viernes, 26 de septiembre de 2008

Wonders of Art&Technology

Transition of several female portraits throughout Art's History from Renaissance to the 20th Century, with cello solo on the background. It's a prove that people can make amazing artistic things using technology, don't you think so?

jueves, 25 de septiembre de 2008

Html/WYSIWYG/Garbage code

Two years ago I had to design a website for a journalism course. It was not technically a web design course, but an optional project. A friend and I made a site about the Spanish film director Pedro Almodovar (which I cannot link here, as it's unfortunately no longer online), and although it was not perfect, I loved the result. For all the work, I used Macromedia Dreamweaver, a WYSIWYG webpage design editor. And that's just what I wanted to talk about today, now that I finally could install Homesite on my PC (I can't use Bbedit, because don't have a Mac) for the phase 1 of my project.

On that occasion, the professor explained to us that for a webpage creation wasn't really necessary to know how html code worked (a relatively easy to grasp language, but rather unwieldy), and that was better and faster to use programs that allow you to "see what you finally get." Canada has changed my perspective: not only for the website design, but especially for a html-based art project, it makes little sense to use a software that writes the code itself.

Moreover, one of the problems that some WYSIWYG editors have is the so-called “garbage code”. The garbage code is that unnecessary code the software automatically generates and that slows down the webpages loading from the Internet or their appearance in web sites lists by search engines like Google. Regarding this, I've found out this interesting article that demonstrates how Frontpage editor truly adds unnecessary, useless code to web pages created and modified with this software. Here I show you a very funny excerpt from the article:

"Author Dori Smith did a comparison of editors and how much code they produce. "The goal was to produce a simple Web page containing just a single linked image that rolled over to another image." The summary of the results:

- Macromedia Dreamweaver MX: 49 lines, 1,733 characters
- Adobe GoLive 6: 55 lines, 1,453 characters
- Microsoft FrontPage 2002: 730 lines, 16,380 characters !!!
- Hand-coding: 29 lines, 858 characters

Resource: 2002_11_17_archive.html#a003122

If anybody out there thinks that 10 to 15 times more code will not slow down a page upload on the Internet, well he should look well at those number above and make a few simple calculations."

domingo, 21 de septiembre de 2008

keywords discussion: détournement / appropiation / plagiarism

]] The left image is the painting "Portrait of Pope Innocent X" by Diego Valazquez, a Spanish painter. The right image is a painting by English modernist Francis Bacon,"Study after Velazquez's Portrait of Pope Innocent X". [[

The other day the class discussion focused on the differences and similarities between three concepts (some keywords that we have to define through the wiki of "The electronic landscape"): detóurnement, appropiation and Plagiarism. I personally chose to edit "Plagiarism" because I've always had a keen interest in this topic, because of its very important relationship with journalism, especially with online journalism and web content.

The discussion was very interesting because the line that defines the three concepts is very thin, and often leads to confusion. In the context of visual arts, Appropriation is the act of borrowing imagery, forms or styles from history / popular culture or more commonly, the work of another artist. Plagiarism ocurrs when one imitates others' work and ideas and claims it as one's own. And Détournement is the use of pre-existing artistic or cultural elements in a new ensemble, often obliterating any pre-existing meaning associated with the original piece. A new and often radical meaning is then attached to the new piece, which is often contradictory to the original.

I personally find appropiation is a more general concept (the fact of borrowing “a piece of an artwork”, whereas plagiarism and détournement refer to more specific notions: claiming the ownership of other's work, or changing the original meaning of the piece of art.

I give you some of the links I find really interesting to explore about the three concepts:

On Walter Benjamin: art or politics?

As a journalism student, two years ago I had to read (and reread) the text of Walter Benjamin, "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". At that time I didn't know anything about this author's work, not even which was its positioning within the (newly known for me) "Frankfurt School". But even so, I think I was able to take a few conclusions about the text, which were then reinforced with further explanations and clarifications of the professor in class. Now, I think I had to change my approach to the text: if then I read the text from a -essentialy- political perspective, now I feel I must respond more to the aesthetic issue.

Let's break this down: the essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1935) reflects the new forms of aesthetic experience and its potential for the dominant political role of the artwork. The author uses the concept of “aura” as a central category: this notion (used for the first time by the same author in his work “The Origin of German Tragic Drama," 1928) to reveal any work of art as a relationship of "closeness" and "remote". An “auratic” work is one that moves away from the viewer, one that is wrapped in a sacred aura that gives it the consideration of "piece of art."

Well, the author explains how the Aura of the artwork is removed by the mechanical reproduction process. In a way, the mechanical reproduction neutralizes the distance between the work and the viewer. With the “reproduction tecnicques”, the workart is a manipulable object with which the viewer is able to establish a more active relationship, as the experience is not confined to the pure observation. And that happens, overall, with the advent of photography, and later film. If “auratic art” showed a “cult value” of the workart, there is an “exhibition value”. The mechanical reproduction eliminates, thus, that imaginary distance and bring the workart as closer to the crowd as about the crowd to the workart.

I admit I understood only very little of the text the first time I read it. Moreover, I'd dare to say I understood exactly the opposite to the intent of the author: I thought Benjamin defended the “aura”, and believed mechanical reproduction was seen by the author as a “bad thing”, a device to make the art “disappear”. But it is just the opposite: he is against the aura, because he sees it as a mechanism that keeps the art close to the masses of people, to the ordinary people. The reproduction technique gives everyone the chance to contemplate a Picasso, or the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, without having to go to the Louvre and breathe "his aura." I guess my error was (besides the complexity of the text) to read the text from a purely aesthetic point of view, not in a politics way. The aesthetic changes that are taking place because of the reproducibility technique were not seen by Walter Benjamin (it must be remembered that he was a marxist) more than a chance to achieve other changes (more important to him), such as political and social changes.

I suppose we will have to really wonder wether the aura has disappeared into the works of art, or if it has become (against Benjamin's premonition) a mass phenomenon. In museums It is a very common experience to find huge crowds at the museums, devotioning the works of art in an almost fetishist way. After all, we all prefer to go to Paris to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, rather than to have the Da Vinci's painting as a screen on the computer.

viernes, 19 de septiembre de 2008

New blog, new adventure

Well, that's it. A new blog, and ready to launch a new venture with it. Today is the beginning of Jorkjeimer's new adventure and, well, as I've already written in the blog's introduction (in the sidebar), this blog will talk about everything related to art and technology, especially when both of them overlap. Nowadays, it seems that technology is more present than ever in our lives. It's something we have already discussed in class: what makes technology (technology understood in the widest sense, as any tool used to do something) to our lives, and especially which is its contribution to art. Now simply tools have changed, the art in the broadest sense has been democratized, it's out of the museums for the world to enjoy and take part in.

I guess, first of all, I have to clarify something before I get started: that's the name of my blog. The name Jorkjeimer is just a joke I've been using for quite a while, particularly about things that use to envolve computing and the Internet. So the blog is named after the german philosopher and sociologist Max Horkheimer, and I just switch both H to J, thus it's similar to my name in Spanish: Jorge (very difficult to pronounce for foreigners, I know). It's just an old story, hehe.

And that's all for the moment. In this blog, my little space, I will be posting that sort of things, my ideas, my doubts, my points of view... just everything interesting I come across the net. Of course, feel free to comment and share your opinions :)

See ya!