Sunday, June 30, 2013

MAKING PEACE WITH THE MACHINE

The great illustrator Frank Frazetta proudly wrote his personal credo: "I work purely from my imagination, no swipes or photographs."

But this Frazetta drawing...


...was taken directly from a Life Magazine article on a day at the beach:


The great illustrator Robert Fawcett warned his fellow artists against becoming dependent on photography: "photography has been abused, to the point where many illustrators are afraid to put pencil to paper without first photographing their subject exhaustively. Yet when he needed to draw a south sea island native...

 

...he relied on this photo from Life Magazine:


Norman Rockwell was one of the most successful illustrators in America when he secretly began using photographs.  When his peers asked if he used photographs, he lied:
At a dinner at the Society of Illustrators, William Oberhardt, a fellow illustrator, grabbed my arm and said bitterly, "I hear you've gone over to the enemy." "Hunh?" I said, faking ignorance because I realized right way what he was referring to and was ashamed of it. "You're using photographs," he said accusingly. "Oh...well... you know...not actually," I mumbled. "You are ," he said. "Yes" I admitted, feeling trapped, "I am." "Judas!" he said, "Damned photographer!" and he walked away
I am interested in why some of the most confident, successful illustrators felt ashamed to use photos.  And why, despite their shame, they thought the benefits were worth it.

Since those early days, attitudes about using photos have changed but the role of photos has changed even faster. 

What started as using photos for reference evolved into projecting photos directly on the page, which then developed into light boxing, which changed to scanning photos, later altered with increasingly subtle filters that transform scanned images into a pastel drawing or a watercolor painting or a mezzotint.  To make a caricature today, we have only to apply the Photoshop "liquefy" tool to a photo of a face.  To improve a composition, we have only to employ the "divine proportion" tool.  Technology has played an increasingly vital role in picture making, encroaching more and more on what was once the human core.  It remains to be seen whether artists are following in the footsteps of John Henry.

Far from being resolved, the question "how much dependence on a machine is acceptable?" becomes a new question with each passing decade.

In this context, I think it becomes incumbent on each of us to make our own peace with the point along the spectrum where the role of the machine becomes too great.

I think the talented Matt Mahurin is a prime example of an artist working interchangeably in traditional media, photography, and film:


I find his work, which blurs the line between photos and hand crafted images, imaginative, powerful and personal.  Mahurin writes:
When a client decides to call me, it's not because they are in love with my color palette or feel they can't live without my sense of composition.  I am hired for the way I think-- my ability to express clear thoughts and powerful emotions visually.  Often the technique or style I use to complete an image is merely an afterthought, no more important than the physical act of typing up what already flourishes in the writer's heart and mind.
But perhaps the real challenge to the boundary between art and machine-created images is posed by photographs that today seem to inspire more reverence and awe than more traditional hand made arts do. 

NASA's "pillars of creation"

Pictures adorning Renaissance altars and palace ceilings were valued as high art in part because they elevated viewers by giving them a sense for the sublime. It has been a long time since traditional, hand made arts have aspired to that role.

201 Comments:

Blogger James Gurney said...

Thought provoking post, David, and great examples! How to use photos has stirred ambivalence in realist artists since the invention of photography. As an example, Adolph Menzel (1815-1905) rejected the use of reference photography unless it was absolutely necessary. He said that the use of photography “is diametrically opposed to my belief in the responsibility of the artist to art and his self-confidence; and even the continuation of such a method must necessarily lead to the loss of discipline in certain important powers of the eyes, the hand, the memory, and the imagination concerning animated nature.”

At the same time, he was fascinated by photography as any realist painter should be. Menzel was present, along with Meissonier for Muybridge's first demonstration of photos of the running horse, and he was involved in his brother's pioneering photography business. According to his friend Max Liebermann, “His visual sense, naturally inclined towards the observation and reproduction of the tiniest details, received fresh stimulus from photography.”

7/01/2013 3:35 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

James Gurney-- Menzel is a perfect example for framing the dilemma, Jim. His sharp eye could only be the result of intense discipline, and it seems indisputable that the continuing use of photography leads to "the loss of discipline" in the ways he describes.

Plato was concerned that the invention of writing would lead to a loss of discipline because people would come to rely on writing and lose the mental power to memorize epic poems like the Iliad and the Odyssey.

It seems Menzel and Plato were both correct. We lose important things but we gain different important things. It is a real challenge to assess the net impact.

7/01/2013 5:26 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

it's the degree to which the photographic reference takes over the decision making process of picture making that is the crux of the problem, not whether or not photographic reference is used at all.

to repeat what i posted in the last thread: a work of illustration or painting in which the photo reference is too apparent looks facile (as was the criticism of Cunningham's work of that post).

Brian Sewell of the Evening Standard attacked the National Portrait Gallery's annual portrait competition year after year as 'irrelevant'. his main reason ? the amount of work which simply copied photographs.
there are legions of 'portrait painters' today whose sole working method consists of taking a colour photograph of the subject, then going back to the studio and copying that photograph. you have to wonder, why bother ?
the process of translation to paint becomes simply the (slightly laborious) transfer of the image into another texture; one which has a superficially 'hand crafted' appeal, and only panders to the client's misty eyed delusion that an oil painting has more 'artistic quality' or 'prestige' than the photograph.

7/01/2013 5:46 AM  
Blogger ScottLoar said...

A photo is a facsimile of the image, often more accurate and handy than the traditional artist’s sketch and notes for reference, and is among the props and posed models serving the artist, so it’s no big deal that an artist bases a work on a photo. That some use photos in their art, or that some take photos that are art, is wholly predictable; no objection there, either.

7/01/2013 5:46 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

The divine proportion tool example demonstrates in no uncertain terms how the literal mind fails to apprehend insight. That is to say how the conscious mind’s application of what it perceives to be a rule fails utterly in producing aesthetic epiphany. That image sucks. Big time.

When building composition, EVERYTHING is involved in MUTUAL SYNTHASIS: colours, textures, hard shapes, blurred shapes, lost and found shapes, mark gestures, contrast, degree of broken colour, colour key, tonality, emphasis, repetitions, large and small areas, rough and smooth areas, line, interrupted line, implied direction, implied stability, implied flow… on and on.

All this has to come together in one seeming lightning strike to produce a good composition. And further, it has to come together in one seeming lightning strike delivered from a sense of meaning if it is to go from pure design to one that is an aesthetic image.

That lightning strike is the synthesis of disparate elements under the pressure of the subconscious mind whereby they are compressed into a magma of ‘oneness’ we call an aesthetic experience. The conscious mind can only supply the ingredients.

It is for this reason that the use of photography is viewed by many practicing artists with trepidation. The photograph seems to have done everything for you, its surface is seductive, it is finalised and suggests to the subconscious that all the work is done. What starts off as a reference ingredient starts to take over and keep everything at the conscious level so that it cannot sink into the synthesising realm of the subconscious. Like drink, it has to be taken with full knowledge of what it is, lest it cause debilitating dependency.

7/01/2013 6:01 AM  
Blogger kellie said...

The Frazetta, Fawcett, and Rockwell examples are of artists using photographic refence as an aid to "getting it right", but drawing from photographs can also, more rarely, be a liberating step towards a degree of abstraction as one is working from a source that is already reduced from 3D to 2D, and is also limited chromatically, tonally and temporally compared to direct observation.

7/01/2013 6:07 AM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

Fawcett wasn't ashamed of using photographs, and you clearly misunderstand that quote. There were/are those that would/do photograph set-ups, models, locations, collect swipes and only then sharpen the pencil. Fawcett would get the pencil going and then use photos to add to the original mind vision. In "On the Art of Drawing" he says to use photographs to provide needed information (journalism), which adds a veracity to a work which may otherwise have been beyond the artists' experience, and for variety of form and character so as not to repeat mannered formulae. Was the germ of some of his illustrations an existing photograph …of course …but so what!

"No one will deny that photography has become a valuable reference, not only to the illustrator but to the painter. I recall an incident of some years ago when a painter was called to account after it was disclosed that a work of his had had its inspiration from a published photograph, as though this was dishonest! What nobody seemed to point out was that from this initial prompting he painted a picture which had a plastic reality the photograph never had. It was doubtful whether he consulted the photo again after the first hour – the weeks which followed were an intimate communing with himself and the canvas in a concern with values understood only by a painter of sensitivity. But through all this a vague similarity of subject matter was still recognizable and he was jumped upon by some who seemed to confuse amateur sleuthing with aesthetic appreciation." ~ Robert Fawcett "On the Art of Drawing" p125

PS: I have post planned Re: Fawcett's use of swipes, that I think you'll find interesting. (Maybe in a month …it's been on the back burner for a year!)

Long live R.F.!

7/01/2013 6:24 AM  
Blogger Larry MacDougall said...

It seems to me that the average person today views most art as a bad joke they simply don't understand. After the 20th century with it's cubism, abstract expressionism, installation art and all the other non representational or extreme forms that have come along since then, the confused public, with for the most part no artistic training or education, has no choice but to take the standard default position and judge art by how photographic it looks. If it looks like a photograph it must be good. "Who knows what Picasso and Guernica are all about, but I understand Norman Rockwell, his art looks real, so I'm gonna buy the Saturday Evening Post." Artists and art directors know this. If you want your consumers to like your art, make it as photographic as you can. How many times have you heard the praise wild life artists get when it is discovered that they paint every hair on the animal. Comparing art to photography is the easiest and most natural way for someone without an artistic background to decide whether or not they like something. What else have they got to go by ? And I'm going to guess that if you are reading this article or this comment, this position does not apply to you.

On the other hand, I do have an art background and much prefer the hand made look of something drawn from the imagination or from life and am usually turned off by any obvious photo reference. Why ? Because most photo based art has a sameness and predictability that comes from using a common source - the camera.

7/01/2013 8:56 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

most photo based art has a sameness and predictability that comes from using a common source - the camera

Great point well said, Larry.

David,

I always get the suspicion on this subject that you perceive negative reactions to photo derived work as a slight to the individual artist, and your lawyerly instincts to defend a client take over. It's not a personal attack on the artist's moral character....not for me anyway.

7/01/2013 9:51 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/01/2013 10:45 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I like drawings and paintings. I think. Given the choice between two images of the same thing with roughly the same composition I'd choose the drawing/painting, I think.
Is it because the drawing/painting is better in some intrinsic way, aesthetically, more beautiful? Occasionally. Maybe.

And that's only talking about situations where the drawing/painting is roughly of the exact same surface content as the photograph, but it's becoming harder and harder for me to deny that the variety of photography is making it much more interesting to look at.

There are photographs that, quite unlike the paintings and drawings I see today, actually make me feel something. I'm led to wonder what I'm doing. Why am I so invested in the art?

Am I invested in the art because it's better? Or have I told myself it's better because I'm invested in the art? I'm growing to suspect it's the latter. I'm growing to suspect that a lot of my feelings for drawings/paintings have a lot more to do with childhood hero worship, that I became intensely emotionally involved in, rather than an actual belief in the superiority of drawn/painted images, or any stronger reaction from them. If you don't identify with my fear, ignore me.

I can only speak for myself, but this conversation is causing me to have to deal with fears I've been suppressing for some time. Perhaps, in the end, it'll turn out that all I ever was, to quote SLC PUNK, was a stupid poser.

7/01/2013 10:58 AM  
Blogger Greg Newbold said...

One of the most cringe inducing comments I get from time to time it that my painting/drawing/illustration "looks just like a photograph" I try to take it with a grain of salt, understanding that most people do not have a true artistic frame of reference other than the ever present medium of photography with which to couch an artist's work. If there is realism to the work and any believable level of detail, it "looks just like a photograph". If the viewer had any idea the lengths I go to in order to separate my work from the reference photographs I use, they would not make such a statement. My work and I dare add, the work of the majority of narrative artists I know does nor come close to photographic realism. I rarely start a given project by being inspired by a photo. I usually pick up a pencil, or read an author's words. I think and conceptualize, consider point of view, perspective, mood, possible color palettes, lighting and drama. I then make small sketches and larger more resolved sketches, I look for the right costumes, props and models and ONLY THEN, to I reach for my camera in order to match my photo reference to the concept and sketches that I have already made concrete on paper. The photo does not then take over the process, rather, the details and reality of the photo are then adapted to what I see in my mind's eye and I use them to enhance MY reality This usually does not always coincide literally with what the photos tell me. I admit that in the business of illustration, there are times when things need to be done quickly and accurately and photos are a tempting mistress to which I have occasionally succumbed, but as I look back over what I consider my most effective and unique work, they are usually the ones where the process begins and ends with the picture being filtered by internal expression.

7/01/2013 11:38 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/01/2013 11:45 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/01/2013 11:59 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Greg "but as I look back over what I consider my most effective and unique work, they are usually the ones where the process begins and ends with the picture being filtered by internal expression."

QED!

7/01/2013 12:05 PM  
Blogger George Freeman said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/01/2013 1:05 PM  
Blogger George Freeman said...

Clearly you couldn't add a link to your Rockwell quote. So here's your post on Oberhardt. It reminds us of his postion in the illustration community and why Rockwell accepted his scorn.

http://illustrationart.blogspot.com/2008/03/william-oberhardt.html

7/01/2013 1:11 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Well, if you look at Oberhardt's early work, a great deal of it is traditional illustration. But, and I can't be sure of this, I think as he went on he began to concentrate increasingly and almost exclusively on portraiture. Meanwhile Rockwell's doing full color, full fledged, fully composed paintings, with multiple figures and complicated lighting, and 87 different textures...

When you take that disparity into consideration, Oberhardt's upbraiding sounds a lot like "Let them eat cake!"It just completely whiffs on the actual issue.

7/01/2013 1:29 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/01/2013 1:34 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

David’s second question in the previous post: “Even if we can categorically state there is no intrinsic aesthetic meaning to an image, I don't know who is in charge of classifying the result as "non-art." If something made by human hands is beautiful but has no intrinsic aesthetic meaning, can that not still be a form of art?.”

The word ‘art, as far as I can see it, is partly there to provide the distinction between something that has intrinsic meaning and something that requires outside endorsement to be understood. Its misuse is something that is, of course, impossible to police.

Something that is beautiful is not necessarily art. Although art can possess beauty.

7/01/2013 1:52 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/01/2013 2:06 PM  
Blogger Donald Pittenger said...

Let me break into the ongoing discussion to say that the Frazetta image combo was a really nice catch, David.

7/01/2013 8:35 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

By the way, there is a Frazetta story of him very excited because he was buying a very big reference file collection from a new york illustrator for very cheap. Among other quotes I remember from the anecdote, Frazetta says, "They think I don't use any reference."As if to say, "the fools!"

