Posts Tagged ‘June Kaminski’

5
Jul

Updates from PAG

   Posted by: pegasus    in Updates

Hello Everyone!

Pegasus Artist GalleryWelcome to the new PAG Blog. This blog replaces the previous “What’s New” section of the Pegasus Art Gallery.

As most of you know, the PAG has been in hiatus for quite some time now, at least as far as administration goes. I am finishing my PhD this year, which takes up all of my time, other than my full time job, my small businesses, my research and writing, and my huge family (and not necessarily in that order)!

To streamline the time necessary to maintain and develop the PAG, I have elected to make some changes. I am going to focus my time with the PAG solely on adding new members, taking care of current members, and maintaining this blog. To that end, I have decided to discontinue some features, notably:

a) The PAG Awards are now retired – past winners are still honored on our pages though.

b) The Artist of the Week voting poll is now discontinued.

c) The Pick of the Week award will be changed to Pegasus’ Pick, with no time constraints – it will be given as I see fit.

d) New artist Ring and Virtual Gallery additions will be kept to a minimum.

e) The Tools and Resources section has been discontinued (it was horribly out of date) – resources will now be posted here on this blog.

All the best,

June

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5
Jul

Designing Aesthetic and Functional Art Sites

   Posted by: pegasus    in Art Business

by June Kaminski, 2008

Art SitesThe artist explosion on the web is quite phenomenal really. It is a rare artist who hasn’t at least thought of opening an online gallery. When done right, this can be a very viable way to market their art. You, as a designer can help artists achieve their goal by creating aesthetic and eye-pleasing environments to showcase their own artistic masterpieces.

Ethics and Art

When I talk to artists about putting their work online, the most consistent barrier identified is the problems of protecting their art from theft. It is up to you, the designer to show your prospective artist clients how you can protect them from unlawful downloads and image or sound piracy. The ethical considerations of copyright, reserved rights, and protection from infringement are crucial for the design and development of any artist site, whether it features the art of one artist or hundreds.

Why do people “steal” art off of the web? The answer is not as simple as it would seem. Some people, especially those who are new to the web are not aware that downloading someone else’s work without permission IS stealing. They figure, if it is online, it is fair game. Others might think it is okay to even display your work on their own websites! Others might be so enthralled with the beauty and masterfulness of the art itself, that they can’t resist downloading a copy for personal viewing. Still others, do this fully knowing that it is wrong, but they figure they can get away with it. All of these people are acting unethically according to copyright law.

The first defence against copyright infringement is a clear copyright statement. You need to include a discrete but clearly visible statement on each page of your client’s site, indicating copyright entitlement and that downloading or reproduction without permission is not allowed. Make this very clear, right from the start.

Disabling right-click downloading of images can deter some downloading, especially by people who are new to the web. However, this is only a moderately successful maneuver, since many know how to get around this precaution. As well, if someone stumbles across your graphics while doing an “Image” search in Google, the no right-click code is no longer in operation, hence the protection is gone. Browsers like Mozilla Fox are not affected by the standard no right-click scripts either. This precaution may also offend some visitors, since it blatantly shows that the owner assumes that some if not all visitors are thieves.

Another way to protect art is to include a digital watermark within the image itself. While this does not stop people from downloading the image, it does render the image less usable by the download offender. This can easily be done in Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro or Corel Photo-Paint, to name a few popular graphic programs.

Certain programs like Java or Flash offer some deterrent to would-be art downloaders, since they make access to the graphics less straightforward. But, the expert viewer may well be able to contend with even this protection, and know how to access your Flash embedded images.

Last, but not least, use low resolution graphics on the web. This will discourage printing of images since the quality will be grainy and low quality. The web only supports 72 dpi resolution anyway, so the graphics will still look fine on the web.

Getting to the Heart – The Gallery

When one thinks of an art site, the primary section that comes to mind is usually the Gallery. This is the heart of any visual art site and demands prime consideration. When designing the art site, it is important to consider how the owner will maintain it. This will of course entail gallery updates as new art is ready to be published. Unless the artist is experienced in working with html and other code, or is planning to hire someone (perhaps you?) to maintain the site, it is best to choose an easy, user-friendly gallery setup. So what are your choices?

1. You can hand code the gallery, setting up partitions using java windows or tables within a page to display the images. Usually a thumbnail approach works best. Viewers can click on the smaller image to view a larger one if attracted. This would entail some experience to maintain since each new image would need to be added to the code.

