Thursday, January 17, 2019


os190117 When art is not art:
Reflecting on art for the 21st Century


I went to a pop-up exhibit and panel discussion sponsored by MIT Northwest Forum, and several other sponsors (who sent money to the main sponsor). It was called “Art for the 21st Century.” I was reminded of a biography of Richard Feynman, the physicist, and his encounter with art late in his life.
Feynman said artists whom he met didn’t have anything because their art wasn’t based on Nature, and by Nature he meant that which was measurable and could be described by scientific facts – or, at least theories that could be tested.
Then Feynman discussed this with an artist who challenged him to learn to draw. Feynman loved to take on challenges and after he learned to draw and then sold a drawing, he realized art had only to please one other person to be meaningful.
Feynman never did understand artists and poets, however, but was no longer conflicted. He never understood that the nucleus accumbens of humans can be titillated in both scientific pursuit and artistic pursuit.
He was, in my opinion, as indifferent to the outcome of acts of the nucleus accumbens as he was to his role in making the atomic bomb and dropping it on two cities in Japan. The nucleus accumbens was not only satisfied but also supplied the rationale – that our bomb was better than Germany’s bomb because we say so.
Now, MIT – an institution that gave up on art a long time ago because it was so messy – sponsors a show of art and a talk by artists. Our nuclei accumbens are further satisfied as long as we ignore the various elephants in the room.
For example, when the introductions were made, the man giving credit to “Vicki” was generous and pointed her out so everyone could applaud. He also thanked Ginny, who was sitting ten feet away behind him, but never turned to point her out. He didn’t even know who she was or where she was sitting. I never saw anything like it! He was detached from the real world.
By a show of hands, I think half the room leaned toward art and the other toward tech. The display of art was mixed – from homey, old-time painting aided by Adobe Photoshop to AR and machine-built faces and sculpture.
I never felt there was any art here – just more clutter of money-enabled objects trying to find consumers.
The culture of art was hijacked a century ago by the rich and powerful, siphoning off from the hearts and minds of visionary poets and artists like honey from a bee. Converted into decoration for mega homes, corporations and government-approved, I think of bower birds.
The real art is that which seeks to balance the Natural world with the artificial world. Looking around, I can see nothing in the exhibit, nor anything in the panel discussion except individuals who managed to position themselves in the eyes of a selection committee (Vicki?) as making art for this century.
It’s really recycled art from the past fifty years, the tenets of which haven’t changed since the EAT project.
The real art of the 21st Century, if there is to be such a thing, is rooted in media and most effective as children’s play. If children playing can restore control of communicating with other children, then Nature has a chance.
But if events like this continue to distract us from the real world, there is little chance children’s games will save Earth’s human and other life sustainability.
In May there will be another MIT forum, this time for kids’ education. I sent them a note, telling them I want a spot. I want to show the 3D-printed press and offer my theory about Proximates that can help in an area of concern – communication with kids around the world.
American kids’ futures are at risk if we notice the real world, we acknowledge the elephants crowding the room inside and, obviously, outside the room as well.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


181225 As I gaze at my Facebook friends’ names 

Via the algorithms that Facebook programmers have made into a birthday video, and a growing list of birthday wishes I keep on an Excel spreadsheet, I gaze at my desktop screen and think about Facebook as a “work of art.”
This “artwork” is needed to conserve resources. Facebook has saved energy and resources by being a digital way of crossing the space and time that separates us. Facebook is a work of art created by tens of thousands of programmers, stockholders and, yes, spies and hackers.
Facebook is an artwork of greater influence and control than any artwork of the past – even greater than Hollywood blockbusters and video games.
Facebook works because it aims directly to the part of the human brain that controls the masses – the nucleus accumbens, seat of hope and envy. There are few other human creations that command as many human beings’ actions as the algorithms in the lives of people worldwide.
The downfall of mankind, if there will be one, may be hastened by the illusion that hope and envy fulfillment may come by tapping and sweeping mobile screens. Unconstrained by physical action and tangible production, human beings risk making irreversible, fatal mistakes and pass bad judgments.
However, like amazon.com, which has saved untold amounts of energy by saving people automobile trips to do their shopping, the upside of these digital artworks is to keep people in their places at the same time they exercise their hope and envy without extracting huge amounts of energy.
My hope is that a tipping point is reached soon which wakes up people to the fact that human ability to respond to the imminent collapse of Earth’s human life sustainability is coming. Our ability to respond will be decided by restoring balance between production and livelihood.
Which brings me to a case in point. If I collect the names of my Facebook friends who have tapped on their screens to send a simple, “Happy Birthday” message, then what am I contributing toward achieving the balance I seek? If I am worth anything as a sentient human being, aware of the dangers facing Earth’s life sustainability, then what am I doing to avert the risks we face?
Education is key. My hope and envy consist of learning from all this and teaching it. I have been on an educational mission since I was a teenager. To collect the names of Facebook friends and learn as much as I can about them is a step toward learning and teaching how my actions and productions may help Earth’s life sustainability.
Printmaking, I learned, is the root of all technologies and such digital artworks as Facebook and amazon are the scions of print. Like the growth tip of plants, I learned about in botany, they are the outermost reaches of the known universe of algorithms. Yet it is from the deep root of printing they came.
Producing an international printmaking center incubator and work places business, I can help achieve balance between production and livelihood.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


