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Focus Group Art 115

KillBot writes "What's the most pleasing image to casual art viewers? Two deer and a hippopotamus in a mountain lake on a partly cloudy day with people relaxing near the shore. According to a survey of 1,001 adults by two Russian artists, they like wild animals, water, ordinary people having fun and the color blue. And this made me laugh, the most unwanted painting shows randomly scattered, overlapping triangles and rectangles in shades of gold, orange, peach and tea. Nando Times is carrying the full story. "
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Focus Group Art

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  • They also did a CD based on similar criteria to the paintings -- surveys as to what people liked and disliked in music. It's a damn hilarious release... indescribable really. It should be somewhere on their website.

  • by pi31415 ( 60856 ) on Saturday November 13, 1999 @06:12AM (#1536163) Homepage
    See the paintings [] here.
  • The point is that there are a lot of artists who are seriously out of touch with the kind of art that ordinary people want to have around them.

    Isn't this a little old, by the way? I remember hearing about the survey months and months ago.
  • ...that french painting had the animals dressed up like george washington.
  • The U.S. painting, based on a sampling of 1,001 adults nationwide, shows two deer and a hippopotamus in a mountain lake on a partly cloudy day with people relaxing near the shore. A small image of George Washington in period costume was included because people like pictures of famous people almost as much as those of ordinary people.

    I can't figure if the story behind the events depicted in this painting is a Kilgore Trout-esque sci-fi tale, or an intricate alternate history... America's founding fathers struggle in the pristine (but uncharacteristically exotic, I suppose, to get the hippo in there. Genetic mutation, maybe?) wilderness. I see Washington, Jefferson, and, heck, how about Lincoln and DDE, fighting off attack giraffes for God and country, in the style of Clan of the Cave Bear.

    Think it'll fly?

  • I remember an article on this in the UK's Sunday Times newspaper at least 5 years ago.
  • The most wanted paintings look like some sort of landscape generator gone bad. Water in background. Mountains behind water (same angle on many of them). And the blaringly obvious 'large object on left coming in at 45 degree angle to ground'. And what painting would be complete without 'tree near right'.

    Insert assorted mammals, and you have a winner!
  • I saw something on TV (sorry can't remember where, probably VH1 or MTV ;-) about two Russian "scientists" who did a big survey to produce the "most preferred" and "least preferred" music. Well, the TV show people took both tapes into a local club and first played the "desirable" tape. (It was kinda schmoozy pop style music). The crowd danced and grooved and seemed to like it. Then they put on the horrible disonant annoying (gongs, opera, etc.) tape...and the (somewhat drunk) crowd looked puzzled for a moment and then started dancing and grooving to that, with the same glazed drunken looks as before. Quite funny.

    The russian guys were all excited about having produced "democratic" music. gag me with a tuning fork, their "ideal" music pretty much sucked.
  • by pq ( 42856 ) <rfc2324&yahoo,com> on Saturday November 13, 1999 @06:38AM (#1536171) Homepage
    The point is that there are a lot of artists who are seriously out of touch with the kind of art that ordinary people want to have around them.

    I'd have to disagree... artists might be out of touch with the kind of pretty pictures that people want on their walls, but that's not really the purpose of Art with a capital A... Art should challenge viewers, produce a reaction - if it also happens to be pretty enough to enjoy on a wall, so much the better, but that is not its primary purpose, I'd say...

    And this exhibit tells you exactly why this is true: left to his/her own tastes, the mythical Average Person chooses remarkably similar things, as dictated by some atavistic primate brain's comfort level. This is exactly what Art should seek to challenge!

    Unfortunately, this makes Art an elite pursuit, but its always been true that things like high art and pure science are luxuries available only after basic needs are met: people painted in caves only after they'd finished hunting that antelope.

    Then again, I'm a scientist/engineer - so what do I know about art?

  • I think that there are different, contradictory points that you can draw from this. The 'most wanted' paintings are pretty bad, IMHO, but I thought that the least wanted ones were much more interesting.

  • I remember that too. i think it was a couple of years ago though.

  • The point is that there are a lot of artists who are seriously out of touch

    That is most emphatically NOT the point. You are missing several layers of irony.
  • A similar survey held in the Netherlands several years ago showed that the Netherlands is one of the few places where the casual viewer preferred an abstract style. The 'avarage favourite' painting made for the Dutch was an abstract piece with cheerful colours and friendly round shapes.

    The painting the casual viewer in the Netherlands would HATE most was also made: a horrible (awful! terrible!) landscape, painted in a messy style, and containing a fruitbowl and a portrait of Bill Clinton. Apparently contemporary celebrities, landscapes, still-lifes and a messy painting style were what the Dutch dislike most.
  • by ufdraco ( 78193 ) on Saturday November 13, 1999 @07:00AM (#1536177)
    If these paintings [] [credit pi31415 for the link] are all that the people had a chance to look at, no wonder they gravitated to the "landscape with water, animals, people and the color blue." That's almost all that was there! The only other types of paintings available were "geometric shapes,""yellow house scene," and "something with elvis." That's not very representative, IMHO.

