Category Archives: visual experiments

Luck and Creativity

The Cheap Seats (S.Calhoun 2015)

The Cheap Seats (S.Calhoun 2015)


Today, I grabbed by DSLR and took some photos of the early spring ground at locations where ‘complexity’ of the certain sort my symmetry-based photographic art is founded upon could be found and captured. The above image is a quickee.

I updated my Artist’s Statement at My Naive Art online gallery site.

Here it is, although I hope you’ll follow the link and check out my gallery.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

Creating visual pieces is a musical process. My guiding intentions are to learn by doing experiments, discover unique territories by implicating factors of serendipity and novelty, and, enjoy my adventurous creative process.

My art’s goal is to first grip the viewer, and next draw he or she into exploration and into surprising experience. This comes to a fine confrontation between apprehensive sensibility and artwork in my recent symmetry pieces. These have been described as approximating the effect of a Rorsach pattern. Yes!

Pareidolia is the psychological phenomenon where people see recognizable shapes in clouds, rock formations, or otherwise unrelated objects or data.

It is by my artistic intention that I aim to evoke a moment of psychological discovery to be waged in the representational folds of the symmetry pieces. So it is: I hope for the viewer to inhabit an evocative experience of Pareidolia.

Echoing both my research interest in serendipity in adult development and my musical aesthetic as an improvising composer, the raw exploration involved in seeking out a compelling artistic production is deeply woven betwixt intentional technique and generative/stochastic procedures. The aim is to capture an opportunity for myself and viewers of pure experience.

As pianist Paul Bley aptly said of jazz, ‘it is composing in real time.’ In my visual realm, I compose in serendipitous time.

Stephen, March 2015

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Visual Experiment: Character Mandala No. 1c

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist
Character Mandala No.1c (2015, Stephen Calhoun)

my art online:

My Naive Art

Symmetry Hypothesis

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Views From Above, Mirrored

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist
Where In the World? Series HGN#2

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist
Where In the World? Series HGN#1

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist
Where In the World? Series HGN#1

Where In the World? Workshop Series. Deploying Google Earth as a source of overhead urban images of sufficient complexity and character to further work via manipulative mirroring routines; and, also using Photoshop actions to further manipulate the look.

These three images, then, represent different experiments. My perspective is similar to that of the great jazz bassist Charles Mingus, who characterized his musical explorations as being “incomplete and unending workshops in sound and organization.”

These three experiments reflect screen captures of overhead views of a particular city that is known to me and would be a puzzle to resolve, for the viewer.

Gallery of my visual experiments, 1998-.

Symmetry experiments at symmetry-hypothesis@tumblr

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Going Down, Going Deep

Stephen Calhoun, fine artist
Going Down – 14×11″, from a photograph, 2015, Stephen Calhoun – my symmetry experiments on tumblr

bonus:

Coral City from The Creators Project on Vimeo.

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Cold Baby

coldbaby

The studio on the third floor of our century home is rarely the warmest location in the house, but, whereas the first floor had settled in at 56–as our gas furnace just couldn’t keep up–the studio in the attic was at 66 degrees!

I worked on some music, then worked on a remix of the famous Nile mosaic.

fine artist Stephen Calhoun, Cleveland Heights

Egyptian Mandala Version #1 (2015, S.Calhoun) remix of the Nile Mosaic

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Heironymus Bosch remixes

Bosch-remix-versions#4IMG_0799

My series of experiments visually remixing Peter Brueghel the Elder by using symmetry manipulations led me to my next subject, Hieronymus Bosch.

Extraction of the Stone of Folly

Extraction of the Stone of Folly

Here are several keepers

Boschremix#3

Boschremix#2

Bosch-remix#1

Very little is known about Bosch, which somehow seems fitting since his work is so enigmatic. We know that he adopted the name of the Dutch town of s’Hertogenbosch (near Antwerp) as his own, that he belonged to an ultra-orthodox religious community called the Brotherhood of Mary, and that in his own day he was famous. Many of his paintings are devotional, and there are several on the theme of the Passion. He is specially famous for his fantastic, demon-filled works. (src)

hieronymus-bosch.org

bonus:
Hieronymus Bosch, the Trendiest Apocalyptic Medieval Painter of 2014
The Garden of Earthly Delights is now on leggings, in children’s books, and getting name-checked by cool bands. Why?

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The Pen

The Pen

The Pen – 12×12″ – from a photograph – S.Calhoun

Although it is evidently visible yet there is no one there who sees it. Amazing!

Even though it exists in everyone everywhere yet it has gone unrecognized. Amazing!

