Eyes VIII discussion

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Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Use this thread to discuss Eyes That Do Not See VIII.

I'll probably be making a few changes to the set based on how things played in the Skype mirror to make a few questions a bit easier and fix a couple of artist signatures that I hadn't picked up before.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by a named reaction »

(You might have noticed this but) I'm not sure the last slide of Pergamon should be in power? It seemed like a lot of people were buzzing there in the Skype mirror, moreso than in the other power-throughout questions. It could just be because I don't know actually know anything about Pergamon, but the last slide (with the altar in full) seemed way easier than the penultimate one.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Xochicuicatl Cuecuechtli wrote:(You might have noticed this but) I'm not sure the last slide of Pergamon should be in power? It seemed like a lot of people were buzzing there in the Skype mirror, moreso than in the other power-throughout questions. It could just be because I don't know actually know anything about Pergamon, but the last slide (with the altar in full) seemed way easier than the penultimate one.
Thanks. Yeah, I had made a note to add another late clue or two and take that question out of power.

I also took a note to add Lucky Strike to the Stuart Davis tossup. Sometimes it's a bit tough to tell what's quizbowl famous about some of these artists who don't show up a ton. If you noticed any other examples of "why wasn't this in the question", especially on the harder answers, let me know.

I also want to take a look at the image resolution. I think PowerPoint extra-compressed some things which made some of the early clues sometimes harder to figures out than intended.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by UlyssesInvictus »

A bunch of the slides seemed "transparent." I note this is a pretty common useless complaint sometimes, but questions like "Heracles killing hydra," "Elizabeth," (and others, but I'm blanking right now without the slides in front of me) were less recognizing art styles, and more using common sense once you get those very early peeks (e.g. the Elizabeth is clearly a famous royal, and then you see what's likely a woman's body, and at that point it's whether or not you want to guess on which female royal from that period it is; oh, also the Kyoto one is probably not actually transparent since you could say there's plenty of Japanese art to pick from, but it seems fairly obvious it had to be either Tokyo or Kyoto the moment you saw Japanese architecture).

I mean, I guess this is a weird complaint to make about a visual tournament, since half the skill is in recognizing art styles rather than actual things you've seen before, but I hope I'm getting across that what I'm talking about is different.

(Also your R. Crumb tossup puts his Genesis illustration much too late in the tossup, it should go earlier IMO; you also use his signature art style fairly early, and I'm not sure if you ever show a RAW cover at any point.)
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

UlyssesInvictus wrote:A bunch of the slides seemed "transparent." I note this is a pretty common useless complaint sometimes, but questions like "Heracles killing hydra," "Elizabeth," (and others, but I'm blanking right now without the slides in front of me) were less recognizing art styles, and more using common sense once you get those very early peeks (e.g. the Elizabeth is clearly a famous royal, and then you see what's likely a woman's body, and at that point it's whether or not you want to guess on which female royal from that period it is; oh, also the Kyoto one is probably not actually transparent since you could say there's plenty of Japanese art to pick from, but it seems fairly obvious it had to be either Tokyo or Kyoto the moment you saw Japanese architecture).
I agree that there's going to inherently be a certain degree of transparency in some of these questions, where transparency is defined as being able to get the work without being intimately familiar with the actual work. In general I tried to make sure that clues that rewarded underlying knowledge came before the more "figure it out" type ones. Hercules and the Hydra is an example here--there were several things very distinctive to Antonio del Pollaiolo's style before you started seeing serpent heads and things like that.

Given that this tournament has so much space for visual arts, I don't necessarily try to fit every question into the test of "is this work important for its artistic merit". Some of the questions, such as Elizabeth I and 1989, are more focused on the "history" side of "art history".

All that being said, if there was very obvious stuff, please let me know so I can take another look.
UlyssesInvictus wrote:(Also your R. Crumb tossup puts his Genesis illustration much too late in the tossup, it should go earlier IMO; you also use his signature art style fairly early, and I'm not sure if you ever show a RAW cover at any point.)
I may end up cutting this one. I was having a hard time finding decent quality R. Crumb stuff that didn't look like everything that he did. He has a very distinctive style.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by west neg, new york »

I really enjoyed the set! Just a couple of small things that I thought might warrant a look at for future mirrors:

1. The tossup on works commissioned by Güell has a picture of some stones as the second or third picture in the tossup (before the butt bench) that IIRC literally say "Parc Güell" on them. It's stylized and also rotated ninety degrees, but the name is definitely legible.

2. I was kind of confused at the tossup that called the Barcelona Pavilion a "collection of works." I guess you wanted to include non-architectural parts of the complex like the chair and the statue, but maybe asking for a "building" and then having text laid over the picture of the chair saying "found here" or something like that would be more straightforward. IDK if that would make the tossup too easy/transparent, though.

Overall, though, the set was great; I felt that it had a good mix of canonical and new/interesting things. Will there be a dropbox or Google Docs link for us to peruse before the set is clear?
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Jem Casey »

This was a very fun set. To quote Cody's description of another Mike Bentley product, Eyes is always a "true quizbowl treasure."
Mike Bentley wrote:
UlyssesInvictus wrote:A bunch of the slides seemed "transparent." I note this is a pretty common useless complaint sometimes, but questions like "Heracles killing hydra," "Elizabeth," (and others, but I'm blanking right now without the slides in front of me) were less recognizing art styles, and more using common sense once you get those very early peeks (e.g. the Elizabeth is clearly a famous royal, and then you see what's likely a woman's body, and at that point it's whether or not you want to guess on which female royal from that period it is; oh, also the Kyoto one is probably not actually transparent since you could say there's plenty of Japanese art to pick from, but it seems fairly obvious it had to be either Tokyo or Kyoto the moment you saw Japanese architecture).
I agree that there's going to inherently be a certain degree of transparency in some of these questions, where transparency is defined as being able to get the work without being intimately familiar with the actual work. In general I tried to make sure that clues that rewarded underlying knowledge came before the more "figure it out" type ones. Hercules and the Hydra is an example here--there were several things very distinctive to Antonio del Pollaiolo's style before you started seeing serpent heads and things like that.
I'm sure the Hercules and the Hydra question, and other questions that came down to "figure-it-out" in the Skype mirror (such as, I think, "the Expulsion" and "the Sower") would successfully reward the knowledge of players familiar with those artworks or the artist's styles. However, I think the complaint here is that the number of players who have that knowledge is much fewer than the number of players who can figure out what's going on when they see, for example, a muscular arm gripping a snake neck, resulting in a noticeably sub-optimal buzz distribution. Obviously, not every question whose late clues might be called "transparent" has this issue--the Rest on the Flight to Egypt could probably be figured out near the end, but it clued several memorable details from paintings a good deal more famous than Pollaiolo's Hercules before that. Questions of the Hercules sort should, of course, not ruin anyone's tournament experience, especially when they're so few and far between. And overall, it seemed there were fewer in this set than in 2016's, though that might be a subjective impression; after all, I didn't have to watch Chris Ray will his way to points on questions like "The Good Samaritan" this year.

A few question-specific suggestions:
1. Adding Lucky Strike to the Davis tossup is a good idea, since that's the artwork of his most frequently discussed in art textbooks and the like. Similarly, Goncharova's Cyclist is pretty well known, and it wouldn't hurt to put that in the question on her.
2. The Fire in the Burgo tossup had an image of Raphael-esque figures fighting a fire a few slides in, followed by several less obvious images. It might be good to cut or reorder that clue.
3. iirc, the Van Dyck tossup had a sketch for a self portrait of the artist, sporting his trademark mustache and positioned similarly to Self-Portrait with a Sunflower, a ways too early in the question.
4. If the consensus is that the Elizabeth I tossup was "over" after the image of her arm and dress from the Ditchley Portrait, there may be ways to smooth the question's pyramid; for instance, people could certainly buzz on a closeup of the weird ear/eye dress pattern from the Rainbow portrait, but that alone wouldn't give anything away.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Ike »

Okay, so my issue with the tournament is that I just don't think it really worked on many tossups.

A small number of these (maybe five total?) were just not great tossup answers since they are so detail-lax. I'm thinking of the Girl with a Pearl Earring tossup, and if IIRC a tossup on van Gogh's self-portrait missing an ear. I don't understand why these just can't be on Vermeer or van Gogh using clues from other sources, especially since there isn't a whole lot of details in either painting. I would probably also put Parmagianino's Self-Portrait in a Convex Manner in this category too - though I think that one is more defensible -- all of these tossups ended up being massive buzzer races at our site.

A number of tossups I didn't think were that well constructed. The one which Andrew Wang almost beat me to was Napoleon at the Plague House at Jaffa by Gros. I've written a paper on that and studied under a professor who has written a whole book on Gros, but we buzzer raced because it went from two preparatory sketches that I don't certainly remember looking at, to the French flag in the background. This is a relatively minor nitpick in the grand scheme of things, but I felt it was representative of the problem of the "inflection point" of many tossups being too steep. Other examples include putting the Pope so early in The Fire in the Borgo tossup, or a bunch of incredibly hard Richard Serra works followed by his rusty-stuff right away.

To kind of roil over the Hydra tossup again, I think it was problematic for the reason that it required you to have super-fine grained knowledge of Pollaiolo. I actually recognized the first Pollaiolo picture given (the cape) as being Pollaiolo, but the problem is, I couldn't remember whether the answer was Antaeus or the Hydra. Part of the problem here is that you're asking players to have super-fine-grained knowledge of a painter who I don't think has ever been tossed-up. Even if the audience was a symposium of art historians, the tossup wouldn't have played well, since only the Renaissance art historians would recognize the early clues and remember to disambiguate which Pollaiolo Hercules painting it is. In fact, there were many tossups that just suffered from this issue in my opinion. The Lamentation by Giotto also comes to mind - it's very obviously Giotto due to the blue background on the first slide, and you threw in a single angel on the second slide. But you have to have such specific knowledge of the ways angels are posed to disambiguate the correct answer from a whole host of incorrect answers. To me, this tournament had the problem that many tournaments had with Renaissance art, it was written in such a way that was oblivious to the unique styles that you study if you were a Renaissance art historian, making it very neg-baity and frustrating to play as a whole.

To continue harping on Renaissance art, there were no to very few "meat and potato" answers. A lot of them were just too hard for the field - The Calumny of Apelles is a fine idea for a tossup, but only really in CO finals. I would probably not make the Aldobrandini Madonna a tossup anywhere. The latter is an awfully curious choice, since it's not a very detail-rich painting, but Raphael's color palette is immediately recognizable because there are so few details. Some of the answers were unnecessarily hard - why not just an answer on Leonardo Da Vinci that clues from other paintings by him instead of Leonardo Annunciations? I think this stood in contrast to the modern art distribution, where there were very solid, well-written, straightforward tossups on Alexander Calder, Alvar Aalto, Anish Kapoor, Benefits Supervising Sleeping, etc.: answers you can expect a wide distribution of knowledge, AND not require super-specialist knowledge that is necessary to disambiguate one incredibly small detail from another.

Hopefully most of this makes sense, if I had to say one thing I would like to change, I would just write more tossups on "Da Vinci' and try to remember what people know and how they know it. For example, I think Pollaiolo would have been a great tossup answer for the set - he's someone you can reasonably expect to have varying levels of "coarse-grained" knowledge. Again, I thank you for your volunteer work on the set, but truthfully, I wasn't having a good time -- I got one tossup in the area of art that I've read numerous books on, hence some of the acerbic content of my previous posts.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Thanks Ike for the detailed criticism. I'm sorry that you didn't find the set very enjoyable. Ultimately I would like to be producing a set that's both interesting to create and to play and there's more work I could do on the latter.

A few comments:
Ike wrote:A small number of these (maybe five total?) were just not great tossup answers since they are so detail-lax. I'm thinking of the Girl with a Pearl Earring tossup, and if IIRC a tossup on van Gogh's self-portrait missing an ear. I don't understand why these just can't be on Vermeer or van Gogh using clues from other sources, especially since there isn't a whole lot of details in either painting. I would probably also put Parmagianino's Self-Portrait in a Convex Manner in this category too - though I think that one is more defensible -- all of these tossups ended up being massive buzzer races at our site.
In retrospect I agree about Girl with a Pearl Earring. I think that the van Gogh and Parmagianino tossups did still work, but I agree that there wouldn't have been a lot lost (and likely a decent amount of gain) by making these on the artist instead.
Ike wrote:A number of tossups I didn't think were that well constructed. The one which Andrew Wang almost beat me to was Napoleon at the Plague House at Jaffa by Gros. I've written a paper on that and studied under a professor who has written a whole book on Gros, but we buzzer raced because it went from two preparatory sketches that I don't certainly remember looking at, to the French flag in the background. This is a relatively minor nitpick in the grand scheme of things, but I felt it was representative of the problem of the "inflection point" of many tossups being too steep. Other examples include putting the Pope so early in The Fire in the Borgo tossup, or a bunch of incredibly hard Richard Serra works followed by his rusty-stuff right away.
I think a number of these criticisms come down to differences in opinion on what is famous about a painting or not. For instance, I feel that the figures in the Gros painting are more recognizable than the flag, although in retrospect I should have switched that with the next clue with more of the architectural details from the background.

Serra is one of those relatively tricky artists in that many of his works are in one distinctive style. The tossup included a number of his sculptures which aren't in this style, as well as one image (the 5th) which is very much in the form that he operates in. It's possible that with some more work I could have found one or two more middle clues to reduce the cliff. That's something that I'll take into more consideration on tossups in this vein in the future.
Ike wrote:To kind of roil over the Hydra tossup again, I think it was problematic for the reason that it required you to have super-fine grained knowledge of Pollaiolo. I actually recognized the first Pollaiolo picture given (the cape) as being Pollaiolo, but the problem is, I couldn't remember whether the answer was Antaeus or the Hydra. Part of the problem here is that you're asking players to have super-fine-grained knowledge of a painter who I don't think has ever been tossed-up. Even if the audience was a symposium of art historians, the tossup wouldn't have played well, since only the Renaissance art historians would recognize the early clues and remember to disambiguate which Pollaiolo Hercules painting it is. In fact, there were many tossups that just suffered from this issue in my opinion. The Lamentation by Giotto also comes to mind - it's very obviously Giotto due to the blue background on the first slide, and you threw in a single angel on the second slide. But you have to have such specific knowledge of the ways angels are posed to disambiguate the correct answer from a whole host of incorrect answers. To me, this tournament had the problem that many tournaments had with Renaissance art, it was written in such a way that was oblivious to the unique styles that you study if you were a Renaissance art historian, making it very neg-baity and frustrating to play as a whole.
I agree that Hercules and the Hydra is a tough painting. I disagree with your statement that "Even if the audience was a symposium of art historians, the tossup wouldn't have played well, since only the Renaissance art historians would recognize the early clues and remember to disambiguate which Pollaiolo Hercules painting it". Pollaiolo has very few surviving paintings, especially non-portraits, making them all pretty distinctive.

In my experience, the Lamentation is the most frequently of the Arena Chapel paintings singled out in art history textbooks. I disagree that this question did not distinguish enough from Giotto's work and required super specialist knowledge. The first two clues are of the tree on the rock in the background and the figure in green with its back to the viewer. Both of these details are the things which add the 3D space to this painting which is one of the most important things about it.
Ike wrote:To continue harping on Renaissance art, there were no to very few "meat and potato" answers. A lot of them were just too hard for the field - The Calumny of Apelles is a fine idea for a tossup, but only really in CO finals. I would probably not make the Aldobrandini Madonna a tossup anywhere. The latter is an awfully curious choice, since it's not a very detail-rich painting, but Raphael's color palette is immediately recognizable because there are so few details. Some of the answers were unnecessarily hard - why not just an answer on Leonardo Da Vinci that clues from other paintings by him instead of Leonardo Annunciations? I think this stood in contrast to the modern art distribution, where there were very solid, well-written, straightforward tossups on Alexander Calder, Alvar Aalto, Anish Kapoor, Benefits Supervising Sleeping, etc.: answers you can expect a wide distribution of knowledge, AND not require super-specialist knowledge that is necessary to disambiguate one incredibly small detail from another.
I take the point about how the set would be more enjoyable with more standard answers. I try to balance each 10-slide round in terms of difficulty and each general class of questions (i.e. painting vs. sculpture vs. film), but I could do a better job planning ahead and making sure that, say, the Renaissance stuff isn't systematically harder than the modern stuff. I don't necessarily agree with all of the examples here--I'm not actually super convinced that the field had deep knowledge of what Aalto buildings actually look like or that Benefits Supervisor Sleeping is easier than something like Calumny of Appelles or The Annunciation. But yes, for future iterations of these I will take into more consideration the difficulty.
Ike wrote:For example, I think Pollaiolo would have been a great tossup answer for the set - he's someone you can reasonably expect to have varying levels of "coarse-grained" knowledge.
For what it's worth, I have already written such a tossup. I could have written a slightly different version of this tossup, though, and it's likely something I'll move more towards in the future.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Ike »

Thanks for bearing with me Mike. I'll respond to a bit:
I agree that Hercules and the Hydra is a tough painting. I disagree with your statement that "Even if the audience was a symposium of art historians, the tossup wouldn't have played well, since only the Renaissance art historians would recognize the early clues and remember to disambiguate which Pollaiolo Hercules painting it". Pollaiolo has very few surviving paintings, especially non-portraits, making them all pretty distinctive.
We did look at most if not all of Pollaiolo's painting in class, and I remember them in general. But the problem is I don't remember the individual details well enough to know one Hercules painting from the other. The problem here is what I'm calling the coarse-grained / fine-grained distinction: people just don't know enough about Pollaiolo's works to expect them to pick out a single one - that is people only have coarse-grained knowledge of Pollaiolo. This might stand in contrast to someone more canonical like Hieronymus Bosch; you can probably tossup The Hay Wain, and it'd be perfectly fine since QBers have looked at that painting inside and out and know his other paintings quite well - ie people have fine-grained knowledge of Bosch. No one at our site could name it was Pollaiolo, (I had to tell them). From what it looks like according to the discussion, no one else really knew either; if players present evidence that people know the minor details of his paintings, I'll retract this point, but I suspect that the TU required too much fine-grained knowledge from everyone who played.
In my experience, the Lamentation is the most frequently of the Arena Chapel paintings singled out in art history textbooks. I disagree that this question did not distinguish enough from Giotto's work and required super specialist knowledge. The first two clues are of the tree on the rock in the background and the figure in green with its back to the viewer. Both of these details are the things which add the 3D space to this painting which is one of the most important things about it.
I'm looking at Gardner and it does look like it's singled out, so you may certainly be right on that point. But I'm really not sure that other Giotto paintings lack those things. Again, this painting was gotten only at the giveaway in our room after my neg. This again seems to be a coarse-grained / fine-grained thing. Very few people know enough about Giotto's style / paintings to identify a specific Giotto painting without more context. I suspect that if this were a TU on Scrovegni or Giotto this would work much better.
I take the point about how the set would be more enjoyable with more standard answers. I try to balance each 10-slide round in terms of difficulty and each general class of questions (i.e. painting vs. sculpture vs. film), but I could do a better job planning ahead and making sure that, say, the Renaissance stuff isn't systematically harder than the modern stuff. I don't necessarily agree with all of the examples here--I'm not actually super convinced that the field had deep knowledge of what Aalto buildings actually look like or that Benefits Supervisor Sleeping is easier than something like Calumny of Appelles or The Annunciation. But yes, for future iterations of these I will take into more consideration the difficulty.
Aalto was first-clued in our room. And I think it's actually a good tossup - he's the type of answerline that you can expect people to reasonably to know a lot about. (the fact that someone first clued it suggests it was a really good tossup, since the leadins weren't overkill.) Benefits Supervisor Sleeping seems to be one of the most expensive paintings ever sold, and I really don't think it's that hard. But I'll be honest, no one at our site even knew what the heck I was talking about when I gave the answer to The Calumny of Apelles. It's a painting we discussed in class briefly, but not in super-detail.
For what it's worth, I have already written such a tossup. I could have written a slightly different version of this tossup, though, and it's likely something I'll move more towards in the future.
I really can't remember this TU. I assumed this was in 2010 or 2011. I guess I would say, I think very few of your audience remembers such things. I know I don't! I agree that redoing another TU on Pollaiolo isn't the greatest idea, but perhaps that's just more evidence to say in general it's okay to reuse some of the paintings that have been clued?
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by gyre and gimble »

Great set. I've been spilling a lot of ink in the Regionals discussion thread so I'll just chime in on a couple things:
  • The version of the Hercules-Hydra tossup I played mixed Pollaiuolo slides and with Gustave Moreau slides. I buzzed on the third, misremembered which Moreau it was, and negged. But honestly, if you're complaining that you can't buzz on the first Pollaiuolo, that's like complaining about not being able to buzz on a tossup of a novel you've read because there's a quote you don't recognize in the first line. If you're conflicted about which Pollaiuolo it is, use your knowledge about Moreau to narrow it down. I believe that's how these common link questions are supposed to be played. Also, the slide with someone grabbing a snake's neck is the third-to-last one. (My apologies if the question has been edited since your (Ike and Raynor) complaints!)

    The Calumny of Apelles was second-lined by Kelly Tourdot at CO Visual Arts. I think it's a Botticelli that plenty of people study. It's still damn hard, but it's not trivial and can certainly be in a set like this one.

    After I buzzed there, a bunch of people at our site complained that the Lamentation tossup dropped the tree too early. I think you're simply underestimating how well-known that particular scene from the Arena Chapel is, Ike.
A couple (small) criticisms:
  • There were a lot of tossups on artists based on portraiture (Copley, Romney, Lawrence, Kaufmann). There isn't a good way to gradate portraits' difficulty, because such a small proportion of them are notable. Moreover, it's really hard to distinguish between artists stylistically when all of the works shown are portraits. So these questions didn't play well.

    Also, I'd like to see the film resemble Will Nediger's visual set a bit more. This set's film tended to focus on black-and-white era stuff or fringe-art modern stuff, with Milos Forman and The Seventh Seal holding down the fort. But this is my personal preference that Eyes focus more strictly on fine art. If it's Mike's preference to expand the definition of fine art beyond what's traditional in quizbowl, then no problem.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Ike »

gyre and gimble wrote:Great set. I've been spilling a lot of ink in the Regionals discussion thread so I'll just chime in on a couple things:
  • The version of the Hercules-Hydra tossup I played mixed Pollaiuolo slides and with Gustave Moreau slides. I buzzed on the third, misremembered which Moreau it was, and negged. But honestly, if you're complaining that you can't buzz on the first Pollaiuolo, that's like complaining about not being able to buzz on a tossup of a novel you've read because there's a quote you don't recognize in the first line. If you're conflicted about which Pollaiuolo it is, use your knowledge about Moreau to narrow it down. I believe that's how these common link questions are supposed to be played. Also, the slide with someone grabbing a snake's neck is the third-to-last one. (My apologies if the question has been edited since your (Ike and Raynor) complaints!)

    The Calumny of Apelles was second-lined by Kelly Tourdot at CO Visual Arts. I think it's a Botticelli that plenty of people study. It's still damn hard, but it's not trivial and can certainly be in a set like this one.

    After I buzzed there, a bunch of people at our site complained that the Lamentation tossup dropped the tree too early. I think you're simply underestimating how well-known that particular scene from the Arena Chapel is, Ike.
I'm not at all familiar with the Moreau painting. I don't say that as an invalidation of your point about how to play tossups -- the Gioia argument about common links has been definitively chucked into the wastebin, and yes, I do use "other clues" - you can read all about it in that one post I made in that microhistory thread*. But that doesn't really invalidate my point at all, which is, in general - consider how "fine-grained" someone's knowledge is when selecting clues. And yeah...if you're quoting a novel as a leadin, you *might* be writing a bad tossup: clueing a quote from Orwell's 1984 as a leadin is probably fine for a set; clueing a quote from Henry Greene's ~Loving~ probably is not, even for CO Lit; given who Pollaiuolo is, I'd suggest this was more Greene than Orwell.

I do think I suggest The Calumny of Apelles is a very hard but not bad answerline, which I will not say of the Aldobrandini Madonna TU. (This was the only answer in the set that I got from the Renaissance art era, and indeed we did study Botticelli's work extensively in class.) No one else at our site knew what this painting was; the fact that there were harder answers within the set that were part of the same subdistro is not ideal, at least according to my breakdown.

I assume that you Stephen weren't winning a buzzer race. Not accounting for the fact that the clue might be misplaced, I think it shows that others couldn't quite pin down which Giotto it is? For reference, after I negged this, 7 people at my site buzzed on the last slide just guessing names until someone got it. I don't deny the tree is important, etc. etc. but doesn't the angel scenario I discussed above, what happened at your site, what happened at my site, just suggest the tossup is too "1-0" as opposed to gradating? That's the argument I've been making; the set's Renaissance art wasn't cognizant of this at all.

And I don't mean to detract from Stephen's praise, but I think this set was just too hard / imbalanced. In a private commentary Rob** said the "probably the weakest iteration yet," I would be inclined to agree with the last part of the statement. I really can't tell how much better or worse it was than previous years than the last four, but I always thought the best iterations were II and III.

*it's beside the point, but I think you got pwnt to this TU
**Unlike me, inebriated Carson still greatly enjoyed the set, which speaks more about me and him than you, just to be clear. Perhaps it also suggests I should drink.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Auks Ran Ova »

To clarify, "weakest iteration yet" is intended to be relative--all of the Eyes sets have been a ton of fun and I've had a good time playing all of them. This set I think suffered the most from an excess of things like, to take a stylistic example, this: slide shows a zoomed-in detail, slide shows another zoomed-in detail, slide shows a slightly-less zoomed-in portion containing both of those details, so a lot of "clue space" is being spent on repetition. It feels a little like a normal question that keeps sort of rephrasing the same clue since there's not a huge amount of stuff about the answerline to talk about, and it's probably just an unavoidable consequence of dealing with this being the 8th of these tournaments (holy moly) and trying to find new stuff to ask about. Increased difficulty probably stems from the same issue.

Again, I still had a lot of fun with this one (and have never not enjoyed one of these sets, sober or not), so I don't think it was a disaster or anything. Mike certainly seems willing to take criticism equanimously and I think the next set will improve on whatever minor issues this one suffered from.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by gyre and gimble »

Ike wrote:I'm not at all familiar with the Moreau painting.
It's very cool.
Ike wrote:And yeah...if you're quoting a novel as a leadin, you *might* be writing a bad tossup: clueing a quote from Orwell's 1984 as a leadin is probably fine for a set; clueing a quote from Henry Greene's ~Loving~ probably is not, even for CO Lit; given who Pollaiuolo is, I'd suggest this was more Greene than Orwell.
Maybe novels are a bad analogy in general, and I'm sorry I started there. Let's try poetry. Poets have relatively short, easily-digestible works. Painters have easily-viewable, and thus easily-digestible works. Long poems, I suppose, could be likened to murals, and poetic cycles likened to painting series. I think the detail from the Pollaiuolo that Mike used is analogous to leading in with the fourth-most famous line from Frank O'Hara's "Lana Turner Has Collapsed" in a poetry tossup on actresses. That doesn't seem absurd to me.
Ike wrote:I do think I suggest The Calumny of Apelles is a very hard but not bad answerline, which I will not say of the Aldobrandini Madonna TU. (This was the only answer in the set that I got from the Renaissance art era, and indeed we did study Botticelli's work extensively in class.) No one else at our site knew what this painting was; the fact that there were harder answers within the set that were part of the same subdistro is not ideal, at least according to my breakdown.
I agree with you on Aldobrandini. The version we played was on the Aldobrandini family (not that this helped), with the last two slides on the Madonna. I pulled it at the end, but only because I knew it wasn't the Cowper, and Aldobrandini was the only other name I could think of for Raphael. It doesn't seem like an important painting (contra the Calumny) and it's hard to distinguish from similar ones to boot.
Ike wrote:I assume that you Stephen weren't winning a buzzer race. Not accounting for the fact that the clue might be misplaced, I think it shows that others couldn't quite pin down which Giotto it is? For reference, after I negged this, 7 people at my site buzzed on the last slide just guessing names until someone got it. I don't deny the tree is important, etc. etc. but doesn't the angel scenario I discussed above, what happened at your site, what happened at my site, just suggest the tossup is too "1-0" as opposed to gradating? That's the argument I've been making; the set's Renaissance art wasn't cognizant of this at all.
I misrepresented my buzz a bit. I sat on the first slide, and buzzed on the second. It was not a buzzer race, but others were sitting on it too, and waiting for further confirmation. But it wasn't because they couldn't figure out which Giotto it was, it was because they were surprised that the tree showed up so early. I think, though, that if the tree came after the angels, my thought process would have been "Slide 1: Okay, Arena Chapel; Slide 2: Yep, still Arena Chapel; Slide 3: that's the tree from the Lamentation scene, time to buzz!" I don't see this as a problem at all. Apparently neither of us knows the Arena Chapel well enough to distinguish the angels from each other (which is fine), but the angels still give us useful information that not all others will have (that the painting is by Giotto). Sometimes that's just the way a tossup goes.
Ike wrote:*it's beside the point, but I think you got pwnt to this TU
Hey, I wasn't the lit player on my team at that point, so you weren't really playing me on that tossup! All the respect to how you played that one, nevertheless.

I really appreciated that Mike found inspiration in the core art canon for this iteration of the set, as I found it lacking in last year's. Girl with a Pearl Earring, Hieronymus Bosch, Kindred Spirits, Bernini's David, etc. all made the set more conducive to being played strategically. Mike, I hope you keep doing this (though I do agree with Ike that repeats are not terrible). I also loved the questions on Stuart Davis (I should have payed more attention to his name when I went to the Whitney show this summer!), Currier and Ives, and N.C. Wyeth.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

A couple of comments:
Stephen wrote:The version of the Hercules-Hydra tossup I played mixed Pollaiuolo slides and with Gustave Moreau slides. I buzzed on the third, misremembered which Moreau it was, and negged. But honestly, if you're complaining that you can't buzz on the first Pollaiuolo, that's like complaining about not being able to buzz on a tossup of a novel you've read because there's a quote you don't recognize in the first line. If you're conflicted about which Pollaiuolo it is, use your knowledge about Moreau to narrow it down. I believe that's how these common link questions are supposed to be played. Also, the slide with someone grabbing a snake's neck is the third-to-last one. (My apologies if the question has been edited since your (Ike and Raynor) complaints!)
I did not change the question between the different iterations of the tournament.
Stephen wrote:There were a lot of tossups on artists based on portraiture (Copley, Romney, Lawrence, Kaufmann). There isn't a good way to gradate portraits' difficulty, because such a small proportion of them are notable. Moreover, it's really hard to distinguish between artists stylistically when all of the works shown are portraits. So these questions didn't play well.
I think this is a fair criticism. I try to have something of a plan in writing these sets, but I typically have not created an entire answer matrix ahead of time. As a result, sometimes similar ideas / styles cluster together so certain things (in this case, 18th century portraiture) tends to get over-represented. I'm not sure when I'll complete the next version of the set, but I'm trying this time to plan things more from the start to provide a greater balance to the set. We'll see how the results go.
Stephen wrote:Also, I'd like to see the film resemble Will Nediger's visual set a bit more. This set's film tended to focus on black-and-white era stuff or fringe-art modern stuff, with Milos Forman and The Seventh Seal holding down the fort. But this is my personal preference that Eyes focus more strictly on fine art. If it's Mike's preference to expand the definition of fine art beyond what's traditional in quizbowl, then no problem.
I try to balance "Art Film" (i.e. your Seventh Seal stuff) with a few more trashy answer lines (i.e. your Barry Levinson stuff). I don't see the film distribution changing all that much in the future, although it's admittedly the part of the visual arts canon I'm the least interested in.
Rob wrote:To clarify, "weakest iteration yet" is intended to be relative--all of the Eyes sets have been a ton of fun and I've had a good time playing all of them. This set I think suffered the most from an excess of things like, to take a stylistic example, this: slide shows a zoomed-in detail, slide shows another zoomed-in detail, slide shows a slightly-less zoomed-in portion containing both of those details, so a lot of "clue space" is being spent on repetition. It feels a little like a normal question that keeps sort of rephrasing the same clue since there's not a huge amount of stuff about the answerline to talk about, and it's probably just an unavoidable consequence of dealing with this being the 8th of these tournaments (holy moly) and trying to find new stuff to ask about. Increased difficulty probably stems from the same issue.
I'd be curious to hear specific examples of questions you thought suffered from this. My guess is it's some of the more deliberately easy ones I tried to put into the set (Girl with the Pearl Earing for instance). As mentioned previously, in retrospect this question didn't play super well and probably should have been on Vermeer instead. I'm less in love with the approach of varying things up in a question like this by finding some random painting also with this title and using it as an early clue--something I think I probably have done too much of in past sets.
Ike wrote:Not accounting for the fact that the clue might be misplaced, I think it shows that others couldn't quite pin down which Giotto it is? For reference, after I negged this, 7 people at my site buzzed on the last slide just guessing names until someone got it. I don't deny the tree is important, etc. etc. but doesn't the angel scenario I discussed above, what happened at your site, what happened at my site, just suggest the tossup is too "1-0" as opposed to gradating? That's the argument I've been making; the set's Renaissance art wasn't cognizant of this at all.
Looking back at the (Italian) Renaissance distribution, I'm not sure it's as out there as Ike is making it out to be. These are questions from that distribution, depending on where you want to draw the line between the Renaissance and later periods like Mannerism/Baroque. I've divided them into two difficulty buckets. I'm sure there's going to be some disagreement over what goes exactly into which bucket.

Regionals and below:
The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Boy Being Bitten by a Lizard
Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s David
The Lamentation of Christ
Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror
The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci
Penitent (some clues)

Nationals and above:
Giorgio Vasari (with an easy giveaway)
Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra (with an easy giveaway)
Perseus and Andromeda (some clues) (with an easy giveaway)
The Fire in the Borgo
Aldobrandini family
The Calumny of Apelles

I don't think that this is a crazy balance between easier stuff and harder stuff in this distribution. If starting over I'd maybe move 1 or 2 from the hard group to the easy group.

I agree that the Aldobandini tossup was much too hard and should have been cut. Calumny of Appelles is certainly hard, but not egregiously so when compared to some other harder answer lines in other parts of the distribution.

As discussed earlier, the Annunciation could have hypothetically had an easier answer line, but I contend it's still a very notable painting (out of maybe 10 that survive) by arguably the world's most famous artist prominently on display at a much visited gallery (the Uffizi). In the set I read to people that was comfortably gotten at the middle clues.

I can see the argument that some of the questions that aren't that difficult to answer at the giveaway end up having too steep of cliffs. As we've discussed, this was likely the case with the Hercules and the Hydra tossup for many of the sites. My intuition is that a lot of people got Vasari based on the picture of his book, but he's still a reasonably important artist and being able to name the title of the book is at least exhibiting some knowledge of the visual arts (although in general I tend not to try to drop a lot of titles into these questions because it turns too much into regular quizbowl).
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by gyre and gimble »

Mike, I'm curious: What sorts of conversion numbers do you expect when you write these sets? For individual questions, I'm sure the answer will necessarily vary depending on the difficulty of the chosen answerline, but I'm wondering what you would expect for the set as a whole.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Ike »

Regionals and below:
The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden
Rest on the Flight into Egypt
Boy Being Bitten by a Lizard
Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s David
The Lamentation of Christ
Self Portrait in a Convex Mirror
The Annunciation by Leonardo da Vinci
Penitent (some clues)

Nationals and above:
Giorgio Vasari (with an easy giveaway)
Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra (with an easy giveaway)
Perseus and Andromeda (some clues) (with an easy giveaway)
The Fire in the Borgo
Aldobrandini family
The Calumny of Apelles
Man, I really think this is hard, like too hard on the whole. I would almost certainly not be tossing up the ones I bolded for Regionals. And even the ones I didn't bold, would have to fall on the harder part of the difficulty end of the spectrum. Even looking at the answer doc, Aldobrandini and Calumny of Apelles are 3s -- they're not 4s? I suspect that this is where some of the complaints about difficulty are coming in, you're just writing this at one difficulty notch higher than I would, if you assume 1 = Fall, 2 = Regionals, 3 = Nats and 4 = CO. Also, I think this is really misleading: yes the answer of "The Expulsion" is easyish, but you've clued it entirely from one relatively obscure* Michelangelo painting. Why not clue the more famous Expulsions too -- I'm just saying, by not choosing to reuse clues, the difficulty of the set is higher than I think you're intending.

*Yes, I know it's in the Sistine Chapel, but you're missing my point here if we fight over this.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Perhaps the root of the disagreement here is the fundamentally different way that tossups work in regular quizbowl vs. in a visual format like this.

Yes, several of the ones that you bolded would likely be difficult as regular quizbowl tossups in a Regionals packet. Let's look at the Lamentation. I continue to disagree that this is an out there answerline given its coverage in art history classes. But even disregarding that, someone with a decent understanding of art history is equipped to answer this question. Giotto is a first tier artist with a very distinct style. The Lamentation is a scene is similarly an oft-painted scene that someone is likely to encounter.

This is the type of thing that can be put together as you're playing the question, even if you're not intimately familiar with the painting. Of course, someone who does have the familiarity is going to be buzzing before you. But in a regular quizbowl question your familiarity of Giotto's style and the visual motifs of a Lamentation isn't going to help as much.

All that being said, I think it is a fair criticism in general that I overshoot difficulties (not just in Eyes tournaments). In general I like to playtest to iron these things out, but that's difficult with a tournament of this nature. I also am more willing to let some hard stuff slip through in this particular tournament due to the relative quickness at which these questions are played and to reward players who are coming at the questions from somewhere besides packet studying (just to be clear, I'm not accusing anyone in particular of doing this--but I want to reward, say, the person who sees the Stuart Davis exhibit).

One other point on difficulty is that I think some of the perceived difference in difficulty comes from the changes in how this tournament has been played. The first couple of iterations were attached to the main sites of large open tournaments such as the Minnesota Open. Those first couple of years where there were 20+ top quizbowl players playing it along with standout visual arts specialists such as Doug Graebner likely contributed to a sense of the tournament being easier than it is these days when the fields are smaller. I don't think that the absolute difficulty of the tournament has changed all too much, especially since maybe the 3rd iteration.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Ike »

Mike Bentley wrote:Perhaps the root of the disagreement here is the fundamentally different way that tossups work in regular quizbowl vs. in a visual format like this.

Yes, several of the ones that you bolded would likely be difficult as regular quizbowl tossups in a Regionals packet. Let's look at the Lamentation. I continue to disagree that this is an out there answerline given its coverage in art history classes. But even disregarding that, someone with a decent understanding of art history is equipped to answer this question. Giotto is a first tier artist with a very distinct style. The Lamentation is a scene is similarly an oft-painted scene that someone is likely to encounter.

This is the type of thing that can be put together as you're playing the question, even if you're not intimately familiar with the painting.
Again, none of my post isn't about how Giotto doesn't have a distinct style. Indeed, I recognized it was Giotto very, very quickly. The problem is the tossup does very little to suggest "Giotto's style" as uniquely applied to the Lamentation. The angels--and many other--clues do nothing to help you other than "hmm, this is Giotto!" or "hmm, this is a Giotto painting with angels!" That's my problem with the way many of the older art questions are written in this set - it gestured you towards the artist, but rarely toward the painting. I guess what I'm saying is, if you're writing a tossup on Boy Bitten By a Lizard, if you're using the same argument, you should include clues that specifically gesture early on "This is Caravaggio's Boy Bitten By a Lizard" and not just "This is Caravaggio," especially if you really think that this is a Regionals level answer. Again, I stress this tournament did a good job of getting people to the artist - someone negged Calumny with Birth of Venus - admittedly they didn't know too much, but the style of the painting is very obviously Botticelli! Similarly, I recognized it was Raphael from the Aldobrandini Madonna very early on, and immediately recognized the style of The Expulsion as Michelangelo. But I would argue that you're not doing enough to get players to the answer beyond that. So my question to you is, if you're going to write on say Michelangelo's The Expulsion, why not just use relatively same clues and make it Michelangelo? Why not just write the Boy Bitten By a Lizard to be Caravaggio? Their style is distinctive enough so that even if you used no other clues in the end, it would be answered, and you wouldn't have the problem of "lololol, you put in a snake too early" and can reward people who know an artist's style?
Of course, someone who does have the familiarity is going to be buzzing before you. But in a regular quizbowl question your familiarity of Giotto's style and the visual motifs of a Lamentation isn't going to help as much.


Completely disagree with this assessment. I think a written quizbowl question does a much better job of conveying style and visual motifs since you can "select out the noise." Furthermore, it allows you to talk about the social context of art, religious significance, etc. That being said, this is a theoretical point, and doesn't have a whole lot of bearing on this argument, but I figured I'd just point that out.
to reward players who are coming at the questions from somewhere besides packet studying (just to be clear, I'm not accusing anyone in particular of doing this--but I want to reward, say, the person who sees the Stuart Davis exhibit).
Yeah here we go. The reason why I'm not complaining about this question, or really any non-Renaissance art question is because you're rewarding the kind of interaction with the artists that quizbowlers do: superficial analysis of Stuart Davis paintings! People can recognize a Stuart Davis painting, people can recognize a Shepard Fairey design, they can give the name of either. I suspect that many many fewer QBers can name individual Fairey or Davis works (aside from Obama); choosing a relatively single work by one of these artists and constructing half of a tossup around it is in my opinion a bad idea. The fact that no one, and I mean no one, has buzzed on the Pollaiolo painting should suggest to you that you're overestimating how well people know Pollaiolo. I'm saying I would have answered this tossup if it were on Hercules or Pollaiolo, but is it really unreasonable for me to complain that you're asking about the Hydra, given that his equally important Antaeus looks very similar?

I readily admit not every tossup has to be like this, but I would like to see tossups on Giotto's Lamentation be on the harder end of the spectrum. You talk about how people cover some of these artists in introductory art classes; that's great. But again, I would contend that most people can only recognize the distinct style of Giotto across his paintings, but not the distinct style of an indivdual painting. This is why written tossups are great, even if I write a tossup on say Giotto's Lamentation for Nationals, I can elide out all the non-specific stuff that is not unique to The Lamentation and just talk about how and why the painting is important.
One other point on difficulty is that I think some of the perceived difference in difficulty comes from the changes in how this tournament has been played. The first couple of iterations were attached to the main sites of large open tournaments such as the Minnesota Open. Those first couple of years where there were 20+ top quizbowl players playing it along with standout visual arts specialists such as Doug Graebner likely contributed to a sense of the tournament being easier than it is these days when the fields are smaller. I don't think that the absolute difficulty of the tournament has changed all too much, especially since maybe the 3rd iteration.
I went ahead and pulled the third iteration's Renaissance art answers and they are below. I maintain that the answers below are much superior to this iteration in terms of difficulty - like you actually have some ACF Fall and Regionals in here, but also none of the tossups require you to know whether or not a painting of Hercules by a relatively third tier artist features Antaeus or the Hydra. If I recognized something by say Giorgione visually...I could just buzz in and say "Giorgione!" Even the hard answers don't have this problem, we studied Nandi Di Banco and the Lorenzetti brothers in depth in class, and thankfully you wrote a tossup on their most famous work, but I assure you, if you common linked some other work by the Lorenzetti bros, I would recognize their style, but I wouldn't be able to get it. If you tossed up Nanni di Banco's individual anything besides his martyrs, I wouldn't get it. I'm just asking that you consider writing more straightforward tossups like these, especially since very few people are getting them on these off-the-rocker clues. In fact, I would maintain that for almost all of the non-Renaissance art you're writing it mostly the same way. Name the film, name the architect, name the designer. Name the pretty famous painting. etc. etc. etc.
2: Sacred and Profane Love [or Amor Sacro Amor Profano or Venus and the Bride]

17: Fra Angelico [or Guido di Pietro or Fra Giovanni da Fiesole or Fra Giovanni Angelico; prompt on Il Beato Angelico or Il Beato or Blessed One]

30: The Pieta [or The Pity]

38: Madonnas by Raphael Sanzio da Urbino [accept synonyms for Madonna like Virgin Mary; prompt on partial answer; prompt on things like “Paintings by Raphael” or “Altarpieces by Raphael”]

55: Nanni d’Antonio di Banco

61: Expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden

75: Pietro Perugino [or Pietro Vannucci]

79: Giorgione [or Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco]

97: The Allegory of Good and Bad Government [or Allegory of Good Government, Allegory of Bad Government, Effects of Bad Government in the City, Effects of Good Government in the City and Effects of Good Government in the Country]
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by gyre and gimble »

Ike wrote:Again, none of my post isn't about how Giotto doesn't have a distinct style. Indeed, I recognized it was Giotto very, very quickly. The problem is the tossup does very little to suggest "Giotto's style" as uniquely applied to the Lamentation. The angels--and many other--clues do nothing to help you other than "hmm, this is Giotto!" or "hmm, this is a Giotto painting with angels!" That's my problem with the way many of the older art questions are written in this set - it gestured you towards the artist, but rarely toward the painting. I guess what I'm saying is, if you're writing a tossup on Boy Bitten By a Lizard, if you're using the same argument, you should include clues that specifically gesture early on "This is Caravaggio's Boy Bitten By a Lizard" and not just "This is Caravaggio," especially if you really think that this is a Regionals level answer. Again, I stress this tournament did a good job of getting people to the artist - someone negged Calumny with Birth of Venus - admittedly they didn't know too much, but the style of the painting is very obviously Botticelli! Similarly, I recognized it was Raphael from the Aldobrandini Madonna very early on, and immediately recognized the style of The Expulsion as Michelangelo. But I would argue that you're not doing enough to get players to the answer beyond that. So my question to you is, if you're going to write on say Michelangelo's The Expulsion, why not just use relatively same clues and make it Michelangelo? Why not just write the Boy Bitten By a Lizard to be Caravaggio? Their style is distinctive enough so that even if you used no other clues in the end, it would be answered, and you wouldn't have the problem of "lololol, you put in a snake too early" and can reward people who know an artist's style?
Ike, I think you're being unreasonable. Someone who has studied the Lamentation more than you have will be able to see the angels (and most certainly the tree) and buzz. But on those slides, your knowledge (granted, still considerable) only informed you that it was Giotto. That means you don't know Giotto well enough to buzz there! What on earth is the problem with this? I think you're confusing "details that I, Ike Jose, can't place" with "details that nobody can place."

Also, the Calumny tossup was I think almost unimpeachable, once you accept that a tossup with that answerline is fine. It started with a gold-relief panel that fills the painting's architectural space, then went to the niche statues, then went to increasingly clear images of the main figures, before showing you the whole painting. I don't see how you could write a much better tossup.

I negged the Expulsion question with the Creation of Eve, because I recognized that it was from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But unlike you, I blamed this on myself, for guessing too early without enough knowledge. Why can't you accept the same? I don't think you're claiming that you've spent long hours looking at Michelangelo's Expulsion, so why do you feel entitled to buzz early? Turning that into a tossup on Michelangelo, or the Calumny tossup into one on Botticelli, completely changes the nature of the knowledge Mike is trying to test. Mike doesn't want to reward whoever negged Calumny with Birth of Venus. He wants to reward the person who actually knows the Calumny.

Also, I'm not sure what you mean by "very early on" for Aldobrandini. That question had no Madonna clues until the last four slides, so I don't think you were sitting on "which Raphael is it?" for very long.

And, for the record, Leonardo's Annunciation was also fine. I'm rather shocked that you figured out that it was Leonardo but couldn't figure out that it was an Annunciation scene, as the Annunciation aspect of it was rather obvious (or should have been to someone with your level of Renaissance knowledge) by slide 5.

All of which is to say, art knowledge is not just knowing artists' styles. It's also knowing specific things about specific works. What you're requesting is that Mike only work to reward the former, because you find the latter too hard. That's sort of your fault, not Mike's.*
Ike wrote:
Of course, someone who does have the familiarity is going to be buzzing before you. But in a regular quizbowl question your familiarity of Giotto's style and the visual motifs of a Lamentation isn't going to help as much.
Completely disagree with this assessment. I think a written quizbowl question does a much better job of conveying style and visual motifs since you can "select out the noise." Furthermore, it allows you to talk about the social context of art, religious significance, etc. That being said, this is a theoretical point, and doesn't have a whole lot of bearing on this argument, but I figured I'd just point that out.
I agree with Mike. It's 1000% (maybe more?) easier to recognize styles and motifs from the visual slides than from written questions. Saying written questions are better because they "select out the noise" is absurd. There are fewer than 10 (maybe fewer than 5) writers in quizbowl who can properly filter out noise, and even then, it's fairly subjective what "noise" to filter out. Some things are signal to some people, and noise to others. With the visual slides, every player can perform the filtration themselves, according to their subjective criteria. I'm surprised that someone who's seen and engaged with art as much as you, Ike, fails to see this. On social context, religious significance, etc., I agree, but obviously that's not something Mike can do with Eyes so I find that irrelevant to this discussion.
Ike wrote:The fact that no one, and I mean no one, has buzzed on the Pollaiolo painting should suggest to you that you're overestimating how well people know Pollaiolo. I'm saying I would have answered this tossup if it were on Hercules or Pollaiolo, but is it really unreasonable for me to complain that you're asking about the Hydra, given that his equally important Antaeus looks very similar?
Uh, didn't, like, everyone buzz on the Pollaiuolo? That was most of the tossup.

*Look, I think a complaint about difficulty is perfectly reasonable. If lots of these questions went dead, then maybe Mike should make the next set easier. But you're trying to find structural issues that don't exist, in order to back up your claim that the questions were too difficult. The way to make them easier is not by changing individual-work tossups into artists, because that rewards a completely different kind of knowledge. Instead, choosing easier individual works is the right call. As far as I can tell, this is not your overall argument?

Final Note: Ike, I think your frustration with Mike's style is due in part to your expectation that it reward knowledge in the same way that regular quizbowl does. But I think Eyes is fundamentally different. Part of what I really enjoy about Eyes is that I have to piece clues together until I'm confident enough to buzz. The set encourages you to "figure things out" in a way that's based on real knowledge. In this sense, a question that to you might appear "1-0" is to me not "1-0" at all. Even though I might need one particular slide to confirm that my hunch is correct, that hunch has been building up over the previous slides, and my confidence to buzz on the decisive slide depends on how much I've figured out up until that point.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Ike »

Hopefully this conversation is still dialectical. At the very least it should be more fun than dealing with the Vienna Circlejerk in the other forum. And to that end, I removed individual comments that don't add to the point I was trying to make.
Ike, I think you're being unreasonable. Someone who has studied the Lamentation more than you have will be able to see the angels (and most certainly the tree) and buzz. But on those slides, your knowledge (granted, still considerable) only informed you that it was Giotto. That means you don't know Giotto well enough to buzz there! What on earth is the problem with this? I think you're confusing "details that I, Ike Jose, can't place" with "details that nobody can place."
The problem is that every tossup was like this. At my site, no one knew anything after I negged. If there were a large number of players demonstrating more knowledge than me, I would retract my criticism. But you're demonstrating more knowledge, so I will readily concede you should be answering this tossup before I do; my contention is that the rest of the tossup does not do a great job to point you toward the Lamentation.
I negged the Expulsion question with the Creation of Eve, because I recognized that it was from the Sistine Chapel ceiling. But unlike you, I blamed this on myself, for guessing too early without enough knowledge. Why can't you accept the same? I don't think you're claiming that you've spent long hours looking at Michelangelo's Expulsion, so why do you feel entitled to buzz early? Turning that into a tossup on Michelangelo, or the Calumny tossup into one on Botticelli, completely changes the nature of the knowledge Mike is trying to test. Mike doesn't want to reward whoever negged Calumny with Birth of Venus. He wants to reward the person who actually knows the Calumny.
Because every tossup in Renaissance art was crazy deep like this! Who has deep knowledge of Michelangelo's Expulsion that it warrants an "ACF-level Regionals" tossup on it? Who has such deep knowledge of Boy Bitten with a Lizard that it warrants an "ACF-level Regionals" tossup on it? Didn't you Stephen just edit Regionals? I suspect if you constructed a tossup like this for Regionals, you would be skewered. And Mike did test that nature of knowledge in other categories! In non-Renaissance art areas you just had to know simple things about artists, ie Mike just wants to reward people who have seen Aalto and not his specific buildings. Why can't he make the Renaissance art the same way? There were no "easy" answers like there were in the earlier Eyes, such as 3, and that's why this set really pissed me off! It was not fair across all categories!
All of which is to say, art knowledge is not just knowing artists' styles. It's also knowing specific things about specific works. What you're requesting is that Mike only work to reward the former, because you find the latter too hard. That's sort of your fault, not Mike's.*
No, this is not what I'm trying to say. To take a step back: Eyes I, II, III, and IV, did not have this issue, I don't think Eyes V had it either, but will refrain from commenting since I haven't gone through it. This suggests to me that Mike knows how to write straightforward, difficulty appropriate questions that reward knowledge. I just chalked Eyes VIII's use of hard answers up due to the inability to reuse and Mike trying to get creative with all of his answers. I've tried showing why it really doesn't work. The suggestion I made was merely a compromise solution so that if Mike didn't want to recycle clues, he could still write genuinely easy tossups. I of course think that writing straightforward tossups on answers that gradate well is better, but you know what? I wouldn't mind seeing that same TU on The Expulsion be on Michelangelo as an experiment where the point of the tossup is "here's a painting you probably don't know, we'll put some early clues so you can buzz in if you recognize it, but otherwise can you identify the artist based on style?" I had to do that for many art classes, hence why I suggest it, but do not intend to say all tossups should be like this (sorry if it came across as that way).
*Look, I think a complaint about difficulty is perfectly reasonable. If lots of these questions went dead, then maybe Mike should make the next set easier. But you're trying to find structural issues that don't exist, in order to back up your claim that the questions were too difficult.
My complaint is a lot about difficulty just to be clear. Mike suggested that more than half of the answers are "ACF Regionals and below," I think that's wrong. If Michelangelo's Expulsion were a 3 or 4, I honestly probably wouldn't complain if the rest of the set was actually difficulty appropriate. But in my mind, Michelangelo's Expulsion is not a 1 or 2 if you count the clues. This is where the structural argument comes into play, by making the claim that the set is difficulty appropriate on its answers alone (which I disagree with,) I contend you have a poorly structured stack of tossups. Writing a tossup on Expulsions that use Masaccio is much more difficulty appropriate so that it doesn't turn into a "who recognizes the snake first," which was what happened in our rooms despite no one but me knowing it was Michelangelo. Not to be a poor sport here, but come on, points are going to people for recognizing BS! You have to have a ridiculous amount of knowledge to buzz early on Michelangelo's ~Expulsion~ and then it just goes to effective non-Renaissance art clues (what scene would have a snake in it?). These are not ACF Regionals or Nationals level structured tossups!
Instead, choosing easier individual works is the right call. As far as I can tell, this is not your overall argument?
No. It's choosing works that actually gradate knowledge. All of the answers I chose from Eyes III really gradate, the ones in Eyes VIII did not even come close to gradating. This may seem rather arbitrary to people not in the know, but even a very hard answer like Nanni Di Banco is great to ask about since they study him for extended periods of time in class! People really don't spent an appreciable amount of time on Michelangelo's Expulsion. Again, this may seem arbitrary, but I will repeat myself, Eyes I, II, III and IV were very aware of this. Stephen you've written a good visual arts set before, I don't understand how you can't see what I'm getting at, even if you think I'm not being 100% articulate about it.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by gyre and gimble »

Ike wrote:
*Look, I think a complaint about difficulty is perfectly reasonable. If lots of these questions went dead, then maybe Mike should make the next set easier. But you're trying to find structural issues that don't exist, in order to back up your claim that the questions were too difficult.
My complaint is a lot about difficulty just to be clear. Mike suggested that more than half of the answers are "ACF Regionals and below," I think that's wrong. If Michelangelo's Expulsion were a 3 or 4, I honestly probably wouldn't complain if the rest of the set was actually difficulty appropriate. But in my mind, Michelangelo's Expulsion is not a 1 or 2 if you count the clues. This is where the structural argument comes into play, by making the claim that the set is difficulty appropriate on its answers alone (which I disagree with,) I contend you have a poorly structured stack of tossups. Writing a tossup on Expulsions that use Masaccio is much more difficulty appropriate so that it doesn't turn into a "who recognizes the snake first," which was what happened in our rooms despite no one but me knowing it was Michelangelo. Not to be a poor sport here, but come on, points are going to people for recognizing BS! You have to have a ridiculous amount of knowledge to buzz early on Michelangelo's ~Expulsion~ and then it just goes to non-Renaissance art clues. If these are ACF Regionals level, which is not commensurate with the amount of knowledge you needed for previous Eyes tournaments or even other categories in the same tournament.
Thanks for narrowing the discussion down to the principal points. I think I'm understanding you better now. Assuming I am, I think this debate is essentially about two questions:
1. How hard was Eyes this year?* I don't think this year's Eyes was too hard. You do. Mike is probably somewhere in between. I'm guessing we all think it was harder than Eyes II and III (and obviously Eyes I, which was an easy pilot tournament). Which leads me to:
2. How hard should Eyes be? This calls back to my earlier question, which I think got overlooked in the chaos, of what Mike would like to see in terms of conversion numbers. If Mike simply wants to clue the Pollaiuolo to see if anyone knows it, and is okay if the answer is "no," I think that's fine. It's his set, which as a whole will still be fun to play.

*It seems like you're specifically arguing that the Renaissance at Eyes was difficult, but I think your basis for saying this is not that the questions were too hard for you, but that they were too hard the rest of the field after you negged things. (I'm assuming that if you hadn't negged, you would have gotten the questions before the giveaway.) I can only conclude from this that your site, despite having plenty of great visual arts players, did not have many good Renaissance players (as evidenced by how Lamentation or Calumny played at your site). Our field, which I think was less star-studded, had more Renaissance-knowledgeable players so those questions played better. That doesn't mean that these questions were unreasonably hard. It only means that the knowledge within our respective fields were skewed differently.
Last edited by gyre and gimble on Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by gyre and gimble »

Ike wrote:Stephen you've written a good visual arts set before, I don't understand how you can't see what I'm getting at, even if you think I'm not being 100% articulate about it.
Sorry about the double post, but I wanted to respond to this separately. (Well, "respond" is the wrong word. I'm just using your statement as a jumping-off point.)

We should abandon the notion that the difficulty meter we use for written questions should match up with visual questions. If you wrote a question on Leonardo's Annunciation for Nationals, I would have a very hard time pulling it until the very end. I suspect many others would as well. A large part of this is that the descriptions of the painting are not things that my cognitive map has been programmed to locate very quickly, given that it is not part of the regular Nationals canon. This suggests to me that the painting does not lend itself well to being the answerline for a written tossup. But when visually presented, the painting's distinctive qualities are much more readily apparent. We skip over the incredibly cumbersome and unpredictable steps of 1) having to translate visuals into words, and 2) having to translate words back into visual memories at game speed. As a result, my cognitive map can access my knowledge of the painting much faster and more reliably.

My suspicion is that Mike had this difference in mind when he categorized something like Boy Bitten by a Lizard as Regionals-level. The painting frequently comes up as a clue in the regular difficulty canon, so people who study at the regular difficulty level are likely to have seen it a few times. The point is not that it would be appropriate to toss the painting itself up at Regionals. It's that a seasoned regular-difficulty player should be able to answer the visual form of the question, given the advantages of having it presented visually.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by naan/steak-holding toll »

gyre and gimble wrote:
Ike wrote:Stephen you've written a good visual arts set before, I don't understand how you can't see what I'm getting at, even if you think I'm not being 100% articulate about it.
Sorry about the double post, but I wanted to respond to this separately. (Well, "respond" is the wrong word. I'm just using your statement as a jumping-off point.)

We should abandon the notion that the difficulty meter we use for written questions should match up with visual questions. If you wrote a question on Leonardo's Annunciation for Nationals, I would have a very hard time pulling it until the very end. I suspect many others would as well. A large part of this is that the descriptions of the painting are not things that my cognitive map has been programmed to locate very quickly, given that it is not part of the regular Nationals canon. This suggests to me that the painting does not lend itself well to being the answerline for a written tossup. But when visually presented, the painting's distinctive qualities are much more readily apparent. We skip over the incredibly cumbersome and unpredictable steps of 1) having to translate visuals into words, and 2) having to translate words back into visual memories at game speed. As a result, my cognitive map can access my knowledge of the painting much faster and more reliably.
My Random Renaissance Art Packet wrote:In the background of this painting, two trees at center frame a scene of a harbor flanked by several unrealistic gray mountains. The right arm of the woman on this painting’s right, who is in three-quarter profile, was painted excessively long in order to show that woman’s fingers leafing through a book. X-ray studies of this painting reveal that the background and (*) angel of this painting were left unfinished to be completed by a second artist. The grey sarcophagus at this painting’s center, which was copied from a tomb completed by Andrea del Verrocchio, is faced by Gabriel. For 10 points, name this collaboration between Verrocchio and Leonardo which shows Mary being informed that she will bear Jesus.
ANSWER: The Annunciation
This tossup could probably be done a lot better, but it's certainly doable. Not at anything below Nationals difficulty, though, for sure!
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by gyre and gimble »

Periplus of the Erythraean Sea wrote:
My Random Renaissance Art Packet wrote:In the background of this painting, two trees at center frame a scene of a harbor flanked by several unrealistic gray mountains. The right arm of the woman on this painting’s right, who is in three-quarter profile, was painted excessively long in order to show that woman’s fingers leafing through a book. X-ray studies of this painting reveal that the background and (*) angel of this painting were left unfinished to be completed by a second artist. The grey sarcophagus at this painting’s center, which was copied from a tomb completed by Andrea del Verrocchio, is faced by Gabriel. For 10 points, name this collaboration between Verrocchio and Leonardo which shows Mary being informed that she will bear Jesus.
ANSWER: The Annunciation
This tossup could probably be done a lot better, but it's certainly doable. Not at anything below Nationals difficulty, though, for sure!
Right, I'm not saying you can't write a good tossup on that painting. I'm saying that it's way easier for a player to buzz early on a visual question than on a written question.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Ike »

Before if and when I post more at a future date, I just want to thank Mike and Stephen for bearing with me, and for assuming that I was making a critique in good faith, and responding to me in kind. Recent forum posts show discussion of anything can get really spicy -- I know I get dramatic about some things so I apologize; it's no secret that I feel things viscerally for the most part. I think we've hit on what were the issues. For example, I'm fully willing to accept that a part of my dissatisfaction is with the inherent nature of the format. And obviously thank you Mike for writing this -- I know the stakes here are incredibly low, so I hesitated to complain*, and thank you for reading through these and taking the time to arrive at where I'm coming from.

*I think there's somewhat of a stigma in criticizing side tournaments, and perhaps rightfully so.
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Re: Eyes VIII discussion

Post by Mike Bentley »

Ike wrote:Before if and when I post more at a future date, I just want to thank Mike and Stephen for bearing with me, and for assuming that I was making a critique in good faith, and responding to me in kind. Recent forum posts show discussion of anything can get really spicy -- I know I get dramatic about some things so I apologize; it's no secret that I feel things viscerally for the most part. I think we've hit on what were the issues. For example, I'm fully willing to accept that a part of my dissatisfaction is with the inherent nature of the format. And obviously thank you Mike for writing this -- I know the stakes here are incredibly low, so I hesitated to complain*, and thank you for reading through these and taking the time to arrive at where I'm coming from.

*I think there's somewhat of a stigma in criticizing side tournaments, and perhaps rightfully so.
Thanks for posting this Ike. I don't agree with all of your criticism of the set (Stephen has largely articulated most of the points I want to make), but I do appreciate you giving it. To some extent, the lack of serious criticism in previous iterations of this set has probably led me to be complacent. This thread has inspired me to change some ways I go about the next version of the set (which I'm actually decently far through at this point--we'll see if that momentum continues) which has definitely been a positive.
Stephen wrote:How hard should Eyes be? This calls back to my earlier question, which I think got overlooked in the chaos, of what Mike would like to see in terms of conversion numbers. If Mike simply wants to clue the Pollaiuolo to see if anyone knows it, and is okay if the answer is "no," I think that's fine. It's his set, which as a whole will still be fun to play.
I guess I don't have firm conversion numbers in mind, which maybe is to the detriment of the tournament. In general, I'd like the typical field (i.e. the entire room, since it's a singles tournament) at the different sites at this tournament to be answering most of the questions. I shoot for maybe 25-40% of the questions being answerable by someone who is relatively weak at art history. These include squarely canonical works (e.g. Girl with a Pearl Earring) as well as works that, at least by the giveaway, reward some knowledge that isn't strictly Art History. This latter category of buzzes may include recognizing the common scene from your knowledge of religion or mythology. A couple of tossups are aimed directly at this type of knowledge over art historical knowledge (e.g. the Torah tossup this year). It may include getting some film tossups that one experiences in more of a trash context than a Fine Arts context. It may include recognizing a painting or a photograph from its historical importance (e.g. the tossup on photos taken in 1989 or the one on James Montgomery Flagg).

Another large portion of the set I try to pick from either harder works in the quizbowl canon or things in the so-called shadow canon. In particular, I try to pick tossups that may not make great regular quizbowl questions for this latter category. Maybe these are depictions of saints with clues that being with ones from second and third tier artists that conform to common patterns if one goes through a European art gallery (or its guidebook). Maybe these are tossups on more contemporary artists who produce abstract works. You can write perfectly fine regular tossups on these people, but they often reward a different (and arguably deeper, but also susceptible to title memorizing) type of engagement with the work than in visual format.

And then maybe 15% of the set is on downright challenging and canon-expanding things.

I'll probably have more to say about this at some point in the near future. But getting back to the original point to the first thing I addressed in this post, I am at least somewhat flexible about this tournament in terms of difficulty. I don't want to produce a set that's just a slog to sit through with very few people answering questions. If the consensus is that the tournament should be easier, then I'm open to doing that in sensible ways. I've certainly heard from Ike a desire, at least in Renaissance art, for this, and I think there were several good points raised about areas where this year's set could have been easier in that respect. Based on other feedback I'm not sure that the entire mission of this set needs to change, but I'd also like to hear more opinions about this.
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