Sunday, June 21, 2015

"research becomes an alternative to further self-cannibalization" - Lopate

to see if I can explore this realm while learning to efficiently navigate a pool and a swim/floating method I haven't previously used. Things I have been thinking about while thinking about if their is a resilience and realization function in the act of writing for the visual artist. gender/power/representation differences in the language of visual artists.

transgenre behaviors and creative dispositions and capacities to push against social conventions.

The artist and the body, perception, embodied/situated/extended cognition. This brings me back to social positioning--visually, bodily, linguistic. Is there anything we do when somehow entering social space that does not involve social positioning?

the artist, perception, cognition. not just social positioning, but we position overall stimuli in a fashion that lets us minimize the overwhelming field of possibilities and realities in order to fashion some kind of comprehension which in turns allows us to navigate our physical (social, mental, spiritual, objects, language, encounters, histories, memories) world.

Slide08 Slide04 Slide03 Slide02

looking at my habits of researching a learning is to exploratorily test something, use what catches my attention in the data spitting to direct me to knowledge domains or practices that I need like [in the field of language and social sciences]
  1. Politeness Theories
  2. Appraisal Theories
  3. Gender Theories
  4. Power Theories
  5. Stance
  6. Discursive Analysis
  7. Trauma and health and writing
  8. Resilience
  9. Neurological processes of perception and cognition
  10. Mirror neurons--perception, empathy, language, human behavior
  11. Embodiment
  12. Phenomenology
  13. Cognition, situated cognition, extended cognition, embodiment
  14. Creativity
  15. The list is exhaustive and overwhelming and all informative
  16. and a kazillion other theories as found
And now I am beginning to extend discovering the various social science research qualitative and quantitate methodologies and tools. In each arena I only now have enough understanding to get myself into trouble via false or already overworked assumptions, but sometimes mashing things together without full domain understanding can lead one to stumble on an alternate perspective, new approach, etc, besides just the risk of appearing an arrogant domain neophyte or polishing wheels that already exist. No matter where I turn I keep coming back to stance and social, cognitive, perceptual, and linguistic positioning... What do visual artists write? Is there a vocational, social and cognitive resilience function? Is there a function for realization of work?

For my summer Data Mining course that I have to take the blue pill each week to attend.

PROPOSED PLAY :: The semantics of certainty and insistence in visual artists writings                                                              
Disciplined play privileges experimentation and modeling over hypothesis testing or concordance publishing – Geofrey Rockwell

Based on initial patterns that emerged in a quantitative study using LIWC2007 and DICTION7 involving insistence and certainty linguistically expressed in artists writings, I am curious to look more deeply at these variables.

I believe a huge portion of creative activity is reactionary. By this I mean that somehow a particular developmental adversity, situational chaffing, unsettles, resonates or enlivens the artist enough to engage a form of appraisal, judgment or questioning, that is then expressed in artistic production in ways that address, call attention to, resolve, act against, or support the artist’s viewpoint or experience. Linguistic insistence and certainty expressed in writing would also appear to be behaviors in which appraisal/judgment is expressed, a stance is taken. Because most art is reactionary, a form of stance taking, and is what captivates the mind and energy of an artist, 

I expect stance taking to also be statistically evident in their writings.

SO WHAT? WHO CARES? PLAYGROUND in which this current proposal sits
I have a hunch, a hypothesis, that a writing practice somehow plays some kind of psychological resilience function for visual artists relative to their making practice. I associate resilience with the capacity to realize and sustain an artistic/creative practice through one’s life span. If resilience is somehow strengthened by the act of writing, is there a form of writing that is more beneficial? If so what forms are the most supportive?

A secondary hunch is that the act of writing, much as analytic memos in research coding, functions to deepen through insight the content development and making processes that are central to the artists practice.

So as I hunt for patterns of similarity in artists’ writings that might shed light on the possibilities that writing for this visual artist has a psychological function that assists them in realizing and sustaining their art practice, semantics is one field in which to evaluate sample texts. If I am correct that there is an important function of writing for the visual artist and if there are particular forms that are more useful, this has important pedagogical implications in how the academy prepares artists for a life of making.

Additional Questions/Arenas Does the writing for the visual artist have a correlative function with
  1. Bodily cognition functions?
  2. Situated or extended cognition?
  3. Loose sensory gating? [Neurological/Perceptual function]
  4. Psychological function?
  5. Cognitive function?
  6. Social function?
The linguistic variables of certainty and insistences have already shown up in my previous study with LIWC and DICTION as notable. Will the writings also express strong sentiment or will they be emotionally neutral? Will there be correlations of linguistic cues of sentiment, specifically positive, negative or neutral with certainty and insistence?

And as always in my work as an ongoing curiosity, are their notable gender differences?
A visual stance (art making) involves a bodily response to materials and space; a cognitive stance is expressed through linguistic space internally or externally. Will these be mirrored in artifacts and text emerging from a single author/maker? Will this mirroring be evident in most visual artists’ writings?

My initial gut response is that visual artists’ writings will bear strong sentiment, positive or negative, with very little content in the neutral zone.


I also expect from artists working in the last sixty years, since conceptual art became prevalent, that much of the sentiment will be negative. Most artistic production arises from reactionary resistance against some cultural practice, personal adversity or x.


Though historically and philosophically beauty plays a role in art, it does not play a strong role in contemporary avant-garde art for the past one hundred years. Art and the artist function as a cultural barometer more so than producers of beauty.

These hypothesis, hunches, mental maulings and assumptions suggest that I might approach the artists’ texts via systems that test for sentiment and/or conflict (versus coding).

Additionally it seems relevant to begin establishing a system for attribute coding (as suggested in Saldana’s text) which may reveal similarities and differences in artists texts that correlate with gender, primary medium, career stage, education, age, ethnicity, orientation, affluence, etc.

Specifically what comes to mind is that fact that when I am uncertain, I may be more emotionally reactive or frustrated, and when I am more certain, I emotionally relax. So I see at least two outcomes that would counter my aforementioned hypotheses. One, there is the possibility that I will see the exact opposite results than my initial hypotheses in that artists who express linguistic certainty and insistence will display minimal, neutral, evaluative emotion. Two, that a positive or negative sentimentality will be more related to essays strong in insistences and neutrality with texts that showed a strong sense of certainty.

[CERTAINTY + INSISTENCE = NEUTRAL SENTIMENT + LOW CERTAINTY + INSISTENCE = +/- SENTIMENT] OR [if CERTAINTY is dominant = emotionally relaxed; NEUTRAL SENTIMENT] [if INSISTENCE is dominant = emotionally charged; +/- SENTIMENT]

Of course, much of this may already be answered and apparent in a literature review, which I have begun, but my toes are just dipping for a temperature check before I plunge in.

PROPOSED DATASET Visual artists’ writings. The sampling is not random. It is based on several criterias:
  1. Artist
    • Population of artists will be culled from contemporary art historians and critics, specifically artists included in two texts:
      • Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings (2012) edited by Dr. Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz, 2nd edition.
      • Art in Theory 1900 - 2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas (2002) edited by Charles Harrison, Paul J. Wood.
    • Limited to artists living in the last seventy years with an attempt to harvest equal amounts from each decade.
    • Both male and female samples will be harvested an attempt to harvest equally quantities of texts for both male and female artists (regardless of orientation).
  2. No more than three samples will be harvested per artist.
  3. Samples may be in the form of letters, manifestos, artist statements, published essays and book excerpts.
  4. Samples will be between 100 words and 3,000.
  5. In all probability samples will have been edited by a secondary source (currently this is unavoidable; eventually if I find significant implications in the texts, I would hope this would justify access to original artist documents, unedited by others).
  6. Writing samples accessible online. I am lazy, high rates of data entry are not my strong point, dyslexia will inherently be embedded in every artists text and thus will produce faulty patterns if I type them and this is a ten week course.
Attribute Coding.
Concept Extraction – semantics and affect.
Semantics, in addition to positive/negative/neutral appraisal, I am interested in But along with the evaluator judgment, I will be watching for traces of potency (powerful/unpowerful), proximity of sentiment (near/far), specificity (clear/vague), intensifiers (more/less).
Clustering based on corpus correlations
From Saldana, not all useable but of great interest, Versus Coding, Value Coding, Emotion Coding, Dramatalogical Coding and Narrative Coding.

  1. Prepare two presentations, QDA Miner and WordStat7 (or LIWC)
    1. Focus each on single program feature.
    2. Show relevance of software chosen to my research direction.
  2. Collect samples
    1. 157 text files collected. DONE.
    2. Add 43 more. MAYBE.
  3. Prep additional samples
  4. Initiation with QDA Miner
    1. Attribute coding
  5. Read more on semantic analysis and concept extraction. Read more on linguistic certainty, insistences, and appraisal.
  6. Initiation with WordStat7
    1. Dictionaries to be run
      1. LIWC
      2. Semantic (+/-/neutral)
    2. Rerun all previous texts through WordStat7s built in dictionaries and LIWC
      1. Explore visualization of output (versus just freaking numbers) in general looking for overwhelming similarities and anomalies that manifest across the corpus.
      2. Explore the visualization of output in regards to certainty, insistence and semantics. Again looking for similarities and anomalies that manifest across the corpus.
    3. Test run in WordStat7 texts using semantic dictionaries
    4. Correlate initial readings of positive/negative/neutral sentiment scores with the initial readings output from DICTION7 around the variables of certainty and insistence.
    5. Write up findings.
    6. Merge previous findings and semantic findings into cohesive paper for October presentation at Art Practice/Art as Research Conference.

EXAMINE :: Based on initial patterns that emerged in a quantitative study using LIWC2007 and DICTION7 involving insistence and certainty linguistically expressed in artists writings, I am curious to look more deeply at into these variables. One area worth examining is through text analysis is sentiment. I correlate insistence and certainty with a measurable degree of sentiment. Additionally I associate the lack of insistence and uncertainty as an expression of questioning that might register as neutral when measuring for sentimentality (positive, negative and neutral). I believe the artists’ texts that registered in the LIWC/DICTION analysis above the norms on the variables of certainty and insistence will show positive or negative sentimentality and those that registered below the norms as predominately neutral. And I have a hunch that visual artists’ writings will also be more strongly linked to negative sentimentality than positive.


[MEMO TO SELF] Though, I have been wrong one or two times before. Specifically what comes to mind is that fact that when I am uncertain, I may be more emotionally reactive or frustrated, and when I am more certain, I emotionally relax. So I see at least two outcome possibilities that would counter my aforementioned hypotheses. One, there is the possibility that I will see the exact opposite results than my initial hypotheses in that artists who express linguistic certainty and insistence will display minimal, neutral, evaluative emotion. Two, that a positive or negative sentimentality will be more related to essays strong in insistences and neutrality with texts that showed a strong sense of certainty.

[if CERTAINTY is dominant = emotionally relaxed; NEUTRAL SENTIMENT] 
[if INSISTENCE is dominant = emotionally charged; +/- SENTIMENT]

GRANULARITY :: WORD/SENTENCE Measuring sentimentality takes place at the word/sentence level, but I am interested in patterns that emerge relative to sentimentality across a broad population of artists’ writings and then correlating that with previous results relative to insistence and certainty.

FOCUS :: DOCUMENT CLASSIFICATION by the identification of positive, negative or neutral sentimentality in artist generated texts. This also appears to fall under a form of information/concept extraction.

AVAILABLE INFORMATION :: There are readily available unstructured artists’ writings both online and via anthologies put together by art historians and critics. I have harvested writing samples of English speaking visual artists from Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists’ Writings (2012) edited by Dr. Kristine Stiles and Peter Selz, 2nd edition.

SYNTAX OR SEMANTICS :: This study will be translating words relative affective meaning (positive, negative, neutral), so it falls into semantic methodologies.

