Tribute to Albert Camus by Jean-Paul Sartre

Sartre, famous antagonist to Albert Camus, wrote a warm eulogy after a car accident took Camus life. I particularly like this line in which he acknowledges the impact that Camus had even from afar.

He and I had quarreled. A quarrel doesn’t matter — even if those who quarrel never see each other again — just another way of living together without losing sight of one another in the narrow little world that is allotted us. It didn’t. keep me from thinking of him, from feeling that his eyes were on the book or newspaper I was reading and wondering: “What does he think of it? What does he think of it at this moment?”

Jean-Paul Sartre

The Conceptual Loops of Daniel Eatock

I’ve been following Daniel Eatock work since I can remember. I think I found his work as soon as I started surfing the web looking at what the early creators shared online. He had a tremendous influence in my education into conceptual work (be it in art, design, marketing, etc).

I always found the simplicity and repetition of Eatock’s work very alluring. I particularly like his photographic collections mundane objects (car batteries, inspiring people, etc) and his obsessive repetitive pieces (pen prints, holes punched, dotted paper, pen tests, lists, etc). He is also very strong with his most simple, reductionist ideas (ballpoint removed, stick stuck on ceiling, etc).

Considered Accidents is the one piece that always comes to my mind when I think of Eatock (he’s been finding and photographic this subject for 18 years). Here is Daniel’s description of the work:

Photographs of Fiat cars designed by Pininfarina. The undamaged Fiat has a graphic slash as part of the cars styling located above the wheel arch. Each photograph presents a car that has a second graphic mark as a compliment to the original by result of an accident.

Considered Accidents, April 2000 – Ongoing
The Conceptual Loops of Daniel Eatock

I recently wanted to dig back into his work and I was lucky enough to find a recent interview with him at Scratching The Surface. Here is the link the podcast episode: #93: Daniel Eatock.

I hope you enjoy Daniels’ work.

Notebooking Habit

Austin Kleon has definitely help me crystallize what notebooks to work on. This new year I will keep a writing log, a work log and a good ol’ journal.

Austin did a presentation about journaling, that feeds into my notebooking obsession (addiction?)

Rule #1: Carry your notebook with you wherever you go.

Rule #2: Do at least one exercise everyday.

Rule #3: Repeat the first two steps until the pages are full.

Austin Kleon
Notebooking Habit

Henry Darger and the Perseverance of a Lifetime

I’ve been getting into the #everyday “movement” (if we should call it that). I’ve always been interested in the great things that can come or of small but repeated efforts.

Henry Darger is somebody who demonstrates the incredible output possible when one focuses on daily work practice (and without the distractions of external validation).

Henry wrote a 15,000+ words novel (maybe we need a better word for a work like that), drew feet and feet of illustrations, and kept the record of it all inside his apartment. The title of the novel is The Story of the Vivian Girls, in What Is Known as the Realms of the Unreal, of the Glandeco-Angelinnian War Storm, Caused by the Child Slave Rebellion.

Henry Darger and the Perseverance of a Lifetime

When I say novel, I mean it in the old-fashioned sense — not graphic novel or illustrated novel or picture book. The mesmerizing paintings for which Darger’s become famous tell a similar, perhaps the same story (no one’s read the whole novel, so it’s not clear), but the book itself consists of page after page, volume after volume of tight, condensed, single-spaced blue type.

https://hyperallergic.com/65318/on-henry-dargers-15000-page-novel/
Henry Darger and the Perseverance of a Lifetime

Besides his novel, Darger had other curious daily habits:

Darger had other unusual habits. He attended Catholic mass three or four times a day at St. Vincent DePaul Church

[…]

Darger began keeping the first of six weather journals on Dec. 31, 1957. Always fascinated by the weather, he reported on it almost daily from first-hand observations until Dec. 31, 1967.

http://officialhenrydarger.com/about/
Henry Darger and the Perseverance of a Lifetime

It Feels Great To Do Little

I can’t remember a single time in the past when completing less than 10% on any job would leave me with a true feeling of satisfaction. I think it is natural for most of us to focus on the 90% that is still undone, instead of then 10% completed. But ignoring whatever progress has been made can steal our motivation to continue work.

If properly done, tracking the progress of large tasks(those that take many days or weeks) can be very rewarding and can create a sense of accomplishment along the way.

The journey is the destination. I need to learn to focus on the process more than the outcome. Today, I started to keep track of a new project: compiling all the flash-fiction stories that I wrote daily last year for “101 Tales of Future.”

Somehow, making progress in this log feels like accomplishment already:

It Feels Great To Do Little

I set myself a goal to compile and review all stories in 12 weeks. Each line of the log is a week. After months of procrastination, I’ve started on this project and made as much progress in one day as I thought I would in a whole week.

Note: It was Austin Kleon who inspired me to make this log. In his blog he shows and explains his method for his Newspaper Blackout Poems Book Calendar.

Update Day #4

It Feels Great To Do Little

Update Day #12

It Feels Great To Do Little

Virtual Legacy

The Elder Care Center, or ECC, was a white building designed to resemble a greenhouse. The recreational pavilion had a dome for a ceiling. The walls nd the curved ceiling were made out of glass. From behind the windows, the residents of the nursing home could see the jungle of Baakarmasara. At the far back of the dome, seated at the closest table to the window, was Izaya. 