    What about Dali with his weird distorted objects? What about some indoor scene? What about a sunset?

    There isn't much detail on how this "study" was done, but it appears to me to not have been particularly well done--unless there are details I'm not aware of.

  • by Foogle ( 35117 )
    My favorite artwork is... Propaganda!

    Actually, in all seriousness, some of the propaganda tiles are *really* nice to look at. If I had the energy or the inclination, I might pick a favorite, tile it, and then have some wallpaper (actual wallpaper, not the computer kind) made for my computer room... That would be tres cool, although probably a little psycho.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • People's reactions to art, which can be quite strong, are nevertheless conditioned by a number of factors they are probably not aware of. Anyone interested in the way taste is constructed might want to read Distinction by French anthropologist Pierre Bourdieu (Eng trans edition in print).

    Class, status, and educational background play a strong role in conditioning what we like and don't like in our art. Bourdieu's results are similar to the artists': The majority of the populace, being middle class and of average education, likes pictures of animals, water, sunsets, children, people relaxing, etc. A group with higher education prefers more abstract images. Above all, each group hates what the other likes. According to Bourdieu, the elites shun what is associated with inferior taste, while the lower- and middle- classes hate what would be prohibited from them anyway. (Remember that enjoying art is never simply a neutral aesthetic experience: there is a whole language of appreciation that must be learned and which can therefore be controlled and restricted.)

    To make a point, I have simplified Bourdieu's presentation. His data, on French subjects, cover a wide range of very finely-subdivided social groups. Furthermore, I believe we must leave some room for personal beliefs that are not entirely conditioned by cultural forces. Overall, though, one must agree that social and cultural factors over which a subject may have little or no control condition his or her ``appreciation'' of art to a significant extent.

  • "Their project is also a thinly veiled commentary on polling and what some might call the tyranny of the majority"

    I'm a little unsure as to what they mean by this. What other standard do you hold art to? Should we hang whatever art the minority would have us hang in our galleries? Or should it be "even", one half representational, one half abstract? This would strike me as tyranny of the minority--the notion that those few psuedo-intellectual artists have a better idea of what should be consumed than the majority is a bit disturbing. There is nothing stopping those rare few artists from displaying their own work on their own dollar.

    This is not to say that I believe that the whim of the majority should be the only voice, but it is an important one. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons for ignoring the majority. For example, some art is undoubtably an acquired taste, which takes time for significant portions of the public to come around. On the other hand, even if you assume that a particular painting has intrinsic merit, should it be on the dollar of the majority which will never come around to enjoying it....
  • to the monet effect. his works just make my pantaloons tingle.

    i got a few around my home(when im not at college). ill get an original one day =)


  • I have to agree with you there - I love the Propaganda tiles (don't tell JFK, but I even use them on my M$ machines at work). I just hope the new maintainer doesn't screw things up - I've not seen any of his work yet.
  • These guys weren't out to do a serious statistical survey and derive deep meaning from the results.

    They're artists. And their art, in this case, is a statement about everything BUT (good) art.

    I think they make an excellent point on the hazard of buying into groupthink. They're poking fun at most of society, rather like adults poke fun at teenagers who express their unique individualism by all dressing the same.

    But most of all, they're having fun. Yanking some chains. Er, in which case, I suppose, you're supposed to be taking it all so seriously.

    Just remember to laugh at yourself as you do so.
  • Oh god... I couldn't help but laugh out loud as I scrolled down and saw more and more repetitive art, with basically the same motif on both sides of the page. :) That's just too funny...
    "'Is not a quine' is not a quine" is a quine.
  • So, near as i can tell the only countries that don't like the nice "Water in background. Mountains behind water large object on left coming in at 45 degree angle to ground tree near right'" (stolen without permission from billh sorry) are Holland, Italy and Germany. Why these countrys? Why don't they go along with the rest of the mold? Not rhectorical... if anybody knows why, i'm really curious. (Secretly i'm hoping it has something to do with hollands drug use...)
  • ...The Worst Artists!

    Art is by no means a tool to make the majority happy, content or pleased, it's sole purpose is to reflect upon us the mind and soul of it's creator, thus giving us a different prespective to our own.
    If the day that art quality will be valued upon it's popularity will came, we should all be worried for the sake of our society...

    Suprisingly enough - the only decent art piece chosen as most popular was the web one []... and possibly Holland's [] as well
  • This study is useless! They took a survey of allready painted painting - out of these paintings which one do you like the best? The concludion should be - If people are forced to buy a crappy painting they prefer blue and green crappy paintings. Maybe blue and green are less offensive because in our past most everything we saw was blue or green on average (ever hear anyone say "wow - that is a very pretty non-descript blue sky?"). Anyways - to do this prefered painting thing properly requires the application of genetic algorithms. The results would be cool - like that project finding the most attractive face.

