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Before the modern era of digital speech synthesis, engineers experimented with mechanical means of recreating the sound of the human voice.


"In the Victorian Era, says 41 Strange, "The Euphonia was a 'talking machine' that had the ability to simulate human speech, designed by German inventor Joseph Faber. Her ghostly voice and vacant stare left many spectators scared and running for the exit."


Atlas Obscura says: "The Euphonia was the product of 25 years of research and an undeniably impressive feat of engineering. Fourteen piano keys controlled the articulation of the Euphonia’s jaw, lips, and tongue while the roles of the lungs and larynx were performed by a bellows and an ivory reed. The operator could adjust the pitch and accent of the Euphonia’s speech by turning a small screw or inserting a tube into its nose. It was reported that it took Faber seven long years simply to get his machine to correctly pronounce the letter e."


"With a conviviality akin to 2001: A Space Odyssey’s HAL 9000 computer, the Euphonia began the exhibition at Egyptian Hall by saying: 'Please excuse my slow pronunciation…Good morning, ladies and gentlemen....It is a warm day....It is a rainy day....Buon giorno, signori.' Spectators were then invited to ask the Euphonia to speak whatever words they wished in any European language."

The Voder: 1939, the worlds first electronic voice synthesizer - YouTube

Once the 20th century arrived, most of the energy for inventing 'talking machines' went into phonographic recording. By 1939, electromechanical voice synthesis systems such as the Voder began to produce results (YouTubelink).

Apparently there aren't any existing prototypes of the Victorian Euphonia technology in action, though some people have tried to create mechanical talking robots using silicone mouth parts.

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Curved Track Dolly with Pex Pipe and Lego Motor (DIY Demo) - YouTube

Putting a camera on a curved dolly can add production value to a low-budget video. It's easy and inexpensive to build one. (Link to 13 minute YouTube video)


If the curvature is a section of a circle, and the camera is pointed toward an object placed on the center of a circle, that object will stay in the center of frame.


The movement of the camera is controlled with a geared down Lego motor. This one travels about one foot every 15 minutes, or about an inch minute.  


The cart is also made from Lego. I remove the tires from normal wheels and run the cart on the rims. The track is made from flexible Pex pipe, which you can get from the hardware store. 


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Gurney Journey by James Gurney - 2d ago

The music department of Bard College presented its Winter Songfest last night. My wife is a member of the Symphonic Chorus, so I was able to tag along to one of the rehearsals.


I painted a cellist in the conservatory orchestra. I use a small palette of gouache: white, black, yellow ochre, light red, and ultramarine blue. 


The gouache allows for a few corrections and adjustments that aren't possible in plain watercolor. I'm holding everything in my lap, and am being extremely neat and careful. 


Above is a video (link). Facebook muted the audio, mismatching the Tchaikovsky to something in their copyrighted database, even though I recorded it myself. You can hear the audio on my Instagram post.
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Previously on GurneyJourney:
James Bagwell Conducts
Maestro Bagwell
James Bagwell at a Rehearsal

Previous posts on concert sketching:
The "Flash-Glance" Method
Gouache portrait of an Irish whistle player
Sketching a vocal concert
Violinist in ink wash
Horn Player
Mirko Listening
Club Passim Gig
Shapewelding Sketching
The Cello and the Pencil
Concertgoer
Mass in C
Handel's Messiah
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Photo of John Singer Sargent painting Mrs. Fiske Warren (Gretchen Osgood) and her daughter Rachel at the Fenway Court in Boston (now the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum), where Sargent had set up a temporary studio.

