A conversation with ChatGPT about Art, AI-Art, and how to write a Reddit article about it…

JP

Can you tell me about the opposition between painters like Cabanel or Bouguereau and more “modern” painters like Manet?

Certainly! The opposition between painters like Cabanel and Bouguereau, who were associated with the academic tradition in 19th-century French painting, and more “modern” painters like Manet can be understood in the context of the broader artistic movements and debates of the time.

Academic painting, which was supported and promoted by the French Academy of Fine Arts, adhered to traditional notions of beauty and excellence in art, and tended to favor highly finished, highly polished works that followed established conventions and techniques. Painters like Cabanel and Bouguereau were part of this tradition, and their work was generally characterized by a classical, realistic style, with a focus on carefully rendered detail and an emphasis on idealized forms.

On the other hand, modern painters like Manet were part of a movement that sought to challenge and break away from the constraints of the academic tradition. These artists were interested in experimenting with new styles and techniques, and they often sought to capture the energy and dynamism of contemporary life. Manet, in particular, is known for his innovative approach to painting, which combined elements of the traditional and the modern and often challenged the conventions of the time. His work was often seen as rebellious and controversial, and he was a key figure in the development of the Impressionist movement, which sought to capture the fleeting, ephemeral qualities of light and color.

Overall, the opposition between these two groups of painters reflects the broader tensions and debates that were taking place in the art world of 19th-century France, as traditionalists and modernists struggled to define the direction of the art of their time.

JP

Can you write a blog article about this opposition, with more names and a few examples of painters/paintings?

Sure, here is a blog article about the opposition between traditional academic painters and more modernist painters in 19th-century France:

In the 19th century, the art world in France was marked by tension between traditional academic painters and more modernist artists who sought to challenge the conventions of the time.

The academic tradition in French painting was supported and promoted by the French Academy of Fine Arts, and it adhered to traditional notions of beauty and excellence in art. Painters who were part of this tradition, such as Jean-Léon Gérôme, Gabriel-François Doyen, and Alexandre Cabanel, were known for their highly finished, highly polished works that followed established techniques and conventions. These artists often depicted classical subjects in a realistic style, with a focus on carefully rendered detail and an emphasis on idealized forms.

On the other hand, there was a group of modernist painters who sought to break away from the constraints of the academic tradition. These artists, such as Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir, were interested in experimenting with new styles and techniques, and they often sought to capture the energy and dynamism of contemporary life. Manet, in particular, is known for his innovative approach to painting, which combined elements of the traditional and the modern and often challenged the conventions of the time. His work, such as “Olympia” and “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe,” was often seen as rebellious and controversial, and it played a key role in the development of the Impressionist movement.

The Impressionists, who included Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley, sought to capture the fleeting, ephemeral qualities of light and color in their paintings. They rejected the highly finished, polished style of the academic tradition and instead focused on capturing the impression of a scene or moment, often using loose, rapid brushstrokes and vibrant, high-keyed colors.

Overall, the opposition between these two groups of painters reflects the broader tensions and debates that were taking place in the art world of 19th-century France, as traditionalists and modernists struggled to define the direction of the art of their time. While the academic painters were concerned with upholding traditional standards of beauty and excellence, the modernists sought to push the boundaries and create something new and innovative. Both groups made important contributions to the development of art in this period, and their work continues to be influential and relevant today.

JP

Great. Do you think there’s a similar “opposition” of style in the AI-Arts of today (Midjourney and Stable Diffusion)?

It is certainly possible that there are opposing styles or approaches to creating art with artificial intelligence (AI) today, just as there have been opposing styles or approaches to creating art throughout history. However, it is difficult to say for certain without more context about the specific artists or works you are referring to.

In general, the use of AI in the creation of art is a relatively new and rapidly evolving field, and there are likely to be a wide range of styles and approaches being used. Some artists may use AI as a tool to generate new ideas or to assist in the creative process, while others may use it to create entire works of art on its own. Some artists may be more interested in using AI to explore and push the boundaries of what is possible with this technology, while others may be more interested in using it to create works that are more traditional or familiar in style.

Without knowing more about the specific artists or works you are referring to, it is difficult to say whether there is a specific “opposition” of style in the AI arts today. However, it is likely that there are a wide range of styles and approaches being used, and that there may be some differences or opposing viewpoints among different artists working in this field.

JP

Write an article for Reddit about all this, the opposition between academic painting and more modern painting in the 19th century is similar to the today (AI art) seek between detailed, perfect portraits people want to make today, instead of pushing boundaries and inventing real new images.

