Fallen Behind on My Things

I owe a lot of reads Here, and if I’m being respectful of myself as well, some additional writes and even more rewrites. I decided a rebrand was in order! They are fun to do now and then. I try not to go crazy with the limited themes my free WordPress Pass grants me, and I’m fairly certain that it rightly shows.

– HM

Only Opinion: Digital Art In Not-A Nutshell

On the Art of Eric Wayne, artist Eric Wayne posts things about his art, and art process, and other things. One interesting subject that Eric covers now and then is how different people value or don’t value art that is made using digital tools.

I wrote a semi-lengthy response to one of his posts recently, and then he kindly responded, and then I began writing a second, semi-lengthy response to that, and then I reminded myself that I might have some kind of social interaction problem (which I am trying to think of as a “challenge”) and should perhaps probably not keep blathering my opinions all over somebody else’s Wall (or, screen.. whatever WordPress calls the Wall) because that is what my Wall (or whatever) is for.

So, this is an opinion inspired by Eric, who is a traditional-and-also-digital artist whom I do not know but do follow and support, in the sense that I follow and support some of the things he posts, while missing other things he posts, and has posted previously (the Internet being a firehose).

Some or all of the above words were not necessary. Onward anyhow.

As I suspect Eric addresses directly or indirectly elsewhere on his blog, it shouldn’t be surprising that those who make a living selling other people’s art would find digital art a bit hard to value – there is no “original” to exclusively own and then speculate on, nor can there be – it’s information, and these days, information naturally wishes for itself to be free.

My own “business model” (if it can be called that) is based on my own assumption that art has value – and is therefore valuable as art – if it expresses something the maker is feeling and can be of use to somebody else, as an inspiration for their own feeling or reflection, and/or as material for their own creative expression (all copyrights being rightly considered).

I am no doubt not getting the definition of art correct here, but I have a weird feeling that the definition of art is something the world of Humans will never be able to fully agree on – like just about everything else. I think Art itself would find this perfectly appropriate.

Opponents of the notion of digital art being called art at all (or good art, in any case) might also be trying to say that digital work can never be physically touched or breathed upon by the artist (or consumer), and so isn’t fully real art, in that single, potentially-important-to-them sense. Where is the artifact of the maker’s effort located in space?

Maybe the objection then has some kind of spiritual notion to it: it’s lesser art because it isn’t here, with us, but in some different realm, scattered across hard drives and USB keys and Clouds, where we cannot (yet) directly go. It’s mildly uncomfortable (and also impossible) to put one’s finger on.

I guess limited, signed print runs of digital art might address this problem of non-exclusivity (inclusivity?) but now we’re talking about money and not art at all. I think. Maybe there should be a word used to refer to materials of expression and another word used to refer to marketable materials of expression. Like, art and $art, or something.

Digital art is mostly very often very flat when printed out, and so the fan of “proper” art will have a hard time leaning in and enjoying the brush strokes and such, or certainly at least looking like they know all about what they’re assessing the value of.

I suppose you could 3D-print digital art somehow, so it had some bumps and ridges and things in it. That would probably horrify some people though because now you’re looking at brush strokes conceived in the mind of the artist but then executed by an infernal machine’s metal or plastic fingers. I would suppose that if this might horrify you, then you should not consider art made with assistive devices for those in need of assistance as real or valuable either.

If you’re going to be a real artist, you should have the means to hold and move your own, physical brush (or whatever), I would expect some might conclude. No expressing oneself with voice commands and tongue-based joysticks. Painting with your feet because your hands are unavailable, I am assuming (and probably correctly), would be more than permissible. I have no art degree, so I could not tell you whether or not to consider one type of tool or technique correct for creating correct art.

What if a gallery chose to hang one or more digitally created images among one or more digital reproductions of “real” art? This is what the game designer in me wants to ask, and just has. Could the gallery make a game out of asking visitors to assess the relative artistic merit (and therefore presumably the dollar value) of the equally flattened, artificially illuminated images, side-by-side? The visitors could be given an app to vote on each, even. Or just paper, if the digital voting mechanism might render the result less real.

What might those metrics reveal, about the nature of art, and those who claim to be able to value it based on its set of properties when some or all of those properties are invisible to the critic? Which galleries would enjoy this experiment, and which experts in the field of art would dare to enjoy it too?

I assert here that you are something of a snob (and by that I mean a bit off) when it comes to art, if you believe that art is of lesser quality purely because it was created using modern tools, as opposed to less-modern ones. If you are an art speculator, operating in an environment somewhat filled with these sorts of snobs, then I will give you a full pass – everybody needs to make a living, after all.