181016 An Indian blog to remember

I would like to go beyond the boundaries of traditional printmaking and explore more possibilities.” These are the words of Dimple B. Shah, an artist living and working in Bangalore, India. Her essay on the Top Printmaking blog was good reading for me because she captured a point about printmaking most people haven’t experienced.
Printmaking is partly a performance art. Ms. Shah knows this, and her essay brings this into focus. I sent a friend request on her Facebook page and she responded in 3 seconds! Eight-thousand miles away from Seattle, she is near enough to a computer or mobile device, which makes it possible to send a signal of recognition and appreciation.
Her essay shows she has experienced firsthand examples of what troubles human kind worldwide. The increasing pressure of over-population and inadequate resources, the political crimes leading to inequity among people and between genders and other situations which may lead to the extinction of our species.
Still she works on large-scale prints and elaborate performances. Thanks to her skills with technology, now I know about her and I have a friend – at least of the Facebook type – to think about and who gives me hope. Her wisdom and putting her action into print and forms of new, communicable technologies shines through and gives me hope.
“I would like to go beyond the boundaries of traditional printmaking and explore more possibilities,” she put in her words. I like this, but I wonder, how can I help? I am aware that traditional printmaking means the type of printmaking she has access to, and in the last five years she has added multimedia to her work.
By use of digital and video camera systems linked to the Internet, she is going beyond traditional printmaking already, either consciously or intuitively adopting art forms beyond traditional printmaking. I want to add to this a missing factor, and that is to reach back to the youth in the world. Where many young people are playing online games and other kinds of game-playing, they are missing out on printmaking.
That is because of the mentors and artists in printmaking are looking backward at the hero image of the artist. Traditional printmaking is the outcome of painters who “hijacked” technology to meet their economic needs. To make a living at painting, printmaking comes to their aid, and there it stops.
Painters I have known in positions of influence and power in institutionalized art courses tend to cut printmaking from its root, like cutting down a fruit tree to harvest the fruit instead of letting the tree grow and provide fruit season to season.
The fruits of print come from long ago. The impulse by human beings to impress their hand on the stone walls of caves and overhanging cliffs is the beginning of the use of a template to express something human, as simple as, “I was here” or “This way of making an image is easy and fun.”
It is template-use, a faster and easier and more universally-accessible way to express something. It was trivial compared to the arduous and demanding painting of a creature or symbol, but it remains as the root of all subsequent technologies because it solved the problem of high-demanding painting and drawing.
Printmaking is the root of the algorithm, simply put, a method to solve a problem. Mathematicians have elaborated on the problem-solving nature of math to yield the digital applications which have become the tools of human beings all over the world, enabling human welfare and human destruction concurrently.
Now I have completed my thought but for on remaining thing. In Bangalore it is thirteen hours later than here in Seattle, where it is 6:45 AM, Pacific Daylight time – or 0645 by the 24-hour clock. Where Ms. Shah is, Bangalore, is somewhere about 12.58 North, 77.34 East in the Global Positioning System.
From this distance we have date-stamped the beginning of the Facebook definition of “friends” at least, a mere stroke or two of a finger on a mobile screen or desktop mouse. If my idea of Proximates had been true by now, my entry of my moment number would have triggered a similar keystroke-effect and if I were printing this early in the morning, and printing, and if Ms. Shah also entered the moment number and image of her print, we would be Proximates.
By means of the TOP PRINTMAKING page it has served a similar purpose only less connected, I think, than if our meeting had been by the chance occurrence of printing at the same time but in different places. The effect is the same, however we are equally privileged to have already learned printmaking, whereas the young people of the earth can only watch.
Ms. Shah’s hopes, her message, and her work is important, and she is doing a service by telling about it in words and pictures. I think for her hopes to be realized they must reach the young people as soon as possible, and the way to go beyond the boundaries of traditional printmaking and exploring more possibilities,” is in this direction.
This will be realized by joining with programmers – the same programmers who make video games and applications like Facebook – to make Proximates a reality.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018


