Archive for the ‘Art & Politics’ Category


in red: but who called her? … and what is her calling

For those who can read Dutch my article published on the 17th of April 2014 at the moment when Beatrix Ruf had just been appointed. Title: “Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam: Beatrix RUF her calling just in time, but who did call her and what is her vocation?” Indeed the title can hardly be translated into English as the German word ‘Ruf’ means call, ‘roep’ in Dutch and ‘roepen’ is verb meaning ‘to call/calling’, further the noun ‘roeping’ means in this context ‘vocation’.

The article is a documented analysis of the organisational structure of the Stedelijk Museum that was in origin (it’s best & most creative period) just a municipal museum for modern art as the name says. I explain the process of halfhearted privatisation, the practice of sponsorship by business tycoons and the double agenda strategy of those who invest and deal in art and use their position in the board of the Stedelijk Museum also to advance their social prestige and the market value of their art property.
My article questions the ‘world class’ status idea and the art-market-competition with a yearly list by the art-trade magazine Art Review of the “Power Top 100” in the art-market world in which Beatrix Ruf in 2013 held a 7th position, with Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Head of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) and sister of the Emir, as number 1. [note 1]
When we look at the names listed in the ‘Roep Ruf Terug’ (Call Ruf Back) advertisement) we see several names of those who have been listed in the Top 100 international art-market-championship. The opening name Marina Abramović is for instance number 5 on the 2014 list. It must be clear this is a partisan call for many on the list, more than just a lobby, it has many characteristics of the meanings embedded in the Chinese (Cantonese) word ‘kongsi’ 公司 a traditional clan like structure that evolved with the diaspora of Chinese migrants to a world wide system of common cultural bound paired with common economic interest. Not all the ‘Roep Ruf Terug’ signatories do have a stake in the art market and several may have been attracted to pair their lesser known name with better known names (a standard phenomenon with all social-political advertisements in newspapers). [note 2]
I do have an alternative vision whereby I re-value the local over the international… as anything internationally acclaimed now, once had a local origin. Even miss Abramović was once local in Amsterdam – I do remember her as such far before she started to behave like a goddess doing these unbearable pretentious performances… (by the way she had the guts to send via social media a Kickstarter fund-raising appeal for some temple venue for her own glory in New York, if I remember well designed by another signatory of the Ruf list Rem Koolhaas, I had the dishonour to receive one of those appeals for money as well, what a shame!). [note 3]
How come that a municipal museum cannot have a director who has her or his roots first of all in the local and national art scene? That is a rhetorical question. The answer is that the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam is not anymore in the first place a local cultural and educational institution, but an asset in the international art-martket and mass-tourism industry. The pleasures of local uniqueness has given way to the uniformity of what has been pepped up, by the kongsi, to be of “global value”…
Another element is that these ‘flown in from abroad directors and curators’ lack a local power basis and tend to be moldable material in the hands of either the co-opted museum board members or public administrators.
I do not pledge for any provincialism, on the contrary, I think that the whole business type of dealing with ‘art’ by attracting so called ‘famous’ curators from abroad claiming it a necessary step to reach the eagerly wanted status of ‘world class museum’, is in itself the uttermost provincial attitude to be found in the year 2018. It is sheer lack of imagination. It is lazy. It is proof of incompetence. It negates all chances of the unpredictable, the core element of any creative act. It is repetition of the same hailed names and styles, the world over. Nothing new will come from it.

[1] In the 2017 list Beatrix Ruf has fallen down to position 27 on the Top 100 list, with this comment: “Tireless curator and adviser, ex-director of Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. // It has turned into a tough year for Ruf, who just resigned from her position as director of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, in the midst of alleged conflicts of interest between her institutional role and her broader activities as an adviser. While the effects of that remain to be seen, she nevertheless managed to develop a programme at the Stedelijk that navigates seamlessly between her usual focus on art’s next hot young thing and reexaminations of work by more mature practitioners, as recent shows for Jana Euler and Jordan Wolfson, but also Jean Tinguely and Ed van der Elsken, demonstrate. Furthermore, Ruf’s strength has always been her ability to operate as a meta-curator, in various advisory and panellist roles. In January, she launched the first Verbier Art Summit around the question of whether museums should consider ‘de-growth’, and she continues to be one of the core advisers to Luma Arles.”
See link…

