Oh, man, I wish there was some kind of portable rig for this kind of thing. So interesting.

We have featured Nobumichi Asai’s real-time face tracking an projection mapping in the past. Asai and his team are back with yet another fascinating video. Mapping a highly detailed projection on to any surface can be a challenge…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGI4oz1QnZo

Click here for the full article

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I’ve got the perfect spot for that.

If I were in Los Angeles, I’d go to this.

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Arctic Merfox by Emi Slade The 3rd Biennial Taxidermy Show is a group art show at the La Luz De Jesus gallery in Los Angeles featuring unique taxidermied pieces of artwork. The show opens today Fri…

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Click here for the full article

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A beautiful video featuring a whole bunch of great time-lapse footage from around the world, via reddit.

 

Natural Phenomena – VideoSapien from Reid Gower on Vimeo.

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Here we see maps hung in the preview room before our rare books and manuscripts auction. Nice display, eh?

A. Entwistle, English Cottage Scene, oil on canvas

I recently acquired two small oil paintings in an auction. I paid very little for them. They’re nice enough paintings, and certainly a deal for how little they cost, but they’re not exactly in the style of my home decor.

So naturally, I got to thinking, maybe a fun thing to do would be to use these paintings as raw material; as the basis for a couple of collage pieces.  For instance, I could use digital images of the paintings, and construct layers in photoshop which could then be applied physically to the canvasses themselves.

Many visual collages are based on reproduced images, such as pictures or typography from magazines.  But to use a one-of-a-kind painting as the base layer raises some interesting ethical, aesthetic, and value questions which collages based on mass-produced media do not.

Namely, is it right to destroy, for all practical purposes, the original work to build a new work from it?

All those red stamps are the seals of previous owners

Now, I know that legally, objectively, since I own the canvas, it’s mine to do with as I please.  However, these are works that someone created at some point in the past, a part of the legacy of another human.  Part of the value of these works is that they are old(-ish); they’ve survived in their present form since their inception.  Just watch Antiques Roadshow — don’t clean it, the patina is part of the value, it’s in the original frame, et. al.

There is a tradition in Asian art where the owner of a work of art adds his stamp or signature to the work upon acquiring it.  By this method, the provenance of a work is preserved as part of the work itself.  Part of the value, part of the story of the painting or scroll is found in the history of its ownership.

I mentioned this to a friend the other night in an instant message conversation, and she brought up some good points.

Her: but it does make one wonder what the focus is, there.
is it the work?
the journey?
the prestige of ownership of something fine or expensive?
Me: I think that all those are valid.
perhaps it was a melange.
Her: but again, the owner can do as the owner chooses.
and that’s fine.
I have no issue with that.
the difference is that in our culture, it’s frowned upon to alter the original work for something that’s basically a record-keeping measure.
while in that culture, clearly, that’s either 1) part of the art or 2) more important than the piece itself
Me: do you think there’s a good argument why one school of thought should be preferrable to the other?
Her: not really. I think cultures vary, and there are much bigger issues at stake there.

She’s right, of course.  In the West, there is a taboo against a subsequent owner altering a work of art.  There’s an unspoken rule that those who own artworks have a responsibility to preserve them in the same condition in which they acquired them.

So do we have a duty to preserve the art and artifice of those who went before us?  To what degree?

As I’ve been thinking, it occurs to me that there are a number of factors to consider for any particular work.

The only reason I’m considering modifying these particular works is because I got them so cheaply.  I’d be way, way less likely to modify a $10,000 painting than I am a $10 painting.

I wouldn’t modify a painting by a “name” artist like Picasso or something.  I mean, it’s priceless as it is; I would be adding no value.  However, I can imagine a world in which my modifications to an existing work might add value, as in the case of my little pieces — they would cease being relics, and would be re-inserted in to the dialog of modern art by the very act of being modified.

I wouldn’t modify the work of a still-living artist.  Even if I own it.  After all, those folks might still like to refer back to the work for, say, a retrospective or something.  If the artist is still alive, isn’t right that they should have final say about how the image or work should look?

If someone else bought a painting I had made, and then chose to modify (or destroy) it, I would have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, I think I should get the final say or at least first right of refusal.  On the other hand, it IS their property, so why should I get any input on it at all?  That’s part of the risk you take when you release a singular, one-of-a-kind piece out into the big, wide world.

And what about the idea that if I WERE to buy and then modify some really expensive or important work, couldn’t I spin that in such a way as to interject myself into the conversation of art history?  My name would be associated permanently with the original artist.  My work would co-opt some legacy, and would instantly become something more than simply a mere work of visual art; it would be a piece that required a huge sacrifice to pull off at all.  It would be more famous by virtue of being both a destruction and a creation.

So, dear readers, I put it to you then:  What do you think?  Should I try the experiment and modify my little paintings?  Should I leave them be?  Do I have any moral obligations either way?

Post in the comments, and let me know what you think.

Wowee!  My old friends published a mention of my book, along with a mini-interview, in this week’s Happytown column!

Here’s the relevant portion:

Not a day goes by in which someone doesn’t ask, “Hey, Happytown™, whatever happened to that Ask Ian the I.T. Guy? He sure had a nice ponytail.” In an effort to satiate Orlando’s thirst for information on our former I.T. guru and columnist, Ian Monroe, we tracked down the man himself and found him with a newly minted degree from the Medill School of Journalism in Chicago and, more exciting still, a new book! It’s called The ____ of _____ by Means of Natural _____, which probably needs a tiny bit of explanation.

See, Monroe, ever the intellectual prankster, “cleaned up” Charles Darwin’s masterwork, The Origin of the Species by Means of Natural Selection, for evangelical Christians by redacting every word in Darwin’s book not also found in the Bible. Now even Baptists can read about evolution without risking their immortal soul! Thanks Ian!

Here’s our tiny little interview with Monroe. For more information on the book check his website at www.ianmonroe.com.

Happytown™: Aren’t you making fun of Jesus and thus risking eternal damnation?

Monroe: On the contrary, Jesus is never mentioned in the Origin of Species.  If he were, I assure you, he would retain his rightful place as lord of lords within my King James Version as well.

Happytown™: Is it possible to still glean important concepts from Darwin’s work after running it through your Jesus sieve?

Monroe: Not really, no.  It’s pretty unreadable.  However, I did learn some interesting things about the Bible while I was working on it. For instance, did you know that unicorns are mentioned in the Bible twice? That makes them more real than the entire continent of South America, which didn’t even appear once.

Happytown™Are you planning to do the same for other great works of science?

Monroe: Darwin was particularly well-suited to analysis through a biblically correct lens; I imagine that most modern science would yield even more redactions.  However, I invite readers to “correct” their own texts with the interactive Bible masher on my website, ianmonroe.com/bibleizer/.

So, the Bibleizer doesn’t work at the moment … terribly sorry about that.  I’ll have it working tonight, though, so stay tuned.  (I’ll update this post when it works.)

[flashvideo file=”flash_video/Cut_Paste.flv” /]

How do you find out who are the sharpest, most creative designers in the world? With a good, old-fashioned, graphic design battle, of course.  The 2009 Cut & Paste Digital Design Tournament pitted the best graphic designers against one another in a competition like no other.  Armed with state-of-the art computers, designers squared off on the stage of the Congress Theater on Saturday to determine who would represent Chicago in the global finals to be held in June in New York.

This story was first published on the Medill Reports website on 4/7/2009.  Republished here for my own archives.