Monday, October 08, 2007

Art and Communication

One factor that sets humans apart from other species is our ability to exchange information fast, efficiently, and over potentially long distances in space and time. Another factor is the time spent with useless distractions. For evolutionary purposes drawings on the cave wall seem pointless since they don't keep the bears away. You might want to argue the prehistoric man meant to lure women into his cave, but why would they have a thing for painters to begin with?

It is no coincidence that our communication skills and art have develop hand in hand, and accompanied the progress of our civilization. The better we came to understand and utilize nature, the more time was freed from our struggle to survive, was freed for art and science. Above all I think of art as a form of communication. It doesn't have to be beautiful or pleasant, it ought to tell you something.
    A picture paints a thousand words...

... is what they say [1]. If a painting has to come with a ten pages brochure so I understand the painter's intention, why then didn't the artist become a writer? However, to understand a painting the historical and sociological context is important, and it often happens to me that a painting only 'makes sense' after reading the blurb. Either way, a painting might tell you something, but not me, so that's why I don't argue about art (unless I have to see it every day).

    "Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”
~ Leonard Bernstein

If you dream of being famous you better get a guitar instead of an easel, and become a rock-star. Why? Because people have radios in their cars, but rarely paintings. More importantly, evolution comes back into the game. Being famous definitely raises your chances in the gene pool
      "To all you Sharons and Michelles
      With all your tales to sell
      Save your meat money well
      I'm glad that spending a night with me
      Guaranteed you celebrity."
      ~ Robbie Williams

But seriously, there must have been more than one women who was enchanted by the right iPod play-list [2].

... which is unfortunate, because Sean Carroll proclaims the point of my work is writing papers and giving talks [3]. To me, writing has always been the most fascinating form of art. There is nothing like a passage in a book that expresses so clearly what your thoughts contain so fuzzy, there is nothing as powerful as a book that puts your worldview upside down.


... make the man. Sure, your clothes DO communicate. Things they say are possibly: 'Had eggs for breakfast', 'I'm colorblind', 'My wife picks my clothes', or 'I believed the shop assistant'. Well, I am not a fashion geek. As many other design forms, fashion needs to balance creativity with functionality. And my preferences are definitely on the side of functionality [4]. I have genuinely no idea what modern fashion shows are supposed to tell me. To the right you see an example of the 2008 spring/summer menswear [John Galliano]. Just so you know what's en vogue.

... well, this is list is certainly not exhaustive, there's numerous other forms for artists to express themselves, may that be in architecture, sculptures, or scriptwriting. And new mediums are explored all the time. The most intriguing aspect of art is its potential to access communication channels that many people share. Art can escape the constraints of language or photos, and it constantly re-creates itself.

    The Web

Technological progress offers new playgrounds also for artists, like raytracers, java applets or images obtained by sheer computing power. Admittedly, not all of this tells me very much. What is depressing for me is that the biggest part of the www is not only ugly, but most design doesn't really promote information exchange. By now many websites are filled up with advertisements, up to the level of being completely dysfunctional.
So why did the cave man paint the walls? Because it allowed him to pass on information, possibly over many generations - and that without luring the women into his cave. And why did the woman fall for it? Well, because we like cute little animal pictures, and men who know to express themselves.

Given that communication is one of our most important strengths, I hope we come to pay more attention to its efficiency. We don't need more web-designers who invent even more clever ways to pop up advertisements, but the www could certainly use some style (says the women wearing jogging shorts and an oversized PI - shirt).

See also: Communication

PS: No meta messages.

[1] The equivalent German proverb is 'Ein Bild sagt mehr als 1000 Worte'.
[2] Previously: self-recorded tape.
[3] This post is actually a warm-up for a post on Art and Science, but well. I guess I've successfully spent my time on useless distractions ;-)
Modern Version.



  1. Mobius Transformations Revealed @ the National Science Foundation

    Bee, the Universe may be Mathematical discourse, but we are walking, breathing, Works of Art - or like light & colour in full flight

  2. well, sometimes I think I'm living proof for unintelligent design ;-) Thanks for the links, too bad one can't see the movies though. I like the Irish Moss best.



  3. Ha! Quasar, thanks for letting me know that the navbar can be removed :-) Here is how to, seems it works. Best,


  4. Mobius Transformation Video

    I'd love to see the Vat in flight on Video

    Yep Irish Moss, dessicated flowers and preserved butterflies are cool.

    Glad you got rid of the irksome blogger navbar. Thanks for the link

  5. Many people would say that computer-generated graphics are often quite beautiful, "artistic". On the other hand, computer-generated music has, so far, totally failed to impress me. What about you?

  6. Hi Christophe:

    Thanks for the link, this is actually quite interesting, but no it doesn't really impress me neither. You know, I never really got the point of 'virtual' reality. Why would one spend endless hours to simulate a guitar on a computer when one can just simply take the damned thing and play it?

