Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Deadly Allure of Facebook Frame: Part 2

Good evening viewers. Oops, slipped into Benny Hill there.

Anyway I've been madly working on frames today. I try to come up with something new each time, to try the scary things, new things, to learn. It's generally more beneficial to try something new and unexpected in art I think, if nothing else, it gives you more skills and builds confidence.

Frames in progress; One for Emotional Blackmail; will have a matt black square frame with a glossy rippled edge that reeks of deathliness. I think the frame should at least complement an artwork, but ideally be part of it in the true sense, match the painting content, mood, feeling. As it's often the first thing seen, it should evoke the first emotion. A surrealist painting is different from most artworks in that there are often several emotions that tell a story.

Anyway, I'll not go through every future design, but share the updated pics of the post two steps below, the Deadly Allure of Facebook frame. I painted the frame in Facebook blue (which was mostly ultramarine and white, with a touch of raw umber; looks rather cobalty). Then I painted the cracked plaster parts in yellows, off whites, browns; the hues and tones of bone. I painted a few cracks too, as well as having actual cracks!

This acrylic casting resin (it's from Great Art, I think there's a link to them on this blog) is stronger than plaster and much more adhesive, which is good. It can froth a bit, which in this case was brilliant as I've got lots of tiny air bubbles like an Aero bar in it.

Here's the finished frame...

For this painting the frame is an important indicator that it's about Facebook. The red "notification" square helps too (I wonder how long it will be before this is updated; in 100 years, this painting might be a mystery).

PS. The other things on the wall are awards, draped with a hand puppet.

Well, I've worked non-stop today and have eleven frames to decorate or, in some cases, substantially carve and build, and of course about 30 paintings waiting to paint this year, perhaps my best. As an artist my biggest task now is showing the world these things, that's a full time job too...

Toy Soldiers by Martika is playing as I type. It makes me think that art is a deadly drug. The joy of it is that others can love it without harm.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Inequality in Society

Inequality is inherent. We cannot be identical, identicality is impossible. Of course, those who talk of the injustice of inequality mean that society should be more equal, not identical, but then, how much more equal? Not too equal, but not too unequal. At what level then, which is best? Why?

Well, equality levels should be based on feelings of fairness. Why? Feelings would certainly be different for each person, everyone would have slightly different ideas of how equal society should be. Perhaps then, an amalgam of everyone's feelings of equality and inequality, an aggregate balance.

There's another factor, in that equality can only be expressed and detected in like for like. People might talk about an equal society, but imply human society, not consider animals. The pigeons among us in our towns, do they factor in thoughts and measurements about equality? It seems they have an unfairly cruel life compared to ours.

But that's a side issue, we're addressing human society here aren't we? Financial inequality is what people mean when they talk about an unjust society. It's that some people have much more money than others. Why should money be a measure, why not love? Perhaps because one can only have so much love, but money is quantifiable, that's the point of money, to be a quantifiable representation of emotional debt.

So, the crux is economics. Can this be analysed in a paragraph or two?

If a man is rich but holds the money and does nothing with it (in a bank, in investments, under the bed) is it the same as him having no money, because the money is unused? No, but only because it remains as a reserve. If the reserve can never be used then the rich person is identical to a poor one.

But the reserve is only as useful as access to it. It's not the quantity of money that is important but the speed at which it can be spent. If you could only retrieve a small amount per day, then the quantity of savings would be annulled. Perhaps the increase in financial inequality in society is due to this; the growth of automated banking and electronic money transfers.

We should all have equal speed of spending, however.

What then about a psychological perspective? Fairness is like equality. If all were equal we'd consider it fair, wouldn't we? To be equal implies comradeship and friendliness, and those who are different are naturally singled out. The most friendly option is that everyone has equal amounts, and unequal amounts create unfriendliness. A debate about equality and fairness is a debate about friendship and animosity, love and anger. If fairness is about emotions then the solution is also emotional; empathy and understanding of those who are not alike. Acceptance of unfairness? That argument could be used to justify inaction against any injustice, couldn't it?

Buddhism and Stoicism err on the side of personal acceptance to relieve psychological conflict, but is that right? It depends on control. If you can't control an injustice then it should be accepted; I have a friend who is paralysed, this is unjust, but they can't do anything about it. Acceptance would create more happiness than fighting it. If you can control an injustice then action is justified. But then, how do you know for sure what is just or unjust? This tends to be a matter of personal opinion, and mass opinion. In a society, truth is no more than a majority belief. Whether something is just or not, true or not, all that matters is if a majority believe it to be true or just. The lone God with the perfect vision of "real" justice is ignored (assuming Gods are in a minority; often happens).

In an ideal capitalist society we should have equal ability to obtain money. In practise, access to resources is never equal. It never could be because some resources are more scarce than others and in different locations. Even a slime-mold grows better where the food is richest. How unfair on the frugal and hungry parts of mold!

