Sloth-like Behaviour (The Secret To Apathy)

I’m not a big proponent of statistics, dear readers; for a couple of reasons. One of the reasons is that statistics are incredibly difficult to substantiate in the real world. The stats are always changing, and in general, I suspect a lot of people may not trust them. For that reason alone, I hesitate to use stats myself.

Unless it’s convenient or validates an already existing belief.

Then I can very easily see the need to jump on the statistics train. But so can most of us.

 

Which is why it’s so fascinating for me to witness cultural trends that either celebrate statistics like the “50% of married people get divorced” one, or that are ignored like “1 in 3 people experience depression in their lifetime” one. Because we will probably use this information to our advantage or simply ignore it, then we can continue along our path of non-resistance.

The other reason I am kind of against statistics is that the effort it takes to cite written sources (read: any sources) is already a lot of work, and with the Internet, what you say or do can come back to haunt you later. Sometimes mere moments later.

Wait a second timotheories, that last statement looks like you are saying it’s okay to just run on autopilot when it comes to fact finding… Sounds like you’re lazy.

Good point my friends, good point.

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This is why it’s fun for me to hide my references and ideas behind pop culture. We all recognize pop culture references, whether we love them or not is another matter. But it’s easy to recognize them and what they represent a la satire.

Take this one from the show Family Guy. I always found the scene below both really funny and really excellent, because it sums up almost perfectly the suffering most people put themselves through by simply not challenging themselves with a little bit more uncertainty and risk in life.

Hate to break it to you, but you’re gonna have to click on this 2 times to read it all. It’ll be worth it. I promise.

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We constantly do this to ourselves.

We go to bed with the best intentions, but never wake up when we say we will. We head home with the expectations that we’ll clean up the house and prepare for the next work day, but instead we plop down on the couch to a favourite show and order pizza. We avoid going out when invited because of the challenge to find a sitter or deal with people we don’t know, so we opt to stay in instead and say that we have the option to go out but are choosing not to exercise it.

Which is exactly what this TEDx talk by life coach Mel Robbins starts off by saying. Though I think she can speak more clearly for herself, so I’ll let you watch the clip yourself.

But for the sake of time and convenience, I’ll skip ahead to the part I am most interested in sharing with you. You can probably watch for 2 minutes, but the last ten minutes are great, and the full 21:39 are even better. Ready?

That’s the big secret.

We are never going to feel like doing the thing that is the most important thing in order to make a positive change. Activation energy is incredibly difficult to put together, and according to Mel, all of these decisions are determined within the first five seconds.

We have to say yes to the impulse within the first 5 seconds, otherwise we won’t make the change. And we have this problem from the time we are children to the time we expire. Parents understand this concept, but may not be able to articulate it properly.

You see, parents make you do everything you are supposed to do, but when you become an adult, you stop having someone there to tell you to do it.

So what’s an adult to do, especially if they want to do something difficult like starting an art project, getting into the recording studio, or sitting down to write the fifth chapter of their novel?

It’s simple,
(but not easy):
FORCE Yourself
OUT Of Your Head
PAST Your Feelings
OUTSIDE Of Your Comfort Zone

You have to stand up, fight that impulse within the first five seconds and get going, and always remember, you are never going to feel like it.

But hey, that’s just a theory right? Some food for thought. What do you think though? Have you tried this? Do you want to? Please leave some comments, and subscribe to the feed. See you tomorrow friends, with something timely.

Tim!

Kill Your Darling Mother Goose (History of Easter Eggs)

Now that the chocolate withdrawal has begun to rear it’s ugly head, I thought this was a good time to take some time and discuss the Easter tradition, as it relates to art. It is Timely Thursday after all, dear readers.

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Whether you are gung ho for Easter or not, it is a commonplace event in Western culture and is celebrated for a few different reasons. Some do it to celebrate a tradition, others feel obligated to keep their children included and their colleagues in a state of uniformity, still others really really like the ideas espoused in the messages (family, charity, giving, togetherness, etc.) both from a religious or secular viewpoint.

The reality is that there is more than meets the eye to the tradition of Easter, both from a Christian perspective and a secular one.

It has a lot do with notion that whatever the dominant religion is in a culture, most people won’t reference the detailed aspects of the tradition, they just do what their families and friends have always done, and that is how events like this slowly evolve over time.

Look at the history of the Easter egg for example, a lot of people believe that Easter eggs are decorated and given out to symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus (death and rebirth), others believe it is a symbol of spring time, represented by the Easter Bunny. Which makes a lot of sense, but isn’t necessarily realistic.

