I’m watching the David Lynch version of Dune for the first time. It’s a painful experience; I’m a big fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune Chronicles, and this film does not nearly depict the universe I imagine. The movie doesn’t have nearly the subtlety that the book does, but that’s not really possible so we’ll ignore that point for now. What bothers me most is that the characters are all wrong: Casting, acting, costuming and makeup, the works.
If you don’t want to hear me complain, stop now. Continue reading “Dune (1984)”
I follow Roger Ebert’s blog. I don’t just like his reviews (which I find concise, insightful and entertaining) but his perspective on life is refreshingly sensible. He’s got his head squarely on his shoulders, and without being inflexible or unwilling to accept change he is unswayed by the mad fashions of the new and extreme.
In his latest post he reflects on how movie criticism is no longer a viable career. It’s been taken over by bloggers and hobbyists, and has been thus improved. The confidence and humility he expresses is, itself, humbling.
He then offers this career advice: Find out all you can, and see what you can do with it. I love that! Truly the heart of being a lifetime academic. Why did none of my college professors ever introduce me to Ebert’s writing?
So when he says video games are not fine art, I don’t really have a problem with that. The man’s got a lot more experience than me, and for him to say video games are mere entertainments isn’t much of an insult… he’s made a living on lots of entertainments and a little bit of art. What do I think? I think a lot of art goes into games, and that games can be elegant and beautiful and meaningful. I don’t think they’re fine art, and if they were, I’m not sure I’d want to play them (with the exception of certain interactive fiction which feels more like literature than game).
Along with artists that have been my inspiration for a while, I love to discover new inspiring artists. Today I was for the first time introduced to Saul Steinberg (1914-1999) via Scott McCloud’s blog. Steinberg was an artist whose work appeared in the New Yorker for decades. Looking over his work, I feel like he falls somewhere between Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Shel Silverstein (1930-1999), wielding the fine control and minimalism of the former and the wild daring scrawl of the latter to create thoughtful and intelligent images.
Another artist I would love to be like is Scott McCloud (whose home online is at ScottMcCloud.com). He’s probably given more thought to his art than any other artist I’ve encountered; Scott strives to understand and to share his understanding of the comic. He has carefully analyzed the place comics hold within the worlds of art and communication, studying concepts of abstraction, representation, meaning, space, time and language. And like the best minds in software (*cough* Knuth *cough*) he documents the medium from within itself, producing meta-comics that use a visual vocabulary to describe that vocabulary to us. The result is some of the most clear and intentional work you will ever see. Scott exemplifies the idea that comics can be an extremely clear mode of communication, so much so that he was hired to write the documentation for Google Chrome. Go read it. Now.
Scott is also pushing the boundaries of how technology (specifically the internet) can and will change cartoons, comics, and the visual arts. His TED talk is an entertaining look at his work in this area in under 20 minutes. Scott, thanks for blazing trails and then helping the rest of us to follow!
Here’s another sketch tribute to one of my earliest art heroes: Mark Kistler, television drawing teacher! He’s got a site over at Draw3D.com. I still have never seen Mark on TV, but as a young boy I was given the Imagination Station book and tore through its pages, learning important concepts such as foreshortening, perspective, and shading. Just as important, Mark has a way with making everything bigger, better, more more more! He loves to add fantastic details that make his cartoons more cartoony than just about any I have ever seen. He taught me that “Drool is cool!”, that if a three-story castle is good, a thirty-story castle must be even better, and when in doubt, cram as many windows, doors, ladders, waterfalls, banners, propeller hats, people and pencils as possible into your drawing. And shade everything! The clutter may not always be tasteful, but it was the best drawing practice a kid could possibly get. Mark was such a good teacher through his book that in sixth grade I used it to teach a drawing lesson to my class. If you know an aspiring young cartoonist, I can’t recommend any book more than Mark’s.
Mark, you’re one of my art heroes! Thank you!