Quick reminder: Permyz has gone weekdaily, so look for new artwork Monday through Friday.

It is so tempting to do this comic entirely on computer. I’ve been doing computer illustration since the mid-1980s, so there’s little learning curve. I love control-z (undo) and the way the draw programs disguise my shaky hand. Why practice when the computer could always render a smoother line? (Norbert Weiner warned about exactly this sort of displacement of skill by computers in 1965.)

The problem is, when you work strictly on a computer, you must choose a format, and this ropes you into the whole game of corporate empire and planned obsolescence. I’ve spent thousands of hours developing animated, real-time media on all sorts of platforms, but can no longer view most of it. The formats fell by the wayside when the platforms evolved, or in a couple cases were bought out and retired for being too competitive.

No one seems to respect bits. It’s not a suitable medium for anyone seeking to build perma-anything. Not yet anyway.

My aunt Dora Crouch is an art historian. She tells me that when Pablo Picasso was contemplating how to leave an artistic legacy, he researched the durability of art media, then chose the two that have held up best across the millennia: paper and porcelain. (Why not metal? Because its recycle value is too high: desperate people have been looting and melting metals since the dawn of empire.)

I want to still be able to see my work in five, ten or twenty years. Since porcelain would be too bulky to store,  I’ll stick with paper and pen. And if my hand shakes, consider it a signature of the transition from a throw-away society to permaculture.


Posted on July 11, 2009 at 12:00 am in Blog. Follow responses to this post with the comments feed.