The reality is kinda a combination of the two beliefs, and they just layer right in there. The tradition of the Easter egg stretches as far back as to ancient Africa, over 60,000 years ago. And we have evidence that eggs were symbols of fertility, death and rebirth, via the Sumerians and Egyptians about 5000 years ago – being placed in graves and decorated with gold and silver.

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Christians in Mesopotamia started the practice of staining eggs red, as a symbol of the blood of Christ. And this invariably spread throughout the different Christian communities over the centuries. Which is why Russians and Greeks got ahold of this practice, and it eventually made it’s way through different European countries…

Taken from Wikipedia and edited,

In the Orthodox churches, Easter eggs are blessed by the priest at the end of the Paschal Vigil (which is equivalent to Holy Saturday), and distributed to the faithful. The egg is seen by followers of Christianity as a symbol of resurrection: while being dormant it contains a new life sealed within it…

In Greece, women traditionally dye the eggs with onion skins and vinegar on Thursday (also the day of Communion). These ceremonial eggs are known as kokkina avga. They also bake tsoureki for the Easter Sunday feast. Red Easter eggs are sometimes served along the centerline of tsoureki (braided loaf of bread)…

The dying of Easter eggs in different colours is commonplace, with colour being achieved through boiling the egg with either natural colours (such as getting brown by using onion peels, black by using oak or alder bark or the nutshell of walnut, or pink by using beetjuice), or using artificial colourings.

When boiling them with onion skins leaves can be attached prior to dying to create leaf patterns. The leaves are attached to the eggs before they are dyed with a transparent cloth to wrap the eggs with like inexpensive muslin or nylon stockings, leaving patterns once the leaves are removed after the dyeing process...

Pysanky are Ukrainian Easter eggs, decorated using a wax-resist (batik) method. Many other eastern European ethnic groups decorate eggs using wax resistant batik methods for Easter. The word comes from the verb pysaty, “to write”, as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax.

As you can see from the excerpt above there is an incredibly storied history to the Easter egg, and a ton of opportunity to contribute to it’s future. But what do you think? Do you decorate eggs every spring and have you ever considered using eggs as symbols in your art? Know any expert egg painters? Please leave some comments and we’ll eggsecute a discussion.

Sorry I had to, I mean I had all this unused internet to write on… Please don’t leave, I can eggsplain, I was recently eggshiled from my family and I make yolks when I’m lonely.

Okay, I’m done. I got all the fun I could get out of that joke. And I’m out of theories for now friends, so please have an eggsellent weekend, and I’ll catch you on Sunday evening for something stimulating!

Tim!

Problems With Art Galleries That No One Talks About (Take Photos All The Time)

Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell, about an artist blogger you know so well.
It started way back in history, with a museum, a guard, and NYC – you see?

And that dear readers, is how you make a transitional joke from one post into the next one. Please see previous post for reference if you want to get the joke, but I’m going to move along so that I don’t lose this post’s momentum.

Let’s visualize for a moment here.

This is a situation that seems to happen all the time across the world in various museums and art galleries alike. You are seeing a-one-of-kind piece of history for the first time (often a famous art-work) and you want to take a photo of it for posterity and so that you can remember what you saw when you return home. Let’s be honest here, you’re done have an eidetic memory and you definitely aren’t getting any younger.

So you snap a photo.

Kinda like I did when I was visiting the New York Metropolitan Museum for the first time back in 2006. Yes, this story is 10 years old, and for you recent graduates and Millennials on the edge of the age generation cut off, that time probably doesn’t mean much to you.

But for the sake of the story let’s pretend you all do understand me. So you snap a photo with your digital camera (not your phone), and get the warm and fuzzies almost immediately, because you now have proof that you’ve been in the presence of greatness, and your loved ones can be excited or feign excitement when they see you again, and you both show and tell.

And this was definitely part of my intent, but not the whole plan. The whole plan was to get some photos, so I could reference them in my own art later on, and because folio pictures from art books aren’t always the best quality. And at as much as 100 bucks a pop, the costs add up quickly.

But then I felt it, a warm hand on my left shoulder. Ever so slowly followed by a deep voice. “You can’t take photos in here son, read the sign.”

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I had read the sign, I saw the sign, and it told me that these works were over a hundred years old and in a dark room to preserve their colour. And I thought I was being clever, because I know all about lightfastness in painting, and I made sure to turn my flash off on my camera (not my phone), because I was being respectful.

It didn’t matter though, I had been caught.

And the guilt quickly set in. But why should I feel this way, it was 2006 and people love to take photos, in fact, digital cameras were making it easier by the day for people everywhere to get into the photography hobby. So all I have are a couple of blurry memories of one room, and I can barely remember which artists I saw in there, so that sucks.