    Either way, what I've tried to say above is that I don't think art is the same as beauty. Neither does art has to be beautiful, nor would I think of everything that I consider beautiful as art. These computer generated images, well, some of them I like, they are actually quite inspiring in a certain sense. But in most cases (depends very much on the actual picture) I wouldn't consider them 'art' because they don't tell me nothing, esp. the random generated stuff. I mean, to me it's the perfect irony of 'abstract' art. Don't even try to pretend it has an intention or a message, but just let a computer randomize it, print it, and hope somebody likes it. (We have some examples of this in the building, I forgot the name of the artist.)



  7. Dear Bee,

    ah, I see, the blogger navigation bar has vanished, great :-)

    It's interesting that it comes as an iframe - that's a gadget I shoudl try to play around with.. I have some idea for nice, interactive, and communicative web content...

    It's a very clever idea to look at all kinds of creative endeavours as a kind of communication, I have never seen that this way. But it also means that I'm probably quite deaf on some communication channels ;-)

    Best, Stefan

  8. Wow, excellent post!

    "It doesn't have to be beautiful or pleasant, it ought to tell you something."

    I mostly agree with that, though I do think that there is a place for things that are just pretty to look at. :-) And some art is made with only that purpose.

  9. Bee,

    "It is sometimes the scientist who takes "to the edge." Then it is the artist, who takes us much further." Plato( this is my quote Bee :)

    Susskind did exactly this, by envisioning a rubber band? Some may laugh, yet, it is a mathematical insight.

    Penroses Influence on Escher

    During the later half of the 1950’s, Maurits Cornelius Escher received a letter from Lionel and Roger Penrose. This letter consisted of a report by the father and son team that focused on impossible figures. By this time, Escher had begun exploring impossible worlds. He had recently produced the lithograph Belvedere based on the “rib-cube,” an impossible cuboid named by Escher (Teuber 161). However, the letter by the Penroses, which would later appear in the British Journal of Psychology, enlightened Escher to two new impossible objects; the Penrose triangle and the Penrose stairs. With these figures, Escher went on to create further impossible worlds that break the laws of three-dimensional space, mystify one’s mind, and give a window to the artist heart.

    But on the other hand you speak about the longevity of the musician, in place of what artist can do, but I would remind you of Dali's picture "on time" as a masterpiece?

    Not least to mention his geometrical views on the hypercube and the crucification?

    Number theory is the type of math that describes the swirl in the head of a sunflower and the curve of a chambered nautilus. Bhargava says it's also hidden in the rhythms of classical Indian music, which is both mathematical and improvisational. He sees close links between his two loves -- both create beauty and elegance by weaving together seemingly unconnected ideas.

    There is a "inherent beauty in the mathematics" when we think about this music?

    Not to mention the relationship of the "Monte Carlo methods" in relation to the cubists.

    Bee, you were to soft in your opinion of artists when I am showing you otherwise. :)

    Here is another quote you might recognize in relation to a form of mathematics.

    An equation means nothing to me unless it expresses a thought of God.Srinivasa Ramanujan

    It is how Srinivasa Ramanujan received his "inspiration" and the place from which this mathematics emerged, that few people realize is of significance.

    From "a chaotic mind" it resolved itself "to the subconscious" that we realize the pattern that is inherent underneath.

  10. Bee,

    It is not about God, but how we dress up the mathematics in our everyday lives. Then, we have to decipher the context of the mathematics other then the "resolved experience-science" we have in moving mathematics forward?

    To Srinivasa Ramanujan it was about his dream and how he received his messages, yet, how absurd that such a place as the subconscious we could receive such inspiration?

    It is not about "heliocentrism" that we are, "the centre of the universe," but rather, that we are connected to the universe in such a way?

    Liminocentric structures?

    Finally, we also hope that this series furthers the discussion regarding the nature and function of 'the mandala'. In the spiritual traditions from which Jung borrowed the term, it is not the SYMMETRY of mandalas that is all-important, as Jung later led us to believe. It is their capacity to reveal the asymmetry that resides at the very heart of symmetry. By offering a new view about how consciousness itself is structured - in a fundamentally paradoxical fashion - and how these structurings are reflected in principles according to which the mandala is organized, we are able in this series to show how personality itself may be thought of as having an essentially 'liminocentric' design.

  11. Hi Plato:

    I tend to believe we are taking ourselves too seriously. If there is a God how could we be sure we'd be able to understand his (her?) thoughts?

    "It is how Srinivasa Ramanujan received his "inspiration" and the place from which this mathematics emerged, that few people realize is of significance.

    It might not be an universally applicable source of inspiration?



  12. Bee:I tend to believe we are taking ourselves too seriously. If there is a God how could we be sure we'd be able to understand his (her?) thoughts? Genderless for sure eh?:)

    From a psychological perspective and I am no expert for sure, but our present state of consciousness has to be supported in one way or another. Animus and Anima, depending on that gender?

    An "all wise mother figure" who appears in your dream( your higher self speaking to you), or for those men, who recognize that the higher self is talking to them in a way that they have their "wise white haired person offering insight."

    But before I loose you here, I wanted to show you that on first appearance Jean Shinoda Bolen is telling a story. This is the artist aspect of herself, showing the depth of our natures. She is showing it in a way that is helping people identify aspects of themself. Showing underlying causes for such "fantasy development."