“You have a visitor, Izaya.” One of the robot nurses had approached him. “The rendering has been finalized and the simulation has been completed. It is ready.”

“Who is it this time? Who are you entertaining me with? I hope it’s not Poe again? I can’t stand his dark humor,” said Izaya without looking at the robot.

Blood of a Runaway

The landscape was nothing but a big pile of rubble that appeared to be slowly sinking in mud. It appeared to be sinking in the Mud, but never quite.

Inside the police car, Chapman pulled up the collar of his field jacket. He put a mask over his head and pulled the straps tight. It was a full face mask with air filters on either side.

“I hate this.” Chapman said. His frustrated scream came through the external speaker with a metallic quality. Chapman smoothed out his hair underneath the mask.

Stephen King Says It’s OK Not To Plot

In my view, stories and novels consist of three parts: narration, which moves the story from point A to point B and finally to point Z; description, which creates a sensory reality for the reader; and dialogue, which brings characters to life through their speech.

You may wonder where plot is in all this. The answer — my answer, anyway — is nowhere. I won’t try to convince you that I’ve never plotted any more than I’d try to convince you that I’ve never told a lie, but I do both as infrequently as possible. I distrust plot for two reasons: first, because our lives are largely plotless, even when you add in all our reasonable precautions and careful planning; and second, because I believe plotting and the spontaneity of real creation aren’t compatible. It’s best that I be as clear about this as I can — I want you to understand that my basic belief about the making of stories is that they pretty much make themselves. The job of the writer is to give them a place to grow (and to transcribe them, of course).

–Stephen King, On Writing

I’ve been reading On Writing for the second time, and it’s been refreshing to hear a defense for unplanned, unplotted stories. King talks about writing stories as uncovering fosiles. The story is already there you just need to materialize it.

It made me think of the relationship between outlining and the conscious brain.

  • Conscious writing → non fiction
  • Writing from the subconscious → fiction

Seems like the advice from King is simply: Never plot.

On the Value of a $450K Piece of Digital Art

On the Value of a 0K Piece of Digital Art

There’s this controversy about technologists scamming their way into the Art World™ and selling a $430K digital art piece at Christie’s. The debate comes from the muddy details behind the “AI” technology and what some call “borrowed code”.

One of the members of the Obvious collective behind the stunt explains it like this:

Right now it’s like a computer program that can do something that we find impressive, but it is not really that impressive in the end, because if you think it’s some kind of robot with a human-like mind, okay, it’s really, really impressive, but it’s not.

So it turns out that they didn’t build an Artificial Intelligent Artist. So what?

The confusion is more interesting than the price tag.

What is the nature of “provenance” when we are talking about art made by machines (call it AI, robots or plain code). In “classic arts” it is expected of an artist to first study the masters, then copy them, and finally, if the artist is talented enough, to create art that goes beyond the derivative. The question arises in the world of digital art. What is derivative and what isn’t? Is using somebody else’s code akin to plagiarism? Or are those just artistic influences?

In his article, Jason Bailey inquiries about the responsibility of the digital artist to not only acknowledge their influences, but also to share the profits with the original coders.

The idea behind the Belamy project borrowed heavily from one of Robbie Barrat’s earlier projects that uses historical portraits to train a GAN to generate AI art. […] Maybe you are thinking that that’s a pretty broad project idea. Shouldn’t other artists be able to explore that, as well? Sure, but Obvious also admits to using the exact same scraper for getting the portraits from the exact same website, Wikiart. And who wrote the scraper that Obvious used? Robbie Barrat.
[…]
[Obvious] used code, project ideas, and algorithms written by other developers and artists because it was a quick and inexpensive way to get started. Most people start by learning from other people’s code (they just typically stop short of selling the results at Christie’s).

“Is Digital Art?” might become 21st Century’s version of the eternal debate around “what is Art?”

A Freudian analysis of Humans and Machines in classic films

A Freudian analysis of Humans and Machines in classic films

After reading The Movies on Your Mind (Harvey R. Greenberg, 1975), I’m still not sure what the goal of this book was. The theme is clear, but the goal not so much.

My favorite takeaway is that humans have always rejected our creations when they seem to threaten our dominance. The movies the book analyzes that focus on machines and technology are way more interesting that those that focus on the tired Oedipus complex. If you’d like to hear the Freudian analysis, it would seem that this rejection is a reaction against the perceived threat that such creations pose.

In other words, we are all afraid of being replaced by a better or improved version of ourselves. We are afraid of becoming obsolete. We are afraid of death.

The book draws parallels between Frankenstein‘s monster (the original Robot), 2001‘s HAL, the machine from Metropolis, and Colossus from 1970’s The Forbin Project. Each movie reinforces the confrontational relationship between humans and machines.

Unfortunately The Movies on Your Mind is one of those old books written in that academic style characteristic of cumbersome vocabulary and long descriptions that lack personal insights.

All in all, I do love reading how old authors understood our relationships with machines.