Dan Proops's digital culture-inspired oil paintings

 Crblog Wp-Content Uploads 2008 04 76Complete  Crblog Wp-Content Uploads 2008 04 Danproops Pearlearring S1
Dan Proops creates oil paintings inspired by digital technology and culture. He has a new show opening next month at London's Empire Gallery. The Creative Review Blog has a fascinating interview with Proops and more samples of his work. (Seen above, "76% Complete" and "The Girl with a Pearl Earring Censored." From the interview:
I believe the influence of Cubist philosophy on the graphic user interface (ie operating systems like Windows’ XP/Vista) has never been properly looked at. In my work I seek to set strong arguments for the connections between the many “viewpoints” set up in cubist paintings and the way PC and Mac operating systems set up multiple “windows” to allow the computer user to see and use and assimilate information.

It cannot be overlooked that the theories and ideas set up by the cubist mentality of setting up objects and environments and viewing them from different vantages from within the same space has created the intellectual set of possibilities allowing the design and concept for the “Windows” interface to evolve.
Link to CR Blog, Link to Dan Proops site

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  1. These are kind of bland. The artist might want to read Lev Manovich’s essay “Avant-garde as Software” or “The Language of New Media” instead of speculating that no one has “properly looked at” the influence of the 1920s avant-garde on interface design.

  2. I actually saw a similar piece at a local gallery – it was Girl With a Pearl Earing, but pixilized so much that the entire painting was represented with 12 squares.

  3. Calvin: A painting. Moving. Spiritually enriching. Sublime, … “high” art! The comic strip. Vapid. Juvenile. Commercial hack work, … “low” art. A painting of a comic strip panel. Sophisticated irony. Philosophically challenging. … “high” art.

    Hobbes: Suppose I draw a cartoon of a painting of a comic strip?

    Calvin: Sophomoric. Intellectually sterile. …”low” art.

  4. Wonder how long it’ll take for Bullmer et al to have a go at suing Picasso and Braque for copyright infringement…

  5. #7: No.

    From Wikipedia (b/c I’m too lazy to pull a 20lb art history text off my bookshelf):
    The Girl with a Pearl Earring (Dutch: Het Meisje met de Parel) is one of Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer’s masterworks and as the name implies, uses a pearl earring for a focal point. The painting is currently housed at The Mauritshuis in The Hague. It is sometimes referred to as “the Mona Lisa of the North” or “the Dutch Mona Lisa”.
    Painted circa 1665-1675

    More likely that FF X’s Rikku is supposed to resemble this young servant girl.

  6. Cubism an influence on GUI design? Hmm – I’d take a lot of convincing. But then again, cubism always left me totally cold.

  7. “It cannot be overlooked that the theories and ideas set up by the cubist mentality…”

    It can too be overlooked. For starters it has been overlooked by me–I would never have made the alleged connection if you hadn’t pointed it out.

    In my experience phrases or statements that purport to be definitive are anything but, especially when they come from enthusiastic amateurs as opposed to Subject Matter Experts (SME’s)

  8. the cubist mentality of setting up objects and environments and viewing them from different vantages from within the same space

    Ahh! When will stop thinking that cubism is a simultaneous viewing of a single thing from many different viewpoints? I repeat — this is not what cubism is — cubism is really a simultaneous reconciliation and rebellion against the flatness of the picture plane, by creating smaller faceted planes (within the painting) that ‘jut out’ slightly.

    Oh, and #2 — nope. Although not specifically in concord with the computer-pixel, look at Gerhard Richter (http://www.gerhard-richter.com/art/detail.php?paintID=6089), which was two years before Dali. Ellsworth Kelly painted some pieces in the 50s, I think, too.

  9. Thanks for the commenst on my work just to say that although there have been connections made with fine art and design there has been very little art made commenting on these theories.

    I think there are strong links with the theories and ideals found in cubism (IE to be able to look at different viewpoints or ‘windows’ within the same image) and contemporary design of the GUI.

    http://www.samsdesktop3.com

    is the website for my upcoming show.

  10. ‘Ahh! When will stop thinking that cubism is a simultaneous viewing of a single thing from many different viewpoints?’

    this comment shows that suedehead is ignorant of the basic and fundamental theories of cubist ideaology. Although the form redistribution of the 2D plane is indeed prevelant in Cubism.. the ablity to show different viewpoints esp in Picassos and Braques Analytical cubist period can not be denied…

    Dan Proops

  11. Sorry, Dan Proops – I’m not ignorant of cubist ideology, it’s just that you’re adhering to a popular misunderstanding of cubism.

    Really, an “ability to show different viewpoints” is just a further adherence to the sort of positivism and scientific knowledge, and eventually just a weak justification for analytic Cubism’s break away from realism/mimetic depiction — that is, “Picasso and Braque are actually being super-realist, in that they’re being more scientific and actually showing something from many different sides”.

    The viewpoint I argue — that cubism is about a flattening of the image to adhere and echo with the flattening of the picture plane, is actually a viewpoint that Picasso’s friend and dealer Kahnweiler (as well as Clement Greenberg, later in the 60s) argued for. Also — arguably, Picasso is being influenced by the linguistics of Saussure, and utilizing a single sign (a tilted plane) to represent many different aspects of the image.

    In short — to say that Cubism is a representation of a single object from many viewpoints at once, is just a copout against having to accept that Cubism is actually not realist, not mimetic, is just a continuation of the 19th-century positivist notion of painting that Picasso and Braque was in fact moving against.

  12. ‘just a weak justification for analytic Cubism’s break away from realism’ ???how would Suedehead suggest Picasso and Braque DID move away from realism if not by reconstructing the viewers perception of it.

    If Suadehead, you had in any way studied analytical cubism you can easily make out different perspective viewpoints in many of the works such as Braques’ ‘Houses at L’estaque’. In paintings like this and MANY like it Picasso and Braque show off multi-percpectival views within the work. Can this really be denied?

    Cubism has many meanings and connotations, much of which has been read into it by often cras intellectual post-cubist gushings many years after the production of the work.

    To say Picasso and Braque are in fact super- realist is just facile and ridiculous. – Realism in what sense? Realism is a term given to a painting style associated with the ‘mimetic’ reproduction of a scene within a traditional perspective framwork – infact Cubism took an anti- mimetic stance by referencing from as opposed to reproducing elements within the architecture of visual perception.

    ‘that cubism is about a flattening of the image to adhere and echo with the flattening of the picture plane,’

    Do you really see Cubism as a flattening of the Image?? – I would agree that in the post-Cubist holocaust of proto abstraction such artists like Mondrain or Rothko flattened the image, but there is true depth and a great sense of three dimensionality that can be found in much of cubism esp the Analytical epoch. Even in Synthetic Cubism there is a three dimensionality to the work.

    ‘utilizing a single sign (a tilted plane) to represent many different aspects of the image.’

    I would actually suggest there to be the opposite happenings within Cubism.

    Picasso/Braque actually broke single subjects such as a still life or guitar and broke it down to many facets (infulenced by both African Pre-Iberian Sculpture and Cezannequsque form.

    Saying that

    ‘In short — to say that Cubism is a representation of a single object from many viewpoints at once, is just a copout against having to accept that Cubism is actually not realist’

    is like saying that it is a cop out to say that a motorcycle is fast – indeed it maybe many things, black, shiny, or expensive but it is undoubtably fast.

    Cubism is multifacted both in form and in meaning and interpretation…there are many facets of meaning that we can attatch to it including the Cubists depiction of a single object from many internal percpectival viewpoints.

    Dan Proops

  13. ‘just a weak justification for analytic Cubism’s break away from realism’

    whoops — that should be an ‘against’, not a ‘for’. To reiterate — I think that Cubism does break away from realism, and I do NOT think that Cubism is super-realist — rather, the opposite. I apologize for my typo.

    “Do you really see Cubism as a flattening of the Image?? – I would agree that in the post-Cubist holocaust of proto abstraction such artists like Mondrain or Rothko flattened the image, but there is true depth and a great sense of three dimensionality that can be found in much of cubism esp the Analytical epoch. Even in Synthetic Cubism there is a three dimensionality to the work.”

    Yes, I do. Cubism has a sense of depth, but within a shallow plane. This is what I’ve been talking about — a simultaneous depth and flatness, as a sort of semi-reconciliation of the image and the medium. Cubism doesn’t have a “great sense of three dimensionality”, though — it’s not a window onto a world, not a Michelangelo piece with proper Renaissance perspective.

    I mean, around the early 1910s, Picasso (and Braque) is being influenced by Cezanne, who is also continuously flirting with flattening the image at the time — look at his Mont-Sainte-Victoire. So I do think so, also from a genealogical standpoint.

    In the ‘Houses at L’Estaque’ by Braque example that you gave, the houses are very solidly three-dimensional, but at the same time are pressed and flattened by the tree and in the foreground, as if the houses are tumbling out of the image, but the tree forces them flat again. There’s this incredible tension between the houses having depth, and the entire image being rendered as flat. I think this tension is the core of cubism.

    about the sign:
    “I would actually suggest there to be the opposite happenings within Cubism.”

    Well, I’ll explain – in Picasso’s painting 1912 Violin, he introduces newspaper into the painting. The newspaper stands as both the surface of the violin, and the surface/wallpaper behind the violin, at the same time. The single cut-out outline of the newspaper both indicates the boundary of the violin, and also the negative space of the violin. The same sign/object functions as two different signifiers. There’s a sense of depth brought on by the placement of the two sheets of newspaper, but at the same time, they’re both newspaper on top of canvas, so it’s clear that the canvas itself is flat. Here, even in synthetic cubism, is this tension between flatness and depth.

    “In paintings like this and MANY like it Picasso and Braque show off multi-percpectival views within the work. Can this really be denied?”

    Jagged, incoherent angles do not mean that the painting harbors several different perspective viewpoints. Perspectival viewpoints implies a very realist, objective way of looking at things, but you too seem to reject the notion that Cubism is realist.

    How do you deal with the fact that Picasso’s and Braque’s paintings are not coherent in terms of their ‘many internal perspectival viewpoints’? That is, don’t you think that if “looking at an object from many different points of view” was their intention, then they would have created images with strict, proper vanishing-point perspectives, but with several of these perspectives combined in a single image? Instead, their paintings aren’t geometric enough, are ‘imperfect’ lines and creations joined together…

    Also — you seem to dislike anything after cubism — you mention the “post-Cubist holocaust of proto abstraction”.. care to explain why?

  14. Thanks for your long and interesting posts…

    I just wrote a very long answer to your post but pressed the back button and lost the writing..

    but I was just saying that I agree that in SYnthetic Cubism there was definately a flattening of the Image but in the proto-Cubist work such as Picassos monumental nudes etc there is a real depth and sculptural feel to those works ..as Pic / Braq lead themselves into Analytical Cubism the Multi percpectival viewpoints became more dramatic and the ‘Image’ was only really flatttened in Synthetic Cubism in my view..

    I see the Cubist paintings rather like an orange peel that has been opened up and then flattened, so in this way I feel you are right about the flattening of the Image in Synthetic but not so much in Analytical cubist work..in which there are multiple viewpoints..

    Indeed it was the demolishing of a singular ‘realistic’ percpective point that was the huge stride forward in Analytical Cubism. By creating many viewpoints within the same Image the Cubists created a new kind of reality not the representational type that is found from Giotto onwards.

    Dan Proops

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