    Richards Wagners's Ring of Nibelung Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. Ring of Power was interesting.

    Strange that we could have seen A Jungian Understanding of the Wagner's Ring cycle, portrayed in todays world and how could have this been accomplished. But by re-introducing a fictional story and embuing it with the archetypal structures of what Jean Shinoda Bolen called, "The Abandon Child, The Authoritarian Father, and the Disempowered Feminine."

    Under the search of "Jean Shinoda Bolen on my site." One reason the "nav bar" was of good use. If you have a search feature otherwise?

    It's never clear from all appearances, yet there is a deeper understanding of what is culminating in a person's experiential life.

    I follow your thoughts on Bohm for I read him a long time ago too, and somehow it seems fitting that art and communication, might have incorporated "language as a developmental phase" to seeing reality, in new ways?

    Sort of like being initiated into string theory, to help get past some of the blockages that are stopping science from developing further?

  13. Bee:It might not be an universally applicable source of inspiration?

    To Hardy I don't think that mattered one bit. It is just part of the process to understanding how we humans like to fabricate our realities. Yet, there is a universal connection that we have that is a very consistent. One in relation to the artist in us all.

    Namagiri, the consort of the lion god Narasimha. Ramanujan believed that he existed to serve as Namagiri´s champion - Hindu Goddess of creativity. In real life Ramanujan told people that Namagiri visited him in his dreams and wrote equations on his tongue.

    We are the best predictors of ourselves and our experiential conditions that we put forward. A model perhaps in developmental insight as to what we have to do in science?

    So in the psychology......

    If any such resolve is not forthcoming in our "supposed awake reality," then there is a culminating effect that someone(archetypal) is speaking to us to help us resolve these disputes. "Our universality" is there in us all. I see no race religion, or gender.

    So like Jean above we write our own story, and show the affect our experiential life has on the new conditions if not resolved.

    So I apply these things to our current search for understanding the math creation (calculus for Newton)and the derivatives needed to push insight further into "new realms of experience."

    Would you denigrate Calculus as a language to helping you discern the nature of reality? Newton knew he had to do something. Einstein realize it when Grossman was developing a new language, as was Reinmann preparing us from his predecessors, on the issue of "non euclidean geometries?" Gauss was very delighted with his student

  14. To them, I said,
    the truth would be literally nothing
    but the shadows of the images.

    -Plato, The Republic (Book VII)

    I used this quote in "your other thread" for a reason. Images? Think about this for a minute.

    If one can "translate" and transfer the image mathematically for each other, then what has happened? A level of communication not understood before?

    Arthur Miller

    Miller has since moved away from conventional history of science, having become interested in visual imagery through reading the German-language papers of Einstein, Heisenberg and Schrödinger - "people who were concerned with visualization and visualizability". Philosophy was an integral part of the German school system in the early 1900s, Miller explains, and German school pupils were thoroughly trained in the philosophy of Immanuel Kant.

    When I referred to Susskind I did so for a reason as well. This is the culmination of what mathematically is derived. Thus, the image is a culmination, yet, it is only a "shadow of the truth."

    I used Magritte, When is a Pipe a Pipe painting, to illustrate this.

    Hawking shows this in his book as well.

    You have to remember Plato's analogy was even used by Gerardus t'Hooft. See hereand Heisenberg so you are in good company.

    P.A.M. Dirac was a gifted mathematical inventor who saw how quantum mechanics rises from classical mechanics, yet transcends it. Dirac did not know of the Bohr atom when he arrived at Cambridge in 1923; yet he quickly began contributing to the mathematical structure demanded by quantum phenomena, discovering the connection between the Poisson bracket and the commutator of Heisenberg”s matrix representation of observables. Then, with careful attention to its classical antecedent, Dirac found the equation governing the evolution of the matrix elements which had eluded Heisenberg in the operator ihdA/dt = [A,H]. He then went on to discover spinors in describing the relativistic electron and antimatter implied by the quantum in relativistic space-time. Dirac conceived the many-time formulation of relativistic quantum mechanics and laid the foundations of the Feynman path integral thereby opening the way to quantum electrodynamics. Newton synthesized the foundations of classical mechanics. In fitting kinship, Dirac, who did the equivalent for quantum mechanics, filled the chair at Cambridge held by Newton.

    Some people are better suited to visualization then others, and this comes out in some mathematicians and in artists as I had shown you of Escher and Dali. I could never judge Dali for his character an his life, but I can say how important he tried to push the envelope. Maybe for all his indulges, he thought if he could think of the cross and his geometrically tendency he might have found some relation?

    Of course, to Plato this story was just meant to symbolize mankind's struggle to reach enlightenment and understanding through reasoning and open-mindedness. We are all initially prisoners and the tangible world is our cave. Just as some prisoners may escape out into the sun, so may some people amass knowledge and ascend into the light of true reality.

    What is equally interesting is the literal interpretation of Plato's tale: The idea that reality could be represented completely as `shadows' on the walls

  15. Hello, I am just a person who just saw this blog in accident, but can you tell me who is the artist of the paint (man in box). Thank you anyways :D


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