Sargent painting Mrs. Fiske Warren, 1903

The painted figures are approximately life size. The large canvas held vertically with the subjects' head in the painting close to Sargent's line of sight. 
"Sargent arranged Mrs. Warren and her daughter in grand Renaissance armchairs, and used an elaborate gilt candelabra and a fifteenth-century polychrome Madonna and Child as a backdrop. This sculpture inspired the unusual pose of mother and daughter: Rachel rests her head on her mother’s shoulder in imitation of the tender gesture of the Virgin and Child." Read more on the Museum of Fine Arts website.
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Photo by Alamy from The Guardian

Yesterday's post "Should Art Schools Teach Fundamental Skills?" brought about so many thoughtful and impassioned reactions that I thought I would include your comments in the body of today's post. That way the comments aren't buried and they're more accessible to web visitors.

Let's start with a few of the comments on the same post on Facebook, followed by the comments on this blog:

Bryn Barnard It is a very interesting question, as it goes to the heart of what the fundamentals of art actually are. If art is hand-eye coordination and the ability to replicate and interpret what we see though drawing and painting, then , indeed something crucial has been lost if we don't teach it and will be very difficult to regain. On the other hand, if art is more than skills, more a way of seeing and thinking, then perhaps those skills are not as crucial as we think. In the West, where our system of aesthetics goes back to the argument between Plato (who banned artists from his Republic because they were imitators of our reality, inflamed emotion, and hindered reason) and Aristotle (who appreciated art's cathartic ability), we have focused on the ability to render as synonymous with art itself. But that's not true of all, or even most art traditions. In the international schools where I teach, I have had students with brilliant drafting skills learned at art cram academies unable to do much beyond rote replication in the style of their masters and conceptually brilliant students without much drawing ability able to create art that brings audiences to tears. One does not negate the other.

Pieter Verhoeven Installation artists only need basic drawing skills, same for 3d modellers, graphics design, motion graphics, photographers, data visualizers, typographers, collage artists, photo manipulators... etc etc.
Should we make typography, animation, topology, lighting, set design etc all mandatory?

The main aim of art school is to become a creative thinker, learn how to manage your timeframes, learning to know your strengths and weaknesses as a creative. In short, an intimate exploration of the creative process, with all the pitfalls that surround it. You can be an excellent draughtsman or photorealistic painter that completely fails at interpretting briefs or have no philosophical or conceptual foundation and just end up producing surface level flash.

Teaching drawing to students opens some doors, but shuts others. By teaching a certain technique and set of values you are bounding his or her possibility space and setting them up on a path they might otherwise not have taken. You are teaching him or her to see the world through your eyes, reducing possible original discoveries. It might presupose an idea of art as imitation. Making a value judgement on a piece of art requires a set of parameters used as a measuring stick as the basis of critique, but such parameters are not fixed or set in stone. Furthermore, observation is perception, which makes art deeply individual. Van Gogh is deeply anti-academic and never sold a piece in his life, yet now he is considered one of the greatest painters who ever lived.

Art school is not drawing school, there are plenty of drawing courses just like there are ones on music or film.

Ann Christine Dennison. Art has gone through many phases throughout the centuries. This is one of them. I suspect that they may in the future look back, shake their head and call this the dark age of art. It is as if the ability to come with superfluous mental explanations of the so called art is far more important to learn than the ability to develop the skill of drawing. I recently visited the Danish National Art Gallery, I spent ages looking at the wonderful art of long dead masters and flew through the modern art section. The latter just didn't have depth and was a very poor cousin in comparison. I'm aware that this is my subjective experience but it was a real eye opener for me. I wonder how musicians with a long academic education manage to be creative if the argument that the fundamental training of drawing kills off creativity. There are many that prove this as false with wonderful compositions. Maybe the argument is due to the fact that some of the tutors cannot teach what they have never learnt. Not all art colleges neglet drawing, The Open College of Art based in the UK have it as the first part of their degree in painting, so there is still hope ☺

Richard So I have been teaching for over 10 years. I have taught everything from Graphic Design, Illustration 3d and Game design. Every school that I have taught at has or has had the the fundamentals, everything from basic drawing, with perspective and anatomy, basic color, and design. The issue is two fold. 1. Students don't think about the basics when they start out, and really focus on the new project at hand. It doesn't matter if it's an illustration or a 3d model, they are more focused with the project than the basics of color, design and principle. 2. I think schools don't stress how important the basics are. One or two classes for drawing, a class for design and a class for color, if it's not shoved together with the design class. In my classes I often fail students for not getting/understanding the basics. And they fail to do so because they are so focused on the next step or process.

