09 June 2011

i, i, i, i, i--WHAT'S NEXT?

i, i, i, i, i--WHAT'S NEXT?
By Andy Weddington
Friday, 10 June 2011

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning." Albert Einstein

I started drafting today's comment on 07 February intending to publish four days later, but it was pushed aside week after week to address other current events. Enough. Today, though tempted to analyze another scoundrel serving in the people's House, Mr. Weiner's oscar antics will just have to wait. Besides, with an idiot there's always more. To date, he's given the country sex and lies and more lies. Now, beyond a few disturbing stills, all await video. Sad. Undoubtedly, or might that be "with certitude," the best--or worst--is yet to come.

For today, lighter fare...

Wednesday afternoon--02 February, Neil Cavuto of Fox News interviewed media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

In the off-chance the name "Murdoch" does not ring familiar, he's amassed a small fortune--a net worth of around $6 billion, give or take a few bucks.

Cavuto's interview was about the new etherworld news magazine, 'The Daily,' Murdoch's backing and its availability on iPad.

But it was a Rupert comment, and his sidebar thoughts about technology, that caught my attention.

He said, "Americans are intelligent people." And he actually said it with sincerity. Real sincerity--like he meant it.

Now politicians say it all the time and in recent weeks they--those stumping to unseat Mr. Obama--have been saying it a lot, but their delivery always comes across as patroninzing hogwash; no matter how sincere they try to sound.

But Murdoch needs not, necessarily, to win the 'love and support' of a constituency so when he speaks it's with candor, credibility, and sincerity. It's worth the few minutes to listen. And listen Neil Cavuto did. And so did I.

Murdoch talked about 'The Daily' but most of the interview he opined about the wonders of the iPad (and the likes of it) and how the machine is going to change our world.

You better believe it! And in ways yet to be understood.

At the time of the interview Murdoch said there's about 15 million iPads...in the world (iPad 2 had yet to be released). Fifteen million sounds like a hefty number until considering the U. S. population, at the time of this writing, is well over 300 million and the world population just under 7 billion. So 15 million barely qualifies as a drop in the bucket. But it's a start. And with next-generation machines, Apple's and others, being billed as more amazing still, owner numbers (as goes affordability) will inevitably climb; exponentially--following the likes of cell phones and blackberries and cable television and flat screens and so forth and so on.

Ordinarily I'd not have paid much more than cursory attention to the Murdoch interview. But 167 days ago, give or take a day or two, I became one of the 15 million or so iPad owners. And I figured what Murdoch had to say just might be important.

Six months ago I knew little about iPad. And did not really care. I had seen one a couple months earlier at a friend's home and thought it interesting but not something worth my money or time.

Terms like "iTunes" and "apps" meant nothing. Nothing. I relate to "Looney Tunes" (classic cartoons) and "abs" (once visible now not quite so).

But thinking and relating suddenly changed when my wife, insubordinate as usual defying explicit orders to not give me anything--needed or wanted--for Christmas, gave me an iPad.

The first few days were a huge learning curve. Why do I need this machine? What can it do for me? Why do I have to connect it to my computer? Why is it necessary to log into iTunes? Why does it need to be synched up? Why? Why? Why? And more Whys.

Then my mother's daughter's daughter, a technology-savvy 17 year-old (if you're challenged figuring family trees and kin, that would be my sister and my niece), made a comment that stuck with me, "Uncle Andy, this is so cool...you can do everything on this..." and then she offered to help with set-up, and did. My nephew, my niece's likewise technology-savvy younger brother, demonstrated his iTouch and said the iPad was even better. Neither said it was "sick." Good. Maybe these kids know something.

Okay, let's give this thing some time and a chance.

Days passed and the machine gradually made sense. Apps! How wonderful--provided you find the right ones amongst many that do not perform as billed; despite ratings. They're like individual little monsters--the good kind--that when unleashed run around inside the machine and make things happen. If you will, think of  "apps" as little work orders. And the iPad can hold a lot of work orders.

Obvious benefits of the machine--smaller surface area than a sheet of bond, 3/16 of an inch thick, and little more than a pound--is being able to do most anything e.g. document prep; email; social networking; etc., done on a desktop computer but with easier portability than a standard laptop.

But there was more to come.

A few weeks into January the sensitivity and accuracy of making marks on the screen with right pointer finger struck a chord. And that led to searching for "drawing" and "painting" apps--an electronic studio, sort of speak, complete with paper, canvas, charcoal, paints, brushes, etc.

And then the world exploded!

For an artist, a painter, the iPad is certain to revolutionize how artwork is created and made. And that revolution irrespective of medium (paints, sculpture, etc.). The iPad's impact destined to eclipse all looks of marvelous surprise (or condemning disgust) from the "Old Masters" were they to see their works--originally done mostly in muted earthtones--recreated in brilliant phtalos, anthraquinones, and radiants; discoveries long after their time. One can only imagine what they (and the generations of painters after them) would think of same now possible in light and what they could have done with an iPad. Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Van gogh, Monet, Picasso, Matisse, et.al., first come to mind.

During the past few months "drawing" and "painting" on iPad has been an obsession. So much so that sleep, though necessary, inconvenient. Imagine, sleep an unwelcome interruption.

With some regularity I've posted an assortment of these iPad works--still life, interiors, landscapes, portraits--on facebook (and Twitter: painttubes)--to garner public reaction. And the response(s) back unexpected-- favorable and interesting.

