Sunday, July 30, 2006


Susan and Lorenzo the Magnificent

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Dawn of a New Art

The discovery of perspective in fifteenth-century Italy and the
founding of Robert Abel and Associates generated the same results in the
world of art: the beginning of a long lived love of the phenom of
Perspective brought for the first time in history the
ability to describe the world as it actually was. It's no wonder
peasants shuddered and fainted at the sight of Giotto's Cruxifiction.
It was so real, so believable compared to paintings of the Middle
Ages, that the viewer was viscerally overwhelmed. Similarly, usages
of computer graphics to depict a frightening world in Jurassic Park
made the modern viewer lurch in their seat at the sight of an all too
real T. Rex widening it's jaws for a snack of raw attorney. In both
cases of realism, the early uses are both magnificent and justified
but also in both cases the trick of the eye becomes nothing more than
a trick.
An infatuation with realism begins to permeate all art and
in the early context we see "trompe l'oeil" or literal fooling of the
eye. For hundreds of years, artists took the time to learn
perspective, shading, coloring and composition simply to generate a
realistic piece of art. Compared to masterworks, these pieces of art are forgotten or
looked at as boring or sometimes even chicanery. Occasionally an
artist took a different tack and produced paintings that meant
something. In every case, they continued to use the methods of
realistic painting but in a way that said something about their
feelings or the world at large. One of the most notable of these maverick painters is
Carravaggio. When he painted the Madonna di Loreto it wasn't the
gloriously real Madonna that sent a buzz among the parish, it was the
bare, dirty feet of the peasants who devoutly prayed. Caravaggio’s devotion to his concept of realism meant the spot in a painting typically reserved for wealthy art
patrons was taken up by a gnarly couple with dirty feet passionately worshipping
at the feet of the Madonna. Now this was real! Will it take
as long for the computer generation to figure out that basic visual
realism cannot translate into the magic of reality? That producing a
piece of art with the computer means listening to one's feelings
first and then generating what the eye sees when squeezed through the
sieve of our mind's eye?
Our perceptions of the world are shaped by our unique lives and expressing that perspective cannot happen through an exacting recreation of the physical world. An easy example of this is
"Polar Express". Being impressed with the detail of design and
affection for realism is not what made this a popular film. Most
audiences recall the train ride across the ice as the most exciting
part of the film and the sound of the bell coming to be heard as what
they loved. Similarly, Finding Nemo was Pixar's biggest grossing film
because it expressed feelings of love, fear and friendship, not
because it tackled the difficult job of generating a water spray from
a whale. Art has always had a hegemony problem and for the moment,
the keepers of the creative key are trying to open the door to
technical exactitude and shallow literal realism. Hopefully, we will not have to
weather hundreds of years of visual boasting before they realize a
little reality may go a long way but true expression of profound
feelings goes on forever

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Who gave me cancer, dammit?!

Being diagnosed with cancer is like being assigned a grim reaper role. You’re handed the sickle the moment you begin telling anyone. Folks turns back the clock to 1950 and decide they’re an immigrant with limited english skills and back away in a silent panic the moment the “C” word comes out. Luckily, I have friends who play poker and lie for a living and a family that drinks too much to balance out any awkward moments. That said, I am steamed that someone out there just went ahead and gave me cancer just as I was beginning a job I liked and started to doubt my decision that my husband has Asberger’s.
There are some people and places that I’m certain did not give me cancer - like Dave Chappelle. He may be part of the cure. His Block Party was definitely the cure. Kanye West replaces my Erik Estrada poster and Mos Def is still every girls' fantasy but to corral The Fugees AND the Roots? My tumor shrinks. Doesn’t yours? I’ll start ‘splainin’ who gave me cancer and who didn’t later but for now... isn’t it fantastic to see the kids from Dayton whoop it up like they won the Lotto when they discover they're going to Brooklyn?
That was me 30 years ago. The first time I went to NY I went alone and stayed in a $45/night “Women’s Hotel” with creaky stairs, rooms with rusty beds and a key to the room that looked like it came from the middle ages. I sold my car so I could go see the famous duel exhibits at the MOMA and Met of the Austrian Expressionists. Egon Schiele replaced my Erik Estrada poster at the time. I’d be dead from cancer if I hadn’t gone. I was 18 and sold my first car to afford the plane ticket and hotel room and the chance to walk past the store that epitomized NY at the time “Just Bulbs”. Breaking the bank to go somewhere or do something that it’s important to you when you’re young is definitely a cancer cure. So protect yourself.

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