Monthly Archives: November 2007

Research books I have finished and analysed

Guido Ballo – The Critical Eye : a new approach to art appreciation
A laughably pretentious book which dictates the various forms of art appreciation the author callously catagorises with an attempt at scientific precision. There are several pages of the “Ordinary Man’s” responses to various artworks, among other things. I believe it is not necessary to have a firm knowledge of the social/cultural/economic history of a piece of art to appreciate it, nor does a person have to be well educated or refined. It’s about inspiration and intuition! How can that be catagorised! Well it’s about a way of looking at it I guess.

Francois Mathey – The World of the Impressionists
Interesting to read because the author does not hold back on his own opinions – or attempt to clothe them as fact (which I truly appreciate). It’s a heartfelt history by a fervent man who clearly has a great deal of knowledge and love for the art movement. The language is fresh and not even a little ostentatious, but of course because of this it could not be described as objective. The history bits are all interesting, and the art analysis even more so.

Donald E. Gordon – Expressionism: art and idea
This is much heavier going, delving deep into the political and social climate which gave birth to these expressionists – although it is pointed out in the introduction that is in fact a very silly term (it applies to several art movements, some of which are wildly different). Nietzsche and the Impressionists and other various influences are discussed in it’s 214 double columned dense-text pages. Interesting all the same though. although my interest is starting to lean towards the core of Impressionism and it’s culmination down the Van Gogh and Cezanne avenue which eventually lead to Expressionism.

Performance and Technology
A selection of formal essays about the role new technology has to play in art – with a focus more on dance/theatre than on traditional art unfortunately, but relevant nonetheless. The approach the academic authors take to their investigatory essays is generally coldly clinical, but I suppose this is inevitable for them to have standing and be published. At one point one of the guys was trying to analyse what made a game fun and it made me want to scream a little bit, it was so painful to read.

John Maeda – Maeda@media
Heavy on images and rough documentation for individual projects (so nice to flip through while looking for inspiration), kinda low on actual new-tech/art analysis/criticisms/thoughts. Nicely designed.

It feels like I’ve done a small fraction of my needed research, but time has run out and I have to start thinking of a few proper concepts if I’m going to actually come out with anything. More research generally gets done as I go along though, I’ve noticed with these projects.

Don’t even get me started on the amount of actual content either. It’s like panning for gold – it takes hours of concentration and like 50 pages of reading to get say 3 paragraphs of well written, concise and relevant analysis/content. I am totally not impressed, because I can write endless amounts of dross with a fraction of the effort and it will hold up more or less. It seems to actually think about things and write thoughtfully you really have to invest huge amounts of effort. How long will I continue to think meticulously about everything from the overall structure of my written analysis down to the position of each carefully chosen word in a sentence? We’ll see.

In other news, I’ve found that I love browsing random books in the library, just going there and sitting cross-legged on the floor hidden by the high shelves and reading textbooks and essays and journals and the like. I’d happily sink into a sort of knowledge-absorbing daze and emerge only for food and water. This interest in everything and anything (swapping from dickensian analysis to a musty biology textbook seems a matter of course) only materialises when I have other work I desperately need to focus reseraching on and can’t afford to browse though, unfortunately.