November 14, 2007
I was never attracted to the paintings of E. H. Hughes while I worked as contract art educator at the National Gallery of Canada. It wasn’t until I lived near his home for almost two years, in the Cowichan River valley area that I began to understand that his work was a highly detailed documentation of plants, trees, geological formations, waterways and marine activity — not an attempt to express the impression of the landscape from a tourist’s point-of-view. The ubiquitous greys of the island from November through March explain the colour-challenged palettes in most of Hughes’ prints. The original paintings are rare since most of them have been sold to a unique collector in Germany. But framed expensive mass-produced prints from the original paintings (which the vast majority of people in the age of Robert Bateman — and more recently high quality giclee1 — mistake for original works of art) are prominent, particularly in the places like the family restaurant in Duncan called the Dog House.
In Canada plein art painting in cold weather is possible but uncomfortable. This small acrylic plein air sketch was painted in a couple of hours on the windy escarpment at Edelweis Point. The larger version will portray the mountains more accurately. I often find myself fantasizing about knocking on doors of stranger’s homes-with-a-view to ask for three hours of air space to paint in the off seasons. Following in the paths of plein air painters I had made up my own rules that I followed for decades. I would not paint from pictures. But I moved a lot since then. Each new Canadian region offers new visual opportunities and challenges for painting. Even the qualities of light itself, its clarity, luminosity, is different from region to region. I spent a lot of time studying the patterns of waves on the coast of Vancouver Island. Now I am confused, overwhelmed by the mountains. I want to hike their trails and see them from as many angles as is possible with easy 5-hour scrambles. These days I take digital photos on our day trips in and around Calgary to ecological reserves, public parks or even roadside in Cochrane, Canmore . . . Now I find myself painting with a laptop open beside me so that my finished painting becomes a visual tool for memory work, another way of living in and visualizing my everyday world. I also used to feel that selling mass-produced prints was dishonest and deluded an ill-informed public. Now I am just happy to have available images whatever their source or quality to compare and learn: Flickr, Google images, Virtual museums like the National Gallery of Canada’s, reproductions, etc. There aren’t any overpriced framed Giclees of specific mountain peaks from our local shopping mall galleries hanging over the sofa at home, but I will study and compare them as another way of seeing.
As I refine tags and folksonomy in the virtual world, I seek out more precise multidisciplinary taxonomies in ecosystems I inhabit. It informs the way I see, and the way that I take photographs and paint plein air. I tag my images through Google Earth, Picasa and Flickr. Adobe Photoshop provides tools that allow me to enhance or layer some images. Using www.bivouac.com, Peaks of the Canadian Rockies, and numerous other maps, images and texts I can hyperlink each mountain peak to its exact longtitude/latitude coordinates in Google Earth (and or Picasa and Flickr). In Google Earth I can link the altitude tool relative to space/ground with the height of the mountain. I can also link customized image icons and detailed information including the exact www.bivouac.com and/or Peaks of the Canadian Rockies urls. The process of social tagging or folksonomy fuels my interest in searching for the names that provide the most accurate historical, ecological, geographical information about mountain peaks, glacial erratics, medicinal plants, post-contact plants . . .
Google searches before and after help refine our understanding of the places we have visited. Public librairies, local museums and even Tim Horton’s customers provide more suggestions. Sharing using one of our many social networks is easy. Flickr provides tools for describing and commenting on details of images, adding textual information as well as refined folksonomy, geotagging and comparing photos with special interest groups. Google docs archives the unpublished notes, annotated webliographies and bibliographies and keeps track of published blogs.
In the process I learn about contributions to Alberta’s history by individuals and communities descended from First Nations, Chinese, Italians, French, Irish, British, African-Americans . . .
Of course it is a visual form of memory work. If we only relied on the printed word for knowledge claims we would find ourselves with limited perspectives provided by experts in exclusive academic disciplines who claim that their magisteria is nonoverlapping.
This is changing so rapidly in a world of integrated management. Ecohydrology combines the fields of ecological processes and hydrology that informs integrated management of watersheds. Google Earth allows nonexperts to view climatic zones, mountain ranges, massifs, river valleys, individual mountains, hillslopes, stream channels, estuaries, gullies, barchannels, recharge areas, and in some cases meter-sized features. We can fly over and zoom in on the watershed of the Athabaskan Lake and River, Fort McMurray, Fort Chipewyan. We can read related reports online and track changes ourselves. This kind of information has never been easier to collect and share.
