Thursday, March 31, 2011

what can art be and do? (shale gas development in the cévennes 2)

as a follow-up to the previous post, just let me post this link to a very informative news article on shale gas development in the cévennes on french news online.

in the recent posts, environmental issues feature prominently. one could ask if an art blog is the best place for these concerns, but i'm inclined to allow it (...;-)). first of all, one can't cut up the world in subjects and expect to never have to redefine or rethink categories. second, a real and important issue for me is the role of art in society. and a major role imnsho is to raise awareness about fundamental issues that society faces.

so, although this is not primarily meant as a protest blog, from time to time i will post on issues which i hold to be fundamental in arriving at a better society and world.

and this just begs the question: how many famous works of art are about environmental protection??

Monday, March 21, 2011

protest song against shale gas development in the cévennes

(in french, by my brother kees waaldijk, a gifted musician who obviously shares my environmental concerns...)

the cévennes form a beautiful natural region and national park in southern France, near avignon and nîmes. shale gas development is being increasingly criticized for its environmental impact and health hazards.

cévennes, foto havang
in the cévennes (photo by havang).

Monday, March 14, 2011

nuclear energy & earthquake japan

i am very sorry to see my very recent admonishments about the dangers of nuclear energy viz. natural disasters proved true by the completely dreadful earthquake which occurred last week in japan. i hope the people there will manage to contain the damage, and overcome this terrible adversity.

i also hope this will finally set people thinking about our completely irresponsible way of creating nuclear pollution for ages and ages to come.

when will we learn that we should not burden the next generations with our problems? when are we going to say: the buck stops here?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

visits to this blog : thank you google & blogger!

yesterday was a strange might remember that just a month ago i proudly posted that my blog had had 100,000 total, over its lifespan of almost 3 yrs.

however, yesterday i had over 60,000 visits (and today so far another 15,000) on one day. all due to the fact that google celebrated the birthday of constantin brâncuşi (19 february 1876). and yes, i posted a few nice photographs of brâncuşi's work that i took in the centre georges pompidou on this blog. these photos rank highly in google image search...(and now things go back to normal, since google's celebration is over)

although i know these effects are typical of the modern web-based society, it still is strange for me to witness it up close. because in real life, as an artist i'm somewhat of a recluse. anyway, thank you google and blogger, for providing people like me with the opportunity to reach many others, outside of commercial and/or hierarchical channels.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

some drawings (leading to self-reference)

this blog serves multiple purposes, which sometimes does not make for very consistent threads. the thread on nuclear energy has been served well enough, but a new thread (self-reference in art and other areas) will have to wait a little, since i also want to put up some fairly recent drawings...some of them containing a fair amount of self-reference...[and with real difficulty in getting the true colours of the real works approximately right, so i have to say the real works are really better (this is a plus too, of course, but readers of the blog often are not in a position to come view these drawings in the physical world)]

woman in park, frank waaldijk
woman in park (own work, 2008-2011, click on the image for an enlargement)

self-portrait as artist who cannot even draw, frank waaldijk
self-portrait as artist who cannot even draw (own work, 2010, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges texting, frank waaldijk
notre dame des anges texting (own work, 2010, click on the image for an enlargement)

notre dame des anges with glasses, frank waaldijk
notre dame des anges with glasses (own work, 2010, click on the image for an enlargement)

i think i met an angel, frank waaldijk
i think i met an angel (own work, 2010, click on the image for an enlargement)

self-portrait as artist with higher inspiration, frank waaldijk
self-portrait as artist with higher inspiration (own work, 2010, click on the image for an enlargement)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

nuclear energy & art 3: chicago & henry moore

to finish the thread, there is also a (in my eyes) disturbing sculpture `nuclear energy' by henry moore, which was commissioned to mark the place where the first makeshift nuclear reactor was realized in chicago (chicago pile-1). the sculpture was erected in 1967 at the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the splitting of the atom on the grounds by enrico fermi on december 2, 1942.

