Tuesday 11 November 2008

Follow-up to the Stockholm paper

NB. There may be people coming to this blog because I gave the URL at the talk. If you want specifically to see my blog posts with some relevance to the talk, click on the 'art' label from the list of labels in the left-hand column. Or just click here.

There are things that I know I failed to get across in the talk. Here's one.

I probably gave the impression that I was implying that there was something inferior about the Hirst, because it was possible to generate some sort of image of it using relatively few bits. I am suggesting that in a 'JPEG' layer it is possible to generate a version of the LSD with far fewer bits than are required for any sort of image of the Degas, but that does not imply that LSD is necessarily inferior. I really did mean it when I said that I can't pass judgements like that.

What it does seem to imply, however, is that the 'value' of the Hirst must reside to a great degree in the trapeziums, so that there is a lot of 'added-value' on the way up at the receiver. Maybe there is also similarly a lot of added value in the way up for the Degas, but it is the Hirst that reveals the fact. In fact, I might tentatively suggest that the more abstract the art is, the more weight is placed on the trapeziums, because they provide the context. Again, that is not to say that context doesn't matter for all art. I'm sure it does, but maybe abstract, and even more conceptual, art draw more attention to this role of context.

Now, it is true that the Degas has more value for me than the Hirst. But then that is explainable entirely by saying that I don't have access to the requisite context, so I don't have the trapeziums at the receiver in order to interpret the information contained in the Hirst. In fact, I did try and failed to locate an explanation of the Hirst spot paintings. I also tried to locate one of them that I might be able to visit, but also failed in that. (If someone reading this can help me there - with either the explanation or the location - that would be great!). By contrast, the reason I chose the Degas for my presentation, was that I'd read something about it a few months back (I've written about it in this blog a few time - here was the first). At the start, I'm not sure the Degas would have caught my attention, but over the past few months I've developed a fascination with it.

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