Resources are different than money, they have more power because they are limited and to hold them denies them to others. How should resources be distributed? Even if distributed randomly, the result would be unequal, would that be unfair too? Yes, and inefficient; a rare resource that might be vital to one person, a life saving drug, might be given to someone who didn't need it. A starving man might get a nice pair of shoes, while a bare footed man is given excess food.

The systems that evolve naturally create inequality, naturally favour some individuals over others. This applies to every life form. Even some cells in the body are vastly favoured over other types. The key factor, is efficiency, and for efficiency the fair distribution of resources should be constantly questioned and adjusted.

Some inequalities can be compounded because one resource is needed to access a second. Social resources are important in human society for example, and communication media increase these (as does brain capacity, which might be a result of good diet etc.). People without the Internet or telecommunications are denied access to this resource, which in turn might deny access to other resources.

I have no conclusions from this hastily typed analysis, I'm no expert or economist or study of any theory or politics or philosophy, but some appear to be...

1. Financial inequality might be a result of fluid movement of money rather than inherent injustice. If so, then countries with slower banking systems would be more financially equal.

2. That said, financial inequality is less important than power inequality and access to resource inequality, so at every point, at least the possibility of gaining and losing any power and any resource should exist. That is, a ladder from the very bottom to the very top must at least exist, no matter how bent or how thin in parts.

3. Identification of primary resources, those that can unlock or deny access to other resources, is important to ensure the efficient distribution of resources. Ideally the connections between those resources and strengths of those connections (the width of the "ladder") should be as equal as possible.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Deadly Allure of Facebook Frame: Part 1

I'm working on the frame for a painting called The Deadly Allure of Facebook. I wanted to paint it blue, matching the colour scheme of that website, but I also wanted to add a sort of bony decay dripping into one corner, matching the painting. I thought I'd try an experiment with acrylic casting resin, a sort of plaster really.

I mixed some up, just about 50 grams, and poured it over the frame, then put cling film over the top. This is a great way to texture and control plaster without making a gooey mess. Then I tipped it up and some wonderful drips bled down just what I wanted! There are lots of air bubbles in there too, which also look good because they mimic bones. I hole this sets by tomorrow because I'd like to paint it then...

Thoughts: This works with plaster but it has trouble adhering. Ideally, the wood would be painted with dilute P.V.A. first (as every wall plasterer knows). I forgot to do this, but this acrylic stuff might well be more sticky naturally, so this will serve as a test. It's a very thin layer, so a top layer of acrylic medium might hold it, and delamination won't harm the mood much, as decay is the theme of that part of the frame anyway. An ideal opportunity to test this new material.

Thought two: I poured the remainder into a pool in cling film. This will cast into a thin sheet which I could break up, like egg-shells, and stick onto the frame if needed. Plaster bits like this are really useful for an artistically secure type of texture decoration.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Statue

This was my entry for a short story competition that had to be about the supplied image. The closing date has passed, and I've not shared many of my stories in public before so I thought I would share this one. If you have time to read it then I hope you like it. Thank you.

The Statue

The interior of the shop was clean, white, vast, cold. A paragon of minimalist architecture in the city. Each wall was a perfect right angle, and the high ceiling of the room, at least as large as a cathedral, was marked with a perfectly regular pattern of square mirrors.

George was standing in the middle of the space wearing a long black coat, a grey scarf, and a silent, fascinated stare. He was looking at a statue that sat on a white rectangular plinth. The statue was metal, green weathered copper, and depicted two figures facing each other, almost medieval in form and wearing conical cloaks like wizards. They were supporting a ring between them, grasping the rim as though in reverence of the circular hole.

A smartly dressed saleswoman appeared beside George.

“Can I help you?”

George remained staring at the object in fascination. “I'm sure I've seen it before somewhere, but I can't quite place it...”

“I know what you mean. It's a one-off though. An original.”

“I'll take it,” he said, then looked for first time at the woman. She had short black hair, pale skin and neat, black-rimmed spectacles that covered dark, kind eyes. He was struck by how beautiful she was. She smiled and gestured to a distant colleague.

The city street outside was busy, teeming with Christmas shoppers that snaked and bubbled along the grey slushy streets like mating salmon. George meandered through the happy crowds, hugging the black heavy package of his new purchase. His flat was nearby, just a short walk. He pushed along the wide pavements, lowering his head against a new flurry of winter sleet, and swept left into a twisting side-street. This road was much quieter, grey and lifeless, set with cars parked at unusual angles, and flanked by tall buildings of concrete and black windows.

At all times George's mind was on the statue. He was certain that he'd seen it before, somewhere, but where!? The memory was tangible, so real, but so elusive, something from a few years ago perhaps, while on holiday? No, that wasn't it! It was something else. Something deeper. In the shop it attracted him as soon as he saw it, calling to him with an unheard love song. Reeling him in on an unseen thread.

At the end of the road was a block of flats in the art-deco style. George bumped through the glass doors to enter the building, and was soon inside his dim apartment. He cleared a small coffee table and put the package on top, then unwrapped the crisping black coverings with care.

