Saturday, December 6, 2008

what's really real?

Not being able to think of a better title at the time I called this one 'Everything Merges'.

I have i-photo and a sample program of photoshop elements that allow me to make sure the photos I post are decent facsimiles of the originals. Not for the first time I've noticed the paintings look different depending on what computer monitor I happen to be staring at. We have two at home - my old favorite G4 powerbook with its 17" soft screen and the new mac book. The G4 loses 20% of its power on its way from the shelf to the couch so has a second plug-in over here. The paintings look fine on it, washed out on the book and fairly blah on the new Dell pc in my office. What gives?

If you have a thing, a three dimensional object with mass, then you can usually rely upon it looking pretty much the same whenever you happen to regard it, depending of course on the way it's lit or how much dirt and grime have either accumulated or been removed, it's still the same thing. It would be fitting to say you'd be disturbed to discover your favorite chair had decided to become a table sometime during the night or that your toaster had determined to change itself into a puppy (although the children might be delighted). Things change on the screen and we hardly notice unless it affects our way of getting on in the world we mutually inhabit.

At work we got the new ms vista operating system last summer and since my work requires a seemingly endless cascade of excel spreadsheets I find myself getting very nervous about the permanence and reliability of the information I'm seeing. Why is it that if I open one to search for some information and then want to close the document I invariably get a message asking if I want to save my changes? I didn't make any damn changes unless you want to count the quantum physics definition of changing things by merely looking at them. Worse still is the worry I may have changed something by accident and that the document is no longer correct. What if my bank is using the same software?

A friend is planning to buy her two children a wii for Christmas so they can pretend to bowl, play baseball and tennis. I couldn't help but ask wouldn't it be better to take them bowling but she explained it's too expensive now. We've entered a world where it's cheaper to play virtual games than real ones and I can't help but wonder if a generation will grow up thinking they know all about bowling, baseball, football and golf by proxy.

I rather like physical things. I prefer people to machines and hate that every time I make a phone call nowadays I run into machine generated voices and have to play button pushing games that take half an hour to maneuver when a person could have given me the information required in two minutes. How is this more efficient?

Anyway, I'm glad to know that when I open my portfolio again I won't be finding this instead of the image above but at least now I do know what it would have looked like if I dropped it in the bathtub. I may have wondered.. or maybe not.

If you happen to think this is an improvement please let me know.


  1. My god, you're incredibly talented. I have a program called Adobe Photoshop C52 and now and then I open it and look longingly at the million possibilities, but don't know how to use it.

    I so completely agree that the virtual is a bad substitute for the real. Kids play tennis at a park near my home for free. Bowling for a family might be a bit pricy, what with shoe rental and all but god where are the priorities? Isn't a virtual game fairly expensive? And then are we merely building virtual muscles. Will we turn into virtual blobs of unused muscle? And will we prefer virtual relationships and sex?

    I prefer the top image, but can't completely discount the charm of the bottom one either. The top one reminds me of the French painter that left his family and moved to Tahiti to paint such fantastic scenes of human and animal grace and beauty sharing the jungle together. Why can't I think of his name now. I was thinking of him just a couple of days ago. Crap, old age has its drawbacks.

  2. Hi Utah - You're thinking of Paul Gaugin which is an incredibly flattering way of saying you like my stuff. I spent some years in extended art education and intense museum viewing in Europe only to return with the profound understanding that, although there were things I could never hope to do, there would be no harm in earning my living by traditional means while continuing to explore my relatively meager artistic propensities. My theory has been that people are at their best when doing something in the physical world but I may be hopelessly out of touch. Whereas old age has its drawbacks (I think you might have a year on me but no more), the benefit for the thoughtful is wisdom. You have a lot of that too.

  3. Susan... you cover so much ground her, I barely know where to begin. So, I'll begin at the top. Much of the difference has to do with the video drivers each system uses. Macs are generally better with video, which is why many graphics professionals prefer it. Another factor is monitor quality and in this case, Macs have a decided advantage over Dells, which are mostly business machines.

    As for the excel spreadsheet saves, all it takes for you is to move a cursor into a cell to prompt a save. I know that this happens to me alot on word documents when I switch printers. All of this information is saved into a file, be it an excel spreadsheet or a word document.

    As for the video game versus the real thing, I'm with you on that one. Young kids should be out performing physical activities over virtual ones. Thankfully, my two boys do just that, although they play viddies alot. But I hear that older folks are getting into it because there are some programs that provide them to perform aerobic exercises they otherwise would not get.

    Lovely paintings Susan. They come up great on my Dell laptop.

