I've had some interesting things happen lately that has caused me to consider art and what makes art.

I've never considered myself very artistic. I have long been interested in various standard forms of art; Music, Painting, Sculpture and Photography, perhaps others.

I have enjoyed music on several levels for most of my life. I can remember my first few albums (yes, I'm talking about vinyl...) One was the Bay City Rollers (I won't make excuses about my early musical influences...) another was The Best of the Beach Boys (Little deuce coupe...) and still another was the score of Star Wars by John Williams. The feelings I got from listening to these were as intense and genuine as they were diverse. The point is that I have usually felt music as much as heard it.

I can remember seeing the earliest examples of paintings and sculpture. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Davinci's Mona Lisa, and ancient works such as the Colossus at Rhodes and the Pyramids of Giza. Again each of these evoked emotion as varied as the pieces.

Now I don't think anyone would argue that each of the disciplines I mentioned are truly art of some nature.

In High School I got a lot of knowledge and enjoyment from the four years I took metal shop. These classes seemed as creative to me as any painting. Perhaps forming a metal box or machining some steel to very precise dimensions doesn't seem artistic until one does it.

After I got through college, I had at this point participated in various bands, recitals, and orchestra's with various instruments. Yet I still felt myself to be limited artistically. I think in part because I was the kid that put everything in a straight line or row. When organizing furniture in my home everything was parallel or square to a wall. When making any sort of drawing generally a ruler was used and if my lines weren't necessarily at right angles they were at least straight...

After college I got my first job as a programmer and I found a new hobby, building Combat Robots competing in Battlebots. Neither of these activities seemed very artistic to me - one being the building of something that was to be destroyed and the other something based on very discrete processes and numerical structures - but I could see creativity in these things.

Because of the methods of building robots I started to feel I may have some artistic bones in me somewhere. As I got more experience in programming and became a better programmer I started to see the building of an elegant solution to a complex problem as artistic. I think my thought here was that you could take 5 programmers and give them the same problem to solve and you would likely get 5 different solutions, and quite possibly very different solutions... Consider the difference between a tedious term paper in high school or college and Homer's The Odyssey. I may be waxing dramatic but I think you get the idea.

After all these years I have finally come to the conclusion that I am an artistic person. I may not be particularly good in any discipline but I have a strong desire to create things with a pleasing aesthetic. I have given in to this realization recently and, with Mandi, bought a new camera. This camera is a Digital SLR, the Nikon D40x, you may have seen the Nikon commercials recently. Our camera is similar to the one in the commercials.

Yesterday Mandi and I went to Balboa Park with the primary goal of taking pictures. While there we walked through the Museum of Photographic Art, but we were really there to look at things in a different way than we had in past. Trying to find things to take a picture of. I have usually taken pictures of people (usually from too far away) or taken pictures of some landscape or building (again, from such a wide angle that any detail or drama was lost)

At Balboa Park we were making an effort to look for things to shoot, but it wasn't a tedious or relentless assignment. It was shear joy for me. Looking at things that I thought might look neat in a picture. We took hundreds of up close pictures of flowers and leaves. We took pictures or doors and windows and hallways. We took a few pictures of people but neither of us felt comfortable with that. We also took pictures of each other. And we took pictures of a turtle, a dog, and a fire hydrant.

I doubt anyone would want to put any of our photo's in a gallery but we had such fun shooting them. Then again when we got home and got to look at them all on the computer, we had some of the same emotion we felt when we took the shot initially. I thought it interesting that some photo's evoked a completely different feeling afterwards.

Shooting and looking at our pictures certainly made us feel things, and I think that's what art is.


Irony or Contradiction?

Driving to work this morning I ended up behind a couple of young girls in a Rav4. I noticed on the back of the car numerous stickers that said: "Peaceaholic", OB (this is a local community, Ocean Beach, that's known for its hippy/laid back residents), "Save Something", Two turtles, and a couple of other environmentally related messages. Not that big a deal, there are many people in San Diego, and California in general, who are environmentally conscious and who like to promote activism.

Then I noticed both these girls were smoking. Okay, environmentalists can smoke, it's allowed by their creed I believe. I did notice the flicking of ash out the window though and this started my curiosity about irony or contradiction. Then I saw the butt come out the passenger window.

My guess is if anyone follows the news of the southwest, and by that I mean from Utah west to the Ocean and south to Mexico, then you may have heard of a few fires going on. Fires are pretty common in this area because it is basically a desert and we're in a multi-year drought. It was only a few years ago that I watched a hill burn from my front yard, having already packed to evacuate if that call came. This is no small issue in San Diego county and we even had three new fires spark up over the weekend. It's a topic that i'm pretty certain every San Diegan knows about.

So here was the car of a self-stated environmentally conscious person throwing cigarette butts out the window in a desert known for wildfires started by human thoughtlessness.

Irony or Contradiction?