Friday, February 01, 2008

The Treachery of Images

Magritte's iconic Treachery of Images painting (seen above) is a sly, desruptive look at art and society seen through the eyes of an artist with a puckish sense of humor. "Magritte painted below the pipe: "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" (This is not a pipe), which seems a contradiction but is actually true. The painting is not a pipe, but rather an image of a pipe. As Magritte himself commented: "Just try to stuff it with tobacco! If I were to have had written on my picture 'This is a pipe' I would have been lying."

Magritte's ironic take on what art is and is not goes further with his Key of Dreams series where his titles continue to confound what the viewer sees and not what the painter intends. When seen in this light, art depicting reality can be looked at as a fraud in the best sense of the word because obviously the painting of the Mona Lisa can never be the Mona Lisa even though one unconsciously glosses over this self evident fact when looking at the work.

This concept of separation of fact from fiction occurs in almost every endeavor man does when it involves taking a "snapshot" of anything whether it be the filming of The Godfather or Shakespeare writing Hamlet. In improv dance, pottery and free jazz, there is no separation, the object in question is complete while in written music, the score denotes how the piece will be played but the performance transforms it into music. This disconnect also applies to science because researchers create experiments to take "controlled snapshots" of reality to see if there are underlying laws that explain how that particular aspect of reality works (Double Slit Experiment/Light, 1919 Eclipse/General Relativity. because to do otherwise becomes an exercise in religion or speculative conjecture.

When it comes to Quantum Computing, however, the ability to create reality is valid, The question now is, are we ready for it?

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