Thanks to the unknown people out there who are either drunk, deceived, or accidentally coerced and end up reading the dribblings on this blog, I have gained yet more evidence to support the opinion above. It appears that a blog post or two ended up on Reddit. I was quite shocked and well... flattered. I am convinced that very little of this personal exploration is phrased in a convincing or meaningful manner to gain interest with the general audience of FLOSS users. Further to this, I sincerely doubt anyone actually cares about these sorts of matters in the bigger Reddit / Digg community.
We who believe in the core values of Free Software, however, are a growing number. As a simple reality of statistics, hopefully the audience that cares about art, design, aesthetics, presence, etc. will grow accordingly. For all of those people, I sincerely thank your precious minutes of reading. Without you, none of this focused attention on this particular aspect of Free Software means anything.
Onto the real guts of the matter.
Recently, as a result of a Reddit posting regarding my previous post, a very few posted two comments. One misses the mark entirely, and I won't post it here. The comment in question was:
"...underlying logic of art and design." is a contradiction in terms. (Any programmers/mathematicians who have taken a design class know what I'm talking about.) This is essentially just a giant troll blog post because all art is totally subjective. Designers never seem to get this.It would appear that Leonardo DaVinci and the rest of his clueless brethren were foolish. Their dedication to studying the various elements of painting were completely delusional. The pointless ramblings were worthless. Why continue and attempt to establish further schooling such as the Bahaus, the Royal Academy, Vkhutemas, or any other institute when everyone should have just realized at the onset that all of this is totally subjective? Thank goodness the poster put his critical point in italics, for without that, we would have probably glazed over this most profound revelation.
After a sorry and unfortunate head nod, I went away.
Then, out of the doom and gloom, a response came! Someone had actually taken the time to counter the poster's views. Again dumbfounded, I read on. There was a debate. A discourse. I saw people actually engaged in a discussion about a rather fundamental principle regarding art and design! It was rather exciting. Yes... that last statement goes to show you how much of a dimwitted and foolish idiot I am. Sadly, it was a true statement.
I give full marks for Quidpro for taking the time to actually respond to the individual. I am impressed that someone took the time to respond, and respond in favor of the artsy fartsy side. As of the last comment, I'd like to expand:
As a gross summary of possible audiences we are facing regarding our branching out in the field of art and design in FLOSS, this is a pretty typical response. This isn't to attack the person in question here, but rather to highlight similar sentiments that I see again and again posted from people who, based on world view, education, or otherwise, simply refuse to understand that people actually study these sorts of issues for years at a time. The same investigative reason that someone chose to post this quote has led to at least a thousand years of formal study in the field of art, aesthetics, design, and other like areas. So yes, we have been over this ground before.
I implied (and meant, though I never outright stated) that artists and designers need to lose their pretentions of procedure and recognize art and design as creative acts.
I would like to think that anyone who has read this blog before realizes that I have never suggested that there is some strange and mystical hidden ability when it comes to creation. In fact, my library has dozens of books that systematically dismantle the notion that there is any magic in it at all. The reality is that procedure underlies the achievement of output. Without procedure, there is nothing. Without the procedure of pencil to paper, there is no picture. In terms of the dynamics of commercial art and design, those "pretensions of procedure" are not only more important but perhaps more fundamentally critical to follow. Internalized and private "art for art's sake" artists need only worry about a single audience member.
I'd challenge you to find a single real world designer who agrees with the above statement. J. Ive has spoken numerous times about his internal design procedure at Apple. The brilliant mind of Chris Bangle has given lectures on the subject of process. The Suprematist movement had a clear agenda and technique engaged to express and communicate their radical political belief structure.
Indeed, this is entirely about procedure.
There are guidelines (not rules) for avoiding poor design (i.e., don't put vibrant, strongly contrasting colors next to each other), but art and design are fundamentally non-procedural.This is again, simply ill-informed. The i.e (I hope they meant e.g., as if those are the only guidelines, I'd be worried) is simply incorrect. Fundamentally, there is audience, context, and communication. To this end, there most certainly are guidelines. These guidelines are, in fact, when applied to typography, graphical composition, and design patterns, most certainly procedural. But of course, I may be entirely mistaken as to what a procedure is.
And I'm not sure anybody on Reddit would seriously try to argue that marketing is a bad thing. I'm aware that there is a lot more to it than design, and most of the bad parts are separate, but if the design of a product and its packaging gets between me and using/researching the product, that is bad.This isn't about marketing. Certainly marketing has a vested interest in art, design, aesthetics, presentation, etc., but when the waters become so muddy that a casual commenter mixes up the two, I become gravely worried. Worse still, when someone suggests for a minute that those critically complex elements become the adversary of "using / researching", I become worried even more.
All of this is ultimately about relativism.
When one asks the rather classical relativistic question "If a woman on a moving train throws a ball forward, how fast is the ball travelling?", it is quickly apparent that the question is fundamentally impossible to answer without a point of perspective. Is the point of perspective the woman on the train? Is it a person on the ground standing still? Is it someone on Mars?
There is no singular correct answer. This doesn't stop us from providing math and rationalized approaches to 'solving' the problem, however. We don't give up and wave our hands in the air screaming "It's all relative and subjective!", do we? No, instead, we provide the critical hitch-pin -- the point of perspective -- and suddenly simplicity takes over.
Again, and apologies to my longtime readership, this comes down to audience. Our audience is that point of perspective. It is that by which all things must be judged.
To anyone who, for a brief and ill-informed moment, professes that none of this matters, I will leave you with one of my favorite realities.
In the late 1930s, Alex Steinweiss had an epiphany. He would take the drab, monochromatic, and generic plain paper album wrappers and design some original artwork for them. Despite the fact that the cost of this was going to be more than the conventional manufacturing techniques, he was given the go-ahead.
The rest I will quote from Stylepedia:
Shortly after the first covers were issued, Newsweek reported that sales of Bruno Walter's Beethoven Eroica Symphony broke all records compared to the same release in a nonillustrated package.Imagine what happens you apply more procedure and theory to this approach.
The Trail of Ink From Here
So while I worry that we have a long way to travel in terms of art and design education, I see much hope in our culture. Thanks to everyone who cross posts, discusses, attacks, debates, and explores. Thanks to every single person who dedicates irreplaceable minutes of their lives to reading this blog. Thanks to everyone who carries the flag of the cause.
In short, thanks to you. I am but the sum of your clicks.