    ( Note I origionally wrote .. to buy a cray painting - what does that mean Pysc. people?)
  • by Haven ( 34895 )
    from the me-shakes-head-sadly-dept

    Okay... Hemos ordinarily can't spell, but that is a travesty of the english language.
  • In viewing the paintings and symbolism in the paintings, I've chosen the places I'd be most and least interested in experiencing. Keep in mind, I'm writing this from an open stand point, not knowing a significant amount about any of these countries. Italy - Now that's a vision. It appears that Italians have an amazing sense of humour and appreciation of things abstract. I especially got a kick out of the fact that they dislike Elvis and the Power Rangers and all the hype regarding them. According to the most hated one they appear disinterested in entity's over capitalized in American culture. China seems very sorrowful. In my opinion, blue can be a tranquil serene colour, however if overused it appears very sorrowful. The lack of leaves on the tree represent a sort of emptiness in my view. I can't determine who the smaller picture within a painting is, but it's obviously a well known figure in China. Due to everything else in the picture, it looks like the person has created the universal sorrow. The animal looks content though, drinking the water with a little grass in it's vicinity to much on. According to the most liked painting of Denmark, people of Denmark seem to have great pride in their country and see themselves as being very powerful. The pride is represented by the man holding the flag and the dancers. To me the dancers also represent culture and the arts. The powerful is attributed by the red and orange in the clouds. I can't say much about Holland, though it does interest me that there are such deep colours in the most liked painting and such washed out colours in the most hated painting. The most disliked painting was dull simplistic and conservative, like something my grandma would like or someone really square would like. Holland seems to have an open minded culture and to me appears to be a welcoming place for the generally unwelcome based on the two paintings side by side. I don't have too much to say on Germany, other than I love the black cat and the paintins is very charming. The disliked painting is repulsive. I refuse to go in depth about the US painting mainly because I'm from the US and really don't have a good opinion of it. The painting like the country is dull, simple and lifeless IMHO. I realize I've left some countries out and some paintings out, I just really didn't have an opinion on them. Sorry this was so long. Ciao.
  • Actually, modern art is more democratic than at any time in history. Da vinci needed years of training in painting and anatomy in addition to his inherent talent to paint his pictures because in his unenlightened patriarchal society the people demanded pictures that actually looked like something they couldn't make themselves. Now, these unfair barriers of talent and knowledge have been removed. Thank goodness!
  • There is no picture with both a deer and a hippo.

    You're right, because a hippo and a deer together is ART.

  • by Signal 11 ( 7608 )
    Hey! Art is art - it's 100% taste, and nothing else. It's just like music - some people will like your band, some people won't. Deal with it. If you want to be a pop band, go right ahead - you'll be more popular, but you'll have to sell your soul for it. Witness what happened to Metallica when they switched from their classic music (no, I'm not talking mozart classic, I'm talking about their original brand of music) to 'alternative'. They got more popular, but they alienated their entire fan base.

    Any serious artist already knows it's a hit or miss type of thing - you do it because it's fun, not because you're trying to make money. The former is feasible, the latter will drive you insane if you try too hard. Here's another way of looking at it - if even 1 in a 100 people like your work in the US, you have a market of 2.5 million people.

  • If my two unused moderator points had not just expired, I would have bumped you up a notch as 'Funny'.
  • I couldn't help but laugh out loud as I scrolled down and saw more and more repetitive art, with basically the same motif on both sides of the page.
    It raised deep suspicions in me; if you ask 1001 adults in any country for their favourite painting, you're going to get at least 900 different answers. The only way the answers produced could be gleaned is if our Russian artist chums painted blue landscapes and cubist primary colours, with a few extras thrown in for the pretence of variety.
    If you want a true barometer of people's tastes, check out the art galleries and flea markets that sell full-size prints of existing paintings. How many people have a print of Dali's Elephants? Constable's Haywain?

    On a different topic: fair or not, the world views America as a land obsessed with celebrity. As US culture becomes more dominant throughout the world this attitude is becoming more ubiquitous, but it's hardly suprising to me that your average American would prefer a painting in which they could point out George to visitors. Stereotyping? Possibly.
  • by JohnG ( 93975 )
    I guess you've made a fair comparison, but pop stars aren't about popularity per se, they are about the money that comes with it. Even the producers admit that bands like NSync were just put together because the girls would think they were cute and buy the albums. I don't think too many artists out there are going to do what they do just for money, they have to get some joy from it to be good.
    By the way, when did Metallica switch to 'alternative'? I think you are confused. The definition of Heavy Metal might have changed, and Metallica has definetly evolved as a band, but maturity is a good thing, and they still rock as hard as ever. If you think that typical heavy metal is a band like Korn, then do me a favor. Go look at some Korn tab, they don't have a single song that I can't memorize how to play in like 5 minutes. Then go look at Metallica. The don't have a single riff that I can memorize in 5 minutes.