Luckily for us today though, because museums and galleries are loosening the reins on this particular restriction. Because people take photos everywhere, of anything, and all the time. We can thank smart phones for that phenomenon. It’s really difficult for a venue to justify taking away someones’s phone, because it’s not socially acceptable, and phones can save lives.

And from the perspective of the venue they have to decide if it’s more important to have guards paying attention to visitors touching antiquities or snapping photos. That and the challenge of social media. When organizations use social media to show work going up and down, can they really complain when people are using social media to generate traffic for them? The way we think about communication and conversation is changing, visual communication is becoming hot topic once again.

But of course the biggest challenge is the issue of copyright and fair use. I think that institutions need to protect themselves by asking for permission to take photos of work, but for the layman, taking photos for noncommercial use is a lot more permissible, which may be the first indicators of a culture shift.

As time changes peoples opinions about gender, sexuality, and race, and we become more compassionate, my theory is that we will also become better communicators because we need to and our ideas about images will shift too.

What do you think? Comments? Questions? Please leave some and also subscribe! See you tomorrow with a theory about a rabbit.

Tim!

 

Let’s Make a Jazz Record (David Bowie, Blackstar review)

I wish I knew more about jazz, other than that I like it of course. It’s one of those musical formats that permeates music culture but which is so open ended that I find it overwhelming to participate in discussion about it – Most of the time.

Today’s album review is one of those times when I feel comfortable talking about the subject matter. I think mostly because the artist handles the infusion of it rather well and because he has a solid track record of dealing with musical avenues that call for experimentation.

 

 

 

David Bowie – Blackstar
released January 8, 2015
********** 10/10

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If you don’t know who David Bowie is, I’m afraid to tell you you’ve missed out, and never again will you see his like. David Robert Jones, also known as David Bowie, was an English musician who played a variety of instruments, sang, wrote songs, produced records, painted, and acted in big screen releases occasionally.

My first experience with him that I can remember was the movie Labyrinth, though that was not how he got his start. With a musical career spanning back to the early 1960’s, Bowie had a top 5 hit in the UK by 1969 with Space Oddity.

If you haven’t seen the original music video you should go take a look at it right now.

Then he developed the Ziggy Stardust persona, and showed the world that he would be constantly innovating and reinventing himself for the rest of his career. Like that time he made a song with Queen called Under Pressure, and it was awesome!

Honestly, I could go on about his accomplishments and my thoughts on his legacy for another few posts, but that is not what today’s review is about, dear readers. No.

Today we are looking at Blackstar, Bowie’s curtain call and last hurrah. And before I get too sentimental and forget why we are here again, I’ll admit that this is difficult to listen to without thinking about the fact that David Bowie won’t be making any more art of the world for the world.

So with as much objectivity as I could muster I’ll say this about the album, yes it is filled with references to death, but I don’t think that it’s as obvious as all of that. This record is profound because of the talent backing the tracks and the effort put forth to create something with a unique vision.

It was his 25th studio album, and that has to mean something after all, right?

Well, I think we are seeing David Bowie at his best. The title track Blackstar is incredible, experimental, and covers some dark ground. There are jazz elements throughout the whole record, and the electronic progressions certainly aid the sombre mood of songs like Lazarus. The saxophone was Bowie’s first instrument and it makes sense to me that he use something which is associated with freedom and exploration to give us some more innovations and remind us of what he has done in the past, simultaneously.

One review I read made a very valid point that while this music will make some of us incredibly happy, others will find it frustrating and difficult to stomach. But I would argue that the inaccessibility is an indicator of just how well done this album is. Bowie’s music is strongest when there is mystery attached to it. No different than the man who made us wonder about his sexuality, spirituality, political motivations, and project choices.

For example, he played Thomas Jerome Newton (The Man Who Fell to Earth), Jareth the Goblin King (Labyrinth), Andy Warhol (Basquiat), himself (Zoolander), and Nikola Tesla (Prestige), among a weird slew of other roles.

If you think it’s all jazz, brooding, and electronic injections, think again. Girl Loves Me is a strange rap about a day that has disappeared. It is both aggressive and apathetic in each lyric.

Truthfully, if you are hoping for a clear narrative theme or explanation of what you’ve just listened to, you’re not going to find it here or anywhere else. That was not David Bowie’s intent, and he has never been one for revealing his secrets. Otherwise he wouldn’t be having fun, and we wouldn’t have gotten anything out of him while he was with us.

I’ll leave his final music videos, Blackstar and Lazarus for you, because there isn’t much that can say it better.

 

 

 

That level of experimentation in art is incredibly undervalued in my experience, but I think we can argue fairly easily that David Bowie handled jazz music with the respect and understanding it deserves – improvisation, syncopation and polyrhythms. Bowie took this love of innovation into other arenas and managed to be a pop artist that was whatever he needed to be.

That quality is rarely recognized and I hope as time goes one we will celebrate him properly and encourage others to take up his mantle.

See you tomorrow for a Theatrical Tuesday review my friends.

Tim!

 

Where The Art Is (The Google Cultural Institute)

You ever watch those movie trailers, posters or commericials which start off by saying “since the dawn of time…”? I find them cheesy too, dear readers. But I want to try it out one time okay?

Since the dawn of time, mankind has created artwork and stored it in precious places. In other words, for what seems like forever.

What’s forever, precious?

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You know, FOR-EV-ER? Eternity? Infinity? Time without end? Even you can comprehend THAT Gollum.

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You don’t believe me, well that’s fine. I love pulling out my art history cap every now and again. Just give me a minute here to get down to business and find some images and links to get this party started.

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This image was one of the first cave painting images I ever saw when I was doing my undergrad, at the time it was considered to be one of the oldest images ever made (approx. 32,000BC – 30,000BC).

According to this article, a new theory has cropped up. Humans having been making art for about 42,000 years, which when taken along with the theory of evolution, means that humans have been making art for even longer than we’ve been thinking about things. Which is amazing to me, because I’ve always considered art to be a language in and of itself.

That means that we need art more then we need literature and speech, it’s something that we all can understand and relate to, no matter what the oral or sign language we subscribe to. And it’s foundational to who we are. That’s right, sign language is not universal to all creeds and ethnicities.

So visual language is something we can all experience and relate to, and one which is not interpreted differently in other communication styles. It’s fascinating, really.

Also, while I haven’t read this academic paper on comics, linguistics and visual language, just yet – I did find an interesting point made pretty much at the start of the paper which helps with my argument.

Many authors of comics have metaphorically compared their writing process to that of language. Jack “King” Kirby, celebrated as one of the most influential artists of mainstream American comics, once commented, “I’ve been writing all along and I’ve been doing it in pictures” (Kirby, 1999). Similarly, Japan’s “God of Comics” Osamu Tezuka stated, “I don’t consider them pictures …In reality I’m not drawing. I’m writing a story with a unique type of symbol” (Schodt, 1983). Recently, in his introduction to McSweeny’s (Issue 13), modern comic artist Chris Ware stated overtly that, “Comics are not a genre, but a developing language.” Furthermore, several comic authors writing about their medium have described the properties of comics like a language. Will Eisner (1985) compared gestures and graphic symbols to a visual vocabulary, a sentiment echoed by Scott McCloud (1993), who also described the properties governing the sequence of panels as its “grammar.” Meanwhile, Mort Walker (1980), the artist of Beetle Bailey, has catalogued the graphic emblems and symbols used in comics in his facetious dictionary, The Lexicon of Comicana.

You see, we need visual art just as much as we need other languages and the fact that so many people discard this skill for themselves, their children, their students, and the younger generation is frightening to me.

I’m generalizing here, which I hate to do, but so often I hear stories from people that made art when they were young, and then gave it up. We cannot seem to find value in learning the right skills needed to draw accurately, and attribute it to an ability which only some humans can possess. That is false and limiting behaviour.

But today’s Wisdom Wednesday resource is going to get you back to your roots, so to speak.

Alright, I have a secret to share with you fine folks today. Well, I wish it was a secret, because this is one of those resources anyone with an internet connection has had access to since 2011 and which I cannot believe hasn’t shown up more often in Facebook newsfeeds, on blog posts, and in cultural events.

The Google Cultural Institute is an amazing achievement in digital curation and one which features artwork from around the world, archival exhibitions, and three-dimensional recreations of world heritage sites.

You can navigate this content through Art Project, Historic Moments, and World Wonders, all from your main navigation menu. What I find especially cool is that you can take virtual tours of over 40 different museums, whenever you want.

The search terms are incredible as well – collection, medium, event, place, person, media type, date. And did I mention the Discover feature? It lets you explore related topics at the push of a button. And of course can share your findings with friends too.

But that’s not the best part. As an artist, this gets me the most excited. You can save your favourite items and create your own gallery.

Now tell me that that is not cool. Ha, I don’t believe you! Tell me what you really think! Leave some comments, share some thoughts, and I’ll catch you tomorrow for something timely.

Tim!