The most accurate scientific information from legitimate sources provides exact terminologies and taxonomies2 that not only clarify complex issues, they are also folksonomy-friendly.
1. Limited edition archival prints where the editions are limited to a hundred or less of an original work of art and hand autographed by the artist are priced accordingly and were considered to be art collectors items. Robert Bateman is well-known for his high-priced multiple edition prints of his popular wildlife paintings. These are often purchased for a hefty price by uninformed collectors who believe they have an original work of art. With progress in digital technologies, printing inks and processes, giclees from original oil paintings can be printed on canvas that appears to have a varnished finish and priced as much as a unique original painting. Giclees on high quality water colour paper do have an archival life of over a hundred years. Their production is costly so they are priced more than a mass-produced print. Giclee archival prints are a huge improvement over the prints of the Group of Seven and Emily Carr distributed to public schools in Canada in the Post World War II years. Most of these framed prints which unfortunately still hang in public places over fifty years later, have darkened and have lost all semblance to original colours.
I now fully embrace the giclee concept as a way of sharing visual information more widely. It is yet another take on Walter Banjamin’s mechanical reproduction.
2. I looked to wikipedia under geomorphology to find the equivalent of taxonomy for mountains that I have been using to identify wildflowers, medicinal plants. According to wikipedia, “Different geomorphological processes dominate at different spatial and temporal scales. To help categorize landscape scales some geomorphologists use the following taxonomy:
- 1st – Continent, ocean basin, climatic zone (~10,000,000 km²)
- 2nd – Shield, e.g. Baltic shield, or mountain range (~1,000,000 km²)
- 3rd – Isolated sea, Sahel (~100,000 km²)
- 4th – Massif, e.g. Massif Central or Group of related landforms, e.g., Weald (~10,000 km²)
- 5th – River valley, Cotswolds (~1,000 km²)
- 6th – Individual mountain or volcano, small valleys (~100 km²)
- 7th – Hillslopes, stream channels, estuary (~10 km²)
- 8th – gully, barchannel (~1 km²)
- 9th – Meter-sized features”
Creative Commons reference:
CC Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. “How to paint mountains: Geomorphological taxonomy.” >> speechless. November 13.
NB: This article is supposed to be automatically re-published on speechless as changes are made in Google docs. I prefer to have both references available.
Filed in Art and Science, Artists, Blogosphere, collaborative, everyday life, folksonomy, memory, Memory Work, Power and everyday life, slow world, teaching learning and research, Technology. Mind and Consciousness, Visual Arts, Visual.Arts, Web 2.0
Tags: bricoleuse, Calgary, Cowichan Bay, Creative Commons, cyberworld nomad, ethnoclassification, ethnoclassification: faceted tagging, everyday.life, flickr, folksonomy:faceted tagging, Google, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, GoogleEarth, Green Calgary, images, Learning from users, noise vs. pattern, nonoverlapping magisteria, social bookmarking, tagging, taxonomy, taxonomy:faceted tagging, wikipedia
June 14, 2007
Logos from Web 2.0 are caught in the web somewhere between NASA photos of deep space, science fiction landscapes of our inner space, the synapses of the brain, the virtual space that is not abstract, imagined or really real.
Web 2.0, is a term coined by Tim O’Reilly in 2004 for a series of conferences on a revivified Internet. O’Reilly (2005) in what is now considered to be his seminal article claimed that, “If Netscape was the standard bearer for Web 1.0, Google is most certainly the standard bearer for Web 2.0 (O’Reilly 2005). He contrasted Web 1.0 with Web 2.0 by citing examples: DoubleClick vs Google AdSense, Ofoto vs Flickr, Britannica Online vs Wikipedia, personal websites vs blogging, domain name speculation vs search engine optimization, page views vs cost per click, publishing vs participation, content management systems vs wikis directories (taxonomy) vs tagging (”folksonomy”) and stickiness vs syndication. The conceptual map his team devised provides a sketch of Web 2.0 showing social networking sites, wikis, communication tools, and folksonomies.
