Wednesday, January 20, 2021


ri210120 Negotiable Persistent Anticipation: Keys to artiscrip design  

“A transmitter encodes information into a signal, which is corrupted by noise and then decoded by the receiver.” This is the explanation of Claude Shannon’s information theory, which is the basis for information age digital communication and includes art.

Claude Shannon and games  

David Tse gave us an article about Claude Shannon and several points stood out - sentences that struck me like flags in a downhill ski course, marking the way to the design of artiscrip as my game.
One such statement is, “A transmitter encodes information into a signal, which is corrupted by noise and then decoded by the receiver.”
The image this makes in my artist’s mind is, “The artist publishes a work of art like a signal for a phantom audience’s benefit. The work is corrupted by the environment, society, economics, politics, and psychology. A real audience decodes it – however corrupted it is.”
For example, I make a print, I show the print in an art gallery, people come and see it and form their opinion and, sometimes, they buy it. Or I put the print in the window of our Mini Art Gallery and a passerby notices it and buys it.
There is a persistent notion in our society that art is at once a consumable. To most people who are not artists it is a mysterious world tinged with persistent envy. They respect those who are judged to be artists, evident in that their work is published, prize-worthy and shown inside galleries, museums, books, and collectable.
Not only is the artwork consumable and may be purchased, but they may also negotiate to own this artifact, this desirable object from the world of art.
In addition to its being an object of negotiable value, the viewer also feels anticipation. If they go to an art gallery, they anticipate enjoying what they see – and it is free. Although a museum charges to enter, it’s worth the money because the art has been edited and polished. The environment is like that of a church. Guards are stationed here and there. An art museum has the air of a place of worship, socially elevating and respectful.
For the few visitors with disposable income, there is anticipation that they might buy art and take it home or make it part of their corporation’s holdings as investments – real assets of blue-chip valuation. Legends of buying low and selling high raise anticipation – like betting on a horse. Fear accompanies the feeling because they might be mistaken.
It is like a game where there are winners and losers. How can I make artiscrip work the same way?

Rarity, scarcity, and money

Art galleries and museums have more value as generators of negotiable, persistent anticipation because rarity enters in. Unlike entering a clothing store where racks of clothing and surprising colors are tempered by the fact the clothing is mass-produced. A designer’s studio, however, promises one-of-a-kind clothes a wealthy person anticipates will be seen as a high-ticket consumable only a few can afford. Such designers are considered to be artists because of negotiable persistent anticipation.
It must be like this for artiscrip. But how?
Some people consider me an artist, but I consider myself to be a teaching artist – a half-breed living among the artists’ tribes. As the saying among artists goes, “If you can’t make it as an artist, you teach.” Naturally, I am an outsider to whatever side there is because I am a half-caste of whatever the art world fashion is.
To think about Claude Shannon and analyze David Tse’s article is evidence of this. Artists might say I have left my mind! In my mind, it’s not unusual at all for an artist to vacillate between two minds about the art world. He or she sees evidence that the greatest artists veered away from the conventions prevailing in their day in order to do great things.
Artiscrip, therefore, is a work of art. Part physical, part digital, a hybrid of the world that was with the world that is trying to be born. My analysis of Claude Shannon’s contribution to science, engineering and math will continue as my search for the game mechanic of artiscrip (and continues.
The object is negotiable persistent anticipation. Only by working on artiscrip – in a community of distributed investors and producers – can we build a better world.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

 mr201227 Specifying the Printmaking Teacher in A Box: On the advice of Mary Burns  

An educator named Mary Burns listed her recommendations for teachers to use as they plan for school starting in six months under COVID-19 restraints. As he read her list it seemed she was describing the specifications for the Printmaking Teacher in A Box.  

Mary Burns’ advice

Mary Burns wrote the specifications for the Printmaking Teacher in A Box, although she never heard of it. Her specifications were in an article she wrote for Edutopia, getting teachers ready for autumn quarter, 2020. He advice was to find balance between the old and the new.
As I read her recommendations, I could see her words apply to the specifications of the Printmaking Teacher in A Box, and I had a strong urge to copy-write over her advice and adapt them to my Printmaking Teacher in A Box. Now that ZOOM has been adopted as a platform-of-choice for many people, and with my escape game concept, it is time to take her cue.
Not only ZOOM, but another aspect impinges on the specifications: money. Though I may not be the only printmaking teacher who thinks about money beyond my personal needs, I may be the only one with a business plan and a product to sell.
Educators, and this may be especially true of art educators, raise their eyebrows at this. For the most part, money is not their immediate concern because they are paid. Their paycheck and the prospect of some security for the coming year allows them to shop for art supplies. It is not so for the students – especially now in America.
Not only the immediate costs (these should be taught to be investments), but he ripple effect of the art materials, tools, supplies and related industries effect the students’ ability to do the work the teachers expect.