WEB OR TRADITONAL TEXT :: Though some of the writings have been harvested from via the internet, they are categorically traditional texts ranging from letters, manifestos, artist statements, book excerpts, essays to critical reviews.

SEVEN OF NINE SEVEN :: CONCEPT EXTRACTION specifically sentiment in terms of positive, negative and neutrality. But along with the evaluator judgment, I will be watching for traces of potency (powerful/unpowerful), proximity of sentiment (near/far), specificity (clear/vague), intensifiers (more/less) (Automatic Sentiment Analysis in On-line Text, by Erik Boiy; Pieter Hens; Koen Deschacht; Marie-Francine Moens very useful in understanding dimensions of sentimentality.). Sure not all of this is a part of my summer plan, but I will make a dent in attribute coding (Saldana) and a full on fender bender with automated sentiment analysis. Ahh, the fuzzy overlapping boundaries of information extraction, natural language processing, machine learning, computation linguistics, statistics and text mining, I have a lot to learn.

I really like the software package Semantria. Alas, it is $999—per month! Sigh.

QUESTION 1: A couple of you have asked about the level of statistical knowledge needed to work with data mining, text mining, and big data. Briefly, tell us about your experiences with statistics and quantitative research. No worries--there are no correct answers here. Just let us know what you consider your level of proficiency to be.

Q1—STATISTICAL RELATIONSHIP :: We haven’t been courting long. I can spell her name correctly, s-t-a-t-i-s-t-i-c-a-l. Her formulaic language, mathematical in nature, is something to which I have not been formally introduced; yet as artist my strength is seeing patterns and anomalies which seems to be at the heart of her. Patterns and anomalies are the basis of most art, whether it is ground in the visual, spatial, temporal, oral or social realms. So though I do not have the mathematics or the proper vocabulary to speak her language yet, I think I will quickly attune to her behavior and formal language.

I do know how to rudimentarily use Excel, meaning I know how to plug in simple formulas, sort and average grades and such.

QUANTITATIVE :: I began using LIWC, Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (Dr James Pennebaker/psychologist, studies trauma and recovery and the influence of writing), and DICTION (Roderick Hart/political analysis), quantitative software, this past December. It has been self-trained, jump in with both feet to see if I can figure it out. DICTION in general is a little more dummy proof than LIWC. In terms of statistics, the lingo sort of lost me, but the patterns and anomalies in the numbers were evident. Additionally problems with rogue essays, entries that skewed all the numbers, because they were so anomalous, were one of the things that lead me to taking this course. How do I deal, throw out, adapt, dampen, the eccentric entries that affect otherwise strong trends? I recognize there were be statistical formulas to assist in dealing with this kind of stuff, but am not familiar as to where to turn. A statistics class I assume is in my near future. I also came to recognize that normative numbers are population dependent and have to be verified. For example DICTION’s normative numbers is based on fifty years of political speeches, journalism, and supreme court summations. Well that’s nice, but it is important to note that this population for the last fifty years has been predominantly male, therefore the normative numbers are based on a male population. This must be considered when using their numbers comparatively with one’s own population study, which may be female, male, or mixed. So language models generated from normative numbers are artificial constructs, population dependent, useful, but always suspect.

QUALITATIVE :: I have not done any “qualitative” research in terms of social science models—ie ground theory and such. All is new. No quantitative/qualitative/statistical training under my belt yet.

Q2 – WordStat7
Free in terms of the one month demo, I would like to test run WordStat7 that works alongside QDA. Specifically I would like to explore how it works with a couple of the optional dictionaries [add ons]—LIWC, which focuses on function words [articles, pronouns, tense, etc] that hold content words into comprehensible content. I am also interested in the sentimental/value dictionaries. In each case, I am not attempting to analyze individual content of artists’ essays, but patterns that emerge intersubjectively.

