When does an artwork cease to be original?

I was at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) yesterday for several hours and as I walked in I saw that three artists/restorers were at work retouching/restoring the huge canvas on the ground floor by Marc Chagall, “A Wheatfield on a Summer’s Afternoon.” Later, as I was looking at the works of Marcel Duchamp I noticed on the wall plaque that this famous “Fountain” was actually a 1950 replica of the 1917 original and that, similarly, his 1919 work “50cc of Paris Air” had been “broken and later restored.”

As I was contemplating these pieces the thought came to me – when does an artwork cease to be original? Using these three examples I can understand that artworks deteriorate and may need to be restored, and I fully see the requirement to “preserve” Chagall’s work by retouching, but at what point does it become the restorers work? The original brushstrokes are not preserved. Are the pigments used exactly the same composition and color as the original – in every stroke?

This concept becomes even more problematic in the case of the Duchamp examples.  

When “50cc of Paris Air” was repaired the glass vial may well look the same (well, sort of – it’s hardly an invisible mend), but was it repaired in Paris, in the same place that Duchamp created it? And even if so, it certainly would not contain the same air from 1919 which was no doubt differently polluted than more modern atmosphere. 

170316_Duchamp_ParisAir
Finally, in the case of making a replica piece, what are we to make of this? Is it original art or is it not? I assume that as long as Marcel Duchamp was involved in the process then it is still original, albeit derivative, but if not then is it simply a “worthless copy” created by someone else?

170316_Duchamp_Fountain

And what of the digital world? Almost all my 2-D art is created electronically and exists in multiple backup copies as binary data stored on my laptop and other drives. Where is the original art in this case?

So, a lot of questions – does anyone have any thoughts on this?

~Richard

 

A Commerce Drive

We are at a junction. Which path should we take to drive commerce and make us all as rich as Croesus, left or right?

Better make the decision soon as those lights don’t stay red forever…

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~Richard

St. David’s Day and tradition

Today, March 1st, is St. David’s Day, which commemorates the date of the death of Dewi Sant in 589 AD. An aristocrat by birth, David founded several monasteries, most famously that at Glyn Rhosyn, where St David’s Cathedral now stands.

Traditionally, this day is celebrated by the wearing of a daffodil flower, which is the national flower of Wales. It seems to be a fairly obvious choice of bloom really given that these beautiful, bright trumpets of yellow are one of the earliest flowers to herald in the Spring. However, given that it is likely that the plant is not, in fact, native to Britain but was introduced from Europe from the 15th century onwards, it does seem an unusual choice, especially given St David’s death some 900 years earlier.

It turns out, in fact,  that the Welsh for the narcissus we know as the daffodil is Canninen Pedr which translates to St Peter’s Leek. The leek, of course, is the other symbol of Wales.

Strange how things work out.

Incidentally,  the daffodil is a symbol of good fortune, according to Chinese legend, so may today’s image bring you good fortune.

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~Richard

Haiku: Eight Hours

Earlier this week we spent an interesting (!) eight hours in the local ER, to a large extent at the behest of my daughter’s pediatrician. Nothing overly serious in the end, but it did give me some thinking time, and the Monty Python Hospital sketch did creep into my mind…

~ Eight Hours ~

Needles and vitals
And the machine that goes ‘ping.’
Emergency Room.

170215_eighthours

~Richard

Boxing Day

Every year since I have lived in the USA I have been asked the question, “what is Boxing Day?” by at least one person during the Holiday Season.

This year I thought I’d use this blog to explain.

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In Britain, the day after Christmas, also known as St Stephen’s Day, is traditionally the time to extend the excesses of the previous day’s obligatory over consumption of rich food and alcohol, known collectively as “the festivities.”

Being the day after Christmas Day, and living in a society subject to the the law of supply and demand kicking in, it is also the time for the biggest sales of the year as shop keepers try to offload all those items they overstocked for Christmas gift sales that didn’t happen.

The ability to purchase products for 75% or 50% of the price you paid for them only 48 hours previously made hard working people angry and this would often result in a round of fisticuffs in the stores and brawling in the streets, leading to the creation of the term “Boxing Day” as people let of steam. This was often fueled by copious amounts of alcohol that was available at this time of year since 63% of the annual alcohol consumption in Britain occurs over the week between 5pm on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.