Perhaps the ring was a clue? He looked at the gold ring on his left hand, pausing as if caught by a memory. It was a wedding band, a smooth circle of gold. He rotated the ring with the fingers of his other hand to reveal some tiny letters, beautifully inscribed into the metal: “LUCY I LOVE”

Lucy was gone now. She was still alive, somewhere. Yes, probably still alive. Perhaps in another country somewhere sunny, or perhaps somewhere mundane. Perhaps very close to this small dreary flat, in this cold concrete maze of a wintery English city. George had lost touch with her many years ago.

Lucy was blind, fair skinned, with a shock of strawberry-blonde hair. Everyone thought her very beautiful. Everyone except Lucy herself. Her disability made her seem more special to George, and made her more reliant on him, but it was George's first proper relationship and they weren't an ideal match. Over time, her needs made George feel more like a carer than a partner, a man used, unloved. Lucy became insecure and guilty, trying to rely less on George but this only had the effect of making her more isolated, more introspective, and her soft, warm core became surrounded by a shell, like clay, that grew harder, and thicker.

Out of loneliness George began to get close to another woman, a kind woman with short black hair, who was a great comfort, but as those soft tentacles of love reached out towards her, Lucy found out, and she left instantly. She cut George off, and out, for good. It was as though both were thrown, far apart and far away from each other into two dark pools of a radioactive gas, two distant pits in space across which no light or thought or sound could cross.

The other woman had vanished, and over time Lucy and George became colder, darker people, more silent and still. The red coal of love inside them, once as warm and fresh as a spring morning, began to change to yellow, then green, then black. Icy and dead. The only thing between them was the ring, this hard band of brittle metal they forged together when they were happy, so long ago.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


We have control of nothing except our minds at the present moment, but even then every thought is a direct response only to a prior thought or combination of inputs, just as every future thought is a combination only of the thoughts an inputs of the present. Thus I do not think and am not.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Love Reliquary II

And now, a change of direction and some bits of The Love Reliquary II, an arched shaped wooden cabinet I'm making. Thought I'd share the process.

I've decided to make the hinges out of wood because I thought it would look more interesting. Here's my design...

See the two parts? They would pivot on that hole, thus opening the doors. I came up with a few variants, but put the pivot behind a bit, not exactly between, because it sort of added a "thrust" feeling, as though the doors were pushing open like a proud chest. Even in the design of the hinges the art matters, this is a cabinet about love after all.

Now, to cut them. How do you cut tiny pieces from 12mm M.D.F. by hand?! Answer. Not easily. After drawing them I crudely used a jigsaw to cut the bits out, here...

I plan on sanding them to shape, but then what about the pivot? It needs to be exactly in the right place. I mean exactly. One millimetre out will, by force of leverage, make a big difference and actually stop the edges lining up, jam the doors and possibly even crack them! So, how to drill a perfect hole?

Well, can't be done. First I drew a circle around the pivot. That will help me see the centre. I drilled all of the parts, then chose the key pieces that were most accurate. My plan is to insert a dowel through a stack of these, then sand off all at once, thus the exact shape should be cut AND each bit will have the hole in exactly the right place too.

That's the next step. Before I end, here's a look at the old Love Reliquary to give you an idea of the object, it's an arch-shaped cabinet. This one is largely plaster and very delicate. That took me several months in 2012. How much my skills have improved since that first one!

Let's see how it goes...

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Analysis of the Meaning of Life

If life is meaningless and pointless, then why were we born at all? That tremendously complex and expensive enterprise? The only conclusion is that life is not meaningless and pointless.

If all life starts, exists, ends. Whether short, long, simplex, complex; whether it lasts one minute long or as long the universe; even the universe itself, dies eventually. Does that make a short life inside it pointless? We die eventually; does that make the life of one of our cells pointless?

The refutation of nihilism rests upon the definition of meaning. What does it mean for life to have meaning and purpose?

Take two lives, one with meaning and purpose, and one with none. How are they different? Perhaps that are identical. Perhaps the life without meaning feels more sad because it feels its life is meaningless! - a circular argument!

Let's take a counter argument, that life lasts forever, that history will be preserved, that entropy does not always increase with time and that humanity and the universe was eternal. Would that be more a comforting universe than the opposite? Is immortality itself more comforting and meaningful than a mortal life, or less? Or the same?

We exist because we observe that we exist, and by extension the meaning of life is defined by our belief in it. This is not a trick or self-delusion; we create meaning by belief in it exactly because meaning is a very personal expression and conclusion. It can't be given, and is never certain or completely provable.

This is true for all life-forms and information systems. Meaning and belief are conclusions that result from every sense input, it is an identification of pattern, and because every information system and being has different inputs and information storage and processing systems, the pattern is unique for each of us, is inherently so.

The purpose of life then will fundamentally always be different to each of us. The best we can do is recognise and tolerate that fact.

This has implications for truth of any sort which has the same limitations. Whatever a fact is, at best we can only glimpse part of it via our imperfect senses and make a personal conclusion based on that image. It's awlays possible that some parts of the truth are invisible, and we can never know which parts or how vast or tiny or significant those parts are.