Archive for August, 2015

Collages: Paper or Digital?

Let’s address something: paper or digital collages? Here are my thoughts about it:

1. Paper collages are more beautiful in person than prints. The real scissor cuts add to the surrealness.

2. The crafting part of paper collages is more pleasurable, as is everything that is being realized with our own hands. You do get some street cred for it too. Digital collages on the other hand are much faster to work with.

3. Prints on the other hand, look exactly the same, no matter if they’re digital or on paper (they only look different if you use soft cuts or if you boost the colors on digital collages).

4. Paper collages usually go for anywhere between $100 to $500 on gallery shows. Digital collages go for $20 to $100. Digital special edition prints though can also go for $500, as long as they’re resized up! At the end, it depends on the quantity sold.

5. Galleries rarely want to work with digital artists. This means that if you are a digital artist, you must do all the marketing and promotion yourself. It does take time.

6. Paper pop collages are usually up to 12″ size (usually smaller, and customers often complain about that). Digital collages can be resized and printed up to 36″ without much loss of quality. My most usual digital size is 18″ though.

7. Commissions for big publications or big clients is asked to be done digitally because they’re very demanding and they ask about changes all the time. Most of these changes can only be realized digitally (eg enlargement or flipping of a single element). About 1/3rd of my income comes from commissions.

8. Digital collages allow modifying elements when exporting for products (eg iPhone cases, pillows, t-shirts etc). Because these exports have specific sizes (e.g. too tall, too wide etc) visual changes must be made to accommodate a collage to that product’s ratios. This can’t be done with an already glued paper collage properly. Also, you can airbrush out ad text and logos.

9. Digital collaborations are easier. Nothing to mail out or wait weeks for it.

10. Digital workflows liberate the artist. You don’t have to deal anymore with limitations of sizes and decisions made in the 1950s by some editorial guy who put together a magazine back then. The decision on the size, direction, flip, colors etc are now yours. I understand that some people like the limitations. I witnessed a similar thing with Linux: people would install and use it exactly because they wanted to beat its limits as a desktop operating system. I personally am over that phase in my life. I don’t have the need to beat anything anymore, or fight with it. I just create as uninhibitedly as possible.

The Fall of the Bronze Age and Us

I was watching the Director’s Cut of “Troy” last night, so I soon got interested in reading about the Late Bronze Age.

Right about 1100 BC, all hell broke loose in the Mediterranean: there was massive depopulation & famine, ALL cities were destroyed and burned (not one was left unscathed, and some were burned up to 7 times!), and civilization almost disappeared (we have only small villages with very simple geometric art, while people forgot how to write). So basically, we’re talking about Greece, Asia Minor and Hittites, Israel area and Egypt, all but destroyed. That era is called the “Greek Dark Ages” or “First Dark Ages”, and archaeologists consider these 300 years as much more “dark” than the Dark Ages that followed the fall of the Roman Empire 1500 years later.

Historians give a number of reasons why this happened: raids from the north and from the “sea peoples” (people of different origins got together to pirate), drought and other natural disasters.

Honestly, I think historians got the causes wrong here. Yes, these things happened, but they were not the root of the problem. I believe what happened is rather obvious after a bit of digging among geologists’ information instead: the mines in the Mediterranean ran out of tin!

Tin is a rather rare metal, and without it, they couldn’t forge bronze. Without being able to create bronze, in the Bronze Age, well, you have no Bronze Age anymore. You see, the whole high civilization starting in 3000 BC in the greater area was basing itself on bronze. When that went bust, their trades and economy collapsed. When economy collapsed, massive famine arrived. The ones who survived were trying to kill everybody else to get their hands to a little bit of tin that some might had left.

I base this opinion on the following:

1. There is absolutely no reason to completely burn all cities and kill so many people when you’re simply trying to conquer them. You only burn the cities if you don’t care about the cities, and you only care about what these people had control over that was of little availability: tin.

2. People from completely different nations coming together to pirate (“sea peoples”), only happens when the economy has collapsed. Humans of different origins don’t band together and choose violence, unless there’s no other way. Humanity 101.

And the most damning argument:

3. Iron was known as a metal that could be used by 3200 BC already (pretty much the same time that Bronze was becoming popular). But because it required a special furnace and smelting technique, iron was used very little by blacksmiths. The Bronze Age happened before the Iron Age simply because Bronze was simpler to deal with, not because they didn’t know what iron was.

So, there was no reason for people to switch to iron (especially because we would have to wait many more centuries afterwards to invent steel). And yet, we see a gradual turn from bronze to iron during the Late Bronze Age, despite the practical problems iron had. This to me makes it clear that the people simply ran out of tin, and they were FORCED to *slowly* turn to iron. In the meantime, until they got iron right, the Dark Ages were upon them!

Now, there’s a reason why I’m writing such a post here today.

Think about it for a moment: we have major civilizations that they based their successes on a single metal. When that metal went bust, so did their civilizations. The few who survived, resorted into extreme violence.

Always use History to decode the present and to get a good glimpse of the future.

So, does the above situation remind you of anything? Could this what will happen to us in as few as 50-75 years from now, when our fossil fuels go bust?

We’re in a similar boat, you know: our fossil fuels are going away rapidly, and our solar panel technology is not nearly as effective (the best ones only have 25% efficiency compared to fossil fuels, just like iron was difficult to forge compared to bronze).

Unless Lockheed Martin comes through big time with their announced fusion reactor, we should expect nothing but a similar result: the collapse of our economy, wars over the little bit of oil (and water) that’s left, and a rather Mad Max-like world.

So, I hope I’m gone by that time, and not be re-incarnated for quite a while. 😛