Although some argue that it does not exist as anything more than geek jargon, for this new user, it is a promising and surprising paradigm shift in the Internet and in software development. I began blogging using Web 2.0 freeware in September 2006. Numerous users like myself have access to sophisticated, ever-improving software technologies since the cost of development is shared among enthusiastic nerds and geeks (in a good way). Freeware on Web 2.0 is not proprietary by nature but is capable of generating huge profits because of the viral way in which users share in the development, marketing and growth of the product while improving connectivity and in content in the process.
Note: June 2007. This image was included in Weinreich’s slideshare album with a layer of text he added:New Generation Social Marketing. He had to resize the image to the PowerPoint format. It is credited to me in the transcript. It is fascinating how digitage such as this has a potential for producing offshoots. I am investigating the potential of slideshare for managing teaching, learning and research digitage (slides) in one place. I started to put them in my Flickr albums. Since I first created this image I have begun to use YouTube, Google docs, iGoogle and Facebook so there are several layers of text orbits to be added . . .
Key words: slideshare, academic, blog, blogging, collaboration, presentation, web2.0, powerpoint, slides, sharing presentations, slideshare, academic, collaboration, presentation, web2.0, powerpoint, slides, sharing presentations, Tim O’Reilly, wordpress.com, vastation, synaptic gasp, swicki, synapses, synaptic cleft, synaptic gap, rapture of the deep internet, photoshop, neuroscience, neural architectonics, mind-brain, googleearth, gather, frimr, flickr, digitage, delicious, cybernarcosis, cyberdelirium, cyberdeliria, creative commons, consciousness, bricoleuse, blogspot, blogging, art and science, technology, mind, Adobe Photoshop
Tim O’Reilly, 2005. “What Is Web 2.0: Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software”. Uploaded 09/30/2005. Accessed January 6, 2007.
Filed in Art and Science, Blogosphere, collaborative, Concepts/Ideas, folksonomy, geotagging, teaching learning and research, Technology and Software, Technology. Mind and Consciousness, virtual, Visual Arts, Visual.Arts, visualizations, Web 2.0
Tags: Adobe Photoshop, bricoleuse, connectivity, Creative Commons, cyberdelirium, del.icio.us, digg, digitage, EndNote, facebook, flickr, Gnosis, Google, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Video, GoogleEarth, HTML, iGoogle, images, Learning from users, metaphorical concepts, My Google Video, My swicki, neural architectonics, New generation social marketing, noise vs. pattern, photoblog, powerpoint, PowerPoint slides, rapture of the deep internet, ReadWriteWeb, rhizome, search engine optimization, semantic markup, SEO, size/resolution, slideshare, slideshow presentions, social bookmarking, social.networks, Switch 1.04, Synaptic cleft, Synaptic gap, Synaptic gasp, tagging, Technorati, Toolbox, vastation, video, Visual Anthropology, wiki, wikipedia, XHTML, youtube, zotero
May 12, 2007
The things we do with words . . .
For awhile after I had noticed my speechless blog stats reached 10, 000 (whatever that means) I couldn’t write anymore. Weeks later when I started again the stats graph revived. I have no idea how that works.
Since October 2006 I have been able to connect Flickr, Google Docs, iGoogle homepage, Google Video, deli.cio.us, Digg, My Swicki, Facebook, wikipedia through my WordPress blog while living on an Island off the West Coast.
The widget counter on my iGoogle reminds me each day that we will be packing again soon. Somehow I hope that Speechless will provide a virtual space that even mountains can’t block.
Filed in Blogosphere, folksonomy, Technology. Mind and Consciousness, Web 2.0
Tags: Adobe Photoshop, blog stats, bricoleuse, cyberdelirium, cyberworld nomad, del.icio.us, digg, EndNote, facebook, flickr, Google, Google Docs & Spreadsheets, Google Video, human agency, My Google Video, My swicki, rapture of the deep internet, reflexivity, search engine optimization, SEO, social.networks, tagging, wikipedia
January 28, 2007
From Rembrandt to Spinoza, the Golden Age of the Netherlands casts its long shadow into the 21st century. Candle light flickered and the sand in the timer flowed silently but he barely noticed, he was so engrossed in his reading. With his left hand he held unto the globe while all around him in the darkness others slept deeply. The work of these candle-light-scientists continues to be honoured today. Indeed their century, the 17th century is now recognised as one that was crowded with genius.
