Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Art & Politics’ Category

Iustitiae Languor/Justice Falls Down:
Indictment for Gaddafi but not (yet) for Assad makes one wonder and the symbol of Justitia as an impartial being came to mind and it made me  search in one of the emblemata databases for the word ‘justice’, this one popped up and though made in the 17th century it is still fitting four centuries later, where the geo-political situation in the world often gets out of control, like an unbridled horse.The emblem book (*) has the old German text on the facing page and it reads:

motto (de)
Gerechtigkeit gehet zu Grundt.
subscriptio (de)

GLeich wie ein wildes/ freches Pferdt
Stelt sich die Welt jetzundt auff Erdt/
Das wildt Pferdt leydet kein Gebiß/
Die welt die leydet kein Verdrieß/
Doch haßts vnd scheucht insonderheit/
Der Gesetz Recht vnd Gerechtigkeit.

A quick rendering of the somewhat obscure German – with an eye to the Latin – could read in English:

Like an untamed horse
The world puts itself on earth
A wild horse not bridled by a bit
A world not guided by remorse
But hating and dossing off especially
Law, righteousness and judiciary.

——–

(*) Proscenium vitæ humanæ siue Emblematvm Secvlarivm, Ivcvndissima, & artificiosissima varietate Vitæ Hvmanæ & seculi huius deprauati mores, ac studia peruersissima. Versibvs Latinis, Germanicis, Gallicis & Belgicis ita adumbrantium … (1627, Frankfurt)

Read Full Post »

A picture today in Aljazeera of the Green Square (1) in Tripoli struck me, it had a caption “People gather near a portrait of Gaddafi in Tripoli’s Green Square on Friday, before the explosions [Reuters]”. This news picture showed a huge street painting or print of Gaddafi and what seems to be a dwindling crowd around it. There is a fence around the picture that must be something like 50 by 250 meter in size. On the inside of the fence once sees guards posted at regular intervals. The picture shows Gaddafi in one of his hundreds of outfits, possibly the uniform of an air marshall  he wore when visiting the Italian president Berlusconi in June 2009. On the right side of his uniform jacket Gaddafi wears a gallery of medals and on the left the a photograph has been pinned on his uniform. The photograph shows the martyr of Libyan resistance Omar Mukhtar, the “Lion of the Desert”, on the day before he was hanged by his Italian colonial masters in 1931. A provocative statement for his host Berlusconi, who hugged  him nevertheless as he was about to make some big business deals with the Libyan leader.

The people around the fence at the Green Square in Tripoli in July 2011 look at the picture of this moment of theatrical revenge on the former colonial power, a picture that shows the leader completely, from his golden adorned cap to this shoes, with a saintly light blue glowing aura all around him. If one would not trust the strict editorial rules of Aljazeera and Reuter’s photo agency,  it could have been a photoshopped picture.

This made me think of the frontispiece of the book by Thomas HobbesLeviathan” published in the mid 17th century during the English Civil War, which describes the necessity of a sovereign authority to be accepted by all, to avoid ‘the state of nature’, everybody for themselves, a ‘war of all against all’ (Bellum omnium contra omnes).

For the sake of peace, the people, so did Hobbes argue,  had to make a social contract with an absolute ruler, best in the form of a king. The ruler in 1651 is depicted as an embodiment of ‘the people’. There is a crowd that marches from a landscape into the body of the ruler. The ruler has a sword in one and a crosier s used by priests in the other hand, showing he is in command both of state and church.


The display of the picture of the ruler as if he was a landscape, one could walk in, at the Green Square in Tripoli, has a similar function: Gaddafi as embodiment of the Libyan nation. Only, the aerial photograph unveils that it is but a meagre crowd assembled around their leader. It expresses how the maximum leader has inflated himself disproportionally to the feelings of embodiment by ‘his people’. In mathematical terms one can even speak of an ‘inverse proportionality‘, the more his popularity shrinks, the bigger his pictures.

The 17th century theory of state of Hobbes can still be used today, to understand the prolonged rule of dictators. There is some form of common interest, expressed in a social contract, by the ruler and his subjects. (2) How such a two dimensional state of affairs – ruler and ruled – may become a more diverse structure where more people can participate in the affairs of state, is apparently not well understood. The attempts of outsiders – like the Western coalition forces under NATO command – to kill the ruler have failed until now. Aerial bombing, even under the title of a UN mandate to protect civilians from attacks by their own ruler, are counterproductive. To deliver the idea of democracy to a nation does not work, or at least it takes many generations to wear off the effect of long distance destruction perpetuated by outside forces in one’s own country. (3) Interventionist regime change – as we witness for a few months now – does do little to empower the common people. Meanwhile, the ranks of the opposition forces are more and more filled with former supporters of the Gaddafi regime that try not only to evade the eminent purges after Gaddafi’s downfall, but also are preparing to continue the old rule, hidden under new revolutionary slogans.

