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Art

The artist does not draw what he sees, but what he has to to make others see.[58]

'Art' has a wide range of meanings ranging from skill to the expression of culture. Again this is a subject that fills libraries and I do not intend to say more than a few words. I want to talk for a brief moment about pictures. But much of what I say has parallels in the other arts.

When children are little they quickly learn to draw pictures. In our culture they first draw a face then they may attach limbs; arms where the ears should be legs out of the neck. Similarly they draw a house or a tree as a symbol; not as a realistic (photographic) drawing. So from the earliest time we use pictures as a means of communication or expression; not a representation of how the world really looks.

It is only very recently that artists attempted to use art to show how the world actually looks. The perspective that we see in a photograph, on TV, in a modern landscape or any other 'realistic' two-dimensional representation of the three-dimensional world has been understood for less than 600 years.

For all of human history preceding this understanding, pictures were a kind of conversation between the artist and the viewer. Many artists want this to remain the case.

Great art requires both a shared understanding with the viewer and something important to say. Traditionally art has been allowed to express things about passion, both the human sexual condition and closely related religious passion.

These were not allowed to be expressed, or would be difficult to express, in words. A quick look through a museum catalogue will confirm that greatest part of our most highly regarded art is about basic human passions. These are mainly sexual or religious (as repressed sex for example: ecstasy, martyrs and myths), quite a bit is about ways of seeing nature and the remainder is mainly about asserting social status or sometimes politics and a range of other cultural issues. Very little is about composition or beautiful brushwork.

In recent times other media has taken over some of the things that paintings and drawings once did exclusively. This started with black and white photography but now extends to moving images in colour and interactive computer based images. This has removed the scope for much literal depiction of nature or documentary art and has encouraged impressionism and non-figurative forms.

 

literal artist

 

Art continues to have conventional symbolism; a 'language' based on the work of those who went before. This leads to schools of art and fashions in the language of art: Religious iconography, Classicism, Expressionism, Cubism, Modernism, post-modernism and so on.

The problem for artists is that many of their viewers do not speak the same language (some forms may take years of art education to comprehend) and so their message is either misunderstood and taken to mean something entirely different or disregarded altogether.

The problem for viewers is that many artists either have nothing interesting to say or that what they are trying to say is onanistic; poorly executed; or drivel; dressed up by the mystique of 'Art'. We might expend the effort to understand the artist's language only to find some trivial, untrue or distasteful message (what is Juan Davila on about).

Worse there are some who simply repeat a meaningless commercial image with the single intention of making a sale. This may be 'craft' but it is not art.

We all need to give art (and music) some attention and effort. A rounded person needs to have a basic understanding of the main languages of art and to be able to use art as a means of communication, either by making it or by using it in their lives.

 

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Travel

India and Nepal

 

 

Introduction

 

In October 2012 we travelled to Nepal and South India. We had been to North India a couple of years ago and wanted to see more of this fascinating country; that will be the most populous country in the World within the next two decades. 

In many ways India is like a federation of several countries; so different is one region from another. For my commentary on our trip to Northern India in 2009 Read here...

For that matter Nepal could well be part of India as it differs less from some regions of India than do some actual regions of India. 

These regional differences range from climate and ethnicity to economic wellbeing and religious practice. Although poverty, resulting from inadequate education and over-population is commonplace throughout the sub-continent, it is much worse in some regions than in others.

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Fiction, Recollections & News

Recollections of 1963

 

A Pivotal Year

It appears that the latest offering from Andrew Lloyd Webber: Stephen Ward, the Musical, has crashed and burned after four months in London.

On hearing this I was reminded of 1963,  the year I completed High School and matriculated to University;  the year Bob Dylan became big; and Beatle Mania began. 

The year had started with a mystery the Bogle-Chandler deaths in Lane Cove National Park in Sydney that confounded Australia. Then came Buddhist immolations and a CIA supported coup and regime change in South Vietnam that was the beginning of the end for the US effort. 

Suddenly the Great Train Robbery in Britain was headline news there and in Australia. One of the ringleaders, Ronnie Biggs was subsequently found in Australia but stayed one step of the authorities for many years.

The 'Space Race' was underway with the USSR holding their lead by putting the first female Cosmonaut into obit. The US was riven with inter-racial hostility and rioting.  But the first nuclear test ban treaties were signed and Vatican 2 made early progress, the reforming Pope John 23 unfortunately dying mid year.

Towards year's end, on the 22nd of November, came the Kennedy assassination, the same day the terminally ill Aldus Huxley elected to put an end to it.

But for sex and scandal that year the Profumo affair was unrivalled.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Issues Arising from the Greenhouse Hypothesis

This paper was first written in 1990 - nearly 30 years ago - yet little has changed.

Except of course, that a lot of politicians and bureaucrats have put in a lot of air miles and stayed in some excellent hotels in interesting places around the world like Kyoto, Amsterdam and Cancun. 

In the interim technology has come to our aid.  Wind turbines, dismissed here, have become larger and much more economic as have PV solar panels.  Renewable energy options are discussed in more detail elsewhere on this website.

 


 

Climate Change

Issues Arising from the Greenhouse Hypothesis

 

Climate change has wide ranging implications for the World, ranging from its impacts on agriculture (through drought, floods, water availability, land degradation and carbon credits) mining (by limiting markets for coal and minerals processing) manufacturing and transport (through energy costs) to property damage resulting from storms.  The issues are complex, ranging from disputes about the impact of human activities on global warming, to arguments about what should be done and the consequences of the various actions proposed.  The following paper explores some of the issues and their potential impact.

 

Read more ...

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