Thursday, October 25, 2007

Contemporary - Contd.

Some while ago, I mentioned that PI's lobby featured a painting by the Canadian artist Elizabeth McIntosh that didn't impress me all that much:

Fortunately, it turned out it was not yet purchased. Since everybody who I talked to in this building didn't like the painting either, it wasn't all that difficult to get rid of it:

Now we have been blessed with a new painting from the same artist.

If it has a title, I don't know it. As far as I am concerned, it is a significant improvement over the previous one. Just that I don't know what this one is supposed to tell me either. I mean, if we want triangulations on our walls, I would prefer a large print of the Loops '05 poster, which I find has higher artistic value.

But I am just an ignorant layperson with an unqualified opinion. Yesterday, I asked some colleagues what they think about the new painting. I got eyes rolled to heaven, and somebody who I don't want to name said it looks like color exercises in high school. The only association I had standing in front of the painting was the price for silver acrylic color. (It's hard to see on the photo, but the lighter shapes on the right side are silver).

See also: Art and Communication


  1. Alternatively, Mike Lazaridis could play a big LCD panel and play the spin foam animation over and over. ;-)

  2. The security guys are sitting on a desk directly opposite to the wall on the photo. I guess if you have to look at this video a whole day, over and over, you come close to knowing what it feels like being a mathematical structure ;-)

  3. Output of a modest artist with much to be modest about. Here's meaningful, aesthetically pleasing physicist art. Transport series by Eric J. Heller.

  4. Fully agree with you Bee,

    The pics are "möchtegern" art.

    The first looks like 3 men with fancy-colored socks standing in at a pissoir designed by Miro.

    see Miro's pic:Garden, Joan Miró (1893-1983)



  5. Hi Klaus:

    :-) Well. Maybe the painting works on some wall, but I honestly don't like it on this wall. I think the problem is that PI has hired a professional to select some paintings. She, however, has several artists under contract and basically tries to sell their paintings. I have no doubt she knows what she is doing. The question is tho whose benefit. Among other things she claims this wall needs something large and colorful. Problem is, colorful in the way she seems to have it in mind just doesn't go with the whole building - which is mostly in decent ochre (hardwood), lighter and darker greyshades, with a lot of glass. I keep wondering why we need anything at this wall to begin with. I would even prefer to just take the PI logo - in my opinion this logo is pretty much ingenious. Either way. To be honest, I am probably just jealous because I can't paint on canvas that size, and if I did, nobody would be willing to pay several thousand bucks for it. Best,


  6. Hi Uncle:

    Thanks for the link, that is a great picture! Too bad Heller's gallery returns only an error message. There are some more pics here on this website.

    Stefan, look at this, do you recall the black hole production? Looks to me as if Heller choose the stepsize somewhat too large, his curves look rather bumpy to me. But his color choice is somewhat more courageous.



  7. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Some modern art as a metaphor for modern theoretical physics...

  8. Maybe it's not coincidental that Leonard Susskind has been hired by Perimeter.

  9. Elizabeth has A "Cross modal Problem?" :)

    "That is, the stimulation of one sensory modality reliably causes a perception in one or more different senses."

    ....while she mixes up "dynamical triangulation" Quantum gravity and the "colour of gravity," by painting "different colours."

    While I give "the picture a name" I just thought I could push where these ideas manifested? The direct link is here.

    Probably just more "esoteric bullshit:)" Artists can be like that, and Poets too?:)

  10. Kris Krogh: Maybe it's not coincidental that Leonard Susskind has been hired by Perimeter.

    Hired as "what" and for "what?" :)

  11. Kris, I don't think anybody at PI has ever been hired coincidentally.

  12. With apologies to all those who are annoyed by word-verification: we've had an incredible amount of spam comments since yesterday evening, and I had to turn it on again. Sorry about that,


  13. Plato,

    Don't know. Maybe Suskind's hiring is inertia, like that painting.

    One difference between modern art and theoretical physics: The art community has gone beyond abstraction for the sake of abstraction.

  14. It's pathetic that after getting rid of one painting that nobody liked, they (whoever they is) would pick a quasi-isomorphic painting by the same artist. The new one is better: the first one violated every rule of art, chopping the composition awkwardly in two with an arbitrary horizontal line near the bottom. But --- the new one is still not actually good. The empty black wall was better. You should stage a revolt, and get the artist that Uncle Al recommended - or anyone else with a sense of style.

  15. Dear Bee,

    Stefan, look at this, do you recall the black hole production? Looks to me as if Heller choose the stepsize somewhat too large, his curves look rather bumpy to me.

    Thanks for the pointer :-). There is more information about the figure on the artist's website. It is "a stroboscopic record of a collision between four diatomic molecules, a tetra-atomic molecule, and an atom", so it is produced in a way very similar to these qMD artwork - other particles, other potential, but otherwise essentially the same. And yes, the time step seems to be quite big, that's why the bumps.

    But I have to say there are other great pictures by the artist (actually, a Professor of Chemistry and of Physics at Harvard) I like much more.

    BTW, what is the actual size of this new painting at the PI?

    Best, Stefan

  16. This commercial aired in 2004


    Come on guys

    [ this is Dewayne Washington of the Pittsburgh Steelers ]

    This is my favorite painting

    [ Dewayne helps the United Way build stronger communities by supporting afterschool programs for kids ]

    Based on traditional thinking, he was considering surrealist abstract thinking, yet classical form, was how the French interpreted the movement

    8-year old girl:
    That looks like spaghetti!

    [ ummm. spaghetti. ]

  17. well, the abstraction would likely be pouring a bowl with spaghetti on the canvas, covering it with plenty of transparently drying glue, and calling it 'The mysterious amateur' (title created by randomly opening a thesaurus).

    Hi Stefan,

    I would estimate the size to roughly 2.5 x 1.8 m or so. It's really a large painting, this is apparently why it's not so easy to get a replacement. A smaller painting absolutely wouldn't work on this wall. Best,



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