[2] Advertisement in the local daily of Amsterdam Het Parool published Saturday 17. February 2018
[3] Last year the whole project was cancelled, let me cite an Abramović friendly source of October 6, 2017: “She will “probably sell” the building that was to become the $31 million Rem Koolhaas-designed center. Sarah Cascone, October 6, 2017 Marina Abramović with Rem Koolhaas’s model for the Marina Abramović Institute. © OMA. Citing a fundraising failure, Marina Abramović has announced that she will not move forward with plans to open a $31 million upstate New York facility for the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (MAI). In a talk hosted by Fondation Beyeler and UBS at London’s Serpentine Sackler Gallery on Wednesday, the performance artist revealed that she had been unable to raise the money necessary to convert a 1936 former theater in Hudson into a center for durational performance art and multidisciplinary collaborations, as reported by the Art Newspaper.” See link…
There were also less friendly reactions after the raising of money for a project that flopped, which is a common occurrence now with fund-raising actions using social-media and the internet, an ideal becomes crooked very soon. Like this header in the New York Post of November 11, 2017: “Marina Abramovic raised $2M for canceled art project, hasn’t given money back (…) The artist is present but the cash is gone.”
Interesting to note how Rem Koolhaas has made sure he at least is paid, because he can be in everything, but not in charity:
“… last month the artist revealed she was abandoning the project, after learning the price tag had mushroomed to $31 million. Her surprise announcement left residents of Hudson and shocked donors questioning what she did with the cash. In addition to the 2013 Kickstarter campaign, which raised over $660,000, her non-profit institute raked in $1.5 million in donations between 2011 and 2015, tax filings show. Jay-Z gave “a substantial donation” to the Kickstarter campaign, according to press reports. He did not respond to a request for comment last week. Some Kickstarter donors complained that they did not receive their promised rewards for contributing to the institute and others wondered how their contributions were spent, if at all, and wanted an accounting. When asked if Abramovic would return the cash, a spokeswoman for the artist said all the money raised through Kickstarter, plus additional funds, went to pay Koolhaas’s firm.”
See link…
To close off this footnote on the first signatory for the ‘Roep Ruf Terug’ campaign of Mariana Abramavić, I cite a source that has asked Abramović for a reaction and did get back some accounts details on the failed project, in spite of its name the blog ‘Vulture – devouring culture’ gives her a chance to reply on November 14, 2017:

“This is terrible for me,” Abramovic said, before detailing how she personally contributed $1.1 million of the $2.2 million the institute raised. “The majority of those funds were direct contributions of my own money, which I earned as an artist.” As for the Kickstarter, which raised $661,452 (after Kickstarter’s administrative fee: $596,667), the purpose of that money was clear on the page: “This Kickstarter will cover the first phase of MAI’s development: the design process.” And that went toward the bill for Koolhaas’s firm for the schematic design (which cost $655,167.10). Artnet reported last week that backers wouldn’t be getting refunds.”

The conclusion of this article is nevertheless critical:
“Still, the Post is right about one thing: the understandable frustration that Hudson residents feel that the big, much-hyped building in the middle of town remains empty and dilapidated and full of pigeons. But it proved to be a money pit — $700,000 for asbestos alone — in addition to the unfeasible ambitions of the Koolhaas design itself. And so the institute will sell it, and focus on its traveling circus of projects around the world.”

The financial reeling & dealings of the first signatory of the campaign to restore Beatrix Ruf back in power are far from transparent. Is it her inflated personality that made Abramović undertake a project that was beyond her means? Can one say that someone who is able to raise a million or so from her own pocket is ‘naive’? How did she manage to have such personal capital? Certainly not by being naive. So we read that another signatory of the Pro-Ruf kongsi advertisement, Rem Koolhaas, did get his money for a plan that local observers in New York describe as the “unfeasible ambitions of the Koolhaas design.”