nuclear energy, henry moore
henry moore, nuclear energy (picture lenka reznicek, click on the image for an enlargement, cc-license see the link)
It’s a rather strange thing really but I’d already done the idea for this sculpture before Professor McNeill and his colleagues from the University of Chicago came to see me on Sunday morning to tell me about the whole proposition. They told me (which I’d only vaguely known) that Fermi, the Italian nuclear physicist, started or really made the first successful controlled nuclear fission in a temporary building. I think it was a squash court - a wooden building - which from the outside looked entirely unlike where a thing of such an important nature might take place. But this experiment was carried on in secret and it meant that by being successful Man was able to control this huge force for peaceful purposes as well as destructive ones. They came to me to tell me that they thought where such an important event in history took place ought to be marked and they wondered whether I would do a sculpture which would stand on the spot. (Henry Moore quoted in Art Journal, New York, spring 1973, p.286)

i think moore captured this duality rather too well...the sculpture reminds me of a giant skull. i don't think this is quite coincidental either, because imho moore was a great artist.

lenka reznicek writes a blog called radioactive! the nuclear blog, below is another of her pictures (creative commons licensed, go to her flickr page -link above- for the full license).

caution do not dig, lenka reznicek
plot m marker, red gate woods chicago (photo lenka reznicek, click on the image for an enlargement).

enrico fermi died in 1954 of stomach cancer, as a result of overexposure to radiation. below his image in a graffiti tribute from vitoria in spain:

enrico fermi, mural graffiti

Monday, January 24, 2011

self-fulfilling post: more posts in january 2011 than in the entire year 2010 (self reference intermezzo)

title says it all. this post is self-fulfilling ;-) since it is the 20th post of january, and in 2010 there were only 19 posts on this blog. just to show you how empty self-reference can be...although in the foundations of mathematics, self-reference is a profound tool. kurt gödel's incompleteness theorems hinge on the possibility of encoding mathematical statements about our number system in numbers. [the whole numbers 0,1,2,...with addition and multiplication]. combine this with the fact that formal derivations in the number system can also be coded as calculations on numbers, and with quite some work one gets a statement Q about numbers which talks about itself...namely Q, when decoded, reads:

the statement Q cannot be formally derived in the formal number system.

suppose Q can be formally derived...then -assuming the number system is consistent- this means that Q is true, but then Q cannot be formally derived! contradiction. since the assumption that Q can be formally derived leads to contradiction, we conclude that Q cannot be formally derived. this means that Q is true!

wow, you say, so what. but this is one of the most profound insights in the limited power of formal human reasoning that i have ever come across. roughly speaking, it means that no matter how hard we try to formalize our reasoning, if the formal system is strong enough (and consistent) then we will always come across statements which are obviously true but which cannot be derived in our formal system hence the name `incompleteness theorem'. the second incompleteness theorem states that especially the consistency of the system cannot be formally derived within the system.

gödel's incompleteness theorems were a shattering blow to the program of david hilbert, who wanted to formalize all of mathematics. the dutch mathematician l.e.j. (jan) brouwer had already predicted in his phd-thesis (1907) that this would be impossible, on mathematical-philosophical grounds. but gödel gave a sharp mathematical proof, in 1931.


for me, there is some relevant personal history here...since you could say that both my mathematical career and my artistic career were fueled by the absolutely marvelous book `gödel escher bach - an eternal golden braid' (written by douglas hofstadter, and winner of the pulitzer prize for non-fiction in 1980 - when i was fifteen).

gödel escher bach, douglas hofstadter

few other books have so sparked my interest in art, neuroscience and mathematics as this book, and it is wonderful that there are people like douglas hofstadter devoting time and energy to translate difficult concepts from mathematics and natural science to a more general audience.

and yes i will come back to maurits escher once more in later posts...(did i mention somewhere how much i love bach's music? but i know very little about music, so i won't write about it on this blog i think).

in art, also self-reference can play various important roles. one obvious role is that of the self-portrait...(see some recent previous posts for digital self-portraits) and i will come back to that also, after i finish the thread on nuclear energy and art.


this post was partly sparked by my lunch today with paul, staunch supporter of this blog and its author, who repeated his earlier remark that i should not forget to combine my mathematical background with my artistic endeavour from time to time.

so thank you paul!