22 February 2008

Glorious holiday

Rose, her daughter, the dog, and I are buggering off up to the Coromandel tomorrow. We'll get back next weekend. Oh happy day!

21 February 2008

Something in Auckland to go to

19 February 2008

A false dichotomy

Rose and I were walking along the waterfront on our way to somewhere or other one evening a wee while ago. It was the twilight time when some colours get really intense (cos our eyes have got both rods and cones).

We were walking past a certain public sculpture, and Rose remarked on how good it looked. I mentioned that the colours were indeed really good, especially against that background, but that I still didn't like it. When asked why, I said something like 'Native plants made out of number 8 wire? Come on!' She responded with something like 'You're not very visual at all! It's all about the ideas for you.'

Needless to say, I was a little put out by this. It wasn't until later that I realised I don't really distinguish between the two. One of the reasons I don't like the term 'conceptual art' is that it implies that there's such a thing as 'non-conceptual art', which is nonsense. It's a false dichotomy, one that derives from Duchamp's silly comment about 'retinal' versus 'intellectual' art (which was his excuse for being such a crap painter).

I've even heard people assert that you can only think with words, which is patently not the case. (Incidentally, I have a theory that this misconception gave rise to other misconceptions, such as a belief in souls and the afterlife – if you conceive of your 'self' as your thoughts, and you conceive of your thoughts as disembodied words, then it's no great leap to the idea that when you die the disembodied words remain.)

We're extremely visual animals. The human body is designed around getting our eyes up off the ground. (Hmm, I probably shouldn't use the word 'designed', as it implies a designer, but you know what I mean.) And then there's language itself. Just look at some common English phrases: you 'get some perspective', 'take the long view', and 'see things my way'. All of these phrases use seeing to talk about thinking. It'd be interesting to know whether other languages have similar phrases.

I also have a theory about the Great Leap Forward that happened roughly 50,000 years ago. Before this, human material culture was remarkably homogeneous, both in space and time. People made and used the same tools everywhere (i.e. no regional diversity) for tens of thousands of years (i.e. no cultural development). Then all of a sudden there was both regional diversity and cultural development. Conventional thinking tends to ascribe this to the development of language. However, I reckon that, rather than language allowing art to develop, it was the other way around: art allowed language to develop.

Take the earliest known art. You'll note the scientists mention that the maker needed 'fully syntactical language' to explain what it represents. What they don't say is that the maker doesn't need language to make it.

Let's say that every day you take a stone to a certain place to carry out a certain task and then discard the stone. Sitting idly staring at the pile of stones one day, you realise that each stone represents a day you've come here (maybe you'd been snacking on some local mushrooms, ha ha). Now, keeping track of days is really useful for a hunter-gatherer, but you can't carry a pile of stones round with you. Then one day you see a bunch of marks left in the dirt by some other activity. Aha! How about, every day, you make a mark on a bit of ochre?

Then you've got to explain yourself to the nongs around you. We've been trying to do this ever since.

18 February 2008


On Friday, my day job had an 'away day'. This is where you go somewhere else for the day (businesses even specialise in holding these kind of events!), listen to some speakers, eat over-priced bland food, and take part in some exercises, including some that are alleged to be 'fun' but that of course have an underhanded manipulative purpose.

Of the notes that I took during the day, this is my favourite:

14 February 2008

13 February 2008

11 February 2008

More idle sketching

06 February 2008

Do I have 'idiot' written on my forehead?

Oh yeah, I do:

05 February 2008


visitors since 29 March 2004.