Sure, here is an article for Reddit about the similarities between the opposition between academic painting and more modern painting in the 19th century and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the creation of art today:

As an avid art enthusiast, I have been thinking a lot lately about the ways in which the art world has evolved over time and the various movements and debates that have shaped the course of art history. One thing that has particularly struck me is the way in which the opposition between traditional academic painting and more modernist approaches in the 19th century is similar to the debates and tensions that are taking place in the world of AI art today.

In the 19th century, the art world in France was marked by a tension between traditional academic painters, such as Jean-Léon Gérôme and Alexandre Cabanel, and more modernist artists like Édouard Manet and the Impressionists. The academic tradition, which was supported by the French Academy of Fine Arts, favored highly finished, polished works that followed established conventions and techniques, while the modernists sought to break away from these constraints and create something new and innovative.

Today, we are seeing a similar tension in the use of AI in the creation of art. On one hand, there are those who are using AI to generate highly detailed, realistic portraits or other works that are meant to be indistinguishable from those created by a human artist. These works may be impressive in their technical proficiency, but they can also be seen as conservative or lacking in creativity, as they rely on pre-established techniques and conventions rather than pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

On the other hand, there are those who are using AI to explore new and innovative approaches to creating art. These artists may be more interested in using AI to generate new ideas or to assist in the creative process, rather than simply replicating what has already been done. They may be more interested in using AI to create works that are truly unique and original, rather than simply replicating the styles and techniques of the past.

Overall, it seems to me that the opposition between academic painting and more modernist approaches in the 19th century is similar to the tensions and debates that are taking place in the world of AI art today. While some artists are using AI to create highly detailed, polished works that adhere to established conventions, others are using it to explore new and innovative approaches that push the boundaries of what is possible. Whether you are more drawn to the traditional or the modern, it is clear that both approaches have the potential to produce beautiful and meaningful works of art.

JP

Great! What could be the title (in one line) for this article?

Here are a few options for a title for this article:

“Exploring the Tensions between Traditional and Modern Approaches to AI Art”

“The Similarities between 19th-Century Painting and 21st-Century AI Art”

“Tracing the Evolution of Artistic Debates through the Ages: From Academic Painting to AI Art”

“Navigating the Boundaries between Convention and Innovation in AI Art”

JP

I choose “Similarities between 19th-Century Painting and 21st-Century AI Art” but I’d love to be a bit more precise, can I add something like “- academic or inventive”?

Certainly! Here is a revised title that incorporates your suggested modification:

“Similarities between 19th-Century Painting and 21st-Century AI Art: Academic or Inventive Approaches”

This title more clearly conveys the focus of the article on the opposition between traditional academic approaches and more modernist, innovative approaches in both 19th-century painting and 21st-century AI art. It also suggests that these opposing approaches may be characterized as either “academic” or “inventive,” which helps to further emphasize the tension between these two approaches.

JP

What are two examples of these 19th century times (portrait paintings) to show the difference between academic portrait and modern portrait?

Here are two examples of portrait paintings from the 19th century that illustrate the difference between academic and modern approaches:

“The Artist’s Mother” by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres: This portrait, painted in 1814, is a good example of an academic portrait from the 19th century. It is highly finished and polished, with a careful attention to detail and a focus on idealized forms. The sitter is depicted in a classical pose, with a dignified expression and a sense of calm and composure.

“The Old Guitarist” by Pablo Picasso: This portrait, painted in 1903, is a good example of a modern portrait from the 19th century. It is characterized by a more expressive, emotive style, with bold, simplified forms and a sense of movement and energy. The sitter is depicted in a relaxed, informal pose, with a sad, pensive expression that conveys a sense of vulnerability and vulnerability.

Overall, these two portraits illustrate the contrast between the academic tradition, which favored highly finished, polished works that followed established conventions, and the modernist approach, which sought to break away from these constraints and create something new and innovative.

JP

Yes, but painted in the same decade could be a better example…

Certainly, here are two examples of portrait paintings from the 19th century that were painted in the same decade and illustrate the difference between academic and modern approaches:

“The Kiss of the Sphinx” by Jean-Léon Gérôme: This portrait, painted in 1866, is a good example of an academic portrait from the 19th century. It is highly finished and polished, with a careful attention to detail and a focus on idealized forms. The sitter is depicted in a classical pose, with a dignified expression and a sense of calm and composure.

“Olympia” by Édouard Manet: This portrait, painted in 1863, is a good example of a modern portrait from the 19th century. It is characterized by a more expressive, emotive style, with bold, simplified forms and a sense of movement and energy. The sitter is depicted in a relaxed, informal pose, with a direct gaze that challenges the viewer and a sense of self-assurance.

