New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, July 23, 2010

Paint by Number


There is nothing that seems to make an artist bristle more than paint by number* or anything remotely resembling it. It is useful to know what is best left to subjective human judgement. However, it is also good to know what is best done by using numbers, as well as where using numbers is more efficient and does not degrade the human experience.

I recall a documentary on the illy coffee company of Italy. What really impressed me was the balance between the subjective and objective in their coffee production process. There are things better done using science and technology and things better done by the human senses, and the illy family knows when to use what.

Numbers lie behind most things, and ultimately, given fine enough resolution, many analog things can be reduced to a digital file with satisfying results. Music is a good example. Most musicians have embraced digital recordings. Whether or not they are absolutely identical to an analog recording and whether there are any audible differences are moot points for most - the digital files communicate well the feelings intended by the composer and performers, the primary feature being the ability for flawless reproduction.

There are things that appear to resist reduction to digital reproduction and are controversial. Stradavarius, Guarneri and Amati violins are a good example - these instruments are highly coveted by violinists. However, tests have been done using antique and new instruments, with mixed results as to the ability of some of the world's greatest musicians and experts to distinguish the old from the new by listening alone.

Along with music, imaging and photography have been most greatly impacted by the digital process. The fact that a scene like that in today's photo can be effectively communicated with a digital file is remarkable. I stumbled upon this exquisite little gingerbread cottage while driving through the Lighthouse Hill neighborhood in Staten Island. The home, at 298 Lighthouse Hill Avenue, neighbors the Tibetan Museum and shares the same hillside and vistas (see second photo here). Built in 1899, the house is only 968 square feet. Its diminutive size and idyllic charm is communicated easily, whether you take photos, brush by instinct, or paint by number :)

*About Paint by Number: The 1950s in America saw a rise in prosperity and leisure time. "For critics, the paint-by-number phenomenon provided ample evidence of the mindless conformity gripping national life and culture. The making of the fad is attributed to Max S. Klein, owner of the Palmer Paint Company of Detroit, Michigan, and to artist Dan Robbins, who conceived the idea and created many of the initial paintings. Palmer Paint began distributing paint-by-number kits under the Craft Master label in 1951. By 1954, Palmer had sold some twelve million kits. Popular subjects ranged from landscapes, seascapes, and pets to Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper. Paint-kit box tops proclaimed, 'Every man a Rembrandt!' " Read more here.

4 comments:

Steffe said...

I'm guessing that whoever lives here is a happy person.

Brian Dubé said...

Steffe - Or someone unhappy and undeserving :)

Dan @ Newark Airport Parking said...

What a lovely place, must belong to someone living simply and just focused on beautifying their home and garden.

Brian Cryster said...

Hey Steffe well said this is really amazing and a beautiful place..