  4. Beautiful painting (and I absolutely HATE when I open a spreadsheet, look at it, close it and get the "do you want to save changes?" prompt)

  5. I love all of your paintings. And,I am a huge lover of animal prints and I do think leopards, cheetahs and zebras look better on animals than animal prints do on people. I think that some copies can be out of an appreciation and an honouring of the original and that can be great.

    Have you read John Berger's "Ways of Seeing." If you haven't I highly recommend it.

  6. you've covered a lot of topics this time, girlfriend!

    save on excel - i had the same confusion about excel spreadsheets.... i'm told by our I.T. guy @ work that it has to do with a lot of functions built in to excel. it's been thinking just by having been opened, or by you having clicked on a cell, so even though you haven't actually done anything, it's accessed functions, so it's got to check whether you want to save the non-changes. it's computer logic.

    wii vs sports - savings?! perhaps what the lady saves in trips to the bowling alley, etc. will be required later in psychiatric or medical care, or legal fees. no one can convince me that hovering in front of an image of an activity can be any kind of healthy substitute for actually getting out of the house and doing it together. ESPECIALLY where relationships between parents and children are concerned.... and thinking it IS a substitute is just reeeeeeely creeeeepy. and criminally stupid.

    phone answering - i hate those answering recordings too, but, flipside, i'm looking at the choice these days at work, of getting all that menial switchboard answering stuff dumped on me, and not having any time to get the payables done, or letting a machine answer the phones. you guessed it, i'm all for the machine.

    i wore the beautiful scarf to a gig with the students at the local long-term care today. it's -10 C outside today, but i was toasty warm. it's like wearing a hug.

  7. spartacus - Thanks for taking some time to answer my questions. I know the trick with excel is to save frequently but I still despise microsoft for being way too intrusive. Then there are my coworkers who feel the need to send me huge files when they've made a tiny change to the original..

    Yes, kids should be outside more but when it rains so much what's a parent supposed to do? Snow was easier but as I remember so were card games and cardboard boxes.

    cdp - My point exactly! Sometimes I spend work days feeling like Alice.

    lbr - I've always tried to represent animals as they are even if the colors get changed a bit. Our best inspirations and aspirations come from the world as we understand it.

    I think I read that book many years ago but I may have to go find it again.

    gfid - What a juicy comment! So far as the kids playing wii sports is concerned check my answer to spartacus. It's a dilemma in this version of a winter climate but there are still alternatives.

    I don't mind leaving voice messages since I do that myself. My problem is that I have to contact multiple insurance companies to obtain authorizations for patients to have surgeries. In the past few years it's become a gauntlet of multiple choice that also requires answering tons of prompts correctly even if you don't have all the information they require. It's awful and no job like mine exists in Canada. You did what?

    I'm so glad you like having the scarf. The hug you feel is real :-)

  8. kids and sports - yes, there are lots of alternatives... aforementioned bowling is one... then swimming, racquetball, gymnastics, there are indoor soccer leagues... my 4 brothers and i set up a skateboard track that looped and figure eighted through the entire basement of our house, and we used to spend hours there when the weather was ugly, launching ourselves from one support pole to another. the only rule was, feet can't touch the floor. when that happened, your turn was over. kids will find ways to entertain themselves given half a chance. i wonder sometimes if they're given that chance much these days.

    voice messages - oi! sounds like the gadgets make a relatively straightforward job into a maze for you. your right to gripe and hate them is officially recognized. i dislike them on principle, more than anything else, but i guess if we ever do get one at work, i'll have to reconsider, or revert to hypocrisy.

    scarf/hug - now that the babies are all grown up and the grandgirl is so far away, hugs are few and far between, so thanks.

  9. Bowling is more expensive than a Wii? Where the hell do they bowl, Beverly Hills?

    The first painting is groovy as usual, damn you for being talented, and the altered one reminds me of Van Gogh on a mellow trip.

  10. gfid - One of the things I notice about so many kids these days compared to when I was young (in the dim dark reaches of time) is just how many children are overweight. It's pretty sad.

    randal - She told me bowling can cost about $40 for her family of four - shoe rental and $9 per game unless you go on off hours. $250 for a wii plus the cost of the games seems weird to me too but what do I know?

    Glad you like the painting.

  11. susan, I am sorry I have not kept up with your postings of your lovely, delicious paintings...I adore your work and only wish I had some of your talent, a teeny bit more to create as I see you do....your work is truly inspiring me to reach inside and find my inner muse, wherever she went, and drag her out and give her a talking to....thank you for being so generous of spirit and I agree with you about everything you said about our automated world....I find I draw more and more away from it but then, as I grow old,that seems ok.

  12. linda - It's always a treat to see you've been by and I'm grateful for your visits - all the more so because I know you haven't been well lately. Your own paintings are so nice that I'm kind of embarrassed by your praise. I used to paint a lot more than I do now and that's what you're seeing here. I'm still glad you like them.