Thank you to Eric for giving me something to write about that was not the result of my need to talk about myself. Except these are still all my own opinions, of course, and nothing more, and so I have failed once again to take my own self completely out of the picture, if that’s ever even possible.

Finally, a full disclosure: I have written these words using a laptop, and also the Internet. If you think this is real writing, then think again.

Re-Being Christian

I can’t help think this blog title alone will scare off some readers and attract others, but then that is just the Wall I contend with every time I try and look directly at my own religion, and its attendant thoughts.

Talking plainly about my thoughts on Christianity is, I have to admit, not easy in the same way opinion-ing (opining doesn’t sound like a correct word, in my opinion) on just about anything else. Well, politics comes close – especially these days.

One worries their outer aspects will shift wildly in the view of the rest of the world, while all they really hope for is for that facet too to be accepted as part of their whole, rather than seen to utterly rearrange it. I am Canadian, I am almost 50 years old, I like to write, I have a job as a developer of Fine Software Products, I am Christian. Which of those things makes you recoil or lean closer, for a better look? Be honest.

This topic, of all the topics I might choose to lay bare my own heart, mind, and soul about, gives me the greatest sense of danger – which is sad, in a sense, but I also think it’s a false friendship which might suffer when such a new wrinkle is introduced. What can really be lost of any consequence for being utmost and honest about where one is at?

Am I shamefully worried that I will seem like a dingbat for believing in Holy Ghosts, in these most scientifically trying times? What of it if I am? Christianity to me – like other spiritual journeys – is a search for meaning, and not an array of established, indoctrinated stances, whatever you and I might have been led to think in some past that is no longer the present.

In Tim Hortons the other day (see a previous post), I heard a healthily opinionated millennial in more-or-less the same breath refer to Tim Hortons coffee as Toilet Water (warmed up), and a bookstore containing books on religion (in our part of the world, it is most in greatest vogue to choose Christianity as the culprit) as causing him understandable discomfort. There were other statements of his positions on things but I couldn’t keep up and was in any case trying to give he and his coffee companion (he only drinks better coffee I would guess, and with sweetener, not sugar) some measure of privacy, in spite of his attempts to give that away. This is why I carry cheap headphones.

I fully, completely, absolutely recognize and remember this opinion as once having been my own (perhaps it is only coincidence that I held it most certainly as a younger man, though we are all quite unique). I am now elsewhere on my own uncertain path to Certainty, but while I’m still able to recall what it was like to consider Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins and those fellows as my secular saviours of sorts, I felt I should write a dispatch or two from this middle position, travelling from That Place through This one, and then on to the Next, before I forget what it feels like to be in motion again.

Maybe I’ll return to atheism again someday, who can say? I have always tried my best to apply reason to my understanding of things, and in so doing have decided, to the very best of my admittedly limited abilities so far, to not summarily discard all other forms of knowledge-gathering in the process: time-honoured intuition not the least of those.

What interests me is how the application of reason can still lead one back, time and time again, to consider the origin and purpose of faith. I do this not in a bubble, but with the help of books. I am not trying to fall into false indoctrination, and in that sense I must admit I had to curb my own enthusiasm for Dawkins etc., else I become in danger of programming myself into a corner, unable any longer to recognize the signs and symbols nature uses to inform us about Greater Things – those things science, perhaps someday by its very own admission, simply cannot. At least not yet. Maybe never. That’s one of those questions that brings me back here.

It’s nice to invoke double-slit experiments in support of intelligent design, or mysticism, or simulated universe theories, and why not, anyway? Science-types love a good Mystery (though many might not capitalize on it as I have, at least not in public), and our tiniest particles have not disappointed. We cannot know everything; it’s been decreed by math (or something). I keep reading that in books written for laypeople like myself. That is certainly not proof of God, but it is evidence of Something, and that is something.

I have just, just begun, and I am warming up to the idea of a Part II and Beyond to this train of Dangerous Personal Thinking: Religion in the modern age, an age bearing many problems, not the least of which having been brought about by religion. Luckily, I am in a better I/O state, and carefully reading things new to me, before cautiously writing them down, through the filter of my own spirit and experience.

If you’ve followed me thus far, and find yourself still here, thank you for having your own Faith in the curious journey of an unknown another. If you are joining me new because of some confounded hash-taggery, please look around and backward before assuming I conform to your norm (though I am beginning to doubt that many of us do).

Possibly to be continued