We locals do remember also newspaper articles about the costs of architect Rem Koolhaas who has been commissioned during the Beatrix Ruf ‘Stedelijk Museum directorship’ about an exceeding of a budget for interior museum redesign, originally estimated for 0.9 million costing 2,9 million in the end.
“De nieuwe collectie-opstelling van het Stedelijk was zo’n 2 miljoen duurder dan vooraf was aangekondigd, blijkt uit een brief aan de gemeente. (…) Stedelijk Base, de nieuwe collectieopstelling die door Koolhaas is ontworpen en op 16 december wordt geopend, heeft bijna 2,9 miljoen euro gekost, zo’n 2 miljoen méér dan was aangekondigd. De inrichting van de 1.100 vierkante meter grote kelderruimte duurde ook niet drie tot vijf maanden, zoals aangekondigd, maar ruim veertien maanden. Daardoor waren er veel langer dan gepland geen tentoonstellingen te zien.”  NRC 7.12.2017


All this side-references and -effects are a good illustration of the ‘world class museum’ concept and its propagators it leaves us with a
tapestry of interwoven ideals and personal gain
that can not be disentangled.

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Republishing of an article I published on August the 29th, 2013, on my Flickr news-tableau pages, it is bilingual (English in the lower part) it had 3110 views at that time. As it is relevant in the actual discussion on the demise of the next Stedelijk Museum director Beatrix Ruf 2014-2017, I republish it here…)

Ann Goldstein vertrekt na amper drie jaar als directrice van het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam


Je hoeft geen Nederlander te zijn om artistiek directeur van een Nederlandse kunstinstelling te wezen, maar als iemand niet verweven is met de wereld van een museum dat niet voor niets Stedelijk Museum heet, dan mag het niet verwonderen dat het geen levenstaak wordt, maar gewoon een baantje als opstap naar een volgende trede in een carrière.

Het was de drang naar ‘internationalisering’, de wat zielige grootheidswaanzin van “Amsterdam Wereldstad”, waardoor gekozen werd voor iemand ‘van buiten’. Hierdoor vielen de eigen krachten van stad en land buiten het blikveld en kreeg de ‘internationale stijl’ – die er uiteindelijk overal hetzelfde uitziet – de overhand.

Niet dat we eigenheimse kunst behoeven, maar als de moderne kunst zich enkel in een museum weet te manifesteren als het eerst ‘internationaal’ op de kunstmarkt ‘doorgebroken’, als alles ‘well established’ is voordat het getoond wordt, wanneer een kunstzinnig directeur het niet aandurft een geheel eigen keuze te maken, wars van bestaande opvattingen, dan wordt ook een bezoek aan zo’n museum niet meer dan “een koude douche in het stedelijk badhuis.”

Of… zou het kunnen zijn dat bestuurders en subsidiegevers willens en wetens curatoren en directeuren van buiten halen, als mensen die geen eigen ‘circuit’ hebben in de plaats van aanstelling, als gewillige uitvoerders in plaats van eigenzinnige beleidsmakers.
Ann Goldstein leaves after hardly three years as director of the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam (Museum of Modern Art Amsterdam).


One does not need to be of Dutch origin to become director of an art institution in the Netherlands, but when someone is not involved with the world around a specific museum, a museum that – purposely – carries the name Stedelijk Museum (municipal/city museum), then it comes as no surprise that a director post will not become a lifelong dedication, but just a job that serves as a stepping stone for a personal career.

It was an urge for acquiring international status, this somewhat pitiful grotesque idea of Amsterdam as a “World City”, that made the authorities chose ‘an outsider’. Local and national potentials were thus excluded form view and ‘international style & fashion’ – that in the end looks alike everywhere – became predominant.

Not that we are in need of ‘local-yokel’ art, but when modern art in a museum is only able to manifest itself when it first has managed to make a break through at the international art market, when all is ‘well established’ before it will be shown, when an art director does not have the guts to make an original personal choice, in disregard of existing opinions, then a visit to such a museum has the effect of “a cold shower in the municipal bathhouse.”