Michael Pianta. I think the issue isn't whether ALL students should learn these skills (as the question is put in the Guardian headline) but whether serious art schools should be able to offer this instruction to those students who are interested.

I went to a university, got a BFA, then subsequently attended an atelier and now teach at that same atelier. I have had many conversations with people about universities primarily ignoring, and evening denigrating "fundamental" skills. When I tell people about this, they often don't quite believe me. One time a woman who had a music degree was visiting the school - she was working for a city arts council that had awarded us a grant - and myself and the other instructors and the director were explaining that most BFA programs simply do not teach these skills. She could hardly believe it. It took all of us to convince her. I have had many similar conversations with donors, interested members of the public who have come to our exhibitions, parents and spouses of students and potential students, etc.

The comparison to music conservatories is apt, because everybody seems to assume that art programs work the same way - that is, students are free to pursue their interests, whether that's traditional classical music and performance or more contemporary, avant-garde styles. But at my BFA program (which was a very small program) the hostility to traditional realism was pretty entrenched. I know for a fact that a handful of students dropped out or changed majors because the faculty was so opposed to them pursuing traditional techniques and subjects. Another whole batch of us abandoned our early "realist" goals, and started making "contemporary" works, with various degrees of success. Exactly as described in the quote, we were all told that making realist work was unsophisticated, and that even knowing how traditional paintings were "supposed" to be made would ruin our creativity forever. Basically, you won't have to "de-skill" if you never acquire any skill in the first place. That seemed to be the dominant attitude in my department, and I don't think it was at all unique in that respect.

As you can probably tell I feel strongly about this. I could truly go on at length, but perhaps I should stop here, lol!

Jonathan Noble. Well, the problem is, as much as it is impossible to avoid the fundamentals of any sphere of activity in order to achieve facility.. there might be some truth in what these “tutors” were suggesting.

It’s interesting to note that the last line is “This question doesn’t come up at music conservatories” I mean it even says it in the name. The school is called a “conservation of music” not a “new conception of music. It’s not called a music conceptionary. And almost none of the great musicians that have changed and pushed contemporary western music in the last 100 years have come from a consevatory. Tons of incredible technicians. But the ones coming up with the new ideas, and pushing things forward and expanding genres: Almost universally avoid fundamental training except at the bare minimum needed.
Would Jimi Hendrix have even been Jimi Hendrix if he had all that music conservatory training? Well we could argue it, but any list of the 100 greatest innovators and creators in modern music history is going to consist of the primarily unschooled and mostly lacking fundamentals (beyond basic facility).
Modern western art is of course, not quite such a clear path, but when you really get down to it, the artists leading us to new genres and new approaches. The ones shaking the fundamental roots of popular culture. Well they mostly haven’t been completed by the type of personality that has the tenacity and diligence to work in an atelier countless hours year after year spending 30 hours making perfect charcoal drawings of plaster casts.
Or maybe, every time we practice fundamentals we are in fact grooving in those neural pathways, both in our actual physical strokes, brush movement, but also in the way we observe, what we observe and how we think about it.
Probably outright creativity would be hindered by too much pre drilling in of the neural pathways early in someones career. Probably we do have to, in some degree choose between utter creativity and utter craftsmanship, and probably even more so we are already prebuilt individually to be leaning more in once direction, and the other direction would likely be so onerous to us that the decision makes itself.

So I think probably the answer is, do what moves you. Because frankly if you don’t enjoy life drawing why are you doing it anyway? That’s the fundamental of all fundamentals for us to learn maybe.