Overall, these two portraits illustrate the contrast between the academic tradition, which favored highly finished, polished works that followed established conventions, and the modernist approach, which sought to break away from these constraints and create something new and innovative. Both portraits were painted in the same decade, but they demonstrate the different artistic styles and approaches that were being used at the time.

JP

There’s a painting with a nymph on the sea waters painted around 1863 too, with angels around. It’s in Orsay Museum. What is it?

It is possible that the painting you are describing is “The Birth of Venus” by Alexandre Cabanel. This painting, which was completed in 1863, depicts the mythological figure Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, emerging from the sea as a fully-grown woman. The painting shows Venus standing on a shell and being attended to by two angels, who are holding out a cloak for her to cover her nakedness. “The Birth of Venus” is considered to be an example of academic painting, as it adheres to traditional notions of beauty and excellence in art and follows established techniques and conventions. The painting is currently housed in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

And:

Variations and AI-made Art, Indecisions, and Curators…

1

There’s a place (photography) where indecision is interesting, and this is what I’ll use today.

It’s not really about indecision, it’s “decision displacement”.

A photographer often takes many pictures of a scene, and then chooses one. We all know the contact sheets, with crosses for nays:

In the ending end, you get ONE portrait, ONE place: one photograph. It’s about “content curation”. You have to choose one.

2

But of course, some artists just don’t. They opt “not to choose”, they show a few pictures.

The simple idea of showing a “contact sheet” was already in itself a variation game. It puts the audience in the position of the curator: “What would YOU choose?”. Something else, probably…

3

I wrote an article somewhere about Depardon and Shore.

A/ The French photographer shows two pictures in a street in the city of Glasgow. A slightly different angle, different time of the day, different weather. You compare, you watch, and you wonder: why both? What do these picture offer? What do they show? What does the photographer want?

It’s a bit as if the photographer was talking to you. “You see this place? What should I do? This chimney and this crane, they’re cool, right?”.

B/ The American photographer says this too, but to himself: somewhere, there’s only one place from which he’d take a picture. And thus each of his photos are like “magnetic”, there’s a perfection in lines, light, energy…

So you see this picture, and not another one:

Stephen Shore. Image from Steel Town

4

In the history of Arts, some artists like to offer variations too. They turn around things, like Monet with haystacks or Picasso with tomato plants.

5

I’ve always loved pictures but I don’t know how to draw, thus I made plenty of photos, and I collected books – today I’m able to make cool images with prompts and Artificial Intelligence. The skills needed are all about words, how to use them and describe things to get pictures.

In this field, people are always seeking a kind of perfection. Crisp, detailed, perfect pictures. There is a huge catalog of examples at https://lexica.art/

There are programs that can “batch” pictures, so when I make castles, I make 1000 pictures, because styles are fun to explore. These are “combinations” of words and styles.

But with a single prompt, one can also makes plenty of images, and each one will be different from the others, like these towers:

The wind:

Robots:

6

So well, there’s a tool for the spirit here.

When you work on a project (at school, in your company, etc), do you come up with one result? A few variations? Plenty of variations? Who’s the curator? You, in your head, or the client/student/customer? When is it a mistake?

I realized, when I began to work for other people, that my idea of showing plenty of things to the collaborator is a mistake. Then often don’t want to choose.

But sometimes you have to let them choose all the same! Because they don’t know what they want? Because they need to be disturbed by the fact they will HAVE TO choose?

And, you’ll be surprised by their choice…

Thanks for reading!

7

You can watch Depardon’s book on YT:

Is AI-made Art, Art?

Is AI-made Art, Art?

When photography appeared, I suppose that painters asked the same question. Is photography an “Art”? The photographers don’t even know how to draw, right?

Well, it became an Art, and some painters began to USE photographs to get inspired, to remember compositions and light, etc.

AI-Artists needs other skills. They play with Python programs, “settings”, and of course the prompt, the “sentence” we use to summon the models.

To write good prompts, you must think about organizing the words. Still, also you need culture, and visual art vocabulary (including photo vocabulary), but also, like in other arts, a way to combine, to “link” things nobody thought to link before… You also need an eye to determine what’s banal, ugly or cool.

I will always stick to the idea that “A good picture is a picture that stops the eyes”. A good picture must do that in a world surrounded by pictures everywhere.

These days I play with “classic painters”, I make new paintings, and well, that’s it:

Of course, the pleasure is to combine styles, to create new styles:

You can get crap

You can get illustration

Maybe ideas for stories – “here’s the story of the little girl who invented snow friends:”

Little things:

Color ideas:

Composition ideas:

Cool mistakes!

The AI artist must also be a curator, he constantly has to select what should be shown or not.

Well, you can make your images, for free. Just follow this:

Thanks for reading!

Quick-Eyed Sky’s Collaborations

I invented “Quick-Eyed Sky” decades ago for a web page about instrumental and avant-garde music. I kept the name!

If I needed a logo, it would be this airship…

Today, it’s used for my YouTube channel about images…

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkYi6dzJ5emaY0tPGat3k9Q

oOOo

2 of my images were exposed in Berlin in September 2022

oOOo

I made the masks in this trailer:

oOOo

I made some special effects (forest, fair, turning structures) for the Weird Wolves video:

oOOo

I made the cover of a book released in November

oOOo

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Quick_Eyed_Sky – advanced tips & many prompts.

Artstation: https://quick_eyed_sky.artstation.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/quick_eyed_sky

Blog: https://afrenchtoolbox.wordpress.com/ https://ko-fi.com/jeanpascalm

Thanks for reading!

The Imperfectionnist

I read an interview of a French original soundtrack composer, fan of Ennio Morricone.

Well, he talked about his musical qualities, about his multifaceted style (7 styles, he said!), but in the end told that what he preferred was his morriconesque way to accept almost everything, and then his way to work all the time, constantly, year after year.

Indeed, if you Wikipedia Ennio, you’ll find more than 100 classical works and more than 400 scores for cinema and television.

This says something, but can also ring false alarms.

If you produce a lot, there will be fantastic things AND more ordinary lukewarm other things.

It says that one should not be too solemn before beginning a work. It says to stop thinking too much, and to begin, to try, explore and experiment.

It DOES NOT say (in my opinion) that you can be casual when you work. You will work hard, you’ll really do your best.

“Il fallait qu’un bâton de chaise fût bien fait”, says Charles Peguy in France: The chair rung must be well made, not for the boss, or for connoisseurs, but it had to be well made itself, in itself, for itself, in its very self.

I just finished reading Woody Allen’s biography, when he says he’s an “imperfectionist”. I really felt it was the same pattern.

In fact, most of the great artists are like that. Picasso. Mozart. They work a lot, like crazy, they refuse no experience, they’re like “OK, let’s do that!”. Instead of thinking of is it the good moment or find the perfect way to work, they just begin.

Well, I like that because it’s the way I began my blog. I was sooo solemn about it, about the theme, and the perfect way of doing this or that, and when.

When I watched tutorials on YouTube about starting my channel Quick-Eyed Sky, I often found clips like “Errors new Youtubers make”. One was always: “Stop waiting for the good moment and gear to begin: post now, post today”.

Have a great summer! Sorry for the mistakes in this article, I’ll check it in a few days. I wrote it fast, but I want it cool, right?

You don’t stop progress, so what do you do with it?

Bahhh it’s an old say.

I remember the little book of Akira Kurosawa, who remembers that when the movies were silent in Japan, there were people in each cinema, playing music, dialogs, and some sound effect. When the talking pictures came, these people were in the streets, protesting. And well…

It’s the same for everything. Electricity killed the oil lamps market. Cars killed the horse cart market. Electric cars will harm the gas stations, little by little (in Norway, today, more than 60% of new cars are electric).

Today I make images with AIs, and that’s cool because… I don’t know how to draw. I just describe what I want, add some little tricks in words (I’m learning) to precise textures (painting, digital, video game?), and I get pictures, plenty of them, all unique and different. The AI invents for me. And batches plenty.

“Luminescent mushrooms in a mystical forest, twilight, fireflies, clearing, bokeh” gives as many as these as you want (hundreds, if you like):

So I found out that some digital artists find it “unfair”. In a way, I understand that!

But what I feel is they should use it, today.

I can switch on the light, but I don’t have an oil lamp. I can drive a car, but I can’t take care of a horse (and I’m short of room in my apartment).

When I post images in forums, like in Reddit, I got things like:

So, people love it, but some want to ban it. And I’ve been banned from many of them! The viewers love them, but the moderators hate them. It’s not “real art” (and is it, after all)?

Today, it’s a bit difficult to use these Google Colabs. And it’s lonnng. If you use the free option, you need one hour for an image. I pay, and I need 6-7 minutes/image.

There are hundreds of colabs, and very soon (this year, next year?) you’ll be able to get images in seconds. Concept artists will use these tools (or teach them), for sketching, to get ideas, for colors, composition, etc.

Some sites offer this already, in a simple form: Wombo Art, Hypnogram.xyz.

There’s no horse-skill in driving fast cars, it’s like… unfair, right? Drivers developed other skills. Today, to get cool images, you have to know what words are useful, and how to combine them. Unfair, maybe, but people have fun, and are creative (in their own way), and I kind of like it.

I began to make tutorials (on YT) for digital artists, how they could use this. I’ll make more, concept art for characters, using initial sketches to create something else, etc.

Maybe it’ll create a new job: “digital ideas provider”. Hmm…

What do you think?

Thanks for reading!

https://quick_eyed_sky.artstation.com/

Prompts of Invocations? How to make pictures with words.

Prompts of Invocations? How to make pictures with words?

There are Google Colabs which create images from just a sentence.

One colab I use these days: https://colab.research.google.com/drive/1n_xrgKDlGQcCF6O-eL3NOd_x4NSqAUjK#scrollTo=TnMw4FrN6JeB

Choose a phrase, “Brazil Morning Landscape” or “Giant Robot in Taiga”, whatever. You can just ask “The wind”!. You can increase the size of the image to 500 (pixels – more will crash the program). I also tend to put “steps per image” to 20 (I’ll get more steps to “see” the machine work). In the menu bar on the top of the webpage, go to “Runtime”, then “Run All”. And oh, OK, you need 30 minutes to get the last image.

On another page, I invoked “The Wind” and got this. The AI clearly needs more invocations 🙂

You can “color” this by another word. Here’s the wind with…

  • A painter (Alex Colville, Pict.1).
  • A website (Artstation, Pict.2).
  • A tool used for video games (Unreal Engine, Pict.3).
  • A way of painting for the movies (Matte Painting, Pict.4).

oOOOo

Here are Picasso and Klee for the wind. Who else would you try?

oOOOo

The word Artstation is commonly used because this site is full of great fantasy artists, and it gives dramatic pictures. I just added mist, dragon, emerald, dawn or airships…

It’s interesting to see how the pictures are built. “Storm Circus Tent Artstation Matte Painting” begins with a cloud and finishes this way. Here are steps 20, 40, 400:

I put 10 little movies with attempts here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkYi6dzJ5emaY0tPGat3k9Q

Have a nice day! Thanks for reading!

Sorts of Parameters

My last blog article was about how it was fun and funny to create images, creatures, things, worlds and landscapes with an AI interface.

Yesterday I made those – oh I know, there are many colors here 🙂

So I began to think about “what words should I choose?” to make the best results.

I have to add just one word to create an effect

Is “magical” useful for the first picture? “james-gurney-panoramic-entrance-of-magical-forest-full-or-fireflies”.

I can add a name like Dali or Giger, here James Gurney on the 2nd picture. I wonder if the word “detailed” is effective: “detailed, james gurney, orbital panoramic garden”

I can “ask” less color and some bokeh (the blurry aspect of what’s far) in the 3rd: “in black and white, bridge landscape in the city night, under the rain, bokeh”

Or I can describe precisely a frame (like for the 4th one: “artist’s tools on black paper with a lamp on a desk”

I found these tips on a page:

Landscapes and scenes where the focus is not a single object tend to be most realistic

Prompts can be long, detailed and specific: eg. ‘young sorcerer heiress of a cyberpunk corporation, with dragons on her side’

You can have multiple prompts in a single image. Divide each prompt with the | character

Try using ‘unreal engine’, ‘photorealistic’, ‘van gogh’ or any other widely known style or artist in your prompts

You can assign relative weights to prompts using this syntax: ‘green cloudy dog:50 | snowy:25 | christmas:25’. The absolute values are irrelevant – the weights are relative to each other.

You can assign a weight of 0 to a prompt to eliminate a concept from the image: eg. ‘christmas | santa: 0’

oOOOo

I also follow some Twitter accounts (including by the person who invented this). Try #vqganclip.

They play with words too. Some persons are so good they don’t give the key words used for their marvels. That’s life!

If I add “painting” it had some brushstroke effect. I have to find artists’ names to mimic their style.

Frazetta Axe Bird:

Roger Dean Futuristic:

chris foss black airship painting space:

oOOOo

This “How to” is great: https://minimaxir.com/2021/08/vqgan-clip/

Huge page with examples: https://softologyblog.wordpress.com/2021/06/10/text-to-image-summary/

Article about this AI: https://ml.berkeley.edu/blog/posts/clip-art/

https://learn.adafruit.com/generating-ai-art-with-vqgan-clip?view=all

(To be continued)

Dreams & Nightmares images with VQGAN+Clip IA

It’s been a long time I’ve been that excited with a computer invention. I’m old enough to have seen (is this phrase English?) the birth of Apple II, Pong, Macintosh, the Internet (and the web), personal then laser printers, or… First Person Shooters!

My last “Oh waow” moment is the discovery of VQGAN+CLIP images. This artificial intelligence tool is available for everybody. You’ll find tutorials in articles or on YouTube.

Ex:https://medium.com/nightcafe-creator/vqgan-clip-tutorial-a411402cf3ad

The IA is trained to invent images from a line of words.

You have to search a little, but here’s a page with a list of pages to start :

https://www.reddit.com/user/Wiskkey/comments/p2j673/list_part_created_on_august_11_2021/

The sentence “Geometric glass city from the future at dusk” gives:

“Glowing river” gives:

This imagery is characteristic. One should not use flesh or human or animal because it brings you into the “uncanny valley” of monsters and teratology.

Ask Imgur: https://imgur.com/search?q=vqgan

Too much color, but also sometimes a great color or mood talent:

Woodland Witch of the Night:

  • There are parameters. The human words are seeds. This is a cool idea. Unlimited, right?
  • It’s a long process and I personally don’t have the patience (I made only one with a dolphin). But it’s a beginning!
  • Soon we’ll get high-res images of these in a second. And movies.
  • It can be a cool source of ideas, for painters and others.
  • There are SubReddits, like https://www.reddit.com/r/deepdream/
  • You can add “in the style of” in the text.

What words will you try?

Thanks for reading!

Chronicle 69/Music Chronicle 7

There’s an interesting SubReddit called LeopardAteMyFace (‘I never thought leopards would eat MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party. Revel in the schadenfreude anytime someone has a sad because they’re suffering consequences from something they voted for or supported or wanted to impose on other people.). Schadenfreude is something we all understand and feel anywhere in the world, but the concept-word seems almost unknown in France. It’s been often used with Brexit (when you want to Brexit and then your company crashes because of all problems caused by it).

https://www.reddit.com/r/LeopardsAteMyFace/

Of course they made a CovidAteMyFace, a very schadenfreudish place…

oOOOo

In 2000, the French “plural left government” voted the “35 hours workweek” law. From then, it’s how we work in France! As I work in a store there’s been a little agreement: we work 36h, then 39h in December when it’s crowdy, and get 12 more days off (plus the legal normal 5 weeks off, c’est la France!).

In this company, there’s a senior new thing: when you’re 55 and more (which is me), you can work 80% (28h) in four days, you lose the salary part, but not for your retirement. I chose 85%/30h and I’m the happiest man since.

oOOOo

Reading a bunch of books about Barbarossa, the 1941 attack of USSR by the Germans. I have a huge book written by two historians, but I completed with a Wehrmacht soldier memories book, a Red Army compilation of stories, two photography books (on each side), a more complete book about all this German/Russia war (1941-1945), the fantastic Alexander Werth’s book Russia at War.

And it IS a tool here: when you want to explore an era, an artist, a country, one must combine sources from different perspectives and heights. It builds a knowledge-web, and more comprehensive way to always remember it’s complex as hell.

oOOOo

There’s a site named Vodkaster where you add your film critics in… 140 characters only! Less than two lines, which is a great exercise for concision.

https://vodkaster.telerama.fr/jeanpascal

Where do you need to exercise your concision’s skills?

oOOOo

I have been obsessed with Francis Poulenc, a French composer (1899-1963). There’s absolutely nobody I can’t talk about Poulenc with, but, well, that’s life! I had the visit from a friend working at the Opéra Garnier in Paris, who is a classical music lover, and we could talk a bit.

He told me and I agreed that Poulenc sounds “so French” that it made us smile. We wondered about what “sounds French” in classical music, which is a real question.

You can do that for many countries, I think of Italy or Russia, or the United Kingdom. There IS a British sound in pop (and classical) music, right? There IS something Russian in Prokofiev’s music. Is it in harmony, style, movement?

Poulenc is unframable, it changes all the time, it’s “insanity and beauty”, triangle and sharp like the Russians, and a second later sweet and dreamy. It’s not that serious, it’s lovely but jerky. It modulates in strange delicious ways…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Poulenc

Go to 3:42 for colors:

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French composers we know: Ravel and Debussy. You can spend a few weeks with the Web and YouTube to explore what is common or different with these guys. Debussy is fluid, impressionist, Ravel is more “Fauve”, with stronger colors. But that’s not that simple…

From Ravel, listen to the Piano Concerto. From Debussy listen to Nocturnes.

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Russian Painters are fantastic. When you need a little “good old academic painting” session, you need a book about Russian painting.

Google : “russian paintings trees”.

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You need to have someone on the Internet who explores fields you could like. In music, I talked for a long time to a French guy named EdWood since the nineties (we were among the first French diarists on the web, before it was called “blogging”). He’s an explorer! So every year, he posts his best films or best albums of the year, and I dig!

http://www.ed-wood.net/disques-tops-index.htm

This week I listened to 50 albums, downloaded plenty, and kept 3 names : Weyes Blood, Anna Meredith, The Twilight Sad.

What is YOUR source for musical discoveries?

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I just uploaded a new track on YouTube, and I added a post on the GarageBand SubReddit, telling:

Hi everyone! I had fun yesterday building a crescendo based on a loop of “4 bars” + “4 bars with a modulation”. This makes the audience… need a melody based on it, right?

This is based on a single note called “arr1”, the famous “Moments in Love” Fairlight sound of Art of Noise. I wanted this note to be like a wind (like, in a way, the sound of the wind in Fellini’s movies). I added reverb and some distortion, and it’s just a “Hhhaaaaaaaa” all along the track. The carpet note, if you want.

I found this sound on the web after a few Google searches. “”Moments in Love” Fairlight sound of Art of Noise”.

I added pictures of flowers and frogs to make a YouTube movie.

So it’s 4 chords then 4 other chords with a little modulation. This is boring therefore I literally PILED other sounds with echoes, arpeggios, and some drums here or there. I love stairs!

I separated each step (hhhaaaaa) with a one-bar break. It’s like a… “pause then go on”.

There are two breaks, just for the pleasure of “Let’s climb again”.

In the end, I added louder drums and strings. The two guitars give some relief. They… use the modulation to bring something, I suppose.

Is it acceptable? Should I add a “chorus”? What kind of music is it? Should I use a “I’m a man playing piano notes” over the chords? (I admit I always love to build… little machines). Some lyrics?

Thanks for reading and listening!

The other one is built on a “pianist fingers exercise” (notes around one central note).

My YouTube text:

So I wanted to build an ambient loop around these photos of ants. I lost myself a bit, with this somber piano, but voilà. Insects are cool, right? But ants are cooler when you watch them worrying about « having to go », having to quit, to go away, to find a new home… It’s their dawn, their beginning. Queens within soldiers protecting them until they fly… I played with the idea of unstable harmonies. Some things are sweet, some others are bitter, or uncertain. The music loops but constantly stops. The weaving instruments are sometimes dissonant… this was all a funny game, like Lego.

Game of contrast : acoustic/electronic, reverb/dry, rooted on the loop/evoluting.

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I have to go, there’s a big storm coming.

Have fun, thanks for reading!

“Finasser”: a funny dillydally shilly-shally French verb

Finasser” is a funny French verb. When I read it in a book I immediatly asked myself “How do you say than in English?”.

Reverso Context tells me plenty of solutions, which means we touched, here, a complex translation point.

Finasser :

To play games

To move slowly

To play

To try to be clever

To get into the niceties

To use trickery

To dazzle

To equivocate

Well, in French it’s clear it means you don’t really fancy doing something when you have to, then you do as if you need to focus on some details, find excuses and pretexts not to do the job.

“Arrête de finasser !” : Stop finassing, sounds very parenting, patronizing.

To play games sounds good, but finasser is not “being inconsistent” to annoy someone, it’s more “to be smiling and lazy”.

To move slowly would be the consequence of finasser.

To try to be clever seems sarcastic and mean or witty. Finasser is not sarcastic though. It’s just a lack of will.

I love “to get into the niceties“, because it’s really that. To focus on small details… not to work.

To use trickery is not correct, or maybe just a little. To dazzle: the same. Finasser is not about cheating of misleading, it’s more about hesitation or a small will to slow down things.

To equivocate is right. To prevaricate seems better! But the verbs in French are “chipoter” or “tergiverser”, it’s another problem. Chipoter: to haggle over. Tergiverser: to um and ah, to procrastinate (and oh there’s a “to tergiversate” in English?).

Then it’s leads to : to sit on the fence, to punt, to pussyfoot around (seems perfect, though we’d say “faire des manières”, which is… to fuss), to waffle back and forth (more about changing mind all the time – être une girouette (to be a weathercock)), to dillydally (oh marvel!!), haver (sillier?), punt (evading the issue, to pass the buck), shilly-shally (oh, cool!).

Finasser is a little this and that. It shows a will to be slow, find excuses not to work, but not really to annoy someone else.

The Larousse dictionary says: “User de finesses, de subterfuges pour se dérober ou obtenir un avantage ; ruser.”- Use finesse, subterfuge to evade or gain an advantage; cunning.

Hmmm, that’s complicated, right?

The “asser” we add to words is a bit negative. Bavasser means “to prattle”, it’s bad and vulgar.

There are many bad insults in French finishing by “asse” (connasse, pouffiasse, grognasse, pétasse, blondasse), these are loud and mean! If “tiède” means “lukewarm”, tiédasse is like “it’s sadly lukewarm”, like bad soup, haha.

I always loved to explore trees of words. This was a good one. Of course my interpretations of words’ “colors” is probably wrong at times. Tell me in the comments?

Have a nice day. Thanks for reading!

The Geometric Mind and the Spirit of Finesse: Pascal

The Geometric Mind and the Spirit of Finesse: Pascal was a French philosopher. He played with these to ways:

Geometric Mind: “the skill or capacity for demonstrating truths already found, and of elucidating them in such a manner that the proof of them shall be irresistible”. Thinking with principles, causes and consequences. Also, geometry separates things, draws lines.

Spirit of Finesse: “The intuitive mind, with its instinctive twists and turns, lucky hunches, and inspired guesswork”. Intuition. You feel things, but it will maybe not clear for others. Finesse embraces things.

Excellence needing both, of course!

It’s about “to adapt your mindset to the problem”. You need to have the “right” view not to think wrongly on… known principles. One way of thinking helps the other way.

Then we can have fun with it. What do we prefer? Are we able to tango with both? What does it bring? What do we lose? How to communicate with one type of spirit?

Have a nice day!

—–

See also:

Bake two Cakes

Both Sides Now

Bothness

“Harumphingly” & other English words I learned recently

New English words I learned recently. Learning a language is a continuous experience. Everyday I’m surprised! Like:

Insofar sounds very formal, right? I’d be happy to find a moment in a conversation when I could use it, alone or with “insofar as”, which in French is “dans la mesure de”.

Lackadaisical is apathetic but sound so silly, right? I DO wonder what is the color of it. Is it casual or nonchalant, is it lazy? Blithe, blasé? Can lackadaisical be voluntary, sarcastic? Cool?

Trespass is a common word but I really can remember it, each time I have to check.

Call time is maybe “ladies and gentlement we close the store!”, but it’s also “to say stop”, right? To announce the end.

Onus as a law word, but also obligation, responsability. Is it common?

Make do for “be content with what is available”. In French we say “faire avec” : to make with.

To doll up, oh I love this one so much! We have great verbs for this one. Bichonner is when you doll up a friend, you help her. Se pomponner is based on the noun “pompon” (yes the decorative fluffy ball). It’s something like “to pompon myself”.

Tryingness (The state or condition of being trying (arduous, difficult to endure) sounds difficult to use.

To scatter, disperser, éparpiller, with all the rest : across, on, over.

Harumphingly was amazing to discover. Harumph is maybe the way French say “Pfff”. And I wonder if I could say I’m an harumpher.

Snug, I wonder how come it could mean “warm cumfortable” AND “tight-fitting”. So “a dress fits very snug” can be something to say? To fit snugly? I love the “form fitting” color of it though. We say “épouser à merveille” for this marvellous dress : “It spouses you at marvel”, somthing like that.

So there’s that gives “alors voilà” (so there). Urban Dic says : “A phrase said after describing something strange, awkward, ironic, hilarious, crazy, or otherwise profound.” Good!

To go halfsies.

Thanks for reading!

Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river

Photography: “La Dordogne”, a French river. How to photograph a river? She’s like the lady you’re in love with: she’s complex, multiple, given, elusive, clear, dark, changing and marvellous. What do I choose? The light? Water? Trees? Rocks? Here are 14 pictures of La Dordogne, near the little town of Carsac.

Photography: The roofs of Sarlat, Périgord, France

Sarlat-La-Canéda is a medieval town in France, near Bordeaux. Yes, it’s a good place to drink wine and eat meals made of ducks and geese (confits and all).

Today I choose to show you the roofs. I took many pictures thus you’ll see streets, forests, rivers and… the cemetery.

I added a little Poulenc because it’s my little obsession of the time.

Have a good day!

Rivière, French painter

Rivière, what a fantastic name to wear, right? Henri Rivière (1864-1951) was a French painter. He’s a bit forgotten today in France. Etchings, lithographies in the “Japonism” manner (cf Hiroshige).

It’s very… French, and you’ll need a little Poulenc music to listen to (I provide a link at the end) and some Paul Valéry poems too.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henri_Rivi%C3%A8re_(painter)

Have a nice day!