As an aside, I believe the same piece of ref Frazetta used in that panel was also used in Creative Illustration on the page where Loomis discusses "tonal plans."

Having said all that, the reason Frazetta is considered so marvelous by so many illustration fans has almost nothing to do with his use of reference. And almost everything to do with the living quality of his work. So rather than dwell on the fact that he sometimes used reference, which explains almost nothing about why his work is so good, it seems more instructive to the question at hand to look at why his work has so much aesthetic life to it.

Once you start getting a handle on that, the problem with the aesthetic deadness of photos becomes much more stark in the comparison.

7/01/2013 8:41 PM  
Anonymous MORAN said...

Yes I wonder why Frazetta and Apatoff paid so much attention to that Life Magazine photo.

7/01/2013 10:38 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...



Laurence John wrote: "a work of illustration or painting in which the photo reference is too apparent looks facile."

Does that mean that when the software improves, so we can run a photo through the Lucien Freud App or the Sargent App to keep the photo reference source from looking "too apparent," the resulting image will satisfy your requirements?

Chris Bennett-- I don't know that anyone-- even the most enthusiastic cheerleader for Photoshop-- believes that the forces we're discussing will make you an artistic genius who can summon that lightning down from the sky. (At least not yet.) But that still leaves the vast majority of artists who do yeoman work, and whose work is greatly enhanced by these tools.

Artists who previously could not achieve a decent likeness can now do so with ease (not that they need to, with the "photo-illustrations" now crowding traditional illustrations out of the magazines). Artists who could not letter or do technical drawing or keylines or paste ups can now do so. Artists who lack basic color management skills can rotate through a dozen alternatives in a minute, until they hit upon a combination that looks good. The improvement in the speed and efficiency of art seems undeniable to me. The technology follows the economics, and the economics seem to drive the art (and that means both "fine" and "commercial" art, for those of you who have any doubts).

I think you're right to test these issues with the hard cases-- I try to do the same. So it's proper to ask if the divine proportion tool can come up with an inspired composition. I agree with you, it cannot. But I suspect it can elevate huge numbers of lumpenproletariat with no sense of design or composition into doing a passable job. And that has to affect the jobs offered and the fees paid to artists, not just in the middle of the pyramid but even at the top.

7/01/2013 11:50 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

David, the real question is why would YOU be impressed by a piece of software such as that ?

the idea that machines can replicate human expression (and therefore have a 'heart' or a 'soul') is something that fascinates the techno-geeks endlessly.

the composer David Cope invented some software that wrote 5000 Bach-like chorales in a day. all he really proved was that he could make a machine-made variant of something created by another living person (who did all the hard work).

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/jul/11/david-cope-computer-composer

7/02/2013 6:14 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

David – ” Artists who previously could not achieve a decent likeness can now do so with ease (not that they need to, with the "photo-illustrations" now crowding traditional illustrations out of the magazines). Artists who could not letter or do technical drawing or keylines or paste ups can now do so. Artists who lack basic color management skills can rotate through a dozen alternatives in a minute, until they hit upon a combination that looks good. The improvement in the speed and efficiency of art seems undeniable to me. The technology follows the economics, and the economics seem to drive the art (and that means both "fine" and "commercial" art, for those of you who have any doubts).”

Yes, I agree with that, David. I think this is teasing out a distinction that may be helpful… But:

David - ”…that still leaves the vast majority of artists who do yeoman work, and whose work is greatly enhanced by these tools.”

The public’s need for images is generally functional. It is concerned with identification – communicating visual information as accurately and comprehensively as possible. Henry VIII commissioned Holbein to provide him with the same sort of intelligence we seek when browsing online, be it for a mate, nice places to go at the weekend or shoes. Holbein happened to be an artist of the highest order, among the world’s greatest artists. But had photography existed, Henry, as cultured as he was, would have sent his court photographers to do the job without a second’s though of Holbein – assuming Holbein was even in his court if this were the case.

What I am saying is that the dominance of the photographic image today is because of its cost-effectiveness at supplying visual information as opposed to its supposed potency for embodying aesthetic meaning. Visual information is a vital part of the advertiser’s agenda. Their job is to display their product as enticingly as possible without unlawfully misleading. The combo of photography and Photoshop was just an adman’s wet dream up until the early 80s… and the nightmare on the horizon for the talented illustrators of the 50s onwards.

...cont/

7/02/2013 6:24 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Talented artists, by default, are going to be talented illustrators and they are inevitably going to be talented at rendering credible visual information. Their talent as designers and realisers of aesthetic images would therefore also come on board to join the requirements of the advertising paymasters. But the moment you can solve the ‘enticing visual information problem’ at a tenth or fiftieth of the cost, you are not going to need talented illustrators anymore. And out with the talented illustrators go the talented artists. Holbein is out on his ear. Most of the aesthetics are thrown out with the costly ultramarine. Before this, the talented artists were at a premium to feed the functional, routine visual requirements of the general public and advertisers, so their aesthetic contribution came as a bonus. When these functional requirements were superseded by mechanical means (which was inevitable), those recruited for manipulating them at the service of commerce are rarely selected on the basis of aesthetic sensibility by paymasters whose focus is on the enchantment and hyping of verisimilitude for retail or functional purposes.

So my argument is that the highly efficient tools at the disposal of today’s graphic artist to deliver the functional requirements I’ve outlined has nothing to do with improving the design or aesthetic content of anyone using it, talented or a hack. The tools merely firm up the prime routine verisimilitude requirements of their images. I contended that that is the improvement that you are talking about. I understand, however, that you may disagree with that.

I imagine we agree on the predicament this puts illustrators in, even if we come at it from differing viewpoints. Photography’s superiority at conveying reliable visual information, which coupled with the enhancing and manipulation capabilities of the digital technologies, will probably continue to stand unassailable at the service of the Monarchy of Money and their court of advertising execs. Thus I advise anyone who wants to be a commercial artist to gain fluency with the collaging of photos in Photoshop or learn 3D programs for modelling, rendering and environments. If they don’t fancy that, then I say turn to cartooning for Apps, or get into children’s illustration and fantasy. The reason cartooning is still in demand in this situation is directly related to what I consider to be the validity of my point. I’d be very interested to hear your take on that… ;)

7/02/2013 6:25 AM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

Say goodbye to blown rotator cuff's!

Changing the game, nothing but aces!

Awesome.

7/02/2013 8:49 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Kellie-- I agree. Real deal artists apply the same vision to photographs that they apply to flowers or landscapes. In this painting by Bernie Fuchs, the crowd in the background is a good example of what you are describing.

अर्जुन wrote: "you clearly misunderstand that quote."

Well, perhaps I do and perhaps I don't. When I was researching the Fawcett book, it was not hard to come across intemperate quotes about photography by Fawcett, but they mostly seemed to be deliberate exaggerations for the purpose of being obnoxious to John Whitcomb, an inferior (but more popular) illustrator who relied heavily on photographs. But that back story was too complicated to squeeze into this blog post.

I agree that Fawcett was more pragmatic and open about the use of photographs than many, but I still think he downplayed his use of photography for the same reasons that Frazetta and Rockwell did. (For example, did you know that the model for the gentleman resting his chin on his hand in Fawcett's most famous Sherlock Holmes illo was Bill Joli, Fawcett's professional photographer?) But don't worry, as a matter of personal taste I still believe that there was no better draftsman in 20th century illustration than Fawcett.

Larry MacDougall-- Good points. With all the drawbacks to representational art with a heavy mechanical presence, there is a lot of hand made art (installation art, etc.) that is far worse.

7/02/2013 10:08 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Etc, etc -- You're right, I am interested in our motives (mine included) for having a lower regard for some photo-based art. There are obviously some purely aesthetic justifications, but if the resulting image is indistinguishable (which happens) then what reason could there be, other than resentment that the artist never mastered the skills or paid the same dues that his or her predecessors did? You can say it is a question of work ethic, or of unfair advantage, or cheating the viewer with the impression that you possess talents that you don't really have. You can say that this tool narrows the gap between the artist and the viewer, and therefore reduces the esteem for the artist. But if morality is not an ingredient, why do so many people hold in higher esteem the artists (such as Rockwell or Fuchs) who proved that they could deliver the goods without photography, but who just use photography to accelerate the process and be more productive?

Oberhardt certainly thought it was a moral issue when he called Rockwell "Judas."

Richard-- As far as I'm concerned, those are the questions to ask and those are the right reactions to some of those questions. It is important to explore how much of our human magic and passion can be simulated persuasively by software, and (no matter how much fear and loathing the answers inspire) it is especially worthwhile to understand what we have left after the software has taken us as far as it can.

7/02/2013 10:43 AM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

""(For example, did you know… was Bill Joli, Fawcett's professional photographer?)"" ~ I knew you were holding back information! Now post some more rare RF!

"It is important to explore how much of our human magic and passion can be simulated persuasively by software" ~ JUVE!

7/02/2013 11:33 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

There are obviously some purely aesthetic justifications, but if the resulting image is indistinguishable (which happens) then what reason could there be, other than resentment that the artist never mastered the skills or paid the same dues that his or her predecessors did?

But doesn't that concern only rendering issues? If the aesthetic justification places a high premium on imagination and creativity, then it really isn't an issue or a dilemma. Do you ever look at a photograph and think, "Wow... that looks just like a Frazetta...a Tiepolo"? The differences go beyond subject matter and how it is rendered. Not that photography can't be imaginative, but rather that it can be imaginative only in a different way.

7/02/2013 11:51 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Greg Newbold-- I think there's a lot to what you say. It may interest you to know that Matt Mahurin, whose manipulated photographs appear on this post, describes his own process in very similar terms. He starts with a pad and a pencil, and does a lot of sketches before he turns to other tools, such as a camera.

George Freeman and Kev Ferrara-- Oberhardt was definitely "old school," a tough disciplinarian who was widely respected at the Society of Illustrators. If you visit the Society in NY, you can see his charcoal portraits of the Society presidents lining the stairways, and they are absolutely beautiful-- sensitive, animated, revealing. He would scare the hell out of me if he barked at me. Having said that, I agree with Kev that once you got past his portraiture and he tried to integrate multiple figures in a plane, his abilities dropped off very quickly. He was a specialist.

7/02/2013 11:57 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

but if the resulting image is indistinguishable (which happens)

If it is indistinguishable, then the aesthetic deficiencies inherent in photography have been surmounted. Which explains why Oberhardt had to ask Rockwell if he had gone over to photos. (Whereas, nobody bothers to ask Romance cover artists if they've gone over to photographs.)

You can say it is a question of work ethic, or of unfair advantage, or cheating the viewer with the impression that you possess talents that you don't really have.

It should be duly noted that you never mentioned actual artistic concerns in the above passage. Only jealousy, market competition, and self-promotion. Think about that.

The moral issue, as far as I can see it is this: In the religion of art, it is considered the sacred task of the artist to manifest truth. Since a photograph is all fact with nothing to say about truth, the use of the photo as a foundation to the artwork results in dead gestalt design.

It takes a genius at the level of Bernie Fuchs to put a nice dress and sun hat on that corpse and to make you believe the dead can walk; The surface of a Fuchs picture is smeared with his soulfulness. But it can't penetrate into the heart of the picture and doesn't.

That some simply cannot detect the dead heart, the anaesthetics, of photos, makes this conversation a difficult one. Aside from the differences in people's sensitivities to visual information, and wide variances in artistic exposure and experience, there is nostalgia, friendship, hero-worship, personal investment, ego, the conflation of entertainment and sensation with art, peer pressure, and an unflagging political faith in the correctness of generosity over judgment in the way of gaining clarity on the issue.

7/02/2013 12:00 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

(Whereas, nobody bothers to ask Romance cover artists if they've gone over to photographs.)
~ Wait… what! Are you sayin' what I think you're sayin'‽ Surely now, this is a bridge too far!

7/02/2013 12:36 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

अर्जुन,

You may be the first person to converse entirely in urls. Behold: Homo Hyperlinkus.!

7/02/2013 1:02 PM  
Blogger The Skräuss said...

Excellent final line. I re-posted it. It's this lack of elevation (replaced with intellectual pseudo-superiority, or, less antagonistically, intellectual exercise for its own sake and critics talking to themselves about it) that I aim to destroy with my own work. Or, less antagonistically, I aim to return art to the elucidation of the awesome and sublime, to edification.
http://skraphaus.com

7/02/2013 2:32 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Chris Bennett-- I'm sure I am missing something in your intrinsic / extrinsic distinction. Take as an example this painting by Leyendecker. Even if you have no extrinsic knowledge of the period or the clothing or the weapon in the picture, to understand and appreciate it you still need extrinsic knowledge of what a man is or what it means to be on your knees. Even elements that seem instinctive, such as our reaction to that glorious golden sun are best appreciated because your extrinsic experience assigns the sun a certain majesty and importance. You know what those lines coming out from the sun mean because you've seen it radiate light. The meaning (what Kev calls "subtext") would mostly seem to be extrinsic, yes?

On the abstract end of the spectrum, If I meditate on a wall-sized Rothko, a gloomy, purple/blue one, and I commit suicide at the end, have I had a subconscious epiphany?

Donald Pittenger and MORAN-- yes, that figure does have a way of capturing your attention, doesn't she?

Kev Ferrara-- Yes, I once heard Frazetta at a comic convention say that he did not use photos or models. He said, "every once in a while I may use a mirror," then flexed his muscles in a warrior pose. He did not do aspiring artists any favors that day, but I agree that doesn't detract from the quality of his work. He is terrific.

When Frazetta did not use adequate photo reference, he could come up with some pretty ungainly pictures such as this one. You faulted Oberhardt earlier because he could not keep up with Rockwell's "full color, full fledged, fully composed paintings, with multiple figures and complicated lighting, and 87 different textures." Wouldn't you say the same about Frazetta?

7/02/2013 6:58 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Laurence John wrote: "David, the real question is why would YOU be impressed by a piece of software such as that?"

Laurence, for the same reason that people place art, creativity and imagination at the very core of what it means to be human, I think we should be fascinated by anything that appears to encroach on that territory. Right now, the software is just nibbling at the boundaries, but so far it has nothing but victories behind it, and it has a head of steam. So for me, the question is the biggest one: who are we? Where are we going? We used to ask, "What makes us different from the beasts of the field? What makes us different from the stars? If we don't add, "what distinguishes us from machines," we aren't paying attention.

Early animators scoffed at "The Polar Express" which derailed in the uncanny valley. But look at CGI animation now.

If our human identity isn't enough to pique your interest, perhaps the economics should be. "Software such as that" is eating the lunch of illustrators around the world.