2. PHP scripted Galleries can be used such as Softbix Photo Gallery Script, which retails at $35; or the free scripts, Lin PHA or QDig (Quick Digital Image Gallery), both from SourceForge; or the Snaps! Gallery from the Sonic Group (also freeware); or PopPhoto Studio which combines a sophisticated gallery setup combined with e-commerce and shopping cart tools for online art sales (retails for $65). All of these gallery suggestions offer easy to maintain protocol for gallery maintenance, and require MySQL and PHP server capabilities.

3. Javascript based Galleries are also available: some suggestions include Jalbum a free web photo album generator that works nicely for art as well (is freeware). This album design is very easy for the artist to maintain on their own. Image Studio retails for $19, and offers unique interfaces for gallery showcasing.

4. Flash-based Galleries offer an advantage to artists by offering more protection against image theft than other methods, especially for viewers that are not savvy to web coding. The (tl) Image Gallery by Tobias Lauchenauer is a freeware Flash MX 2004 based gallery; or the fully customizable Flash Photo Gallery by Hoover Web Design (costs $50); or the versatile Photo Graffix Flash Image Display System (retails for $54) all offer quite user-friendly maintenance setups and Flash image delivery.

5. CGI and PERL based scripts can also be used to set up a professional looking Gallery. Some examples include: Mojo Gallery (retails for $59) and is useful for multimedia display as well; and the clean looking, simple to use and versatile emAlbum (costs $25).

The Bottom Line – Selling Art

Artists have different reasons for wanting an online art site, but the number one reason is usually to attract art sales. The best solution is to combine e-commerce and shopping cart capabilities with the gallery. This can be done by hand using a number of third party payment services such as PayPal or you can use integrated software. For instance, Lightbox Photo software acts as both a gallery or stock library combined with user registration, instant downloads and secure payment processing (retails for $399 to $599). As mentioned above, PopPhoto Studio also offers these capabilities and only costs $65.

Putting the Aesthetics into Art Sites

Once you have selected the type of support code or software to use, the next step is the design of an aesthetic environment for the art. Don’t just depend on the art itself for visual appeal. To fully present your artist client in a professional and appealing way, thought and creativity need to be applied to decide on the best visual representation for this particular artist and their genre of work. Spend time with your client to get to know them; request input from them to decide the best color scheme; font styles; graphical interface; basic layout, and so on. A good rule of thumb is to go for the “simple but elegant” approach if you want viewers to stay put and actually view all of the art. Make the experience enjoyable not boring. Also, keep the code clean so that everything works smoothly like clock work. If viewers click on one or two deadlinks accompanied by freezing popups – they are not going to stay! Check and double check your code before launching the final version. Usability is a big part of aesthetics!

Artists are excellent clients to add to your portfolio – they often network with other artists, so if they like the work you do for them you can probably count on referrals. One thing leads to another and before you know it, you have carved a niche!

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5
Jul

Cyberart as Psychological Tool

   Posted by: pegasus    in Art Theory, News

by June Kaminski, 2005

“In a sense looking for art on the Web is art on the Web, much like the gesture of a painter searching a canvas for a vision”

- Ben Davis, The Getty Information Institute

CyberartVygotsky’s theory of psychological tools postulates that tools are used by humans to learn, develop and master themselves. Language systems, writing, diagrams, maps, mnemonic techniques, art, schemas, counting systems, teaching styles, maps and conventional signs are all examples of recognized psychological tools (Wertsch, 1991; Chandler, 2001). “What is most important to learn from others are those “psychological tools” that human societies have invented to allow individuals to deal effectively with each other and the world. (Phillips and Soltis, 1998, p. 59) Tools transform thought, involve different cognitive skills, and can even influence the history of a culture.

“These cultural or psychological tools themselves are central to human thought and development; they are the means through which children internalize cultural knowledge and exercise their own mentation. Because these tools are central to thinking and are social in origin, they are necessarily part of culturally-rooted cognitive development” (Smagorinsky, p.1). Psychological tools link mind to other minds, and help the mind to find value and meaning within both cultural and learning contexts. Higher mental functioning such as memory, perception and attention are products of mediated activity.

Psychological tools such as art, or specifically, cyberart serve as mediators for this mental activity. Cyberart has been defined as any art created using a computer though some would stretch this to include any art that is displayed via a computer. My definition will include the two of these combined – I wish to look at any art that is visible by viewing a web browser, but particularly art that is digitally rendered.

I wish to focus my project in a visual graphical way on the use of cyberart mediums as psychological tools for gaining experience and for learning. Since art is both perceptual and psychological, my expression of this tenet will be both expressive and analytical. I propose to create a web-based visual montage of cyberart and its meaning as a psychological tool.

