luckily I am going to see how I can split these with my wife. Not everyone needs to go to every meeting. Anyway, as a result it doesn’t look like I’m going to get much painting (or much anything) done this week but hopefully I’m going to be able to get my camera back from its repair on Thursday after much delay.

And what about the brit mila? First off, what is that? In plain English that’s a circumcision. If you’re still in the dark, follow the link. Even if you may find it barbaric, it’s an important thing to circumcise Jewish babies.

Basically the deal is that the baby get’s circumcised at age eight days and the parents throw a party. Good friends of ours just had a baby boy (after three girls) so they invited us along to celebrate and celebrations are a good thing, especially happy life events like births. BTW, the girls get a party as well (zeved haBat) only for them it is totally painless. The girls always get the good deal.

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