Printmaking industry

Every art medium has associated manufacturing industries. Printmaking is not unique in this; however, it is the one field with a unique position in education. In my opinion, printmaking is as much a performing and social art as it is a visual art. This means printmaking invites the teacher and learner to break out of the bounds of the visual arts.
Because printmaking is the ancestor of all science, technology, literature, engineering, and mathematics education, teachers and students can break away from the art school and enter the other domains.
Etching, for example, involves chemistry. Press design involves engineering. Reading has become universal, thanks to printing technology. Mathematics is difficult for me to pin down – weak as I consider myself here.
We realize we are living in a time when science, technology, reading, engineering, art, and mathematics – STREAM – might be experiences in teaching and learning settings if printmaking is the “A is for Art” in the acronym.
It might be, too, that the concept is in itself a work of art, an abstract art of the dynamic kind one experiences in the performance, the act of maker, making and made.

Friday, October 23, 2020

os201023  What I Wrote Today: And this day in the past  

Putting my theory to the test

My theory is that I can put in eight characters in the search window of my computer and the engine will display what I wrote on this day going back as many years as those years in which I did write on that day.
For example, to write this essay I used eight characters and numbers (and two question marks to represent wildcards for the two digits that meant the year. This string of eight is os??1023.
Literally this means, on the island of Open Studios and Hospitality, on years indicated by the wildcard question marks, on October 23, what did I write about? In addition to this one which I am writing at present, three articles are indicated, two that are doubled for 2008 and one for 2004, and their titles.
In 2008 one of the two titles is, “Plotline for Amina: Where does she go from here?” referring to Amina Seattle, the avatar of Janet Fisher which she used in Second Life. This virtual world was in our search for a metaphor fitting the plan for Emeralda, a platform for my distance learning plan for printmaking. Amina was the protagonist in the story of a woman who is given a year to live in Emeralda to develop her printmaking. She uncovers a plot to end Earth’s human and other life sustainability. The subject line of the essay says:

“Writing for a video game is not like writing a story or a screen play. Reading has told this author that fact, yet it is not clear just how to do it. It’s straightforward to write for video cut scenes, but a game is interactive, which challenges a newbie.”

The second one for 2008 is titled, “Professor McGee's Message for Amina: An example of transfer,” referring, to James Paul Gee, author of, “What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning and Literacy “ - a book about learning games. Its subject description says:
“From reading What Video Games Have to Teach us About Learning and Literacy, the artist/teacher may determine how his game resembles one of the entertainment games already on the market—a game called System Shock II. Transfer is key, the book’s author says.”
Four years earlier, in 2004, the title, "Losing my Grip: Between a hard place and a soft place,” has the subject description:
“The author has spent many years considering the software that has grown up around him and his devotion to education—too many years perhaps. Now he’s got a hand on a piece of hardware, and an opportunity to make art instruments. It poses a dilemma for him.”
Skimming this article was valuable. It is one of the examples that enlightens me, like a parable that teaches how an old man learns from a youngster, and he old man and the youngster are both me. One, the younger, sixteen years ago, lucidly explains the logic of a learning game for printmaking which can be adapted to online games.
The other, an old man, grasping at straws to learn how this can be achieved. This date in October of 2004 when I was preparing for my first demonstration of the Legacy model of the Halfwood Press – which would turn into a business. It is the “art instrument” referred to in the subject description. The Halfwood Press remains part of the theories touched upon in this essay and matured into the Teacher-in-a-box.

Sunday, October 4, 2020

 pp200924  Press Saves the Earth’s HOLS:  Human and other life sustainability in the balance 

 Imperfect people in a perfect world

Al Gore was an imperfect person. His book title, Earth in the Balance, was not the perfect title, for it implied that mankind could somehow save the Earth. Obviously, it is mankind – among all the living things – destroying only Earth’s human and many other kinds of life sustainability.
I appreciate and admire his effort, however. He was naïve, like me, putting his trust in the wisdom of Americans and trusting that the Republicans would do the right thing. History teaches he was wrong, that there are many humans who hate and fear others and above all they fear they are wrong.
The Dunning-Krueger effect is strong in people who face uncertainty and lack understanding of that which they cannot see or touch. They fear surprises and not knowing what lies around the next bend, over the hill, and the end of their life.
The Earth will go on after mankind is extinct, as it has since other species did. That’s why I always say, let us try to save Earth’s human and other life sustainability. The Earth does not need saving, it is us and our children that we can try to save by helping Earth’s human and other life sustainability.

