Meta modernism is perhaps easier on the tongue than Post-postmodernist. It has been alternately described as "mediations between aspects of both modernism and postmodernism," and is a general philosophy as well as a possible visual art movement. Like all others, it is subject to anachronism without notice. While it passes beyond the present, it is also understood in terms of Plato's "metaxy" which denotes oscillation, a movement back and forth between opposing ideas such as modernism and postmodernism. The return of a Romantic sensibility has been given as a key characteristic. Apparently, stark reality has proven itself too dark for continued appreciation.

"A romantic response to crisis” is the Metamodernists response to political, economic, climatological, and other forms of chaos. They hope to remain optimistic and to engage their communities pro actively "even when and where they believe a cause has been lost."  They are not believers in "the power of positive thinking" which drive Postmodernists like Dear Donald, and don't presume they can save the world from disarray and possible decline, but say it is reasonable to be proactive since it provides hope which trumps despair. Writing for Huffington Post, Seth Abrahamson explains that meta narratives between opposing groups
might "help save us from ennui, anomie, despair, or moral and ethical sloth."

Metamodernist art is less fragmented because it is designed to fit cell phone and computer pad screens, where all that messy postmodern stuff becomes an annoyingly tiny  mishmash because of its complexity and clashing colours. These folk would like to trash divisive terms like "genre," "party," "department," "discipline," and "institution," which they see as the basis for  disagreements leading to hostilities. Considering the territorial imperatives seen in humans this is probably an impossible dream. But please dream on, since a modicum of optimism is really needed at this time. As we have pointed out, there are already critics of metamodernism and it holds the seeds of anachronism; it's just a matter to time.

Modernism's probably started with pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein. During the 1960s, along with Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and James Rosenquist among others, he became a leading figure in the new art movement. His specialty was comic strips. "Lichtenstein took a tiny picture, smaller than the palm of the hand, printed in four color inks on newsprint and blew it up to the conventional size at which 'art' is made and exhibited and finished it in paint on canvas."Lichtenstein did not credit, pay any royalties to, or seek permission from the original artists or copyright holders. This was before the days of broad bed digital printers. His compatriot, ",Andy Warhol, created digital art using a Commodore Amiga where the computer was publicly introduced at the Lincoln Center, New York in July 1985. An image of Debbie Harry was captured in monochrome from a video camera and digitized into a graphics program called ProPaint. Warhol manipulated the image adding colour by using flood fills."

It was almost another decade before Rod got to use a "desk top computer' which actually took up the entire top of a huge oak desk. There were not even strike-on printers back then, and magazines regularly featured hand-worked covers. "Digital art is an artistic work or practice that uses digital technology as an essential part of the creative or presentation process. Since the 1970s, various names have been used to describe the process including computer art and multimedia art, and digital art is itself placed under the larger umbrella term new media art." Work done in the 1960s was extremely crude. By the 1970s, a number of artists had begun to teach themselves to program, rather than relying on collaborations with computer programmers, but even in that decade the visual results were not exciting.

Illustrators were not yet fearful of the beasts in the machine, but they should have been very concerned. The 1980s saw these machines miniaturized and computers were adopted first for business and then personal use. "The late 1970s had seen the births of both Apple and Microsoft and the appearance of some of the first personal computers. PCs were now available that were affordable and compact, and ideal for household use. Alongside this, ink jet printers developed to become the cheapest method of printing in colour." Still, first rate reproductions were left to massive lithographic presses, which started churning out limited editions prints.

The Classic Colour Mac was not marketed until 1993. It cost $2,321.08 US, much more in Canada and was discontinued in 1995, when Rod purchased a Power Macintosh, which he really could not afford. His first coloured web site went up in  May of that year using Seneca's PageMill as an WYSIWYG editor, the first of its kind. Adobe acquired the company in the following year and Rod purchased SiteMill and Photoshop from them. Sadly, that compact software programme was abandoned for GoLive, which was an absolute dog. The first version lacked a spell checker, but later one reviewer said that it had " more features than I have fingers and toes… PageMill with its tables, frames, graphics, and support for form interfaces, makes it easy to lay out a page." It was no longer supported after the year 2000. Rod did update Photoshop but turned to free ware for web editors and FTP agents.