As I mentioned verbally in our introductions I am interested in the function writing might have for visual artists. Currently there is a pattern that a significant number of visual artists that are prolific in production, known in the artworld and sustain their making practice through their lifespan, also write. So I am interested in are their patterns that might be evident in large collections of their writings. James Pennebaker, the daddy of LIWC, was hunting for the relationship between writing and healing from traumatic events. This lead me to wonder if artists’ writing have some kind of psychological function in assisting with (?) resilence? LIWC aided by the system of WordStat7 looks as though it might aid in looking for psychological patterns across a large body of artist essays. LIWC by itself, is a tad challenging since it only spits out numbers.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Mondrian White on White Pivotal Set, Oompa Loompas, A Buzz and Holler, plus Racks of Disemboweled Cadavers. LOVELY

Texas Tech's Mother Courage, April 29 First Performance A slanted critical review of sorts 

As I squirmed in my seat for three hours, fifteen minutes, my anticipation and pleasure resided in what occurred between scenes, which began each time with a buzz, and holler that activated Oompa Loompas to reposition the set. Providing mid-scene intrigue were the racks of disemboweled cadavers with their dangling entrails.

The white portable set (below. figure 1) was like modernist geometric painting including extreme color reduction. It called to mind Kazimir Malevich’s 1918 painting, White on White (figure 2), and his contemporary’s, Piet Mondrian, paintings and spatial forms (figure 3). The play’s set was modularly built into columns with 4x4 footprints and heights ranging from 10 to 16 feet. Though not visible, their base included wheels, allowing for quick almost Tetris-like repositioning. Each column included a door-sized passage, but like the wheels, they were kept out of audience view. The interiors were lined with white non-reflective fabric so if per chance the passage were slightly exposed to the audience, it would go unnoticed. These passages functioned to hide stagehands that would mid-scene provide characters with prop and mics.

figure 1: set detail

figure 2: Malevich, White on White

figure 3: Mondrian

The neutral white and geometric simplicity diminished scenic distractions so that the plays action was perceptually foregrounded. It also reduced the need and risks in replication or accuracy of the temporal and geographical setting. In fact, it decontextualized the play from the early seventeen hundreds scripted setting. The only ground to situate the viewer in the temporal location was the design of the costumes and key props.

In the decontextualized space, the repositioning of the columns indicated scene changes. With each shift, various flat panels, reminiscent of the columns’ Mondrian-like surfaces, were lowered from the ceiling to further reshape the space, as a sign to cue scenic change. The transitions were made in full audience view. Despite the physical repositioning, it was each scene’s action that dictated how the space should be interpreted—pub or pasture, day or night, plus indicating Mother Courage’s migratory habit. I found the set and its repositioning aesthetically soothing. It counterbalanced the emotive connotations associated with theatrically required projections of voice and gesture.

The play would have been significantly served by decontextualizing it beyond just the white set to release its primary read from being tethered to seventeen hundreds. Converting all the costuming and props to white with the exception of each characters vest, sash or a single item of distinction, while maintaining their antiquated design, would have effectively diminished the chronological anchor. This would have emphasized the characters’ actions and script in ways that would transcend the time period becoming more applicable for today. It would correlate the plot in terms of our own cultural and global climate with its dragged out “incursions,” leftovers of our War on Terror, and other political interventions. Only in unpacking the play for this paper has the probable intention of the director’s selection of Mother Courage revealed real correlations.

Raytheon, a weapons guidance system corp, is a most profitable stock. I shall neither confirm nor deny that I may own some. Perhaps it has even assisted in temporarily freeing me to pursue my PhD. Am I equally complicit and compromised by the benefits of war, as Mother Courage was? Do I stand on carcasses of others as I reach for yet another degree? Had the play more clearly de-tethered from its historical fix, I would have arrived at the uncomfortable position that reveals me as part of our contemporary war economy. This would have been quite poignant because it would turn my harsh judgment of Mother Courage around on myself. I like to be unsettled, moved from my willful blindness and American arrogance. I wish the play itself had done this for me, it did not. I maintain my buffered ego and denial. Plus perhaps  I also bought Tesla stock when it first hit the market. Ha. Apparently, I am into clean energy and bombing, just call me Mother Courage.