One note received--from someone I've not met but correspond with on occasion about Commentaries and art--spoke to some of the early "paintings." Their words, "Never having the benefit of personally seeing the subjects you paint, I nevertheless, know you heavily exploit color (I suspect you are shaking your head "no" with my assessment). Your eye was not green the day you did the self portrait on the iPad (and if it was, it was not to that extent), you exploited any light/color that may have appeared on the wall behind the lamp in order to come to the wide and bold stripes that you painted and you changed the colors in Marshall's shirt with each progressive rendering..."

Interesting remarks and not so easily answered.

It's complicated.

And I did respond--at great length--but will not bore you with the particulars.

In short, "Yes, I really "see" all those colors. And paint and "paint" them as closely as the materials at-hand will allow. That's the problem--translating or transposing what is "seen" into something even close whether on screen or paper or canvas. It cannot be done! It is the translation that always falls disappointingly short. And always will. One cannot be the other. That is an interpretation can never be reality. Only a mere illusion is possible. Exciting. Yet frustrating--not in a debilitating but a 'continue-to-forge-ahead' sense.

And more fundamentally, let us not forget we, none of us, see the same. There is no way of proving that any of us see a particular hue of red, green, blue, or yellow exactly the same. And then we complicate the visual experience, stemming from variance in physiological wiring and psychological interpretation, with words--that diminish, that always fall short, that neutralize--that "muddy"--hues.

Of course my eye was green when painting the self-portrait--the color was bouncing off a nearby brilliant green. Otherwise I'd not have painted it green. Of course the stripes on the wall behind the lamp were wide and bold and the colors in Marshall's shirt were as they appeared. Otherwise I'd not have painted them as such. The writer jumped to conclusions without considering all possibilities.

The iPad is opening up possibilities not imaginable. Or if imaginable not so easily achieved before because of concerns wasting expensive pigments. But now experimentation is possible with ease and no cost--with swipe or tap or two of a finger. Unbelievable! The only drawback is long sessions lead to "iPad finger" (ala tennis elbow). And my wife is now talking about insuring my right pointer finger.

Later another note from my unmet friend began (following my reply), "IRONIC, as I was washing dishes late last night (it is when I do my best pondering about life's toughest challenges) and it was then that I fully understood what you mean when you talk about "seeing"."

Their revelation came about in the context of their expertise--"seeing"--in porcelain and other man-made luxuries. So a window on the world heretofore not only unopened but not known to exist is now wide-open.

Back to Mr. Murdoch. He said, "Americans are intelligent." Yes.

And he said, "iPad is going to change the world." Yes.

But Mr. Murdoch admitted he has no idea to what extent that change. He could not possibly know for intelligent Americans (and  folks across the planet) will experiment and create beyond the imaginable. And there rests the wonders of chaos once this machine's offspring is in the hands of the masses. The possibilities extraordinary. The possibilities exciting. The possibilities frightening.

Will the Old Masters always be relevant? Yes.

Will the Impressionists--French, American, Russian, et.al.--always be relevent? Yes.

Will the Pop Artists of the 60s and 70s always be relevant? Yes.

All relevant because their "discoveries" showed the public the way.

Will artwork coming from iPad one day be thought of in the same light as other important movements in art? Or the work in any discipline? We'll know "tomorrow." But I think so--yes, definitely, yet admit to not having any idea as to what it--the art--will look like. Especially when, or even if, transformed from electrons to some form of two or three-dimensional representation. No idea.

And all that in perspective with some data that recently came to attention. This Commentary has had  some 17,000 page views (reading? don't know) from folks in 54 countries (and counting) during the past nine months. Those numbers, though quite small, not foreseen when starting more than two and a half years ago.. And now some are tuning in on, what else, iPad.

Funny, a month or so ago Apple sent me a survey asking about my iPad use. Most of the questions addressed their app "Pages." "Pages" was one of the first apps I loaded--thinking I'd write Commentary and do other such work. But I only recall opening the app once so far--and that the day I installed it. Why? Too busy "painting."

I, nor anyone else, has even a foggy idea where genius and creativity, channeled through iPad, will take the art world or, for that matter, the world.

Mr. Murdoch is correct. The iPad is going to change our world.

iMac. iTunes. iTouch. iPad. iPad 2. What's next from Apple?

Something about iCloud.

How about: iNvent!

Hang on.

Post Script

                                  "An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision." James Abbott McNeill Whistler

iPad painting is so new there's some struggle with how to present and sell to a public-at-large that ever lags in understanding.

And I am reminded of the following tale about Mr. Whistler.

One evening while mingling at a cocktail party...

Mr. Whistler, known for his quick and sometimes biting wit and candor, was approached by a woman who'd recently purchased a nocturne of bombs bursting in air he'd painted. For its day, the nocturne was a startling and stunning work of art. However, the woman was none too happy when she learned the painting, for which she paid an exorbitant price, was completed in mere hours; if that. A bit terse with Whistler, she expressed her discontent and felt she'd been taken advantage of. To which, Mr. Whistler said, and I offer only a semblance of his words, 'Madam, you did not pay for the amount of time it took me to paint it. You paid for the decades it took for me to be able to paint it in such a short amount of time.'

"Yes, Mr. Whistler. Exactly. Bravo!"

I wonder what he might have done with an iPad?

Author's endnote

Since drafting this Commentary, a painting conceived in design and color on iPad and then painted much larger in acrylics on canvas won a judged exhibition. It was my first public exhibit of such a work. A test. A proof of concept. The judge(s) had no idea. Nor should they have. How's it was done irrelevant.

See the "iPad Paintings" and "iPad Painting of the Week" left to view more iPad work.

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