Andy Warhol found his fortune digitizing famous personalities at a time when other artists were simply bemused or unsure if this was a legitimate art form. Eventually even cartoonists like Searle found that art editors were considering cut and paste digital art as a cheaper route to humour.  Rod's friend and mentor, the late Norman Eastman, an illustrator at Harlequin for decades, lost his living to photo manipulators.

Rod does not think that visual art is dead but the means of production... Time is money and these days very, very little graphic art is handwork. "The techniques of digital art are used extensively by the mainstream media in advertisements, and by film-makers to produce visual effects. Desktop publishing has had a huge impact on the publishing world, although that is more related to graphic design. Both digital and traditional artists use many sources of electronic information and programs to create their work." In this case the publisher was offered many choices for a dust cover and it was all a wrap in hours rather than days.

Digital technology has transformed activities such as painting, drawing, sculpture, while new forms, such as net art, digital installation art, and virtual reality, have become recognized artistic as valid  artistic interests. Artworks are considered digital painting when created in similar fashion to non-digital paintings but using software on a computer platform and digitally outputting the resulting image as painted on canvas. The process is less messy and time-consuming. Traditional paintings have this kind of "miracle work" as competition and the game will go to the swift and the inexpensive.

Drawing can be a very fast process for those trained to work quickly without too much regard for precision. Every new picture starts at a point in space with the inscription of a dot of ink or pencil on some ground, usually paper.

People collect analog data continuously while computers sample input in periodic digital form, seen represented above within a matrix. When it is printed out it is as dots of colour.

There were precursors of George Seurat who is usually given credit for inventing the branch of Impressionism Art known as Pointillism. Seurat and his small group worked with oils because acrylics had yet to be invented and watercolours were not viscous. Oils could be dabbed into place and would peak and hold their shape. Some draftsmanship was required of this style and staying within the lines led to a somewhat stiff looking design.

The Renaissance fresco painters had used a similar technique in dealing with their milk tempera medium which dried quickly. Alexander Colville used this time-consuming medium and pointillism until he discovered acrylics in the 1950s. It is understandable that his output was usually only two paintings per year.

The pointillist painter is a very clever dot-maker, but the observer is not meant to peer to closely at the product. Charles Thomas "Chuck" Close is an American painter and artist and photographer who achieved fame as a photo realist, through his massive-scale portraits. He had a vision defect which prevented face recognition, and came to the conclusion that this was his work-around as well as a source of income. Rod saw a classmate converted to this style. This young gentleman, like Colville, was meticulous in every way, but in addition was germaphobic.

Pointillism is one of the easiest styles which one can create using a home computer and a filter in a paint programme.  The photograph, overlooking Mahone Bay, was "as found" several years ago. See at a local farm and craft market, a carpenter was trying to drum up work.

Google's DeepMind technology was created in Britain in 2010.  It mimics the human brain and annoyed some artists, art critics, historians and teachers when it infringed their territory. Mike Tyka works with neural networks at Google, but he’s also a sculptor. Some of the earliest "original works" dreamed up by the computer auctioned at surprisingly high prices. This one really offended scholastics. It might not be Fine Art  but is was recognized as "a piece of marvelous technical and philosophical complexity.Creativity is supposed to be our exclusive province, the spark that makes us special, the thing computers could never dream of mastering...The Next Rembrandt questions that, much to the glee of many technologists and the consternation of many art historians."

DeepMind also reinterpreted a photograph is the style of a number of other master painters. Will creativity pass out of the human domain? It really is early days for AI and these first efforts are not greatly advanced over what humans can do quite quickly with a Macintosh and Photoshop. Rod's been playing with that programme since version 1.

When the National Museum of Canada purchased the massive Barnett Newman canvas entitled,  "Voices of Fire for $1.8 million in 1996 it caused public outrage, reignited The 1996 book Voices of Fire: Art Rage, Power, and the State, edited by Bruce Barber, Serge Guilbaut and John O'Brian, reignited anger and it was then that Rod parodied the painting in Photoshop and painted the one at right.The work is now said worth $40-million. In 1992 it was discovered to have been installed upside down. Rod's painting was entitled, "Drawing The Shade on the Fire." All this work took about 10 minutes and previewing in this manner can allow a painter to decide whether he or she wants to proceed. The painting was given away.

These two mock ups  of painterly pirates took about an hour. The Picasso pirate was committed to paint and given away.

This takes quite a bit of "brush work," but it is recreational. Rod could not manage the thought of living with his Francis Bacon, so it never left the computer. That realist painting took about a hour to recreate as a small acrylic on canvas. Another give away.

Simple anachronistic recombinations take a half hour, but Rod has never tried to sell any of these and he has a huge collection. The building is the Lunenburg Academy and it has no bats in that belfry.

This was Rod's first effort with a Wacon tablet and Photoshop. A painting created independent of any scanned in material.That was years ago, and to date.he has not figured out what, if anything, to do with these visual images.

As noted, the traditional fine art elitists which also includes curators, promoters as well as public and private patrons are not yet totally sold on's contention that Digital Art, like Photography, will find a place as a Fine Art deserving as much attention and support as earlier forms. Rod has not read this article in depth, but it appears that there is a lot more happening in that arena than most people think. One hopes that ordinary humans will not be be thrown to the lions  while thinking machines take over the business of recreating their environments.

This art gallery in England has an uncanny resemblance to Rod's old haunt, the late lamented Manauge Galleries on Hollis Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is an old style commercial art gallery featuring a diverse group of Fine Artists including some new faces. Claire Moore's views with respect to the current art scene are surprising! She says "We are not in a Golden Age for visual art," and explained why January 2017 at These pages were decorated with Y.B.A. Damien's work.

Above, exempli gratia, "Forms Without LIfe." Moore says: "Although there is no shortage of money in the Contemporary art market which constantly makes the headlines right now, it’s not really the problem. The fact is, Contemporary art is ruled by a doctrine of novelty that’s decades old, and looking increasingly out of date."

"Art dealers, curators and critics still cling to the idea that what constitutes today’s art with a capital “A” must be totally new and groundbreaking. Sadly, more than 60 years after the true game-changer of Abstract Expressionism (if only to use the U.S. as an example), the art world is still at it. Yet anyone remotely connected to Contemporary art with a shred of honesty would admit that the novelty idea  went bankrupt some time ago." Is this an expensive shell game?

"There’s the spectacle of obsessive, trigger like bidding on lonely, singular canvasses by the few, but no broadly shared delight and conversation, excess of excellence or intellectual credibility. The price paid for insistence on novelty is not only alienation of the general public but an artificial restriction of the very definition of Contemporary art. Today, in order for ‘Art’ to  earn its way into the museum or gallery, the artwork must take a radical new form, but once it’s been hanging on the wall for a while, it’s not as if curators give an honest assessment of why it’s there: “Well, it was a novelty at the time. As ‘Society’ evolves and not necessarily for the better, what is the future for ‘Contemporary Art’?

Wishing you a prosperous and happy year ahead


“Learning without reflection is a waste, reflection without learning is dangerous” - Confucius. We live in a busy world, and many of us feel guilty if we perceive ourselves as not doing enough. Machines sample so they have rest periods, while our species buzzes along its analog path. "Distraction-inducing behaviours like constantly checking email stimulate the brain to shoot dopamine into the bloodstream giving us a rush that can make taking a break hard." Often sleep-deprived we make poor use of our brains. Computers are, as yet, lacking in complete understanding, and this endangers the world.

"If we don’t allow ourselves periods of uninterrupted, freely associated thought then personal growth, insight and creativity are less likely to emerge." Electronic machines have been shown how to dream and they have no mortal coil to shuffle off, and that is how they may come to trump us. They may take direct control or rule through AI enhanced humans. "Me Worry?" You bet!

Are carbon-based humans really well positioned to serve as mentors for this new silicon-based species?

This is the great human weakness."Pride cometh before a fall, and most of our kind are not saints but proud pissers at the bounds of our supposed intelligence and empathy.

For the moment, Google is hiring. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to be real be careful out there. Of course you have to possess technological skills and a certain mindset to go to work for this giant "It's going to be fun to watch and see how long the meek can keep the earth once they inherit it."  - Kin Hubbard. Rod is hoping to be off planet before the off gone to dust before this particular comedy opens in the Theatre Of The Absurd.

But Don Marquis says, "Pity the week for they shall inherit the earth." To put this in context J. Paul Getty adds, "The meek shall inherit the earth, but not the mineral rights," while Samuel Butler has observed that, "I really do not see much use in exalting the humble and meek; they do not remain humble and meek long when they are exalted."

"So, in the interests of survival, they trained themselves to be agreeing machines instead of thinking machines. All their minds had to do was to discover what other people were thinking, and then they thought that, too."  - Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Perhaps we can get AI machines to fight our wars? "In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile - Isaac Asimov, Robot Visions. That's the Pollyanna view of things but the late lamented Asimov's homeland in a decade where education is not seen as an asset. He and Trump were both raised in New York City.

Possibly the meek will be content remaining indoors. One has to suspect that AI "Activities Directors," possibly cyborgs, will protect the integrity of the external world from malcontents . "The World's Fair audience tended to think of the machine as unqualifiedly good, strong, stupid and obedient. They thought of it as a giant slave, an untiring steel Negro, controlled by Reason in a world of infinite resources... Machines were the ideal metaphor for the central pornographic fantasy of the nineteenth century, rape followed by gratitude."  - Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New

Maggie Muggins is New Brunswick's version of P.E.I.'s Anne of Green Gables. Her radio and TV character always ended each episode by cheerily noting that "Nobody knows whats going to happen tomorrow." Short term, that might be best for people's mental health. Long term: "A powerful AI system tasked with ensuring your safety might imprison you at home. If you asked for happiness, it might hook you up to a life support and ceaselessly stimulate your brain's pleasure centers. If you don't provide the AI with a very big library of preferred behaviors or an ironclad means for it to deduce what behavior you prefer, you'll be stuck with whatever it comes up with. And since it's a highly complex system, you may never understand it well enough to make sure you've got it right." - James Barrat

DeepMind is being trained to converse with people. The question is what language  will it be programmed to speak and what biases. "The problem is, if the information trainers feed to these algorithms is unbalanced, the system will eventually adopt the covert and overt biases that those data sets contain." Will it talk in a measured rational way or employ some form of doublespeak to mask its intentions? Will it be able to think for itself and develop and independent personality, and will it come in peace? Will it doublespeak in a scientific or government manner? Both diversive language styles use unusual words to create  "alternate truths" whose meaning is cryptic in the minds of ordinary citizens. Stroglyocentrotus drobachenesis has meaning for marine biologists.

Writing for Ben Dickson has suggested that safeguards  "have to be put in place to prevent any single organization or company to skew the behavior of an ML algorithm in its favor by manipulating the data. This can be achieved by promoting transparency and openness in algorithmic datasets. Shared data repositories that are not owned by any single entity and can be vetted and audited by independent bodies can help move toward this goal."  Who wants this job? Illustration from Hitchhiker's Guide To The Universe. Dickson does ask, "Who’s to blame when a software or hardware malfunctions? Before AI, it was relatively easy to determine whether an incident was the result of the actions of a user, developer or manufacturer." Who will be the New Age lawmakers? In the future, your surgeon may be a robot!

Governmenteze doublespeak is probably not even understood by most politicians. It is a diversionary tactic
But "Automation has been eating away at manufacturing jobs for decades. Huge leaps in AI have accelerated this process dramatically and propagated it to other domains previously imagined to remain indefinitely in the monopoly of human intelligence." Trump will hate this idea, but Dickson suggests that "In the long run governments and corporations must consider initiatives such as Universal Basic Income (UBI), unconditional monthly or yearly payments to all citizens, as we slowly inch toward the day where all work will be carried out by robots." Rod has been thrice displaced from his workforce by technological happenings.

Of course it is not necessary for a politician to have a huge, complex vocabulary to be a winner. But again, our futurist predicts: "From driving trucks to writing news and performing accounting tasks, AI algorithms are threatening middle class jobs like never before. They might set their eyes on other areas as well, such as replacing doctors, lawyers or even the president." Having suffered under under wordy Postmodern Don, people may actually assent to that. You have to be pop culture savvy enough to know Moe in order to appreciate that left hand photo.

He gained fame for diversionary words. "The AI revolution will create plenty of new data science, machine learning, engineering and IT job positions to develop and maintain the systems and software that will be running those AI algorithms. But the problem is that, for the most part, the people who are losing their jobs don’t have the skill sets to fill the vacant posts, creating an expanding vacuum of tech talent and a growing deluge of unemployed — and disenchanted — population. Some tech leaders are even getting ready for the day the pitchforks come knocking at their doors." Getting ready? They are hunkering down.

"In order to prevent things from running out of control, the tech industry has a responsibility to help the society to adapt to the major shift that is overcoming the socio-economic landscape and smoothly transition toward a future where robots will be occupying more and more jobs." Unfortunately,
this particular elistist group is not usually well educated. They comprise the left-wing of the current right-wing problem.

"Teaching new tech skills to people who are losing or might lose their jobs to AI in the future can complement the efforts. In tandem, tech companies can employ rising trends such as cognitive computing and natural language generation and processing to help break down the complexity of tasks and lower the bar for entry into tech jobs, making them available to more people." However, some people are beyond the pale.

Oxymoron comes to mind. "Unless companies developing and using AI technology regulate their information collection and sharing practices and take necessary steps to anonymize and protect user data, they’ll end up causing harm than good to users. The use and availability of the technology must also be revised and regulated in a way to prevent or minimize ill use... The robots are coming. Let’s make sure they come in peace." That's what Rod calls overconfidence.

So what do we do, what's to be done on a do, do, dewey day?" Staying in a Facebook bed is a possibility, but traditional escapism is another. On can also choose to cry out in the wilderness; much more fun, but rarely an immediate agent for change.

This firm sells alphabets and icons, but they do suggest non-monetary diversions, some of which are mechanistic or avoidance reactions. Rod does not see "Take A Walk, Smile A Lot, Exude Nuttiness." He never visits galleries or museums, and that takes care of the danger of making comparisons. "Motivational Speeches?" That's for sophomores. "Been there done that!" "Finish What You Do" may be good advice.

And the rest of the world, yearning after simpler times spends a lot of filthy lucre going Steampunk, Deiselpunk, Vikingpunk or Medieval.  Bet you haven't known that Trump lives in the East Kingdom of the Society of Creative Anachronisms as do R&R. When you are an living anachronism joining any pack seems redundant.

Pictured above, the baron and baroness of the Nova Scotian portion of the realm, and this is understandable, if expensive fun.

Having had quite a few Revolutionary War ancestor, this group has more interest for Rod; but having slept on ground sheets in tents in real life, and eaten food taken from the land on a regular basis, this form of going back to the future cannot be a part of R&R's answer to the questions, "Where do we go from here?" The Hippocratic Oath includes the promise "to abstain from doing harm" (Greek: ἐπὶ δηλήσει δὲ καὶ ἀδικίῃ εἴρξειν) and that might be a good tenet for all of us to attempt to follow. Of course, the only way to completely avoid "collateral damage" in interacting with others including machines is retirement to a hermitage or solitary confinement. Not an option!

For a visually obsessive person immersion in the computer fantasy word seems a better option than texting, but it is so easy Rod rejects the idea as ephemeral in extremis.

Caricature, creating a picture, description, or imitation of a person or thing in which certain striking characteristics are exaggerated in order to create a comic or grotesque effect can be great fun, but Rod does not see a future of competing with other Photoshop mavens for attention. He has always preferred turning in mind eyes and had to the production of a real word product.

Rod has been a cartoonist in days long past and was taught lettering and pen and ink work at Mount Allison back in the dark ages when it was admitted that most graduates would probably find a niche as commercial illustrators, while the rest would probably be indigent. These illustrations intended for a book that never saw print still exist, but it has been a long time since then, and Rod is curious to see whether he might still be able to create this kind of product. That will probably be his starting point if the he can come to feel that he has a studio in rented apartment for a few months. A peripatetic packing and moving existence cannot continue for much longer.

Of course Rod won't be able to avoid creating some material for his Facebook page. "Trump Press Conference." Because the Chronicle Herald  is very antsy about copyright, he went back to the out-of-copyright Tenniel illustration and recreated the De Addler work, which is only effective if you are aware of all the literary and political connotations. Rod left the original text in place as it seemed appropriate.This small "a" art on line is not very rewarding for the creator since it suffers from a lack of critical feedback. While it is claimed that it is a function of the internet to communicate ideas, the interaction tends to be one-sided  with the artist showing his work to a few mute consumers. Infrequently there are encouraging comments.

Handwork is really tedious and expensive so cartoonists need to be quick or they are dead. Recycling is in vogue and stealing from dead artists is legal. Stealing images in or out of copyright is usually a matter of drag from the artist's page and drop into a collector's folder. With the whole world of visual arts exposed to stealing by the whole world, litigation in the interest of maintaining copyright) (outside the sphere of Hirst or Disney) is impossible.  Rod would like to have financial incentives for works that are largely original but the Age of Digital Reproduction make that an unlikely dream. In this century, it is certain that art will be unleashed on the world in ways the artists did not originally intend. This is a form of Anachronism in action. And fine artists? If one is not an action painter the payback is poverty