April 10, 2017

Miniature in the Mail #64: "Standard Deviation"

"Standard Deviation," 5x5in., oil on masonite

A swerve that for some reason caught my attention walking the Manhattan Bridge in New York a few weeks ago. You don't expect to see a swerve on a bridge, especially one that's 1.3 miles long and carries seven lanes of traffic plus four rail lines.

The point about industrial production is that it homogenizes, not just consumer goods and large-scale architectural entities but how we organize our time, structure our education, get around, eat.  Advertising aims to convince us that our objects (or experiences) are original, that love poured into them, and that we're special for buying them, when the reality is everyone gets the same copy and no more care went into our thing than a table saw laments cutting a finger after a slip.

With computerization, the standardization penetrates deeper, for not only do manual labourers become machines but so do professionals.  Rather than teachers and their human foibles, it's MOOCs and educational software.  Rather than lawyers and doctors, it's soon to be expert systems and neural networks. I'm convinced that my kids, when they come of age, won't drive themselves (or sit in a bus or taxi with a driver), but will instead be guided by an autonomous vehicle. When I go to my bank, credit card provider, insurer, the airport, online, I'm aware that algorithms and other weapons of math destruction, not humans, call most of the shots.

I once took a course in blacksmithing and the instructor explained that the goal of blacksmiths used to be to produce smooth, flawless goods that looked as if machines had made them. Recently, though, he'd made a large chandelier he felt was his best work, only the client complained it was too perfect. Soulless.  So he took a hammer to it, dented and made it asymmetrical, and the client loved it.

In my own art, I'm holding out for a return to the fallible yet loving, irreplaceable evidence of the human hand. I guess, in this regard, you could call me romantic.

For this mini painting and others, check out www.ivanostocco.com.

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