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The Drawing Center fax show: ET exhibits

Scroll down for ET exhibits at the fax show.

The initial invite provoked memories of curly, chemically, odd-color faxes. But a few weeks later came this from João Ribas, curator:

"The fax machine model is Canon Pixma MX850. It has a resolution of up to 9600 x 2400 color dpi and 600 x 600 black-and-white dpi. We can receive color if you send your fax from a machine with color capabilities. Our machine uses standard 8.5 x 11 inch letter paper."
Wow. But it must be pricey, I thought. Only $240 it turns out. Such high-resolution color prompted some color FAX tests.

The first two images (our originals) show an image from Envisioning Information, later redone for the Cognitive Art series of fine art prints. The black and white grounds (shirts are identical in both faxes) reveal color effects of brightening, color mixing, and so on:

During the last year, for the show at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, I've been experimenting with a Rothko-like structure moving through varous palettes. It appears that some of Rothko-beauty derives from structural format (color fields with subtle and ragged margins, and from saturation and value, rather than hue--because the beautiful Rothko character persists over all kinds of hue changes. My test Rothkos are printed out very large, but the FAX can only show very small versions, here collected together:

Here below is Porta the (real) Dog interacting with Porta the (sculpture) Dog, from our threads Dog sculpture and Porta and the Birds (at 300 fames/second. Porta, as her name hints, is a Portuguese Water Dog and arrived here about a year ago and happens to look like the Obama's dog. Four months ago we welcomed Porta's brother (same parents, not littermates) Ace, who has not yet appeared on this board. Porta is exceptional, as those who saw Porta apparently run full tilt backwards in her debut movie. There are now a bunch of Porta sculpture pieces for the Aldrich show, including a 12 foot high Porta.

But what does this have to do with the FAX show?
If artists can't put their own dogs and dog sculptures in their own shows, what has the world come to?

Finally, a comparative resolution test: one FAX vs. 2,000 PowerPoint slides,
a play on Ad Reinhardt's remark "If a picture isn't worth a thousand words,
the hell with it." The image shows sparklines from Beautiful Evidence.

Shown above are our 5 originals. Below, the resulting FAX to FAX transmission as received and printed by The Drawing Center FAX machine.

-- Edward Tufte

The resulting faxes

Here are the results of color FAX to color FAX.
My originals (printed from those images above)
were scanned by the FAX sending machine,
then printed by receiving FAX machine.

The faxed Rothkos look better than the originals.
Also Porta the dog has more of a Warhol look than
the original; note the FAX mottling of the blue tint.
And the faxed tee-shirts have the texture of washed cloth.
So perhaps the original images were too crisp and precise,
and the reduced precision of color fax reproduction added
some artistic noise and texture.

-- Edward Tufte

Response to The Drawing Center: ET exhibits

I am curious why one would say the color studies after fax reproduction were better? To my eye the fax reproduction exaggerated contrast to the detriment of subtle color relationships.

-- John Scott Thorburn (email)

FAX technology as Art

What fun!

Fax machines have come a long way in terms of resolution over the years. Anyone remember trying to decipher those pages that came through as a fax of something that was previously faxed? After a few generations it becomes very hard to distinguish one blocky blob of text from another. My wife, who is a physician, unfortunately still must struggle with this problem when reviewing medical records -- still kept on paper in most places and transmitted for review via fax. The higher resolution of modern machines alleviates the problem, but cannot recover the information lost from earlier transmissions. An experiment in faxing and re-faxing over and over again might make a nice art exhibit as well. Perhaps those shirts would develop even more character with repeated "washings".

The boost in contrast is probably an attempt to improve readability of text and has a similar look to photocopied pages. I wonder how much of that effect is intentional (to aid readability) and how much is a byproduct of whatever compression is done on the image to send it over a phone line. The effect on color images removes subtlety, but adds a special character of its own, which I find to be pleasing. The originals seem somewhat muted, as if they were photographs taken on an overcast day, while the reproductions are vibrant and sharp. Perhaps my interpretation is affected by recent weather here in Boston. The days have been overcast, rainy and muted for several weeks. Today the sun is shining and the colors out my window are bold and bright with vibrant greens from trees and grass busily putting all that recent rain to use.

-- Matt Huyck (email)

Fax show now on tour

Click here to view the article online.

-- Edward Tufte

Threads relevant to sculpture:
Ace and Porta do multimedia
Bird Series
Aluminum and stainless steel; many, many pieces moving in the air.
Bouquet sculpture series--and Walking, Seeing, Constructing
Beginning of Bouquet series (now 7); along with theoretical statement beginning the volume 5 project.
Buddha with Bird Nest: sculpture
Complex sculptural shapes
Dear Leader I: landscape sculpture May 2006
Narrative piece about some mysterious porcelain objects in a stainless steel perspective box.
Dog sculpture (Porta the Portuguese Water Dog)
ET Modern
ET museum/gallery in the Chelsea Art District in New York 2010-2013.
ET show at George Champion Modern Shop
ET gallery show in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Escaping Flatland sculptures
Ten large stainless steel pieces in the landscape generate many views and painted color fields as the sun moves across the sky and the season changes.
Feynman Diagrams, Edward Tufte sculptures and exhibits
The Conceptual and Cognitive Art of Feynman Diagrams. Art show + 16 page essay.
Flame Theater
Georgia O'Keeffe and Escaping Flatland
Hogpen Hill #1: sculpture installed August 2006
First major piece (24 feet light, stainless steel) installed in new 122 acre sculpture park underway in Woodbury, Connecticut.
Ironstone artworks, torqued steel
Magritte's Smile
Masks Quartet, 2011
bronze casting
Megaliths, Continuous and Silent, Stuctures of Unknown Significance
Stone+air artworks. Scuplture, megaliths
Millstone sculpture series
Massive industrial pieces sorting out circles and light. Redesigning and repurposing scrap from nuclear power plant.
Multiplicity in visual experiences (ET presentation for a museum show)

Nine reviews of ET's Aldrich Museum sculpture show
ET museum show in Connecticut 2009-2010
Paradox sculptures
Petals 1-3
Aluminum hyperbolic paraboloids in the landscape reflect light and shadow. The pieces move with the contour of the land.
Philosophical Diamond Signs
Philosophical alerts, imperatives, and thoughts about the path past and future.
Rocket Science
~32 feet (10 m) high and ~72 feet (22 m) long, and is constructed from ~48,000 pounds (22,000 kg) of rusting scrap steel
Rocket Science #2 (Lunar Lander)
Rocket Science 3: Airstream Interplanetary Explorer
Sculpture Forgings
Steel forging mounted on wood base. Blacksmithing video.
Sculpture: Negative space studies
Three table pieces; strong positive elements create active negative volumes (the air) to torque. Movies.
Seeing Around: New ET essay published
Skewed Machine
Spring Arcs, an ET landscape sculpture
Four solid stainless steel arcs in the landscape. Long thread, many photographs on meaning, construction, viewing of the piece.
Stainless steel images: anisotropic calligraphy
Big series of engraved 3D anisomorphic images that move with light.
Steel sculptures
Rough, thick, rusting steel, with surface images in the steel's patina.
Table sculptures
About a dozen major table pieces in wood, steel, stainless steel.
The Twigs: Landscape artworks made from steel and air
The beautiful Twig. Steel, 32 feet high, with accompanying thread on reading the piece and the complexities of modeling large 3D objects.
Theater Museum artworks
Tong Bird of Paradise
Towers: a new memorial for 9/11
Visual complexities of light, shadow, perpsective. Perforated stainless steel.
ZZ Smile (Zerlina's Smile)

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