Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Skill in (pre)Tension

Sketches: DC2010 sketchbook came in yesterday. It is very pretty, but I have learned more so far in Diaz's new comic blog. Still, it is good for studying style while on the bus. Tension between sketching and comicing - degree of detail. Looking at details in sketchbook: as if a contrast threshold filter were passed over everything (maybe even a conceptual contrast threshold filter, if that makes any sense at all) - we only see a full nose if the contrast is high enough, otherwise chances are we only see the bulb's contrast as it heads down to the lip. Shading: not used to handle smooth features like that, rather just enough to engage the eye and provide directionality of light. In the work I've been doing on facial sketches, replacing hard lines with gradations bumps the realism up. I still have so much to learn from single ten minute sketches - eyelids, circles under the eyes help considerably. (I do wonder, given that the main sketch I'm learning from is of me, if I might overemphasise this - my face has more darkness around the eyes than most people (at least as of late, due to ill health) and I don't know if it generalises well to others) Eyelid shape is particularly important. I have not yet found a way to work eyelashes appropriately into sketches - maybe they're too fine a detail to show up in the resolutions in which I normally work. Also, I am fascinated by depiction of lips on males - I tend not to want to draw them as my memories of males tend to be almost lipless, but when I think about how I parse faces I realise that I do pay attention to lips on males, they just get filtered out not long after their emotional meaning is discerned.

  • Is this a broad human difference in how males and females are analysed by humans in general? Could lips be a gender marker and thus generally filtered out of memories?
  • Is this a gendered perception in the sense that males don't tend to remember male lips but females might? Being bi does not really help me here - for a bisexual person I got enough social homophobia in my upbringing that I don't know if I have any difference than what a straight person would notice
  • Is it just that lips are hard to draw or remember accurately for everyone?
I wonder about the theoretical appeal of lips. Is there a female instinct to think about male lips? For either guys or gals, *I* don't think a lot about lips - they fall into the voluminous category of "If they're ugly it's a minus, otherwise meh"; I'm more interested in the upper part of the face and the neck, physically.. and of course the interestingness of expressions, but that starts to meander towards nonphysical attractiveness.

Variation in styles of drawing people is slightly broader than styles of actual people, but in radically different ways. I see a lot of ugly people IRL but nobody wants to draw them. OkC has incredible variety.

Still feel bad when drawing other people's drawings, even moreso with tracing (although training my hands and eye to make the needed movements and see shapes in the right way may be helpful).

Recently got the story about a place I've passed a few times on the way to T'd'O -- Conflict Kitchen. My neighbourhood's magazine (idea of that is kinda neat) says that every 4 months, a new restaurant will rotate into that space, restaurants selected by being the national cuisine of a nation with which the US is currently estranged. I wonder if those that were particularly successful when they were there will set up shop nearby as a permanent place. It's either a neat marketing gimmick or a cool cultural idea - pity it's in an obscure place.

Recently been thinking a lot about digital media and culture - enormous danger of letting providers of content take it away. It is important as culturally engaged people that we restrain content creatorのability to do so - regardless of what authors might like, they cannot be allowed some right to vanish that takes all their content away if we want our cultural fabric to survive. Even if we have sympathy for content creators that want to try to make a living out of their work, we cannot be sympathetic for those who would control their work for other reasons. It is our culture - artists who think that their (performance?) art must be transitory: be prepared to lose. We will record it. We will remix it. It is in the public interest that we stash copies of anything we think might be taken away that has become part of our personal identity.

Also, advertisements - they cannot hide behind respect for property. We may be comitted to a deep respect for personal property, but industrial property, not quite as much. If there is anything of a dialogue component to your work, particularly marketing, it is potentially a very good thing to make it into a proper one. If we stick up mockery of your adverts with tape and paper over the original, or even more harsh-to-property means, expect it. Houses may deserve a lot of autonomy and independence from people messing with them, billboards hardly any. Corporations merit less rights, corporate property likewise, and false dialogue should be turned into real dialogue. Until the ugly field of marketing is removed from society, it should expect a lot of interference in its mechanisms.