Chris Bennett wrote: "the dominance of the photographic image today is because of its cost-effectiveness at supplying visual information as opposed to its supposed potency for embodying aesthetic meaning." That's probably right, but the two aren't mutually exclusive, are they? Mark English said, "During the 'great' days of the Saturday Evening Post, a whole school of illustrators were developed. They showed us what things, places or a group of characters looked like at a particular moment of a particular story. Their job became less important as good photographers emerged.... Now the Post illustrator hardly exists, or, at least, his job hardly exists. I can not mourn this fact. To the contrary I think it is surely a burden off the illustrator today, and the results of his new independence show."

Do you think the same path can be followed by photography?

7/02/2013 7:43 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

you still need extrinsic knowledge of what a man is or what it means to be on your knees.

No, you are missing that what it means to be on your knees is first an abstract gestural matter. Anything that has the selfsame abstract gesture has the selfsame abstract "intrinsic" meaning.

And a man looks like a man because of the shapes and forms and textures and colors of which he is comprised, as well as the relationships among the parts. A man is a particular kind of abstract composition. And that undergirding abstraction is a set of sensual meanings composed into one complex of such meanings. A piece of driftwood composed of most of the same shapes and forms as a man, and in similar relationships will also partake of the same sensible complex. The Leyendecker does as well, before it is a reference to a man of a certain era and culture and age. We read the abstraction first, then pull out the magnifying glass and check the references.

That we need to be a human being to understand the reference being made by the appearance of the symbol of a human being on canvas is a separate matter.

This stuff comes out of neoplatonism, idealism, and swedenborg's ideas on the Universal Symbolic and correspondence. This was the philosophical training ground for the Golden Age illustrators. Pyle, in particular, was intensely concerned with native meanings.

He did not do aspiring artists any favors that day.

Nor many other days after about 1972. Prior to that, there are many first hand stories of Frazetta giving out good advice to young artists.

I think I've mentioned already that FF's antipathy toward helping artists was probably due to FF's artistic generosity toward Jeff Jones in the early 70s, which drove Ellie up a wall once JJ became a top fantasy cover artist.

Reminds me of Ken Kelley's own account of being Frazetta's lone "student": Frazetta really didn't invite him into his studio, didn't want him as a student. Frazetta wouldn't tell him how he got his artistic effects, and wouldn't let him watch him work. Which explains a lot more about his work than Mr. Kelley intended, I dare say.

You faulted Oberhardt earlier because he could not keep up with Rockwell's "full color, full fledged, fully composed paintings, with multiple figures and complicated lighting, and 87 different textures."

No, you misunderstood that point. I meant that it was all too easy for Oberhardt to reprimand Rockwell for Rockwell's use of photos, when Oberhardt was doing work much more easily accomplished without photos (and in one sitting) than Rockwell was.

That "ungainly" Frazetta is a classic image. I don't give a hoot about whether all the drawing is right. As long as it convinces enough. An image is a piece of poetry, not a fact finding mission. There is no masterpiece in the world where the drawing is perfect all the way through. Because it can't be. (Ever notice how small the head looks on that Leyendecke?)

All visual tropes manifest as mimetic distortion. There is no way around that. Only a camera draws perfectly because it has no poetic mission.

Having said that, maybe I'm just blind to how thoroughly the distortion mars the believability of the image. I'd be interested to hear what others on the blog feel about it.

7/02/2013 8:03 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

You can't fool me ~ William Oborehardt

7/02/2013 9:55 PM  
Anonymous MORAN said...

Kev Frazetta had the monster and vampire groupies but he was not a painter like Leyendecker. That Leyendecker head is small like the boots are large. Its called foreshortening.

7/02/2013 9:56 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

अर्जुन, hah! You rock the google books. In fairness, Overlyhard's portrait work in 40 Illustrators and how they work is pretty stellar. But those illustrated scenes you just fished up, technically speaking, suck baboon ass.

Moran, Re: JC ... look at the size of the hand holding the book compared to the face. Look up and down the length of the arm facing us -- parallels all the way, no recession of perspective. Note that you can see the curve of the collar as it meets and rests over the shoulder. You can only see that if you are looking straight on at the figure, otherwise the shoulder would block the view of that. Note too that you can only see one nostril, another indication that we are looking straight on at the figure. So the figure is clearly not in perspective.

It is, however, idealized. To at least 8-heads in height, which it should be noted, is a poetic trope used by artists to give a figure Apollonian grandeur.... a formal distortion.

Or Leyendecker is trying to give the effect of perspective without actually putting any part of the figure into foreshortening. Also a formal distortion to produce an effect.

(Or he just made the head too small.)

Anyway, you don't need to sing Leyendecker's praises to me. I think he was the best painter-draughtsman of the 20th century. His prowess is actually shocking.

But you are wildly underestimating Frazetta by trying to put him in the "monster and vampire" category and dismiss him as a serious artist. To me, Leyendecker and Frazetta are on equal footing as great artists along with a lot of others.

7/02/2013 11:48 PM  
Blogger ARMAND CABRERA said...

Even photographers have suffered from the advancement of tech. Ansel Adams would send his students out in Yosemite with one glass slide at a time no more. He would admonish them saying there is nothing worse than a clear image of a fuzzy concept. Fast forward from that philosophy to the 80’s when a photographer friend of mine was criticized by the Art director for being lazy for only shooting 800 exposures for a 6 page Nat Geo Article. Fast forward again and now in the digital age of photography you have news organizations using the equivalent of home movies and amateur photos instead of paying professionals to shoot their footage. To the untrained eye, tech makes everyone a pro at just about every creative endeavor there is. And there is the rub, when you remove the journey to excellence and the casualties that difficult journey creates, you remove the seasoned aesthetic view. That creates illustrations littered with Dutch Tilt trying to compensate for Frazetta’s Dynamic gestures and 200 million dollar space operas filled with 100’s of lens flair effects like the latest Star Trek turdzilla.

7/03/2013 12:17 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

David wrote: “Even elements that seem instinctive, such as our reaction to that glorious golden sun are best appreciated because your extrinsic experience assigns the sun a certain majesty and importance. You know what those lines coming out from the sun mean because you've seen it radiate light. The meaning (what Kev calls "subtext") would mostly seem to be extrinsic, yes?

This is a good point, and further helps to distinguish the questions around which the argument is being made. As far as I see it, we interpret the world through metaphorical associations with our body shapes and by our primal associations hard-wired into the physiology of our brains.

By metaphorical associations I mean empathically associating aspects of extrinsic shapes in the world to configurations of the human body – a lamppost is sensed as a towering figure looking down, a gable end of a roof sensed as the eyebrow above the eye or the shape the body makes when astride a river etc. Many abstract shapes used as communication have evolved from this principle: an exclamation mark; a figure that has been caused to jump from a spot, a question mark; a figure looking to see what it has jumped from.

By primal association I mean the hard-wired automatic response to aspects of the natural environment that have survival dependency – the calming effect of uninterrupted horizontals characteristic of the open plain that is a sign of no immediate danger, the unsettling presence of many verticals characterised by the forest that is the sign of uncertainty, the instability of diagonals hard-wired into us by our difficulty in balancing on steep inclines.

This is the shared primal grammar of our bodies by which we read and interpret the world outside it. It is pre-language and therefore innocent of extrinsic knowledge brought to an encounter with the environment.

7/03/2013 7:03 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

David wrote: “On the abstract end of the spectrum, If I meditate on a wall-sized Rothko, a gloomy, purple/blue one, and I commit suicide at the end, have I had a subconscious epiphany?”

David, you’ve fallen right into the trap! Your extrinsic knowledge about Rothko’s biography has caused you to interpret those lovely, richly coloured big squares of canvas as expressions of a depressive state. I could say that he made those things to cheer himself up. Their intrinsic effect can only be read by the subconscious – that is, the principles governing what I have just outlined.

Regarding the radiating lines coming out of the Leyendecker sun; this is an example of primal association. When looking at a bright light the eyes experience a radiating halation caused by the lubrication fluids of the eye diffracting the rays along with an involuntary squinting. The radiating lines are the graphic equivalent of that effect.

This also answers the reason for the Leyendecker head being ‘too small’. When an object is seen against a bright light there is a subjectively perceived dilation of its size – it is seemingly swamped by the surrounding brightness. Thus, my bet is that Leyendecker instinctively drew the head small to simulate the effect of brightness behind it. Our sense of that sun’s brightness is ‘tricked into us’ by our subliminal awareness of the dilation effected I’ve just described

David wrote: “Do you think the same path can be followed by photography?”

I can’t see how, since photography, but definition of its working principle – a mechanical graphic trace of photons – is an entirely reliable record of appearance. Even the invention of a cheap means of producing holograms retains, in essence, this basic principle.

7/03/2013 7:05 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

You guys are missing the point.

How we come to have an innate understanding of the intrinsic meanings of abstractions is a separate question.

Some say experience molds the symbols into our brains. Some say that only if our brains already have the capacity to appreciate these symbolisms can we understand anything. Therefore the brain is already hardwired with a symbolic clay that presupposes that which it will be tasked to model. Thus, in a sense, the brain is hardwired with the abstractions of experience before it experiences them.

Once the brain has these innately meaning abstractions at its disposal, then form can have meaning, and complexes of form can build meaning.

So the question, "how does a picture intrinsically mean" requires us to distinguish form (all the undergirding abstractions that are intrinsic to the picture, which exist in a state of generality) from reference (everything we can identify as specified, the cultural texture of the picture, the nameable objects, the semiotic info, etc. which require education of things extrinsic to the form(s) of the image.)

Truly great artist-poets can universalize their pictures by building everything in it in such a way that everything is defined as well as the scenario needs by abstract form alone. J.C. Leyendecker is just such an artist.

Conversely, an artist that requires the viewer to understand something about the references he's put in the picture in order to understand the intrinsic meaning of the picture has failed as an artist. (Although they may succeed as a communicator.)

7/03/2013 11:08 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"Early animators scoffed at "The Polar Express" which derailed in the uncanny valley. But look at CGI animation now."

some of the best draughtsmen in the world now work for companies like Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks rather than the far less lucrative illustration field. i don't see any comparison between the technical sophistication and sheer hard work and talent required to produce an animated CGI animation, and a hypothetical 'app' or filter that can turn a photo into a Lucien Freud-like image.

if you really think it is so easy to skip all the hard work and go straight to producing amazing illustration by using apps / filters / divine proportion tools etc. then please show us some examples.

7/03/2013 11:47 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Kev wrote: “So the question, "how does a picture intrinsically mean" requires us to distinguish form (all the undergirding abstractions that are intrinsic to the picture, which exist in a state of generality) from reference (everything we can identify as specified, the cultural texture of the picture, the nameable objects, the semiotic info, etc. which require education of things extrinsic to the form(s) of the image.)”

But in order to do that there needs to be an understanding of the difference between the way the mind reads ‘form’ and how it reads ‘reference’. Digressions in order to sort that distinction out is, as far as I can see, very much to the point.

7/03/2013 11:58 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Laurence John-- You'll get no argument from me that "Some of the best draughtsmen in the world now work for companies like Disney/Pixar and Dreamworks." (See my recent posts on Ralph Eggleston, Peter de Seve and Carter Goodrich, for example). My point was rather that machines in general (and CGI in particular) have transformed the animation process to make it faster and more efficient. Disney repeatedly said that it could never have done "101 Dalmatians" with all those spots on the dogs, had it not been for the invention of the xerox machine. You can multiply that by a million for the hair of Rapunzel in "Tangled." You just can't get those results economically (in a single lifetime) with traditional hand painted animation. Yes, today's animation is a massive amount of work-- what percentage of that work is done by traditional artists, and what percentage is done by computer scientists, electrical engineers, and software writers?

I mentioned The Polar Express because I think that movie presents a great cautionary tale for people who scoff that automated solutions can never replicate the human touch. Traditional animators had a good laugh over the stiff, awkward figures created by computer back then, but look at "Despicable Me" or "Ice Age" today. It sure didn't take long.

7/03/2013 12:21 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

David, all of that computer software is used by extremely talented people who are for the most part traditionally skilled, and whose core discipline is still drawing.
the number and realism of hairs is just dressing.

(you could even argue that an entire movie like 'Ice Age' is still basically 'drawing' beneath it all, since the characters and backgrounds were all 'drawn' at some stage. it just has a very high final surface level of realistic detail).

you've avoided answering the main part of the last question; do you believe that mediocre talents become brilliant simply by the addition of some apps and filters ?

7/03/2013 12:42 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Laurence John-- so much for trying to sneak in a quick answer on a discrete issue during the working day.

I did not mean to duck the question, "do you believe that mediocre talents become brilliant simply by the addition of some apps and filters ?"

I think the answer today is clearly "no." But I do think that bad and mediocre talents become competent simply by the addition of some apps and filters. And I think we should not underestimate the impact of those bad and mediocre talents on the illustration market, including the market for brilliant talents. Lastly, the point of my Polar Express example is that the technology is on a phenomenal trajectory. Tomorrow it will make even less talented artists look even more competent. Will it ever make them brilliant? I hope not.

PS-- I had a great meeting at Disney with the people working on the hair in Tangled. They filmed women with long hair running and jumping and doing all kinds of things. They processed that film in all kinds of ways, and night and day the computers hummed for weeks.

7/03/2013 1:08 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

It should be pointed out that all this advanced CGI stuff is taking the place of photography too.

7/03/2013 2:22 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

David, I agree that today's technology has allowed those who would be otherwise rank amateurs to produce work that has the superficial appearance of competence, of finish. You can see it for yourself at places like DeviantArt. The lighting and color and finish look slick (but not 'correct' or successful at creating a tone or mood. I find myself asking in much digital paint work "Uh, what is the light source, how many, and where are they coming from, because damned if I can tell)by certain standards, good enough to receive praise from other amateurs who have not yet found out all the little tricks and shortcuts to get "industry quality" finish. This is problematic when 'good enough' is enough to compete and you have even more competitors for work than you did before.

Yet, this doesn't instill a sense of dread in me, no matter how much of the old ways have been lost. I think people like Matt Mahurin were a real eye opener. It woke me up to the idea that an artist, an illustrator can not only where many hats, as far as mediums, but also that maybe they should. I think those that limit themselves to the idea that illustration is only gratifying when pushing paper on pencil, or liquid paint on board are going to be at a disadvantage. While these processes may be more enjoyable than frying your eyes in front of a monitor or running a stylus along the too-slick surface of a Wacom pad (and they are, imo), I don't think the latter have to be less creatively satisfying. Far more satisfying than trying to be Leyendecker re-incarnate but having your lunch eaten.

Then again, I can only speak from personal preference. I've always seen the execution of process has been a necessary evil on the road to the desired image; fun to read about, but not so fun to perform For others, process is everything, it's where the joy comes from. The Mahurin example also proved to me that you can use the new tools to produce work that has much of the appeal that I find 2D images to hold. He has some wonderfully textured and even painterly work.