os181112 Hayter’s book for a back story 

Having collected in the time of three days – November 9-12 – numerous responses to my Hayter Game concept, it’s time to take the next step toward making the game part of STEM to make STREAMS – Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Arts, Math and Sharing.
STREAMS is augmented STEM – the process of bringing arts and sciences closer to ensure the humanities are part of STEM. Printmaking is a sure way to achieve this augmentation because printmaking is the ancestor of all the STEM elements. Without printing, there would be no civilization.
For better or worse, printing has brought about the world as we know it. Young people today require knowledge of innovation and printmakers who have both STEM and arts (poetry, literature, visual arts, music, etc.) can work with STEM leaders and students through sharing their innovations in platemaking, printmaking and history of printing arts and technologies.
I am encouraging people to add to the mix, and to make this effort part of printmakers and STEM leaders’ experiments and experiences I propose gamifying printmaking, games that teach and games that harmonize printmaking, reading and sharing with STEM.
Games often have a back story. One idea for printmaking games is to write back stories that celebrate the pioneers of printmaking as a fine art form (Rembrandt, Durer, Picasso, Hayter, etc.) may be based on back stories. Other back stories might focus on the heroes of STEM history.
One way to get back stories going is take the steps to collect stories and vignettes. It is tempting to launch myself into the task of inventing a game on my own, but as I am myself a student of STREAMS, the S at the end requires that I Share the task.
Three days ago, I posted a photo of Hayter with the following challenge:
The Hayter Game: Sounds like “hater” but spelled Hayter. To play, printmakers and STEM educators tell what Hayter means to them. Anyone want to play? As one said in the movie, "Blind Date," to win you must invent the game!
Part way through I noticed several people referred to Hayter’s book, New Ways of Gravure whereupon I went to my bookshelf and took down mine - the 1966 edition. It was a birthday gift from my wife on my 28th birthday in 1969. She knew – ever since my graduation in 1966 – that I wanted this book.


Now I am offering to “pass it forward,” give it away as a prize to someone or a school library. As I’m now 76, disseminating my library seems like a good idea. My book for a Hayter back story!
Will people play? Will people send me a back story on Hayter? Will someone come up with a game concept for student-aged (and grown-ups) people that connects prints, printmaking and printmakers to the basic STEM concept? Will this extend STEM to be STREAMS?
If enough people respond with back story ideas and/or printmaking games-that-teach concepts, I will give someone the book plus a signed impression from my family’s remaining impressions of an intaglio commemorative print I made for the Seattle Print Fair in 2007.
A game MIGHT result based on backstories that come out of this process. The Hayter Game might be one of numerous printmaking games. In other words, there might be a Rembrandt Game, a Picasso Game, and so on that all involve elements of printmaking that can be woven into a STREAMS program.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018


ri181017 If I had a laser cutter

There is a great deal more to learn about the laser cutter and 3D printer that are important to teaching printmaking online, and I cannot learn and practice these alone. It will take up to a dozen people to make it happen, and these people would expect a guaranteed return on the investment of their time and money.
I have the space. I have the time. What I lack is a team.
In today’s economy, the entertainment value would have to be included, because the experience economy and creative economy have made it so.
However, if such a team did come forward with a commitment, what I would do is make the STEAMR Trunk a reality, a teacher-in-a-box.
With the laser engraver/cutter I would re-design the Wee Woodie Rembrandt press, so it could be made with lighter-weight wood and paper combinations.
With the 3D printer I would first print one of the plastic presses designed in Germany and begin re-designing the appearance.
Third, I would combine the properties of the two – certain parts for the laser device and others for the printing device, as appropriate. This strategy might yield a mixed-media result, presses of different materials.
Concurrently I would be designing the curriculum on a story-based plan, augmented by the space/time network I call Proximates to encourage international exchange among students of as many nations as could be served.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