Or… could it be that board members and subsidy-providers purposely take new curators and directors for their institutes from the outside – without their “own” local support circuit – as amenable executives, in stead of willful policy makers.
Een lijstje van het bewind van Stedelijk Museum directeuren van na WWII laat zien hoe dit vak en deze roeping in de loop der jaren verbrokkelde en tot niet meer werd dan een kortstondige management taak van een cultuurfabriek:

A list of the reign of Stedelijk Museum directors after WWII shows how this profession and mission has crumbled over the years into not much more than a short-time management job of a cultural factory:

– 1945 – 1963 = 18 jaar: Sandberg (1897-1984)
– 1963 – 1985 = 22 jaar: De Wilde (1919-2005)
– 1985 – 1993 = 8 jaar: Beeren (1928-2000; worked till his pension age)
– 1993 – 2003 = 10 jaar: Fuchs (1942-)
– 2003 – 2005 = 2 jaar: Van Beers (1941-; interim directeur)
– 2005 – 2009 = 4 jaar: Van Tuyl (1941-)
– 2010 – 2013 = 3 jaar: Goldstein (1957-)

De achtergrond is een hergebruikt beeld van een tableau dat ik verleden jaar bij de opening van het vernieuwde Stedelijk Museum publiceerde

The background is a recycled picture from a tableau I made last year for the opening of the renewed museum.

“Kranen open bij het Stedelijk” (taps open at the Stedelijk Museum) September 22, 2012 by Tjebbe van Tijen

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Iustitiae Languor/Justice Falls Down:
Indictment for Gaddafi but not (yet) for Assad makes one wonder and the symbol of Justitia as an impartial being came to mind and it made me  search in one of the emblemata databases for the word ‘justice’, this one popped up and though made in the 17th century it is still fitting four centuries later, where the geo-political situation in the world often gets out of control, like an unbridled horse.The emblem book (*) has the old German text on the facing page and it reads:

motto (de)
Gerechtigkeit gehet zu Grundt.
subscriptio (de)

GLeich wie ein wildes/ freches Pferdt
Stelt sich die Welt jetzundt auff Erdt/
Das wildt Pferdt leydet kein Gebiß/
Die welt die leydet kein Verdrieß/
Doch haßts vnd scheucht insonderheit/
Der Gesetz Recht vnd Gerechtigkeit.

A quick rendering of the somewhat obscure German – with an eye to the Latin – could read in English:

Like an untamed horse
The world puts itself on earth
A wild horse not bridled by a bit
A world not guided by remorse
But hating and dossing off especially
Law, righteousness and judiciary.


(*) Proscenium vitæ humanæ siue Emblematvm Secvlarivm, Ivcvndissima, & artificiosissima varietate Vitæ Hvmanæ & seculi huius deprauati mores, ac studia peruersissima. Versibvs Latinis, Germanicis, Gallicis & Belgicis ita adumbrantium … (1627, Frankfurt)

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A picture today in Aljazeera of the Green Square (1) in Tripoli struck me, it had a caption “People gather near a portrait of Gaddafi in Tripoli’s Green Square on Friday, before the explosions [Reuters]”. This news picture showed a huge street painting or print of Gaddafi and what seems to be a dwindling crowd around it. There is a fence around the picture that must be something like 50 by 250 meter in size. On the inside of the fence once sees guards posted at regular intervals. The picture shows Gaddafi in one of his hundreds of outfits, possibly the uniform of an air marshall  he wore when visiting the Italian president Berlusconi in June 2009. On the right side of his uniform jacket Gaddafi wears a gallery of medals and on the left the a photograph has been pinned on his uniform. The photograph shows the martyr of Libyan resistance Omar Mukhtar, the “Lion of the Desert”, on the day before he was hanged by his Italian colonial masters in 1931. A provocative statement for his host Berlusconi, who hugged  him nevertheless as he was about to make some big business deals with the Libyan leader.

The people around the fence at the Green Square in Tripoli in July 2011 look at the picture of this moment of theatrical revenge on the former colonial power, a picture that shows the leader completely, from his golden adorned cap to this shoes, with a saintly light blue glowing aura all around him. If one would not trust the strict editorial rules of Aljazeera and Reuter’s photo agency,  it could have been a photoshopped picture.

This made me think of the frontispiece of the book by Thomas HobbesLeviathan” published in the mid 17th century during the English Civil War, which describes the necessity of a sovereign authority to be accepted by all, to avoid ‘the state of nature’, everybody for themselves, a ‘war of all against all’ (Bellum omnium contra omnes).

For the sake of peace, the people, so did Hobbes argue,  had to make a social contract with an absolute ruler, best in the form of a king. The ruler in 1651 is depicted as an embodiment of ‘the people’. There is a crowd that marches from a landscape into the body of the ruler. The ruler has a sword in one and a crosier s used by priests in the other hand, showing he is in command both of state and church.

The display of the picture of the ruler as if he was a landscape, one could walk in, at the Green Square in Tripoli, has a similar function: Gaddafi as embodiment of the Libyan nation. Only, the aerial photograph unveils that it is but a meagre crowd assembled around their leader. It expresses how the maximum leader has inflated himself disproportionally to the feelings of embodiment by ‘his people’. In mathematical terms one can even speak of an ‘inverse proportionality‘, the more his popularity shrinks, the bigger his pictures.

The 17th century theory of state of Hobbes can still be used today, to understand the prolonged rule of dictators. There is some form of common interest, expressed in a social contract, by the ruler and his subjects. (2) How such a two dimensional state of affairs – ruler and ruled – may become a more diverse structure where more people can participate in the affairs of state, is apparently not well understood. The attempts of outsiders – like the Western coalition forces under NATO command – to kill the ruler have failed until now. Aerial bombing, even under the title of a UN mandate to protect civilians from attacks by their own ruler, are counterproductive. To deliver the idea of democracy to a nation does not work, or at least it takes many generations to wear off the effect of long distance destruction perpetuated by outside forces in one’s own country. (3) Interventionist regime change – as we witness for a few months now – does do little to empower the common people. Meanwhile, the ranks of the opposition forces are more and more filled with former supporters of the Gaddafi regime that try not only to evade the eminent purges after Gaddafi’s downfall, but also are preparing to continue the old rule, hidden under new revolutionary slogans.

The inflated picture on the pavement of the square of revolution in Tripoli of  the dictatorial ruler Gaddafi, serves more than one purpose. It glorifies him and at the same time it shows him as an ancient non-heriditary king who knows his days are counted when he hears the song in the streets: “the king must die“. (4) The ruler as scapegoat to cleanse the history of a nation. The ‘effigy of Gaddafi’  may serve an extra purpose, as a painting to be trampled on by thousands of feet in a direct release of anger , thus avoiding or diminishing the acts of revenge that accompany any change of regime.

(1)  Green Square named so after the Green Revolution coup d’état of Gaddafi in 1969 (Arabic: الساحة الخضراء‎ As Sāḥah āl Ḥaḍrā), also known as Martyrs’ Square (Arabic: Maidan Al Shohdaa‎); a downtown landmark at the bay in the city of Tripoli. Mainly constructed during Italian colonial times. Named Square of Independence during the short lived Libyan monarchy (1951-1969). On February 20th an anti-Gaddafi demonstration took place here, which was harshly suppressed. One source, a mortuary orderly from Tripoli who fled to Tunesia, later told the BBC that he saw hundreds of dead and wounded be brought into the hospital where he worked: “Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.”

(2)  This phenomenon is explained in another way one century earlier (1548) – and with more foresight – by Etienne de la Boétie in his “Discours de la servitude volontaire” (The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude). Boétie notes  that “…the best and most virtuous man would not remain so if he ruled alone…” See also the study of David Lewis Schaefer “Freedom over servitude: Montaigne, La Boétie, and On voluntary servitude”, page 40, partly available at GoogleBooks.

(3) Incendiary carpet bombing of Germany, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, imprecise precision bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan…

(4) See the famous chapter of Frazer in his book the ‘Golden Bough’: “Kings killed at the end of a fixed term.”

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When images could be searched with images. The idea has been there for a long time, some early big databases could do it a bit, like one designed by IBM of which QBIC (Query By Image Content) is an offspring. This used to be only for customers paying a high price and using dedicated big machines…

The official logo of TinEye company

Often people are not well aware of what they do while searching for images, but almost all image search engines on the net are ‘text based’. Now there is TinEye “reverse image search” and the idea of searching images with images, will  start to become common practice soon. I did a few tests and given the historic moment, a most obvious one is for Bin Laden. Google image search said it has 290.000.000 pictures for me.

Search results from Google on the basis of the text search string "Bin Laden"

I choose one of them – just the  top left one of the first page that came up – and ask TinEye to check its database for me, comparing my chosen image with whatever other images having the same elements.

‘The same elements’, therein lays the magic… as my example shows many variations just based on one picture, readily available on the internet for years. All kind of alterations are now available on-line, as so many people wanted to be rummy, funny, mean or otherwise about Bin Laden. In all 1340 variations turned up by using the TinEye web site. Many variations were only slight, others greatly deviating from the original.  This result comes from an algorithm that searches for a whole set of parameters on a dataset of 1.9532 billion images.

Search results on TinEye are stored only temporary and this was  the URL from which I took the examples in my further deliberations below:


We have here such a large data set that we can observe the effectivity of the comparing algorithm. I was impressed very much at first. Even to such an extend, that I wondered whether or not also a text element had been used, as some kind of ‘identifier’ or ‘delimiter’ in the automated search operation. To find out if that is so, some double checks are necessary. Feeding back to the system its own results, applying different names to images and other information around images on web pages used, could be part of such a method of control. I have not been able to do this yet, and when I think it up, other people must already have thought to do the same or have done it already. It will need an hour or so of searching. Until then, marvel and suspicion at the same time, which made me go on, a bit more in detail of my first test.

I found that the smartness of the visual robot system was – sad enough – contradicted by the interface it offered. It is a cumbersome table like text based result, ten at a time, whereby our possible visual associations are constantly hindered by the non-functional design of the TinEye Robot page. Even Google Images (not  a master of good visual design) has understood that there is the ‘agile eye’, and offers since a year or so, a tableau of images. Our eyes can swiftly purvey big sets of images, within milliseconds. Not in the straightjacket of the alphabetic sentence structures from top left to down right bottom, making a little jump from right end to left start at each line, but in a much more jumpy and associative way. To make my point I have selected 47 examples from the search result of Robot TinEye (10 web pages of the 134 on the TinEye site, with 10 images per page) and threw them together in one pane, one tableau.

Click this picture to see it at full size and test the theory of the jumpy agile eye...

While looking at  the first hundred results a second time, some doubt crept in whether what is offered here is solely the result of a visual search. I decided to venture a bit deeper in the 1340 examples TinEye had come up with and in the end I looked at all of them, which left me – because of the ‘ten at a time’ interface with a lame wrist of doing all the clicks. What a machine can not do without the help of a human, a human can do without a machine at ease and so I selected a few visual categories that seemed to me not congruent with what I expect automated visual comparison can do. Five main categories and let’s try to forget the level of stupidity of the metamorphoses of the portrait of Osama Bin Laden. The argument is about what an algorithm to compare images is able to do.

1) montaged faces of more or less known political figures on Bin Laden's portrait, starting with Obama variations; 2) some variations with a change of make-up and color; 3) camouflaged Obama's with the last one on the row a complete exception of image patterns see most of the other examples shown here; 4) Obama impersonations for fun among friends; 5) hair dress and head gear changes.

The most unlikely ones to be derived from image comparison solely are 3.3, 3.5 and something which is literally on the edge is picture 3.6, which looks like Obama and only at the right hand side the contour of Bin Laden remains visible vaguely.

When looking at the examples on row 4, one wonders why when all these clumsy impersonations do come up in a search action, why not thousands of bearded men in a white clad and a white turban are found also in such a search, that is run on 19532 billion image database?

Row 5 seems to be an easy job, as the beard and the face elements remain constant, though image 5.5 hides one of the eyes almost completely with the blue hat.

It all points in my observation of this moment in the direction of more than just visual search elements. This is of course absolutely fine and a very logic thing to do, it only differs from the explanation given by TinEye on its web site:

TinEye is the first image search engine on the web to use image identification technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks. [About page of  TinEye]

Many more questions remain, like if the face tracking software development of the last two decades is one of the elements used in the comparison techniques of TinEye, and if so, then we step from an academic technical discussion into a social one. The potential of automated face tracking of photographs posted on the internet with all kinds of other intentions than enabling whatever security and surveillance initiatives, can become problematic. The TinEye seems to be most popular now with persons and organizations selling pictures and wanting to trace misuse of what they claim to be ‘their copyright’ or ‘intellectual property’. Of course a certain amount of control can be useful, but we know that when it comes to copyright claims only the most powerful will be able to profit and ownership of images also can lead to undesirable forms of censorship and blockages of what is called ‘fair use’. Other application of the TinEye Robot  could even have far stretching consequences.

Now  we all know that any serious secret service is using such face-tracking tools already for many years, on any photographic material available to them. The question is when everybody will start using such tools and combine them with messaging in social networks this might create havoc, doing the opposite of what these networks claim to be for. Many more effects can be expected like the claim to authorship and fame and image searches that show that the same visual thing existed somewhere else before or after. Endless fights over who has been copying who in the digital land of copy cats. The big music industry already runs automated sound sequence comparisons on the tracks and songs that keep raining down from millions of creators and duplicators, trying to construct court cases to catch what they think are gees that will lay them golden eggs in the form of fines. We may praise ourselves lucky that such copyright claims can not be projected back through the centuries, because how many great composers would have had to appear in the courts called by the lawyers of the music industry and who will ever acknowledge the collective creativity of uncountable anonymous masses?

Back to our sweet looking TinEye image robot… I fed it this picture below, that I composed within 5 minutes from three sources, as I wanted to comment on Facebook about people dancing in front of the White House in Washington after the news of the killing of Bin Laden had been announced. Result zero said TinEye. Though anybody following the news would recognize a 1991 Palestine street dancing after 9/11 attack + the 9/11 attack itself + a picture from last week of people in front of the White House celebrating.

Diffused half transparencies are not yet within the competence of our lovely robot and for me that gave a feeling of relieve. As I am by now more fearing than admiring the capabilities of TinEye. Digital panopticism is not yet there, the human eye and human memory still reigns….

Tableau for my Facebook friends "I do not dance in the streets when I am horrified"

[this article will be extended in the coming weeks with my own and possibly your TinEye double check results]

Wednesday March 11 2011

Playing hide and seek with Tineye Robot

Could not refrain form playing a bit with the Tineye Robot and so we played ‘hide and seek’ with its own logo… it took three versions to have the robot effectively hiding behind the manipulated lettering of it’s own logo. Colour change and diffusing with a lense and grain filter did not alter the recognition of the word Tineye. Changing the wheel of the logo did not hide him from his own algorithm, but altering the angle  of his sensor ears and his arms + his facial expression by somewhat subtracting his chin, gave the desired effect. The robot is clearly visible to us, but not anymore gto its own software.

The result with the only the lettering recognised and the robot not seen by itself anymore. Click the image for full size view of this screen shot.

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DUTCH REBUS: this morning I wanted to offer my friend, who is non-Dutch, a nice piece of 'farmer's cheese' I bought on the market for breakfast, so I asked her for fun in Dutch if she wanted some 'Boerenkaas'... which made her ask in surprise "burkas?"... the subtitle on the cheese shown in the picture = "De smaak van pure traditie" (the taste of pure tradition). It also made me think of the the side effect of the proposed mandatory full integration for everyone in the low countries and the imminent loss of the pleasures of 'creative misunderstanding.' Click image for full rebus-view.

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klik plaat voor super grote printbare versie

Deze poster had ik al een tijdje geleden ontworpen en toont een achttal VVDers die diep ’embedded’ waren en zijn in onze economie. Het is opvallend hoe weinig – buiten de nooit van de buis weg te slane Wiegel – deze prominente VVDers (**) zich in de afgelopen verkiezingsmaand geprofileerd hebben. Van een in beschuldiging gesteld VVD lid van de Staten van Noord-Holland tot de twee toezichthouders op het bank- en geldverkeer onder wier bewind geldinstituten vielen en wankelden. Van terugtredende en op het nippertje opstappende commissarissen en bestuurders van de DSB bank van Scheringa tot het partijgeweten Wiegel die zich beschikbaar stelde voor louche beleggingsadvies-reclamespotjes. Als centrale figuur de beste-minister-van-financiën-ooit, die op nationaal niveau de actuele crisis gestalte heeft weten te geven en die nu als ‘nationaal geschenk’ een ‘nieuw realistisch’ schilderij – wellicht door ABN/AMRO uit de collectie Scheringa genaast – den volke aanbiedt. Voorts een lachende man op de achtergrond, bekend van het schilderij ‘de man met de gouden das‘, onlangs nog teruggetreden als voorzitter van mijn pensioenfonds. Ter rechterzijde van hem een ex-minister van Defensie en dierentuinbestuurder die laatstelijk zijn eigen straatje schoonveegde door een directeur van een woningbouwvereniging van corruptie te betichten in één van zijn bijrollen als woningbouwvereniging-bestuurder . Een voormalig kamerlid en minister die landelijk beroemdheid verkreeg als vinger-in-de-keel-steker in de tweede kamer, presenteert zich nu als neo-regent in zijn rode zetel waar vanuit hij de banken- en verzekeringssector onverwurmbaar in de gaten houdt. Buiten het zicht – onder zijn rode zetel – bleef een stapeltje recente onderzoeksrapporten waarin meerdere leden van dit groepsportret scherp en raak getekend worden, waardoor publiekmaking  – in verband met de op hand zijnde verkiezingen – als weinig opportuun beoordeeld werd.

Een artikel van Thomas von der Dunk in de Volkskrant op de dag na de verkiezingen stimuleerde mij deze prent die ‘en portefeuille’ was gebleven alsnog eruit te trekken (*). De prent is hier geplaatst in volledige hoge resolutie opdat deze als versiering en inspiratie aan de wand op de werkplek en andere doeltreffende plaatsen opgehangen kan worden, het liefst te drukken op de groepsprinter van een ieders school, werkplaats of kantoor.


Het spijt me dat door al dat gedrang om de beste plaats op de voorgrond de letter ‘D’ van democratie wat in het gedrang is  geraakt, maar de ‘V’ van Volkspartij en de ‘V’ van Vrijheid zijn gelukkig goed zichtbaar gebleven. De inspiratiebron affiche is op groot formaat geheel gratis te downloaden bij de VVD.

(*) Thomas von der Dunk: “Het [de VVD tj.] is niet zonder reden in intellectueel opzicht de meest nietszeggende van alle traditionele partijen in Nederland. Van enige analytische reflectie op de Val der Banken blijkt tot dusverre niets.

Het is – en Bert Koenders werd al in die zin vanochtend in de krant geciteerd – bizar dat deze partij, die als geen ander blind de neoliberale dogma’s heeft omhelst en feitelijk nog omhelst die de ons allen nu miljar den kostende kredietcrisis hebben veroorzaakt, vannacht de grootste geworden is. Dat is, alsof in 1990 na de Val van de Muur en het failliet van de sovjet-economie in Oosteuropa de communisti sche partij gezegevierd zou hebben.


De crisis kwam van rechts, dankzij een ideologie die de ongebreidelde hebzucht aanprees, op basis van de misvatting dat als iedereen maar de ruimte krijgt zo goed mogelijk voor zichzelf te zorgen, wij allen daar wel bij varen.”

[Volkskrant 10 juni 2010]

(**) Voorbeeld en zijn o..m. “Robin Linschoten, Ed Nijpels, Gerrit Zalm en Frank de Grave allen VVD coryfeeën. Ook allen (ex) bestuurders van een van de meest besproken kredietbank de DSB. De VVD maakt geen goede sier met dit meer dan onbehoorlijke bestuur door deze leden. Hoe geloofwaardig is het VVD bestuur met dit voorbeeld van wanbeleid bij een kredietbank door haar eigen leden…

1 oktober 2009, door Auke Huisman”

[commentaar op de eigen VVD web site van (waarschijnlijk) een partijlid op de ‘Tegenbegroting van de VVD” gedateerd op 15 september 2009]

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