Maybe the above isn't exactly relevant to what you're saying or the examples you've cited, but I wanted to address the ideas/fear at large that I've seen expressed in various comments sections around the internet art community about the future of illustration and traditional techniques. I would advise people to find the many roads that lead to Rome. There seems to be little decline in the demand or want of images in socity, but the methods have chnaged, the expectations are different. But one can find a host of artists adapting or finding in roads to these new ways that are satisifying compromises between what they desire and what is demanded.

7/03/2013 2:37 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

Some random thoughts on the stigma of photo reference

- Don't know if you're familiar with Mike Hoffman. He is or was known as a Frazetta imitator. He's since done some introspection on that and recently came up with the label "ego-art" to describe Frazetta, as well as modern super-hero comics. One of the ideas behind the label ego-art is about skill bragging/showing off, about "getting those skills" and exaggerated masculinity. He believes that Frank's denial of photo usage is a component of that, a kind of self myth-making. There is further elaboration within this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMf0X_5W-6w&list=PL69_G-W6hmsw-mNyBXwMPAzA2pJmljAzk

(sorry, I don't remember what point in the video he touches on it)

-I've always suspected that FF did in fact use reference for some of the comic stories he did. There is just too much specific detail drawn accurately for that not to be so, photographic memory or not. Not to mention photo reference usage was common for doing realistic strips back then (like Rip Kirby). Ask Neal Adams or Alex Raymond. If it walks like a duck...

-Trying to follow in those footsteps, follow the myth, is absolutely damaging. It's inefficient. I have probably put myself back at least 5 years doing so, and I know there are others who did the same. I was obsessed with the idea that if the greats did it, I should do it to. Ego-art strikes again.

-the idea that we lose something with every advance in technology: depends. Of course we something, but if we're talking about the loss of discipline, well that's really on the artist's shoulders. I'm going to be frank, and this might offend some, but people need to budget their time better or think about their priorities if they can't do their due dilligence with regards to life drawing and study. I'm a nobody in the art world, yet I still do some anatomy study or sketching of some sort nearly every day (maybe nobodies have more free time, heh) Our first commenter, James Gurney, is a life sketching machine. The impact of using photo reference for a professional piece should not overwhelm that of observation from life. Well, it's up to the individual at least.

-photo reference is a replacement for the age old and potentially expensive practice of using live models. Don't know why there should be any shame or controversy involved. Are artists not expected to be practical? Or should we just forego any kind of accuracy for the sake of living up to some arbitrary standard of creative genius?



7/03/2013 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Herb Lubalin Fan said...

"Many abstract shapes used as communication have evolved from this principle: an exclamation mark; a figure that has been caused to jump from a spot, a question mark; a figure looking to see what it has jumped from."

chris bennett - try doing some or any research into the history of typography before pontificating about it. Ok? There's whole books written on this stuff, and there's a lot of designers who read this blog.

7/03/2013 3:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


(sorry, I don't remember what point in the video he touches on it)

at 0:57

7/03/2013 4:42 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Herb,
Two things; there’s no need to be so aggressive. And those observations are my own, not something I’ve read in a book. That fact is allied directly to my point.

7/03/2013 4:45 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Chris James,

I agree with a lot of what you wrote..... except for the idea of listening to what Mr. Hoffman has to say about Frazetta or, for that matter, ego. He emailed me out of the blue once, peppered me with personal questions about my father, and then blew up at me when I wouldn't praise his work unequivocally, screamed some insult at me in all caps. Very strange.

I think the thing is with the overwhelming tide of the technology, my fear is not that any particular artist will spend time trying and failing to live up to old standards for artistic greatness. But that none will.

Herb Fan,

Can you recommend which books you think best go into the history of the evolution of the letterforms?

Chris Bennett, I think you mean those typographic observations are your own, right? The rest of that stuff we talked about years ago.

7/03/2013 5:56 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Yes Kev, that’s right. Although the distinction between the formal and reference elements of images was something I was aware of long before, you were seminal in bringing it into much sharper and specific focus for me. This is true of the stuff about the human body and its fundamental relation to external shape interpretation and in particular, the subliminal process in all this.

7/03/2013 6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This from Wiki:

"The Hockney–Falco thesis is a controversial theory of art history, advanced by artist David Hockney and physicist Charles M. Falco, suggesting that advances in realism and accuracy in the history of Western art since the Renaissance were primarily the result of optical aids such as the camera obscura, camera lucida, and curved mirrors, rather than solely due the development of artistic technique and skill. In a 2001 book, Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters, Hockney analyzed the work of the Old Masters and argued that the level of accuracy represented in their work is impossible to create by "eyeballing it". Since then, Hockney and Falco have produced a number of publications on positive evidence of the use of optical aids, and the historical plausibility of such methods."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hockney%E2%80%93Falco_thesis

7/03/2013 6:40 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

Kev Ferrara,

Yeah, you're not the first to talk about questionable behavior from the guy. Actually, I was on the Frazetta forum and some of the strange behavior you guys were describing made me look the guy up. I just think the ego-art concept, and some of his other ideas, is an interesting angle even if it may be hogwash.

In some nightmare tech future, I can see what you say come to pass, and worse. Right now I still have some faith as to what technical standards can be reached with digital tools. I think the limited subject matter that seems to be available to illustrators is a problem right now though. It's nonstop escapism, pop culture, and boys club material. How many cliche fantasy/sci-fi worlds, Cartoon Network imitations and glamour girls do we need?

7/03/2013 6:59 PM  
Blogger ARMAND CABRERA said...

@ anonymous

Hockney is tool and his rambling (theory is too good a word for what he argues)can be disproved walking into just about any modern atelier. The fact many people pointed this out to him and he ignored it just proves what a troll he his.

7/03/2013 7:20 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Armand! Testify!

What about the media outlets that gave Hockney all that attention? And all the modernist or pomo trained artists out there that held his book up as proof that everybody more talented, accomplished or proficient than they were, were cheaters! (Thus Hockney had delivered them from their artistic failings. Hallelujah!)

I mean if any group of artists could be said to be hysterically anti-reference it was the Hockneyites.

Chris James,

I think we agree. Sometimes, too, it seems that photoshop and other digital tools have enabled the entire internet to become one continuous amateur sci-fi fantasy fanzine, with endless (and i mean endless ) poor repetitions of the same narrow band of cliches and genre conventions. It depresses me so badly that I feel like I'm constantly looking backward for inspiration instead of outward or forward. (A good thing or a bad thing, depending on your viewpoint.)

Chris Bennett,

Oh, absolutely. I know you were already interested in this stuff in a general way. You once wrote to me that you had been discouraged from this whole line of inquiry, though, because whenever you would think you had noticed visual tropes in a picture, people you knew would say you were "reading too much into things."

7/03/2013 8:11 PM  
Blogger ARMAND CABRERA said...

Kev,

I for one have embraced my inner 12 year old and I am now working my way through every F and SF image trope known to man; but traditionally of course.

7/03/2013 8:30 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Well, you don't exactly qualify for amateur status, Armand. Are you going to post what you're working on somewhere? Your ca thread?

7/03/2013 9:57 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

अर्जुन-- Don't be distressed by Kev's hurtful suggestion that romance cover artists look at photographs. After all, Elaine Duillo was elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame as one of the all time great illustrators. The essay (by a well known illustrator) accompanying her induction called her: "as skillful as an artist who has ever been inducted into the Illustrators Hall of Fame. Her superlative draftsmanship, her exquisite sense of design, her feeling for gesture and nuance, and the striking command of mood through use of color, are coequal and exceptional attributes of her work.... [she produces] works of true artistic excellence.... She is, in every sense of the word, a true master artist."

So all you bastards who have been trash talking photo-reference obviously don't have a clue.

The Skräuss-- That's a very worthwhile goal, indeed.

Kev Ferrara and अर्जुन-- Whoever assembled that Oberhardt collection must have hated the guy. I concur with your assessment of those pictures (although I suspect they suffer from their size and poor reproduction). But his charcoal portraits are really quite extraordinary-- what he accomplishes with a burnt stick of wood puts an interesting light on the role of the machine. I urge you to take a look at the originals if you ever make it to the Society in NY.

7/04/2013 3:25 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Chris James-- You can listen to a 90 minute interview with Mike Hoffman where he describes his previous incarnation as a Turkish slave trader, where he reveals the 4 "paychic senses," where he talks about being "tingled like crazy by my higher self"and the lives of amoebae, where he says that he draws women because he is "dealing with issues from many past life times" and you can still retain focus on his sentence about Frazetta's "ego-art"? I salute your powers of concentration.

Kev Ferrara-- Again, I agree that Frazetta is excellent but I wonder if you aren't letting him off the hook too easily. You note that Rockwell painted "full color, full fledged, fully composed paintings, with multiple figures and complicated lighting, and 87 different textures." You recognize how difficult it is to create multiple figures interacting believably in complex ways on a three dimensional plane. Isn't it relevant if Frazetta can't do that?

For the majority of his paintings, he seems to build a powerful image around one or two heroic figures, with a loose, soft focus background. Yes, it's part of the the virility of his style, to build everything around some heroic central thrust, and have the details fall away fast. That's OK with me. But on those occasions when he does try to put sharp edges on every object in the painting, so that the pieces have to fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, he seems to run into trouble quickly (as in that "golden seas" painting I flagged). It ain't the most important talent for a painter but if you are going to fault others for lacking Rockwell's ability, it seems to me you have to fault Frazetta as well. He is a painter more comfortable working in shallow space.

7/04/2013 6:10 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

David, happy fourth to you and yours and all my fellow bastards and bastettes tuning in through their electro-ether tele-screens.

I adore Frazetta's work and I think half of his paintings are absolute crap.

I think that Kane painting you "flagged up" is a masterpiece of an image. It is not a masterpiece of mimesis. If you want to take Art Points™ off for whatever it is that really bothers you about it, that's your business. But lots of great images have weirdnesses to them, because they are more like dreams than photos.

And as an imagist, Frazetta's work has its own thing to it, a totally different part of the Art spectrum from Rockwell. Each were equally brilliant in how they built their compositions, as far as I can see.

Personally, I am absolutely convinced that Frazetta could have made believable multifigure tableaus that would have satisfied your sudden zest for mimetic integrity had he so wished. But he didn't wish. So we'll never know if I'm right. Frazetta clearly preferred pictures that exploded with life or were murky, eerie, or dreamy in mood. And boy do I feel lucky he did. I am certainly not going to fault Frazetta for being an imagist. As a great image maker is an Artist of the first rank. And we have had precious few true image makers.

That Rockwell was able to create some truly great images himself and in his own style (Rosie the Riveter and Breaking Home Ties, for starters) surely shows that Rockwell was no slouch in that department either.

You can see just how ubiquitous the Frazetta "formula" (heroic single figure, strong frontal light, blurry background) has become in the global fantasy fanzine we call the internet. And just how many Frazetta-Formula paintings not done by Frazetta are actually great images on par with the master? Out of the ten million pictures following that formula, by my count, exactly none live up to Frazetta's standard. Which only goes to show that the so-called Frazetta Formula is actually useless as an image making convention.

It also points to what all good art teachers say happens when students copy the "style" of a great artist. They end up making junk because they don't understand what the great artist was thinking. As Frazetta himself said when one of his loose backgrounds was cut off by an art editor in order to zoom in on the main figures: These art editors don't know anything! They cropped off the whole side of the picture, not realizing how much was going on in there! (This quote is a paraphrase.)

Which is by way of saying, don't presume, like the art editor just mentioned, that Frazetta was just being lazy. Remember, to get the most extreme effects, one must work with the most extreme oppositions.

(To see another botched attempt at mimicking a master's style without understanding it, see the poster for The Sting.)

but if you are going to fault others for lacking Rockwell's ability,

David, for the second time, you are misunderstanding that point. I wasn't saying Rockwell good, Oberhardt bad. I was saying that it was easy for Oberhardt to scold Rockwell for using photos, when Oberhardt usually only needed his subject to come to the studio for a few hours so he could do his charcoal magic on a portrait. Whereas Rockwell absolutely required photos to produce the kind of complex and time consuming work he did as an illustrator who had deadlines.

So, I am not being hypocritical. Oberhardt's portraits are wonderful. Rockwell's pictures are wonderful. Frazetta's images are wonderful.

7/04/2013 8:53 PM  
Blogger ARMAND CABRERA said...

David
Don't judge us too harshly, our differences ain't really that extreme. Call us brutal,sick, sadistic, and grotesquely optimistic, but like everybody else, we've got a dream.

7/04/2013 10:23 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Armand Cabrera-- I had not heard that Ansel Adams story before. Very interesting, and I'm afraid the contrast with today's practices for digital photographers at the National Geographic is not surprising. I do agree with you about "the journey to excellence" and the importance of casualties along the way. It is a very different journey today, at least at the lower tiers, and that has an impact on true excellence at the highest levels.

By the way, I meant to ask you: have you formulated any opinions about David Hockney and his theory of Renaissance painting? If so, don't be shy-- speak up.

7/05/2013 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has probably been discussed before, but I don't see why people worship Frazetta. This lurid rollcall of barbarian axemen, naked nubiles with giant cats, monster snakes and weird landscapes seems to me to reproduce adolescent fantasies without making any interesting comment on them. I can't connect with his work because it has no connection with life as I know it. And by that I don't mean art has to be realist. I mean that Frazetta's work offers just the same shallow stereotypes again and again and again. I don't see what's admirable about this.

- Daniel S.

7/05/2013 5:43 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Armand Cabrera and Kev Ferrara-- I was joking about Elaine Duillo, but I do think she is a noteworthy landmark in the debate over photo-reference, because she seems to me to be an example of photo-reference run amok. She has a superhuman ability to transfer photos to acrylic paint, but her "exquisite sense of design" makes my teeth hurt and her "her feeling for gesture" or her "command of mood through use of color" seems coterminous with Kodak's. Yet, I must be wrong because she is lionized in the Hall of Fame as among the best of the best. Readers adore her covers because they want to be able to count the individual strands of hair on Fabio's head. If that is the verdict of this generation, what is this "dream" that you curmudgeons stubbornly cling to? And what is a young artist to think about the reliance on machines in the search for success?

Kev Ferrara-- I suspect that even if Oberhardt had photographs (and unlimited time) he would have a hard time replicating the atmosphere and authenticity that Rockwell was able to create. (witness his color work so helpfully provided by अर्जुन). I also think Frazetta sometimes has a hard time doing the same, based on his occasional trouble stitching together multiple components unless he concealed the line where they meet with swirls of smoke. (In the Kane painting that you regard as a masterpiece of an image, we can really see the seams between the boat, the water and the figures). For me, it isn't a failure of mimesis, I am perfectly fine with many of the structurally impossible things Frazetta depicted. And it isn't a problem with soft backgrounds-- to see how "hard" those "soft" backgrounds are, contrast Frazetta's soft backgrounds (which work) with Boris' (which don't). Let's just say, I agree with your opinion that "I adore Frazetta's work and I think half of his paintings are absolute crap." We may not agree totally on which paintings fall into which category, but I'd wager we agree on 95%.

7/05/2013 6:52 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

David wrote: “So all you bastards who have been trash talking photo-reference obviously don't have a clue.”

To use or not to use photo-reference is not the issue. It is the pernicious effect it can have on those artists who do not understand that aesthetic vitality in the work is an outcome of imaginative synthesis – a process that is severely crippled if seduced by the charisma of photographic reference.

Any guilt betrayed by an artist concerning use of photography in generating their pictures is anxiety about how deep within was the origin of that image. It is a concern for how much fermentation took place to produce the work in which they are proud, and how much its ultimate effect belongs to the assembling of outside reference. A question of how much the flavour of the work owes to the conscious mind dropping the beguiling grapes of reference in a blender, and how much is the product of fermentation within the cellar of the subconscious ‘soul’. In other words, how much is a concoction and how much is wine.

The degree to which either of these two things is present in a work is always apparent to those with the sensibility to see it. If reference is used, but has been completely synthesised and sublimated, then the work enters the aesthetic realm, regardless of its genesis.

7/05/2013 8:08 AM  
Blogger James Gurney said...

Wonderful, thoughtful discussion.

To me, the core of the issue is this: Art is life filtered through a consciousness. When you look at a group of photographs of a guy like Henri Cartier-Bresson, his artistic sensibilities come through. That's why photography is an art form. Painters who have strong aesthetic DNA, such as Alphonse Mucha, can use photo reference and make it serve their purposes. That can be true as well for cartoonists and animators who may use photography without letting it impart a photographic look to their work.

So as Chris suggests, the tools don't necessarily diminish the artistry, as long as the artist can hold on to their personal vision. That's the trick: to nurture the little inner fire, not always easy when the creative tools offer the ability to create professional looking finished images or graphics without doing much more than pushing a few buttons.

7/05/2013 9:23 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

I was joking about Elaine Duillo.

I didn't get that at all. I thought you had met her and found her such a nice person that you felt compelled to defend her work so you wouldn't hurt her feelings.

That the society of illustrators has elected her to the pantheon only goes to show that the kind of discussions we have been having here about Art with a capital A and the problems of photographic reference haven't been taken seriously in the mainstream world of illustration for a good long while..

Along those lines, there's a video of Richard Schmid online somewhere where he talks about how great the Golden Age of illustration was. And how the overuse of photography destroyed the imaginative quality of it and, in turn, the business of it.

7/05/2013 11:09 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

To that exact point, it seems obvious that the more an illustrator's work looks like a photo, the more readily he or she may be replaced with photos.

Thus Dean Cornwell lectured his students "to have a viewpoint so far removed from the photographic standpoint that you cannot be replaced by the camera," way back in the 1930s!

The placid acceptance of the transition from greats like James Avati or Robert McGinnis in the 50s and 60s, to the photo dependent renderers of the late 70s and 80s made the current situation inevitable; we are witnessing the photograph completely replace the painting on the romance novel cover because the significant distinctions between the paintings and the reference photos had completely fallen away.

So, basically, Dean Cornwell nailed it.

7/05/2013 11:22 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Along similar lines, there may come a day where the Presidential Photograph replaces the Presidential Portrait.

7/05/2013 11:27 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Kev wrote: “And how the overuse of photography destroyed the imaginative quality of it and, in turn, the business of it.”

There does remain a problem though. The surface of photography, which includes that of CGI, is seen as a norm, a standard by which the élan of any picture is generally judged today. It is the preferred complexion expected of almost any image, imaginative or otherwise. This makes sense in that our survival required as much information as possible from what it perceived and this tendency is necessarily hard-wired into us. So that would make it innate I guess. Thus the quest of corporations like Adobe to produce greater fluency in photo-realist image generation programs to supply faster tools for those working in the games and movie industry.

In other words, this ‘overuse’ is an innate tendency in humans locked into the global businesses fulfilling the public’s expectations concerning the complexion of images in general.

7/05/2013 11:42 AM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

Photography effortlessly, economically, and efficiently captures human emotions and the particular (not the ideal and universal). It came a little after his time, but it is no stretch to see photography as a continuation of Hegel's Romanticism aesthetic, which predicted an increasing emphasis on the inner life of Spirit (i.e. human inner emotional life) and ultimately the end of art.

7/05/2013 12:07 PM  
Blogger James Gurney said...

Kev: You're right that Cornwell held out in his early years, with stunning results. I wish it were true that Cornwell always had a happy relationship with photography. Ray Kinstler, who knew him pretty well in his later years, told me that Cornwell became pretty unhappy, partly because of the threat posed by photography,

Cornwell's granddaughter told me that she owns some of DC's works from his later career (quoting her): "that show that one less-admired technique he developed was to pose the model, take a photo, paint directly on the photo and then blow it all up and go from there. Nobody was too excited about some small studies I had that were DC paintings done directly on photos...and yet he was actually very cutting edge in trying to modernize his laborious process by doing this. And the paintings still came out looking like DCs."

7/05/2013 12:10 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

etc. etc.,

The difference between mere sensation (or pictures of emotion) versus actual Art is missing from your analysis. This is a central distinction in Romantic aesthetic philosophy particularly as the 20th century approached .

Chris Bennett wrote, our survival required as much information as possible from what it perceived and this tendency is necessarily hard-wired into us.

A study of Chess Masters found that they looked at far less combinations than lower ranked chess players. It cannot be so that indiscriminate information collection is what we are hard wired for. That is what the neurotic does. And the stunning proliferation and consumption of indiscriminate information as entertainment in the last 100 years, it seems to me, bears a large portion of the responsibility for the mass neurosis afflicting the west.

The main corrective to this mass wave of neurosis is a coherent understanding of meaning and a whole lot of information discipline. But the very academy from which such ideas might filter down through the schools and into the general populace has been utterly consumed in the insane fire of postmodern relativism.

7/05/2013 1:00 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Jim, that's a fascinating bit of first-hand history.

The Cornwell Step-by-Step article, which was written by Corwell's last assistant I believe, states that Cornwell was painting on photostats of his compositional sketches in his last years, as a way to speed up his laborious process of determining color schemes and getting the okay for art editors who were exerting increasing control over illustrators. But it conveniently excluded mention of actual painting on photoprints.

7/05/2013 1:36 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

One final thing, which might tie some of this up ...

We've already had अर्जुन give us this link to a Saul Tepper photo-illustration that ran in The American Magazine, 1935.

So I'll share this article from Time Magazine, not coincidentally, also from 1935:...

Within the year three mass circulation magazines, the American, Pictorial Review and Delineator, whose covers were rich prizes for illustrators, have adopted colored photographic covers as a regular feature.

Beyond boycotting a fellow member who had the temerity to submit some photographs of his own to their annual show, the illustrators did not know just what to do about all this last week but they remained highly vocal.

Cried President Wallace Morgan, famed illustrator: “Photography in Illustration is a new toy for both the public and the editors, whose disastrous results we are all feeling.”

Added Muralist Dean Cornwell: "The photograph has taken the bread completely out of our mouths. The point is how long will it let us starve. It does demand that the artist do better work, and work that is so removed in style that competition will cease to exist.”

James Montgomery Flagg: "This whole plague of photography is a baby of the Depression. It was cheaper than real art for advertising, but it is betraying its sponsors for all ads now look alike. The boy and girl in their bathing suits being too ecstatic about a case of beer are the same boy and girl on the next page swearing they couldn't live without one of the four cigarette brands that claim to be better than each other."

...

7/05/2013 1:45 PM  
Blogger etc, etc said...

The difference between mere sensation (or pictures of emotion) versus actual Art is missing from your analysis.

I was merely extrapolating Hegel's aesthetic theory. Familiarity with original source material is missing from your Google searches.

7/05/2013 1:45 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Kev,
If the mass neurosis afflicting the west was confined only to the west, then one might suppose it is a cultural malfunction playing itself out. But the fact that the industrialising east is also succumbing, and very quickly, does suggest that the fruits of technology are in some way ultimately responsible, regardless of culture that adopts it. That is to say, the technological infrastructure providing the means to cheaply supply the ‘stunning proliferation and consumption of indiscriminate information as entertainment’ is causing the effect.

But the commercial enterprises that glean their profits from this only gain sustenance by operating according to the law of supply and demand. The Chess Masters are at the end of the chess playing population bell curve. Can we therefore say that because the greater part of the overall populace is at the centre of the bell curve, a tendency to trust quantity of indiscriminate information trumps desire for discriminate information, and thereby produces the situation we are discussing?

Certainly the ‘insane fire of postmodern relativism’ is to be fought at every opportunity. But could its ascension into the tacit academy it has become, be the result of the democratising effect of technology on feeding the appetite for ‘indiscriminate information as entertainment’ symptomatic of the characteristics at centre of the population bell curve?

7/05/2013 1:54 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

I was merely extrapolating Hegel's aesthetic theory. Familiarity with original source material is missing from your Google searches..

Since this is the third time, at least, you've made the exact same extrapolation on this blog, it is natural to assume that you might agree with what you keep writing. So I criticized your suggestion on that assumption.

I think the big disconnect we have is that you think that only you have read Kant and Hegel. Whereas I think that you have only read Kant and Hegel.

7/05/2013 2:32 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Kev: "It should be pointed out that all this advanced CGI stuff is taking the place of photography too."

it's really the moving image (live action or CGI) that has overridden painting / illustration's significance rather than still photography.
but to stick to still imagery; since CGI is vastly more open to manipulation by the hand of the 'artist' than photo-chemical photography, it should - in theory - come full circle and become the new 'paint'.


Kev: "my fear is not that any particular artist will spend time trying and failing to live up to old standards for artistic greatness. But that none will."

they are, but they're not working in paint. i'm certain that the Rockwells and Leyendeckers of today are working in the moving image world.

7/05/2013 2:36 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

the technological infrastructure providing the means to cheaply supply the ‘stunning proliferation and consumption of indiscriminate information as entertainment’ is causing the effect.

I believe wholeheartedly in the idea that all technology is a trojan horse for the philosophical beliefs under which it was built. The more one uses any particular tech, the more the philosophy of that tech embeds in one's worldview. I think this holds across all areas of endeavor; all the sciences, all industries, all entertainments, all professions, all of the arts, all information delivery systems, and all professions.

7/05/2013 2:43 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

i'm certain that the Rockwells and Leyendeckers of today are working in the moving image world.

Laurence, That may be so, but they arnen't working with the old standards. Which is my point. We aren't getting paintings. We are getting movies.

7/05/2013 2:59 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Kev,
Just so I’m clear I understand your meaning: Eating food with a knife and fork induces a different attitude to eating and food than consuming it with chopsticks?

7/05/2013 3:06 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"We aren't getting paintings"

Kev, pigmented gunk isn't the point surely ?

i'm suggesting that your 'old standards' can be applied to any manipulatable medium, and CGI -in the hands of the right person- could be one of those.

7/05/2013 3:08 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Chris Bennett wrote: "To use or not to use photo-reference is not the issue."

I agree. Photo-reference is really just the starting point for the inquiry. You say that photographic data must be redeemed by "aesthetic vitality" which results from "imaginative synthesis." In this regard, you seem to concur with Jim Gurney's point that art must be "filtered through a consciousness."

Those both sound right to me. But the key question remains: is the role of that "consciousness" or "imaginative synthesis" shrinking as a result of technological enhancements? Does it start later and cover less territory? Most importantly, how far could it ultimately shrink? The answer to that will tell us something very important about the act of creation.

As a point of reference, consider digital clones of actors (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_actor). If the computer processes enough films of Humphrey Bogart, the hope is that a digital reincarnation of Bogart can interpret new lines the way that Humphrey Bogart would have if he were still alive. In short, they are trying to replicate what Jim Gurney might call Bogart's "consciousness" and what you might call his "imaginative synthesis" of the lines in his script. If they succeed, a lot of younger actors will be out of work. Our version of this question is: Will Adobe one day use similar technology to replicate the way that Lucien Freud or Sargent would "imaginatively synthesize" a photograph that we have scanned?

Kev Ferrara wrote: "I didn't get that at all."

Yikes, I can tell I'm going to have to work harder to establish my credibility around here. In my view, Duillo deserves a great deal of credit for prevailing in a man's world, and for her sociological impact, and for her hard work. She sounds like a real pistol. But as an artistic matter, I personally find her pictures comically misguided. (It will not surprise you to hear that I also disagree with the standards that elected her to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame with such wildly hyperbolic comments, but if those are the standards then I think you and Mr. Cabrera are outnumbered.)

7/05/2013 3:45 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Eating food with a knife and fork induces a different attitude to eating and food than consuming it with chopsticks?

Also to the abilities of the human hand. And the ways in which physical control may be exerted both directly and indirectly. I think that's obvious. But this is a picayune example of the idea, given what we are talking about.

i'm suggesting that your 'old standards' can be applied to any manipulatable medium, and CGI -in the hands of the right person- could be one of those.

Oh, yes, I completely agree with you in that sense. If the medium is sufficiently plastic, good art can be done with it. I meant that the people who are making still images to be used pre-production in movie making aren't making Rockwells and Leyendeckers or Cornwells. They are helping to make Speilbergs, Camerons and Ridley Scotts.

7/05/2013 4:03 PM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

Tepper & Time ~ I have had a post planned around that article! (Did anyone other than the D.A. read my latest?)

"the fruits of technology are in some way ultimately responsible"

7/05/2013 5:11 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/05/2013 5:41 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/05/2013 6:05 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

We may not be getting 'paintings' but I damn sure still seeing a lot of hand crafted, 2D imagery. And I'd say on average, more interesting visual work than that of the average motion picture. If there are Leyendeckers or Frazettas working in motion pictures, I'm not seeing it up on the screen. Mere technical skill in representation, in making Transformers or Pandora come to life, isn't enough imo.

Seems like chances for authorship are extremely low for production artists working in motion pictures. People can place the names James Jean, Rockin' Jelly Bean or Yuko Shimizu to their respective works, but do they know any of the names behind the latest Dreamworks animated feature, or the latest summer FX extravanganza?

It was said that photography was the death knell of classical painting, but I have yet to see the photograph that looks like a Rubens. I have yet to see the Hollywood film that looks like a Corben.