  • You misunderstood the project. These weren't all the paintings people had to look at; people were given lengthy surveys, and these paintings were created in response to that feedback. The colors in the geometric paintings, for example, were selected from the least desired colors for a particular region's survey results. The study isn't intended to be that serious, but it's not as simplistic as you had thought.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "...the notion that those few psuedo-intellectual artists have a better idea of what should be consumed than the majority is a bit disturbing." Yes it is but you hear that idea everyday on Slashdot. "Those dumb WinDoze users don't know understand the inner beauty of linux and FSF and Open Source. The fools!" Psuedo-intellectual LINUX people picking on the 98/NT masses? Think about it. Ron
  • Well, waddaya know. It's the same survey. Holland least favourite painting [] really is the most awful dog ever to smear the canvas.
  • The People's Choice Music [] project is described at I bought the CD, and wow, the most undesired song is really undesirable! It's funny for the first few minutes, with the alternating cowboy-solo, soprano, and children's choruses going on about holidays ("Veteran's Day! What's there to say? Do all your shopping at Wal-Mart!") and special interest groups ("Sugar! Beef! Bananas! Pork bellies!"). But one facet of unpopular songs is length, and I could only stand it for about 5 of its 25 minutes.

    From the site's description: "The most unwanted music is over 25 minutes long, veers wildly between loud and quiet sections, between fast and slow tempos, and features timbres of extremely high and low pitch, with each dichotomy presented in abrupt transition. The most unwanted orchestra was determined to be large, and features the accordion and bagpipe (which tie at 13% as the most unwanted instrument), banjo, flute, tuba, harp, organ, synthesizer (the only instrument that appears in both the most wanted and most unwanted ensembles). An operatic soprano raps and sings atonal music, advertising jingles, political slogans, and "elevator" music, and a children's choir sings jingles and holiday songs. The most unwanted subjects for lyrics are cowboys and holidays, and the most unwanted listening circumstances are involuntary exposure to commericals and elevator music. Therefore, it can be shown that if there is no covariance--someone who dislikes bagpipes is as likely to hate elevator music as someone who despises the organ, for example--fewer than 200 individuals of the world's total population would enjoy this piece."
  • A cousin of mine told me about these guys. He brought over a CD that they had done which had the world's best song and the world's worst song. They both sucked beyond a shadow of a doubt. The world's best song sounded like that male/female duet from 'An American Tale' that was so popular a few years ago. Appearently that's what most people like. It was roughly five minutes of male/female duet in harmony with a love theme.

    The world's worst song was over 20 minutes and had opera, bagpipes, and long instrimentals. You might think for a minute that this could be good, especially if you like experimental music or have other odd tastes. No it really sucked. It was definitely the absolute worst thing I have ever heard, no redeeming value what so ever.

    Check it out if you can, it was pretty funny to hear what most people like and dislike about music.
  • I agree, the slashdot cheerleading squad is a problem. I have never stated that Linux is a superior operating system for the masses. Nor do I advocate GPL (et. al) projects [community led] as a suitable method to meet consumer demand--it has only had limited success at satiating geek desire, nevermind the masses.

    However, Windows would be a lot better for the average consumer if MS did not enjoy its monopoly power. That is to say, that while Windows might currently be the best option for Joe Schmoe, operating system and application quality has not improved significantly in years. If MS's monopoly position were to be knocked down, the consumer would benefit greatly as competition comes about (nothing to do with Linux neccessarily).
  • >Art is by no means a tool to make the majority happy, content or pleased [...]

    Of course it isn't. Art only has to make one person content or pleased -- the buyer! And one popular genre of art is "modern ugly", because the buyer can feel smug and hip for owning such a great piece of art that lesser mortals can't grok.
  • I just returned from the Museum of Our National Heritage in Lexington, MA. I took my son and daughter to see the George Washington exhibit. I didn't feel the need to see it because I look upon George Washington as a celebrity. I feel a deep sense of gratitude towards him and the many other men and women who took such great risks to secure our freedom and I want my children to understand who these people were.

    George Washington is inextricably part of the culture of the United States. It is somewhat comforting that he still is in our collective minds, considering the generally short attention span that we seem to have developed.

  • ..and thus the sum of mankind's artistic efforts to date is reduced to "just messin' around". Ugh.
  • And I noticed that they all had that extremely campy look to them (as you've mentioned), that scream "Stereotype me, please!"

    But what gets me is that almost everybody wants a painting like that. What has become of the free-mind?

    Fish! They're all Fish!
  • Look at the Italian picture again my friend, the object on the right is a tree, an abstract tree but not too abstract as it has branches with green leaves coming off it. There is also a large object on the left coming out at a 45 degree angle. There is some green ground, water in the background and a nice blue cloudy sky. With a mountain range behind the large object. The only one that really doesn't fit the mold is the Holland picture. The German picture has the tree, the arches for the 45 degree angle, water, a "sun" in the sky and some odd things behind the arches.. Yes the holland folk are the only ones with any semblance of originality in their taste.
  • .. the artists did find an important issue:
    "It was our idea to visualize this view of the new kind of dictator, because we grow up in a condition of dictatorship - Lenin, Stalin, etc. And when we came to United States, we recognized that another dictator here is the so-called majority."

    The so-called majority. Tobacco lobbyists, Microsoft lobbyist, gun lobbyists, etc. Every group with a vested interest in something and a lot of money can basically stuff the ballot box. The great unwashed generally doesn't notice, or care.

    Demoncracy works because people make informed decisions, have a variety from which to choose, and because the people chosen to lead have some vision for how the country should be. Remove any of those, and you start to stagnate.

