Category Archives: Art

Art and artists inspire us. And the interesting thing is that the way workers approach work is starting to look more and more like the way artists approach art.

You have time

What a weird and wonderful idea: A daily planner spanning not one year but 82 years – the average life expectancy of people in the western world. Look how thick that thing is! So what exactly is it you don’t have time for?

Via Kottke who went to a design conference and saw a presentation by Stefan Sagmeister on happines and design, which included the following excellent life advice:
* everything i do always comes back to me
* trying to look good limits my life
* everybody thinks they are right
* money does not make me happy
* thinking life will be better in the future is stupid. i have to live now
* complaining is silly. act or forget
* having guts always works out for me


What is at the center now? At the moment, neither art nor science but mankind determining, in confusion and obscurity, whether it will endure or go under. The whole species – everybody – has gotten into the act. At such a time it is essential to lighten ourselves, to dump encumbrances, including the encumbrances of education and all organized platitudes, to make judgments of our own, to perform acts of our own.

– Saul Bellow, from his 1976 Nobel lecture.

Interview with Neal Stephenson

Some of the best books I’ve read recently have been The Baroque Cycle by Neal Stephenson, a trilogy set in the 1600’s and 1700’s.

In this interview on reasononline, Neal talks about many things, including some of his reasons for writing novels set in that period when he normally writes Science Fiction:

Reason: In the last decade or two, there?s been a surge of fiction set in the 17th century: Tremain?s Restoration, Pears? An Instance of the Fingerpost, Chevalier?s Girl with a Pearl Earring. Is there something about the era that speaks with particular significance to the 21st century?

Stephenson: The glib answer would be that this is such a broad question that I could only answer it by writing a big fat trilogy set during this era. And if I try to answer this question discursively, that?s what it?s going to turn into. So I?ll fall back on saying that it just feels interesting to me.

Here are a few specifics. The medieval is still very much alive and well during this period. People are carrying swords around. Military units have archers. Saracens snatch people from European beaches and carry them off to slavery. There are Alchemists and Cabalists. Great countries are ruled by kings who ride into battle wearing armor. Much of the human landscape?the cities and architecture?are medieval. And yet the modern world is present right next to all of this in the form of calculus, joint-stock companies, international financial systems, etc. This can?t but be fascinating to a novelist.

Incidentally: The Baroque Cycle rocks! Read it, read it, read it!

Art money

This is a seriously cool concept: Art money.

Art Money measures 12×18 cm and is an original work of art by the artist hand. It has a purchasing power equal to 20 Euro when first introduced and increase in value by five Euro p.a. for 7 years after which it settles and holds 50 Euro forever.

Art Money can be used to buy art or services from all the registered BIAM artists at up to 50% of the sales price. Art Money can be spent in registered BIAM shops and businesses up to a % set by the individual business. Art Money can be used as payment for accommodation at any BIAM host. Art Money can be spent 100% in the BIAM market. Art Money can also be spent at non-registered shops and businesses around the world when ever accept if found.

Not only is the money beautiful – the concept is very interesting. Imagine a wallet full of art. Now THAT’S wealth :o)


I want to make my music so that it doesn’t force the performers of it into a particular groove, but which gives them some space in which they can breathe and do their own work with a degree of originality. I like to make suggestions, and then see what happens, rather than setting down laws and forcing people to follow them.
– John Cage

Via Boingboing.

Arts – politics, 1 – 0

There’s an EU election on right now, and though it’s met mostly with apathy and boredom, someone has used the (butt ugly) election posters pasted all over Copenhagen for some good, and made weird little art projects out of them – quite good ones too. Check out a few:

EU Politics never made this much sense to me before.

Zero7 live

Last night I had the pleasure of spending an evening in the company of Zero7. There are many reasons why they’re such a great band, here’s a few of them:
* The music. Soulful, beautiful, sometimes edgy, always great.
* The singers. Mozez (the only guy) with his airy,light voice. Sophie with the clean, clear, perfect voice. Sia with the almost unintelligible, gravelly, but no less beautiful growl. And new danish addition Tina Dico with her amazing vocal dexterity. Each one has a distinct, excellent style, worthy of being the lead singer for some band. And zero7 has four of them. I have no idea how they do it.
* The mood. The people on stage are having a good time, and it shows. Especially Sia Furler who was constantly giggling and doing small dances, until it came time for her to sing. Then she was 100% focused on just that.
* The setup. Zero7 are actually just the two geeky-looking guys in the background, getting absolutely no attention during the concert. They let the singers and the other musicians take the show. This may be the only band with no ego.

But mostly the music of course. They make wonderful, introspective, quiet ambient electronica, which it can be pretty hard to transplant to a live concert. But they did so in excellent style, taking some songs up a notch to where you can see the rock-potential in them, or even taking them down a little, to where it’s just a singer a guitar and a keyboard. Excellent!!

You can hear some of their latest songs here. Check them out, and if you get a chance to see them live, do it!!!

Hektor, the swiss graffiti robot

Gizmodo put me onto this extremely cool swiss graffiti robot, which is basically a spray can, a computer, two steppper motors and some string. Check out the video of the robot painting a work of art for an exhibition, it’s a sight to behold.

Reading about that project made we want to be a geek again. I have a long past in the IT business, and there’s just something about a project that cool and that useless that makes some part of me want to do it. To work out all the details involved ant then finally see it in action. To slave loooong nights over obscure little problems, that I probably created myself in the first place. To disappear into a process so intense and so goal-oriented and so clear that sleep, food, politics, TV, movies and keeping up a normal social life take the back seat to fixing the next bug. And the next.

Art and fear

Chris Corrigan links to a review of the book Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking, from which comes the following quote:

The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity of work they produced, all those on the right solely on its quality. His procedure was simple: on the final day of class he would bring in his bathroom scales and weigh the work of the “quantity” group: fifty pound of pots rated an “A”, forty pounds a “B”, and so on. Those being graded on “quality,” however, needed to produce only one pot -albeit a perfect one – to get an “A”. Well, came grading time and a curious fact emerged: the works of highest quality were all produced by the group being graded for quantity. It seems that while the “quantity” group was busily churning out piles of work – and learning from their mistakes – the “quality” group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than grandiose theories and a pile of dead clay.

Hehehe, I looooove that. And here’s another thought: I think art and work are approaching each other, or rather, I think that the way we work is coming more and more to resemble the way we produce art. Work used to be about producing something, and of course it still is, but increasingly work is also about self-expression and creating meaning for yourself and others, as in art.

This book is going in my shopping basket.