So, there you have it – the true meaning of Boxing Day!

In the spirit of fairness I must point out that one conflicting theory still persists that “Boxing Day” refers to parental treatment of ungrateful children who were unhappy with not receiving worthy gifts being subject to a “cuff round the head,” or a “clip round the ear,” or having their “ears boxed,” which are all jovial references to a little seasonal parental abuse, but I don’t ascribe to this analysis.

Happy Holiday!

~Richard

Merry Chrifsmas!

As a Pastafarian, I hereby wish to share Holiday greetings with you from the Flying Spaghetti Monster by wishing all a “Merry Chrifsmas.”

R’Amen

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~Richard

 

Spam

‘Tis the season of festivities and bombardment of our in boxes and web browsers with a large amount of pointless junk that is aimed at redirecting our thoughts at best, and harvesting our data at worst.

Be careful how you use your mouse out there.

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For those of you who may want a little back story as to why we call this bombardment of unwanted electronic dross spam, here’s a short explanation.

Back in 1970, the Quintessentially British comedians of Monty Python’s Flying Circus constructed a sketch whereby a hapless customer, Mrs Bun, and the waitress of the Green Midget Cafe in Bromley have an argument over the fact that everything on the menu comes with spam. Add in some singing vikings (obviously) and the rest, as they say, is comedic history.

The first spam message has been attributed to Gary Thuerk, who sent an unsolicited email to 600 people over ARPANET back in 1978. He was told he was a naughty boy and not to do it again. (How very Monty Python)

When more people started using the world wide web (or emails to start with) to send unsolicited emails for products and services that were unwanted it seemed a natural extension for those who were in control of geekdom, and who have a particular liking for Monty Python, to use the term “spam”.

In 2009 it was estimated that dealing with spam cost around US$130 billion. For context Hormel, the manufacturers of true Spam, had a revenue of US$8.2 billion in 2012

~Richard

 

#lovespam #hatespam

Missing the Point

On Friday we went to see the original line up of Culture Club who are currently on their US tour and were visiting The Electric Factory in Philadelphia. The venue was new to us and we were very pleased with the fact that it was general admission standing only, just like my old student days back in London in the 1980s. With beer in hand we were fairly near the front and the gig was excellent. Boy George interacted really well with the audience and it really felt like an intimate “club gig”.

One thing that really pissed me off though was the huge overuse of cellphones during the gig. Not only did they cast a lot of light back to the audience but some idiots even used their flashed (totally pointless) not only for photos but also when video recording. Quite why anyone would go to a gig, especially one where you are so close to the stage, and then watch the whole show through their 5” phone screen is totally beyond my understanding. I am beginning to think that modern audiences are getting even more mindless. They may as well have stayed at home. Just to my left there were 5 or 6 of these clowns, as you can see. I am pretty sure that a couple of them filmed every song that was song and so therefore didn’t look directly at the stage even once during the performance.

160911_missingthepoint

I guess we’re slowly sinking into the abyss of not even wanting to experience reality when we can. How ironic it is that theses guys are missing the whole point of a “live” gig while concentrating on streaming it to Facebook.

~Richard

How soon they grow up to fly the nest

Although it’s a few years away until my children will truly “fly the nest” today was the day when my youngest daughter literally flew away from me. She joined 31st Wing Civil Air Patrol earlier this year and today was her chance for her orientation flight. After an initial briefing by her instructor and a detailed walk around the Cessna 172P for pre-flight checks, the mist had finally lifted and she was ready to leave the ground. It was quite nerve wracking watching her taxi out and fly away, and I know the feeling too, as both I and my wife have flown single-engine planes when we were students a long time ago. In fact, as I told her on the way home, she’s the third generation of our family to do this as my father was in the Air Cadets in the UK as a teenager and also flew small planes.

When she landed she had a smile as wide as the Cheshire Cat’s from Alice in Wonderland. She had basic instruction and flew the plane for a while on her 45 minutes in the air. And at 14, she has now flown a plane in advance of sitting behind the wheel of a car.

I think she’s hooked!

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~Richard

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