    Think Hippopatmi near a lake which is surrounded by decidous forests (!?) with random people and George Washington. Methinks the Hippo Group and Washington Group took away from an OK blue-ish lake painting. :-)
  • Those are what came out of the polling. I read a more in depth article that was published in the Globe and Mail (Canada's National Newspaper, tm), a few months ago, around when the Canadian one was unveiled. They listed most of the questions. People were polled on their favourite colour, style, whether they liked animals or this or that, if they liked animals which one they preferred. It was very in-depth polling. What you see on that page are the RESULTS of that polling, what people liked and didn't like. The Canadian one, not shown on that site, favoured blue and green equally, and encompassed some mountains, a lake, a forest, and some deer. And for the record, the Danes favoured some semi-abstract blocky guy. That was blue.

    - Freehold, well read Canadian. Well, Canadian anyway.
  • Please read the article before posting your comments. They were not given a choice of crappy paintings as you seem to portray it. The paintings were CREATED by the artists on the basis of responses to survey questions. So the survey questions came before the paintings, not the other way around. Admittedly, the paintings may be crappy (i.e. they may have been done in a certain way as influenced by the artists own preferences for certain subject matter, to get their message and point across to the viewer of the whole collection). That I think partially explains your perception here.
  • What, no Weiner Dog Art? No velvet Elvis? Not even Dogs Playing Poker? Sheesh--these people may know art, but they don't know what they like.

  • I should have clarified what I meant by controlled or restricted. Perhaps I should have said inaccessible or exclusive. The point is that learning the ``right way'' to appreciate a work of art requires a lot of education. At the same time, the content of that education is the product of the group that can afford to be educated by it. In this (circular) way, knowledge of how to look at art and what to say about it is in fact restricted (though perhaps never consciously). It's not enough to go to the public library and read the books, either. Books don't teach the many other subtle but important habits of the learned art critic, such as how to walk or speak in a gallery, what tone of voice to use, what allusions to make, how to make the knowing glance, and in general how to emanate knowledge and control over that knowledge. State of body is as important as state of mind, and the uninitiated is easily spotted. (Perhaps here I should restate another point I made, namely that this is not an unbreakable loop. The impressionist painters you mention somehow managed to thrive, despite the hostile reception of art critics and Paris salons, to the extent that they have been immortally canonized today.)

    On another topic, I think your Linux example is related, though for other reasons as well. There is no doubt that the Linux community has its own social practices, among which is the deprecation of Microsoft's stifling mercantilism. (People have written about the ``gift exchange'' economy of the open source community.) At the same time, though, see what happens when someone from, say, AOL posts to /. and makes errors in content and the spelling of technical terms. He or she is very quickly flamed for being so ignorant, with the same contempt you can see in the eyes of a university art student when the old lady next to him scans a Monet and says ``Ooh what a pretty picture!'' in the same way, AOL lusers don't stand a chance: they don't belong here is the immediate consensus. So I think in fact the Linux community is as much an example as any other that you cannot be accepted until you learn to talk the talk, and walk the walk. (This coming from a dedicated Linux user :-)

  • The point is that the artist who's very much
    is touch with the kind of art that ordinary people want to have around them - in fact, prostitues himself (or herself)

    The ordinary folks watch a baseball on their TVs with a sixpack of Bud. That's about all the art they care.

  • Aren't these things being studied in Madison Ave. Ad agencies already? Wild animal, moutain spring and a SUV treads right thru all of it, ring any bells? Check your recent Newsweek or Time magazines.

    Article of this kind is based on a common myth about art (at least in mid-west state like Minn.). Art (instead of Commercials) is not just for "pleasing" or evoke "oh..." from women pressing their hands to their heart with tilting heads. Art is about relate emotions from painter to the viewer. It can be either beauty and ugliness, either pleasing or offending, uplifting or depressing. Good art does not nessassarily have to "please" you, but to touch your raw emotion nerve.

    A good movie such as "saving private ryan" can be bloody and disguisting as any movie can be and still be treated as high achievement. So is painting and other form of arts.

  • Thinking it a bit more, I've decided a whole lot of people are being suckered by this one.

    What these guys are doing is more like the Vancouver, BC, artist who garnered major attention through the art he was going to do.

    Which was going to be produced, he claimed, by dropping a concrete block on a rat. The straight-man routine being that the blood splatter would be artistic, but the *REAL* art being his ability to manipulate the media and all the Greenpeace geeks who freaked.

    Here at Slashdot, we have a lot of stats geeks, social geeks and philosophy geeks going on about all the flaws and meanings of the work the two Russians have done.

    When, really, the art is in their ability to give your brain a bit of a poke.

    It's a stunt. It's funny. It isn't particularly deep. Laugh.

    The Greenpeace geeks, by the way, bought the rat from the Vancouver artist.
  • Contrary to what some readers seem to think, the paintings were not done beforehand and then the people asked to choose between them. Rather, the artists made the paintings based on the answers to a survey [].

    The decision to put the mountain at the left and the tree at the right was made by the artists, not drawn from the results of the poll. I do agree that it borders on mania, but then, insofar as the countries did not express differences on these subjects, why change?

