Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Data Painting and Dreaming and Painting

When I was at art school, in the 1990s, there was one tutor who thought we had to either embrace digital art or stay with conventional painting and sculpture. I was an annoyance to him, I think, because I had this bee in my bonnet about working back and forth between digital art and painting, finding the relationship between the two. I'm interested in painting in relation to the electronic and the electronic in relation to painting. When I followed a module of digital art with a large oil painting on canvas the tutor in question called it a "retrograde step". Anyway, I've stuck with it over the years since then, painting, drawing and creating digital work. One of my favourite inspiring images is that of Data the android, from Star Trek, painting on canvas in the 24th Century. I love the concept of a positronic brain who still cares about oil and canvas. As so he should.


11001001 Stardate: 41365.9 Original Airdate: Feb 1, 1988

[Observation Lounge]

(Data is painting an image on glass)
LAFORGE: Well, what do you think?
RIKER: Tell me what it's supposed to be, then I'll give you my opinion.
DATA: It is an attempt at pure creativity.
LAFORGE: What we're investigating is, can Data be creative?
DATA: And this is my attempt, with guidance from Geordi.
LAFORGE: I suggested the zylo eggs.
RIKER: Is that what those are?
RIKER: Keep notes. This project might turn out to be of interest to scholars in the future.
LAFORGE: Really?
RIKER: Well of course. Think about it. A blind man teaching an android how to paint? That's got to be worth a couple of pages in somebody's book.


A Matter of Perspective Stardate: 43610.4 Original Airdate: Feb 12, 1990

[Art class] (A life class is in process, and a young woman is posing as a semi-reclining nude)
DATA: Captain, we have arrived at Tanuga Four. The away team has completed its survey of Doctor Apgar's work and is ready to return to the ship.

Please. And feel free to examine the work of the other students too.
DATA: Ensign Williams' striking style is heavily influenced by geometric constructivism.
DATA: Lieutenant Wright has effectively fused the incongruities of the surrealists with the irrationality of Dadaism.
(Then back to Picard's tall canvas)
DATA: Interesting.
PICARD: Oh, thank you. In what way?
DATA: While suggesting the free treatment of form usually attributed to Fauvism, this quite inappropriately attempts to juxtapose the disparate cubistic styles of
Picasso and Leger. In addition, the use of colour suggests a haphazard mélange of clashing styles. Furthermore, the unsettling overtones of proto-Vulcan influences
PICARD: Thank you, Mister Data.
DATA: You are welcome, sir. If I can be of further assistance
PICARD: No! Thank you.


Birthright, part 1 Stardate: 46678.4 Original Airdate: Feb 22, 1993

[Data's quarters]

(the painting has developed a lot when the doorbell rings)
DATA: Come in.
LAFORGE: Data, what are you doing? We were supposed to meet at
(There are lots of paintings stacked around the walls. Corridor, hammer striking metal, hand. Data is working on two more at the same time.)
LAFORGE: Data, what are you doing?
DATA: I am painting.
LAFORGE: I can see that. How long have you been at this?
DATA: I have created twenty three individual illustrations in the past six hours, twenty seven minutes. I believe you could say I have been inspired.
LAFORGE: I'll say.
DATA: I have done as Captain Picard suggested. I have tried to explore the images.
LAFORGE: Has it helped?
DATA: I am not certain. I began by painting the image of the blacksmith. Then I painted the corridor. After that, the anvil, the hammer, and Doctor Soong's face. The thought then occurred to me that I should paint smoke.
LAFORGE: Smoke? Why smoke?
DATA: I cannot explain it. It is not an image I saw during my vision.
LAFORGE: Well, you have the smoke coming out of a bucket of water. Blacksmiths used to use water to cool the metal. Maybe that's why you painted it.
DATA: Perhaps. After I painted the smoke, it then occurred to me to paint a bird's wing. I then drew an entire bird. A flock of birds flying in formation. An individual feather. If the image of a bird is related to my vision, I do not understand how. I am left with more of a mystery than ever. Geordi, I would like to recreate the experiment which caused my initial shut down.
LAFORGE: What for?
DATA: I do not know how much longer my vision would have continued had I not been reactivated.
LAFORGE: Data, that plasma shock almost fused your neural net. I don't think it's such a good idea to try that again.
DATA: I am aware of the risks involved. But I can think of no other way to investigate my experience. Will you help?
LAFORGE: Yeah. Yeah, sure. I'll go find Doctor Bashir.
DATA: I will prepare the power transfer.


LAFORGE: Okay, Data, we're going to monitor every subsystem in your positronic net. If I see any neural pathways overload beyond sixty five percent, I'm shutting down the experiment.
DATA: Agreed.
BASHIR: We're ready.
LAFORGE: Initiating energy transfer. Get ready, Data.
BASHIR: Power levels are rising.
LAFORGE: It should be any second now.
(the energy burst knocks the tricorder out of Data's hand)


(Once again, Data finds Soong at the anvil. He plunges a bird's wing into water, and steam rises. When it clears, Soong is gone and a raven is there. It flies off down the corridor)
DATA: The bird did not appear in my original experience. This vision is different.


And, to finish off this inane rambling about Data's and Picard's paintings here's...........

...........Data's painting of his cat, "Spot".

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