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An Artist’s Notebook of Sorts

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30 July 2011

gratuitous image

No. 8,493 (cartoon)

I’m pretty depressed.

You’re uglier when you’re not.

31 July 2011

gratuitous image

Twenty-Three B Dock Gaps

I decided to photograph the gaps in B Dock, my route from shore to my boat and back again. It was easy: just point the camera at the dock on a sunny day and push the button twenty-three times.

I wasn’t satisfied with the results, though. I’d intended the images to be boring, and they certainly were. They weren’t the right kind of boring, though. That’s when I decided to break a rule I learned as a teenager and crop the images.

When I was learning about photography, I understood that good photographers didn’t crop. We emphasized that by including the edge of the negative in the form of a slender black border around the edge of the photograph. Decades later, I realized there was no reason to keep every pixel my camera gave me. I jettisoned the usual three-to-two ratio in favor of an eight-to-one ratio.

I’m somewhat pleased with Twenty-Three B Dock Gaps. At least the photographs are now the right kind of boring.

1 August 2011

Photographs Are Not Paintings

Is my calendar broken? This is 2011, is it not?

That’s the question I asked myself when I received a promotional mailing from Adobe Systems.

Transforming a Photograph into a Painting

Dip a paintbrush into your photographs with Adobe Photoshop CS5. John demonstrates how to use the Mixer Brush and Bristle Tips to add your personal creative expression to photographs. Be prepared to see photography in a new light.

I don’t get it. It’s been almost a century since the Gang of f64 came up with the eminently logical position that photography is a fine medium, and doesn’t need to masquerade as a painting or a drawing to be Art. I can’t figure out who would want to try and make their bad photographs look like bad paintings? Someone too lazy to pick up a paintbrush? Almost certainly someone whose photographs are so lousy they need to obscure them.

2 August 2011

The Opposite of Schadenfreude

Anastasia is a dear friend for many reasons, one of which is the weather. I’m uncomfortable when the temperature’s warmer than twenty; Anastasia fears frostbite when she’s not baking. And so, whenever we’re together, one of us is always happy with the weather.

When I visited her today, I delighted in the thick ocean fog that allowed me to cycle to her house without breaking a sweat. She was clearly annoyed by my pleasure with what she considered to be abysmal weather. That led me to wonder whether schadenfreude has an antonym.

I don’t know the answer to that question. Why is there never a German around when you need one?

3 August 2011

gratuitous image

Schrödinger’s Cats

Franz Schrödinger (1720-1791) was arguably the creator of the Internet, or at least some of its fundamental principles. Schrödinger, one of the most prominent scientists of his day, had a library of almost three thousand volumes. He began literally building links between pages of disparate books using long pieces of colored string and thread.

His innovative system of integrating and correlating text ultimately proved unworkable. After a few years, his library became an almost unusable dense web of strands. His experiment came to a catastrophic end two hundred and twenty-five years ago today. Schrödinger’s cat was playing in the string jungle, and pulled some of the fiber into the fireplace. The resulting fire destroyed Schrödinger’s library. (Predictably, the cat survived.)

Schrödinger’s great great great great great great great grandson Erwin Schrödinger was familiar with his ancestor’s experiment, and came up with a cat of his own.

And that’s why visitors at the Internet Archive will see a symbolic piece of string between racks of the petabyte servers. It’s Schrödinger’s. Now if only the Archive had cats as well as dogs ...

4 August 2011

New Clichés

Once upon a time, Samuel Goldwyn received a script with a warning that it was full of old clichés. His response? “Let’s have some new clichés.”

Gabriel and I thought that was excellent advice, so we uncorked some wineage and came up with a few.

Ponies don’t get their stripes at night.

Never use a hard hammer when a soft hammer will do.

It’s not the look that matters, it’s the look at the look.

If you don’t have a stove, enjoy the sashimi.

You are who you do; you’re not who you don’t.

Even a dead dog’s good for something.

He doesn’t have enough ice cubes in his igloo.

People wander when they should wonder, and vice versa.

In the land of tofu, the hot dog is steak.

And so on. I believe we came up with several more, but failed to document them.

5 August 2011

Absofuckinglutely Never

I like gratuitousness, especially when it comes to syllables. Absofuckinglutely.

I just learned there’s a word for that: tmesis. Here’s the definition I read: “inserting a word or nonsense syllable into another word for intensifying effect, as in ... absobloominglutely.” Of course, no one sticks “blooming” between syllables. Absofuckinglutely never, in fact.

I even spent almost five minutes doing a bit of research on the subject. I found the ancient Greeks and Latin speakers were fond of using tmesises. But that was a long time ago. In my exhaustive four minutes of investigation, I discovered that the only contemporary uses of tmesises involved “fucking” or “damned.” That’s true, guarandamnedteed.

6 August 2011

gratuitous image

Monkey Rights

David Slater was photographing thingies in an Indonesian national park; that’s the sort of thing such photographers do. At some point, a macaque monkey grabbed one of his unguarded cameras and made the great self-portrait I’ve reproduced here.

The monkey’s photo also turns out to be a nice piece of conceptual art vis-a-vis contemporary copyright law. It seems that the macaque, not Slater, owns the copyright to the photograph.

I imagine I’ll get a friendly note from Slater and/or his attorney asking me to unpublish the monkey’s self-portrait. That raises the question of who really owns the copyright to the photograph. The answer is predictable: the party with the most rabid lawyers. Since the anonymous macaque isn’t reputed to be litigious, I think his inimitable countenance will appear above these paragraphs for the foreseeable future.


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©2011 David Glenn Rinehart

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