Face your fears day

October 14 is National Face Your Fears Day. What am I afraid of? Chiefly I am afraid I cannot change Americans who are afraid of things they cannot see or even languages spoken that they do not understand. In their fears and paranoia, they often think something is being said about them! I remember that feeling and I face the fear, studied a few languages and, although I didn’t learn any of them well, the exercise taught me I am not the center of anyone’s attention nor target of derision or jokes.
The Dunning-Krueger effect does not work on me. Yet, when it comes to saving the Earth’s Human and other life sustainability, the effect is fatal, pervasive as it is in the educational systems of the U.S.A. Teachers, even, too often who are trained in institutions where fear wreaks havoc on evaluation systems and teaching philosophies.
Reinhold Niebuhr said: “Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Who was he? A public intellectual and philosopher of theology with sympathies for the poor working class. He is ranked highly among America’s thinkers and his books are widely read.
I think of his famous quote often when I see I cannot change things, that I can see the difference, and I feel the strength to change what I can. It is the how of changing things that I focus on. How can I change the way printmaking is taught in high schools and colleges, for example?
One action at a time, I believe, and the tenacity to stick to my premise – that printmaking is the ancestor of all things STEM and the artform most likely to benefit young people facing the task of saving Earth’s human and other life forms’ sustainability.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

 pp200914 - One Year Remains: Saving Earth’s human and other life sustainability  

By what means can we find ourselves in better condition next year – September 14, 2021? What acts can we perform? How can love be a device? What instruments of love can overcome such fears of attempting to save Earth’s human and other life sustainability?

  We have what it takes

We have everything we need to reverse our progress toward further ending Earth’s human and other life sustainability. What will we do? I will write, but in the back of my mind I know I must not only act by writing, I must act by making videos and sharing them on the Web.
What can I put into words that will inspire others to act, too? Will my writing demonstrate what can be achieved by writing? Words – even in the most effective form – are not enough. Video, no matter how expertly made, won’t do what needs to be done.
Many people think money will solve the problem. I believe we have seen this is not true. Money will not put out the fires burning the west coast of America, or clear away the smoke. Thinking money can do this is like offering money to lemmings not to run into the sea and drown.

Indirect solutions

Watching a movie about playing chess, I recalled that chess was invented to train military strategists the art of war. This is instructive, for we are in several wars today – civil wars inside the USA, and climate wars globally. The enemy is human shortcomings, primarily human emotions. The greatest of these is fear; if the greatest were love, then we would be okay.
One year remains to achieve a love campaign. To the enemy, this is the worst idea. Love is that which brought about the great fears. There’s truth in the expression, “Love conquers all.” However, fear has always leapt into battle gear to put down this as silly, childish, and emotional. Fear looms large at the mention of the word, love.
Fear asks, “Can love put out the fires? Can love reverse global warming?” Of course, love of life can; and love of the Earth can. Love of one’s loved ones can. It’s obvious, one loves one’s own life! One must love oneself if one is to save the Earth’s human and other life sustainability.

How, then?

I love to write. Writing – even if it’s unpolished and poor by artistic, literary, and commercial standards – is my way of organizing and sharing my thinking. I share it in digital form and in books not only to share with other people but to share with my older self when I get t there.
By this I mean I can search back on my computer for what I wrote years ago and, at that time, put on my computer memory retrieval systems. Like a squirrel which hides food for later consumption, I busy myself putting thoughts into digital form for later retrieval – food for thought.
One year from now, will I have occasion to come back to this essay about Love? Will we, that is, humanity, be better off one year from now? What will I have done over the next 365 days?
Three words in the line from the movie, Bridge of Spies, comes back to me: Will it help?

Sunday, September 20, 2020

 ap200920  Where to now? The clock is ticking  

Facing uncertainty at this end of his self-imposed, fifty-day workshop using a video editing software program, Adobe Premier Pro, he asks what is next in this post-graduate study in curriculum design development for teaching printmaking. He does not know.

Time has form  

What I learned in college was that time has form, and in the arts people have an opportunity to shape time. We can do it within ourselves and for ourselves. This is what they call art for art’s sake.
When we exercise our time-shaping skills for others, it’s called art for goodness’ sake.
In a perfect world, people who want to own the honorific title of artist, craftsperson, or designer (or all three) merely have to crown themselves as such – like clicking one’s heels together and saying, “I want to be a great artist …”.
Few will object. Most will ignore such a person after a few seconds. Time-shaping is not easy and hardly anyone can do it alone. Great artists – such as a Baryshnikov or Rembrandt – may appear to be alone, but they have multitudes inside like ghosts controlling their moves.