  • I agree with you mostly, but here are some points I disagree with you about:

    Alot of artist are in it simply for the popularity and/or the money, but there are a few, those blessed few, that actually are in it because music beats in their hearts and they feel called to do it.

    Also, the caliber of an artist does not depend on how long it takes to memorize their licks. I must admit though that if you can learn and play *everything* of theirs easily, that's ridiculous.
    I am a guitarist (because I love to do it), my father was, and so was one of my friends. One day my father and I went to play with that friend and afterwards my father said under his breath, "This was his whole style..." and played one lick. He was right, and I realized that I didn't want to become that kind of musician.

    So art does not depend on the complexity of the things you do, it depends on how much feeling you put into what you *do* do and how much variety you have in you *whole* style.

    If someone only does one thing, then it's not art. But it's not exactly *how many* things that person does that make it art.
  • by JohnG ( 93975 )
    I definetly agree that art is not about complexity. I have tried many times to convince my friend of this as it pertains to music. Alot of music is relatively easy, a simple backbeat makes for the best rhythm. In fact some of my favorite songs have easy to play parts. (which is good because I'm not a great guitarist.) It like the paintings in the article, the complex scene with the deer and the hippo has some simple to paint parts as well, it has to because everything can't be intricate.
    I think if you looked at the tab to the Korn songs you would see what I mean, all the songs are basically the same, the fingers hardly have to change position and there in little or no syncopation to complicate playing. The music's lack of anything resembling form or fashion is held together by distortion and the singer's horrible voice is hid by shouting at the top of his lungs. Watching the band further proves their lack of grasp on the music, they jump up and down in a way that is not even.."in sync" with the music, for lack of a better definition. If you have played seriously I think you will know what I mean about feeling the music.
    I probably have just offended alot of Korn fans, and I am sorry, if you like the music then that is fine, I am not here to impose my beliefs on anyone. And maybe I am underestimating thier talent, but if they have any then I need to become a musician because I have a far better grasp on music theory than anything I have heard from them.

  • I'm Canadian, and I have a dutch father. I have been over to Holland many times, and I can tell you that abstract art is everywhere. The most notable example is their money. The latest generation of paper money has no picture of any person on it, except for maybe a watermark. It's designed of shapes and stuff, sort of Escher-inspired.

    It's a definitely a cultural thing, and I'm happy I've absorbed alot of it.

  • I just looked at the "Most Wanted" painting for the Netherlands, and it's clear to me that I should be marketing my paintings there and not here in the US. :) (See [] for the proof. Be warned, the page uses weird table tricks so it might look funny to some of you.)

    The cultural differences are interesting, though not surprising. I guess I would expect most people to choose money over art, and that most Americans really really like Norman Rockwell and have never heard of Salvador Dali. Still, it makes me a bit sad. I guess I like to delude myself that average Americans are more culturally literate, and interested in art, than that.

    (Not to say anything against Norman Rockwell -- to each his own. It's the number of people who hadn't heard of many of the listed artists that appalled me.)

  • Thanks, Ron.

    I think it would be very interesting to study the cultural practices of the free software community. There's a lot of good data in Eric Raymond's stuff, as well as the things that have been written on the gift-exchange culture of open source. It's amazing what elaborate and subtle systems of creating and maintaining relationships of trust and mutual benefit there are, and in an world where no one can see anyone else's face.

    I'm struck by the similarities to the practices of the aristocracy in archaic Greece (say, 8th to 6th century BC). These people established and maintained reciprocal relationships over distances of hundreds of miles, and through the course of many generations. Thus it was possible (as it is in a sense with the open source community) for people who had never met to know that they were guest-friends. Foremost among their methods was the exchange of valuable gifts (and the vehement rejection of the use of money or of any attempts to place a cash valuation of those gifts), which would bring prestige to the giver and benefit the recipient while putting an obligation on him to return the favor at some later date. They also shared a vast knowledge of ``right ways'' to think about things and do things which were, in principle, unforgeable. In a sense, these were both communication and authentication protocols. (So also with e-commerce: the problem of anonymous authentication is not new.)

    Anyway, this is getting kind of off the topic. But it's interesting stuff.



  • Is here []. Vernon Reid plays guitar on the most wanted song. Didn't he used to be with a group called Living Color? Pretty demented pseudo-shredder, if I recall. ;)
  • Notice the aforementioned "survey results []?" Look at the last four questions. They make me think the art was slanted towards semi-realistic pieces to begin with. I mean, how do you answer those if you prefer abstract art?

    One more thing: the least favorite for Italy [] is golden. It has it all: Elvis, a Power Ranger, and male nekkidness. Not only that, but violence (or maybe the arrows are a form of self-expression for the man?) Now if only it was the Pink Ranger that was filled full of arrows...

  • You're right. With it's cheerful colours and friendly round curves, your art would make a good impression over here ;-)

    I must really be the avarage Dutchman when it comes to taste in art, because I kind of like it, and I can't politely express how much I hate the Dutch 'Least Wanted' painting.

  • on the inside is usually machine woven canvas.
  • tell that to my background wallpaper.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They seem to think that the power of dictatorships is the same than [sic] the power of the majority in a political election, or any other poll, for that matter.