Nevertheless, you hope to obtain some other fruit than this elsewhere. Amazing!

Even though it exists within yourself and nowhere else yet you seek for it elsewhere. Amazing!

–Rumi

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Generative Alchemy

Brueghel - The Alchemist

Brueghel: The Alchemist

Calhoun Generative Art
The Alchemy of Symmetry – Excerpt from Brueghel’s The Alchemist
S.Calhoun (2014) 10×10″

This piece is part of a large series that will likely be presented in a short film. The film is intended to show the interplay of manipulations and recursions involved in generating different pieces.

I dedicate this new series to Ms. Uidhi. (I may be one of a handful of artists, or pseudo-artists, focusing on creative luckiness in the context of a post-academic post-scholarly focus on the situation of serendipity in adult development. This could include meandering into philosophical swamps.

IP LAF Forum: Christy Mag Uidhi on Artistic Serendipity vs. Artistic Luck, 25 Sept

Tuesday 23 September 2014

INSTITUTE OF PHILOSOPHY

Thurs 25 September 2014, 4.00pm
IP London Aesthetics Forum: Room G34, Senate House, WC1
Artistic Serendipity vs. Artistic Luck
Christy Mag Uidhi (Houston)
Supported by the British Society of Aesthetics

It is standardly thought that artworks may gain and lose art-relevant properties over time (and thereby may also admit of similar gains and losses in artistic value). From this it follows that insofar as such gains and losses may be well outside the control of the artist, we ought to expect any minimally adequate theory of art and its value as such to come with (or at least be amenable to) some minimal notion of artistic luck and artistic achievement (such that ascriptions of the one undermine ascriptions of the other). In this talk, I’ll sketch what I take to be uncontroversial minimal accounts of both artistic luck and artistic achievement. From these I show it to follow that if artworks must be products of intentional action, then there can be no such thing as artistic luck (either descriptively or evaluatively). I claim the only formative role luck might play in our understanding of art and its value as such is to provide the means by which we may productively carve out an informative sub-class of artistic achievement: specifically that of artistic serendipity.

Ends.

[My bold.] Intention, serendipity. Intentional serendipity is pseudo-serendipity. It is a kind of search routine. I don’t subscribe to the idea that intentionality is properly monolithic or exclusionary. But, I concede that psychologizing the artist’s creative process may take my own considerations and sensemaking out of and away from a proper philosophy of aesthetics.

Nor do I know what Ms. Mag Uidhi has in mind to flesh out the intriguing precis.

For my own part, there is so much in my creative process that permits creative intention-up-to-the-point of pulling the curtains away, and, thus includes less discrete combinations of intention and, fundamentally, hope about the unknown!

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Between Heaven and Hell

Hell
Hell, S.Calhoun (2014) symmetry experiment

Heaven&theGarden-of-Eden
Heaven and the Garden of Eden, (2014) S.Calhoun, symmetry experiment

Without contraries is no progres-
sion. Attraction and repulsion, rea-
son and energy, love and hate, are
necessary to human existence.

From these contraries spring what
the religious call Good and Evil.
Good is the passive that obeys reason;
Evil is the active springing from
Energy.

Good is heaven. Evil is hell.

Energy is Eternal Delight.

Those who restrain desire, do so
because theirs is weak enough to be
restrained; and the restrainer or
reason usurps its place and governs
the unwilling.

And being restrained, it by degrees
becomes passive, till it is only the
shadow of desire.

The history of this is written in
Paradise Lost, and the Governor or
Reason is called Messiah.

And the original Archangel or pos-
sessor of the command of the heavenly
host is called the Devil, or Satan, and
his children are called Sin and Death.

But in the book of Job, Milton’s
Messiah is called Satan.

For this history has been adopted by
both parties.

It indeed appeared to Reason as if
desire was cast out, but the Devil’s
account is, that the Messiah fell, and
formed a heaven of what he stole from
the abyss.

This is shown in the Gospel, where
he prays to the Father to send the
Comforter or desire that Reason may
have ideas to build on, the Jehovah
of the Bible being no other than he
who dwells in flaming fire. Know
that after Christ’s death he became
Jehovah.

But in Milton, the Father is Destiny,
the Son a ratio of the five senses, and
the Holy Ghost vacuum !

Note. — The reason Milton wrote
in fetters when he wrote of Angels
and God, and at Uberty when of
Devils and Hell, is because he was
a true poet, and of the Devil’s party
without knowing it.

excerpts from William Blake – The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (fulltext)

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Creative Workflow – Cat Trying to Swallow Its Own Tail

In the Tariqa note

In zoom mode in Photoshop, while preparing a large new piece to be reduced to a PNG for publishing on the gallery blog, an interesting overall configuration of small details in the edge style of the digital image file.