Jamie Williams Grossman. Don't even get me started! This would never happen in the music education field because you'd never get audiences to listen to or buy the resulting music. In art however, we have curators who create spin around kindergarten-style works hung upside down, using verbiage to sell it to curiosity-seekers. Visual art should be able to tell its own story without a five page explanation. Personally, I think they feel threatened by artists who know the basics, and how to deliver a message visually, without a five page explanation. I recently went to DIA in Beacon and thought it would make a better roller skating/skateboard park! What a waste of space.

I know countless artists who say they never learned to draw in art school. You never find graduates of music schools who didn't study music theory, form and analysis, counterpoint, basic knowledge of their instrument, and usually a second instrument (piano for non-pianists). You don't find foreign language majors who didn't study grammar, or math majors who didn't take basic algebra. Imagine if software engineer majors just played video games all day, instead of learning code. This is not going to change in the art school world until conservators and galleries stop spinning art that doesn't meet basic quality standards.

A comment back to those who have spoken about differences in music and art:
Just as we don't know all the artists' names who have played a role in Pixar movies, or designed brilliant marketing design ideas, or do storyboard designing, or create characters, we don't see all those musicians behind the scenes who are making the musical world go round. It's not just pop music out there. It's true that if you just want to play a few chords and write rap lyrics, or throw paint at a canvas in pretty colors, you don't need to go to music school OR art school for that! (I am not denigrating popular music, which I do like. I'm just making a point about it. And if you want a great back up musician for your concert, you'll probably end up hiring one of those music school graduates.) As a music conservatory graduate, I can tell you that we all learned jazz, composition, arranging, and other creative forms of music-making. I see a clear parallel with art, where from the basics, one can go in many different directions. Without them, you're stuck inside your own world. If that's what you want, no problem; however, you don't need to go to school to be stuck in your own world.

Now from the blog:
 Celia said...
My opinion as an art person (BA Fine Arts) is that it is/was important to learn to use all my tools, including my observatonal skills.
December 13, 2018 at 12:52 PM
 
 Rubysboy said...
I think drawing and color and composition and handling of materials are all fundamental.
A certain amount of skill at reproducing the surface look of a variety of scenes and objects seems fundamental to me. But fluency in using a particular representational schema developed in Europe from 1500-1900 seems to me to be an option, one that many beginning students will probably choose, but not the only option. I would be delighted if a young artist today could do as well as Giotto (pre-perspective) or a Chinese scroll painter or an Indian miniature painter or an African mask carver or a Maori tatooist or a Picasso or Matisse. What the ateliers teach is a style along with fundamental skills.

The comparison with music is a bit deceptive. A more apt comparison would be classical music, the music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven in the 18th century. Should every music conservatory teach the fundamental skills of classical music? A good question and very much similar to the question of whether art schools should teach 19th century European drawing and painting skills.
December 13, 2018 at 1:26 PM
 
 Kevin Mizner said...
One can always choose not to use a skill that has been learned, but one can't use a skill that hasn't been learned.
December 13, 2018 at 2:10 PM
 
 Richard said...
So I have been teaching for over 10 years. I have taught everything from Graphic Design, Illustration 3d and Game design. Every school that I have taught at has or has had the the fundamentals, everything from basic drawing, with perspective and anatomy, basic color, and design. The issue is two fold. 1. Students don't think about the basics when they start out, and really focus on the new project at hand. It doesn't matter if it's an illustration or a 3d model, they are more focused with the project than the basics of color, design and principle. 2. I think schools don't stress how important the basics are. One or two classes for drawing, a class for design and a class for color, if it's not shoved together with the design class. In my classes I often fail students for not getting/understanding the basics. And they fail to do so because they are so focused on the next step or process.
December 13, 2018 at 2:51 PM
 
 Brian Blankenship said...
"One can always choose not to use a skill that has been learned, but one can't use a skill that hasn't been learned."
This^^^^^^^

'Learning to draw' is about learning to see and problem solving and fits in with nearly every aspect of art I can think of. The fundamental skills of drawing and painting transfer over into the digital realm as well...I have seen plenty of success of traditional artists utilizing digital (but most I have had contact with personally, at the end of the day, use digital as an editing tool because it wasn't the magic machine they had envisioned.) BUT I can't really think of anyone that I have personally ran across (and I am sure there are exceptions somewhere) that it worked the opposite direction..the ones I have been involved with that started digital had a lot of fundamental issues with drawing and digital painting, some flash but no substance, and couldn't (or were not) able to handle traditional media. I've seen some spectacular digital artists, but it is a tool, and those artists can handle a brush just as well as they can handle a WACOM tablet.

Once I had a girl wanting to join my class but said, "I don't like to draw". I told her that was like saying someone was wanting to join a creative writing English class but didn't like to write....I couldn't make the connection. The director/principal was upset and couldn't understand why if the students wanted a dinosaur drawn that the computer couldn't do that for them...
December 13, 2018 at 3:11 PM
 
 Michael Pianta said...
I think the issue isn't whether ALL students should learn these skills (as the question is put in the Guardian headline) but whether serious art schools should be able to offer this instruction to those students who are interested.

I went to a university, got a BFA, then subsequently attended an atelier and now teach at that same atelier. I have had many conversations with people about universities primarily ignoring, and evening denigrating "fundamental" skills. When I tell people about this, they often don't quite believe me. One time a woman who had a music degree was visiting the school - she was working for a city arts council that had awarded us a grant - and myself and the other instructors and the director were explaining that most BFA programs simply do not teach these skills. She could hardly believe it. It took all of us to convince her. I have had many similar conversations with donors, interested members of the public who have come to our exhibitions, parents and spouses of students and potential students, etc.

The comparison to music conservatories is apt, because everybody seems to assume that art programs work the same way - that is, students are free to pursue their interests, whether that's traditional classical music and performance or more contemporary, avant-garde styles. But at my BFA program (which was a very small program) the hostility to traditional realism was pretty entrenched. I know for a fact that a handful of students dropped out or changed majors because the faculty was so opposed to them pursuing traditional techniques and subjects. Another whole batch of us abandoned our early "realist" goals, and started making "contemporary" works, with various degrees of success. Exactly as described in the quote, we were all told that making realist work was unsophisticated, and that even knowing how traditional paintings were "supposed" to be made would ruin our creativity forever. Basically, you won't have to "de-skill" if you never acquire any skill in the first place. That seemed to be the dominant attitude in my department, and I don't think it was at all unique in that respect.

As you can probably tell I feel strongly about this. I could truly go on at length, but perhaps I should stop here, lol!
December 13, 2018 at 3:44 PM
 
Comment deleted
This comment has been removed by the author.
December 13, 2018 at 4:27 PM
 
 Paul Sullivan said...
I am wondering why the merit of teaching the fundamentals of artistic training is suddenly in question. Isn’t this an old question? The fundamentals of art training were abandoned by the fine art programs offered by a host of universities over 60 years ago. Has it taken this long for “art schools” to catch on?

In the mid 1950s, I remember my friends and I discussing the possibility that sooner or later there may not be college level instructors who could teach drawing and painting.

It is interesting to note how many fundamental skills were lost during the Dark Ages—not only in art but also in things like construction and medicine. They fell out of use and were no longer passed on to following generations.
December 13, 2018 at 4:28 PM
 
 Susan Cushing said...
As an older adult struggling to put my ideas into paintings, I am realizing daily that my lack of fundamental skills is a great liability.
It feels as if I'm re-inventing the wheel, every time I solve a problem that, in retrospect, is obvious to friends who have..
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Should art schools teach the fundamental skills of drawing and painting from observation?
"Drawing from observation and nature and commonly from the life model has been actively discouraged,' says Andy Pankhurst, an artist who teaches at various institutions including the Royal Drawing School, which offers a 'skills-based' foundation course (life drawing is compulsory in the first two terms). While teaching at Slade during the early 00s, students told him they were no longer coming to his life drawing class because other tutors had told them if they did, they would turn into vegetables. 'They were being told that working from observation meant you had no concept or ideas, when nothing could be further from the truth.'"
This question doesn't seem to come up at music conservatories.
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Quote from the Guardian: Should all art students learn to paint and draw?

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Victorian painter Herbert Draper (1864-1920) undertook a massive ceiling decoration project. 



Here he is in his studio working on the large oval composition, with the bottom edge rolled under. He has various ladders and platforms to allow him to reach the life-size figures.

The mural shows "Prospero Summoning Nymphs and Deities," a scene based on Shakespeare's play The Tempest.


Prospero (the dark figure with the upraised hand) was the rightful Duke of Milan, cast adrift by his usurping brother to live out his life on an island. There he learns the sorcerers' arts and thereby becomes acquainted with the nymphs and other supernatural beings. 


Draper drew several exquisite studies for the characters in the story using charcoal on tone paper . Here's a study for Prospero's head.  

I would guess he had the models lying sideways on cushions, and then he turned the poses vertically to make them ascending or descending.


Given that it is a ceiling decoration, there's no up or down, and the figures seem to exist in a realm without gravity.


Beautiful as they are to our modern eyes, these studies were created as a means to an end, not an end in themselves. They're not meant to be objective, accurate renderings of the models as real people, but rather, they're idealized, already beginning to capture the spirit and animation of the imaginary beings.
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Gurney Journey by James Gurney - 1w ago
Visual-effects company Digital Doman is working to create the long-dreamed-of virtual actor.

The Near Future of Performance Capture by Doug Roble - YouTube


Called the "Digital Doug Project," it starts off by replicating the face and mannerisms of Doug Roble, Director of Software Engineering at Digital Domain.

The team begins by making extremely detailed scans of Mr. Roble, capturing the way the facial features wrinkle and pucker, and the way the blood flow changes with different expressions.

Digital Doug, courtesy Digital Domain
The method uses machine learning to process the data from an informal performance capture, made without all the special markers. The result is a virtual Doug that any actor could puppeteer.

It offers a hint of the powerful toolset that is emerging to assist movie makers and gave developers.

Meet Digital Doug: Digital Domain's Doug Roble On Motion Capture - YouTube


The ultimate output of this technology will be a whole cast of virtual actors, both human or non-human, which can be precisely controlled by any performing actor.

(Link to YouTube video)
----
Meet Digital Doug: Digital Domain's Doug Roble On Motion Capture
The Near Future of Performance Capture
Unreal Engine podcast about Digital Doug
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Gurney Journey by James Gurney - 1w ago
Big Sky Country, oil on panel, 6 x 12 inches
I'm attracted to the last sunlight on big clouds at the end of the day. The color of light on the clouds shifts from a warm white at the top to dull red-orange farther down. The base of the clouds merges with the general tone of the sky.

I explain this phenomenon in an earlier post Sunset Color Bands:
As the light passes nearer to the surface of the earth, more and more blue wavelengths are scattered out by fine particles of dust and by the air molecules themselves, with only the longer reddish wavelengths remaining. In other words, the light gets dimmer and redder as it approaches to the earth’s shadow line.
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Previously:
Sunset Color Bands
Fast Food and Big Boxes
The Golden Hour
More in my book: Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter
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Gurney Journey by James Gurney - 1w ago
Tribhanga is a classic stance in Indian sculpture that emphasizes the flowing, sensual line of the figure. 


Like the contrapposto pose of European sculpture, it involves an uneven distribution of weight and a shifting of the axis through the pose.


Tribhanga literally means 'three parts break,' the breaks being in the neck, the waist, and the knee, giving the pose a gentle "S" movement.
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Tribhanga on Wikipedia
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