abstract art and systems thinking

Posts Tagged ‘blogging

The joy of art blogging

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Recently Rachael Pinks blogged about art blogging in a post entitled Why Artists Need a Blog, and Angela Sefton at Blackbox Art Studios reblogged it, the content itself a reblog from an AN blog originally published in June 2009. Some artists like to blog and then to blog about blogging.

It's turtles all the way down

…because blogging really can open up new avenues for study, learning and inspiration. Choosing to ‘abide by the rules’ when it comes to using images I spend quite a lot of time seeking images or permission to use images and I ‘meet’ lots of people as a result (even though my wife refers to them as my imaginary friends). Most of the time I get very generous responses to my requests, and I often learn things about the artworks and related issues that I would never learn otherwise.

The blog also opens up opportunities for collaboration. I exchanged art postcards recently with a few fellow art bloggers (BTW sorry Stephen, yours is still in production! I keep destroying them, nearly there now.) Stephen B. Macinnis has some interesting collaborations going on and I liked this recent trail: an idea he proposed that was taken up by another artist/blogger who blogged about the results and then he reblogged it. I am reminded of an NLP workshop activity that Robert Dilts does sometimes, where in pairs one person makes a gesture or move and the other person copies it adding something else, then the first person incorporates the new gesture/movement and adds to it, going back and forth in this way until quite a complicated ‘dance’ develops… and much laughter.

Written by Andy Parkinson

April 2, 2012 at 8:30 am

Art Postcards

with 3 comments

I posted here about The International Postcard Show at Surface Gallery, Nottingham and in response a fellow artist/art blogger Terry Greene suggested we exchange postcards of our own, and I agreed. He sent his ages ago and it was really a postcard, it actually came through the post, whereas mine isn’t finished yet and when it is I will probably resort to an envelope, in case the colours run.

Though maybe one of the interesting things about the painting is the evidence of it having been through the post. This one has ‘painted’ additions that make it a (slightly) different card than the one that Terry mailed. The work already has this contrast going on within it between chance and plan, and it seems to me to be enhanced by the slight risk of sending it through the post. Does it also say something about the difference between a communication ‘sent’ and a communication ‘received’?

Another thing that happened in response to my post about the show was that I got a comment from one of the other artists (as if to prove that it really is international) from USA, Vicki J Eaton, whose postcards are showing in the row above my own.

The show is on until 11 February 2012.

Written by Andy Parkinson

February 8, 2012 at 8:45 am

Art pics without pics and the difficulty of getting images for the blog

with 3 comments

I found a brilliant blog site the other day entitled Currentartpics (here’s a link). It is about art pictures, in that it “tracks style in contemporary art through reproductions mainly from galleries”. It is well worth a visit, even though there are no pictures actually included, because of copyright and ownership restrictions. Instead there are loads of links to reproductions on gallery and other sites. It’s a great site for link surfing and I got directed to lots of really interesting places.

There is a warning in the ‘about’ section saying “Unfortunately, updating of websites (particularly gallery websites) means links in older posts may not remain available” and I was surprised just how often that was the case.. which got me concerned about the links on my own blog. I often use links where I would like to show an image, for the same reasons as at Currentartpics, and that means that they may not remain available for as long as I might like. I also cannot see how copyright law in this situation actually protects anyone.

I spend a lot of my time asking people for images and getting permission to use them on my blog, and mostly I enjoy doing it, because I ‘meet’ lots of interesting and generous individuals. Mostly, I am pleasantly surprised by how willing people are for me to use their images. However, some institutions just seem to ignore my requests and I give up. I think I have concluded that the larger the institution the less likely it is that I will get an image or permission… though I would be delighted to be proved wrong.

Anyway, at Currentartpics I was reading about, and following links on Frank Stella having become interested by a good article at Abstract Critical.  Both authors were doubting the status of Stella’s work. I share their doubts, and yet I also can’t help but experience especially his early paintings as highly convincing.

I had to admire the following sentence in the post at Currentartpics:

Stella’s trajectory has increasingly looked wayward by general trends, his goals obscure or trivial, his success, to be frank, less than stellar.

If I had written those words I would really want them to be enjoyed!

Written by Andy Parkinson

October 21, 2011 at 7:50 am

process and content in the Square Tango

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A few months ago I posted a slideshow entitled Square Tango and I said it had little to do with the old-time sequence dance from where I took the name.

I recently noticed that I have had a few search engine referrals for ‘”how to do the square tango” and I started to empathise with the people visiting my site and being disappointed to find a slideshow that is hardly related to the subject of their search at all.

So I looked for “how to do the square tango” myself and found that there are a few sites that give the steps and a few posts on YouTube. However, on viewing them you would be little the wiser on how to do it. You might know a little more about what to do, assuming (wrongly perhaps) that the demonstrations are anything like correct.

If the content is the steps of the dance, and the process is how to execute those steps, then content is a little easier to establish than process. There is a script, with some comments on process, in the book Learning the Essential Sequence Dances by T A Whitworth. But surely the best way to learn how to is to get some lessons, and that must be especially the case for the searcher looking for “how to do the turn in the Square Tango”.

Doesn’t the content/process distinction correspond to the declarative/procedural knowledge distinction? Declarative knowledge is knowing that whilst procedural knowledge is knowing how to. The internet, e-learning, reading, etc, help a lot when declarative knowledge is what we seek, but add very little when our goal is procedural knowledge. For that we need a combination of lessons and practical experience.

Written by Andy Parkinson

October 20, 2011 at 7:43 am

the blog about the blog

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I have posted before about the blog as a system, and using Statistical Process Control (SPC) to ask questions about the visits, distinguishing between special and common causes of performance variation.

I posted this graph, showing that the variation in the system was mostly due to common causes but that the system was out of statistical control with one data point outside the Upper Control Limit (UCL) and with a run of more than 7 data points below the mean line, indicating the presence of some special causes.

I noted that the point above the UCL, was due to a poll that I had used and that I had advertised via my kids’ Facebook entries. The 7 data points below the mean may have been because I was away a lot around that time so was less active in the ‘blogosphere’ though I continued to post daily through the magic of scheduling.

Here’s an update: a graph for June and July.

The system has not changed. I get a mean average of 53 visits per day, with an UCL of 98 and a Lower Control Limit (LCL) of 8. Again, the runs of 7 or more below the mean are probably explained by my being away during those days (though continuing to schedule daily).

But what caused the spike of 144 visits? That was due my friend Sbmacinnis sharing one of my blog posts on Stumble Upon.

Thanks Steve, I appreciate it!

(More on how to use statistical process control for web site analysis here)

(and more on Stumble Upon etc here)

Written by Andy Parkinson

August 8, 2011 at 7:03 am

Role of the Critic, Updated (via Slow Painting)

with 3 comments

I  saw this two-years-old-blog-post recently, I had been re-reading Peter Fuller’s Beyond the Crisis in Art and blogging about it. (Slow Painting continues to be a good blog by the way. It reads like a press digest of what’s going on in art). What a good photo of Fuller this is!

Role of the Critic, Updated Savage… the art critic Peter Fuller by Jane Bown, 1988 Photograph: Jane Bown/Observer Do art critics have a point any more? Can they contribute anything to the development of art? For a long time I’ve ducked this question. If you’d asked me any time over the past few years, I’d have replied that criticism does not seriously influence art. It has its own justification, however, as literature. If literature seems a pompous word, let’s say enterta … Read More

via Slow Painting

Then, a year after the blog post, there’s a comment by Wallydevilliers that suggests that the role of the critic is to find what’s really good and bring it to our attention. Good point. However, Fuller’s refusal of so much that was going on when he was writing was not really bad publicity (I recognise that the comment was actually about Robert Hughes in relation to Damien Hirst) the publicity had already been had. He was interpreting the meaning of the art works and establishing a position within a Marxist framework. So, reading Fuller was also a way of learning about Marx and socialism (he was just as critical of the positions taken by the Left as he was of the art) and I think he was a good teacher.

He also showed us how to criticise. I don’t always agree with his judgement, but I do find his approach, and his commitment to imagining a world different to the present one, to use an old-fashioned word – edifying.

It is that committed position that I think exemplified his approach and that informed his understanding of the role of the critic: not to entertain but to imagine.

Written by Andy Parkinson

July 3, 2011 at 7:44 am

Blogging about blogging about blogging

with 5 comments

I was surprised to find that loads of bloggers like to blog about blogging, I inadvertently found myself doing the same (here), and now here I am blogging about blogging about blogging.

photo of photo fo photo of photo of photo

And then blogging about blogging could be a metaphor for art about art. Both modern and post-modern art does that a lot (maybe we could think of modernism as art about art, and post-modernism as art about art about art).

Then there is also learning 1, learning 2 and learning 3: Gregory Bateson‘s helpful distinctions, roughly translated (and for this I am grateful to Julian Russell) as learning, learning about learning, and learning about learning about learning.  I don’t yet remember where I read that Bateson had at least speculated that NLP could be an example of learning 3.

…”It’s turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down!”

Although I am having fun with the recursiveness of it, this is serious stuff because it is connected to patterns of patternsthe pattern which connects

But, whilst continuing to have fun, I guess if someone were to write a blog about this blog, that would be blogging about blogging about blogging about blogging.

Written by Andy Parkinson

June 20, 2011 at 7:42 am

The Blog as system: a little Statistical Process Control

with 8 comments

Here’s a run chart showing the visits to my blog in May (I know, it would be nice to have more visits).

It shows at a glance just how much variation there is in the system visits per day to my site: although the average (mean) number of visits per day for May was 58, the highest number of visits was 144, and the least was 17.

Plotting the data in a control chart or capability chart (invented by Walter Shewhart and used by W. Edwards Deming) shows that the system is out of statistical control, in that there is special cause variation on day 29,

and the run of twelve days below the mean may also suggest special causes of variation (a run of six or more might be an indication of a special cause).

With special causes it could be meaningful to ask “what happened, specifically?”

Answers: 1) On day 29, I used a poll for the first time, and as it was researching a suggestion made by my son (that some people need help to see optical effects), both my sons were happy to encourage their Facebook friends to visit my site and complete the poll. As a result I got more visitors than usual that day. 2) On days 10 to 21, I may have been less active than usual in looking at other blogs as I was away for some of those days.

All the other data points show common cause variation: the variation that can be expected by the normal behaviour of the system. The chart shows that I could expect to get anywhere between 0 visits (the Lower Control Limit, LCL) and 112 visits (the Upper Control Limit, UCL) on any one day. To be surprised by data points within these limits, to get concerned for example at the 17 visits, would be foolish. To improve performance when the system shows common cause variation one must focus on the common causes rather than on individual data points. I could ask myself “what happens predictably every day, that causes this variation?” I would answer that I post something including a visual image, and that I take a few minutes to look at other blogs, mostly by tag surfing. To get more visits I would have to change this system.

Written by Andy Parkinson

June 9, 2011 at 7:10 am

Aided seeing: about the results of the poll

with 3 comments

Joel was right! some of us need help to see optical effects. In my recent blog I asked viewers to look at a painting and to note what they saw. I then brought their attention to the subjective formation of white discs. I added a poll to find out how many people saw the white discs without being helped, how many saw them as a result of being helped and whether anyone was unable to see the white discs even after having been directed towards them

When I last looked  we were getting something close to a 50/5o split between “I saw with aid” and “I saw without aid” (with 14% claiming  not to have seen the white discs at all).

I know the research would be much more conclusive with 420 or 4,2000 participants, rather than the 42 that have actually taken part so far. However, if these results are anything like typical of the general population, I suggest they show that there is a role for curators to help us to see. I have often been suspicious of labelling works of art in galleries because the label (a linguistic filtering process) could get in the way of the primary experience (pre-linguistic) of the viewer. Yet, we have seen that helping us to observe what’s there is helpful for something like 50% of us.

I suggest that, in looking at art, we differentiate between the three ‘stages’ of viewing: 1)observation, 2)interpretation and 3) judgement. I could argue that curators more readily help us to do 2 and 3 and that 1 is a more ethical space to occupy.

Oh! And for those who claim not to be able to see the white discs, this is where to look:

this is where to look

Marked to give you an idea - you won't see them where I have drawn round them, but if you look in the corresponding places elsewhere on the grid, then you will, no doubt, see them

Written by Andy Parkinson

June 6, 2011 at 5:35 am


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