Showing posts with label generalized pagerank. Show all posts
Showing posts with label generalized pagerank. Show all posts

Sunday, July 12, 2009

kunstweek 2009 (revisited, art & quality 16)

last year i wrote this about a relatively new initiative in the netherlands called `kunstweek' (art week):

since about 5 yrs in the netherlands there is an initiative `kunstweek' (art week), which more or less out of the blue claims an election of `dutch artist of the year' (kunstenaar van het jaar).

of course, this has to be a joint effort from `public' (read internet) and `experts'. this year's expert panel contains some 100 names, with ... 0 visual artists among them. i am not joking, but it is all the more funny!

this is just to illustrate my point that artists have been manouvered to a secondary position when it comes to valuation of art. museum directors, journalists, curators, gallery owners, art historians...pull the strings.

can one expect alternative insights from such an election? or will it all be about artists already `discovered' getting some extra gpr...i leave to the reader to guess and smile.

after i wrote this, i immediately got a rather negative comment from the director of this art week, claiming that i had made many mistakes. however, as i pointed out all the information that i used came directly from the website of i got no reaction whatsoever. see my original post with comments

why bring this up? well, again the generalized pagerank (gpr) machine for promoting the art elite is running, and i'm getting emails and other messages regarding `kunstweek 2009' and another election of `dutch visual artist of the year'.

so, naturally, i looked to see if perhaps this year the panel of experts which selected the 90 eligible artists contains any visual artists... this year they say, and i quote literally from (in translation):

Question: can I become a member of the expert panel?
Answer: Yes, you can, if you have a professional relationship with art and you are not a visual artist. The expert panel consists of around 100 museum directors, art critics, art collectors, conservators, art teachers from art college, and other art experts.

well, then please explain to me why my post above was inaccurate?

dear artists and other art lovers, truth has its own particular ring to it. the interesting question then becomes: why is it so unwelcome, the observation that artists are systematically manouvered into a secondary position? why try and deny this?

this is undoubtedly connected to the observation that on the societal level, quality & art are determined by elite positions, which are strongly protected. a reason why i am really happy with the internet and the blog opportunities, because now at least it is possible to voice dissent, and be heard. before internet, also the publishing opportunities were controlled by the elite.

generalized open source. open publishing opportunities. i sincerely hope that this will bring about a change in the art world and outside of it!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

icarus 4: multatuli

ok. let me step outside of the visual arts for a moment, to introduce you to someone who is still -i believe- little known outside the netherlands:

statue multatuli amsterdam

statue of multatuli (by hans bayens) amsterdam

multatuli is seen by many as the greatest dutch writer ever, anyway i think he's a great writer [what great means i leave be, in the light of the ongoing chautauqua on quality; it looks like a gpr-qualification (gpr=generalized pagerank) but can also be simply personal, which is how i use it.]

although he is most famous for his revolutionary work max havelaar, or the coffee auctions of the dutch trading society, to which i will come back, his 7book work ideas is perhaps the most direct inspiration for this weblog to have seen some light of day (electrons of night is more accurate but would you get the analogy?).

to understand this, you should know that multatuli's numbered ideas are in their essence and form a weblog avant-la-lettre. but they date from the second half of the 19th century. they also contain a play and an entire, wonderful novel called woutertje pieterse.

yes, yes, you're getting impatient, i know. what the buzz does this multiperson have to do with icarus...

well, take the time to follow the links above, then you can read in what way multatuli was so far ahead of his time, and flying so much higher as to merit an association with icarus. in his ideas one can read also what his contemporaries write about him and his answers to this. and like boltzmann he put an imnsho lamentable amount of time and energy in trying to uplift his contemporaries to his own level. which, by sheer mass, results most often in being dragged down...

although? let me cite wikipedia on the longterm effects of max havelaar (written in 1860!):

The combination of these two strategies caused widespread abuse of colonial power, especially on the islands of Java and Sumatra, resulting in abject poverty and widespread starvation among the farmers.

Multatuli wrote Max Havelaar in protest against these colonial policies. Despite its terse writing style, it raised the awareness of Europeans living in Europe at the time that the wealth that they enjoyed was the result of suffering in other parts of the world. This awareness eventually formed the motivation for the new Ethical Policy by which the Dutch colonial government attempted to "repay" their debt to their colonial subjects by providing education to some classes of natives, generally members of the elite loyal to the colonial government.

Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer argued that by triggering these educational reforms, Max Havelaar was in turn responsible for the nationalist movement that ended Dutch colonialism in Indonesia after 1945, and which was instrumental in the call for decolonisation in Africa and elsewhere in the world. Thus, according to Pramoedya, Max Havelaar is "the book that killed colonialism".

to be continued.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

quality & art 5: where to turn

ok. more positive now, as promised. cup half empty is cup half full etc.

somehow, art & quality cannot be about two completely different things. (will you grant me that feeling, then the following train of thought hopefuly will make sense.)

robert pirsig describes (in zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance) a meeting that phaedrus (his overintelligent former self) has with a visual artist. a very interesting meeting, because it breathes that art has an intrinsic, pre-logos quality. even the book title `...& the art...' makes clear that this intrinsic quality is what we're looking for. in art, yes, but in life perhaps even more.

the question then becomes: where to find this quality. phaedrus tried to find it by thinking. in what one could call a quantum leap, the post-electroshock phaedrus - pirsig himself- finds it (at least by my standards) in zen-like experiencing.

although not in one-one correspondence, it reminds me of the duality: look for quality by outside criteria (generalized page-rank, gpr, see previous posts) or look for quality by intrinsic criteria: what does my heart tell me.

for me it has been difficult to recognize this dilemma and the potential behind it. i wouldn't be surprised if this is similar to the dilemma that phaedrus was grappling with (i'm currently rereading the book but haven't gotten to that part yet, perhaps i will be seen to have been simply repeating it only less compelling...!)

let's have some positive yadiyada: i believe that -for me and many others- wonderful art develops when an artist chooses for intrinsic quality. when the heart and head are open, like a sensitive antennae/dish array, to many many signals, and where the inner compass of the artist then is given as much rein as possible. this inner compass, inner light, whatever...i think it is only confused by gpr.

obviously, this view of art is personal, although it is probably shared by many and also by many `experts'. this holds for probably any more or less coherent view on any subject, i only repeat this to emphasize that i do not believe in one view of art for all. i would like to share some of my thoughts on gpr and intrinsic quality, especially with artists who like myself struggle to find a sense of direction because they feel that the gpr-approach isn't what they want. this can be a lonesome struggle, because by gpr's nature, the gpr-aficionados drown out other approaches.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

quality & art 3

imnsho a key issue with human (e)valuation of quality in art is that we lack `objective' and common (= sufficiently shared) criteria / perspectives / touchstones / communication handholds even.

is it so strange to say that art creates its own quality?

historically (if we stick to a societal definition of quality, meaning generalized page rank, see previous posts) this seems to be the case, YET -just like the situation where e.g. christ would come to modern society and proclaim himself, who would believe him today?- we seem to wish to judge art by existing gpr standards.

most people -including (yes terrible) art `experts'- even want this judgement to take at most a few seconds, preferably less, because... well i suppose because time is money or you might miss out on some other wonderful painting or something like that.

also interesting is that today the quality of art is often judged from the gpr-fueled perspective of what the role of art should be in society. therefore some moral-philosophical viewpoint of `art-derived experts / power brokers' co-determines the gpr-valuation of a given artwork / artist. there seems to be little (self-)reflection by these brokers on the situation. some art curators seem to hold beliefs -i'm serious- that one cannot leave art to the artists, since they lack overview and insight in the role of art. artists are useful for providing the building stones of a much grander artwork: the curators' collection / exhibition / statement.

so one can come across statements that modern art `should be' (i'm parafrasing but not off the mark) about the basic human struggle with life, like sex, death, misery, joy etc. or it `should be' to show / tell/ educate the viewer about some profound aspect of modern society which the viewer hadn't yet (couldn't of course) discover[ed] without this particular art work.

the new clothes of the emperor: who gains from saying they might be less than the gpr-buzz would have us believe?

i know i probably sound mighty negative here! but once again: honestly, do you hear this kind of sound often? or are you ususually drowned in the gpr-buzz? oh, this artist is so wonderful! this art is so profound! it shows the gallery visitor that a gallery can have a completely different meaning! the locked door symbolizes the difficulty one can experience with understanding modern art, and one's own heart. so one has to climb the stairs on the opposite building, to see -with a telescope!- the exhibited art works inside. the artist makes us feel the impossibility of communicating directly, the loneliness of the artistic existence, the longing to be with the ones we love but who stay out of close reach, so that we end up with just some peeks in their true treasures, etc etc etc.

so, let me end on a positive note with an artwork i really appreciate, `even' if it already has high gpr...! ;-)

panamarenko, scotch gambitpanamarenko, scotch gambit

i promise to make the next posts on a different and more positive note!