7/05/2013 6:40 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

"So would you agree that our current culture’s relative indifference to art is due to technology feeding the appetite for “indiscriminate information as entertainment” to meet the characteristic imaginative needs of the average person?"

I would say so, seeing as how the average person sees literal representation as the highest goal of graphic arts, and function being more important than form. It's also lack of education on the what and why of graphic art. Why did cultures adorn their walls with Tiepolo or Hiroshige? What is the significance in the way Ruben's skimmed his brush across the panel in this particular passage?

I derided escapism and fantasy early, but it's been one of the last barriers between illustration and complete mainstream irrelevance. A single, hand crafted image can depict things impossible to photography, and cost and time prohibitive to motion pictures. But I suspect even the market for such images is small still.

7/05/2013 6:59 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

So much to think about, wish there was an edit button.

I believe purely decorative work will be the last refuge for the relevance of singe, still images. Narrative and ideas can be better conveyed in words and sequential images, and believe the demand for narrative with complimentary imagery exceeds ,by orders of magnitude, that for imagery alone. If 2D American animation had blossomed in variety of concept and content as it did in, say, Japan, non-moving sequential images would truly be at great risk. Mercy that it hasn't.

It seems that, particularly in American culture, we cannot have a new thing without extinguishing the old.

7/05/2013 7:32 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Chris James, lots of good thoughts!

अर्जुन sorry for tipping your tepper hand! I'm loving the new Dunn advertising blog, though. And I see that you've linked up to Allen Tupper True's family site. Are you getting deeper into the Brandywine artists?

7/05/2013 7:50 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/05/2013 8:29 PM  
Anonymous Yukio said...

Chris James -- I didn't understand yuo here: "Narrative and ideas can be better conveyed in words and sequential images, and believe the demand for narrative with complimentary imagery exceeds ,by orders of magnitude, that for imagery alone. " What does that have to do with decorative art? Are you saying that decorative = complimentary? Confused on this point, but otherwise I think I agree with a lot of your make good points.

7/05/2013 11:50 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

Yukio,

Decorative as in serving purely as decoration, visual pleasantry, adornment , as opposed to an image that exists to tell a story or describe an event. Although there is often crossover between the two, they each require a different approach when it comes to technique.

I believe that literature, film and comics are better at telling stories or thoroughly conveying ideas. And among the masses, there is a demand for storytelling that far exceeds the demand for single images. I believe the average person pays more attention to images when they compliment a story, than the images themselves. Comic books, film, and more recently, video games = narrative complimented by images.

Therefore, if 2D still images are on a road to obsolescence in the face of technology and new art forms, decorative function will be the last stop, a sanctuary in which they have a power not usurped by other forms of visual art. Pure visual appeal, regardless of content or logic. Basically look so cool or beautiful (subjective, I know) that they want to pay to view or possess the work.

7/06/2013 1:34 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

James Gurney and Kev Ferrara-- Thank you for finding and sharing the reactions of Cornwell, Morgan and Flagg when they first began to see the handwriting on the wall. Those artists were as smart and talented as anybody around, yet they had no clue about the dimensions of what they were seeing.

25 years after the article quoted by Kev, Austin Briggs had developed a much more complex but realistic notion of the role of photos: http://i1137.photobucket.com/albums/n519/8iorek/Briggsessayondrawing010_zps1387a84c.jpg

7/06/2013 2:18 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

Chris James wrote: “I believe purely decorative work will be the last refuge for the relevance of single, still images. Narrative and ideas can be better conveyed in words and sequential images…”

I think this is largely right, Chris. And has, of course, always been the case. The evocation of the still image is all that it has got going for it really. That is its ‘unique selling point’ in terms of nourishment for the imagination. The one-to-one contact photography has with reality is, in fact, the very thing that largely negates the evocative property of still images that resemble, or are, photography. That’s why the complexion of the photographic surface is so vital to the movie and games industry in making their worlds unequivocal and therefore credible.

It is, in fact, the handmade quality of a painted image that embeds it in an ‘other’ realm. It says to us; “I have not been born of direct contact with reality”, thus inducing a sense of evocation in the beholder and invites imaginative journeys within its surface. It’s a kind of ‘half-heard tunes are sweeter’ principle.

The problem for today’s painter is the time in producing the handmade image and its subsequent marketability in today’s technological culture. In terms of owning originals the services of a Rubens or Veronese is no longer needed or wanted. It is evocation, the distilled essence of the invoking act of painting, which remains the unique property of its realm. This is embodied, for example, in Chardin, Poussin, Georgione or Morandi, and it is no accident that it is landscape and still life that dominates the walls of galleries that retail original paintings. (Not that Rubens or Veronese lack evocation, just that the requirements that brought them into being have sought other means)

So the need for what painting can supply to our spiritual life is there. The problem is the incentive to spend large amounts of money on owning originals when the entire stock of the planet’s recorded images is a few mouse clicks away.

7/06/2013 4:56 AM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Chris James "If there are Leyendeckers or Frazettas working in motion pictures, I'm not seeing it up on the screen."

i wasn't suggesting that a still from a movie can look exactly like a painting, but rather that the movie industry (including CG animation) now absorbs much of the type of talent that would have considered illustration a career in the 1900-30s. also, that for the majority of the non-art obsessed public, movies now occupy the spot that illustrations once did in rendering popular visions of the 'fantastic'.
i.e. the reference points for much of the public's perception of what certain superheroes or monsters look like is more likely to be from the most recent movie version than from the last drawn or painted version.

7/06/2013 6:27 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Laurence, I think you are forgetting just how many talented people are going into Video Games.

I couldn't give you a number as to how many films per year are made requiring extensive cgi. But every video game is all cgi.

There's also a host of talented people who straddle Video Games and Film, the skill sets increasingly asymptotic. And as well, there are number of talented artists who straddle comic books in that mix too. As well as fantasy book covers and game cards and the like.

I think one of your assumptions, Laurence, is that the eating of illustration's lunch has happened only recently. In my estimation it happened during the Depression. And it wasn't just photos that did the job. It was the media in general. Because although it is far easier and cheaper to have a photograph in place of an illustration. It is even easier to fill that space with text.

7/06/2013 9:24 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

So would you agree that our current culture’s relative indifference to art is due to technology feeding the appetite for “indiscriminate information as entertainment” to meet the characteristic imaginative needs of the average person?

It is what the technology teaches, secretly, that matters.Technology is created embodying a certain philosophy. The use of the technology teaches the appetite according to the philosophy.

All appetites can become addictions if they travel down a certain path that is paved with instant gratification and no philosophy of the future, happiness, success, community, responsibility, love, beauty, etc.

The appetite is trained as it is fed. Thus the technology becomes the feeding mechanism.

Equally crucial, the technology is occupying the time and mind-space of the user. While doing so, all other technologies are being blocked, their philosophies and surface content blocked out of the question.

The technology that comes closest to isolating the user the most, shielding him the most from all other stimulus and competitions... wins this marketing game.

Great art offers respite and restoration, it does not imprison and overload. The imprisoned mind does not know even where to find art or what it is. The more minds that are imprisoned in stimulus addiction, the less minds that will find art. In my opinion.

7/06/2013 10:59 AM  
Blogger अर्जुन said...

In 1839, after seeing a Daguerreotype, Paul Delaroche may or may not have said, "From today, painting is dead". Yet think of all the fantastic paintings and drawings that have been done since.

Why didn't the work of Lejaren A. Hiller, ~ a previously highlighted example from 1914, spawn countless imitators and lure A.D.'s to his door?

1935 ~ The prime years, indeed the bulk of the careers of all the "Famous Artists" came afterward.

Cheaper‽ The photographers aren't cheap, the models aren't cheap, the celebrity model/endorsers aren't cheap. Hiring a Flagg or a Dunn is way cheaper.

Everyone knows the Leyendecker's cover art for Collier's, but has anyone flipped through an issue from say, 1902? That's a lot of photographs! Apparently J.C. & F.X. didn't get the memo that photos are good and cheap. ~ A cover by Paul Helleu!

Illustration, fine art, the movies, a complete lack of taste from the top down. People eat what their given by those that make what is easiest to make. (Gotta fill that trough.)

7/06/2013 11:19 AM  
Blogger Tom said...

"And why, despite their shame, they thought the benefits were worth it."

Maybe it just  made their job easier, was less demanding and they could produce work more quickly. By mid century the most accurate and realistic depiction of reality would come through a camera. The photographic view as reality.

 In art aren't we always seeing what we value?  Or what a patron values?  Is it possible that the nature of art could threatened the values of our present culture.  Independent thought, one's own lived reality over a culture reality which seems to want our attention at all costs and tends to only use the elements of art to keep our attention.

I am sure it was artists who reacted negatively to work done from photos as they know how difficult it is to develop a language of form, or even a culture of form, not the audience who looked at the illustrations in the magazines.

"Far from being resolved, the question "how much dependence on a machine is acceptable?" becomes a new question with each passing decade"

Who's asking that question?  And who needs it resolved? What seems to be missing is intention.  Art like writing can be used for the most sublime and glorious purposes to the most pedantic or devious purposes.

Art will be as deep or as superficial as the person making it.  Just trying to sell pictures or earn a living as an artist one may be perfectly content doing or using whatever device is available  to make that living.  Another artist may never be satisfy until through there own understanding and self reliance they can produce a picture that needs no mechanical aides. Some  want to please and some want truth.

The churches of the renaissance still exist, and still inspire plenty of reverence and awe when people walk into them.  You could even see the work of the Renaissance as a critique of present day illustration.   I find it interesting that the older art always seems more descriptive of the world that I actually live in,  the physicality of it.  They may be pictures of saints, but the forms that constitute the saints are all around me they are of the world I  exist in.  The  images of photographs seem to lack that substance almost as if they are structural less, without construction or definition.  It's like drawing pictures of people you have only seen in photos, the substance of reality does not seem to be there.  Or drawings of events that one has only seen on television. 

Having just spent an hour with Bernini's St Thersa one senses photography's deceptions. They fail to convey it's true presence and strength, it's size and it's context. It's sense of space the whole arrangement of the church.The photo reduces it to only what the photo can say, which is not a lot.  And it makes the comparison between more minor ambitions possible. One may not agree or share in it's beliefs or values but the constructive sense, it's making reveals a mind who has penetrated deeply into the reality of things or space of things.  How many present day illustrators could also be architects even with all their computers, cameras etc?

Chinese painters never much worried about a general public as the felt they just did not understand these things, or cared to.  Or as William Blake said, he did not make his work  for those who don't understand but for those who already do understand.  And there is a great story they Leo Steinberg tells in Other  Criteria,  his waiter revealed to him one evening how much more interesting life would have been had he developed an appreciation for the things of the world.

As  William Butler Yeats wrote 
And Guidobaldo, when he made
That grammar school of courtesies
Where wit and beauty learned their trade
Upon Urbino's windy hill,
Had sent no runners to and fro
That he might learn the shepherds' will

7/06/2013 11:21 AM  
Blogger Chris James said...

@Laurence,

I wasn't referring to the visual style of the films, just I don't believe that draftsmanship and image making of that order is found in current Hollywood, which I admit may not be relevant to the precise point you were making. I think a case can be made for some of the old guard -Syd Mead, Ron Cobb and Jean Giraud- who all the young guys copy.

I think many of the best designers for film have come from other disciplines. H.R. Giger, Jean 'Moebius' Giraud, Mike Mignola, William Stout, John Howe, Alan Lee.

To produce the fantastic in film is still cost and time prohibitive. So if the customer wants imagery of Hulk fighting Juggernaut or Greek gods or a lizardman riding a dragon, they can either wait for HW to film it, which will take at least 2 years, or go to the comic shop/commission an illustrator. But like I said, a small market probably.

7/06/2013 11:31 AM  
Blogger ARMAND CABRERA said...

For me something must have a singular vision to be art. What tech does and its users fail to understand is that using tech is collaborating with people who write the software.

The software simulates a real thing and to the degree the writers of the software understand the function of that thing, he assign a hierarchy of importance to its attributes, completely ignoring some things and elevating others. Add the corporations goals of price point to that software and things are adjusted again for the marketplace.

Then someone else picks it up the finished software and uses it based on the idea it will shortcut the hard work a traditional artist needs to achieve the same or similar results.

So even before a digital artist starts their work they are collaborating in a way an artist that uses traditional tools never does. That has to affect the outcome and choices being made.

And then you add market forces, most digital artists work where the art is a commodity and you make it very difficult to make art. This is not necessarily a quality issue as it is about intent and outcome and singular vision.

Movies and games while entertaining and engaging, are so collaborative they would have a hard time rising to the level of art. I think this is why tent pole/blockbuster films and AAA games rarely do achieve that. The smaller teams and tighter budgets have less meddling and so reach their goals more often intact even when not as polished or slick.

7/06/2013 12:06 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"...just I don't believe that draftsmanship and image making of that order is found in current Hollywood"

Chris, i do, but usually their work is hidden behind the scenes and rarely makes it through to the final image. i do however think that what you call 'authorship' will be possible if only the studios would have the confidence to allow an artist with a strong visual sense to REALLY steer things and if they actually consider producing an adult CGI movie rather than the usual cutesy early-teen audience fair.

i really think the potential is unlimited. it's the narrow, formulaic imaginations of the studios that is the problem.

7/06/2013 12:13 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

I want to amend what I said earlier. There is much to worry about for the person dead set on making a living with a certain kind of graphic art. The two main things:

Survival

Recognition

Just being one kind of 'traditional' illustrator or another, one will find it hard to subsist. One may be lucky enough to find themselves a niche (see Rockin' Jelly Bean) or get in the door of a market that supports the kind of work they want to do, but there are more potential artists than slots to fill. And no artist wants to have to take a second job.

If one chooses the relatively more bountiful path of production design in motion pictures and video games, they may find themselves toiling in obscurity, which I figure very few want either. I guess it depends on your role and how strong your work is. Concept artists seem to get more recognition than 3D animators, which I think kind of demonstrates that 2D image making is still respected, even if by a smaller crowd than previous centuries.

So I made the mistake of focusing on the successes and upsides instead of the whole, thus projecting a flip "don't worry, be happy" attitude.

@Tom

You've touched on the fact (in my mind at least) that painting can produce a more tactile reality than that which exists in a photo. In the hands of an expert, you really sense the sculptural dimension and weight of a figure, while the photo capture feels flat like a map. I feel the same way about classical painting vs. modern realist painting.

7/06/2013 12:27 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

@Laurence

Hmmm, I have not seen such an artist outside of the names I mentioned. I can rarely even tell some of the work apart when it's done in the faux-Sargent digital paint manner, and the repetitive subject matter does no favors. So maybe it's a matter of 'personality'and authorship and not technical skill (though I still say I haven't seen greatness there either).

