Aesthetics for Birds

Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art for Everyone

December 15, 2017
by roytcook
1 Comment

Five Useful Facts About the Force and Related Matters (or, What You Need to Know Before You See the Last Jedi)

Star Wars: The Last Jedi opens today. I suspect many if not most of you will go see it. Hence, I constructed this little guide to some important aspects of the Star Wars saga. Obviously, given both the prevalence of words like “Force” and “Jedi” in the title of this film and the (narrative-wise) previous one, and what we know of the story so far, it seems safe to assume that the nature of the Force, and clashes between different aspects or interpretations of the Force, will be front-and-center in the new film. Hence, I’ve concentrated on some Force-errific trivia tidbits that might be useful in navigating that aspect of the story: Arguably, R2-D2 is the protagonist of the overall Star Wars story. In an interview conducted while filming Return of the Jedi, George Lucas stated that the Star Wars saga was being narrated by R2-D2 to the Keeper of … Continue reading

October 17, 2017
by utahphilosoraptor
1 Comment

The Intrigue Of Anonymity

  Banksy arrested!  Unmasked!  Exposed! [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEGxUYxJYz0?rel=0&w=560&h=315] Breaking fake news, as it turns out, created by a guy who has developed an Andy-Kaufmanesque approach to creating hoaxes, delighting in particular when his hoaxes get picked up by mainstream news sites.  The hoax article by Jimmy Rustling (how did the Internet not catch this? Come on, Internet.) mixes fiction with fact, and probably would make an excellent example for those interested in knowledge, the propagation of fake news, echo chambers and the like, (cough, cough), but I wondered: Why does Banksy bother with anonymity?  Banksy’s identity isn’t public, but the rough consensus is that Banksy is probably male, probably British, probably white, probably from Bristol, and probably in his forties.  Banksy has claimed that they’re anonymous because their work is illegal, but this seems not to capture the entirety of it.  Someone that worried about arrest wouldn’t publicize their work on … Continue reading

September 12, 2017
by Alex King
0 comments

We All Have Our Reasons

Comic artist Zach Weinersmith of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal talks about art: And the aftercomic, for those of you interested in questions about representation and depiction: And the referenced work, for your viewing pleasure, which has hilariously become Cesena’s profile pic on his Wikipedia page: According to Wikipedia: “It was widely said that when Cesena complained to the Pope, the pontiff joked that his jurisdiction did not extend to hell and the portrait would have to remain.”

July 20, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Emergent Poetry and Google Translate

Google Translate’s Emergent Poetry Some of you will be familiar with computer poetry, poetic compositions generated by computers using algorithms. Some of you may even be familiar with computer prose, as the book The Policeman’s Beard is Half Constructed (text here). There are lots of things to say about this. Who’s the author? Is it really poetry? And what does it say if computer poetry passes the Turing test? Last week, I stumbled upon something new in this neighborhood, care of Google Translate. You might think this would be generated by inputting something funny (but promising if you think about it) like assembly instructions or political speeches–or even something translated into a different language, then translated back. Instead, this Google Translate poetry takes as input a single, repeated Japanese hiragana character. As you can see above, the returns are surreal and delightful. (For all of these, I’ve used ‘ke’, け.) See here and here for … Continue reading

March 31, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
1 Comment

Vaporwave and Music Theory

Are music recordings their own type of musical instrument? How does timbre (vs. pitch, harmony, etc.) affect musical experience? What, really, is the point of music theory? And is vaporwave really dead? (Do you, Dear Reader, not yet know what vaporwave is – or was?) All these questions and more are addressed in this excellent video (from 2016 that I just discovered…) by YouTuber and musician Adam Neely.

March 13, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
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Jerry Saltz: Bad Art Cannot Become Good in New Contexts

Another entry in philosophy-meets-the-artworld: Famous art critic Jerry Saltz weighs in on Vulture about Robert Longo’s All You Zombies: Truth Before God, which was recently installed at the Whitney. Saltz writes of ‘badness’ as a “metaphysical constant”: Can older bad art be made good by changing political times? The short answer, I think, is “No.” Really bad art may be a metaphysical constant, and in the case of rediscovered, long overlooked masterpieces I tend to believe the work was always good and we just weren’t capable of seeing it yet. But says that, really, it might not be that important: But when thinking about how times change works of art, we probably need to get away from using words like good and bad. Let’s focus instead on values that make art useful: surprise, energy, redefinitions of skill, a willingness to fail flamboyantly, originality in pursuit of different ideas of beauty, ugliness, … Continue reading

February 21, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
2 Comments

Can #selfies be art? Saatchi says Yes

I’m going to go ahead and say Saatchi isn’t really that cutting edge on this one. People have been doing self-portraits for a long-ass time. Maybe those don’t count as “selfies” though? In any event, the famous Saatchi Gallery will host a show this spring called “From Selfie to Self-Expression”. This is funded together with the enormous Chinese telecom company Huawei. (Hm, I wonder why they’d be interested in selfies.) Maybe most exciting is for those artistic sorts who read the blog: You can enter your own selfie for a chance to be shown at Saatchi! They’re currently holding a selfie competition (entry rules here), open until March 12, 2017. You have to submit images via their website interface. For whatever reason, you can’t just post an Instagram with the #SaatchiSelfie hashtag and be entered. Although they do want you to use that hashtag on Twitter, Instagram, etc. Or you can just scope out … Continue reading

January 20, 2017
by Aesthetics for Birds
0 comments

Citizen Trump: an Inauguration Day Special from AFB

Did you know that Donald Trump’s favorite movie is Citizen Kane? Did you know that the famed film director (and one-time Berkeley philosophy PhD candidate) Errol Morris interviewed him about it? And did you know that LitHub’s Anthony Audi interviewed Errol Morris about that? On Rosebud, Morris recalls: It’s fun to hear Trump talk about how Rosebud somehow works, the metaphor works, “I don’t know why it works, but it works. After all, Steven Spielberg paid a lot of money for it, so it must work. Paid a lot of money, maybe seven figures, six figures.” This comment is in reference to Spielberg’s having purchased the sled used in the film for $60,500 in 1982. (In fairness, that is six figures in 2008 dollars – about $135k.) Humor aside, Trump seems to be suggesting an aesthetic theory on which money is evidence of – or perhaps constitutive of – quality. (Surprising, … Continue reading

January 10, 2017
by Alex King
2 Comments

Poet Answers Standardized Test Questions About Her Poetry – Incorrectly.

I must alert you to an awesome piece by poet Sara Holbrook on HuffPo, where she explains that Texas used two of her poems for middle school standardized tests. Holbrook: receives an email from a distressed teacher who doesn’t understand the answers discovers poor formatting that adds to the confusion finds the questions in question cannot, ultimately, answer them The narration of her thought process going through the questions is also delightful. At one point, she writes: Parents, educators, legislators, readers of news reports: STOP TAKING THESE TEST RESULTS SERIOUSLY Idiotic, hair-splitting questions pertaining to nothing, insufficient training, profit-driven motives on the part of the testing companies, and test results that simply reveal the income and education level of the parents. All very fair. But then a bit of intentionalism to finish it all off! My final reflection is this: any test that questions the motivations of the author without asking the … Continue reading