topic: art

digital versus analog photography

I was talking to a photographer friend about the post production he was carrying out on his “digital negatives”. It had not occurred to me that something similar goes on, with the application of Photoshop to a raw digital image, as with the chemical processing in a dark room of a traditional ‘chemical’ photograph. Thinking about this, I was surprised by how profoundly different these forms of photography are from each other. The image on […]

how pulp becomes art?

ironman 70s?

Is the following observation obvious? works of pulp that excited the passion of a child, are often translated, in later life, into art… When I was 10 I found, in a corner of my schoolroom, a pile of magazines that happened to contain a comic strip entitled The Trigan Empire – I couldn’t get enough of them. A few years ago I obtained these same strips in book form. As I reread them, I began […]

art by committee

A friend of mine sent me this article and asked me what I thought about it… Well, I champion all kinds of advances in technology – not least the advent of the ebook – however there is the ever present temptation that because we can do something that we should do it. The creeping digitisation of everything – from music to video, and now books – makes all of these media infinitely malleable to anyone […]

a New Renaissance II…

I am returning to flesh out my contention that we are living through a new Renaissance, because I feel it helps me make sense of what I see happening around me, and I hope it may be of use to others out there… For most of human history, the number of ‘artists’ working at any given time were necessarily few – thus perhaps the excitement with which we unearth any artefact, however basic – and […]

a new renaissance?

Sunday past I went to a performance of Philip Glass’ 1000 Airplanes on the Roof in a hangar, at East Fortune in Scotland, that has been built around a decommissioned Concorde. It was a promenade concert – allowing us to walk around as the piece – a “melodrama in one act” – was acted out, and the music played. I found the conductor Jessica Cottis to be more worth watching than the actor. She conducted […]

life and art in one gear

motion blur

In writing, and in other art forms whose expression occurs across a span of time, pace is important, however I feel that we are, as a culture, somewhat obsessed with it, and I would like to lightly explore why this may be so. Let me admit from the outset that some of my work has been criticized as moving along at too slow a pace, and so you may say: I would say this, wouldn’t […]

the retreat from reality

sanna, ardnamurchan, summer solstice 2011

For most of human history our facsimiles of reality were very clearly man-made representations: no colour we could produce or use could compare in subtlety or vibrancy to those in nature; no fabric could approach the glossy texture of a rose petal; nothing, not even the finest acted mimicry, could hope to capture an animal in motion. Reality in all its splendour remained unassailably enthroned beyond our attempts to emulate it. This hierarchy has, more […]

the divided brain…

The Master and the Emissary...

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World is not a self-help book, nor is it one of those books of cod-philosophy that promise amazing (though ultimately ill-founded) insights into the modern condition. It is instead a carefully argued thesis meticulously supported by references to research, as well as by appeals to personal experience. Its core premise is that we possess a single consciousness, but two wills: one […]

Ming vases…

Wen Zhengming painting

Even in childhood I was baffled as to why oil paintings sold in auction houses for countless millions, while equally exquisite works of art from other cultures seemed lucky if they fetched thousands. One exception is the ubiquitous ‘Ming vase’… examples of which appear in everything from Tin Tin to baroque palaces across Europe. Another are ancient artefacts, though these again seem to be valued less for their aesthetic qualities than for how close they […]

sunflower seeds

Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds...

Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds is currently showing at Tate Modern. A Chinese artist who has suffered severely for being politically outspoken, and who was the artistic consultant on the glorious Bird’s Nest Stadium at the recent Olympic Games, Ai Weiwei has produced a work that says much about China today and in the past. Consisting of 100 million sunflower seeds handmade from porcelain, fired at a high temperature, handpainted, then fired again. According to him: […]