The dark side of crowd funding

A cover for G magazine. The miracle of an overnight deadline…no time to procrastinate, no other choice but to perform and deliver the goods on time.

The muses harnessed to the mind, extracting ideas. The hand is hovering above the paper and the pencil is leaving its trail of a sketchy journey behind. Once an accommodation is obtained, between me and myself, and further more with the editors, my fantasy is committed by a now more restrained and disciplined hand, to an inky determined line. Then comes the colours, some wondering, hesitations. The file is saved, then saved again-sent. And I. I’m just like a chicken that had just laid its daily egg. Kikirrriky!

The dark side of crowd funding

The dark side of crowd funding

The dark side of crowd funding-Line

The dark side of crowd funding-Line




An extraordinary experience

The exhibition's Catalog cover Inside Izhar Cohen's head

The exhibition’s Catalog’s cover Inside Izhar Cohen’s head

My Tel Aviv exhibition – Inside Izhar Cohen’s head

A few months a go, While visiting my friends and family in Tel Aviv, I embarked on a journey that reached its peak on May 31st. It took me a while to compose myself and bring myself to write about it, as the opening involved a great amount of emotions.

Together with Monica Lavie, the chief curator of the Gutman Museum of Art in Tel Aviv, I went through a process of dissection of my operating system as an artist. Together with Monica I had visited my inner most regions of my consciousness and beyond. I would liken this journey to Dante’s Devine comedy, only in this case, the joke was on me. With all modesty, and with no intention to attribute the humanistic quality of Virgil and Dante, Monica accompanied me on that journey to hell and back. I am now writing this post from artist’s paradise.

The process begun with an undefined amount of images that were damped on Monica’s desk and we were both overwhelmed. After a while, a first criteria was laid out for the exhibition:  As the museum is named after the great Israeli Artist and author, Nahum Gutman, we’ve decided that the works which will be exhibited will be chosen from the images which were commissioned for Israeli clients. This decision eliminated a considerable bulk of works, and turned the task into a more reasonable affair. Having said that, I have ben active in the Israeli press all through the past 32 years, therefore, we had to restrict the boundaries of the exhibition further more. eventually, out of hundreds of images, around 60, met the nail that hang the frame that hosts the image. There were heavy ‘casualties’ which were left out of the selection, yet, the end result is most satisfying. At least it is for me.

The exhibition was exquisitely designed and mounted by Tucan Design Studio

For those of you who will not get a chance of visiting the exhibition in Tel Aviv in the coming six moths, here is a taster of what it is like.


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Why Do Death-Row Inmates Speak of Love?

What would be your final words?

What would be your final words?

What would be your final words?

Between December 7, 1982, and February 16, 2016, the state of Texas executed 534 inmates, 417 of whom issued a last statement. This January in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, psychologists Sarah Hirschmüller and Boris Egloff, both at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany, published the results of their evaluation of most of the statements, which they put through a computerized text-analysis program called the Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count. The biggest finding was a statistically significant difference between the average percentage of positive emotion words (9.64) and negative ones (2.65). Is that a lot?

To find out, the psychologists compared this data set with a broad spectrum of written sources, including scientific articles, novels, blogs and diaries, consisting of more than 168 million words composed by 23,173 people. The mean of 2.74 percent positive emotion words for each entry was statistically significantly lower than that of the prisoners. In fact, these death-row inmates were more positive than students asked to contemplate their own death and write down their thoughts and even more positive than people who attempted or completed suicides and left notes. What does this mean?

Hirschmüller and Egloff contend that their data support terror management theory (TMT), which asserts that the realization of our mortality leads to unconscious terror, and “an increased use of positive emotion words serves as a way to protect and defend against mortality salience of one’s own contemplated death.” But if that were so, then why the difference between the inmates’ statements and those of suicide attempters and completers? Surely those about to kill themselves would be equally terrorized by the prospect of their imminent self-demise.

Context is key here. “Change the context slightly, and one often gets very different results in research on human behavior,” University of California, Berkeley, psychologist Frank J. Sulloway told me by e-mail when I queried him about TMT. “The really tricky thing with theories like this is not what to do with statistical refutations but rather what to do with supposed statistical confirmations. This problem previously arose in connection with psychoanalysis, and [German-born psychologist] Hans Eysenck and others later wrote books showing that those zealous psychoanalytic devotees testing their psychoanalytic claims systematically failed to consider what other theories, besides the one researchers thought they were testing, would also be confirmed by the same evidence.”

An alternative to TMT is one we might call emotional priority theory (EPT). Facing death focuses one’s mind on the most important emotions in life, two of which are love and forgiveness. Love is an emotional feature of human nature so potent it can be tracked with neurochemical correlates such as oxytocin and dopamine. In fact, as Rutgers University anthropologist Helen Fisher argues in the revised edition of Anatomy of Love (W. W. Norton, 2016), love is so powerful an emotion it can be addictive, like chocolate and cocaine.

In this alternative context of EPT, I conducted my own content analysis of all 417 death-row final statements. I found that 44 percent either apologized for their crimes or asked for forgiveness from the families present at the execution and that 70 percent included effusive love language. For example:

  • To my family, to my mom, I love you.
  • I appreciate everybody for their love and support. You all keep strong, thank you for showing me love and teaching me how to love.
  • I want to tell my sons I love them; I have always loved them.
  • I would like to extend my love to my family members and my relatives for all of the love and support you have showed me.
  • As the ocean always returns to itself, love always returns to itself.

Not only were these men not terrorized at the prospects of death, 40 percent of them said they were looking forward to the next life in expressions like “going home,” “going to a better place” and “I’ll be there waiting for you.” TMT proponents counter that the terror is unconscious, revealed by expressions of positive emotions and afterlife beliefs. But is it not more prudent to presume that people say what they truly feel and believe in the seconds before their death and then prioritize those emotions and thoughts by what matters most? What would you say?

This article was originally published with the title “Death Wish”

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