Damasio chose a reproduction of this painting by Dutch artist and Rembrandt (1606–1669) student from 1627 to 1628, Gerrit Dou (1613 – 1675) entitled Astronomer by Candlelight (c.1665) for the cover of his splendid, insightful book in which he combines his own research as head of neurology at the University of Iowa Medical Center with the writings of Spinoza, a contemporary of Rembrandt.
Among the renowned Dutch artists, scientists and merchants who were part of the Golden Age in Holland were the philosopher Baruch de Spinoza (1632-1677), Nicolaes Tulp (1593-1674) Doctor, Magistrate, and Mayor of Amsterdam, wrote a book on diseases and human & animal anatomy,Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) laid the foundations for international law, René Descartes French philosopher lived in Leiden from 1628 till 1649 and Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695), a famous mathematician, physicist and astronomer. See wikipedia.
In Chapter 6, “A Visit to Spinoza,” Damasio revisited the historical period which he calls a century of genius in which Spinoza’s life unfolded. He noted that it was in the Netherlands in the 17th century that the makings of contemporary justice through such enlightened minds as that of Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) who introduced modern concepts of international law (1625). It was also during this period that modern capitalism emerged in the Netherlands (2003:231).
While he lived in the most tolerant country of the 17th century Spinoza’s iconoclastic ideas regarding truth claims and legitimization of truth were too radical even for Holland.
Spinoza was born into a prosperous family of Sephardic Jewish merchants who had fled Portugal during the Inquisition shortly before Spinoza was born. Their acquired wealth from trade in sugar, spices, dried fruit and Brazilian wood was Spinoza’s inheritance. But he valued his intellectual independence more than money and learned to live frugally even refusing professorial positions so as not to have his time or thinking compromised. He never owned his own home preferring to occupy only a bedroom and study. In that bedroom was the one object upon which Spinoza fixated. This was the four-poster, canopied and curtained bed where he was conceived, birthed and in which he finally died. It is called a ledikant and contrasted sharply with the armoire or cupboard bed that was more common in Amsterdam homes of the 17th century (to be continued p.229). Other than that he only needed paper, ink, glass, tobacco and money for room and board. He reminds me in some ways of our contemporary Russian mathematician Perelman who learned to live on $100 a month to devote himself solely to the elevated apolitical study of pure mathematics.
Please note that permission for use of this image on this blog under the Creative Commons is pending.
List of those labeled as a 17th century genius:
Hugo Grotius (1583-1645) laid the foundations for international law. Publications mentioned 1604, 1605, 1632.
Nicolaes Tulp (1593-1674) Doctor, Magistrate, and Mayor of Amsterdam, wrote a book on diseases and human & animal anatomy.
Selected bibliography and webliography
Damasio, Antonio. 2003. Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow, and the Feeling Brain. New York: Harcourt.
Flynn-Burhoe, Maureen. 2007. A Social History Timeline Related to Damasio’s Looking for Spinoza (2003).
Grotius, Hugo. 1604-5. 1950. De Jure Praedae (Commentary on the Law of Prize and Booty) Original Publishing: 1868 (actually written in the end of 1604 and the beginning of 1605); English Translation: Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1950.
Grotius, Hugo. 1623  True Religion Explained and Defended against the Archenemies Thereof in the Times (The Truth of the Christian Religion) Original Publishing: 1632; English Translation: New York: DaCapo, 1971.
Grotius, Hugo. 1625.  Prolegomena to the Law of War and Peace. Original publishing: 1625 English Translation: Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merril, 1975.
Uzgalis, Bill. 1997-2003. “Hugo Grotius“. in “Great Voyages: the History of Western Philosophy from 1492-1776″. firstname.lastname@example.org. Oregon.
Grotius, Hugo. 1625.  De Jure Belli ac Pacis (On the Law of War and Peace) Original Publishing: 1625; English Translation: Cambridge: John W. Parker, 1853.
Filed in Blogosphere, collaborative, Mind Brain, neuroscience, Social History Timeline, teaching learning and research, Technology. Mind and Consciousness, Visual Arts, Web 2.0
Tags: amapedia, Body Worlds, bricoleuse, Creative Commons, cyberworld nomad, Damasio, Perelman's risk, ReadWriteWeb, shadows, wikipedia