Edge style

Because I’m nowadays very sensitive to the level of complexity a possibly worthwhile mirror transformation requires to hopefully capture an intriguing symmetry, I moved around the small scale details looking for a candidate. The first image shows the workflow and the second image above is the detail I discovered.

The result is a symmetry I like. (more I like)

Symmetry

The actual details of the 300dpi original are too small to really see in the 16×10″ proof.

The two hallmarks of my creative ethos and artistic experimentation are: generativity and recursion. I work toward a surprising conclusion by implicating those two procedural factors. In the visual realm the manifestation of both is very clearly exemplified in the above example: the discovery of a small scale within the large scale provides a recursive capture and the mirroring manipulation generates the symmetry. I act as a spotter.

Interestingly, the small scale details result from generative manipulations of the original piece, and the original piece itself is the result of blending two layers both captured in different generative procedures that are keyed by programmed search routines. Those generative instrumentalities, then, represent a recursive routine in their own right.

The final recursion is: this all evokes Gregory Bateson. (see: Peter Harries-Jones: Gregory Bateson, Heterarchies, and the Topology of Recursion. Cybernetics and Human Knowing 12(1-2): 168-174 (2005))

Among Bateson scholars, Peter Harries-Jones (1995) is notable for looking at Gregory’s “ecology of mind” in the context of his mature work, using terms for it associated with that period, “recursive epistemology” or “ecological epistemology.” The processes with which Gregory was concerned were essentially processes of knowing: perception, communication, coding and translation. Ergo epistemology. But basic to this epistemology was the differentiation of logical levels, including the relationship between the knower and the known, ergo a recursive epistemology. Ideally, the relationship between the patterns of the biological world and our understanding of it would be one of congruence, of fit, a broader and more pervasive similarity than the ability to predict in experimental contexts that depend upon simplification and selective attention. It seems useful to refer to Gregory’s ecology of mind as an epistemological ecology to contrast it with the largely materialistic ecology of academic departments. It seems essential to underline that recursiveness is a necessary feature of such an epistemology (and perhaps of every epistemology, since every effort to know about knowing involves the cat trying to swallow its own tail).

Bateson was haunted in his last years by a sense of urgency, a sense that the narrow definition of human purposes, reinforced by technology, would lead to irreversible disasters, and that only a better epistemology could save us. Certainly irreversibilities lie all around us, many, like global warming, the decay of the ozone layer, and the movement of poisons through global food chains, set on courses it is too late to change although we have yet to suffer their full effect. Still, the situation has not worsened as rapidly as he predicted and perhaps he sometimes succumbed to the lure of dramatizing a message in order to get it across in ways that later undermine that message. But the habits of mind that he described can be seen in every newspaper or newscast: the search for short term solutions that worsen the problem over time (often by mirroring it, such as violence used to oppose violence); the focus on individual persons or organisms or even species, seen in isolation; the tendency to let technological possibility or economic indicators replace reflection; the effort to maximize single variables (like profit) rather than optimizing the relationship among a complex set of variables.

Mary Catherine Bateson – new Introduction to Step to An Ecology of Mind by Gregory Bateson, 2000)

One last recursive piece – that can be thought of as recursive in a second order, thus by way of duplication and “re-relation.”

The Pir x Eight
The Pir x Eight – (2014) S. Calhoun – 17×11 proof for giclee

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Amusement Park

Amusement Park

Amusement Park – S.Calhoun 2014 – 14×11″ – from a photograph

Of course there’s a giant genre of youtube videos featuring point-of-view roller coaster rides. For me, nearing sixty, the scariest thing about a roller coaster is waiting in line for a couple of hours.

Camus’s would-be favorite:

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Teaching Story – The Great Warrior

Kabuki symmetry

Kabuki Warrior (S.Calhoun-2014)

There once lived a great warrior. Though quite old, he still was able to defeat any challenger. His reputation extended far and wide throughout the land and many students gathered to study under him.

One day an infamous young warrior arrived at the village. He was determined to be the first man to defeat the great master. Along with his strength, he had an uncanny ability to spot and exploit any weakness in an opponent. He would wait for his opponent to make the first move, thus revealing a weakness, and then would strike with merciless force and lightning speed. No one had ever lasted with him in a match beyond the first move.