Where to now?

Ten days ago, I wrote an accusatory essay on the two kind of printmaking teachers – the enablers and the disablers. One group is ensconced securely in a perfect printmaking world, a rock-solid fortress of institutionalized art, teaches students it has always been like this. For these teachers, nothing changes. They teach their students to stay on the path they are on.
The other group teaches that, yes, printmaking has always been a matter of making templates to make quick work of solving problems. They emphasize thinking creatively, despite the paradox that creativity is an enigma, a capricious spirit which can lead to dangerous outcomes – like the development of radioactivity by Madame Curie. Hers was suicidal. Creative thinking, yes, but suicidal and fatal for billions of people and perhaps Earth’s human and other life-sustainability.
If she hadn’t developed it, some other creative, discovering, innovative and imaginative person would have. Such is the butterfly of creative thinking. The butterfly effect refers no only to the ways one’s wings can generate hurricanes, as they say, but also in the use of devices to share ideas. In my case, prints made by printmaking from matrices called printing plates, screens, stone, woodblocks, and combinations of these.
The outcome, currently, is video games – a long, twisting path that started with the handprints on cavern walls, the easy way to make one’s mark – traversing time and space with ever more complicated, interwoven systems of technology, science, engineering, and math. What we call STEM today in education may be the only enabling principle left for printmaking teachers as the fortress no longer ensures them there will always be students to pay them.

About me

I was blind to all this when I started teaching college. At 25 I thought I would continue what my teachers had started. It took me almost twenty years to realize the institution was not for enabling students but for enabling professors. Those students who were able to thrive did so by conscious acts of taking what they learned in college and applying it to the world that only rewarded the time-shapers who could keep an audience interested a long time.
Most of them were not Baryshnikov’s or Rembrandts, of course, but good enough to make their art, crafts, and design work for the long haul. And me? I used the system I found myself working in at 25 – a system that said if I could teach, then I could stay out of the military and the Vietnam – the American – war. When it became impossible to teach, I left, but with a stipend that helped keep my family going.
That’s my story. How can I now, in this imperfect world, develop a MOOC for printmaking? I think I can do it by shaping time not as an art of the kind consumers love to have free of charge – like streaming free, feature-length movies in months of isolation like prisoners – deluding themselves in the powers-that-be will save them from working for Earth’s human and other life forms’ sustainability.
No. It has to be taking on the work.

Artsport in five minutes.

I have it on good authority, from my teachers in Russia, that a MOOC affords the teacher only a few minutes at a time to make the point of their lesson. My MOOC teachers (How to Make a MOOC MOOC) assumed their students would have institutional facilities with crews and money to make their lessons and broadcast them.
In the course of events, this will not happen for me. Like the great artists and other time-shaping survivors in history, I must work alone for the present, shaping my 50-year career into five minutes of fame. If I can hold my student audience’s attention for thirty-seconds or more, I may progress.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

 os200915 ACE Makes the World Look Big:  Why the American disaster doesn’t discourage me  

He thinks globally although the air he breathes is smokey with ash. It appears the world is coming to an end, but he finds an organization in Argentina called ACE, where life appears to be going on and it is business-as-usual for artists and craftspeople.  

Yes there is hope somewhere  

By chance I found the equivalent of my imaginary Emeralda Region. It’ in Argentina. It reminds me of when I discovered there is a real Emeralda located in South Vietnam, a five-star getaway named Emeralda Resort Ninh Binh which opened in 2011.
As I read the text about the Argentina space on the homepage of it felt like I was reading a description of the Gates Prize and its features and amenities.
It took a while to figure out that it is a physical residency – not in a paradisiacal setting like the Great Lake of Emeralda Region, but a real place near Buenos Aires.
Still, the feeling lingered that, Yes, there is a place like I imagined Emeralda could be. However, my concept is one heavily weighted toward art blended with science, technology, engineering, and math. Emeralda awards leaders in those fields. Most artist getaways do not.
To know that these two places exist and that they have plans to continue makes me hopeful. What I need is a structure for collaboration I can offer people in the USA and thus make a kind of insurance policy for hope.
We are living under a shroud in America, the sun is literally behind a haze of smoke from the burning of west coast America extending into Canada. Metaphorically we have lived under a cloud of a corrupted government since the 2016 election and dates back decades.
It is the decline of American educational policies that caused it, and I hope we survive and change the trend that threatens this country and is wreaking havoc in all parts of the world.
To know there are places in the world where the sky is clear of smoke gives me hope. Americans will not lead in restoring Earth’s human and other life sustainability, but leaders and populations in other – mostly small – countries will.
ACE is a reminder there is hope in the hearts and minds of their participants.