The inflated picture on the pavement of the square of revolution in Tripoli of  the dictatorial ruler Gaddafi, serves more than one purpose. It glorifies him and at the same time it shows him as an ancient non-heriditary king who knows his days are counted when he hears the song in the streets: “the king must die“. (4) The ruler as scapegoat to cleanse the history of a nation. The ‘effigy of Gaddafi’  may serve an extra purpose, as a painting to be trampled on by thousands of feet in a direct release of anger , thus avoiding or diminishing the acts of revenge that accompany any change of regime.

———–
(1)  Green Square named so after the Green Revolution coup d’état of Gaddafi in 1969 (Arabic: الساحة الخضراء‎ As Sāḥah āl Ḥaḍrā), also known as Martyrs’ Square (Arabic: Maidan Al Shohdaa‎); a downtown landmark at the bay in the city of Tripoli. Mainly constructed during Italian colonial times. Named Square of Independence during the short lived Libyan monarchy (1951-1969). On February 20th an anti-Gaddafi demonstration took place here, which was harshly suppressed. One source, a mortuary orderly from Tripoli who fled to Tunesia, later told the BBC that he saw hundreds of dead and wounded be brought into the hospital where he worked: “Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.”

(2)  This phenomenon is explained in another way one century earlier (1548) – and with more foresight – by Etienne de la Boétie in his “Discours de la servitude volontaire” (The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude). Boétie notes  that “…the best and most virtuous man would not remain so if he ruled alone…” See also the study of David Lewis Schaefer “Freedom over servitude: Montaigne, La Boétie, and On voluntary servitude”, page 40, partly available at GoogleBooks.

(3) Incendiary carpet bombing of Germany, Japan, Korea, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam, imprecise precision bombing of Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan…

(4) See the famous chapter of Frazer in his book the ‘Golden Bough’: “Kings killed at the end of a fixed term.”

Read Full Post »

When images could be searched with images. The idea has been there for a long time, some early big databases could do it a bit, like one designed by IBM of which QBIC (Query By Image Content) is an offspring. This used to be only for customers paying a high price and using dedicated big machines…

The official logo of TinEye company

Often people are not well aware of what they do while searching for images, but almost all image search engines on the net are ‘text based’. Now there is TinEye “reverse image search” and the idea of searching images with images, will  start to become common practice soon. I did a few tests and given the historic moment, a most obvious one is for Bin Laden. Google image search said it has 290.000.000 pictures for me.

Search results from Google on the basis of the text search string "Bin Laden"

I choose one of them – just the  top left one of the first page that came up – and ask TinEye to check its database for me, comparing my chosen image with whatever other images having the same elements.

‘The same elements’, therein lays the magic… as my example shows many variations just based on one picture, readily available on the internet for years. All kind of alterations are now available on-line, as so many people wanted to be rummy, funny, mean or otherwise about Bin Laden. In all 1340 variations turned up by using the TinEye web site. Many variations were only slight, others greatly deviating from the original.  This result comes from an algorithm that searches for a whole set of parameters on a dataset of 1.9532 billion images.

Search results on TinEye are stored only temporary and this was  the URL from which I took the examples in my further deliberations below:

http://www.tineye.com/search/9488fe41bea7711086575c12eb6b5b71320f3120/?page=2&sort=score&order=asc

We have here such a large data set that we can observe the effectivity of the comparing algorithm. I was impressed very much at first. Even to such an extend, that I wondered whether or not also a text element had been used, as some kind of ‘identifier’ or ‘delimiter’ in the automated search operation. To find out if that is so, some double checks are necessary. Feeding back to the system its own results, applying different names to images and other information around images on web pages used, could be part of such a method of control. I have not been able to do this yet, and when I think it up, other people must already have thought to do the same or have done it already. It will need an hour or so of searching. Until then, marvel and suspicion at the same time, which made me go on, a bit more in detail of my first test.

I found that the smartness of the visual robot system was – sad enough – contradicted by the interface it offered. It is a cumbersome table like text based result, ten at a time, whereby our possible visual associations are constantly hindered by the non-functional design of the TinEye Robot page. Even Google Images (not  a master of good visual design) has understood that there is the ‘agile eye’, and offers since a year or so, a tableau of images. Our eyes can swiftly purvey big sets of images, within milliseconds. Not in the straightjacket of the alphabetic sentence structures from top left to down right bottom, making a little jump from right end to left start at each line, but in a much more jumpy and associative way. To make my point I have selected 47 examples from the search result of Robot TinEye (10 web pages of the 134 on the TinEye site, with 10 images per page) and threw them together in one pane, one tableau.

Click this picture to see it at full size and test the theory of the jumpy agile eye...

While looking at  the first hundred results a second time, some doubt crept in whether what is offered here is solely the result of a visual search. I decided to venture a bit deeper in the 1340 examples TinEye had come up with and in the end I looked at all of them, which left me – because of the ‘ten at a time’ interface with a lame wrist of doing all the clicks. What a machine can not do without the help of a human, a human can do without a machine at ease and so I selected a few visual categories that seemed to me not congruent with what I expect automated visual comparison can do. Five main categories and let’s try to forget the level of stupidity of the metamorphoses of the portrait of Osama Bin Laden. The argument is about what an algorithm to compare images is able to do.

1) montaged faces of more or less known political figures on Bin Laden's portrait, starting with Obama variations; 2) some variations with a change of make-up and color; 3) camouflaged Obama's with the last one on the row a complete exception of image patterns see most of the other examples shown here; 4) Obama impersonations for fun among friends; 5) hair dress and head gear changes.

The most unlikely ones to be derived from image comparison solely are 3.3, 3.5 and something which is literally on the edge is picture 3.6, which looks like Obama and only at the right hand side the contour of Bin Laden remains visible vaguely.

When looking at the examples on row 4, one wonders why when all these clumsy impersonations do come up in a search action, why not thousands of bearded men in a white clad and a white turban are found also in such a search, that is run on 19532 billion image database?

Row 5 seems to be an easy job, as the beard and the face elements remain constant, though image 5.5 hides one of the eyes almost completely with the blue hat.

It all points in my observation of this moment in the direction of more than just visual search elements. This is of course absolutely fine and a very logic thing to do, it only differs from the explanation given by TinEye on its web site:

TinEye is the first image search engine on the web to use image identification technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks. [About page of  TinEye]

Many more questions remain, like if the face tracking software development of the last two decades is one of the elements used in the comparison techniques of TinEye, and if so, then we step from an academic technical discussion into a social one. The potential of automated face tracking of photographs posted on the internet with all kinds of other intentions than enabling whatever security and surveillance initiatives, can become problematic. The TinEye seems to be most popular now with persons and organizations selling pictures and wanting to trace misuse of what they claim to be ‘their copyright’ or ‘intellectual property’. Of course a certain amount of control can be useful, but we know that when it comes to copyright claims only the most powerful will be able to profit and ownership of images also can lead to undesirable forms of censorship and blockages of what is called ‘fair use’. Other application of the TinEye Robot  could even have far stretching consequences.

Now  we all know that any serious secret service is using such face-tracking tools already for many years, on any photographic material available to them. The question is when everybody will start using such tools and combine them with messaging in social networks this might create havoc, doing the opposite of what these networks claim to be for. Many more effects can be expected like the claim to authorship and fame and image searches that show that the same visual thing existed somewhere else before or after. Endless fights over who has been copying who in the digital land of copy cats. The big music industry already runs automated sound sequence comparisons on the tracks and songs that keep raining down from millions of creators and duplicators, trying to construct court cases to catch what they think are gees that will lay them golden eggs in the form of fines. We may praise ourselves lucky that such copyright claims can not be projected back through the centuries, because how many great composers would have had to appear in the courts called by the lawyers of the music industry and who will ever acknowledge the collective creativity of uncountable anonymous masses?

Back to our sweet looking TinEye image robot… I fed it this picture below, that I composed within 5 minutes from three sources, as I wanted to comment on Facebook about people dancing in front of the White House in Washington after the news of the killing of Bin Laden had been announced. Result zero said TinEye. Though anybody following the news would recognize a 1991 Palestine street dancing after 9/11 attack + the 9/11 attack itself + a picture from last week of people in front of the White House celebrating.

Diffused half transparencies are not yet within the competence of our lovely robot and for me that gave a feeling of relieve. As I am by now more fearing than admiring the capabilities of TinEye. Digital panopticism is not yet there, the human eye and human memory still reigns….

Tableau for my Facebook friends "I do not dance in the streets when I am horrified"

[this article will be extended in the coming weeks with my own and possibly your TinEye double check results]

Wednesday March 11 2011

Playing hide and seek with Tineye Robot

Could not refrain form playing a bit with the Tineye Robot and so we played ‘hide and seek’ with its own logo… it took three versions to have the robot effectively hiding behind the manipulated lettering of it’s own logo. Colour change and diffusing with a lense and grain filter did not alter the recognition of the word Tineye. Changing the wheel of the logo did not hide him from his own algorithm, but altering the angle  of his sensor ears and his arms + his facial expression by somewhat subtracting his chin, gave the desired effect. The robot is clearly visible to us, but not anymore gto its own software.

The result with the only the lettering recognised and the robot not seen by itself anymore. Click the image for full size view of this screen shot.

Read Full Post »

DUTCH REBUS: this morning I wanted to offer my friend, who is non-Dutch, a nice piece of 'farmer's cheese' I bought on the market for breakfast, so I asked her for fun in Dutch if she wanted some 'Boerenkaas'... which made her ask in surprise "burkas?"... the subtitle on the cheese shown in the picture = "De smaak van pure traditie" (the taste of pure tradition). It also made me think of the the side effect of the proposed mandatory full integration for everyone in the low countries and the imminent loss of the pleasures of 'creative misunderstanding.' Click image for full rebus-view.

Read Full Post »

klik plaat voor super grote printbare versie


Deze poster had ik al een tijdje geleden ontworpen en toont een achttal VVDers die diep ’embedded’ waren en zijn in onze economie. Het is opvallend hoe weinig – buiten de nooit van de buis weg te slane Wiegel – deze prominente VVDers (**) zich in de afgelopen verkiezingsmaand geprofileerd hebben. Van een in beschuldiging gesteld VVD lid van de Staten van Noord-Holland tot de twee toezichthouders op het bank- en geldverkeer onder wier bewind geldinstituten vielen en wankelden. Van terugtredende en op het nippertje opstappende commissarissen en bestuurders van de DSB bank van Scheringa tot het partijgeweten Wiegel die zich beschikbaar stelde voor louche beleggingsadvies-reclamespotjes. Als centrale figuur de beste-minister-van-financiën-ooit, die op nationaal niveau de actuele crisis gestalte heeft weten te geven en die nu als ‘nationaal geschenk’ een ‘nieuw realistisch’ schilderij – wellicht door ABN/AMRO uit de collectie Scheringa genaast – den volke aanbiedt. Voorts een lachende man op de achtergrond, bekend van het schilderij ‘de man met de gouden das‘, onlangs nog teruggetreden als voorzitter van mijn pensioenfonds. Ter rechterzijde van hem een ex-minister van Defensie en dierentuinbestuurder die laatstelijk zijn eigen straatje schoonveegde door een directeur van een woningbouwvereniging van corruptie te betichten in één van zijn bijrollen als woningbouwvereniging-bestuurder . Een voormalig kamerlid en minister die landelijk beroemdheid verkreeg als vinger-in-de-keel-steker in de tweede kamer, presenteert zich nu als neo-regent in zijn rode zetel waar vanuit hij de banken- en verzekeringssector onverwurmbaar in de gaten houdt. Buiten het zicht – onder zijn rode zetel – bleef een stapeltje recente onderzoeksrapporten waarin meerdere leden van dit groepsportret scherp en raak getekend worden, waardoor publiekmaking  – in verband met de op hand zijnde verkiezingen – als weinig opportuun beoordeeld werd.

Een artikel van Thomas von der Dunk in de Volkskrant op de dag na de verkiezingen stimuleerde mij deze prent die ‘en portefeuille’ was gebleven alsnog eruit te trekken (*). De prent is hier geplaatst in volledige hoge resolutie opdat deze als versiering en inspiratie aan de wand op de werkplek en andere doeltreffende plaatsen opgehangen kan worden, het liefst te drukken op de groepsprinter van een ieders school, werkplaats of kantoor.

P.S.

Het spijt me dat door al dat gedrang om de beste plaats op de voorgrond de letter ‘D’ van democratie wat in het gedrang is  geraakt, maar de ‘V’ van Volkspartij en de ‘V’ van Vrijheid zijn gelukkig goed zichtbaar gebleven. De inspiratiebron affiche is op groot formaat geheel gratis te downloaden bij de VVD.


=========
(*) Thomas von der Dunk: “Het [de VVD tj.] is niet zonder reden in intellectueel opzicht de meest nietszeggende van alle traditionele partijen in Nederland. Van enige analytische reflectie op de Val der Banken blijkt tot dusverre niets.

Het is – en Bert Koenders werd al in die zin vanochtend in de krant geciteerd – bizar dat deze partij, die als geen ander blind de neoliberale dogma’s heeft omhelst en feitelijk nog omhelst die de ons allen nu miljar den kostende kredietcrisis hebben veroorzaakt, vannacht de grootste geworden is. Dat is, alsof in 1990 na de Val van de Muur en het failliet van de sovjet-economie in Oosteuropa de communisti sche partij gezegevierd zou hebben.

Hebzucht

De crisis kwam van rechts, dankzij een ideologie die de ongebreidelde hebzucht aanprees, op basis van de misvatting dat als iedereen maar de ruimte krijgt zo goed mogelijk voor zichzelf te zorgen, wij allen daar wel bij varen.”

[Volkskrant 10 juni 2010]

(**) Voorbeeld en zijn o..m. “Robin Linschoten, Ed Nijpels, Gerrit Zalm en Frank de Grave allen VVD coryfeeën. Ook allen (ex) bestuurders van een van de meest besproken kredietbank de DSB. De VVD maakt geen goede sier met dit meer dan onbehoorlijke bestuur door deze leden. Hoe geloofwaardig is het VVD bestuur met dit voorbeeld van wanbeleid bij een kredietbank door haar eigen leden…

1 oktober 2009, door Auke Huisman”

[commentaar op de eigen VVD web site van (waarschijnlijk) een partijlid op de ‘Tegenbegroting van de VVD” gedateerd op 15 september 2009]

Read Full Post »


Troika oftewel ‘driespan’ op zijn Russisch is de term voor drie paarden in één tuig die een slee trekken en werd ook als politieke term gebruikt voor het driemanschap dat na de dood van dictator Josef Stalin de macht overnam (Georgy Malenkov, Lavrentiy Beria, and Vyacheslav Molotov) in 1953. Met het verwachtte uitspannen van het koersbepalende CDA trekpaard Balkenende, moet het span die de Nederlandse kar trekt opnieuw geformeerd worden. Dit drieluik geeft de waarschijnlijke combinatie van paardenkrachten aan die een nieuw driespan kunnen vormen. Of deze ‘inspanningen’ tot ‘vooruitgang’ zullen leiden? Dat zal van het ‘gareel’ afhangen en de voerman of vrouw die er de zweep overlegt. Zo te zien hebben de paarden liever elk voor zich een eigen kar om te trekken. Het woord Nederland heeft drie morfemen ‘Ne’, ‘der’,  ‘land’ die nu ieder een eigen kant dreigen uit te gaan. Komt er naast de dreiging van een territoriale tweedeling in België een sociale driedeling van Nederland en wat is die deling dan: illegaal; modaal; asociaal? Arm; gegoed; rijk? Uitgerangeerd; genivelleerd; gespeculeerd? Of zijn de scheurlijnen bij teveel maatschappelijke trekkracht ouderwets ideologisch van aard: socialist; moslimchrist; kapitalist? Want ‘links’, ‘midden’ en ‘rechts’ zijn nauwelijks meer betekenisvolle aanduidingen. Het ziet er naar uit dat er voortdurend ingespannen en uitgespannen gaat worden en de kunst van het paard achter de wagen spannen opnieuw aangeleerd moet worden. Misschien is het wel zo dat we eerder ‘achteruit’ dan ‘vooruit’ moeten.

Read Full Post »

Karadzic his court case at the tribunal in The Hague is progressing so slowly… and is interrupted all the time, sometimes for months … contrary to Saddam Hussein who was disposed in a hurry . Are we losing justice along the track?

A documented tableau I made for Saddam & Radovan in July 2008; click picture to see the webpage

Is there and advantage in the slow turning wheels of justice? Will the hurried verdict of Saddam Hussein who was captured in December 2003 – being in hiding for nine months – and executed exactly three years later in december 2006, leave more doubts than the process of  Radovan Karadzic who was arrested in July 2008 – after being at large for twelve years – and is now still tried by the court?

Quick justice may be satisfying but tends to leave doubts in the long run. Slow justice is often experienced  as an evasion of the trial process, but may provide the necessary opportunities for defence by the the person being indicted and thus leave less space for doubt in the end.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »