on art

As of today, no one knows how to translate paintings, flowers or music into language. Their beauty is implicit and exclusive to their form, which is why it's so hard to explain how a particular piece of art makes us feel.


nothing is original. steal from anywhere that resonates and fuels imagination.

old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, architecture, conversations, bridges, street signs, trees and clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows.

only streal things that speak directly to your soul and your work (and theft) will be authentic. originality is non-existent, authenticity is invaluable.

it's not where you take things from-it's where you take them to.

in the end, stories are about one person saying to another: this is the way it feels to me. can you understand what i'm saying? does it feel this way to you too?

crowd exists as long as it has an unattained goal.

the idea becomes a machine that makes the art

note mentions

  • ego-simple-noframe

    this is a collection of notes that i've written over time, mostly for myself. in the spirit of working with garage doors open, i've published them and open sourced this website. works under writing are original, my notes a mix of thoughts with quotes from the artwork subject of the note.


    writing

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    notes

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    books

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    articles

    ⠀⠀

    film

    symbols

    • ∴ (therefore)
    • → (if then)
    • ↔ (if and only if)
    • (consequence of)
    • ≔ (definition)
    • ⫫ (independent from)
    • ∵ (because)
    • ∃, ∄ (there exists/does not exist)
    • ∈, ∉ (belongs to/does not belong to)


    ⠀ ⠀

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    writing keeps ideas in space

    speech lets them travel in time

    we use paintings to decorate space

    and music to decorate time

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    find the way by moonlight

    see the dawn before

    the rest of the world

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    unconscious time, no peace of mind,

    falling in space but still alive.

    sketching the future in a single line,

    everything's spinning, cannot sit down.

    moments in space, places in time,

    thoughts penciled in, now come to life.

    ⠀ ⠀

    ⠀ ⠀

    As of today, no one knows how to translate paintings, flowers or music into language. Their beauty is implicit and exclusive to their form, which is why it's so hard to explain how a particular piece of art makes us feel.

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    Eduardo Gonzalez

    ego-noframe

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    notes

  • futurecinema

    what comes after cinema?

    eduardo gonzalez, aug 2023


    summary

    AI images have quickly evolved to a point of near-perfect photorealism and some have already gone viral worldwide.

    text-to-image models are not creative but derivative. they use data from countless artworks, sometimes without the author's consent, to create new and original results.

    • this mechanism is largely responsible for negative reactions + debates around copyright, misinformation and ethical implications of artificial intelligence in the creative process.
    • record labels are hostile but they'll embrace it as soon as they profit from it. maybe some new art = dead artists + current artists (Bad Bunny + The Beatles?)

    it seems this new era of media creation is hostile to artists, but its not the first time technology has disrupted art.

    the rise of photography in the 1850s is a good example.

    • photographers could capture reality instantly and with perfect accuracy than painters.
    • photography enabled mass reproduction of art that allowed multitudes of people to see them, but degraded each artwork's individual impact (∴ influence)
    • privacy concerns: taking photos of others without their consent
    • copyright concerns: who owns the photo? photographer or photographed?

    until then, painters were judged by their ability to accurately represent reality. they felt threatened since anyone with a camera could now do their job.

    • as photography became accepted as a new form of art, it suddenly helped to reduce these expectations. artists could now explore ideas without worrying about visual accuracy.
    • ⤷ painting (art) had its biggest revolution, visually and philosophically: impressionism (1860s-1880s), cubism (1910s), surrealism (1920s-1930s), abstract art (1910s-now) and eventually, cinema.

    text-to-image generation is still in its infancy (!) but text-to-video models are imminent.

    • current ai models already show impressive understanding of cinematic language (on ai) and it won't be long until anyone is able to create photorealistic movies using natural language. this will challenge cinema like photography did to art.
    • users specify cameras, lenses and framings, AI models create photorealistic sets, props, actors and dialogue.
    • no need for physical locations, crews or large budgets → cost of making movies will significantly decline.
    • democratization of the hollywood film studio → new voices previously limited by costs of filmmaking.

    as of today, no one knows how to translate paintings, flowers or music into language. their beauty is implicit and exclusive to their form, which is why it's so hard to explain how a particular piece of art makes us feel.

    • a new epoch of cinema will arrive: anyone will be able to make a movie using natural language ∴ film and text will become the same thing. (→on ai)
    • every frame will be generated, not filmed.
    • anyone will be able to read, write or watch a movie.
    • cinema will detach from the camera.
    • this won’t be better or worse, just different. (→on cinema)

    ⠀ ⠀

    full article

    Usage of AI tools skyrocketed on launch and their impact is being felt in many fields, from financial accounting to psychologist's offices and creative studios. Image generation with AI has also evolved in a short time to a point of near-perfect photorealism and some artificial images have already gone viral worldwide.

    AI models are not creative but derivative, meaning they use elements and styles of countless artworks and paintings, sometimes without their creator's consent, to create new and original results. This mechanism is particularly responsible for negative reactions and debates around copyright, misinformation and the ethical implications of artificial intelligence in the creative process.

    Just recently on April 14, TikTok user Ghostwriter977 released "Heart on My Sleeve", a song that used AI to mimic the voices of singers Drake and The Weekend, without neither singer being involved in the process. Just 3 days later, their record label, Universal Music, condemned the use of AI to create the song, invoked copyright violation to take down the track, and asked streaming platforms to block AI companies from accessing their songs. The 2-minute-14-second song had already been listened to over 20 million times by then.

    Not all reactions have been negative: the Japanese government became the first one to settle that they won't enforce copyright on artworks used for AI training and British singer Paul McCartney recently announced that the 'last Beatles song' will be completed using AI and released in 2023. The use and progress of these tools will only increase, soon disrupting all areas of artistic creation, from music and painting to photography and cinema. And while Record labels and Studios are currently hostile towards AI, I believe they'll embrace it as soon as they start to profit from it. (Maybe dead artists and actors will be revived to make new songs and movies with current artists, Bad Bunny+Freddie Mercury?)

    fridas

    Feb 2022⠀ April 2022 ⠀July 2022⠀ Nov 2022 ⠀March 2023
    "Frida Kahlo browsing her phone"

    But even if it seems we might be entering an new era of media creation that is hostile to artists, this is not the first time technology has disrupted art. The birth and rise of Photography in the 1850s enabled a mass reproduction of art which allowed paintings and sculptures to be seen my multitudes of people, while simultaneously degrading their individual influence and impact.

    Artists who made a living making portraits of people or vedutas (hyper-realistic paintings of cities, often souvenirs for tourists) felt threatened since photography could capture reality instantly and with more accuracy than them. The jobs they had for centuries could now be done by anyone with a camera. Privacy and copyright concerns became a heated issue as well: if people can photograph others without their consent, who owns the photo? Photographer or photographed?

    If photography is allowed to replace art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it completely, thanks to the natural alliance it will find in the stupidity of the multitude.

    – Charles Baudelaire, Salon de 1859

    Until then, painters and their art were usually judged by their ability to accurately represent reality. As photography became more adopted and accepted as a new form of art, it suddenly reduced these expectations. Artists were now free to explore and pursue their own interests, passions and ideas without needing to worry about visual accuracy. Modernists movements like Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Art soon followed, and painting had its biggest revolution, both visually and philosophically.

    photo-on-art

    Art in the 1850s⠀⠀Photography (1850s)⠀⠀Art in the 1900s

    Photography kept evolving and eventually allowed for the birth of an even more powerful art form to arrive, cinema. Although AI technologies are still in their infancy and limited to image generation, the arrival of text-to-video models is imminent and could challenge Cinema just like photography did to art. Current models already show an impressive understanding of cinematic language and it won't be long until anyone is able to create a photorealistic movie by simply writing a script and describing the rest of the movie using natural language. Users will be able to specify cameras, lenses and framings and AI models will create photorealistic sets, props, actors and dialogue that match the user's intentions.

    Without the need for physical locations, crews or large budgets, the cost of making movies will be significantly reduced, allowing for a democratization of the Hollywood Film Studio that will open the door for new voices previously limited by the cost of filmmaking.

    Images from these movies might not be human but knowledge behind them certainly will be. Human creativity will then ultimately determine how meaningful AI-aided cinema is: ideas and stories explored will need to be powerful to allow them to travel through minds and eventually become culture.

    beethoven

    An example where I asked an AI model to generate an image of
    "Beethoven directing an orchestra in mars"
    in 8mm, 16mm, 35mm and digital film

    As of today, no one knows how to translate paintings, flowers or music into language. Their beauty is implicit and exclusive to their form, which is why it's so hard to explain how a particular piece of art makes us feel.

    Traditional Cinema will always exist, but as progress in AI image and video generation continues, I believe a new epoch of cinema will emerge where anyone will be able to make a movie using natural language. For the first time, film and text will become the same thing: anyone will be able to read, write or watch a movie and every frame will be generated, not filmed.

    This new Synthetic Cinema will allow movies to detach from the camera, empowering filmmakers to break free from the limits of traditional cinema and pioneer new visual styles, just like impressionists did when they created a new visual style by removing physical influence from painting a century ago.

    These movies won't be better or worse, they'll just be different.

    after cinema

    • record labels are hostile but they'll embrace it as soon as they profit from it. maybe some new art = dead artists + current artists (Bad Bunny + The Beatles?)
    • photography enabled mass reproduction of art that allowed multitudes of people to see them, but degraded each artwork's individual impact (∴ influence)
    • as photography became accepted as a new form of art, it suddenly helped to reduce these expectations. artists could now explore ideas without worrying about visual accuracy.
    • ⤷ painting (art) had its biggest revolution, visually and philosophically: impressionism (1860s-1880s), cubism (1910s), surrealism (1920s-1930s), abstract art (1910s-now) and eventually, cinema.
    • current ai models already show impressive understanding of cinematic language (on ai) and it won't be long until anyone is able to create photorealistic movies using natural language. this will challenge cinema like photography did to art.
      If photography is allowed to replace art in some of its functions, it will soon have supplanted or corrupted it completely, thanks to the natural alliance it will find in the stupidity of the multitude.
  • the beginning of infinity

    notes on david deutsch's (fascinating) the beginning of infinity (2011), about infinity & universality, memetics and philosophy of science.

    beg-of-infinity

    Sep 22, 2021 → Jan 16, 2022

    • "we do not know why the laws of physics seem fine-tuned, why various forms of universality exist, or why the world is explicable. but eventually we shall. And when we do, there will be infinitely more left to explain."
    • "if the question is interesting, the problem is soluble."

    ⠀ ⠀

    knowledge

    curiosity: thinking existing explanations don't fully capture the ideas behind them, being unsatisfied with current stories.

    • guessing is ∴ the single process thought which all knowledge originates: wonder → guessing → conjecture → speculation, which is vital for discovery.
    • when stories/explanations can't be changed anymore, we have understood objective truth, and, like magic, what we understand we then control.
    • the only path for knowledge creation is then error-correcting → finding good explanations (conjecture+criticism+experiment) = progress.
    • there can ∴ be no aspects of reality beyond our brain's capacity: if (brain capacity==computational speed + memory) we can use the computer, just like we have used pen and paper to understand the world for centuries.

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    creativity: ability to create and replicate ideas to increase the amount of usable knowledge.

    • parrots copy sounds, apes copy movements, but humans create: it's (conjecture+criticism+experiment) to form good explanations of other's behaviour and the world → this is creativity.
    • must be an evolutionary process within brains since it depends on conjecture (variation) and criticism (selection).
    • human brains are physical objects that evolved to replicate ideas (Blackmore). thoughts are computations permitted under the laws of nature.

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    ideas: information that can be stored in human brains and affects behaviour.

    • knowledge is created by human thought, preserved and transmitted by human culture (not genetically, which is why some humans are able to survive in jungle and others in the arctic)
    • abstract language, explanations, wealth above subsistence and long-range trade gave power to ideas. by the time history began to be recorded, it was the history of ideas.

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    culture: set of ideas that cause holders to behave alike.

    • ideas are rarely expressed with the same words and can vary in both written and spoken language. yet, they stay the same idea.
    • if a parrot repeats Aristotle, sound is there but knowledge (replicator) isn't → replicators of ideas are abstract, they're the knowledge itself.
    • reach of ideas in world of abstraction is a property of knowledge they contain. theory can have infinite reach even if person is unaware.
    • for centuries, people have tried to explain the mind in mechanical terms, using metaphors based on the most complex machines of the day (complicated set of gears, hydraulic pipes, steam engines, telephone exchanges, and now, the computer.)
    • but "brain=engine" ≠ "brain=computer": computers are universal simulators. expecting them to behave like neurones is not a metaphor, it's a known proven property of physics and computers

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    beauty

    some aspects of nature (night sky, waterfalls, sunsets) seem to be beautiful to humans but show no signs of being designed with this intention. However, flowers do seem to have an apparent design for beauty.

    • flowers need insects to bring them pollen and insects need flowers to get. how these 2 wildly distinct species evolve to communicate this?
    • flower evolved genes to make their shape attractive to insects, which bring pollen. insects evolved genes that attract them to flowers with the best nectar (most beautiful ones)
    • nature seems to have used beauty to allow these 2 wildly distinct species to communicate.

    humans recognizing that flowers are beautiful even though they evolved this way for unrelated purposes is evidence that some beauty is objective: it can be found in all places from the flower's genome to human minds.

    • flowers have to create objective beauty and insects have to recognize objective beauty.
    • beauty then must exist in 2 kinds: subjective(local to species/culture/individuals, parochial) and objective(universal).
    • ⤷ local and subjective/parochial criteria of beauty evolved within a species to produce something that looks beautiful to us.

    • if beauty can be objective like the laws of nature and mathematical theorems, then new works of art must add new knowledge to the world just like scientific theories do.

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    philo

    optimism: all failures are due to insufficient knowledge.

    • optimism in civilizations has led to mini-enlightenments, traditions of criticisms that lead to patterns of human progress: art, philosophy, science, technology and open institutions.
    • Athen's Golden Age (V. bc): one of firsts democracies. home to Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the playwrights Aeschylus, Aristophanes, Euripides and Sophocles, and the historians Herodotus, Thucydides and Xenophon.
    • democratic tradition dated back to Thales (6th C. BCE) and Xenophanes (570-480 BCE). Pericles argued (Funeral Oration, 431 BCE) it existed not because people should rule but because it promotes wise action (continual discussion, necessary condition for discovery and progress)
    • Florentine's believe of improving ancient knowledge. began in art, then philosophy, science and technology. led to humanism (knowledge > dogma, intellectual independence, curiosity, taste)
    • progress implies discoveries are inconceivable. dynamic societies are those that expect their knowledge to grow unpredictably.
    • Popper's criterion is met by societies that expect their knowledge to grow unpredictably ∴ he's an optimist, progress implies discoveries are inconceivable.

    enlightenment: 1688 (English Enlightenment), inconceivable a century earlier.

    • success at making scientific discoveries implies commitment to values of progress: truth, good explanations, open to ideas and change, tolerance, integrity, openness of debate.
    • necessary condition for progress: change meant new authorities replaced old ones, so tradition of criticism was needed to sustain rapid growth of knowledge.
    • Universal theories of justices, legitimacy and morality began to take place alongside universal theories of matter and motion as philosophers set out to free institutions from arbitrary rules. (Locke→political) universality was now a desirable feature.
    • emergence of methodical rule that scientific theories must be testable, rebellion against authority of knowledge. "problems as soluble and inevitable, progress is attainable and desirable."

    static societies: people could expect to die under the same values, lifestyles, technology and patterns of economic production.

    • universality needs appreciation of abstract knowledge for its own/to yield unforeseeable benefits. unnatural in static societies.
    • small populations + parochial knowledge → big ideas are set millennia apart.
    • if way of life leads to more efficient methods of living (farming, medicine...) it is not sustainable → population grows, fewer workers are needed ∴ live the solution and set about solving the new problems it creates. only progress is sustainable.

    humans alone are authors of explanatory knowledge, the human behaviour called history.

    • Knowledge alone converts landscapes into resources or prevents improvements (≠Marx, Engels). ideas and not biogeographical explanations account for events: can't explain the fall of the USSR with climate, minerals or flora/fauna.
    • Marx's theory of history was evolutionary and described a progression though historical stages, determined by economic "laws of motion". He used Darwin's theory as a basis for the historical class struggle (biological species ≈ socio-economic classes). Facsist groups use this and other misinterpretations of evolution to justify violence.
    • (presence of gene is always explained as being caused by more replications than rival genes. competition in biological evolution is between variant of genes within a species: can produce violence or cooperation.)

    ⠀ ⠀

    science

    nature of science can be understood with theories=misconceptions

    • Einstein doesn't correct Newton but is radically different (gravitational force, uniform flow of time in respect to motion). same with Kepler and Newton. each ignores and denies its predecessors' basic means of explaining reality.
    • explanations were never true ∴ successive explanations ≠ growth of knowledge about reality.
    • Einstein's misconception of Gravity was an improvement on Newton's misconception, which was an improvement on Kepler's. neo-Darwinian evolution is an improvement on Darwin's misconception, and his on Lamarck's. No infallibility nor finality.

    scientific method: increasingly difficult to ignore philosophical implications of the fact that nature had been understood in unprecedented depth, and of the methods of science and reason by which it was done.

    • perhaps it started with Galileo and became irreversible with newton. (his laws replicated themselves as rational ideas and fidelity was very high as they were so useful)
    • no way of missing rapid that progress was underway after newton. (some like Rousseau tried by arguing reason as harmful, civilization as bad and primitive live as happy).
    • No process can reveal the content and consequences of a discovery before it is made. scientific discovery is ∴ unpredictable but determined by the laws of physics

    evolution: optimizes neither good of species or individual, but the relative ability of surviving variants to spread through population. it favours only genes that spread best.

    • peacock's colourful tail: diminishes viability and harder to evade predators but prominent mating ∴ offspring has more prominent tails, ↻.

    genetic code as language for organisms has shown phenomenal reach.

    • genes replicate themselves by an indirect chemical route, being templates for similar molecules. evolved to specify organisms without having a nervous system, organs, senses, ability to exert force or move.
    • knowledge embodied in genes describes how to get replicated and functionality is achieved by encoding regularities in environments. complexity ≠ evolutionary adaptation. Darwin crystallized this: random mutations are discarded by natural selection.
    • might not be universal since it relies on specific chemicals (proteins) but could be universal constructor (created from inorganic materials like calcium phosphate in bones, programs organisms to construct outside their bodies: nests, dams, houses...)
    • RNA acts as the program which directs the synthesis of enzymes (catalysts, promotes change to other chemicals while remaining unchanged itself) catalysts control all chemical production and regulatory functions of an organism ∴ ≔ organism itself.

    evolution of biological adaptations and creation of human knowledge are similar (ideas and genes are replicators, knowledge and adaptation hard to vary) yet distinct (human knowledge as explanatory and with reach, contrary to adaptations.)

    ⠀ ⠀

    quantum physics

    quantum theory discovered independently by Heisenberg and Schrödinger between 1935 and 1927.

    • Heisenberg: physical variables of a particle are matrices, not values. we now know multiplicity of information is due because a variable has different values for different instances of the object in the multiverse.
    • Heisenberg uncertainty principle: for any fungible collection of instances of a physical object, some of their attributes must be diverse.
    • Schrödinger: mathematical equations that describes a single wave moving in a higher-dimensional space, when applied to an individual particle.
    • Bohr: Copenhagen interpretation, quantum theory as the complete description of reality and only outcomes of observations count as phenomena, they can't exist objectively.
      • proposed the principle of complementarity: phenomena can only be stated in classical language, anthropocentric language, meaning that the transition is caused by human consciousness ∴ acting at a fundamental level in physics.
      • Nothing is ever derived from observation: Mach (positivist), influenced Einstein to eliminate untested assumption from physics, including Newton's idea the time flows at the same rate for all observers.
      • Einstein soon rejected positivism in favour of realism, which explains why he never accepted the Copenhagen interpretation.

    issue: not consistent when applied to the case of an observer performing quantum measurements on another observer.

    • classical physics measures change in quantifiable quantities, quantum physics measures change in discrete variables and their proportions.
    • new type of motion, information flow and structure of the physical world: all objects contain information about which instances of it can interact with instances of other objects and different times are special cases of different universes → time is an entanglement phenomenon which places all equal clock readings into the same history.

    ⠀ ⠀

    history of computers

    • → calculations used to be done by clerks called "computers".

    computational universality should have happened with Babbage's Difference Engine (1820s), which had rules of arithmetic built into hardware to to automate log, cos, sin (used in navigation and engineering).

    • Lovelace argued that The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. can follow analysis but no power of anticipating any analytical truths. Alan Turing called this mistake ‘Lady Lovelace’s objection’. Lovelace failed to appreciate not computational universality, but the universality of the laws of physics.
    • addition of memory and control over which cards to read next (Analytical Engine) → jump to universality.

    193# electrical relays for the analytical engine were just being used for the first applications of electromagnetism and were about to be mass produced for the telegraphy revolution.

    Turing Test: The general-purpose sense of Intelligence that Turing meant (constellation of attributes of the human mind) puzzled philosophers for a millennia. (others are consciousness, free will and meaning).

    • requiring a program to pretend to be human is biased and not relevant to know whether it can think, but it is easy to identify it as a computer if it doesn't.
    • if it can be programmed, it has nothing to do with intelligence –in Turing's sense (can't program it → haven't understood it.)
    • 1936: Turing develops his definitive theory of universal classical computer. His intention is to use the theory to study the nature of mathematical proof, not universality. The development of the first universal computers was for wartime applications.
    • Colossus (🇬🇧, Turing): code breaking → dismantled.
    • ENIAC (🇺🇸): equations -> universality (weather, h-bomb forecast)
    • the early telegraph system, even before the computer, did create an internet-like phenomenon among the operators, with ‘hackers, on-line romances and weddings, chat-rooms, flame wars... and so on’. fft
    • 1970s: Electronic technology has been miniaturized since WW2, this led to a jump to universality with silicon chips.
    • From then on, designers start with a microprocessor and program it to do specific tasks: washing machines are controlled by a computer that could be programmed to do astrophysics or word processing with enough memory.

    Quantum computation: Computation in which the flow of information is not confined to a single history.

    beginning of infinity

    • if beauty can be objective like the laws of nature and mathematical theorems, then new works of art must add new knowledge to the world just like scientific theories do.
    • optimism in civilizations has led to mini-enlightenments, traditions of criticisms that lead to patterns of human progress: art, philosophy, science, technology and open institutions.
    • Florentine's believe of improving ancient knowledge. began in art, then philosophy, science and technology. led to humanism (knowledge > dogma, intellectual independence, curiosity, taste)
  • hitchcock vs hitchcock


    • I cannot say that the combined efforts of Scherer, Astruc, Rivette, and truffaut have entirely convinced me of Alfred Hitchcock's flawless genius, particularly in his American work, but they have at least persuaded me to question my previous skepticism.
    • contradiction between critic and author is natural
    • subjective art: artistic creation — even with the most in tellectual temperaments — is essentially intuitive and practical: It is a matter of effects to attain and materials to conquer.
    • objective art: a work of art escapes its creator and bypasses his conscious intentions, in direct proportion to its quality.
    • The foundation of this objectivity also resides in the psychology of the creation to the extent — inappreciable — to which the artist does not really create but sets himself to crystallize, to order the sociological forces and the technical conditions into which he is thrust.
    • This is particularly true of the American cinema in which you often find quasi-anonymous successes whose merit reflects, not on the director, but on the production system.

    Paul Feyder, French first assistant on the film [To Catch a Thief], presented me to Hitchcock. Our conversation lasted fifty or sixty minutes (there were retakes) during which time Hitchcock did no more than throw one or two quick glances at what was going on.

    • In the course of that first interview I had time to pose nearly all of the questions I had had in mind, but the answers had been so disconcerting that, full of caution, I decided to use a counterinterrogation as a control for some of the most delicate points.
    • Hitchcock himself insisted that half the film's action should be silent because the journalist cannot be expected to hear his neighbors at the distance he sees them. Thus the director had to resort to the guile of "pure cinema" which he adored. In general, dialogue is a nuisance to him because it restricts cinematographic expression, and he reproaches several of his films for this restriction.
    • At this point I did not abandon the point of my original inquiry by taking up the fallacious opposition of form and content. What Hitchcock calls "means" may be, perhaps, only a more indirect (and more unconscious) manner of following, if not a subject, at least a theme. I insisted, therefore, on the unity of his work, and he agreed with me in a negative way. All he demands of a scenario is that it go his "way."
      • What I wanted was the exact definition of this "way." Without hesitation, Hitchcock spoke of a certain relationship between drama and comedy. The only films that may be taken as "pure Hitchcock" (sic) are those in which he has been able to play with this discordant relationship.
        • I risk the word "humor." Hitchcock accepts it;
        • what he is trying to express may well be taken as a form of humor and he spontaneously cites The Lady Vanishes as conforming most closely to his ideal.
      • Must we conclude from this that his English work is more "purely Hitchcock" than his American? Without a doubt, first of all because the Americans have much too positive a spirit to accept humor.
        • He could never have made The Lady Vanishes in Hollywood; a simple reading of the scenario and the producer would have pointed out how unrealistic it would be to send a message with an old woman by train when it would be quicker and surer to send a telegram.
        • He thought he would please his old Italian maid by taking her to see The Bicycle Thief, but all she felt was astonishment that the worker did not end up borrowing a bike:
    • Moreover, in Hollywood films are made for women; it is toward their sentimental taste that scenarios are directed because it is they who account for the bulk of the box-office receipts. In England films are still made for men, but that is also why so many studios close down. The English cinema has excellent technicians, but English films are not "commercial" enough and Hitchcock declares, with pain mixed with shame, that they are idle there while he is working.
    • Hitchcock told me that his "weakness" lies in being conscious of his responsibility for all this money.
    • Hitchcock appeared [...] concerned with correcting that indirect criticism of being commercial by affirming that it was easy to make an "artistic" film, but the real difficulty lay in making a good commercial film, a very feasible paradox, after all.
    • Had he not always been concerned with ingenious and sometimes complex technical effects in order to obtain certain effects of mise-en-scène? Categorical answer: The importance of the technical means placed at his disposal did not particularly interest him. To the extent that they rendered the film more costly they even augmented commercial servitude. To sum it up, his ideal is, under those conditions, to accomplish perfection of "the quality of imperfection."
    • I believe I understood that the quality in question was American technical perfection (lacking in the European cinema) and the "imperfection" that margin for liberty, imprecision, and, shall we say, humor that makes, for Hitchcock, the English cineaste's position superior.
    • achieving the almost impossible marriage of perfect technical execution through Hollywood's oiled and supple machinery with the creative stumbling block, the unforeseen Acts of God, as in the European cinema!

    • I noticed several times his taste for the elegant and ambiguous formulation that goes so far as to become a play on words. Chabrol became aware of this tendency several times in Paris when Hitchcock made theological jokes based on "God and "Good." This linguistic playfulness assuredly corresponds to a cast of mind but undoubtedly it is also a certain form of intellectual camouflage.
    • I had him notice that one theme at least reappeared in his major films that, because of its moral and intellectual level, surely went beyond the scope of simple "suspense" — that of the identification of the weak with the strong,
      • whether it be in the guise of deliberate moral seduction, as in Shadow of a Doubt where the phenomenon is underlined by the fact that the niece and the uncle have the same name; whether, as in Strangers on a Train, an individual somehow steals the protagonist's mental crime, appropriates it for himself, commits it, and then comes to demand that the same be done for him; whether, as in I Confess, this transfer of personality finds a sort of theological confirmation in the sacrament of penitence, the murderer considering more or less consciously that the confession not only binds the priest as witness but somehow justifies his acceptance of the guilty role.
      • Hitchcock listened to it with attention and intensity. When he finally understood it I saw him touched, for the first and only time in the interview, by an unforeseen and unforeseeable idea. I had found the crack in that humorous armor. He broke into a delighted smile and I could, follow his train of thought by the expressions on his face as he reflected and discovered for himself with satisfaction the confirmation in the scenarios of Rear Window and To Catch a Thief.
    • coming back to I Confess, I obtained an important concession. When I praised the extreme technical sobriety, the intensity in austerity, it was not in order to displease him. It is true that he applied himself here and that the film finds favor in his eyes for these formal reasons. In order to characterize this rigor of raise en scene it would be necessary to employ an epithet from the "clerical vocabulary." ... I suggested "Jansenist." — "What is Jansenist?" Sylvette Baudrot explained to him that the Jansenists were the enemies of the Jesuits. He found the coincidence very droll for he had studied with Fathers and, for I Confess, had been obliged to free himself from his education! I did not tell him I would have thought him, nevertheless, a better student. At least in theology.
    • Which, then, at least among his American films, did he consider to be the most exclusively commercial and the least worthy of esteem?Spellbound and Notorious. Those that found grace in his eyes? Shadow of a Doubt and Rear Window.
    • Is it true that he never looked through the camera? — Exactly. This task is completely useless, since all the framing has been planned and indicated in advance by little drawings that illustrated the cutting technique.
      • For him it is always a question of creating in the mise-en-scène, starting from the scenario, but mainly by the expressionism of the framing, the lighting or the relation of the characters to the decor, an essential instability of image.
    • From German expressionism, to whose influence he admits having submitted in the studios in Munich, he undoubtedly learned a lesson, but he does not cheat the spectator. We need not be aware of a vagueness of impression in the peril in order to appreciate the dramatic anguish of Hitchcock's characters. It is not a question of a mysterious "atmosphere" out of which all the perils can come like a storm, but of a disequilibrium comparable to that of a heavy mass of steel beginning to slide down too sharp an incline, about which one could easily calculate the future acceleration.
    • Does he use any improvisation on the set? — None at all; ::he had To Catch a Thief in his mind, complete, for two months.:: That is why I saw him so relaxed while "working." For the rest, he added with an amiable smile, lifting the siege, how would he have been able to devote a whole hour to me right in the middle of shooting if he had to think about his film at the same time?

    hitchcock vs hitchcock

    • subjective art: artistic creation — even with the most in tellectual temperaments — is essentially intuitive and practical: It is a matter of effects to attain and materials to conquer.
    • objective art: a work of art escapes its creator and bypasses his conscious intentions, in direct proportion to its quality.
  • on-cinema-noframe

    what is happening to cinema?

    eduardo gonzalez, Oct 2022


    summary

    DVDs' disappearance → films mainly profit from ticket sales

    • maximizing profits ≔ maximizing audiences.
    • simple style, easy plots, few cultural references = universal accessibility
    • ∴ repetitive, successful formula > than unique creative input.
    • → market saturated with similar-feeling movies.

    Streaming now an accessible alternative, but profits = time spent on service

    • → films become ambient content for passive consumption.
    • globalization strengthened the film industry, auteur cinema lost economic and cultural influence.
      • Sequels, remakes, existing material-based movies capture most profits and influence.
      • only 3 of top 50 grossing films of 2010s were original stories
      • Oscar viewership and revenue from Best Picture winners has declined.
      • → Cinema ≠ dominant form of artistic expression in 21st century?

    New consumption patterns and movie-making techniques are at heart of the shift.

    internet speed and phone camera improvements → global increase in social media's influence

    • online media evolved from text to photos to video.
    • engagement tracking as likes in 2009, retweets in 2010.
    • rise of photo-sharing services → everyday people ∈ authors of online media. (see people aren't meant to talk this much)

    ≈ 2014: platforms shifted to algorithm-based content presentation → birth of viralization.

    • TikTok's success ≈ adaptation to new dynamics.
    • app design allows personalized content curation with every interaction.
    • viral reach from algorithm selection → no need for status, fame, followers or friends.

    cinema's transformation in the face of changing media landscape.

    • on-demand → loss of continuousness.
    • availability on personal devices → collectiveness.
    • phones & computer as primary screens → cinema lost the big screen.
    • Cinema lost grandeur and became content.
    • ∴ Cinema risk of losing position as primary storytelling medium.
    • cinema ≠ dying, movies are evolving
    • personalized entertainment, global audiences, collective auteurism as new driving forces in media landscape.
    • algorithm-chosen popular culture ≔ average taste of global audience.
    • la chance to adapt cinema into new dynamics
    • Internet and smartphones' global presence ≈ cars' transformation effect → ubiquity of a technology reshapes society and industries
    • TikTok's success → Short-form portrait video as one potential evolution.
    • if further evolution, will it still be cinema or something new? what comes after cinema?

    full article

    Recent trends describe the current state of cinema as fragile and in decline. Industry figures have expressed this opinion, notably Martin Scorsese who in 2019 wrote an essay arguing that "the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art." Many of these statements blame franchise films and the modern way of producing them as the main drivers behind cinema becoming increasingly homogeneous and formatted, resulting in a market saturated with movies that look and feel the same. ⠀

    Studios today have the option to release a movie in cinemas, but since the disappearance of DVDs, movies have lost most of their ability to make money after leaving theaters. Revenue now comes almost entirely from the number of tickets sold, which means that maximizing profits now means maximizing audiences. A movie is more accessible across cultures if it has a simple style, an easy-to-follow plot and few cultural or ideological references. This explains why many studios now consider following a repetitive (but successful) formula as more important when making a movie than the individual creative talent behind it.

    Streaming releases have become an alternative to theatrical ones now that every major studio has launched its own platform. This is not always a bad option since it allows smaller movies and filmmakers to instantly reach an audience of millions without having to worry about selling tickets. But streaming platforms need users to consume as much content as possible to be profitable, and since hours spent on the service justify subscription prices, many of their productions are designed to be consumed passively, while users cook, clean, or browse their phone. These movies are not cinematic experiences but rather ambient ones, where results are "as negligible as they are interesting," as Brian Eno wrote when defining ambient music in 1978.

    These two recent tendencies have helped studios and the film industry grow, but sequels, remakes, and movies based on existing material now capture most of Cinema's profits. Only 3 of the top 50 highest-grossing worldwide films of the 2010s were original stories.¹ Additionally, "good" (or at least recognized) Cinema is still struggling. The Oscars, arguably still today's biggest event and celebration of popular cinema, have seen their viewership steadily decline for decades. 55 million people watched the awards in 1998, compared to 41 million people in 2010 and just 10 million in 2021. Recent Academy Award winners have also grossed less money as time goes by. The combined Best Picture winners from the 1990s made around $5 billion worldwide, while combined winners of the 2000s made $3.4 billion and those of the 2010s, $2 billion.

    This is the main idea behind recent statements and opinions on cinema: While globalization has strengthened the film industry, movies have lost economic and cultural influence. Cinema now risks not being the most popular form of storytelling in the 21st century, and newer forms of artistic expression could take its place.

    black-adam

    DC Comic's Black Adam (2022) being reviewed before its release in a small TV screen, by businesspeople in a business room.

    Even if the modern way of making movies is partly responsible, it would seem that new consumption patterns are also at the heart of this situation. Internet speeds started to increase globally in the early 2010s and the primary way people express themselves online evolved from text and photos to eventually, video. As phone cameras got better, photo-sharing services like Instagram started pushing ordinary people to take and share pictures, not only professional photographers. Snapchat pushed this even further by making the camera, not content, be the first thing users see when opening the app.

    A collective of ordinary people became the main authors of mass amounts of content and media that started to be uploaded, shared, and consumed online. Social media companies soon needed to show posts based on popularity to keep users longer on their apps and make their platforms more attractive. This began in 2009 with the introduction of likes and retweets as tools for finding the most engaging posts, but rapidly escalated. By 2014, most social media platforms showed content based on their engagement, not in chronological order. This marked the first time that algorithms chose what people saw and the beginning of viralization, which allowed content from anyone on earth to reach an audience of millions (now billions) of people.

    Recent companies like TikTok have thrived by taking these new dynamics even further. Since the only way to browse content is by swiping up or down, TikTok's algorithm can learn about users' interests with every single interaction they make –if something's not interesting, the user will swipe quicker. Combined with its near-infinite supply of videos from all cultures and languages, only a couple of minutes are needed to learn and personalize content for anyone on earth. Since algorithms are also set as the main referees of what people see, TikTok helps people go viral without the need for network effects. Any user can reach millions of views without fame, status, followers, or even friends on the app. The implementation of these dynamics into the design and mechanics of the app is partly responsible for TikTok's huge success. The company seems to also understand their impact, stating in April 2022 that they didn't see themselves as a social media platform, but rather an "entertainment company."

    Cinema then found itself in the middle of this new changing world, but failed to adapt. It soon started to be consumed like every other form of online media, getting transformed in the way: as movies became available anytime and could be paused, they lost some of Cinema's continuousness. Since movies also became available anywhere, people started watching them alone or with few others, which broke Cinema's locality and collectiveness. And as phones and computer screens become the primary ones for most people, Cinema lost the big screen.

    This is where Cinema lost its grandeur and got transformed into simple content. Without these qualities, movies risk not being the primary storytelling vehicle for the 21st century. But I don't think this means cinema is dying, but rather that it is evolving. There is an old saying that "the first 50 years of the car industry were about creating and selling cars, but the second 50 years were about what happened once everyone had a car." After a majority of people owned one, they transformed businesses, suburbs, cities, people, and culture. Access to the internet is on track to become a human right, and the number of smartphone users is rising rapidly, with 83% of the world population owning one in 2022 (!).

    As these technologies become universal like cars before them and algorithms determine more and more of popular culture, it seems like we're entering a democratization of media creation that allows anyone's voice to reach a global audience. But content chosen by algorithms only represents the average of everyone's tastes and interests. This is where filmmakers have the opportunity to think about how they could play with these new formats and adapt the cinematic experience. To do so, Cinema might need to move away from some of its traditional characteristics and embrace other new dynamics.

    In this sense, TikTok's success could mean that short-form portrait video is an initial evolution and answer to the question "what happens to Cinema when everyone has a phone and Internet?" But as movies, technology, and people keep changing, short-form video might evolve even more and resemble Cinema even less. At that point, will it still be cinema, or something new? What comes after cinema?

    Notes

    ¹ Frozen (2013), Zootopia (2016), Secret Life of Pets (2016).

    on cinema

  • on numbers

    numbers were the first writing system to exist. it started with the same symbol being used for all numbers: IIIIIIIIIIIII

    • earliest improvement: group symbols together.
      • IIIIIIIIIIIII → IIII IIII III
    • allowed people to go from tallying "another one, another one..." to counting "forty-one, forty-two..."

    a bigger improvement came along with the idea to have different symbols for different numbers.

    the best example of this new kind of writing systems are Roman numerals. they used 7 symbols (I, V, X, L, C, D, M) and 3 main rules:

    • symbols must be ordered by decreasing value, from left to right.
      • VI+VII → VIVII → VVIII
    • having symbols side-by-side is the same as adding them together.
      • VVIII = 5+5+1+1+1
    • a symbol cannot be repeated if it can be combined.
      • VVIII → VV=X → XIII
    • these simple rules made Roman numerals faster and more accurate for mathematics than tally symbols, which is why they stayed in use for ~2400 years, from around -900 until the 1500s.

    the biggest leap Roman numerals made was allowing people to manipulate numbers without needing to count each symbol individually: their design implicitly teaches people how to do math.

    • the system, however, relied on M as as the symbol with the highest value (1000).
    • this meant that performing operations on large numbers could only be done by carefully counting each instance of the same symbol (=counting tally marks).
      • MMMMMCDII + MMMMMMMCCDIII
    • simple operations on large numbers became very difficult and error-prone → new system needed

    1500s, writing numbers as letters

    Hindu-Arabic numerals were invented in 9th century India but only became commonly used until the 1500s.

    • they use a set of 10 symbols (0-9) and only one single rule: the value of a digit depends on its position in the number.
      • 002=2 ⠀ 020=20 ⠀ 200=200
    • this rule allows the system to be universal and work like an alphabet: every number in existence can be represented in a unique, distinct and understandable way (just as no word exists that can be said but can't be written).
    • their design also simplified complex operations and significantly reduced chances of errors: an avalanche of new mathematical progress followed shortly after their adoption (Galileo, Newton, the Enlightenment, birth of modern Physics...)

    the leap in progress from Hindu-Arabic numerals is a consequence of deep insights on how math, numbers and design work.

    every numeral system incorporates certain knowledge about which relationships of numbers are the most interesting to use.

    • tally symbols → Roman numerals: new knowledge about addition and rules about arbitrarily defined symbols.
    • Roman numerals → Hindu-Arabic numerals: complex mathematical ideas (commutativity, associativity, distributivity) expressed through profound design ideas (abstract representation, parsimony, spatiality).

    ∴ design and mathematical insights work together:

    • math and design —science and art— are entangled.

    the main advantage of improving the design of a numeral system is making it useful for unpredictable innovations and progress.

    Roman numerals allowed new ideas and uses of numbers like salaries, taxes and interest rates to spread, but their design also deeply limited scientific progress.

    ⤷ no major abstract mathematical discovery was made during the ~2400 years they were in use.

    • when thinking about how our numeral system could be limiting further unknown progress, the question becomes: how does one make the leap to a smarter way of writing numbers?

    on numbers

    • math and design —science and art— are entangled.
  • paragraphs on conceptual art


    Conceptual art is good only when the idea is good.

    conceptual art: idea or concept as the most important aspect of the work.

    • not theoretical or illustrative of theories but intuitive, involved with all types of mental processes and purposeless.
    • all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair.
    • It is usually free from the dependence on the skill of the artist as a craftsman.
    • The ideas need not be complex. Most ideas that are successful are ludicrously simple.
    • Conceptual art doesn’t really have much to do with mathematics, philosophy, or nay other mental discipline. The mathematics used by most artists is simple arithmetic or simple number systems. The philosophy of the work is implicit in the work and it is not an illustration of any system of philosophy.
    • conceptual art is not necessarily logical. it doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the concepts of the artist by seeing the art.
      • Once it is out of his hand the artist has no control over the way a viewer will perceive the work. Different people will understand the same thing in a different way.
    • Conceptual art is made to engage the mind of the viewer rather than his eye or emotions.

    on ideas

    the idea becomes a machine that makes the art.

    • some ideas are logical in conception and illogical perceptually. successful ideas generally have the appearance of simplicity because they seem inevitable.
    • if the artist carries through his idea and makes it into visible form, then all the steps in the process are of importance.
    • the idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.

    on form

    The form itself is of very limited importance; it becomes the grammar for the total work. arrangement becomes the end while the form becomes the means.

    • What the work of art looks like isn’t too important. It has to look like something if it has physical form. No matter what form it may finally have it must begin with an idea.
    • Color, surface, texture, and shape only emphasize the physical aspects of the work. Anything that calls attention to and interests the viewer in this physicality is a deterrent to our understanding of the idea.
      • Any idea that is better stated in two dimensions should not be in three dimensions. Ideas may also be stated with numbers, photographs, or words or any way the artist chooses, the form being unimportant.
      • Using complex basic forms only disrupts the unity of the whole. Using a simple form repeatedly narrows the field of the work and concentrates the intensity to the arrangement of the form.
    • This kind of art, then, should be stated with the greatest economy of means.

    Space can be thought of as the area occupied by volume, where the question would be what size is best. If artwork is gigantic its size alone would be impressive and the idea may be lost. if it's too small, it may become inconsequential.

    • this dynamic emphasizes the physical and emotive power of the form at the expense of losing the idea of the piece.
    • architecture is concerned with making an area with a specific function. whether it is a work of art or not, must be utilitarian or else fail completely. art is not utilitarian. when three-dimensional art starts to take on some of architecture's characteristics, such as forming utilitarian areas, it weakens its function as art.

    • These paragraphs are not intended as categorical imperatives, but the ideas stated are as close as possible to my thinking at this time. It is one way of making art; other ways suit other artists. Nor do I think all conceptual art merits the viewer’s attention. Conceptual art is good only when the idea is good.

    paragraphs on conceptual art

    • conceptual art is not necessarily logical. it doesn’t really matter if the viewer understands the concepts of the artist by seeing the art.
      the idea becomes a machine that makes the art.
    • the idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.
    • architecture is concerned with making an area with a specific function. whether it is a work of art or not, must be utilitarian or else fail completely. art is not utilitarian. when three-dimensional art starts to take on some of architecture's characteristics, such as forming utilitarian areas, it weakens its function as art.
    • These paragraphs are not intended as categorical imperatives, but the ideas stated are as close as possible to my thinking at this time. It is one way of making art; other ways suit other artists. Nor do I think all conceptual art merits the viewer’s attention. Conceptual art is good only when the idea is good.
  • taste & design

    notes on Paul Graham's ideas on taste, beauty and design from some of his essays.


    All of us had been trained by Kelly Johnson and believed fanatically in his insistence that an airplane that looked beautiful would fly the same way.

    • Ben Rich, Skunk Works

    Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly mathematics.

    • G. H. Hardy, A Mathematician's Apology

    on taste

    • "taste is subjective."
      • museum guides tell you that you should pay attention because Leonardo is a great artist.
        • Saying that taste is just personal preference is a good way to prevent disputes. it's not true.
      • Whatever job people do, they naturally want to do better. But if taste is just personal preference, then everyone's is already perfect and there is no way to get better at your job.
        • like anyone who gets better at their job, you'll know you're getting better. If so, your old tastes were not merely different, but worse ∴ taste can be wrong.
    • If there's no such thing as good taste, then there's no such thing as good art.
      • You can't have good actors, or novelists, or composers, or dancers either. You can have popular novelists, but not good ones.
      • It means we can't say that any painter is better than a randomly chosen eight year old.
      • This breaks art's commonly believed relativism.
    • The key to this puzzle is that art has an audience ∴ a purpose.
      • Humans have a lot in common but people do vary, which is why judging art is hard, especially recent art.
      • good art should be measured by how much it engages any human. a better piece of art is more interesting to people, and people's preferences aren't random.

    on beauty

    • Beauty seems to be an example of a subjective quality, but once you narrow its definition to something that works a certain way on humans, it turns out humans have much in common, and beauty is a property of objects.
      • mathematicians call good work "beautiful," and so, either now or in the past, have scientists, engineers, musicians, architects, designers, writers, and painters. coincidence?
    • If there is such a thing as beauty, we need to be able to recognize it. Good taste then becomes this ability: We need good taste to make good things.

