cubelight gfx

Art Out

Buy Stuff

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

CG History

The computer (I wish I knew who it was who originally said) is a stupid pencil with millions of colors. I'm rather late to the game in even appreciating the value of CG to filmmaking (that is, it took Jurassic Park to get my eyes clawed open).

After that, I was all about those awesome tools they used (I acquired one first in 1996; an Indigo R4000.) I still maintain and use a number of SGI machines: Octanes, an Indigo R3000, an Indy (which has an amazingly fast boot time), and an Indigo2. (All SGI IRIX machines are named after animals like Sarcosuchus_imperator, Paradoxides, Helicoprion, Carcharodon; the Macs in my employ must make do with names like Tsuburaya, Miyazaki, and Harryhausen.) Modern SGIs make use of conventional CPUs and are Linux, rather than IRIX-based, so I tend to pay far less attention to such things (and there is nothing more demotivating to the acquisition of new hardware like the feeling you're getting something that can be found in a common PeeCee). I now concentrate on the systems I have (one of the Octanes and my G4 PowerBook) in order to produce. I have a long way to go. But, CG has come a longer way, so I don't feel so bad.

Some good stuff (good == historical):
Pencil Test. Made entirely on (several) Mac II computers. (For some reason, I'm having trouble locating a similar project done entirely on the PeeCee. Anyone know of one?)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The I Hate Moving Post

Necessity is the mother of invention, but it's also the mother of moving. And this move has been a mother.

Yes, you were all set up for just that line.

But things are settling down. I hope to begin animation again next month, among other things...

Friday, May 9, 2008

Portrait of the Underpainting

I actually painted this a few weeks ago, but got all caught up in moving (also in progress).

Euparkeria goes in the middle.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Freelancing Again!

Just a quick note to let the universe know I'm open to commissions again. I can do portraits, in pencil or paint, or drawings of any subject matter you care to name. Reasonable rates, e-mail for details. Or post a comment below!

Some of my art may be viewed here, although I admit that's not representative of the work for hire I've generally done.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

If a cladogram falls in a forest and no one's there to hear it, does it still annoy a creationist?

In my last post, I pointed out that there were some things that are unknowable to science.

But since science is the best way to know anything (that can't be directly experienced), it might be useful for me to talk about why this is the case.

In cladistics, phylogenetic diagrams are displayed with taxa along one side in row, with their connecting branches (clado == branch) with their relationships revealed deeper in the diagram:

(A, B, C, D, and E can all be species or more inclusive groups.)

You'll notice, however, that no cladogram ever shows B evolving directly from A:

This diagram is completely invalid if A is supposed to be a specific organism (as opposed to a group not represented by a single organism). There is no way to show A is the direct ancestor of B or C for fossils.

If B and C appear both slightly derived from A, this really gives no insight as to which of the three is the true ancestor (assuming, of course, the true ancestor is present--it may not even be under consideration. All three may have had an ancestor which is unknown in the fossil record known at the time this cladogram was "generated").

Features are derived and lost all the time in organisms--recursions happen frequently in evolution, and often, even which organism is oldest offers little insight into the matter, since the entire extent of any given population is not something that is preserved in the fossil record (from beginning to end--or good enough to qualify for knowing the temporal occupation of a given species).

More to the point, a cladogram is a hypothesis--a testable statement of organisms' relationships. Producing a cladogram that suggests a true ancestor has no value because it is unfalsifiable. (Maybe it's true, but how can you evaluate if it is or not?)

The problem can be illustrated pretty well (I think) by this analogy:

Say I have two boxes. And I have two different pieces of paper which go into each into a box. So I cart the lot to the darkroom and--blindfolded, yet--put one piece of paper into a box, and the other into the other.

Outside the darkroom, I'm confronted with not knowing which piece of paper went into which box first.

And there really is no way to determine which box got its paper earlier thant the other. The event happened. And it happened without an observer being present. And there is just no way to know which got what earlier than the other. And that is what unknowable means.

Now, is this conundrum of who speciates what really a problem? Not really. Not being able to talk about ancestry at this level of detail isn't a problem, because inductively it is known that parents have children, and children also become parents, and this is true for populations like species as well.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Defense of the Intangible

At times like these, I wish I were a better writer, it might help get those ideas-which-are-clear-to-me-anyway get out there. (Edit: man, especially when my friend Tony reminds me that judging evil requires knowing intent. Which is really less than possible regarding those wacky, unknowable entities. Really, it is like two imaginary archetypes battling it out for imaginary supremacy. And mine isn't better than the other because...?)

Like: you can't use science to examine the unknowable (which god by all accounts is). It seems so obvious, axiomatic even, but I sense a tremendous amount of resistance to it (up to and including not being able to grasp the point, no matter how many different ways I state it).

But if someone does know a way how to directly examine the unknowable, I'd love to know how specific ancestor taxa could be deduced. (But I'm not terribly hopeful on that point.) I'd be vastly more interested in that than learning for sure whether there's a god or not.

Hey. I have priorities.