I will use diverse methods to express the characteristics of cyber art and what meaning it might have to a viewer and/or creator in shaping psychological context and meaning within the web environment. I will apply graphic design and text to express my finished project. The finished project will be a dynamic presentation of the merged concepts of art -cyberart – psychological meaning – creative expression- archetypes – learning exhibited in cyberart and so on.

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References

Chandler, S. (2001). Living and learning ideas II. http://www.msu.edu/~dwong/CEP900/LL2/SherriLL2.htm

Phillips, D. and Soltis, P. (1998). Perspectives on Learning. New York, N.Y.: Teachers College Press.

Smagorinsky, P. (n.d) The social construction of data: Methodological problems of investigating learning in the zone of proximal development. http://psych.hanover.edu/vygotsky/smagor.html

Wertsch, J. V. (1991). Voices of the mind: A sociocultural approach to mediated action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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5
Jul

Pathos of signs/symbols in topos virtualis

   Posted by: pegasus    in Art Theory, News

Pathosby June Kaminski, 2006

Like most people who use art for self expression and a sense of connection, I began my artistic journey using traditional mediums: oils, water-colours, acrylics, pastels. In 1998, the world of digital art opened up to me in two concrete ways: I began to explore the creation of art pieces using a number of available digital art programs. I also took over the ownership of a thriving globally-based online art community, Pegasus Art Gallery. This community of excellent artists includes painters, sculptors, textile artists, leather workers, and illustrators who together bring a deep richness of expression to the virtual landscape. These two events catalyzed a stream of ongoing reflections that have shaped my own artistic expression for the past eight years.

This expressive journey has led me to explore how people respond to and find meaning in visual art that was created using digital software, and then displayed within the virtual landscape. Over the years, I have found it intriguing to receive various responses from viewers of my online work, since many have a common theme – that the art they witnessed stirred them in some way: by bringing up forgotten memories, or sparking a regurgitation of symbols and images that they themselves had dreamed, envisioned during meditation, or that simply felt ‘familiar’. This was not surprising really, since common symbols and images used in my work are mythical or symbolic in nature, including geometric and ‘sacred’ signs that have been used by many cultures since antiquity.

As I embarked on my PhD study, the world of signs entered my consciousness, particularly literary and artistic signs. Berger defined images as “collections of signs and symbols” which have a powerful effect on people (1989, p. 38). An attempt to create a language to address these signs is evident in the study of semiotics, or essentially, the study of systems of signs (Stephens, 1998; Lester, 1994). The theory purports that images are a collection of signs that viewers cognitively link together in some meaningful way. “Images are stimuli that activate us by setting off the appropriate responsive chord….they exploit what is already in our heads, the cultural lore we have stored up from our education and experiences.” (Wertsch, 1991, p.66).

This spurred a train of thought and reflection.

The virtual is that which is not real but displays the qualities of the real….how then is pathos catalyzed within the topos virtualis?

Can visual signs/symbols awaken pathos, even compassion? …..empathy? ….kinship? ….relatedness? …..connection?……delight?

Perhaps even a stirring of the soul?

Reaching past the aged boundaries of reason, to the inner state of being?

Pathos Awakens.

.Van Laar and Diepeveen described an emerging group of artists who are seen as leaders of social, political and spiritual healing. “Some artists believe their work can express transcendent truths that accomplish social healing. They try to operate as priests, mediating between people and the harshness of the physical, social, and spiritual environment” (1998, p. 63). This model is rooted in the ancient practice of shamanism, where leaders combined the roles of healer, priest, psychiatrist, magician and artist. These artists use their creativity to attempt to reveal mystical truths. To spark an inner chord in the heart and soul of the viewer. The abundant mass of mystical art work available online is a tribute to these artists. Countless artists create artwork that reflect their own vision of a more spiritual, mystical existence and share these with viewers in the online topos. They work to both move and inspire their viewers, to cultivate a thirst for the metaphysical and spiritual aspects of life, to touch the heart and widen the mind..

This spurred me to consider the humanistic tradition of looking at art which helps the viewer to perceive the symbolic meaning within the art form. During this process, people perceive how individual artists interact with the viewer through the visual form and present ideas that are embodied in the work. The artist is the source of these ideas. The work is the medium carrying the message. The viewer receives and experiences the symbolic imagery inherent in the work to complete the communication cycle.

The Rise of Visual Culture.

.The visual is a strong field that demands examination, a place where class, gender, sexual and racial identities are presented and can be debated, distilled and embellished. In this contemporary age of the visual, a new form of culture, visual culture is prevalent. The notion of visual culture was particularly interesting to me, since society has suddenly become immersed in an extremely rich, often chaotic ensemble of visual images and messages delivered through a variety of technological mediums..

“Visual culture is concerned with visual events in which information, meaning or pleasure is sought by the consumer in an interface of visual technology” (Mirzoeff, 1998, p. 3). Mirzoeff qualified his definition by explaining that visual technology includes any object created to enhance natural vision, from oil paintings to the Internet.

Visual culture is dependent on the contemporary tendency to picture or visualize existence. The world of the 21st century is no longer understood as text, or as a book. Everyday life is rich in visual stimuli, graphic representations of real objects and even concepts. A distinction of our times is “the visualization of things that are not in themselves visual.” (Mirzoeff, 1998, p. 6). Visual culture theory views art, including digital art as visual artefacts. People interact with these artefacts, often in an unconscious way, continually bombarded by icons, logos, moving images and all manner of artistic expression.

Researchers of visual culture examine the type of relationships which emerge between the producers and the consumers of visual culture (Barnard, 1998). Often works of art and graphic design have been used to challenge the dominant societal culture, though it is also true that much actually reproduces or supports social order. “New media present new challenges for negotiating meaning through sensory input by providing new types of experiences and forms of art production and consumption” (Jackson, 1999, p. 314).

Pathos Deciphered

Carroll observed, “Metaphorically speaking, art humanizes the world for us – it presents things to us in a humanly approachable way. It enables us to explore the world of feeling, its contours and its possibilities.” (1999, p. 104). He went further to describe art as a means for engendering aesthetic experiences. Lyas (1997) echoed Carroll’s views and went further to bemoan the careless treatment of aesthetics in modern education and the media. He described aesthetics as marginalized, as viewed as an optional extra despite the fact that “we know that our encounters with art and nature go not merely wide but also deep, and moreover, go as deep as anything in our lives can go” (Lyas, 1997, p.2).

Fisher (1997) wrote about the visual as well as the haptic perceptual sense used to engage with and experience art forms. “I am interested in clarifying how the haptic sense works with the visual sense in aesthetic experience, as well as in understanding how both are implicated in each other. While the visual gives trajectories – sightlines – between the viewer and the surfaces of art, the haptic defines the affective charge – the felt dimensionality – of a spatial content” (p. 5). Fisher further clarified that the haptic sense is comprised of the tactile, kinesthetic and proprioceptive senses which functions by contiguity, contact and resonance. Once thought of as a proximal sense, elicited only when the body’s surface sensors feel something touching it, Fisher describes it as a distal sense as well. She muses that the haptic sense perceives objects more distant than the boundaries of the skin’s surface. It is affective in nature, a “plane of feeling distinct from actual physical contact” (p.6). According to Fisher, both the visual and haptic senses contribute significantly to aesthetic experience. With the advent of new media technologies, aesthetic experience can incorporate stimuli that appeal and engage both of these senses as well as auditory input.

“New media technologies are redefining the role of aesthetics in the next century. Within this context, emerging forms of art, such as new media, require aesthetic articulation just as painting and architecture do. The field of contemporary aesthetics is enjoying a revival of interest in light of contemporary discourses in art theory, cultural studies and critical theory (among other areas of inquiry). Aesthetics focuses on how ideas are formed, shared and contested through the senses.

Terra(gen)forming the topos virtualis

Recently I discovered an interesting open source software called Terragen that can be used to create very realistic landscape art. This program is unique – to create the landscape, the artist renders topographic-like maps of the terrain and substrata; adjusts water levels, wave height and murkiness; atmosphere; solar intensity, colour and angle, and cloud density and appearance. The creative exercise becomes a breath-taking affair as one experiments with light and shadow, wave and sun, to create a vision of the earth before industrialization, even before civilization. Pure, untouched, pristine. Ironically, working with this digital program has shifted my artistic focus to the expression of nature untouched by industry and technology. Coinciding with the discovery of this new digital playground, I discovered the writings of Michael Cohen which are focused on ecological psychology or in his words, “reconnecting with nature”.

As I worked with the program, and created new landscape after landscape, I began to wonder if the presentation of these pure earthly visions could help to spark a love for the Earth and for nature in viewers. As I also read Cohen, this notion seemed to take flight. Yet, somehow, I felt like a traitor, since these landscapes were not “real” – not even photographs of the actual topos, but mere imitations. Still, I noticed what they did to my own inner perception – they made me think about what the earth and nature COULD look like, USED TO look like, before industrialization. Perhaps visions of these possibilities could somehow move myself and others to consider them possible, and more importantly, consider them imperative.

“Industrial society lives by a story that guides us to separate from nature and our natural senses” (Cohen, 1997, p. 71). “Human beings learn to survive as conscious beings. We train ourselves to know the world by what appears on our personal screen” (p. 37). “The stories our thinking creates about life and each other are radically different when we are connected to the natural world” (p. 124).

“As we reconnect with nature and validate our experiences, new stories and images appear on our screen of consciousness” (Cohen, 1997, p. 125). “Our most challenging problems result from the difference between natural ways and the nature – separating thinking of our industrial society” ( p. 67).

My reflections brought up many questions, such as:

Can virtual signs of the integrity and purity of the natural topos fuel a craving for connection and even a drive for restoration?

Can the representation ever come close to the what is?

Is Deleuze accurate? Is the virtual a potential state that could become actual?

Or are these signs nothing but imitations of an active inner vision?

Can we delve between the seams of the actual and the virtual topos to open new eyes for the mystery and fragility of the real?

Mimesis, the notion that art is imitation evolved from classical Greek philosophy, perpetuating the idea that art reflects the world. Aristotle also recognized that art can shape the world. Contemporary artists realize that art can be used to change the world, or our perceptions of it. In essence, art reflects belief systems. “The contours of a belief system are directly and indirectly influenced by such cultural factors as education, religion, family, gender, race, ethnicity, tradition and social class” (Van Laar & Diepeveen, 1998, p. 31). Whether consciously or unconsciously, all art and visual design makes a statement about the artist’s belief system and elicits a response from the belief system of the viewer.

No matter what the context, visual messages are often composed with purpose: to tell, express, describe, direct, explain, affect, or to inspire.

Could the signs within the virtual detour to the inner landscapes?…stir the imagination?…spark an alignment?…stimulate pathic-affective knowing?

Can signs of outer topos lead to a renewed sense of connection with it?

Pathos Catalyzed

Carter (2000) recommended that artists take time to view and absorb the techniques and compositions of other artists and designers, in all sorts of mediums and contexts: books, web sites, menus, music CDs, packaging, illustration, media advertisements and so on. Poynor (1998) wrote about the importance of paying attention to scholarly criticisms and theories related to design. He acknowledged the swift changes that have occurred in the visual design world with the advent of new media, and urged artisans to stay abreast of these changes, welcoming the new flexibility and options into their expressive repertoire. This has strong implications for educators who use art within the learning milieu.. “Some of the most challenging new design is being forged at the controversial interface of theory and practice, education and the profession. Design fuels reflection and the process of research and reflection, in turn, feeds back into design” (p. 27-28).

Paying attention to the critical positions and theories of researchers and scholars can afford critical insight and judgment in artists. Designing visual as well as multimedia materials, incorporating words, sounds and images takes great sensitivity and skill. It is necessary to learn to design materials that will serve and appeal to diverse groups, using visual language that they will both understand and relate to. Theorists emphasize that artists need to recognize and work within the context of their audience. Visual design for this era should be inclusive and multicultural yet adhere to the highest aesthetic, conceptual and technical standards. Yet, most importantly, it must genuinely touch the heart and the soul, if pathos is the goal.


References

Barnard, M. (1998). Art, design and visual culture: An introduction. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Berger, A. (1989). Seeing is believing: An introduction to visual communication. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing.

Carroll, N. (1999). Philosophy of art: A contemporary introduction. New York: Routledge.

Carter, D. (ed.) (2000). The big book of design ideas. Hong Kong: Everbest.

Cohen, M. (1997). Reconnecting with nature:Finding wellness by restoring your bond with the earth. Corvallis, OR: Ecopress.

Fisher, J. (1997). Relational sense: Towards a haptic aesthetics. Parachute, 87, July – September, p. 4 – 11.

Lester, P. N. (1994). Syntactic theory of visual communication, part 1. Retrieved September 14, 2006 from http://commfaculty.fullerton.edu/lester/writings/viscomtheory.html

Lyas, C. (1997). Aesthetics. London, UK: University College London.

Mirzoeff, N. (ed). (1998). Visual culture reader. New York: Routledge.

Stephens, M. (1998). The rise of the image the fall of the word. New York: Oxford University Press.

Van Laar, T. & Diepeveen, L. (1998). Active sights: Art as social interaction. Toronto: Mayfield Publishing.

Wertsch, J. V. (1991). Voices of the mind: A sociocultural approach to mediated action. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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