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to demean anyone working in that field. If no one reaches the heights of the greats, that is not a mark against them.

And keep in mind I judge with a bias towards figure work, with a certain level of realism and anatomical accuracy. The strongest film production work I've seen in the past few years has been environmental and mechanical. There are a lot of good production artists who also specialize in landscape painting. I'm often impressed how they can design these worlds with convincing and complex lighting and color, often with no photo reference or studies.

But I think the best figure people are working in other fields.

7/06/2013 12:48 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/06/2013 1:26 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

अर्जुन

Debating taste and fashion as it relates to the history of illustration, and the twists and turns in the illustration market is a vast and complex matter.

Ultimately, I think the simplest explanation is that a culture eventually becomes the products its technology teaches it to consume.

7/06/2013 1:29 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Tom wrote (quoting Yeats):

"Had sent no runners to and fro
That he might learn the shepherds' will"

An excellent collection of thoughtful points, Tom, and I will circle back to respond to more of them after I respond to some of the other comments that are making me itchy. But I first wanted to react to that part about "the shepherds' will" because I think that is the under appreciated salvation of illustration, one of the key reasons why illustration is generally superior to "fine" art in our generation.

As far as I'm concerned, illustrators are every bit as talented, imaginative and intelligent as fine artists but illustrators don't climb farther and farther out on the withered branch of contemporary fine art because they are tethered to "the shepherds' will." If their pictures don't sell that book or magazine (or laundry detergent) then nobody gets paid. Sure, the shepherds (or the sponsors who interpret their will) have huge drawbacks as an audience, but through the years they have inoculated us against the self-indulgence and irrelevance that plagues so much of fine art.

So now the shepherds' will is evolving, and the advertising revenues that once supported illustration migrated from print to television, and then from television to the internet. The shepherds now prefer pictures that move and talk, pictures where the colors glow, with pyrotechnics that tug at their sleeve every few seconds. Is this good or bad? I'm not suggesting shepherds are infallible, but recognizing them as an important ingredient in the past has been a helpful navigational tool.

Chris James wrote: "Narrative and ideas can be better conveyed in words and sequential images."

Wow, I would not surrender this point at all. I agree that if we're trying to tell a specific linear story or instruct a consumer on how to change spark plugs, words and sequential images are the way to go. But if you are trying to convey ideas of a higher order, there are many instances where images alone can take you to all kinds of places you could not go if hamstrung by punctuation and grammar. (How would you convey this or this in words, for example? )

You remind me that I wrote a screed on why pictures are better than words, way back when I was new to blogging. (http://illustrationart.blogspot.com/2007/12/why-pictures-are-better-than-words.html)

7/06/2013 4:14 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Here's another article that has a bit of interesting history regarding photos and illustraiton, interspersed with way too much spleen venting, which I've ellipsed...

...1915, at which point America was supreme in every department of illustration. Then came disintegration, at first slowly, after the war percipitatively, and today the bottom has dropped out of the market. The leading American magazines have discarded illustration; most novels are published without pictures; most political cartoons resemble comic strips (...) the humorous weeklies have affected the mannerisms of the French modernists; not a single black and white artist of any consequence has been discovered in the last fifteen years: (...) The causes? No one can be positive of those mysterious social fluxes which alter fashions in thought as well as in dress, but I submit two or three reasons which seem to me to be valid.

In the first place, photography. The camera has debauched the appreciation of drawing and provided a swift and inexpensive means of pandering to the growing demand for literal scenes, portraits and naked surfaces. Thus illustration, to be acceptable, must, if not actually made from camera records, conform to photographic standards of mechancial finish and cheapness, and no creative artist can descend to such practices. With photography I would, of course, include the moving picture and its attendant insanities – the mania for pictorial fodder of all sorts, but always in an unimaginative form- and the tabloid newspapers, with their displays of domestic crimes and lubricities. The tabloid germ has spread to the baser magazines, some of which are illustrated with old “stills” purchased from the moving picture companies.


~ Thomas Craven, “The Decline of Illustration,” American Mercury, 1927

7/06/2013 7:05 PM  
Anonymous d said...

It sure took an awful lot of words to say nothing.

7/06/2013 11:20 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/07/2013 4:14 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/07/2013 12:32 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

"Narrative and ideas can be better conveyed in words and sequential images."

I'm with David on this one. Not just for the kind of pictures David linked to (which succinctly prove that intellectualism isn't confined to the verbal or the sequentially told story), but also for the fact that a great still image isn't just a still image. It is also read sequentially.

7/07/2013 1:42 PM  
Blogger Chris James said...

If one were to convey the concepts of, say, existentialism or objectivism, a picture would suffice for capturing a few aspects of them at once,or providing a cursory summation. But a sequence of pictures or groupings of words can do so more thoroughly, from multiple perspectives, citing examples throughout the span of human history, comparing/contrasting to other similar or competing ideas, etc. If images were sufficient, recorded communication would have not evolved beyond the pictorial. The majority of who we consider great minds have taken to the essay, journal, or textbooks forms to record their sophisticated ideas. Reading is the activity most suggested to people who want to increase their intellect. Even artists use words when they want to explain complex artistic concepts or processes.

There is absolutely no contest as far as I'm concerned, unless we're talking efficiency and sensory stimulus.

And I don't find those pictures to express any ideas "higher" or more complex than those one can find in the history of the written word. If they are saying anything of substance at all, it can be expressed in words, like any intellectual idea.

7/07/2013 5:16 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

If one were to convey the concepts of, say, existentialism or objectivism, a picture would suffice for capturing a few aspects of them at once,or providing a cursory summation. But a sequence of pictures or groupings of words can do so more thoroughly,

I agree that literary ideas are best explicated by literary means. But each language has its specialties. The Mona Lisa is best expressed as the Mona Lisa. A million words won't describe it better. Yet the Mona Lisa is replete with thoughts.

7/07/2013 6:22 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Chris James wrote: " If they are saying anything of substance at all, it can be expressed in words, like any intellectual idea."

I invite you to try. Take the Cuneo drawing of the poacher, for example. Give it a whirl.

Laurence John and Kev Ferrara-- does it bother you that the talented CGI artists responsible for video games (and to a lesser degree movies) are making aesthetic decisions based on a series of high speed choices to be made by the viewer? There is no contemplation of these images, no slow meditation or appreciation of complexities. Subtlety would only slow down the viewers playing these games at breakneck speed. (I understand that speed has its own aesthetics, I'm only asking whether you mourn the loss of slower virtues.)

Etc, etc wrote: "... an increasing emphasis on the inner life of Spirit (i.e. human inner emotional life) and ultimately the end of art."

Some say that art shall end in fire, some say in ice.

In keeping with Hegel's point, Dubuffet predicted, "[T}he notion of art... will have ceased to be conceived of and perceived when the mind will have ceased to project art as a notion to be gazed upon, and art will be integrated in such a manner that thought, instead of facing it, will be inside it...." Other people claim that the current disintegration of gallery art presages the end of art. I'm not making any predictions on when or where, but I do think it would be a shame if art came to an ignominious end, exhausted in a blind alley where it had been chased by technology.

7/07/2013 10:41 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Armand Cabrera wrote: "Movies and games... are so collaborative they would have a hard time rising to the level of art."

Does that mean you don't consider the Egyptian tomb paintings, or the Elgin marbles, or Mont St. Michel works of art?

7/07/2013 11:08 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

"does it bother you that the talented CGI artists responsible for video games are making aesthetic decisions based on a series of high speed choices to be made by the viewer?

David, it might... if i ever thought about video games.

7/08/2013 4:18 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Does that mean you don't consider the Egyptian tomb paintings, or the Elgin marbles, or Mont St. Michel works of art?"


Or any film for that matter, as applied it sounds like a denial of auteur theory.

7/08/2013 8:58 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Take the Cuneo drawing of the poacher, for example. Give it a whirl. "

Squiggly boy-poacher wears gory Rhinoceros horn as dunce cap, whilst Rhino looks on.

Everything else about the picture, about pictures in general, does not seem exactly substantive, but rather, an emergent semi-synesthesiac qualia, which seems quite divorced from the materialist world of body, brain, and objects.


"I do think it would be a shame if art came to an ignominious end, exhausted in a blind alley where it had been chased by technology. "

Art's not going anywhere, it's just becoming the sphere of laymen as well, who can now take part in visual discussions themselves.

When cheap paper, the printing press, and vanity printing came about it didn't end quality literature just because the book is no longer a medium exclusively for the elite and specialists.

7/08/2013 9:21 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I'm curious about everyone's feelings about a theoretical technology, and whether it would be art given your current system of thought.

Assume that in the future it becomes possible to connect a computer directly to the brain of anyone, and they can imagine/think an image into being, where anything they visualize will automatically appear on the screen. It seems to me that many people are capable of visualizing very well, even if they're not proficient at turning that visualization to an image outside themselves.

Using this system, would we be getting art out?

If two people were thinking on the same image at the same time, would it not be art? Would it be visual discussion? Is that art?

7/08/2013 9:28 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

does it bother you that the talented CGI artists responsible for video games (and to a lesser degree movies) are making aesthetic decisions based on a series of high speed choices to be made by the viewer? There is no contemplation of these images, no slow meditation or appreciation of complexities.

Well, they're making games, not art.

7/08/2013 9:32 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Squiggly boy-poacher wears gory Rhinoceros horn as dunce cap, whilst Rhino looks on.

Smart guy,

What kind of squiggles? What kind of boy? How does he wear the rhino horn? What kind of dunce cap? How does the Rhino look on? Is it a realistic Rhino? What do you mean by gory? What kind of quality does the drawing convey? Where are the figures located? What time of day is it? Does it take place in the present? Describe the precise angle the image is viewed from....

These question proliferate endlessly and the more questions you answer, the more you are just blathering on chasing rainbows instead of communicating. Wheras the cuneo drawing, in an instant, conveys all this information and more without the slightest effort.

Each language has its own purview, its own kind of information it deals with best. There are no lossless translations from one language to another. You can't translate Shakespeare into equations. You can't write the Mona Lisa. When a child describes the world to his blind grandmother, she doesn't suddenly see the world. In order to see the value of art, you must become sensitized to just how much information about the world words cannot capture

You also must be sensitized to the value of concision. Poetry exists because of the value of concision. Proliferation is easy and requires little in the way of artistic talent. Which is just why the world is overflowing with text and photographs.

7/08/2013 10:01 AM  
Blogger ARMAND CABRERA said...

David,
The reason I used modern examples like film and video games is I have a working knowledge of their creation.

If the decisions for the art of the Egyptian tombs or the friezes for the Parthenon were being decided on by people trying to sell knock offs at the street markets as well as their intended use then I would say no they are not.

Certain types of movies and games are so removed from art now. Every aspect of them is considered to maximize profit. The artists do not decide the aspects of their work to any important degree. Someone is telling them to "change that thing on iron man because the action figure would have a choking problem with the pieces for 6 year olds action toy," or "those backgrounds need to be maroon and green because those colors were in at the NY design show this year and we have focus group data to back it up."

You mentioned Tangled before, well every inch of that film was gone over for marketable content, Coloring books, plush toys, action figures, coffee cups, sheet music, clothing lines, even the damn paper lanterns. Those things decide the content, the fact they make it look pretty and it has some catchy tunes in it doesn't make it less contrived.

The artists working on such projects are craftsmen satisfying corporate goals of monetization and profit at the expense of art or story or even continuity. It is not a quality issue for the artist as it is an intent issue for the finished product.

7/08/2013 10:14 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

"What kind of squiggles? What kind of boy? How does he wear the rhino horn? What kind of dunce cap? How does the Rhino look on? Is it a realistic Rhino? What do you mean by gory? What kind of quality does the drawing convey? Where are the figures located? What time of day is it? Does it take place in the present?"


Of substance, he said, I would argue those questions don't add significant substance, but instead, seem to be mere flavour/qualia in this instance.

7/08/2013 10:22 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 10:33 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 10:37 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I never said it's not information, I said it's not generally substantial.

Our language evolves to communicate that information which we deem substantial. It didn't start capable of describing geometry, but in time, it evolved to do so. It added another arm of language called mathematics. It didn't start capable of describing umami, but we deemed it important, and so we added the terminology to do so.

Between any two protons in the universe there is a distance, giving the universe, even from that limited perspective, nearly infinite information. We have not evolved the language to describe these relationships because we don't deem them substantial enough to do so.

Don't get me wrong, I love qualia. I like that there are zillions of colors Red. I like that meatloaf tastes different from hamburgers, or from other meatloafs for that matter, but I wouldn't call the subtleties of those differences 'substance'.

7/08/2013 10:47 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

"cult-like belief in the primacy of text"

My belief in the primacy of text has to do with it's use. In use, it has primacy. If we were advanced color shifting octopi, perhaps image would be primary. Until we have a way of exporting image rapidly, like the computer system described before, I don't think image will ever be able to be the language with primacy.

7/08/2013 10:55 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

"Until we have a way of exporting image rapidly, like the computer system described before, I don't think image will ever be able to be the language with primacy. "

Which brings me back to Photoshop and photography. They're a bad thing, because... what?

7/08/2013 10:58 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 11:07 AM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Richard wrote: "Squiggly boy-poacher wears gory Rhinoceros horn as dunce cap, whilst Rhino looks on."

I have to admit, I thought your answer was an attempt to make fun of those who thought they could verbalize the drawing. I gather from your exchange with Kev Ferrara that your response was serious. It reminds me of Woody Allen's joke that he took a speed reading class that enabled him to finish War & Peace in a day; it was about Russia.

From my perspective, the types of questions that you claim "don't add significant substance" add all of the substance-- all of depth, profundity, psychology, motivations and insights-- of the drawing. Why is the beast suffering so stoically? What motivates the poacher to remove the horn, and why does he place it on his own head (more like a crown or a phallus than a dunce cap, I would say). Why does the poacher turn to the audience? The drawing has little or no meaning without contending with such issues. It is difficult and awkward to put such surrealistic behavior into words because they make no linear sense.

I'm afraid our panel of judges has rejected your answer as inadequate. Does Chris James or anyone else want to give it a try?

7/08/2013 11:08 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 11:22 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 11:30 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

"[they] add all of the substance-- all of depth, profundity, psychology, motivations and insights-- of the drawing."

That's a type of information, a type of substance, but this visual language still can't tell someone on short notice they're about to get hit by a car -- which seems to be of much greater substance, no?

7/08/2013 11:33 AM  
Blogger Elizabeth Ramsey said...