It would be perfect to end this post at the last line, but then I would have to re-title it. I ramble on with the review for class criteria hoop jumping and to get to the Oompa Loompas, the play’s best part ☺. But first a little more on the set. The drop down paintings as contextual staging were problematic. The only painting that assisted the play in terms of progressing the story was the replica of Goya’s painting, May Third. The first and last paintings where exceptionally disruptive—perceptually fixating. The first glowed neon orange—visually eye riveting, screaming. The last was a gargantuas muddy brown blob OZ head. Its scale made it impossible to ignore. I assume, though unrecognizable to me, it referenced a historical painting, but it was just shit ugly and distracted me from the story.

On the other hand, I loved the clothes racks packed with cadaverous heads and their disemboweled torsos with dangling entrails. Then again, perhaps I own Raytheon stock. Sigh. In a manner, the cadavers correlated with the staging in that they decontextualized the play from the “real” and its temporal location in history. The clothing store-like racks linked the story to contemporary culture, perhaps pointing to the costs of our consumer-based economy. I appreciated the way the abstraction and repetition suggested the horrors and carnage of war with the multiple racks signaling ongoing death counts.

The acting and singing left me wanting. As fine an actress as Mother Courage was, she was not even remotely my favorite character. The very best thing about the play was the Oompa Loompas, apparently recast from Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Though neither short nor bearded, they dressed hygienically, donned in all white paper industrial-like coveralls, including white foot booties that muffled the sound of their walking. They functioned between scenes, just as they did in the movie when cued by Wonka and set to the task of scene transition by rolling off the Blueberry Girl for squishing or the other "bad" children for obvious consequences.

Likewise, in Mother Courage, a buzzer, followed by a holler, “scene change,” activated the scenic inbetweens. The Oompas moved silently with calculated intent as they danced the white columns to new positions. It was just freaking beautiful. The music played softly in accompaniment, but I was so fixate on their coordination and efficient movements it really didn’t register. I would have been happy with three hours of that or at least twenty-two minutes. In either case, I would need a hint of a conceptual intent. Seriously, I might have preferred the play’s narrative without bodily action. With the characters garbed in white costume, proplessly standing behind a series of white podiums, lined up in a row, voicing their lines. And then holding still and silent as the Oompa Loompas, initiated with the buzzer and pre-emptive holler, “scene change,” did their thing. Even with unaltered script, this would have teleported the viewer from the past to the future of now. Oh, I would have been so engaged. Sometimes “less is more” though that would require a butt-load of risk and courage.

Ha, and would the Oompa Loompas songs be relevant to Brecht’s script? I think so. It is worth a test, in creating a new version of Mother Courage worth doing.

NOTE: Perhaps interdisciplinary in development, Mother Courage seemed to fit my stereotype of conventional three parts play and one part musical.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

three different presentation/papers three sequential days. brow wipe. sigh

two of the three went well. the third i got bogged down, distracted a stymied on the conference's old laptop, finding the buttons and touch pad clumsy. sigh. next time i just break the rules and plug in my mac. then i can not only run my presentation from my phone and stand anywhere, but can also see my notes simultaneously! my presentations are typically dependent on visuals, they actually provide unsaid information, now they also include key stats, which in my mine, numbers are better seen than said.

here is partial sampling of my three on three. remember you are not getting the verbal commentary, just a half snippet. PS I love Janine Antoni, Robert Morris, and Schneeman's work. How could they not be freaking influential on my primary practice. PSS I am not a historian, but a practicing studio artist, plus grad student, and I teach/present from this perspective.

in the written text of female visual artists are there linguistic traces of self-limiting social positioning?

Robert Morris | agile evasion of disciplinary definition = transgenred

the body is never neutral, never silent [contemporary art history]

 ps. disclaimer - imagery was used for educational purpose in educational setting. outside of a grade, honoring, and self-respect, there was no fiscal benefit.