Had a broad critique of SteveJobsのresponse to iPhone problems, but I suppose everyone knew that Jobs was a SOB who handles problems like a slimy politician - hardly news. Apple is likewise the same company it always has been under his leadership - generally terrific product design, instincts that slap handcuffs on their users and thus bad for their industry, occasionally useful when the directions they want to lead industry align with the public interest. As both Apple and Google have shown us recently, the entrenched powers in the phone industry are very hard to move. It's not surprising that the NexusOne was a failure and that Android's biggest challenge is diluting the proprietary instincts of vendors afraid of competition or change in general. Apple did a remarkable thing with the iPhone, bringing a decent subset of the features the rest of the world (especially Japan) have enjoyed with their cellphones to Americans, and bringing the phone closer to being a platform (even as it's unfortunately a platform Apple owns and controls rather than the open-ish platform of the PC or the open platform of the opensource community). Google faces an uphill struggle to do something comparable in that our lack of regulation allows vendors using bundling, customisation, and marketing to prevent or slow innovation. The minor phone vendors and carriers will lead the way; they have the least to lose. I have respect for Apple, but I don't want them to win, and to the extent that they will survive I hope competitive forces require them to be considerably more open than they have been. It's a pity (but not a surprise) that Neuros didn't seem to go very far as an open hardware company, and that the tides of convergence and technological are likely to sweep what they did do away. Unless those who care for openness in hardware and software can figure out a way to defuse hostile lobbying and learn to influence or control hardware platforms to cut off threats from that direction, we will always be running scared.

One big metric - if it is still a big deal to get root access on devices we own, those products suck.

If we were to try to predict the future, the most important things to get right are:

  • What has changed wrt scarcity?
  • What advances in materials science have been made?
  • What does the educational system look like?
Almost everything else flows from those.

Poser:If one were to have a community with its own doctors, committed to only using generic drugs (disallowing any of its members to use or its doctors to prescribe patented drugs), would it be healthier? Would it be in any way parasitic?

I am amused that some philosophers really take the 「Problem of Induction」 seriously. I am not entirely certain that the way it's not a problem given the foundations from which I work (going beyond instrumentalism is pragmatically driven and if we are being utterly strict than even observed entities are mediated and not entirely trustworthy, radical empiricism as basic - worked out at more length in one of my essays) means that I should scoff at it entirely - I am generally hostile to the idea of logic having teeth on the universe or being more than something useful we've created and shaped. Still, thinking about the nature of induction might suggest ways in which it is more or less worth betting on than normal. Stepping back up to meta level, I note that this resembles another "compatibility structure" in philosophy - a glove of interpretation or pragmatism that gives me a kind of grasp on concepts or pursuits that are not intuitive in the way I actually see the world. This kind of structure often makes challenges when I speak with others working from other definitional frameworks - to move to a very different example, I might talk about morality with a moral absolutist (more often than not a religious person), and my native phrasing of certain statements may be very different than theirs. It makes for difficulty in deciding how much of our foundational differences to expose in conversation, particularly when there are things that make sense in my framework and not theirs (or vice versa). This gets particularly awkward when I feel I know the standard theology of their faith/philosophy better than they do, as they can feel awkward hearing me speculate on what they should say knowing that I'm not of their faith - there's a nervousness as they can't tell the difference between my setting them up for a knockdown in debate versus my actually talking from what'd theoretically be their in-perspective position. Sigh.

Back to induction, I feel a bit odd that it's swept out to sea like many problems when you take my foundations. Part of this is just the gut nervousness about this broad shape of ideas - when I was a libertarian, everything was very simple because libertarian philosophy rejects complex notions of a public good, and so a lot of complexity was swept out to sea when I held that philosophy. My years since definitively rejecting libertarianism have been spend in a boat retrieving these concepts about which I should've been thinking and reintegrating them into my worldview. Is radical empiricism's similar effect on questions of epistemology a similar mistake? Is it a repetition of "simple, neat, and wrong"? I sometimes worry that it is - it connects very well to the current core of my flavour of materialism and notions of truth though, and maybe I can't hope for anything better - my libertarianism was connected to ideas of justice that I have since rejected, and I don't think it was such a strong fit to my broad notions of morality (given that I was able to say "even if libertarian theories of justice, applied, make the world worse, I still would hold by them") - the supremacy of that notion of justice over other aspects of what is good was possibly unsustainable.

I am still wary of positions that sweep a lot of existing discussion under the rug. But then, maybe all of them do. Maybe that is in fact their job. Maybe this thoughtfulness and nuanced approach to questions is just as philosophical as the very strongly directed and intuitive response that I knew earlier. Or perhaps it's not so good to judge a philosophy by these things. Now we're straying near the metaphilosophical question of "how do we judge philosophies?", which is byzantine and best handled in groups of sufficiently thoughtful people.


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