I have been a long time follow of your view on contemporary artwork David. I came on your blog today to try and find a copy of your introduction to Sterling Hundley's book to share with some fellow art enthusiasts, however, this post really seals the deal for me that you are a beautiful voice in an age of somewhat dank artistic opinions. I own an art gallery/studio in Oslo Norway after moving from San Francisco, but also work part-time as a journalist/curator and would absolutely LOVE to interview you, or hear your thoughts on a few choice topics. Please email me at blankspaceoslo@gmail.com to we can discuss further details should you be interested!

7/08/2013 11:33 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

"you don't appreciate just how a singular work of art tells its own kind of narrative."

I do indeed, I just don't believe it's substance in the way Chris James means it.

7/08/2013 11:38 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 11:47 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 11:53 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 11:55 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

And anyway David, aren't you proving his point when you point to additional things with text that provide the intellectual content?

7/08/2013 11:58 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 11:59 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 12:07 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 12:10 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 12:21 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 12:26 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Why add to, or clarify the beauty of the world?

Doing so seems to speak for itself. More good is more good.

A map is a diagram. It isn't art.

So, that is the argument here. For me, art is communication which is fundamentally visual, period. Any other definition, as far as I'm concerned, seems unnecessary, masturbatory, and excessive. I'm still trying to nail down how y'all photography h8rs define it, because as far as I can tell it just seems to be intellectual protectionism for your declining specialization.

As an aside, James Gurney did some great maps, if you haven't seen them you should check them out.

7/08/2013 12:35 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 12:38 PM  
Blogger David Apatoff said...

Richard wrote: "And anyway David, aren't you proving his point when you point to additional things with text that provide the intellectual content?"

I view what I wrote as flailing spasmodically in the general direction of the categories of ideas in that drawing.

Armand Cabrera-- I agree that epic works of art usually require epic financing, and if you are not a Pharaoh with slave labor then you have to pay for those armies of artists (and computer scientists and electrical engineers and global distributors), often with cross-marketing deals with Burger King. And I agree that process does shape the content; how many cute sidekicks were added to animated movies just to subsidize the film with the plush toy market? But we see compromises everywhere in the illustration field, don't we? We make compromises to maximize our audience. We make compromises to fit the space allocated in the magazine. We make compromises because of the technical limitations of the medium. CGI artists could just as easily turn to a traditional painter and say, "too bad you are unable to capture movement the way we do, or that your colors don't glow from within like ours, or that you don't have millions of people looking at your work the way we do.

7/08/2013 12:39 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 12:45 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 1:05 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 1:18 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Richard wrote: "And anyway David, aren't you proving his point when you point to additional things with text that provide the intellectual content?"

David wrote: I view what I wrote as flailing spasmodically in the general direction of the categories of ideas in that drawing.


David,

Dean Cornwell said, "Art is a language separate and distinct from literature. Anything that can be said in words is not a subject for painting."

That you were able to describe those questions posed by the Cuneo picture adequately in English demonstrates that those questions are literary questions, not art questions.

The question peculaiar to art that are embodied in the picture are asked in the language of Art, and thus cannot be verbalized better in words than they are in the picture. In the same way that the answers to the questions I was asking (In what way is the boy squiggly, what is the angle of view) cannot be verbalized remotely as well as they can be just experienced in the artwork itself.

7/08/2013 1:32 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 1:46 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 1:48 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 2:01 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kev -- or you could have said that Richard just turned into a little c-word and started criticizing your work because he's working in a crap job in a shitty cubicle under bad flourescent lighting, and has no talent, no artwork, no girlfriend, and no prospects in life. (And he will deny this is true because he can't face reality.) :)

7/08/2013 3:00 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 3:02 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 3:06 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 3:15 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 3:21 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 3:24 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 3:29 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 3:50 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 4:01 PM  
Blogger ARMAND CABRERA said...

David ,

That is my point about art. Those artists couldn't claim that a film or game was theirs because they don't have the resources or ability to make it on their own. Most couldn't afford the software let alone the hardware to practice their craft to that level. I have worked on a few AAA games as an artist in my time for the Star Wars and Star trek franchises and even though my share of the workload was orders of magnitude above what a single artist does for a film or game today I would never claim those products to be mine. They have no more authorship to those projects than a stone cutter does for St Peters Basilica.
As an aside watch the end credits to The little Mermaid sometime and see how many artists just painted bubbles, nothing else. While I'm sure they did a great job and feel a sense of pride in their work and craft calling each persons contribution to a project art is a stretch. The finished product can be art, but for the most part the individual pieces are just craft.Exceptions being fully realized characters or sets or backgrounds. But how many individual artists can claim that on a film or game these days? Not many would be my guess.

I think that's why everyone wants to do concept work? Because it has the greatest chance for a single artists authorship and a better chance of being art.

To a lesser degree this applies to illustration and gallery art. I'm not trying to claim some moral high ground here. I have the same problems of intent for my work as anyone else trying to make a living. I just think the term art should be reserved for the best the world has to offer no matter what genre or medium its in.

As for the physical limitations of certain mediums, I can paint on glass or print my work on duratrans and light it from behind to the same effect as any still CG image. And I would still have an original, something cg artists will always be denied.

7/08/2013 4:26 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Chris, this was how I put it earlier in the thread:

A culture eventually becomes the products its technology teaches it to consume.


7/08/2013 4:45 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 6:00 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 6:04 PM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

And if the response to plastic language is not innate, it has to be learnt. In which case it would be of no more relevance to life than a game.

This is not my experience of art, and the chief reason I subscribe to the view our reading of plastic language is innate and universal, and therefore not subject to the relativists views of post modernism.

7/08/2013 6:14 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/08/2013 8:09 PM  
Blogger Laurence John said...

Kev, are you working on a conspiracy theory which implicates modern / post modern art and the development of the ipad in the realisation of a dystopian future which enslaves the populace as screen addicted zombies ?

7/09/2013 5:22 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/09/2013 6:15 AM  
Blogger chris bennett said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/09/2013 6:52 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Kev, are you working on a conspiracy theory which implicates modern / post modern art and the development of the ipad in the realisation of a dystopian future which enslaves the populace as screen addicted zombies ?

Well duh!

;)

7/09/2013 10:33 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/09/2013 11:46 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/09/2013 11:47 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/09/2013 1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good job Kev .

7/12/2013 11:16 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

I second what Kev has said regarding technology, how it has effected the way art directors, clients and the public sees the artist. A small army of Cintique-photoshop artists swarmed the storyboard business in the past several years as many young art directors and clients, but also the public in focus groups, embraced the photograph adaptations and photoshop painted photos. The machine has also given legs to styles which had seen they day and forced others to get with it and in many ways, make improvements. In the end, the technical sameness gets boring and when the money flows, there's less time to fuss with all the technical tricks as deadlines tighten and so drawing ability reemerges as the measure for choosing an artist, at least in this small area of commercial art. Still, the technical presence is here to stay and will continue to encroach upon the skills of drawing.
Photo-art can range from Romare Bearden's childhood poetic images to “Piss Christ” with the latter being a well known example of gimmickry or artifice. Though its roots go deeper to Dadaism, its shock value is similar to powerful and jolting photo-journalism such as Eddie Adams' Pulitzer Prize winning photo of a South Vietnam general shooting a communist, Feb. 1, 1968. Eddie Adams regretted his photo for destroying the general's life and said, even photos can be dishonest, see Wikipage. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Adams_(photographer) The Civil War photos, though somewhat distant capture the awful aspects of the human condition and the execution of Miguel Pro was an earlier version of the type of photo journalism. The Holocaust photos remain appalling and haunting images of human degradation and more recently prisoners being dragged along naked with a bag over their heads is a more recent variety. The public though seems to becoming inured and indifferent to such photos.
But when such is taken out of its political context and treated as art, what is left but degradation? A fork in an eye, a bag over the head of a naked body, various forms of human deformations by way of transposing heads, various mutilations of the human form all become a vocabulary for degradation as liberation. Such may make for a powerful image, even curiously perverted voyeurism, but is creating such just a bit too easy? The catch we are told is that it is just an image, a trick of the eye-mind and isn't real and therefore is art, (artifice) and it is meant to make us think about the symbols we hold in reverence or by conditioning, habit, etc.
Such photo-art which is most offensive is so because it relies on an internal impulse to recoil in self defense and so has a certain power, but is being a powerful image enough to call it art? The answer is a simple no. It is something else, as photo journalism is something else, a different category. Yes, a lot of it is commentary on a whole host of sociological stuff, but is it more than politics? It doesn't seem to matter because as one continues to pose questions, it becomes increasingly difficult to disentangle oneself from the notion that art is anything other that an artificial language beholden to nothing. It is a bit like a dialogue with the devil, wherein there is no shared beneficial goal and though such may be deceptively intriguing, it's a form of insanity contrary to all well meaning and goes on forever.

7/13/2013 1:55 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

A teacher of traditional painting confided in me that the job of teaching traditional painting was under review at a certain school and that a reason would have to be provided to justify how traditional painting furthered certain contemporary agendas, or the position would be terminated. This teacher broadened my mind by explaining that big money was behind such and as it was put to me, they are removing all heritage. Prior to this it was easy enough to see how certain thinking was canceling out other thought, but not as all heritage or in things as seemingly benign as traditional painting. The awkwardness of this paragraph is to protect the identity of the individual.
When all things are reduced to an idea, then all is on an equally abstract footing. During the Enlightenment and arguably before, Christianity was reduced to a set of ideas or ethics and losing its immanence, was quickly shelved and replaced with other consuming arguments of the era. The self sacrifice for nationalism and the pursuit of the optimum pluralistic society wasn't just a communist fantasy, but integral to the cause of liberation itself, leaving the world with a formula for endless war and on a path to totalitarianism. Not that some of the early enlightenment artists understood this as they believed in the human capacity to overcome itself and believed as well that such unity was worth the murder and mayhem of the Jacobins and subsequent revolutions. In short, the fascination with the Greco- Roman revivalism was at least partly an attempt to find a replacement religion for the newly revived “Roman-French” republic which found itself later in Comte's Humanist Temples and romanticized versions of eastern imports becoming transcendentalism or transcendental Americanism. Such is part of the continuity with post modernism and with this video of Jefferson Airplane singing, “The Other Side of This Life” at Altamont. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3JvyvgPtN4

Also, thanks Kev and David for the exchange on Frazetta. I would love to hear more of that another time.

7/13/2013 2:01 PM  
Blogger Joss said...

In the end isn't it our degree of living sensitivity to our medium and our subject that is the art? James Gurney mentioned Henri Cartier-Bresson. He was the first to come to my mind also as a prime example among countless others of outstanding artists whose medium happens to be the camera. Bernie Fuchs takes a photograph and plays with it, pours life into it. Artists like Cunningham or Mitchell Hooks, Ben Shahn, Bob Peak, poeticize photographic images. I think it is the same as electric versus acoustic argument. For the creative human the medium is secondary to the creative impulse, it will not die. A machine, a camera, a piece of software, just another tool to use. I think Mr. Gurney and Chris Bennett make the same point. I have enjoyed reading through all the comments of this and the Last post.

I for one really dig the Cunningham's(from last post) and his unique way with his photo-source material. Part of the fascination for me is analyzing the dialogue between the deadness of the photograph and what he does with that. The Fuchs image you posted earlier Dave is an even more stark example of that tension, as was the Cunningham Richard posted previously of the Kayaker. It's almost a provocation, "look I took this dead thing and now its breathing." Or perhaps screaming...Rock and Roll!!

7/14/2013 2:12 AM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

David, Your post is really about an awful lot, first the art photo relationship that was so well covered by many talented people and thoughtful comments, the second was about an illustrator working with photos as illustration where one was reminiscent of a Brad Holland editorial illustration. This opened up the area of photo and photo montage as art, but the final NASA photo opened up the future as well as the idea of inspiration and this was touched upon, but less so.

The future is being shaped not only by current technology, but by those futurists and transhumanists who possess their own vision of what life is about. What are the beliefs of the people funding robotic drawing machines or brain-machine inter-relationships? The future for traditional drawing and painting may rest in the huge financial rewards in areas which concern traditional artists little, yet are coming upon us very quickly.

In a previous comment I attempted to explain a part of their revolutionary roots. Also, the teacher's story sounds far fetched, but it is if nothing else, a seed to set off a bell at a future time. For anyone unfamiliar with the groups or their concepts such as Omega Point, Singularity, etc. I have added a couple links below. Such are the people shaping tomorrow and the smart money is heavily invested on bringing such a world to fruition. At the very least, the traditional artist will be working from within such a super-tech society which considers them a remnant of an ancient world.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transhumanism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_More

http://www.maxmore.com/transhum.htm

7/14/2013 3:07 PM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

The issue is not just the sensitivity of the artist, but the sensitivity of the medium as well. It is easy to belittle the humble "pigmented goo" of Ye Olde Tyme Artistes but just a few tubes of the stuff builds out to a colossal tactile orchestra of graphic qualities. I can't think of anything on earth as pregnant with expressive possibility, pound for pound. (The human voice comes closest, I suppose.)

Sean, I think we humans are simply too practical to be tied to anybody's vision of perfection. Those who want to impede progress or force progress will always be subsumed in whatever world shows up. After all, the futurists aren't the ones actually building the next generation of technology. They're just fanboys.

Also, transhumanism is probably the saddest, most ill-considered, (and thus deranged) idea ever come up with by so-called intellectuals. The idea that you can be who you are without your corporeal self involved is straight up religious fantasy. Same as it ever was.

7/14/2013 8:28 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Kev. I'm going to call Janus Funds and tell them to sell all of their investments in start up genetic reengineering technologies. But seriously, your optimism and faith in humanity has made my morning a little brighter. Thanks.

7/15/2013 8:24 AM  
Blogger kev ferrara said...

Sean, I think you are confusing the burgeoning biotech revolution with transhumanism. I am 100 percent behind biotech. Transhumanism, zero percent.

7/15/2013 7:23 PM  
Anonymous Sean Farrell said...

Kev, Posthumanism, transhumanism and the re-engineering of dna in and across all species are concepts which overlap, or at least the first two claim a shared foundation with the third. The bold declarations of Max More, that the old is dead and an obstruction to progress is a call for practical materialism as the measure of all things. Such is then applied to economics, politics and culture, though some applications may be suspect if not pure fantasy as you pointed out.

My son is a high school student working as an intern at a college lab on a project cloning proteins, the point being, that what was science fiction just a short time ago is now high school stuff for the college intern. The world is changing rapidly and concepts as ordinary as our individuality are now subjects of contention, not simply by wild extrapolations becoming metaphysics, or erroneous applications, but by practical applications, such as algorithms as governing agents across the same areas mentioned above, economics, politics (government) and culture.

7/18/2013 11:33 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home