ps181016 An Indian blog to remember 

I would like to go beyond the boundaries of traditional printmaking and explore more possibilities.” These are the words of Dimple B. Shah, an artist living and working in Bangalore, India. Her essay on the Top Printmaking blog was good reading for me because she captured a point about printmaking most people haven’t experienced.
Printmaking is partly a performance art. Ms. Shah knows this, and her essay brings this into focus. I sent a friend request on her Facebook page and she responded in 3 seconds! Eight-thousand miles away from Seattle, she is near enough to a computer or mobile device, which makes it possible to send a signal of recognition and appreciation.
Her essay shows she has experienced firsthand examples of what troubles human kind worldwide. The increasing pressure of over-population and inadequate resources, the political crimes leading to inequity among people and between genders and other situations which may lead to the extinction of our species.
Still she works on large-scale prints and elaborate performances. Thanks to her skills with technology, now I know about her and I have a friend – at least of the Facebook type – to think about and who gives me hope. Her wisdom and putting her action into print and forms of new, communicable technologies shines through and gives me hope.
“I would like to go beyond the boundaries of traditional printmaking and explore more possibilities,” she put in her words. I like this, but I wonder, how can I help? I am aware that traditional printmaking means the type of printmaking she has access to, and in the last five years she has added multimedia to her work.
By use of digital and video camera systems linked to the Internet, she is going beyond traditional printmaking already, either consciously or intuitively adopting art forms beyond traditional printmaking. I want to add to this a missing factor, and that is to reach back to the youth in the world. Where many young people are playing online games and other kinds of game-playing, they are missing out on printmaking.
That is because of the mentors and artists in printmaking are looking backward at the hero image of the artist. Traditional printmaking is the outcome of painters who “hijacked” technology to meet their economic needs. To make a living at painting, printmaking comes to their aid, and there it stops.
Painters I have known in positions of influence and power in institutionalized art courses tend to cut printmaking from its root, like cutting down a fruit tree to harvest the fruit instead of letting the tree grow and provide fruit season to season.
The fruits of print come from long ago. The impulse by human beings to impress their hand on the stone walls of caves and overhanging cliffs is the beginning of the use of a template to express something human, as simple as, “I was here” or “This way of making an image is easy and fun.”
It is template-use, a faster and easier and more universally-accessible way to express something. It was trivial compared to the arduous and demanding painting of a creature or symbol, but it remains as the root of all subsequent technologies because it solved the problem of high-demanding painting and drawing.
Printmaking is the root of the algorithm, simply put, a method to solve a problem. Mathematicians have elaborated on the problem-solving nature of math to yield the digital applications which have become the tools of human beings all over the world, enabling human welfare and human destruction concurrently.
Now I have completed my thought but for on remaining thing. In Bangalore it is thirteen hours later than here in Seattle, where it is 6:45 AM, Pacific Daylight time – or 0645 by the 24-hour clock. Where Ms. Shah is, Bangalore, is somewhere about 12.58 North, 77.34 East in the Global Positioning System.
From this distance we have date-stamped the beginning of the Facebook definition of “friends” at least, a mere stroke or two of a finger on a mobile screen or desktop mouse. If my idea of Proximates had been true by now, my entry of my moment number would have triggered a similar keystroke-effect and if I were printing this early in the morning, and printing, and if Ms. Shah also entered the moment number and image of her print, we would be Proximates.
By means of the TOP PRINTMAKING page it has served a similar purpose only less connected, I think, than if our meeting had been by the chance occurrence of printing at the same time but in different places. The effect is the same, however we are equally privileged to have already learned printmaking, whereas the young people of the earth can only watch.
Ms. Shah’s hopes, her message, and her work is important, and she is doing a service by telling about it in words and pictures. I think for her hopes to be realized they must reach the young people as soon as possible, and the way to go beyond the boundaries of traditional printmaking and exploring more possibilities,” is in this direction.
This will be realized by joining with programmers – the same programmers who make video games and applications like Facebook – to make Proximates a reality.

Sunday, October 14, 2018


es181012 Cornered  

Short-term thinking results when one is forced into a corner. Instant behavior, reflex action is demanded at the expense of everything long-term. That’s no way for a sentient being to behave, and not for me.
Fifty years ago, scientists were expressing long-term effects of environmental change.
Likewise, seventy-three years ago, scientists expressed concern over the bombing of Japan compared to a demonstration of the power of the atomic bomb.
It is not for a nation that is in a corner to consider long-term effects of one’s action to day – October 12, 2018. Such a nation is at the mercy of another nation or a coalition which spends entire days at whole-hearted work on long-term effects.
Now that some Facebook awareness of the proximity of what has been predicted for fifty years is coming about, the measures to be taken seem closer at hand. In scientific fact, it is not fifty years. It is now.
Where are artists in this? So far, I have not found any artists who are not busy working on their next art show or contract, or who are blindsided by political shenanigans. In fact, many so-called artists are slavishly designing more problems – not working on solutions at all.
As for me, I am thinking of the people in STEM programs with hopes that my “artistic” ideas may be used to help get the young ready for helping solve the problems facing all of us.
What can I do?
Long-term, it would be to divert the money that that is going toward destruction to the aim of the Second Great American Reconstruction era.
How can I do this?
It will not be a linear process. I think it will be a concomitant process, a circular, nonlinear process where the artist, the art, and the making of art are concurrent. For the long term, it is the children who must be in the forefront of solutions.
Art is good for children, but only if it is in the form of concurrent science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics and reading all happening at the same time.
That’s why I design presses and methodology for young people, their parents, and teachers.