Much against the advice of his concerned students, the old master gladly accepted the young warrior’s challenge. As the two squared off for battle, the young warrior began to hurl insults at the old master. He threw dirt and spit in his face. For hours he verbally assaulted him with every curse and insult known to mankind. But the old warrior merely stood there motionless and calm. Finally, the young warrior exhausted himself. Knowing he was defeated, he left feeling shamed.

Somewhat disappointed that he did not fight the insolent youth, the students gathered around the old master and questioned him. “How could you endure such an indignity? How did you drive him away?”

“If someone comes to give you a gift and you do not receive it,” the master replied, “to whom does the gift belong?”

from: Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors

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Artist’s Way of Flow

Alchemical Function versions

The first example is the final version. Second is the original photograph of lilies taken in our backyard, and then follow several versions. Recently, I’ve taken my one year+ experiments in applying symmetry translations to photographs and other sources in a new direction by applying additional generative content to the pre-mirrored raw sources. If that content is itself a symmetry, then I can mirror the symmetry in the mirroring of the conjoined source.

Alchemical Function

2014 – Alchemical Function – 18×12″ proof

The final version reflects–pun intended–the layering of a pattern over the photo of the lilies. This pattern was derived on the iPad using an app, then mirrored, enlarged, layered at partial opacity over the photograph and mirrored a last time.


symmetry experiments: tumblr

my naive art: online ongoing gallery

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New URL for Symmetry-Hypotheses

2 Views of Coleridge

Two Views of Coleridge

On July 2 I publicized the new Tumblr site for barely washed results from the symmetry section of the visual lab.

Soon enough I realized the title of the Tumblr blog and the URL were not in alignment. I cast off the old URL and sent all the old addresses into something like intertube purgatory. However, the now congruent site at least reflects its theme in its titling and addressing.

symmetry-hypotheses.tumblr.com

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Mirroring NASA Galactic Photos

Carina Nebula

Carina Nebula

symmetry Carina Nebula

Vertical symmetry. I recently had reason to do a lot of searching in PD image resources. Because I have a good idea of what makes for good source material for adding to my symmetry series of visual experiments, I knew this Hubble photo from NASA would be a likely fruitful source. Yup.

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Tumblr Site for Symmetry Series

Symmetry-Hypothesis

 

I created a tumblr for my symmetry and mirroring visual experiments, Symmetry-hypothesis.

The main gallery of experiments my naive art will receive the best of my symmetry and other visual experiments, while the tumblr will receive symmetry-focused rejects, works-in-progress, amusing failures, and the good stuff. Be sure to click on the icons to see the full view.

Symmetry-hypothesis

 

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Symmetry Series – The Dowser

The Dowser  - series

The Dowser — series – symmetry sketches from a photograph – S.Calhoun 2014

The source photograph, taken with an iPhone 4s, ProCamera app, is at the top. The manipulations were all done using the excellent stand-alone application (for Apple devices,) FX Photo Studio Pro 2.7.

I do not know if there is a keeper in this series. Still, the series reflects the fascinating metamorphosis of feel that simple alterations generate. The black and white bottom item looks like an old illustration in a children’s book.

Above it is one that might be worth doing manipulations within Photoshop.

 

 

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Talking

Talking S Calhoun

Talking No. 4 (photograph + manipulation; S.Calhoun 2014)

African parable: A hunter went into the bush and found a human skull. The hunter asked, “What brought you here?” The skull replied, “Talking brought me here.”

Overwhelmed with his find, the hunter ran to tell the king. When the king heard the story he said, “Never in my life have I heard of a talking skull.” He summoned his wise men and asked them about this oddity. But none of them had heard of a talking skull, either.

So the king summoned one of his guards and said, “Go with this hunter into the bush. Find the skull. If it talks, bring it back to me. If the hunter is lying, kill him.”

The hunter and the guard went into the bush and found the skull. The hunter said, “What brought you here, skull?” But the skull was silent. So the guard killed the hunter on the spot.

After the guard departed, the skull opened its mouth and asked the dead hunter, “What brought you here?”

“Talking brought me here,” the hunter replied.

Candles in the Dark A Treasury of the World’s Most Inspiring Parables compiled by Todd Outcalt

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Sepia Invitees

Set-up

The Set-Up – the ongoing model two-master being slowly integrated into the garden. It’s been there for over a year. As a photographic subject, it has been the source material of a handful of intriguing pieces in my ongoing Symmetry Series.

Sepia-Invitees

Sepia Invitees 2014 -S.Calhoun – 19″x13″

This is a spooky piece and I’m on the fence about whether or not I will run it through the large format printer.

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Shell Game

digital art: Shell Game S.Calhoun

Shell Game – 2014 – 14 x 11 – digital proof for dye giclee

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