    If the majority decides to throw a minority in camps (See "WWII, treatment of loyal US citizens with Japanese heritage, during"; see also the rate of incarceration in the US in 1999 compared to the rate of incarceration in the USSR during the purges of the 1930's -- we're ahead), it's damn near identical.

    In the US the preferences and views of the majority are often rammed down the throats of the rest of the population. Not always, but often enough to be a problem. It's annoying and idiotic. The majority wants to spend my tax dollars teaching their religion to my children in the public schools. Please explain how this is qualitatively different from education in the USSR.

    they moved to the States in 1978!
    21 years and still they don't get it.

    "Yeah, them goldurn furriners!"

    They've lived in both systems. They've seen both systems up close and personal. You haven't. Funny how Americans who don't even have passports always know more about the world than those who've actually been there . . .

  • They would have choosen to use representitive sizing because people can relate to these measurments rather than measurements like
    32 x 24

  • Jesus! These people don't like bagpipes. Holy shit. What is their problem?! Good heavens. Obviously they didn't interview too many Irish cops in NYC, that's for sure . . . Nor too many Celts elsewhere. Nor me, for God's sake!

    Actually, bagpipes are traditionally used all over: In Spain, the Middle East, Turkey, etc. I don't know about Asia, though. It's a really old instrument, not to mention a fantastically cool one. Bear in mind that what most people think of as "bagpipes" are the Scottish variety, which are more of an acquired taste (though well worth acquiring, believe me!) than most varieties. Irish ("Uilleann") pipes are a different instrument, softer and more nasal in tone. Their only fault, IIRC, is that they aren't able to produce a "drone" note under the melody as Scots pipes do. If you have the Pogues Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash handy, listen to "I'm a Man You Don't Meet Every Day". The instrumental break there is uilleann pipes. You might also pick up the Bothy Band's Out of the Wind Into the Sun, which aside from being generally brilliant has a few pipes-centric tunes on it which serve as a good introduction to the uilleann pipes. I'm not sure what a purist would think of that record, but I'm not a purist and I dig it enormously.

  • "The principle of democracy is that over 50% of the people can get it right over 50% of the time. Whoever came up with this was obviously a moron."

    Robert Heinlein felt that way, too: "Zero times a million still equals zero", or some such. It's a snappy bon mot, but IMHO it misses the point.

    The purpose of democracy is not to govern well as such. Rather, it is to minimize the natural human tendency to govern badly. The purpose of democracy is to prevent tyrrany by putting authority over the government in the hands of the people who will suffer from its mistakes. Stalin didn't have to suffer from the mistakes he made. The US voter does.

    On the whole, the US voter has done a better job than Stalin did: Even though the US voter is, arguably, a moron, his record of less than 50% is in fact remarkably good compared to that of your average dictator. When the voters do something stupid, that's a bummer, but they do seem to learn from their mistakes sometimes (or at the very least repent and vote in a new and different set of thieves once in a while).

    In other words, since the decline of the doctrine of the divine right of kings, a government has been generally seen to have no reason for being other than to benefit its constituents. They have to put up with it, they fund it, why not let them run it? It's theirs. Heinlein says that if you let people vote, they'll vote themselves bread and circuses and society will ultimately collapse. He's right. What he doesn't mention is that if you don't let them vote, things are likely to be a hell of a lot worse. I'm sure we all remember Churchill's laugh line about how of all the rotten systems of government, democracy is the least rotten . . . The great thing about it is that the system itself has a built-in tendency to control its own excesses. By contrast, a really good philosopher-king will govern far better than any nation of voters ever did -- but he will one day die, and his son may be a hopeless incompetent, and you'll up shit crick. Democracy tends to average it all out, and provide a consistent output of mild incompetence and venality. In avoiding Catherine the Great we lose Peter the Great. Bummer.

    This painting thing is funny because art and government have no parallels. Exceptionally bad art won't destroy us on the one hand, and on the other hand if there is no great art, then art is not worth having at all. A mediocre government can be a satisfactory government, while mediocre art is of no worth whatsoever.

  • St. Sebastian (patron of archers, athletes, and soldiers; died c. AD 288) was a Roman soldier who, upon being revealed as a Christian, was shot full of arrows, which he surived. There are a few different paintings depicting the event, some better-known than others. It looks to me like they're hitting the St. Sebastian button with the arrows there.

    St. Sebastian info from John J. Delaney, Dictionary of Saints, Doubleday, 1980. It's a handy book to have around the house. The pink power ranger is not mentioned as a martyr, either actual or potential.

  • I did not proclaim myself to be a "competent art critic"; nor did I say anyone else is capable making the determination. This is precisely my point, that NO ONE can say absolutely what is and is not art. However, we can know the majority opinion. It is not too unreasonable to demand art work shown in galleries does not offend almost everyones' taste. It is ludicrous equate the Cultural Revolution (et. al) to a desire to only spend public funds on art which pleases more than .005% of the population. Particularly when that unappreciated art form so volatile as not to withstand even a decade, witness fecal paintings, and other abstract nonsense. It is not a right to foist this "art" on others; you may, on the other hand, do whatever you wish on your own dollar, as is your Constitutional right.

