Archive for August, 2011
"Ghost Laser" [4.1 MB .mp3]
The sort of quacking, '80s style pulse that runs through this is an analog-generated signal - two LFOs modulating a combination square and triangle wave. The intersecting waveforms create interesting syncopations. Pitch is then added via control voltage--an ascending four note pattern. This pulse is then sampled and the beats counted so it can be put on a timing grid and other instruments added via MIDI. The rather absurd Reaktor Lazerbass makes another appearance for the "lead" lines. The rhythms are analog or analog-modeling with MIDI-generated triplet echoes.
hat tips D_MAGIK and TheKraken
Black-and-white reconfiguration of a lolumad GIF.
The spheres, originally blue-purple, were cropped, stretched, and enlarged. The background was transparentized, then everything was converted to black and white in the Online Image Editor, which has a great (as in retro and unpredictable) algorithm for converting color gifs to pointillist monochromes.
The next phase will be to reverse the motion to eliminate the jump when the GIF resets.
Update: Here is the two-way version: [484 KB .gif]
Year by year the formerly minimal Twitter comes to resemble every other social media site, offering users "options." Lately it has a "Recent Images" feature. Please note that if you haven't uploaded any images, the twitter team will take care of that for you. Let's visualize the discussion that led to this:
"So we have this great upload feature and we want all twitterers to use it. Some folks don't want graphics on their pages though. What do we do?"
"If they ever linked to something on Flickr, we could pull that image up automatically, call it their 'Recent Image.'"
"Hmmm, is that really honest?"
"Uh, last I heard, twitter is free. These people have no rights. And it is technically a 'recent image,' even if they didn't upload it."
"Hmmm, OK, damn good idea."
"But what if the twitterer is an artist or a photographer, doesn't this look like they're posting someone else's work to represent themselves? Maybe there's some copyright issues."
"We'll get Legal to look at that, if it's not covered in the terms of service we'll just slip it in there. None of these freeloaders will sue us, though, it's too expensive."
revised for accuracy - "recent images" isn't quite as egregious as I thought but it's still pretty bad
"Ethereal Serial" [6.8 MB .mp3]
Doepfer mini-synth, Vermona Kick Lancet, and two Reaktor synths (Rhythmmaker and three Titan patches).
Am enumerating the gear because it's getting harder in these descriptions to come with synonyms for analog and digital. The distinction is still important, I think: the former two synths give the sound a plausible bottom and slight unpredictable lurch, and the softsynths have all the complex time-stretching programming. Composition-wise, this work is unabashedly nostalgic for the '90s. I wasn't making music, then, just soaking up rave riffs.
The title is an in-joke for Putney Swope fans.
Good, non-curmudgeonly essay by Robin Peckham on how, among other things, the contemporary art world was already catering to shortened attention spans before online media came along and made us dumb and dumberer. Let's let him tell it (excerpt):
Although the notion that our present contemporary art belongs to a peculiarly YouTube sensibility is a facile one, the standard curatorial approach, which almost ironically presents itself as an a priori intellectual strategy, has insisted for too long that art explain itself conceptually, quickly, and on demand. Our exhibitions demand a purpose, preferably one that fits if not into the 140 characters of a Tweet then at least into the similarly-scaled sentence that has defined the English language for centuries. Interviews, similarly, assume that the artist will be able to answer the curator succinctly and eloquently, prepared to move on or modulate meaning in the next round of questions and answers. As a result, our art now speaks often and loudly, but it is over all too soon. Modernism, despite its preoccupations and overarching projects, abhorred a one-liner, and post-modernism reveled in the production of mazes and mirror images that could immerse viewers for hours. Now art work merely announces itself: I-am-abstraction; I-am-about-architecture; I-have-a-sense-of-humor; I-am-sound.
Ryder Ripps and others talk about collaborative culture online: [YouTube]
Almost ten years ago your humble narrator was talking up group participation "meme" databases and how they existed in a parallel universe from official net art culture. Glad to see PBS is waking up to this idea. Back then it was "the tourist guy" and now it is "strutting Leo" and the mixing is more accelerated but same concept.
PBS's understanding is a trifle shallow, though. These aren't art critics being interviewed but mostly Net Culture Analysts (Ripps is one of the few artists): for this type of pundit there is no art, no visual history to push against, only a cr-aa-azy world of remixes that anyone can do.
Connor is working on a dissertation on Animated GIFs and Web Culture and sent the questions below. With his permission I'm posting them in interview form.
What first inspired you to make web animations, did you experiment with Quicktime or Flash before choosing GIF?
I never used Flash or Quicktime. My first GIFs were at the end of '03. Oddly enough I made them because my digital camera, a Sony, had a feature called "Clip Motion" where you could take stills and export them from the camera as an animated sequence in GIF format. I made some stop motion animations of the molecular imagery I was working with at the time. After that I downloaded a simple GIF-creating program and started making them outside the camera, using my own drawings.
The GIF format allows you to set the number of repetitions when exporting an animation; Why choose to make work which loops endlessly?
Once the GIF "dies" after its allotted repetitions, simply refreshing your browser won't reactivate it. You have to clear your cache and restart the browser, which is annoying.
Are you making animations with the intent/desire that they will be shared/displayed beyond your own website? Do you care about, or make efforts to investigate what happens to them after they are initially put online?
I wouldn't be too happy if I saw a GIF of mine used in someone else's money-making project such as an advertisement or music video. So far that hasn't happened. Mostly the GIFs are recycled and passed around by other artists or appear on people's social media pages, or are used as visual confections on bulletin boards. My only "effort to investigate" is if my stats show a GIF being hotlinked elsewhere (that is, loading directly from my domain without first being saved to someone's site) I might follow the link to see how it's being used. If the traffic is too egregious, bandwidth-wise, I can change the URL but usually the hits die down after a few days. I did a project where I screenshotted people's uses of my "OptiDisc" GIF and I made an installation piece with the screenshots: http://www.tommoody.us/panel-notes/ (scroll down)
In recent years there have been a number of gallery exhibitions showcasing GIF animations (including your own work); Generally, What do you see as the successes and failures of these varying attempts? Is something lost by projecting a GIF or by transferring to DVD for display?
My first efforts to show GIFs in a gallery were in '05 and '06 - shows in New York and elsewhere. I did a solo show in Brooklyn called "Room Sized Animated GIFs" in '06. Since GIFs are native to browsers and the internet it is always a translation exercise to show them in a public, physical space context. Every incarnation of the GIF, every set of viewing circumstances, is unique. I have done everything from convert them to DVD, arrange multiple GIFs on an HTML page, show them on monitors, show them projected... Each is a unique artwork and retains as much or little of the GIFness of the GIF (its "essential" features such as low frame rate, reduced color, etc) as you need to make a successful work. The GIF could be the art or it could just be a component of the art. This week I have been working on a piece where the GIF is converted to DVD and shown on a cathode ray tube TV. It still reads as a GIF but is clearly a bastardized hybrid of semi-obsolete media.
You were critical of actions by Lauren Cornell (representing artist Sara Ludy) to take GIF animations offline to sell to collectors. Does commodifying GIF artworks mean betraying the ‘open source’ nature of the format? Can GIF artists make money and continue to share their work online?
I wasn't the only person who raised an eyebrow about this but I was pretty vocal. The artist, Sara Ludy, says she takes work on and offline as part of her practice but it's unclear whether the sale in question, at the Armory art fair, was to "lock up the rights" to a filetype that might otherwise be open source. Cornell hasn't clarified what she meant by the phrase "we're taking the work offline so the collector can have it locally." Artists can do whatever they want to do with their work, contract-wise. What was surprising was hearing this from an Internet Art website that has traditionally been a haven for hacker types.*
I have sold work to collectors that first appeared on the internet, including GIFs. In the case of the GIF sales, the collector didn't buy the GIF file per se but rather a DVD edition with a certificate from me as to the size and authenticity of the edition. The GIF in question may still be blinking and pulsing away on the internet and the collector has an authenticated version. This may or may not have been resized or transcoded or have otherwise received my personal, hands-on attention. It ultimately doesn't matter--it's whether the piece is any good and worth owning and whether I'm worth supporting economically, ha ha.
Lastly, do you have a favourite GIF animation or one which is particularly memorable?
No one GIF, but you can see the work I have made and collected on my website(s).
*Rhizome.org, where Cornell is executive director. The GIF sale in question was likely an institutional fundraiser and Ludy isn't "represented" by Rhizome or Cornell in the traditional sense. --TM
I had in mind layering these but couldn't find an interesting way to do it. The top image is a severely reduced version of a Seacrestcheadle GIF and the bottom one is a rearrangement of something I posted earlier. The latter's name has changed several times but it's back to "Enantiomorphic Hippie Chamber." May be vertically misaligned on some RSS readers.