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General / 06 December 2019

I got a call a few months ago from an old friend. As soon as I heard the apathetic signal from the phone in my pocket; I knew it was going to be a: "Help me Obi-Wan, you're my only hope"-moment. And right I was. His workstation had died in the middle of some important work, and he was scared out of his mind. His voice was booming of self pity. "What am I going to do, the screen is black and blue. I have a deadline tomorrow. The end is near!" I know this chap very well. Self pity has never been is forte, but he has had tech-related problems as long as I have known him, and I have usually been his first choice in it-support. He is usually well orientated when it comes to high-end gear, but computers have always seemed to rub him the wrong way. He used to blame the fictional character MacGyver for his own shortcomings and could say: "Not everyone can save the world with chocolate!"

MacGuyver really did this in a TV-episode I found out later. He plugged a sulfuric acid leak with chocolate because he knew it contained sucrose and glucose. When the acid reacted to the sugar, it formed elemental carbon and a thick, gummy residue. It sounds improbable, but was proven to be correct on another TV-show; Mythbusters. After we hung up, I thought about his predicament a moment and knew what he had to do to fix the computer. Based on previous calls, I knew he had to use an older version of a graphic card driver instead of the new one he was using. I really wanted to help him out, but I also wanted him to help himself and learn how to fix common errors. The best thing was to send him reading material or a link to a website with great resources on the topic. I sent him a link on the phone and wrote:

"I am sorry I can't be of more assistance at the moment, but please take a look here, perhaps somebody else has encountered the same problems as you!" The message I sent was enthusiastic, but I got a sad smiley in return. I know he was a bit disappointed, but my intentions were good. I remembered back in the day when I didn't know a thing about computers. The cold, bulky machine was not the ally that it is today. It was a box of opportunities that usually didn't work when you needed it. I remember calling computer support all the time until I got fed up and started to educate myself. Suddenly things made more sense after reading computer magazines and learning how other people tackled usual tech-releated problems. It was a revelation. As the day progressed, I didn't hear a thing. Later in the evening I got another call. This time my friend was really happy.

"I got the link you sent, but didn't really know what to do first. After reading a while I found an entry that described the same error I got on my computer. Following the suggested guideline I was able to solve the problem. I started the computer in safe mode, removed the new graphic driver that I installed the other day, and installed the old one again. Problem solved! It took an hour, then I was able to finish my work ahead of deadline. Thanks!"

I leaned back in my chair and smiled. A new techie had been born.


General / 06 December 2019

Ever since computer graphics started to become important and valuable tools in mass media (photography, film industry, magazines, games, books), a certain standard started to evolve set by great visionary artists. It is easy to see this evolution of commercial art when you look in the rear-view mirror. What started out as a simple common practice to give products a way to distinguish themselves from other products, is now a multi-million-dollar industry and everything visual is connected to a brand or, ruled by "the" brand.

As such, certain limits have been imposed on the artist, also high demands. Working with CGI (2D / 3D), producers have come to expect the incontrovertible language of that certain branch of visual style. To stray, in either direction, has become unacceptable. Same applies to modern concept art, where artists tend to gather momentum being part of the mould, unable to recognize the importance of individuality. The result of this practice has flooded the flow of originality; meaning. Everything just looks the same, or as if it came from the same source.

Almost everything in visual arts comes down to problem solving, and in finding the solution to the problem, the artist finds his or her own voice. If the solution to the problem is copied from somebody else, the voice is muted, and what we really see are scraps. These scraps have become mountains now, and we are not that easily impressed anymore when it comes to, say CGI in films.

Looking around on the internet, there are really just a handful of original artists out there now, the rest try to adapt to the mould and become a part of it, which I know is a necessary evil. In my own work, I struggle with the inevitable truth of my limitations. I know today what I can do, and what I can not do, but that doesn't mean I should stop trying. Perhaps I will become a better artist in the future. For the moment I feel I still need to climb a little higher to be able to make my voice heard.