Saturday, February 16, 2013

Two desktops

The word “desktop” has been an important term in the software industry for decades. When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak made their breakthrough with icons on a Mac screen, it was a reflection of Jobs experience with calligraphy—how the strokes of an ink-filled brush on white paper were significant, beautiful, and iconic all at the same time. Not only that, but one man I met said in the art of calligraphy it is an instance of maker, making and made concomitantly. In other words, the calligrapher is one with his art. Another wise man observed that an artist shapes a work and then the work shapes him or her.
Then there was the axiomatic, “A computer on every desktop,” which guided Bill Gates and Paul Allen in their development of Microsoft—soon to employ the iconic approach to user interface design. The word itself, icon, is timeless; the word desktop, not so much, but it is the common expression now for another kind of icon; that is, it is the computer screen where a computer user might spread an array of icons which represent “quick-start” shortcuts to open applications or folders.
Today I was obsessing over the relationship between two forms of desktops—my real desktop, on which there is an array of objects you might say have an iconic aspect, and my desktop on my computer screen – shown below.

Then I looked around at my REAL desktop and thought about the objects sitting around on it at the moment. It’s a very cluttered desktop, but I thought about what the things meant. I also can’t help but think about their worth. Anyone coming to the Mini Art Gallery would not know what the objects are, certainly, and they certainly wouldn’t know if they were worth anything at all.
But, they are worth a lot to me. It is partly because I spent a lot of time on the objects on my desktop that I made myself. Someone who designs video games told me that regardless of the fact that things people make in the virtual world—all digital images and therefore having no existence in the physical world—take the makers a long time. Therefore, they are valuable to these people.
It is the same for video game players who live a “SecondLife,” and people who congregate a tribe or team, quest or campaign in a video game. Even though the relationships are held together only by strings of code and managed by algorithms, they are just a valued as the actual objects the people own in their homes and at work or parked in their garage.
I took a snapshot of my desktop—actually the corner of the Mini Art Gallery where my desktop sits—and I think about the value of each of the things I could isolate in the photo:
I can’t help but include the pictures on the wall along with the desktop.
An interesting thing happened when I was saving the files—a typo that made the name come out “desctop” in the spelling. I added it to my dictionary. Then I looked up the word—Yahoo’s Flikr has a group call by this name.
If I had time, I would make a page out of this image and load it with hotspots so people could identify the things and see their worth.
Maybe I could auction them off and pay for my new CNC Router!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What is A Halfwood Press Workshop?

I was challenged by an old friend who offered to help staff a Halfwood Press Workshop in Port Townsend, Washington, when she heard that I want to start hands-on, intensive Halfwood Press Making workshop. I thought about what my friend might be thinking and what others might think “Halfwood Press Workshop” means.

Blind men and the elephant

You know the story. Describing a Halfwood Press Workshop is like that. Each person—“blind man”—will tend to describe the Halfwood Press Workshop according to his or her past experience or professional background. The person with a background in, for example, printmaking, will see it as an alternative to buying a readymade press.
A person who has a spouse or other family member who wants an etching press (and who, him or herself) is fond of making things of steel and wood, would see a Halfwood Press Workshop as a chance to do something to benefit the other person and, at the same time, benefit themselves.
A business person, who is looking for a new line of work, or an owner of a small manufacturing company, may see a Halfwood Press Workshop entirely differently. This is the kind of person who has visited an art supply store and who has noticed the etching press for sale, or who happens to talk about printmaking with someone at an art opening. Their child may come home from school or a community art class, excited about printing.
It makes this imaginary person think, “What is this all about?” and they might do a study online. They put in “etching press” and hundreds of images of etching presses fill the computer screen. Then, to narrow the search, they put in, “Halfwood etching press” and they will come to the Website I began building in 2004, and which I am about to dismantle.

A time to change the game

Ever since I closed my Seattle Halfwood Press Workshop and moved into our Mini Art Gallery, I’ve been listening to music on Pandora. Lynda and I like the Oldies, of course (we are children of the ‘60s) and Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, plus jazz. Dylan’s “Times they are a’ changin’” plays in my head as I write the words, a time to change the game.
The game is printmaking, and my place in it. When I taught in the 1970s there was a song by Bobby Bear—or it might have been Elvis Presley—in which he put in the words, “Time changes everything.” As a professor, I made the adage more sophisticated when I came across the Latin, Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis, meaning “Times change, and we change with them.”
Eight years of making Halfwood Presses—over 125 of them—by hand and thereby developing my view of printmaking in an alternative school of thinking and doing has led to this point in time, a time to change. It’s time to put into effect what I learned in fifty years of college and post-college years:
(1) Printmaking is less a visual art and more an aural art, like music. (2) Printmaking is the ancestor of all technologies of communications. (3) Printmaking is a social art that works best by collaboration and wide distribution. (4) As printmaking is a time-based art like music, and involves instrumentation (presses, plates, tools, etc.) and strategic crowd-production, then the contemporary application of this art and craft is video games.
Now is the time to change in order to go forward with my vision of a worldwide network of Halfwood Press Workshops. I have already taken the first step, which is to quit doing what I've been doing, i.e., doing the finishing work on Tom and Margie's parts of Halfwood Presses.