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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I see now that many people are quitting Facebook at the end of this month because of the constant 'data mining' done on the site.

I find Facebook an excellent way to stay in contact with people whom I may have not seen for years, and I've made a lot of new friends there--but the accusations, which are not unfounded, have me very worried.

Of course I post nothing there that I would not want the whole world to see. The question is, are my friends at risk when the list is acquired by a bot or other party?

In addition I do not like the news that Facebook is owned by people with a political agenda.
So I haven't made up my mind whether to quit or not. Any thoughts?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Exit Through the Gift Shop: An Important Film for Artists

What is art? This question has been asked for millennia. Art is a profoundly subjective experience. It is real, yet unreal, speaking directly to the viewer's emotions. Historically it has been the expression of an idea. Art has been used for propaganda purposes by kings, religious leaders, and social movements. Human lives were shaped by images before humans were generally literate; they are being shaped by images again as literacy declines.
The Surrealists changed the meaning of images; Dali's lobster telephone and Duchamp's urinal in the art gallery took objects out of context and turned them into something else. Andy Warhol repeated images endlessly until they became meaningless.
Graffiti became street art in the 1980s, largely due to the efforts of Keith Haring whose crawling men appeared on street signs and subway stations near my New York apartment during that decade (I disliked his work then and dislike it now.)
Then there were other artists such as Shepard Fairey who stuck stickers with the face of Andre the Giant all over the world (he is allegedly still doing this.) The new generation of graffiti artists printed or screened their work, which was redubbed Street Art, and used it in ironic context. Warhol's influence seemed to be strong, since many of Fairey's icons lose all meaning by repetition. (It sort of makes me wonder about the real meaning of this poster that he made for an 'obscure Senator' two years ago.)
The greatest of the street artists, and the most subtle in my opinion, is the artist who goes by the name of Banksy. Originally working only in England, Banksy has placed his artwork in hotspots such as the Wall in Gaza; Disneyland; and in a Paris Hilton Album.
But no one has (allegedly) seen Banksy' face. EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is a feature film that is being sold as a documentary about Banksy. At the risk of spoilers, it is no such thing. It is a prank on the audience that asks my first questions...what is art? Who is an artist? and then adds more.... Is art meant to be free to the public? Is art a commodity to be sold? Is an artist who uses a team to assemble art pieces fair when he/she receives all credit for the work? Can art that is created by another artist be used fairly to create a new composition? (Nina Paley, creator of SITA SINGS THE BLUES, maintains that all creative work is derivative.) All artists build on what has gone before. If so, when do you stop?
The tag line for this film "In a world without rules, he broke them all", is absolutely true.
There is speculation that Banksy and Shepard Fairey are pulling the wool over our eyes with this film, that it is too contrived and convoluted to be true. It has been my experience that some of the weirdest and most contrived situations in life are real.
So I was rather disturbed by the material included on this artist. I can't say more without revealing too much about this terrific film which I will certainly recommend to all, and which I will definitely see again.
I'm not sure whether Banksy is just one person, but the onscreen Banksy definitely can be identified, sans hoodie, if you pay attention to two important hints (one visual, one textual) that are provided in the film. Animators will find it very easy.
I also choose to regard the success of this artist as part of the show. Otherwise, I and all the rest of us went into the wrong business. See for yourself. Seeing is believing. Or is it?

Late Post, My apologies,a week in Toronto

I've become quite the Facebook junkie and need to apologize for not updating the blog more often.
My blog is really a substitute for letters and mass emails that I sent to friends; this was and is a more economical way of doing it.
It's always wise to edit your material online. Facebook has me worried since I have read that it is owned by a major corporation controlled by people who have certain political views....and that they are constantly attempting to control the users' emails and contacts.
This may be a little paranoid since it is very easy to opt out of the 'sharing' as long as you adjust your settings so that you have maximum privacy.
In any case, never put anything online that you would not want the whole world to see.
This week was notable for a visit from Nina Haley, a friend from L.A. who had not been to Toronto before. I also started my character design and maquette workshop in the same week. Gizmo kept Nina amused while I was at work, and we toured Toronto when I was not at work. The weather cooperated until the very last day, when we had torrential rains followed by a drop to zero degrees C (32 F) at night. My nice new basil plant died on the patio, but the indestructable chives and Sage survived.
Gizmo, who has NOT died, was the reason for Nina's trip. Gizmo was supposed to be either dead or dying by now and Nina, who loves cats, was going to get me through the mourning period.
Since Gizmo is doing fine and was actually showing off by roaring loudly at four A.M. for playtime, tearing apart a roll of paper towels, and constantly rolling around in paper bags that were liberally scattered for her benefit in the living room, Nina's visit became a pleasure trip. I did a few brief updates on Facebook about it and took a few pictures around town. We saw nearly all of Toronto's First Nation galleries including the Dominion Bank gallery of Inuit art, the Museum of Inuit art on the Queens' Quay, and the Native Canadian Centre on Spadina Avenue. The Toronto Comic Art Festival also coincided with the visit and I was pleasantly surprised to find the work of Stephanie Yue, whose Tai Ch'i mice were one of the highlights of the show. You can find the mice at her site in the "Children's" Section. Yue told me she studied illustration at Pratt in New York but did not study animation, and this is definitely so if you view the entire site. I think the mice are the most original and interesting part of it and I hope that Ms. Yue does more with these characters.
I am preparing for the publication of Animated Performance in July. It is available for preorder on and I'm planning to go to the second annual Creative Talent Network Animated Expo for the weekend in November, where I will have a table and will do a presentation.
So that's what has been going on...
School year's ended, school meetings continue.
I promise to update more often...thank you for reading, all three of you!