    To reiterate, at some point you must concede that a minority should not be given carte blanche on the public's back. It comes down to proportion and taste. I would never argue that 51% (55, 70, 80, etc) should be able to shut down other forms of public forms of expression when they can be done at REASONABLE cost. Below certain point, you must concede, that the minority should give way to the majority. Particularly when we have 10k minute minorites all fighting for funding--none of which can come to any consensus--which has the effect of crowding out more timeless and widely appreciated works. We live in a world of finite resources, as such some sacrifices must be made--not everyone can have their way all the time.

    For the record, I'm about to graduate with a 4.0 from one of the top universities in the country. I'm most likely going to pursue a graduate degree, though not in the liberal arts. Because I made my career choice of my own volition, I do not have any motivation to "put them down a peg".
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday November 13, 1999 @05:00PM (#1536258) Homepage Journal
    I have this CD; it's definitely not popular with my wife, but I love it. Not only do I get to hear my favorite instruments together (bagpipes, banjo, accordian), but they really, really go out of their way to be dowright obnoxious. Near the end they try to finish of the few remaining listeners by having a woman shouting political slogans into a bullhorn.

    The interesting thing about the project is that they aren't trying to produce a bad song, but a good song that practically nobody would like. Unfortunately, they're foiled by covariance.

    Playing the CD for others, I noticed something interesting. With the exception of musicians, very few adults can stand to listen to the "least wanted" song, but whenever I've played it it for children, they have a blast; they jump around and dance and sing along loudly and off-key. They're absolutely delighted by its deliberate obnoxiousness.

  • A democracy is a dictatorship with everyone's boot on your neck, instead of just one.

  • ...when they can be done at REASONABLE cost. Below certain point, you must concede, that the minority should give way to the majority. Particularly when we have 10k minute minorites all fighting for funding...
    Why, exactly, is it okay for the government (or the majority) to hold a gun to my head and make me pay for the arts? Why should I pay for stuff I don't want and don't like? Some 'civic duty?' It's not a 'civic duty' or a 'public good' to for people to pay for SUVs, is it? Or pizza. Or heroin. Is it? Then why some particular artists and writers?

    p.s. this stuff was FUNNY! "Funny" -- you know, makes you laugh. Like "50% of all people are stupider than the average person" and "half of all households have a sub-median income".
  • Yahhhhhh!!!

    Go read POKEY THE PEGNUIN []!!! It will challenge you! It assaults your brain-pan and criticizes your senses! It's a full frontal assault of pixelized fury~! And you die!#@

  • You're right about Vernon Reid and Living Color. I actually liked their music and Vernon sure knew his way around the fret board.
  • ALL the way through. >:)
    I think this qualifies me to really enjoy the sick humor of this horrible piece of music :)
  • And now, in honor of this, I'd like to point out that P.D.Q. Bach predated the musical portion of this experimentation, having composed the 'Sinfonia Concertante' for orchestra, bagpipes, Left-handed Sewer Flute, Double-reed slide music stand, balalaika, ocarina and lute :)
    "The problems of balancing such a varied set of instruments are, as you might imagine, enormous, and they are problems that P.D.Q. _entirely_ failed to solve... when the bagpipes are playing you can't hear anything else... whereas the lute is such a soft instrument that even if another instrument is on the stage with it, you can't hear it (whether the other instrument is playing or not). But the lute looks nice... and we think that, the visual effect, is shortchanged in the modern concertgoing experience... it's a very nice lute... and we hope you enjoy it... think of it while you're listening to the bagpipes.
    -Peter Schickele, impresario
  • Reminds me of Mr. Gnu, an agressively idiotic strip that runs in the Cornell Daily Sun - a lot of toilet humor, rather weird, but hey, some people enjoy it and I can't object to that... Pokey seems like one of those dissonant strange things, at least from a quick glance at a couple of strips. But thanks for the link!
  • I thought the best quick study of pokey really came from look through their archives for a story titled "Internet for Assholes" or "Mocking Rick Wallace for Assholes." I'd post the link but it's too long for slashdot not to break it.

    I'd also recommend to anyone to read Scott McCloud's outstanding book, "Understanding Comics." This book examines comics with an amazing insight, and touches on everything from philosophy to history, both of comics and of people in general. Two thumbs up! :)

  • Why is it that the Free Mind must dislike that which the majority wants? Personally, I like landscapes. They are relaxing. Do I like abstracts and the like? Some, yes. Tastes vary. All the same, as a Free Mind, I can pick whichever painting I damn well please and I think you missed that point.

    You're right.. I did. And I apologize for that. The Free Mind may like what it wishes to like. I was stereotyping by making the generalization that people, by becoming a majority and liking a certain painting/type of painting were not exercising their Free Mind. Really, though, they were, unless they all got together and said "hey, we'll all vote this way." (Which they probably didn't do.) I guess I got stuck on "most-popular," "landscape," and what appeared to me to be the extreme uniformity of it all. But hey, if people like that, I'm glad. Someone has to. But yes, the Free Mind may choose whichever painting I damn well please, and darnit, if you like that, more power to you.

The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal