Luminous Landscape Forum

The Art of Photography => But is it Art? => Topic started by: PhillyPhotographer on September 06, 2008, 10:07:58 PM

Title: Price and Edition
Post by: PhillyPhotographer on September 06, 2008, 10:07:58 PM
Another debate I keep coming upon is to edition or not to edition prints. I like the idea of limiting how many prints are out there and it does cut back on forgeries. I wondering what you guys and girls think.


Also another subject that's enough to give you a headache is how to price prints. I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Ronny Nilsen on September 08, 2008, 02:27:24 AM
Quote
Another debate I keep coming upon is to edition or not to edition prints. I like the idea of limiting how many prints are out there and it does cut back on forgeries. I wondering what you guys and girls think.
Also another subject that's enough to give you a headache is how to price prints. I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a] (http://index.php?act=findpost&pid=219903\")

Se what  [a href=\"http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/pigmentonpaper.htm]Brooks Jensen[/url] (editor of Lenswork) have to say on this. I agree with him, limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography and I have put up an essay on my
own site to make my view on this clear to buyers.

Pricing  is difficult, but the low price is what you have to make, to make it worth it
to make and sell the prints. The high price is whatever you can sell them for.  

Ronny
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: PhillyPhotographer on September 08, 2008, 10:43:11 AM
Quote
Se what  Brooks Jensen (http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/pigmentonpaper.htm) (editor of Lenswork) have to say on this. I agree with him, limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography and I have put up an essay on my
own site to make my view on this clear to buyers.

Pricing  is difficult, but the low price is what you have to make, to make it worth it
to make and sell the prints. The high price is whatever you can sell them for.   

Ronny
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=220083\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


I spoke to Brooks very briefly about this ( I'm in issue #78) and am still comparing the pros and cons. I'm actually going to talk to several photographers today about it and I'll comeback later and post what they said.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: luong on September 11, 2008, 07:06:53 PM
Quote
limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography

It may be technically obsolete, but if you take a good sampling of the gallery world, you'll see it is well alive.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Ronny Nilsen on September 12, 2008, 02:07:50 AM
Quote
It may be technically obsolete, but if you take a good sampling of the gallery world, you'll see it is well alive.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=220908\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's true, but it's an artificial constraint done because of commercial and marketing
purposes, and does not have anything to do with photography and photography as art
as such. In my eyes an image isn't more "artsy" because it's a limited edition, but
I know some people see it differently thou.

Ronny
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: alainbriot on September 12, 2008, 12:41:50 PM
Quote
That's true, but it's an artificial constraint done because of commercial and marketing
purposes, and does not have anything to do with photography and photography as art
as such. In my eyes an image isn't more "artsy" because it's a limited edition, but
I know some people see it differently thou.

Ronny
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=220958\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I agree with Ronny.  In fact numbering is a fairly recent development.  Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, etc. did not number prints and only limited the edition number of portfolios.  Adams actually said (I paraphrase) "why limit the number of prints one can make from a medium that is by nature unlimited and in which each print of an image is potentially as good as all other prints?"  

I would add that by limiting an edition, one limits how much better later prints of a given image can be made when significant changes to the technology take place (as they do now)!  What if you sell out the edition of a specific image, and then find out you could now print it better than you ever did before?  If you number, and the edition is sold out, you are out of luck!  You can't print this image anymore without breaking the promise you made to the collectors who purchased your work.

To me it seems that numbering comes out of a static approach to photography, an approach in which the artist believes, explicitely or implicitely, that he/she has made the best possible print from a specific image and will never ever be able to do any better. This no longer holds true today in a world where technical advances are made if not daily or weekly then monthly and definitly yearly.

When I realized this about 2 years ago I decided to stop numbering my prints.  I only number my portfolios, the way Adams did, because they are collections of prints and not single images.  They represent a completed body of work at a specific date and time.   I also limit, by nature, prints that are unique, for example if I do paint touch ups to a canvas print.  These are usually just one of a kind and are indicated as such.

ALain
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: alainbriot on September 12, 2008, 05:40:58 PM
I have expanded on my answer in this essay:

The Numbering Affair (http://beautiful-landscape.com/Thoughts88-Numberting%20prints.html)

Alain
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: luong on September 12, 2008, 08:57:04 PM
> it's an artificial constraint done because of commercial and marketing purposes

Not necessarily. For instance, Micheal Kenna (who is consistently very popular with collectors) states that he limits his editions because he does not want to spend his life printing again and again the same images. I agree with this approach, as I feel an artist needs to move on, but I entirely respect those who prefer to revisit the same images over and over again.


> When I realized this about 2 years ago I decided to stop numbering my prints.  

Alain, if you offer limited edition prints (as I believe you did, at one point I think you mentioned "the larger the size, the smaller the edition", and then you listed edition numbers of 10), isn't it unfair to the collectors who purchased them while they were numbered to stop numbering them ? I too, have been changing my edition numbers over the years, but all my changes have been towards smaller editions, so I suppose nobody would have grounds for complaints.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: PhillyPhotographer on September 12, 2008, 09:01:54 PM
I've spoken to at least 10 local and nationally well known photographers and several collectors over the last several days trying to see what others would say face to face without them knowing how I feel about the matter. I couldn't find one that agreed with not limiting the amount of the work they produced with a common answer of "it's a way of moving on to the next project". All the collectors agreed with the photographers that unless the photographer was already famous or a print they couldn't live without they would never conceive purchasing a photograph that could number in the hundreds or sell for $20. I won't even mention what my local galleries or museum said. I would rather have 45 people who loved my print enough to pay my price then 100 or more who bought it because it was cheap or abundant. I'm not belittling people that mass produce or sell prints for $20, actually all the power to them but I'm not going to accept that what I'm doing as wrong, unethical or antiquated.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: alainbriot on September 12, 2008, 09:18:20 PM
Quote
Alain, if you offer limited edition prints (as I believe you did, at one point I think you mentioned "the larger the size, the smaller the edition", and then you listed edition numbers of 10), isn't it unfair to the collectors who purchased them while they were numbered to stop numbering them ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221138\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Actually it makes the editions more valuable since the editions are smaller than originally intended (unless they were sold out when I stopped numbering ) :-)
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: luong on September 12, 2008, 09:29:24 PM
Quote
Actually it makes the editions more valuable since the editions are smaller than originally intended (unless they were sold out when I stopped numbering ) :-)
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221145\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

How does that work ? When you stopped numbering, did you also stop issuing all prints that had been sold prior with a number, or are you still offering them without a number ?
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: luong on September 12, 2008, 10:28:45 PM
Quote
I have expanded on my answer in this essay:

The Numbering Affair (http://beautiful-landscape.com/Thoughts88-Numberting%20prints.html)

Alain
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a] (http://index.php?act=findpost&pid=221108\")

That's an interesting piece by an artist who, as of *very* recently limited his prints, and now writes strongly against that practice, going as far as to question the integrity of those who limit their prints.  I thought that readers may enjoy reading a piece by an artist that has taken exactly the opposite path at: [a href=\"http://www.rodneyloughjr.com/index.html?display=LimitedEditions.html]http://www.rodneyloughjr.com/index.html?di...edEditions.html[/url]
Note in particular "Given that just about everyone knows how I feel about the topic of limited editions it should be understood that what is about to transpire is NOT being done for marketing purposes" :-)
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: alainbriot on September 12, 2008, 10:42:25 PM
Quote
How does that work ? When you stopped numbering, did you also stop issuing all prints that had been sold prior with a number, or are you still offering them without a number ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221146\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

They are offered without numbers unless the edition was sold out.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: luong on September 12, 2008, 10:51:01 PM
Quote
They are offered without numbers unless the edition was sold out.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221155\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Let me try to understand. By "the editions are smaller than initially intended", you mean that for instance if you sold 1/10,  2/10, 3/10 of image X, then the collectors should be happy because now the edition is actually 1/3, 2/3, 3/3, since your future prints of image X will *not* be part of the edition as they do not have any number ?
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: alainbriot on September 12, 2008, 10:57:49 PM
Quote
Let me try to understand. By "the editions are smaller than initially intended", you mean that for instance if you sold 1/10,  2/10, 3/10 of image X, then the collectors should be happy because now the edition is actually 1/3, 2/3, 3/3, since your future prints of image X will *not* be part of the edition as they do not have any number ?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221156\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Ronny Nilsen on September 13, 2008, 02:46:31 AM
Quote
> it's an artificial constraint done because of commercial and marketing purposes

Not necessarily. For instance, Micheal Kenna (who is consistently very popular with collectors) states that he limits his editions because he does not want to spend his life printing again and again the same images. I agree with this approach, as I feel an artist needs to move on, but I entirely respect those who prefer to revisit the same images over and over again.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221138\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Not wanting to print the same image the rest of your life is understandable, but you do
not need a limited edition to achieve this. You can simply stop selling the image or
rise the price. I don't mind people having limited editions, but I find saying that it's not
for commercial purposes a little less than totally truthful. Again, I don't mind this, but
IMHO it doesn't have anything to do with photography and art, but is a marketing
decision.

Ronny
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: russell a on September 13, 2008, 01:04:44 PM
Do whatever you want to do, as usual there will be sufficient precedent to justify it.

Art Sinsabaugh (whose work will be shown in the Philly area at Haverford College Oct 4 - Dec 1) typically planned for editions of 3, some of which were never printed.  Unless you have an image that will become a big "hit" in your venue for whatever reason, this is probably a realistic number.  Understand that there are zillions of ways to "fudge" on a edition later, should you feel inclined.  "artist's proofs", "special editions", resized editions, etc. etc.  This is is done routinely.  The art market is not long on ethical behavior.

Technology - better printers and papers can easily motivate photographers to create a new edition that is, in fact, different from a prior edition.  How one might regard the prior (now "inferior") edition is another interesting question.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Rob C on September 13, 2008, 02:55:05 PM
Quote from: ronnynil,Sep 8 2008, 06:27 AM
Se what  Brooks Jensen (http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/pigmentonpaper.htm) (editor of Lenswork) have to say on this. I agree with him, limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography and I have put up an essay on my
own site to make my view on this clear to buyers.




Let me be sure I have this right: from reading the article I gather BJ is now in the business of selling prints for other photographers through the magazine - right or wrong?

If I am right, then he seems to me to be selling cheaply in the same manner as any stock agency, where the maths is about high turnover. This rings good for the agent - BJ, who will have the turnover - but not so hot for the photographer.

Business as usual, then...

Rob C
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Geoff Wittig on September 14, 2008, 09:06:33 PM
Quote
Another debate I keep coming upon is to edition or not to edition prints. I like the idea of limiting how many prints are out there and it does cut back on forgeries. I wondering what you guys and girls think.
Also another subject that's enough to give you a headache is how to price prints. I'd really like to hear your thoughts.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=219903\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I rather admire Christopher Burkett's clever position on this. He prints beautiful hand-made Ilfochromes, which are of course quite labor intensive with all their contrast control masks. When an image is first up for sale it goes for his 'base' price. If it turns out to be popular, he progressively raises the price. If it's extremely popular, it ends up going for thousands. Buyers can decide if they're willing to pay the premium, and Burkett gets compensated for having to print the same image over & over. The 'edition size' takes care of itself.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Ronny Nilsen on September 15, 2008, 01:57:04 AM
Quote
Quote
Se what  Brooks Jensen (http://www.brooksjensenarts.com/pigmentonpaper.htm) (editor of Lenswork) have to say on this. I agree with him, limited
editions is an obsolete concept in photography and I have put up an essay on my
own site to make my view on this clear to buyers.


Let me be sure I have this right: from reading the article I gather BJ is now in the business of selling prints for other photographers through the magazine - right or wrong?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=221255\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Wrong I think. As far as I know he only sells his own images on that website,
and speaks about his own views and practice on this.

Ronny
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Steven Draper on November 21, 2008, 11:27:34 AM
I tend to agree with the BJ approach. I'm not a 'recognized' fine art photographer but have won some local competitions and Jurors Awards etc. I try really hard to make the prints at the best quality I can.

I have actually sold more 'framed' and ready to hang pieces in the 200 - 300 range than the smaller 'print in a bag' at $35 - $45

As a small producer it seems that people want to buy and hang, the hassle for many of framing the print themselves (even though they fit commercial frames) or taking it to a shop seems noticeable. I have sold prints on the basis that I can frame it too.

The trouble with numbering is that it adds a great deal of added time to the management of ones collection - however a number of galleries etc in my area insist that work is a limited edition, claiming that it does make a difference to perception and sales. In reality I think most collectors of photo's do not really care, provided that they realize that the print is made by the person and not a run of several thousand for the 'home improvement' warehouse. So as a photographer I'm a little bit between a rock and a hard place, although a combination of the BJ model and the production of small limited portfolio packages may be the way to go, especially if I market the work myself.

Title: Price and Edition
Post by: jasonrandolph on November 24, 2008, 01:30:02 AM
Why not have the best of both worlds?  Make a limited edition of large prints, matted and framed, for consumption by the gallery capitalists; then, for those who love the images, make smaller, more intimate prints at a more "democratic" price point so that everyone can enjoy it.  I see not reason why the artist has to limit his/her profits by saying they will sell only X number of prints.  After all, the creativity is the hardest part of marketing a fine art print.  Why shouldn't the artist be the one who ultimately makes the most money from a particular print?

Especially in modern times, where making a duplicate print is as easy as pushing a button and loading the media, why limit the number of people who can enjoy your work?  In the wet darkroom days, sure, an artist would tire of printing the same negative over and over.  There was a larger investment of time, our most limited commodity.  

In the end, though, as long as the artist is making the calls, more power to them.  Let's not let gallery owners affect our creativity.  Follow your heart, and by all means, remember that there's nothing wrong with NOT being a starving artist!
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Rob C on November 24, 2008, 02:04:59 PM
Quote from: jasonrandolph
Why not have the best of both worlds?  Make a limited edition of large prints, matted and framed, for consumption by the gallery capitalists; then, for those who love the images, make smaller, more intimate prints at a more "democratic" price point so that everyone can enjoy it.  I see not reason why the artist has to limit his/her profits by saying they will sell only X number of prints.  After all, the creativity is the hardest part of marketing a fine art print.  Why shouldn't the artist be the one who ultimately makes the most money from a particular print?

Especially in modern times, where making a duplicate print is as easy as pushing a button and loading the media, why limit the number of people who can enjoy your work?  In the wet darkroom days, sure, an artist would tire of printing the same negative over and over.  There was a larger investment of time, our most limited commodity.  

In the end, though, as long as the artist is making the calls, more power to them.  Let's not let gallery owners affect our creativity.  Follow your heart, and by all means, remember that there's nothing wrong with NOT being a starving artist!


Not quite sure I follow: on the one hand folks who buy from a gallery are designated `capitalist´ in a manner which seems to indicate the pejorative sense of the word; then those who buy cheaper are somehow presumed to `love´ the images indicating, then, that the others do not, perhaps?

I also find it strange to believe that `creativity is the hardest part of marketing a fine art print.´ Really? I would have thought that creativity was a given for any artist. Experience shows the opposite to what you posit: selling is by far the most difficult aspect of the game for most artists; were that other than the truth, there would be precious few big-time photographers´ agents arounds or, for that matter, actors´agents either!

The encouragement not to be a starving artist is perfectly good, so why discourage the best ploys of the marketing specialists? You can´t really have it both ways, even if that would be nice. But, you can hardly ask your `capitalist´ for big bucks and give the same stuff away for pennies to the poor on the basis that the size is different. That, indeed, is dubious morality!

Rob C
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: jasonrandolph on November 24, 2008, 04:08:51 PM
Quote from: Rob C
Not quite sure I follow: on the one hand folks who buy from a gallery are designated `capitalist´ in a manner which seems to indicate the pejorative sense of the word; then those who buy cheaper are somehow presumed to `love´ the images indicating, then, that the others do not, perhaps?

I also find it strange to believe that `creativity is the hardest part of marketing a fine art print.´ Really? I would have thought that creativity was a given for any artist. Experience shows the opposite to what you posit: selling is by far the most difficult aspect of the game for most artists; were that other than the truth, there would be precious few big-time photographers´ agents arounds or, for that matter, actors´agents either!

The encouragement not to be a starving artist is perfectly good, so why discourage the best ploys of the marketing specialists? You can´t really have it both ways, even if that would be nice. But, you can hardly ask your `capitalist´ for big bucks and give the same stuff away for pennies to the poor on the basis that the size is different. That, indeed, is dubious morality!

Rob C

You make some good points Rob.  However, I was referring to the gallery owners as the capitalists.  IMHO, they are the ones who benefit the most from limited editions.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: dkeyes on November 25, 2008, 02:37:01 PM
The desire to be one of the few who owns something, be it art, 1st ed. books, antiques, etc. is part of human nature. We covet scarce things. If you can market your art using this as one element to create desire in your work, then go for it. Your art will be limited no matter what so you can choose to set the limit by numbering/stating it upfront or you can let the market/time do it for you. Galleries, collectors and most artists working in that world would probably choose the former strategy.

I sell my work through galleries so the choice was obvious for me, I do small limited editions. I'm an artist, not a printer, so I choose to move on with my work rather than print my past work until I die. This benefits me and my gallery equally. I also think it has been more profitable for me since I can charge more per print. Limiting your edition doesn't limit your financial gain either. You can always raise your prices on what is left in your edition. I charge more for each successive print in the edition (1/6=x, 2/6=x+10, etc.) and often raise prices over time as costs go up.

In the end, whether one chooses to limit/number their edition or not, you have made a marketing decision. Neither decision is more ethical or creatively pure.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Steven Draper on November 27, 2008, 08:21:52 AM
The topic has come to a bit of a head here! I'm in the process of being reviewed by a local Gallery. The rules suggest that images be limited editions.... I explained my case to the curator - a hy-bred of a couple of number models and she completely agreed with me!

In review the system has a Brook Jenson style policy that I had been leaning toward prior to reading his essay on the subject - except that the total lifetime limit of any print from any file (or similar one - no machine gunning a subject to provide lots of near identical files!!) is 50 unless otherwise noted. (I have a successful and cheeky image that is x/69!!)  That means I have a responsibility to manage my printing and also provides the ability to control a price / size stratergy for popular images should one wizz off towards the limit!! To make things clear the 50 include all prints over 10x8 in size (except those evaluation ones I destroy.)

If a small collection goes to exhibition, then any exhibition edition / portfolio would count within the 50, but also become a limited subset of 1 - 10 images.

I think that gives everyone the best of all worlds, but most importantly because photography is essentially a way for me to explore 'being alive' the images are essentially a by-product of the exploration, keep me looking for new, rather than continually reprinting and re-working the old. It gives any buyers that are interested in the providence of the work the ability to find out more about the piece and how many have been produced in a completely honest and transparent way.

Personally I think very few people purchase a photographic print from people like myself because they think it will be worth several times more in the future, however if they enjoy experiencing the presence of a piece then they may well.  Imagine thinking a piece is 1/250 when in fact it is the only one ever produced!!

Steven
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: kirmo on November 28, 2008, 04:00:53 AM
At least here in Finland the state taxing goes like this.

If my gallery sells a photograph, then the VAT (value added tax) is either

    - for signed limited 1-30 and numbered print -- the tax 8%
    - for others 22 %

This rule is also for photographs I buy outside of EU area. When buying from
states I need to pay the VAT for your USA/Canadian prints.

This is 8% or 22% from the total price including postage.

So for me it makes a difference. For customers buying, they only see the
selling price - not what part goes to the goverment (8% or 22%)

Kirmo Wilén

www.withlight.com
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: lenswork on December 27, 2008, 11:52:08 PM
Clearly, this is an issue that each photographer will need to answer for their own work in their own way. My thoughts and ideas work for me, but they may not work at all for others who are marketing and selling their work in other venues - e.g., traditional galleries. I've written about this so others can use my ideas if they seem appropriate for their work, but I would never dream of trying to impose my ideas on photography at large.

What strikes me as truly important in this topic is not whether or not you choose to limit and number your images, but that whatever you do is completely and thoroughly transparent so that your collectors and buyers know precisely what they are buying and what your commitment to them is. It's all about integrity far more than it is about any given strategy. Consistency, open transparency, a published statement about what  you do and why you do it -- these are the cornerstones that I would universally recommend. If limited editions make sense for you (as they do for Chris Burkett) then by all means do it and don't look back. There is nothing "wrong" with limited editions per se. I simply found this idea wrong for me and my work.

Brooks Jensen
Editor, LensWork Publishing

Title: Price and Edition
Post by: lenswork on December 28, 2008, 12:24:36 AM
Quote
Let me be sure I have this right: from reading the article I gather BJ is now in the business of selling prints for other photographers through the magazine - right or wrong?

If I am right, then he seems to me to be selling cheaply in the same manner as any stock agency, where the maths is about high turnover. This rings good for the agent - BJ, who will have the turnover - but not so hot for the photographer.

Business as usual, then...

Rob C

Rob,
Actually, the photographers whose work we've sold via the LensWork Special Editions program have done very well. They have universally reported back to us that they've earned more money through our program than anything else they have done selling their artwork. We pay a handsome commission and we sell a lot of work.

Sure, we profit from the program, but we earn it. We do all the work to produce the prints, take all the risks to market the folios, and do not ask the photographer for anything in the way of effort or investment. Unlike so many traditional galleries, we do not ask the photographer to make the prints; we do not ask them to pay for the materials, prints, mats, or framing; we do not ask them to participate in the promotional and advertising costs; we do not ask them to chip in on the shrimp dip for the opening nights snacks; we do not pay them months and months after we sell their work; we do not send back the unsold (and often less-than-pristine) artwork years after the exhibition is over. Obviously, not all galleries mistreat their artists like this, but there are boatloads of stories about photographers who have found the traditional gallery world is not their best venue for getting their work out there.

We've now sold tens of thousands of prints since we started the LensWork Special Editions program and paid photographers almost a million dollars in commissions. Photographers are sometimes abused by people who sell their work for them, but not by us and not through our program. We take great pride in the fact that through LensWork Special Edtions we are able to pay our photographer's so well and to help further their careers and fund future projects. Pursuing fine art photography requires money. We are delighted to be one vehicle by which photographers can help fund their artwork. We may only be a small part of a photographer's quilt of income, but we are proud of the part we play. I guess one testament to the way we treat our photographers is the requests we've had from our alumni to participate again now that we have recently relaunched the program with pigment-on-paper folios like the Reichmann folios we recently announced.

Thanks for bringing this issue up here in this forum so we could add these comments to the discussion.

Brooks Jensen
Editor, LensWork Publishing

Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on February 14, 2009, 04:47:26 PM
If you're printing etchings or engravings or lithographs it makes sense to number the prints and cut off the run before the plate or the prepared stone deteriorates enough to give less than superior results. But photographic negatives and digital files don't deteriorate with use. In fact, since you gain experience with each print you make from a negative, print number 35 may well be better than print number one. And with a digital file you can adjust and test until you get a perfect print, save the resulting file, then print any number of identical copies. So the only reason to limit the "edition" of a photographic print is to make it artificially precious, and numbering photographic prints is not only meaningless but silly.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Victor Glass on February 26, 2009, 05:22:41 PM
I've got a question about limited editions. Before digital photography and ink jet technology artists, e.g painters, would have a have a limited number of copies made via lithography and these would represent a limited edition, with each copy having something like 1/250 in the bottom left hand corner. Since it would be prohibitive to produce a very small number of copies this way (like one), a bunch were made (50, 100, etc).

The digital process allows copies of artwork to be produced one at a time. I'm sure this has been a boon to artists who want to make high quality copies of their work for limited distribution.

I think some, maybe many, photographers think that if they offer a limited edition of n prints, then they can make the prints over time, as thereis a demand for them. Even though they will not be all the same - since over time different software, printers, ink, paper, and profiles will be used. Recently I walked into an art store and saw that an aquaintance, whose habits I know, had a print for sale with "1/250" in the left hand corner. Now, I knew that didn't mean the print was made on January, 250 AD. It mean that this was the first print of a limited edition  of 250 prints. Now I know for a fact that this person has not made 250 prints and was selling them as a limited edition. I also knew that he'd be lucky to sell even one.

So, if one plans a limited edition of prints, is it proper to make them all at the same time, on the same printer with the same inks with the same paper, etc, or is it okay to actually limit the number of prints sold over time to 250 and print them as you go?
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on February 27, 2009, 10:09:31 AM
Quote from: Victor Glass
I've got a question about limited editions. Before digital photography and ink jet technology artists, e.g painters, would have a have a limited number of copies made via lithography and these would represent a limited edition, with each copy having something like 1/250 in the bottom left hand corner. Since it would be prohibitive to produce a very small number of copies this way (like one), a bunch were made (50, 100, etc).

The digital process allows copies of artwork to be produced one at a time. I'm sure this has been a boon to artists who want to make high quality copies of their work for limited distribution.

I think some, maybe many, photographers think that if they offer a limited edition of n prints, then they can make the prints over time, as thereis a demand for them. Even though they will not be all the same - since over time different software, printers, ink, paper, and profiles will be used. Recently I walked into an art store and saw that an aquaintance, whose habits I know, had a print for sale with "1/250" in the left hand corner. Now, I knew that didn't mean the print was made on January, 250 AD. It mean that this was the first print of a limited edition  of 250 prints. Now I know for a fact that this person has not made 250 prints and was selling them as a limited edition. I also knew that he'd be lucky to sell even one.

So, if one plans a limited edition of prints, is it proper to make them all at the same time, on the same printer with the same inks with the same paper, etc, or is it okay to actually limit the number of prints sold over time to 250 and print them as you go?

Victor, First, if a painter produces copies of an artwork digitally, with a giclee (advanced inkjet) process the result is properly called a "giclee." You can read about the history of this process at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giclee (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giclee). Nowadays a few photographers are calling pigment based inkjet prints "giclees." As far as I'm concerned that's gilding the lily, but to those who don't know the difference it sounds good and probably helps to sell prints.

As far as the idea of making a complete print run at once is concerned, it pretty much depends on the process. If you're doing a stone lithograph it doesn't make sense to prepare the stone, knock off a few prints, then try to preserve the prepared stone until you're ready to do a second run. If you're doing an engraving, and if you're careful to clean the plate after the initial run you can set the plate aside and come back to it later. If you're doing a woodcut you easily can clean the block and set it aside for a later run. I used to do limited edition woodcuts and never did the whole run at once.

As far as the idea of "limited editions" of photographs is concerned, the whole idea is so silly that it hardly matters whether or not people doing that do it in a single run or one at a time. I'm sure some photographers get higher prices for limited edition prints, but that means that the person buying the print is buying it as an "investment," not because of the quality of the photograph. As far as I'm concerned, anyone who buys a limited edition photograph as a "collector," would be better off buying rare coins. They're smaller, easier to secure against theft, and don't deteriorate with age. But, of course, that's just my opinion and clearly it's not universal.

 
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Victor Glass on February 27, 2009, 11:53:28 AM
Thanks for the clarification, RSL. The aquaintance I mentioned in my post, the "1/250" guy, also goes to lengths to explain to his potential ccustomers that he use a process called giclee to produce his prints. This so bogus it's hard to take. I know he uses an Epson 2200. Now let me ask you this, if an artist get his/her work reporduced via the giclee method, what printers are now used to print them? I have a 7800 and when I sell a print I explain that it is an inkjet print. Saying it is produced by the glicee method I think would be redundant and merely a method to (1) jack the price up, (2) impress the customer (I guess this is really part of (1), (3) show off something they just learned (incorrectly), and to enhanced one's ego.

By the way I visited a gallery in Chelsea that sells prints of well know photographers. All the prints are the same dimensions, but some are priced $1,200, some $1,800. I asked why the difference. The explanation was that the prints that are popular, i.e have sold a lot, are priced higher and the prints that are not so popular are priced lower. Interesting. So this is another approach, giving a higher price to a print statistically seen as more desirable. For me this is boon to someone who really likes one of the less popular prints  
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: alainbriot on February 27, 2009, 03:35:40 PM
Quote from: Victor Glass
Thanks for the clarification, RSL. The aquaintance I mentioned in my post, the "1/250" guy, also goes to lengths to explain to his potential ccustomers that he use a process called giclee to produce his prints. This so bogus it's hard to take. I know he uses an Epson 2200. Now let me ask you this, if an artist get his/her work reporduced via the giclee method, what printers are now used to print them? I have a 7800 and when I sell a print I explain that it is an inkjet print. Saying it is produced by the glicee method I think would be redundant and merely a method to (1) jack the price up, (2) impress the customer (I guess this is really part of (1), (3) show off something they just learned (incorrectly), and to enhanced one's ego.


FYI "giclee" is a French word that means "Spray".  Used in the context of printing it stands for "ink spray".  All inkjet printers spray ink (hence their name: ink-jet) therefore all inkjet printers produce giclees.  The 2200 is an inkjet printer therefore it produces giclees. It's just a fancy term for a commonplace printing method.

Personally, I much prefer to use the term "pigmented prints" or "inkjet prints".  Much more straightforward.  I agree with you on this point.  In my book, I recommend calling things by their name.

However, to go back to your example, there's nothing manipulative with the artist you refer to using the term giclee to describe his printing process.

Alain
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on February 27, 2009, 04:44:57 PM
Quote from: alainbriot
FYI "giclee" is a French word that means "Spray".  Used in the context of printing it stands for "ink spray".  All inkjet printers spray ink (hence their name: ink-jet) therefore all inkjet printers produce giclees.  The 2200 is an inkjet printer therefore it produces giclees. It's just a fancy term for a commonplace printing method.

Personally, I much prefer to use the term "pigmented prints" or "inkjet prints".  Much more straightforward.  I agree with you on this point.  In my book, I recommend calling things by their name.

However, to go back to your example, there's nothing manipulative with the artist you refer to using the term giclee to describe his printing process.

Alain

Alain, There's nothing actually dishonest about using the term "giclee" for a pigmented inkjet print. But most people haven't a clue what "giclee" means and it sounds a lot more "arty" than "pigmented inkjet print." If the person who calls his prints "giclees" would define the term when he uses it I'd agree with you that it's not manipulative. By the way, the correct translation is closer to "spurt" than to "spray," and has a risque connotation in French. I print with a 2200 a great deal but to call the result a giclee is, at best, a stretch.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Victor Glass on February 27, 2009, 10:26:09 PM
Shall we add levity? A good example of the danger of using French terms one does not understand concerns a statement president Bush once made. In trying to express his disdain for French socialism he stated: "... and there isn't even a word for entrepreneur in the French language."
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: ChrisS on February 28, 2009, 03:26:26 AM
Quote from: RSL
As far as the idea of "limited editions" of photographs is concerned, the whole idea is so silly that it hardly matters whether or not people doing that do it in a single run or one at a time. I'm sure some photographers get higher prices for limited edition prints, but that means that the person buying the print is buying it as an "investment," not because of the quality of the photograph.

Are you sure it's so silly? When a sculptor limits the number of casts that will be made from a mould, is that so silly? Given that scarcity is one of the factors that contributes to the financial value of works of art (anyone who thinks otherwise isn't watching the art market), it might be a bit silly not to put a cap on how many versions of the work will be available, if it's intended for the art market.

As for the 'quality of the work' / 'investment' distinction, I'd guess that most buyers don't see these as mutually exclusive.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Rob C on February 28, 2009, 04:49:39 AM
Like or dislike Alain´s style - or subject-matter, for that - an effort to correct an educated Frenchman´s French must border on the insane.

But I like it; adds a jolly touch of je ne sais quoi to the proceedings..

Rob C
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on February 28, 2009, 06:30:10 AM
Quote from: ChrisS
Are you sure it's so silly? When a sculptor limits the number of casts that will be made from a mould, is that so silly? Given that scarcity is one of the factors that contributes to the financial value of works of art (anyone who thinks otherwise isn't watching the art market), it might be a bit silly not to put a cap on how many versions of the work will be available, if it's intended for the art market.

As for the 'quality of the work' / 'investment' distinction, I'd guess that most buyers don't see these as mutually exclusive.

When a sculptor make casts from a mold the mold is deteriorating with each cast. Cast #1 will be different from cast #40. When a photographer makes prints from a negative or a digital file the negative or file doesn't deteriorate. Print # 40 may be better than print #1. Numbering them is silly, but I'll admit it's a way to manipulate the "art market." I guess that's appropriate since the "art market" depends on manipulation even to exist.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on February 28, 2009, 06:32:32 AM
Quote from: Rob C
Like or dislike Alain´s style - or subject-matter, for that - an effort to correct an educated Frenchman´s French must border on the insane.

But I like it; adds a jolly touch of je ne sais quoi to the proceedings..

Rob C

Rob, You're right of course. But Alain left out something in his "FYI." Full disclosure is always important, even for a Frenchman.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: ChrisS on February 28, 2009, 07:05:14 AM
Quote from: RSL
When a sculptor make casts from a mold the mold is deteriorating with each cast. Cast #1 will be different from cast #40. When a photographer makes prints from a negative or a digital file the negative or file doesn't deteriorate. Print # 40 may be better than print #1. Numbering them is silly, but I'll admit it's a way to manipulate the "art market." I guess that's appropriate since the "art market" depends on manipulation even to exist.

It depends on which type of mold is being used, of course. But deterioration of a mold need not be the determining factor in deciding the limit to the number of casts. (Have you read of Rodin's estate, in which he left his works, molds and rights of reproduction to the French state, which decided to limit reproductions to 12 of any work.  Were they being silly?)  

Numbering the casts/ prints may or may not be silly, but placing a limit on the number of works produced in an edition isn't silly in the fine art context.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on February 28, 2009, 12:53:01 PM
Quote from: ChrisS
It depends on which type of mold is being used, of course. But deterioration of a mold need not be the determining factor in deciding the limit to the number of casts. (Have you read of Rodin's estate, in which he left his works, molds and rights of reproduction to the French state, which decided to limit reproductions to 12 of any work.  Were they being silly?)  

Numbering the casts/ prints may or may not be silly, but placing a limit on the number of works produced in an edition isn't silly in the fine art context.

Chris, I can't disagree with your last statement. The "fine art context" is based on marketing, not art, and numbering prints is part of marketing. In summary all I can say is, if numbering your prints floats your boat then number away. Numbering a print doesn't make the print "finer," but it may make it appear more valuable to the gullible.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: leeonmaui on March 21, 2009, 04:32:22 AM
It is rather shocking to me to read some of the comments posted in this thread in regards to limited editions. I am assuming most of the photographers posting are considered professional. It would certainly behoove you to do some actual research on what a limited edition print is and the legal protocols involved in producing limited edition prints before giving off the cuff advice to others.

Masking work with an open edition numbering system and a provenance are crude attempts at marking at best and down right misleading at worst. This is why there are laws.

Many of the artists here seem to misunderstand what a provenance is and how it functions in the art world, and have subjugated the documents meaning and intent to conform to some sort of double speak in regards to the editions they produce.

A disclosure is a document that is produced by the publisher/artist that gives details of the named artwork in regards to its creation and distribution,, it is completely unnecessary for an open edition.

A provenance is a detailed record of the history of a piece art; it concerns itself with an individual piece of arts journey through time.  

Any photographer that disregards the importance and value of limited edition prints does not understand the art fine market. They may be a great artist, but simply making an argument that limiting the edition size of a print is somehow false doesn’t speak to the underlying principles of the fine art market.

Keep in mind the collector of art on any level is a patron of the arts.
As an artist it should be your desire and obligation to extend to your patrons the highest possible quality or best example of your artistic endeavors. This is also the way you grow and mature as an artist.  
I also feel you have an obligation to protect not only your art, but the investment of the collector as you both now have entered into a fiduciary agreement of sorts. Limiting the number of reproductions you do will set a value, a benchmark if you will of the manor you intend pursue your career it also carries with it a number of legal protocols.

If an artist releases a print as a limited edition and then they sell open editions of this same piece, they certainly could be committing fraud. I only use the word “could” because if they had bothered to write a disclosure which is a legal document that states your intentions in regards to a reproduction, you could have disclosed the fact that you reserved the right to reproduce the images in other formats, media, editions, states and sizes. Therefore; they “could’ be innocent of fraud, however; their integrity as person/artist would surely and rightly suffer.

Here again understanding what you are doing when endeavoring to produce limited edition prints requires much more than being able to write numbers on the print.

To state that limited editions is about controlling the supply and therefore increasing the demand does not tell the whole story ether,  there are a myriad of factors an artist must consider.
Mass market selling of ones photos or limited editions of ones work are both marketing choices, they are both business decisions, one or the other is not false or better.

Anyway that my 2 cents…

Lee Rylee

Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 21, 2009, 10:00:55 AM
Quote from: leeonmaui
Any photographer that disregards the importance and value of limited edition prints does not understand the art fine market.

As an artist it should be your desire and obligation to extend to your patrons the highest possible quality or best example of your artistic endeavors.
I also feel you have an obligation to protect not only your art, but the investment of the collector...

Lee Rylee

Thanks, Lee, for making my point again. You're right, limited edition prints are supposedly more valuable in a monetary sense than open edition prints because they're more "precious." After all, there are fewer of them.

You're also right that any artist should desire to extend to his patrons the best examples of his work, but numbering prints doesn't do anything to make the work any better.

As far as protecting the "investment" of the collector is concerned, that's his problem, not mine. If he buys a print as an "investment" rather than as something he wants to look at, then he's not an "art" patron. He's an "investor." He might just as well be investing in a rare coin.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not knocking the "fine art market." My brother collects rare coins. There's certainly a place for collectors and collections, which includes what we call the "fine art market." But let's not confuse the collecting scene with art. They're not the same thing.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: luong on March 24, 2009, 02:08:20 AM
Quote from: alainbriot
FYI "giclee" is a French word that means "Spray".  Used in the context of printing it stands for "ink spray".  All inkjet printers spray ink (hence their name: ink-jet) therefore all inkjet printers produce giclees.  The 2200 is an inkjet printer therefore it produces giclees. It's just a fancy term for a commonplace printing method.

Personally, I much prefer to use the term "pigmented prints" or "inkjet prints".  Much more straightforward.  I agree with you on this point.  In my book, I recommend calling things by their name.

However, to go back to your example, there's nothing manipulative with the artist you refer to using the term giclee to describe his printing process.

Alain

Historically, "Giclee" was used to designate IRIS printers. The IRIS were able of producing high-quality prints at the time when the current inkjet printing technology was in its infancy. They were very expensive, and  did not work at all like today's inkjet printers. Rather, there was a rotating drum and a continuous ink squirt system - making them more illustrative of  another meaning of the French word that has been alluded to. When today you use the term to designate an Epson print, it may or may not impress those not in the know, but it will likely be a turn off to those in the know. From what I've seen in many galleries, the common designation is "APP", or "Archival Pigment Print".
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: luong on March 24, 2009, 02:16:41 AM
Quote from: RSL
There's certainly a place for collectors and collections, which includes what we call the "fine art market." But let's not confuse the collecting scene with art. They're not the same thing.

Maybe not, but the other part of the contemporary art scene, that includes such things as museums, curators, galleries, critics, art magazines, art fairs,  prizes and biennales, seem to gravitate around the same artists as those that are prized by collectors. Not entirely sure it is  a coincidence. To see how a collector thinks, I suggest you have a look at the excellent blog http://dlkcollection.blogspot.com/ (http://dlkcollection.blogspot.com/) You will see a level of interest and knowledge about photography that is not shared by coin investors, and some members of this forum :-)
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 24, 2009, 05:03:57 PM
Quote from: luong
Maybe not, but the other part of the contemporary art scene, that includes such things as museums, curators, galleries, critics, art magazines, art fairs,  prizes and biennales, seem to gravitate around the same artists as those that are prized by collectors. Not entirely sure it is  a coincidence. To see how a collector thinks, I suggest you have a look at the excellent blog http://dlkcollection.blogspot.com/ (http://dlkcollection.blogspot.com/) You will see a level of interest and knowledge about photography that is not shared by coin investors, and some members of this forum :-)

That may be true, but there's a lot of difference between "investing" and collecting art for its own sake. I'm not sure what you include in the phrase, "knowledge about photography." Are you talking about the history of photography or the equipment of photography or the chemistry of photography..? Seems less than a revelation to find that coin "investors" don't know much about photography. They probably do know a bit about coins.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: luong on March 24, 2009, 07:26:37 PM
Quote from: RSL
That may be true, but there's a lot of difference between "investing" and collecting art for its own sake. I'm not sure what you include in the phrase, "knowledge about photography." Are you talking about the history of photography or the equipment of photography or the chemistry of photography..? Seems less than a revelation to find that coin "investors" don't know much about photography. They probably do know a bit about coins.

Knowledgeable collectors understand about most aspects of photography beyond the obvious historic and esthetic ones, including technical aspects that are integral to a photographer's realized vision.  For instance, they may not be interested in knowing that a particular shot was done with a Rodenstock instead of an Schneider, but they understand what kind of descriptive power can be attained with what particular format, and how it affects the esthetics of a particular print.  If it is not clear what knowledge about photography is in evidence in the link I posted, maybe the fact that they know more about photography than coin collectors needed to be spelt out :-)
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 24, 2009, 08:09:37 PM
Quote from: luong
Knowledgeable collectors understand about most aspects of photography beyond the obvious historic and esthetic ones, including technical aspects that are integral to a photographer's realized vision.  For instance, they may not be interested in knowing that a particular shot was done with a Rodenstock instead of an Schneider, but they understand what kind of descriptive power can be attained with what particular format, and how it affects the esthetics of a particular print.  If it is not clear what knowledge about photography is in evidence in the link I posted, maybe the fact that they know more about photography than coin collectors needed to be spelt out :-)

Tuan, Understand, I'm not knocking fine art investors. I'm sure they know a great deal about what makes a photograph valuable in a monetary sense -- which I'm sure includes the rules they've been taught in art school. And I certainly can see that groups of investors must agree on what aesthetic and other qualities make a work of art valuable in a monetary sense, otherwise there would be no fine art market for those investors. But beyond that I think a person who's completely uneducated in commonly accepted ideas about what makes a photograph "valuable" is perfectly capable of appreciating a really good photograph. Investors, and those who cater to them have their world. Artists and those who appreciate art have theirs. Sometimes the two worlds intersect, usually to the detriment of those who aren't investors.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: John Camp on March 26, 2009, 12:28:04 AM
I've found that collectors and curators of photography generally know more about photography (as a subject area) than *most* photographers. It's like in baseball, which has a huge number of dedicated fans, and a very small coterie of people who can actually play in the big leagues. What they know about different - the fans know about statistics, abilities, etc., the players know how to track down a fly, how to pick up a fastball, etc. But what about high school ball players? They don't know what the fan knows, but they also don't know what the big leaguer knows. And that's where most photographers -- like 99% -- are. The don't make great art, but neither are they (usually) as knowledgable as a dedicated collector. To say that a wedding photographer, knowledgable as he may be in his craft, knows more about photography in the wider sense (aesthetics, history, personalities, print quality, etc.) than a dedicated collector, would usually be wrong. There's no reason a wedding guy *should* know all that stuff. He's a craftsmen, not an academic. It's like suggesting that a guy who makes bookcases should know more about furniture than the curator of the furnishings period collections at the Met, or an antique dealer, or whatever. They're different fields of knowledge, and the academic one is broader. Further, it has been my experience that most academics, curators and collectors are also photographers, and sometimes quite good ones. Some photographers, of course, also have advanced degrees in art history...it's not all just one thing.

The assumption that most people collect for investment reasons is also wrong. There are much better investments than photography -- in fact, almost anything (rational) is better. Most people collect because they love the art, and they know a lot about it. If they're going to pay a lot for it, they usually want to know why - and that's where art advisers come into it. They can look at things like limits on the editions, precise quality concerns (is it archivally fixed?) and so on. There's usually not a concern about making a lot of money, but just seeing that the piece holds its value, which is a normal thing, if you're going to pay a lot more than its obviously nominal worth. I saw an Ansel Adams "printed later" (1970s) "Moonrise" at LA Art this year, with an asking price of $150,000. Why would anybody pay that? That's what a collector wants to know; it doesn't have anything to do with greed, it's simply a reasonable question. If I needed a garage, and somebody offered to sell me one for $150,000, I'd ask the same thing. Why that price, and not some other? Is the garage in good shape, or is it going to fall down next year?

JC
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: John Camp on March 26, 2009, 12:34:46 AM
Hmm, I seem to be replying to my own post. 8-)

A further thought. I bet if you could devise a test on such things as print quality, history, personalities, aesthetics, predictions of what would eventually be considered the finest art of the era, camera types and handling, lenses, film/sensor types, etc., and gave it to 1,000 people -- the top 500 photographic artists and the top 500 collectors/curators -- that *none* of the photographers would score in the top 100.

Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 26, 2009, 04:01:08 PM
Quote from: John Camp
Hmm, I seem to be replying to my own post. 8-)

A further thought. I bet if you could devise a test on such things as print quality, history, personalities, aesthetics, predictions of what would eventually be considered the finest art of the era, camera types and handling, lenses, film/sensor types, etc., and gave it to 1,000 people -- the top 500 photographic artists and the top 500 collectors/curators -- that *none* of the photographers would score in the top 100.

My answer to that is: "So what?" You don't make a good photograph -- good in the sense that it grabs someone when he looks at it -- as a result of technical or historical knowledge, a degree in art appreciation, an ability to predict the future, knowledge about camera types, lenses, film/sensor types, etc. You make that kind of photograph as a result of what I'd call a transcendent, unconscious ability to connect with what's significant in your surroundings. You may be right that some curators are also good photographers, but being a good curator hasn't anything to do with being a good photographer and vice-versa.

I also rather suspect that the kind of gift I'm talking about in a photographer is inborn, not taught -- very much like musical ability. Of course you have to have mastered your equipment, but that's true of any art, including music.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: John Camp on March 27, 2009, 12:11:07 AM
Quote from: RSL
My answer to that is: "So what?" You don't make a good photograph -- good in the sense that it grabs someone when he looks at it -- as a result of technical or historical knowledge, a degree in art appreciation, an ability to predict the future, knowledge about camera types, lenses, film/sensor types, etc. You make that kind of photograph as a result of what I'd call a transcendent, unconscious ability to connect with what's significant in your surroundings. You may be right that some curators are also good photographers, but being a good curator hasn't anything to do with being a good photographer and vice-versa.

I also rather suspect that the kind of gift I'm talking about in a photographer is inborn, not taught -- very much like musical ability. Of course you have to have mastered your equipment, but that's true of any art, including music.

Well, I think you're wrong about all of that.

See"Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, a current bestselling non-fiction book, and "Talent is Overrated," by Geoff Colvin, also a current bestseller. Gladwell actually tells you what it takes to become a master photographer -- about 10,000 hours of hard, focused work. No talent necessary.

JC
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: David Sutton on March 27, 2009, 05:14:28 AM
Quote from: RSL
I also rather suspect that the kind of gift I'm talking about in a photographer is inborn, not taught -- very much like musical ability. Of course you have to have mastered your equipment, but that's true of any art, including music.
I agree with John on this one. I've taught music for some 25 years. It's not inborn in the sense you mean. What matters is the ability to work really hard. Is that talent for hard work inborn? I see no evidence for that either.
David
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 27, 2009, 06:19:17 AM
Quote from: Taquin
I agree with John on this one. I've taught music for some 25 years. It's not inborn in the sense you mean. What matters is the ability to work really hard. Is that talent for hard work inborn? I see no evidence for that either.
David

As I said, you need to master your craft. You're both right in the sense that it takes a lot of work, and I certainly agree that the willingness and ability to work hard isn't inborn.

But, after 25 years teaching music are you really telling me that anyone willing to work hard can step up and become a concert pianist? I had a friend who was a quite competent concert pianist in a technical sense, but the technical expertise, which came from very hard work, was just technical expertise; I never felt that she really was able to get inside the music and interpret it in a way that made it moving. I always thought that Oscar Levant was a pretty sloppy pianist in a technical sense, but he could interpret Gershwin in a way that brought tears to your eyes.

But, let's face it, being able to play music isn't the same thing as creating art. A closer analogy would be composing music. Because, that's what a good photographer does: compose. How many of your music students were able to compose? If one was able to do that and do it well, first he had to learn music. You can come up with a neat little tune without knowing anything about music, but you can't turn it into something worthwhile until you learn the craft. On the other hand, just learning the craft doesn't turn you into a Giacomo Puccini.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: John Camp on March 27, 2009, 02:53:08 PM
Quote from: RSL
But, after 25 years teaching music are you really telling me that anyone willing to work hard can step up and become a concert pianist?

I can't speak for Taquin, but that's what Gladwell and Colvin say, and they have lots of studies to back them up. One of the studies involved people who were going to a music academy in Germany (IIRC.) The students were divided into three groups -- those who would have starring concert careers, those who would be top-level professional musicians, and those who would have less prominent musical jobs. The *only* distinguishing characteristic that could be found was that the stars practiced harder than the second group, and the second group practiced harder than the first -- and the difference was substantial in numbers of hours per week, with the eventual stars practicing almost to the limit of human concentration on a weekly basis. The second group practiced half as much, and the third group, half of that. This was not "playing," as in recitals, but purely hard practice. The eventual stars had not been distinguished from the other groups by early signs of talent, intelligence, or, in fact, by *anything,* except that, over the years, they routinely practiced more. A lot more.

There are lots more examples, including from the sports world. Tiger Woods gave a golf demonstration on TV when he was *2.* He didn't do this because he had a fantastic talent for golf and somehow recognized that as a two year old -- it's because his father was a golf fanatic who had him practicing golf at 2. Woods never really pushed much past beating people in his own age group until he was a teenager -- and he beat people in his own age group when he was younger apparently because he practiced longer and harder than any of them.

These two books are interesting and maybe even shocking. What they say is, you *can* be a master photographer if you want to do 10,000 hours [Gladwell] of focused study...there are even cliches about this: "The harder I work, the luckier I get," etc. By the way, 10,000 hours is 40 hours a week for five years. If figure that if you did *nothing* but study photography (and related skills) in a standard college art course for four years, you'd be about a third of the way there; and of course, that doesn't happen. For most people, you'd be more like a sixth of the way there, if that. It takes a *lot* of work.

Another point...Michael Reichmann's photography isn't to my taste (I'm not big on nature or travel photography) but I use him as an example because everybody here knows his work -- who on this forum actually shoots more than he does? With all the other stuff that he does (running the forum, etc.) he still seems to shoot all the time, which Colvin and Gladwell would suggest is the principal attribute of a "talent" in any field. . And Reichmann's very good at it -- his photographs are quite interesting in the way that we usually refer to as "talented" -- that is, they are technically good, but also have that little extra thing that we call "eye," or "style," or whatever. He has another attribute of the "talented" -- he's fascinated by the tools of the trade, and he's always pushing the limits. I haven't asked him, but if somebody did ask, "Was your talent inborn, or did you have to do a lot of work to get where you are?" I suspect he'd talk a lot about the work, and not so much about the talent.  

JC
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 27, 2009, 04:10:09 PM
Quote from: John Camp
I can't speak for Taquin, but that's what Gladwell and Colvin say, and they have lots of studies to back them up. One of the studies involved people who were going to a music academy in Germany (IIRC.) The students were divided into three groups -- those who would have starring concert careers, those who would be top-level professional musicians, and those who would have less prominent musical jobs. The *only* distinguishing characteristic that could be found was that the stars practiced harder than the second group, and the second group practiced harder than the first -- and the difference was substantial in numbers of hours per week, with the eventual stars practicing almost to the limit of human concentration on a weekly basis. The second group practiced half as much, and the third group, half of that. This was not "playing," as in recitals, but purely hard practice. The eventual stars had not been distinguished from the other groups by early signs of talent, intelligence, or, in fact, by *anything,* except that, over the years, they routinely practiced more. A lot more.

There are lots more examples, including from the sports world. Tiger Woods gave a golf demonstration on TV when he was *2.* He didn't do this because he had a fantastic talent for golf and somehow recognized that as a two year old -- it's because his father was a golf fanatic who had him practicing golf at 2. Woods never really pushed much past beating people in his own age group until he was a teenager -- and he beat people in his own age group when he was younger apparently because he practiced longer and harder than any of them.

These two books are interesting and maybe even shocking. What they say is, you *can* be a master photographer if you want to do 10,000 hours [Gladwell] of focused study...there are even cliches about this: "The harder I work, the luckier I get," etc. By the way, 10,000 hours is 40 hours a week for five years. If figure that if you did *nothing* but study photography (and related skills) in a standard college art course for four years, you'd be about a third of the way there; and of course, that doesn't happen. For most people, you'd be more like a sixth of the way there, if that. It takes a *lot* of work.

Another point...Michael Reichmann's photography isn't to my taste (I'm not big on nature or travel photography) but I use him as an example because everybody here knows his work -- who on this forum actually shoots more than he does? With all the other stuff that he does (running the forum, etc.) he still seems to shoot all the time, which Colvin and Gladwell would suggest is the principal attribute of a "talent" in any field. . And Reichmann's very good at it -- his photographs are quite interesting in the way that we usually refer to as "talented" -- that is, they are technically good, but also have that little extra thing that we call "eye," or "style," or whatever. He has another attribute of the "talented" -- he's fascinated by the tools of the trade, and he's always pushing the limits. I haven't asked him, but if somebody did ask, "Was your talent inborn, or did you have to do a lot of work to get where you are?" I suspect he'd talk a lot about the work, and not so much about the talent.  

JC

John,

What can I say? "Studies" like these have so many holes in them from a statistical standpoint that they kind of resemble Swiss cheese. That's what always happens when you try to quantify the unquantifiable. I view Michael's photography much as I viewed my concert pianist friend's music: technically flawless but missing the spark that makes art sublime. (Sorry, Michael.) Robert Frank had the spark. Cartier-Bresson had it. I could fill a short paragraph with a list of photographers who had it. What I couldn't do is fill a paragraph with a list of people who worked their butts off over many decades but never quite got past the kind of Marlboro-ad perfection "studies" can measure. But I can tell you that the list would be a lot longer than a paragraph, or even a page. More like a book. I can't fill the paragraph or page or book because those photographers' names and their work have disappeared into the dustbin of history without leaving a trace.

The only thing "studies" can measure is technical perfection. Intelligence, by the way, has nothing to do with it. An idiot savant can have music as his special talent. And when you bring in someone like Tiger Woods from the sports world you give your game away. That's exactly what you're talking about all the way through your reply -- the ability to excel in a mechanical sense, which is exactly what Tiger's hand-eye coordination is: mechanical, though the mechanics may be far below conscious thought. I don't doubt that Tiger developed that kind of coordination through huge amounts of practice. In the end, though, golf simply isn't art.

But don't think I'm knocking the hard work part. It takes that too -- lots and lots of it, and it's always seemed to me that people with a particular talent simply enjoy doing the thing for which they have a talent. They tend to work harder because they love what they're doing. That, incidentally, is one of the large statistical air-holes in the studies. Studies like those don't necessarily measure what they claim to measure.

I think hard work brings technical perfection but for someone to do the kind of work, say, Cartier-Bresson did, there has to be a spark that goes beyond technical perfection. Do you really believe that Chopin produced what he produced strictly because he was a hard worker? Mendelssohn? Puccini? Beethoven? Mozart? ... Really?
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: feppe on March 27, 2009, 04:46:43 PM
Quote from: RSL
What can I say? "Studies" like these have so many holes in them from a statistical standpoint that they kind of resemble Swiss cheese. That's what always happens when you try to quantify the unquantifiable. I view Michael's photography much as I viewed my concert pianist friend's music: technically flawless but missing the spark that makes art sublime. (Sorry, Michael.) Robert Frank had the spark. Cartier-Bresson had it. I could fill a short paragraph with a list of photographers who had it. What I couldn't do is fill a paragraph with a list of people who worked their butts off over many decades but never quite got past the kind of Marlboro-ad perfection "studies" can measure. But I can tell you that the list would be a lot longer than a paragraph, or even a page. More like a book. I can't fill the paragraph or page or book because those photographers' names and their work have disappeared into the dustbin of history without leaving a trace.
...

Your claim that great art requires "talent" lacks a fundamental tenet of science: your claim can not be falsified. While I'm not an arts scholar, I can pretty safely say that any artist who is still remembered after generations, from Da Vinci to Picasso, from Vivaldi to Sibelius has put their 10k hours in it. There might be an outlier or two, artist who has created a substantial body of work without putting in the hours. The only one I know of is Robert Johnson, but he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi...

So we have a chicken and egg problem: since practically all great artists have put in their 10k hours, does that mean all great artists are great because of the 10k, or because of some other factor? Since the connecting factor is the 10k hours, and we have no other mutual characteristic, I believe the onus is on you, Mr Lewis, to falsify the statement that all it takes to be great is the number of hours you put in.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: John Camp on March 27, 2009, 05:49:50 PM
Quote from: RSL
John,

What can I say? "Studies" like these have so many holes in them from a statistical standpoint that they kind of resemble Swiss cheese. <snip>

I think hard work brings technical perfection but for someone to do the kind of work, say, Cartier-Bresson did, there has to be a spark that goes beyond technical perfection. Do you really believe that Chopin produced what he produced strictly because he was a hard worker? Mendelssohn? Puccini? Beethoven? Mozart? ... Really?


Actually, Mozart is one of the people reviewed in one of these books, and it turns out that his compositions are generally viewed as pretty mediocre until he hit his late teens. The author (of whichever book it was that cited the study -- I'm not going into the other room to figure out which one it was) says that Mozart actually appears to have been somewhat of a late bloomer. Because his father was a well-known composer and player of the time, and started Mozart with intense music studies before he was two years old, Mozart put in *way in excess* of his 10,000 while he was still a child, and yet didn't produce any signature works until he was almost twenty. Like Michael Jackson, to cite a contemporary example. Jackson was the lead singer for the "Jackson Five" when he was still a small kid, but didn't make "Thriller" until he was in his twenties...

The studies don't appear to have statistical holes in them; that's what makes them so fascinating. They were published in peer-reviewed journals, and are widely replicated by people who are interested in what causes creativity. The statistics are really quite simple: you take a large enough sample of people from such things as single classes, you follow their progress, you look at the variables, you predict who will do what, and if your predictions work out, the variable is significant. And the only significant variable they've been able to find is practice.

I don't consider that finding particularly strange in creative fields, because the human brain is so malleable, at least when basic intelligence falls within the normal range. What I do find strange is that it even carries over into such fields as sports. Do you know that virtually all Canadian hockey stars are born in January, February and (to a lesser extent) March? Could you figure out why that is rue?  

JC
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: David Sutton on March 27, 2009, 05:58:07 PM
Quote from: RSL
But, after 25 years teaching music are you really telling me that anyone willing to work hard can step up and become a concert pianist?
Yes
Quote from: RSL
But, let's face it, being able to play music isn't the same thing as creating art.
What??

I think you are confusing the artistic merits of any given artist with your own tastes. You are not an objective reviewer of someone else's artistic abilities. Any more than, say, I am.
What I am saying is that hard work will put you right up there with the top performers. After that the "critics" will argue over you abilities. That's all right. Some will like you and some will not. If leave work behind you in the form of written or recorded music, or photographs, you will also move in and out of fashion as have the composers you mentioned. There often emerges a collective opinion that a certain artist was great, but at the same time a sizeable percentage of the population will still loathe their work. That's all right too. Not being loathed can be enervating for many people. There is no mysterious aura surrounding art. Art just means skill. Look the word up. Do you mean fine art? No mysterious aura there either, unless you are doing self-publicity.  
For myself I can say that some artists convey their feelings well and I am truly moved and the experience is wonderful. And sometimes I am moved but dislike what I am experiencing and  wish the artist had kept their wretched feelings to themselves.
David
BTW, if you think Tiger Wood's abilities are purely mechanical you could perhaps discuss that with any top coach.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: David Sutton on March 27, 2009, 06:20:58 PM
John, I also wonder how far Mozart would have gone if he hadn't been beaten by his father if he got things wrong. That would have put me off composing, but then the attractions of wealth and fame are also powerful motivators. And sometimes the desire to express oneself can't be denied.
One big factor often overlooked in discussing careers in the arts or indeed any field, is the power of self-belief. I teach a weekly class to children who have been expelled from school. The place they are in is their last resort. Some are there because they have been bad, and some because they were dumped on the streets by their parents (or worse). The thing most lacking is usually the belief that they are bright enough to do anything with their lives. So it gives me great pleasure to say "well, we've got ten minutes left, I'm going to teach you to read music" and then do it.
D
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 27, 2009, 07:29:18 PM
Quote from: John Camp
Actually, Mozart is one of the people reviewed in one of these books, and it turns out that his compositions are generally viewed as pretty mediocre until he hit his late teens. The author (of whichever book it was that cited the study -- I'm not going into the other room to figure out which one it was) says that Mozart actually appears to have been somewhat of a late bloomer. Because his father was a well-known composer and player of the time, and started Mozart with intense music studies before he was two years old, Mozart put in *way in excess* of his 10,000 while he was still a child, and yet didn't produce any signature works until he was almost twenty. Like Michael Jackson, to cite a contemporary example. Jackson was the lead singer for the "Jackson Five" when he was still a small kid, but didn't make "Thriller" until he was in his twenties...

The studies don't appear to have statistical holes in them; that's what makes them so fascinating. They were published in peer-reviewed journals, and are widely replicated by people who are interested in what causes creativity. The statistics are really quite simple: you take a large enough sample of people from such things as single classes, you follow their progress, you look at the variables, you predict who will do what, and if your predictions work out, the variable is significant. And the only significant variable they've been able to find is practice.

I don't consider that finding particularly strange in creative fields, because the human brain is so malleable, at least when basic intelligence falls within the normal range. What I do find strange is that it even carries over into such fields as sports. Do you know that virtually all Canadian hockey stars are born in January, February and (to a lesser extent) March? Could you figure out why that is rue?  

JC

Would you please explain what being a "late bloomer" has to do with it. Several times I've pointed out that, yes, a lot of hard work is part of it, which certainly can explain why some artists are late bloomers. Turning out significant work at twenty doesn't sound much like "late blooming" to me by the way.

I won't argue about the "studies." Attempting to study something like artistic ability with statistics is a bit like attempting to study the foundations of religious faith with statistics. You can think you're doing it, but there's no way you actually can do it. What you're doing is trying to quantify something that's not quantifiable. In 30 years of computer engineering I've seen that kind of attempt over and over again. The results can appear pretty convincing, but if you look into it you find that the attempt started with an assumption that was based on a subjective idea -- on faith. Even though the data may be perfectly valid and perfectly accurate, what spits out the end is good-looking trash.

Since you haven't given out any information in your profile I don't know whether or not you're Canadian. I lived in Canada for several years and I can tell you why those hockey players are born in January, February and March. In Canada early Spring begins in April, actually shows a bit in May, and blooms in June. And in the Springtime a young man's (and woman's) fancy turns to...

So you actually do believe that Chopin, Mendelssohn, Puccini, Beethoven, and Mozart produced some of the world's finest, most touching, striking, most transcendental music simply because they worked hard. That's astonishing!
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 27, 2009, 07:42:08 PM
Quote from: feppe
Your claim that great art requires "talent" lacks a fundamental tenet of science: your claim can not be falsified. While I'm not an arts scholar, I can pretty safely say that any artist who is still remembered after generations, from Da Vinci to Picasso, from Vivaldi to Sibelius has put their 10k hours in it. There might be an outlier or two, artist who has created a substantial body of work without putting in the hours. The only one I know of is Robert Johnson, but he sold his soul to the devil at a crossroads in Mississippi...

So we have a chicken and egg problem: since practically all great artists have put in their 10k hours, does that mean all great artists are great because of the 10k, or because of some other factor? Since the connecting factor is the 10k hours, and we have no other mutual characteristic, I believe the onus is on you, Mr Lewis, to falsify the statement that all it takes to be great is the number of hours you put in.

I'm not concerned about the lack of a "fundamental tenet of science." My claim isn't based on science because there's no way science can connect with this kind of thing. If it could, we'd be able to produce a machine, based on science, that can produce art. Do you actually believe that's possible?

As far as the 10K hours is concerned, I've said, over and over again, that that's absolutely necessary -- but not sufficient. So that sort of demolishes the chicken and egg conundrum.

As far as not having any mutual characteristic other than hours put in, you misstate the case: What you really mean is that we have no other measurable characteristic -- which is exactly my point. What makes a great artist a great artist is something that simply isn't measurable. You can't "study" it because you can't come at it with words or mathematics or any other human tool. Therefore,  I don't have to "falsify" anything. Measuring hours of practice misses the point altogether.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: John Camp on March 27, 2009, 07:42:44 PM
Quote from: Taquin
John, I also wonder how far Mozart would have gone if he hadn't been beaten by his father if he got things wrong. That would have put me off composing, but then the attractions of wealth and fame are also powerful motivators. And sometimes the desire to express oneself can't be denied.
One big factor often overlooked in discussing careers in the arts or indeed any field, is the power of self-belief. I teach a weekly class to children who have been expelled from school. The place they are in is their last resort. Some are there because they have been bad, and some because they were dumped on the streets by their parents (or worse). The thing most lacking is usually the belief that they are bright enough to do anything with their lives. So it gives me great pleasure to say "well, we've got ten minutes left, I'm going to teach you to read music" and then do it.
D

Sounds like a great thing to be doing.

Despite all my earlier posts, I'm not exactly sure about the status of talent. For example, you could have all the skills of Michael Jordan, and work just as hard, but if you stop growing at 5'6", you're outa luck. In discussing Woods, I'm a golfer, and no matter how hard I tried, or how early I started, or how good my coaches were, I could never have approached his level because I simply don't have the hand speed. While there are studies that show even athletic abilities can be improved substantially, they can't be improved enough to help me match Woods. So, does Woods have inborn talent? Well, he has inborn something. I personally couldn't hit a 300-yard drive with a 60-inch driver.

I suspect talent has to do with some intelligence level (the sweet spot seems to be an IQ of 120-140 or so), combined with whatever physical abilities you need for your activity, plus good training and work ethic. But why would somebody work so insanely hard? I think it's because somehow, they get some serious reinforcement for the activity, some kind of big reward. With children, I think they tend to get rewards from pleasing their parents (or teachers), and if their parents are rapturous about Little Freddie's violin playing, Little Freddie will work harder at the violin. For adults, things get harder, because it's so much harder to get your 10,000 hours even if you have the underlying abilities, because most adults also *want to have a life.* Wanting to have a life is the great leveler of talent, IMHO. My daughter, for example, was a fine flute player, one of the best in the Twin Cities...until she started dating in eleventh grade. She was still good after that, but there wasn't any question of becoming an orchestra professional -- she decided she'd rather have a life. Now she's happily married with two kids.

Another one of the fascinating studies in one of those two books was a Czech guy (I think) who was fascinated by the question of talent vs. training, so he advertised for a wife who would agree to train any children they had to become chess masters. A woman volunteered, they had three girls, and guess what -- two of the girls became international masters. This was starting from scratch...

I wonder what would happen if somebody set up a school like yours for troubled children of normal intelligence, and said, "We're going to teach them most of the usual reading and writing stuff, but we're going to pound them with business and bookkeeping/accounting skills, from the time they're in first grade, so that by the time they graduate from high school, they'll have the skills of a CPA." The intention being to break them out of the cycle of poverty by giving them very marketable and well-paid skills, so that even if they couldn't afford to go on to college, they'd have no trouble getting a good job. You'd have to take something away from them (the possibility of becoming an artist or a musician) in return for other abilities...Sounds cold, but it would be *very* interesting experiment, IMHO.

JC

Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 27, 2009, 07:46:19 PM
Quote from: Taquin
Yes

What??

I think you are confusing the artistic merits of any given artist with your own tastes. You are not an objective reviewer of someone else's artistic abilities. Any more than, say, I am.
What I am saying is that hard work will put you right up there with the top performers. After that the "critics" will argue over you abilities. That's all right. Some will like you and some will not. If leave work behind you in the form of written or recorded music, or photographs, you will also move in and out of fashion as have the composers you mentioned. There often emerges a collective opinion that a certain artist was great, but at the same time a sizeable percentage of the population will still loathe their work. That's all right too. Not being loathed can be enervating for many people. There is no mysterious aura surrounding art. Art just means skill. Look the word up. Do you mean fine art? No mysterious aura there either, unless you are doing self-publicity.  
For myself I can say that some artists convey their feelings well and I am truly moved and the experience is wonderful. And sometimes I am moved but dislike what I am experiencing and  wish the artist had kept their wretched feelings to themselves.
David
BTW, if you think Tiger Wood's abilities are purely mechanical you could perhaps discuss that with any top coach.

Well, I guess you can believe that if you want to, but when, exactly, was Chopin "out of fashion?"

Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 27, 2009, 08:07:23 PM
Quote from: John Camp
Sounds like a great thing to be doing.

Despite all my earlier posts, I'm not exactly sure about the status of talent. For example, you could have all the skills of Michael Jordan, and work just as hard, but if you stop growing at 5'6", you're outa luck. In discussing Woods, I'm a golfer, and no matter how hard I tried, or how early I started, or how good my coaches were, I could never have approached his level because I simply don't have the hand speed. While there are studies that show even athletic abilities can be improved substantially, they can't be improved enough to help me match Woods. So, does Woods have inborn talent? Well, he has inborn something. I personally couldn't hit a 300-yard drive with a 60-inch driver.

I suspect talent has to do with some intelligence level (the sweet spot seems to be an IQ of 120-140 or so), combined with whatever physical abilities you need for your activity, plus good training and work ethic. But why would somebody work so insanely hard? I think it's because somehow, they get some serious reinforcement for the activity, some kind of big reward. With children, I think they tend to get rewards from pleasing their parents (or teachers), and if their parents are rapturous about Little Freddie's violin playing, Little Freddie will work harder at the violin. For adults, things get harder, because it's so much harder to get your 10,000 hours even if you have the underlying abilities, because most adults also *want to have a life.* Wanting to have a life is the great leveler of talent, IMHO. My daughter, for example, was a fine flute player, one of the best in the Twin Cities...until she started dating in eleventh grade. She was still good after that, but there wasn't any question of becoming an orchestra professional -- she decided she'd rather have a life. Now she's happily married with two kids.

Another one of the fascinating studies in one of those two books was a Czech guy (I think) who was fascinated by the question of talent vs. training, so he advertised for a wife who would agree to train any children they had to become chess masters. A woman volunteered, they had three girls, and guess what -- two of the girls became international masters. This was starting from scratch...

I wonder what would happen if somebody set up a school like yours for troubled children of normal intelligence, and said, "We're going to teach them most of the usual reading and writing stuff, but we're going to pound them with business and bookkeeping/accounting skills, from the time they're in first grade, so that by the time they graduate from high school, they'll have the skills of a CPA." The intention being to break them out of the cycle of poverty by giving them very marketable and well-paid skills, so that even if they couldn't afford to go on to college, they'd have no trouble getting a good job. You'd have to take something away from them (the possibility of becoming an artist or a musician) in return for other abilities...Sounds cold, but it would be *very* interesting experiment, IMHO.

JC

John,

Aha!!! Also, hear, hear -- about the troubled kids. It would be a splendid idea. Unfortunately it's politically impossible, so the troubled kids will go on, grow up, and produce more troubled kids and so on to infinity. As far as taking away the possibility of becoming an artist or musician, I'm not sure you'd be doing that. I suspect that if one of them really, really wanted that, he'd find a way. I could tell you a story about a young, black, cadet at the Air Force Academy who was an orphan, brought up in various terrible circumstances, told, all his young life, that he was stupid and worthless, and eventually, by his own bootstraps managed to get himself into the Academy. When I met him he was in the Big Brother program, big brothering a problem kid from a problem neighborhood. I never did learn the outcome of that relationship, but I suspect it was a good one.

Your story about your daughter is pretty much why, in high school, I gave up the idea of being a concert pianist. I decided I wanted a life. But I also think I was missing the spark I've been talking about. I took lessons for ten years and then quit cold -- and had a life -- a wonderful life.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: feppe on March 27, 2009, 08:13:03 PM
Quote from: RSL
I'm not concerned about the lack of a "fundamental tenet of science." My claim isn't based on science because there's no way science can connect with this kind of thing. If it could, we'd be able to produce a machine, based on science, that can produce art. Do you actually believe that's possible?

I'm positive it will happen some day - if it hasn't happened already (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlTsXjOHvCM). If we have monkeys producing art sold at galleries, why not a machine?

The number of abilities unique to humans has diminished over the centuries as we study animals, and the hubris shown in early written texts claiming we are somehow fundamentally different from other species is shown repeatedly to be false. From birds which create tools to monkeys using prostitution to get food. It's the same with machines: first it was tic tac toe, then it was chess and speech recognition, next is game of go, pattern recognition and "creativity."

Perhaps we should devise a Turing Test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test) for art: have a jury give artistic tasks to a contestant, and let the jury determine whether the contestant is a human or a machine based on the results. I'd be willing to be a significant sum of money that a machine will pass as a human within a generation.

Quote
As far as the 10K hours is concerned, I've said, over and over again, that that's absolutely necessary -- but not sufficient. So that sort of demolishes the chicken and egg conundrum.

Again, that statement is not falsifiable, making it as valid as the tooth fairy.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: David Sutton on March 27, 2009, 08:32:27 PM
Quote from: RSL
Well, I guess you can believe that if you want to, but when, exactly, was Chopin "out of fashion?"
As far as I know, just before his death. When I was growing up, Chopin was considered "light" music, in the manner of Mantovani. Bit unfair really.
John, I'm also not sure that talent doesn't have a place somewhere. For example, if I take the top 10 players in my field, my guess is that the top 3 of that group may be there by dint of talent, but I really have no evidence for that. There is also the problem with being physically able to be adept at something, and so being selected away from that pursuit at an early age if the physical characteristics are not there. For example, at one of the schools where I teach, they need brass players, so at an early age all pupils are tested to see if they can naturally get a good sound from a trumpet, and those that can are immediately channelled into trumpet lessons. Others who want to do music will usually then go to other instruments. It makes it difficult to assess how someone with little "natural" ability would do. Nevertheless, I've seen people with no apparent ability go far.

Sir Charles Halle told of meeting Gaetano Donizetti when he had already written some forty operas (he was "prolific" to say the least). Halle asked if it was true that Rossini composed the Barbiere in a fortnight. "Oh, I quite believe it" replied Donizetti, "he has always been such a lazy fellow".
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: David Sutton on March 27, 2009, 09:51:38 PM
Quote from: John Camp
Sounds like a great thing to be doing.

Despite all my earlier posts, I'm not exactly sure about the status of talent. For example, you could have all the skills of Michael Jordan, and work just as hard, but if you stop growing at 5'6", you're outa luck. In discussing Woods, I'm a golfer, and no matter how hard I tried, or how early I started, or how good my coaches were, I could never have approached his level because I simply don't have the hand speed. While there are studies that show even athletic abilities can be improved substantially, they can't be improved enough to help me match Woods. So, does Woods have inborn talent? Well, he has inborn something. I personally couldn't hit a 300-yard drive with a 60-inch driver.

I suspect talent has to do with some intelligence level (the sweet spot seems to be an IQ of 120-140 or so), combined with whatever physical abilities you need for your activity, plus good training and work ethic. But why would somebody work so insanely hard? I think it's because somehow, they get some serious reinforcement for the activity, some kind of big reward. With children, I think they tend to get rewards from pleasing their parents (or teachers), and if their parents are rapturous about Little Freddie's violin playing, Little Freddie will work harder at the violin. For adults, things get harder, because it's so much harder to get your 10,000 hours even if you have the underlying abilities, because most adults also *want to have a life.* Wanting to have a life is the great leveler of talent, IMHO. My daughter, for example, was a fine flute player, one of the best in the Twin Cities...until she started dating in eleventh grade. She was still good after that, but there wasn't any question of becoming an orchestra professional -- she decided she'd rather have a life. Now she's happily married with two kids.

Another one of the fascinating studies in one of those two books was a Czech guy (I think) who was fascinated by the question of talent vs. training, so he advertised for a wife who would agree to train any children they had to become chess masters. A woman volunteered, they had three girls, and guess what -- two of the girls became international masters. This was starting from scratch...

I wonder what would happen if somebody set up a school like yours for troubled children of normal intelligence, and said, "We're going to teach them most of the usual reading and writing stuff, but we're going to pound them with business and bookkeeping/accounting skills, from the time they're in first grade, so that by the time they graduate from high school, they'll have the skills of a CPA." The intention being to break them out of the cycle of poverty by giving them very marketable and well-paid skills, so that even if they couldn't afford to go on to college, they'd have no trouble getting a good job. You'd have to take something away from them (the possibility of becoming an artist or a musician) in return for other abilities...Sounds cold, but it would be *very* interesting experiment, IMHO.

JC
This is a thoughtful post. I realise we have gotten quite off topic, but I think this is worth pursuing, and we are down here in the "But is it art?" section.  
The "why would someone work so insanely hard" question is a good one, and it has puzzled me for a while.  As we get past our teens, I don't think it has much to do with approval or reinforcement from our peers. I ask myself why, after a really slack period in my teens and twenties, I should take up music from scratch in my thirties? Or over twenty years later take up photography and spend last weekend filling the floor space in my house with proofs because I was too sick to do anything else? And will probably be behaving similarly in my eighties? Looking at adults who do well musically, a word that most commonly comes to mind is "Driven". I think it is a combination of several things: the love of what we do, the desire not to accept second best, the inability to deny our own self expression, the belief we can do it, and the complete disregard of what others may think.
As to your suggestion of a school, I'm afraid it may fail. We are not talking cycles of poverty stuff here (that's officialese), it is much worse. I don't want to give the wrong impression. I'm paid very well to take these classes. It just happens that I also love doing it. I am there to teach them to read music and play an instrument, but a  lot of these children are buzzing so badly in the head that I may only have their attention for thirty seconds during a lesson. And they are often used to slacking off in class (completely failing to understand that I am older, meaner, dirtier, funnier and much more ruthless than they can ever hope to be for a long time). So I watch for that brief moment when they are fully present and while we have eye contact attempt to instil in them the understanding that it is never too late for a human being to change and become the person they want to be. And then demonstrate it by getting them to play a tune. That's what I hope to pass on. The people running this place are also undoubtedly driven, and seeing some their pupils getting straightened out and into good employment is probably worth the burn out they experience by the end of the term.
D
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: DarkPenguin on March 27, 2009, 11:45:14 PM
Is it possible that people train to the limit of their talent?  That at some point on their way to the 10k hours they realize they aren't getting better and chop it off at 5k?  If you can't match Tiger Woods why would you put the same time in that he does?  There are other things to be done.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: John Camp on March 28, 2009, 12:36:11 AM
Quote from: DarkPenguin
Is it possible that people train to the limit of their talent?  That at some point on their way to the 10k hours they realize they aren't getting better and chop it off at 5k?  If you can't match Tiger Woods why would you put the same time in that he does?  There are other things to be done.
But that doesn't seem to be the case, at least in the studies cited by the books I've mentioned. (For people really interested in this stuff, those two books are eye-openers.) At the point where the stars diverge from the rest, there really isn't any difference in apparent ability -- but then, the stars pile on the practice, and emerge as stars.

I don't know if this would be the way to put it, exactly, but "talent" seems to be the ability to tolerate a level of practice (and a kind of difficult practice) that others are not willing to accept. In other words, you don't have a talent for photography, painting or the trumpet, you have a talent for a particular kind of work, and you express that talent through photography, painting or whatever...the difference being that YOU can pick you talent, your talent doesn't somehow pick you.

This is really off-topic, but I wonder if some people (like Barack Obama) have a "talent" for charisma? And do they somehow practice it?
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: David Sutton on March 28, 2009, 12:57:48 AM
Quote from: DarkPenguin
Is it possible that people train to the limit of their talent?  That at some point on their way to the 10k hours they realize they aren't getting better and chop it off at 5k?  If you can't match Tiger Woods why would you put the same time in that he does?  There are other things to be done.
With some reservations I'm not sure you can. What I found is that there are some things you find so insanely difficult that you work on some other area to compensate. Say you realise you will not have the speed of someone who is gifted with fingers that are naturally adapted to speed, so you work on an intensity of feeling that covers this up, and people never comment on the fact that you play slower. Or you just avoid playing pieces that reveal your weaknesses. Not being a golfer I can't comment on Tiger Woods, except to ask if that perhaps on some courses on some days he can be beaten by players who may not match him overall? The best analogy I can think of is motor racing. A smaller 4 cylinder car can easily beat a V8 if the track has enough corners where the smaller car can outbreak the larger. You have to work with what you've got.
In the past it was normal for performers to have a very small repertoire by today's standards, but they chose their repertoire to display the skills the had really worked on.
Not really off topic: charisma- that's an interesting one. Is it  somehow an outcome of belief in oneself? I have seen artists with it, and their charisma went with their self belief and their hard work on their art.
D

Edit: just thought of a better example. I find landscape photography insanely difficult. I'm standing there and think "what am I supposed to to do with this?" But I have some strong opinions about stones, and if I can find one to put it in a scene I feel I'm getting somewhere and have something to say. Also a lot of my musical training has been to do with the invisible gaps between things, the pauses if you will, so I think, well, what about mist? Landscape in mist. I can happily spend all day doing that. Jut a few things sticking out through the white, and the eye filling in the bits that in reality are just the white paper showing through when printed. So it's a start.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: whawn on March 28, 2009, 01:45:40 AM
Quote from: John Camp
At the point where the stars diverge from the rest, there really isn't any difference in apparent ability -- but then, the stars pile on the practice, and emerge as stars.
This would be valid, if it is backed by actual evidence.  I know a woman who, as a girl of 13, was able to sing Whitney Houston better than Whitney, electronic effects and all.  I witnessed and heard her do it.  She has since risen to work on both "Sesame Street" and on Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Bombey," among other gigs.  She has put in her 10k hours, but she was very damned good before she had a chance to do that.

All the people I know who are have reached any height showed something extraordinary before they got there, and before they put in the practice needed to get there.  A friend, who tried to teach me guitar in high school, was above average good on that instrument with minutes of picking it up.  His 10k hours have made him superb, but he started at a higher level than many can achieve with hard, constant practice.   Beloved Friend, a bio of Tchaikovsky, makes it clear that he, who certainly put in his 10k hours, could not have become the composer (and musician) that he was without the foundation provided by 'talent.'  I personally put in my 10k hours in broadcasting, and I was very good at it, but that was because I began with an unusual penchant for speaking my thoughts in a cogent way, while others stood mute in the grade-school lunch line.  I began my practice because I was good and wanted to get better, and for no other reason.  I know the same is true for my guitar friend, and I'm certain it's true for the singer.

Mozart's Dad could have beaten that boy purple, but we'd never have heard his name if he hadn't started with more than most of us will ever achieve.  
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 28, 2009, 11:02:10 AM
Quote from: feppe
I'm positive it will happen some day - if it hasn't happened already (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SlTsXjOHvCM). If we have monkeys producing art sold at galleries, why not a machine?

The number of abilities unique to humans has diminished over the centuries as we study animals, and the hubris shown in early written texts claiming we are somehow fundamentally different from other species is shown repeatedly to be false. From birds which create tools to monkeys using prostitution to get food. It's the same with machines: first it was tic tac toe, then it was chess and speech recognition, next is game of go, pattern recognition and "creativity."

Perhaps we should devise a Turing Test (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turing_test) for art: have a jury give artistic tasks to a contestant, and let the jury determine whether the contestant is a human or a machine based on the results. I'd be willing to be a significant sum of money that a machine will pass as a human within a generation.

Again, that statement is not falsifiable, making it as valid as the tooth fairy.

Feppe, if you actually believe that, then when you and I use the term "art" we're talking about two completely different things. You're talking about something that's organized, perhaps beautiful, that shows extreme skill on the part of the producer. I'm talking about something moving -- in a human sense; something that produces a reaction in me that's beyond description in words.

If you really believe a machine can produce what I'm calling art then you need to read Joseph Weizenbaum's book, Computer Power and Human Reason. Weizenbaum was one of the world's leading experts in artificial intelligence. Here's a quote from the article on Weizenbaum in Wikipedia: "His influential 1976 book Computer Power and Human Reason displays his ambivalence towards computer technology and lays out his case: while Artificial Intelligence may be possible, we should never allow computers to make important decisions because computers will always lack human qualities such as compassion and wisdom..." That's really an over-simplification of what he said, but it gets to the nut of the problem. As far as the idea that monkeys can produce art is concerned -- I guess you can call anything art if you want to. Marcel Duchamp certainly got away with that.

As far as monkeys using prostitution to get food is concerned: When I was in high school I worked at the Detroit Zoo for a couple summers. I used to do a spiel at the "Joe Mendi" theater. Joe was a chimp and I can tell you from personal observation that chimps are interested in two things: food and sex. When you consider what humans are interested in, you're right, it tends to reduce your hubris. Humans use prostitution to get food too, but I'd hardly call that art. Pattern recognition, by the way, is a long way from "creativity." Remember, a computer is nothing but a bunch of electronic circuits. The software is the actual machine, and any "creativity" in the program is put there by the programmer.

As far as a Turing test for art is concerned, we're back to artificial intelligence, and back to Weizenbaum's book. That's exactly what the book is about. We don't have to wait a generation, Weizenbaum's "Eliza" -- his computer program that simulated a therapist -- fooled many people into thinking it had "intelligence." In a sense, Eliza passed the Turing test, though what it echoed back to statements by the person using it was anything but intelligence. Still, let's suppose that Eliza was "intelligent." So what? Intelligence is not what produces art, though I'd agree that someone who produces art probably has to be intelligent as well as have what I'll call the spark.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: feppe on March 28, 2009, 11:17:38 AM
Quote from: RSL
Feppe, if you actually believe that, then when you and I use the term "art" we're talking about two completely different things. You're talking about something that's organized, perhaps beautiful, that shows extreme skill on the part of the producer. I'm talking about something moving -- in a human sense; something that produces a reaction in me that's beyond description in words.
...

Now we're getting somewhere. I linked to the Mandelbrot set since I find that moving, fascinating and mind-bogglingly complex. Much more so than any of the work by van Gogh, but not as much as that of Picasso. I'm not qualified to judge whether the Mandelbrot set can or should be considered art, but it definitely fulfills your requirement of eliciting strong emotions.

What I was getting at my examples of prostitution and pattern recognition etc. was that we humans have a long history of thinking we are in some way special from all other life forms, including artificial ones. But that domain is getting smaller and smaller as we get to know other species - and it is getting increasingly smaller with AI developments. While I'm not nearly as optimistic as some on how fast AI will become reality, I am positive it will some day.

We already have battlefield bomb disposal robots which their handlers get so attached to that they feel genuine mental anguish when the robot is destroyed by a failed bomb disposal attempt. Lots of people were attached to their Tamagotchis and Aibos. It's only a matter of time when we have robots which dance, draw and sing in unique, original and spontaneous ways. And I am sure most laymen (me included) will be moved, if not fooled, by such performances much earlier than "true" AI arises (whatever that entails).

When that happens, I challenge you to still argue that it's not true art just because it's not man-made.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 28, 2009, 01:30:58 PM
Quote from: feppe
Now we're getting somewhere. I linked to the Mandelbrot set since I find that moving, fascinating and mind-bogglingly complex. Much more so than any of the work by van Gogh, but not as much as that of Picasso. I'm not qualified to judge whether the Mandelbrot set can or should be considered art, but it definitely fulfills your requirement of eliciting strong emotions.

What I was getting at my examples of prostitution and pattern recognition etc. was that we humans have a long history of thinking we are in some way special from all other life forms, including artificial ones. But that domain is getting smaller and smaller as we get to know other species - and it is getting increasingly smaller with AI developments. While I'm not nearly as optimistic as some on how fast AI will become reality, I am positive it will some day.

We already have battlefield bomb disposal robots which their handlers get so attached to that they feel genuine mental anguish when the robot is destroyed by a failed bomb disposal attempt. Lots of people were attached to their Tamagotchis and Aibos. It's only a matter of time when we have robots which dance, draw and sing in unique, original and spontaneous ways. And I am sure most laymen (me included) will be moved, if not fooled, by such performances much earlier than "true" AI arises (whatever that entails).

When that happens, I challenge you to still argue that it's not true art just because it's not man-made.

I flew the F84G fighter-bomber during the Korean war, and yes, I became very attached to my airplane, tail number 392. In a way, an airplane is like a woman. Learning all its peculiarities is important if you want to get along with it. I learned, for instance, that the airplane was slightly out of rig and that if I wanted to hit a ground target with my 50 caliber machine guns, even though there were 6 of them, I had to put the gun sight pip a bit to the right instead of right on. But even though I developed what I'll call a special relationship with that airplane the airplane was a long way from art. What you're saying is that if you love your dog he's a work of art, and in a sense you're right. The dog is a work of art and God is the artist. In fact, your current argument is getting awfully close to a religious argument. You don't believe humans are special in any particular way, but I do believe that and I doubt any argument or "study" is going to change either of our minds..

We may very well have robots that dance, draw, and sing in unique, original and spontaneous ways. But as I said earlier I was a software engineer for 30 years and I can tell you without any doubt that if the robot is a work of art the originality and spontaneity that makes the robot an art object will have been put there by an artist: the programmer. And so I still argue that the robot itself may be a work of art but the art will always be man made.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: feppe on March 28, 2009, 04:59:41 PM
Quote from: RSL
I flew the F84G fighter-bomber during the Korean war, and yes, I became very attached to my airplane, tail number 392. In a way, an airplane is like a woman. Learning all its peculiarities is important if you want to get along with it. I learned, for instance, that the airplane was slightly out of rig and that if I wanted to hit a ground target with my 50 caliber machine guns, even though there were 6 of them, I had to put the gun sight pip a bit to the right instead of right on. But even though I developed what I'll call a special relationship with that airplane the airplane was a long way from art. What you're saying is that if you love your dog he's a work of art, and in a sense you're right. The dog is a work of art and God is the artist. In fact, your current argument is getting awfully close to a religious argument. You don't believe humans are special in any particular way, but I do believe that and I doubt any argument or "study" is going to change either of our minds..

We may very well have robots that dance, draw, and sing in unique, original and spontaneous ways. But as I said earlier I was a software engineer for 30 years and I can tell you without any doubt that if the robot is a work of art the originality and spontaneity that makes the robot an art object will have been put there by an artist: the programmer. And so I still argue that the robot itself may be a work of art but the art will always be man made.

That's not at all what I'm saying - I'm merely trying to get the point across that with every generation we get closer and closer to animals and now machines being similar to ourselves, to generate feelings which previously have been thought to be the domain of humans alone. Taking that progression to its natural extreme, it's only a matter of time when machines create art, without anyone programming it to do so.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 28, 2009, 07:48:25 PM
Quote from: feppe
That's not at all what I'm saying - I'm merely trying to get the point across that with every generation we get closer and closer to animals and now machines being similar to ourselves, to generate feelings which previously have been thought to be the domain of humans alone. Taking that progression to its natural extreme, it's only a matter of time when machines create art, without anyone programming it to do so.

Well, I'm sorry to hear you're getting closer and closer to animals. You ought to resist that trend as much as possible.

How do you figure the "machines" will get programmed? Remember, what you're calling a machine is simply a bunch of electrical circuits and inert hardware. The real machine is the software that tells the hardware what to do.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: feppe on March 28, 2009, 08:43:01 PM
Quote from: RSL
How do you figure the "machines" will get programmed? Remember, what you're calling a machine is simply a bunch of electrical circuits and inert hardware. The real machine is the software that tells the hardware what to do.

The same way they are now. We already have machines which have simple emergent behavior which was not planned by the programmer.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: John Camp on March 29, 2009, 06:19:08 PM
Quote from: RSL
Since you haven't given out any information in your profile I don't know whether or not you're Canadian. I lived in Canada for several years and I can tell you why those hockey players are born in January, February and March. In Canada early Spring begins in April, actually shows a bit in May, and blooms in June. And in the Springtime a young man's (and woman's) fancy turns to...

Actually, the reason is that the cut-off date for Canadian youth leagues is Jan. 1. So in any youth league class (running Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) the oldest kids are generally the biggest, fastest and most coordinated. This advantage disappears in the late teens, but is very powerful before then. As players develop over their younger years, there are recurring filters, with better players moved into harder and more demanding leagues and competition, with better coaches and more practice time. Since "inborn" talent is almost certainly spread evenly across the year, the only major difference between people who become stars and those who don't (given equal talent) is the availability of practice and coaching, and that availability occurs pretty much soley because of birth date. If two kids had exactly the same talent, and are both six years old on Dec. 31, but one was born on Jan. 2 and the other was born on Dec. 26 of the same year, the January kid is almost a year older, but he's playing in the same birth class. So talent has little effect -- and the argument in the book suggests that if Canada wants to maximize its overall hockey talent, there should be several leagues, based on rotating birth dates, to eliminate the birth/practice advantage. In any case, under the current system, in Canadian hockey at its highest levels, talent counts for less than luck and training.

JC
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 29, 2009, 07:39:25 PM
Quote from: John Camp
Actually, the reason is that the cut-off date for Canadian youth leagues is Jan. 1. So in any youth league class (running Jan. 1 to Dec. 31) the oldest kids are generally the biggest, fastest and most coordinated. This advantage disappears in the late teens, but is very powerful before then. As players develop over their younger years, there are recurring filters, with better players moved into harder and more demanding leagues and competition, with better coaches and more practice time. Since "inborn" talent is almost certainly spread evenly across the year, the only major difference between people who become stars and those who don't (given equal talent) is the availability of practice and coaching, and that availability occurs pretty much soley because of birth date. If two kids had exactly the same talent, and are both six years old on Dec. 31, but one was born on Jan. 2 and the other was born on Dec. 26 of the same year, the January kid is almost a year older, but he's playing in the same birth class. So talent has little effect -- and the argument in the book suggests that if Canada wants to maximize its overall hockey talent, there should be several leagues, based on rotating birth dates, to eliminate the birth/practice advantage. In any case, under the current system, in Canadian hockey at its highest levels, talent counts for less than luck and training.

JC

John,

Interesting rundown. Regarding your last sentence, I suspect that's pretty much true for any sport. I'm not really a hockey fan, though a couple of my sons are, and I agree with Churchill's evaluation of golf, but I know something about cycling and that's certainly true there.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: RSL on March 29, 2009, 08:09:31 PM
Quote from: feppe
The same way they are now. We already have machines which have simple emergent behavior which was not planned by the programmer.

Feppe, You may be watching or reading too much science fiction.

Part of the problem is language. We think with language, but language sometimes can't quite deal with reality. For example: English uses the word "hot" for something that can burn your hand and the same word for a spice that feels as if it's burning your mouth. Spanish makes a distinction between "caliente" for something that can burn your hand and "picante" for something that burns your mouth. Thai makes the same distinction with the words (rendered phonetically in English) "lawn" and "pet," respectively. When I say "hot" in English I can't be understood precisely unless I add modifiers to go with the word. The same thing's true of the English word, "love," as CS Lewis pointed out in detail. Incidentally, since your profile tells me you live in Netherlands I assume English isn't your first language. I'm very impressed with your grasp of it. I wish I could do that with a few languages.

For some time we've had machines that are said to "learn." That seems to be the word we use for that situation, though "memorize" would be closer to the truth. What the machine actually does is store data it's programmed to accept and store. This is not "learning," nor is it "thinking." The programmer did the thinking.

We also can have a machine that correlates the data it's "learned" (stored) and comes to a conclusion about the correlation. That might be called "thinking" except for one thing: it's the programmer who did the thinking. The machine arrives at its conclusion as a result of an "if, then, else" sequence designed by the programmer. In what's come to be called "artificial intelligence" (an oxymoron) the "if, then, else" sequence may be a lot more complicated than I've made it sound, but that's what happens.

Finally, we can have a machine that engages in what you called "emergent behavior which was not planned by the programmer." That's true, but only in the sense that the programmer set up a series of alternatives one or more of which the machine selects. That process can get pretty complicated too, and appear to be something it's not. It's correct to say that the machine selected an alternative that was "not planned by the programmer," but the machine's world was designed by the programmer and the machine can't step outside its world.

HAL was an interesting character in "2001," but he was just that -- a character.

I'm afraid we've gotten awfully far away from the original question about "editioning" photographic prints.
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: Eric Myrvaagnes on March 29, 2009, 09:32:08 PM
Quote from: RSL
I'm afraid we've gotten awfully far away from the original question about "editioning" photographic prints.
Oh? Isn't this the Canadian Hockey thread???
Title: Price and Edition
Post by: DarkPenguin on May 13, 2009, 02:09:14 PM
Quote from: John Camp
Well, I think you're wrong about all of that.

See"Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, a current bestselling non-fiction book, and "Talent is Overrated," by Geoff Colvin, also a current bestseller. Gladwell actually tells you what it takes to become a master photographer -- about 10,000 hours of hard, focused work. No talent necessary.

JC

Bills Simmons and Gladwell have a conversation over at ESPN.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story...ns/090513/part1 (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/090513/part1)

As an aside I'd like to put my support behind the Bill Simmons for Timberwolves GM campaign.