    on design

    • Good design is simple.
      • In math it means that a shorter proof tends to be a better one.
      • It means much the same thing in programming.
      • For architects and designers it means that beauty should depend on a few carefully chosen structural elements rather than a profusion of superficial ornament.
      • Similarly, in painting, a still life of a few carefully observed and solidly modelled objects will tend to be more interesting than a stretch of flashy but mindlessly repetitive painting of, say, a lace collar.
      • In writing it means: say what you mean and say it briefly.
      • You'd think simple would be the default. Ornate is more work.
      • When you're forced to be simple, you're forced to face the real problem. When you can't deliver ornament, you have to deliver substance.
    • Good design is timeless.
      • In math, every proof is timeless unless it contains a mistake.
      • if you can make something that appeals to people today and would also have appealed to people in 1500, there is a good chance it will appeal to people in 2500.
    • Good design solves the right problem.
      • The typical stove has four burners arranged in a square, and a dial to control each. The dials are for humans to use, better to arrange the dials in a square like the burners.
      • In the mid twentieth century there was a vogue for setting text in sans-serif fonts. These fonts are closer to the pure, underlying letterforms. But in text that's not the problem you're trying to solve. For legibility it's more important that letters be easy to tell apart. It may look Victorian, but a Times Roman lowercase g is easy to tell from a lowercase y.
      • Physics progressed faster as the problem became predicting observable behavior, instead of reconciling it with scripture.
    • Good design is suggestive.
      • Jane Austen's novels contain almost no description; instead of telling you how everything looks, she tells her story so well that you envision the scene for yourself.
      • a painting that suggests is usually more engaging than one that tells. Everyone makes up their own story about the Mona Lisa.
      • In architecture and design, this principle means that a building or object should let you use it how you want: a good building, for example, will serve as a backdrop for whatever life people want to lead in it,
      • In software, it means you should give users a few basic elements that they can combine as they wish, like Lego.
      • In math it means a proof that becomes the basis for a lot of new work is preferable to a proof that was difficult, but doesn't lead to future discoveries;
      • in the sciences generally, citation is considered a rough indicator of merit.
    • Good design is often slightly funny.
      • I think it's because humor is related to strength. To have a sense of humor is to be strong: to keep one's sense of humor is to shrug off misfortunes, and to lose one's sense of humor is to be wounded by them.
      • The confident will often, like swallows, seem to be making fun of the whole process slightly, as Hitchcock does in his films or Bruegel in his paintings-- or Shakespeare, for that matter.
    • Good design is hard.
      • When you have to climb a mountain you toss everything unnecessary out of your pack. And so an architect who has to build on a difficult site, or a small budget, will find that he is forced to produce an elegant design.
      • In art, the highest place has traditionally been given to paintings of people. There is something to this tradition, and not just because pictures of faces get to press buttons in our brains that other pictures don't.
        • We are so good at looking at faces that we force anyone who draws them to work hard to satisfy us. If you draw a tree and you change the angle of a branch five degrees, no one will know. When you change the angle of someone's eye five degrees, people notice.
    • Good design looks easy.
      • The easy, conversational tone of good writing comes only on the eighth rewrite.
      • In science and engineering, some of the greatest discoveries seem so simple that you say to yourself, I could have thought of that.
      • Line drawings are in fact the most difficult visual medium, because they demand near perfection.
      • In math terms, they are a closed-form solution; lesser artists literally solve the same problems by successive approximation.
    • When Bauhaus designers adopted Sullivan's "form follows function," what they meant was, form should follow function. And if function is hard enough, form is forced to follow it, because there is no effort to spare for error.

    taste and design

    • If there's no such thing as good taste, then there's no such thing as good art.
      • This breaks art's commonly believed relativism.
    • The key to this puzzle is that art has an audience ∴ a purpose.
      • Humans have a lot in common but people do vary, which is why judging art is hard, especially recent art.
      • good art should be measured by how much it engages any human. a better piece of art is more interesting to people, and people's preferences aren't random.
      • In art, the highest place has traditionally been given to paintings of people. There is something to this tradition, and not just because pictures of faces get to press buttons in our brains that other pictures don't.
  • Martin Scorsese: I said marvel movies aren’t cinema. Let me explain.


    • For me, for the filmmakers I came to love and respect, for my friends who started making movies around the same time that I did, cinema was about revelation — aesthetic, emotional and spiritual revelation.
    • It was about confronting the unexpected on the screen and in the life it dramatized and interpreted, and enlarging the sense of what was possible in the art form. And that was the key for us: it was an art form.
    • My sense of what is possible in telling stories with moving images and sounds is going to be expanded.
    • There was some debate about that at the time, so we stood up for cinema as an equal to literature or music or dance.

    • Many of the elements that define cinema as I know it are there in Marvel pictures. What’s not there is revelation, mystery or genuine emotional danger. Nothing is at risk.
    • The pictures are made to satisfy a specific set of demands, and they are designed as variations on a finite number of themes. They are sequels in name but they are remakes in spirit, and everything in them is officially sanctioned because it can’t really be any other way.
    • That’s the nature of modern film franchises: market-researched, audience-tested, vetted, modified, revetted and remodified until they’re ready for consumption.
    • In many places around this country and around the world, franchise films are now your primary choice if you want to see something on the big screen. It’s a perilous time in film exhibition, and there are fewer independent theaters than ever. The equation has flipped and streaming has become the primary delivery system.
    • Still, I don’t know a single filmmaker who doesn’t want to design films for the big screen, to be projected before audiences in theaters.
    • But no matter whom you make your movie with, the fact is that the screens in most multiplexes are crowded with franchise pictures.
    • If people are given only one kind of thing and endlessly sold only one kind of thing, of course they’re going to want more of that one kind of thing. But, you might argue, can’t they just go home and watch anything else they want on Netflix or iTunes or Hulu? Sure — anywhere but on the big screen, where the filmmaker intended her or his picture to be seen. (on cinema)

    In the past 20 years, as we all know, the movie business has changed on all fronts. But the most ominous change has happened stealthily and under cover of night: the gradual but steady elimination of risk.

    • Many films today are perfect products manufactured for immediate consumption. Many of them are well made by teams of talented individuals. All the same, they lack something essential to cinema: the unifying vision of an individual artist. Because, of course, the individual artist is the riskiest factor of all.
    • Today, that tension is gone, and there are some in the business with absolute indifference to the very question of art and an attitude toward the history of cinema that is both dismissive and proprietary — a lethal combination. The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema.

    I fear that the financial dominance of one is being used to marginalize and even belittle the existence of the other.

    • the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art.

    why marvel movies aren't cinema

    • It was about confronting the unexpected on the screen and in the life it dramatized and interpreted, and enlarging the sense of what was possible in the art form. And that was the key for us: it was an art form.
    • Today, that tension is gone, and there are some in the business with absolute indifference to the very question of art and an attitude toward the history of cinema that is both dismissive and proprietary — a lethal combination. The situation, sadly, is that we now have two separate fields: There’s worldwide audiovisual entertainment, and there’s cinema.
    • the situation at this moment is brutal and inhospitable to art.