tom moody

Archive for February, 2012

low-level generative art


On Nasty Nets in '06, Marisa Olson linked to the generator page where the above was made. Her error message read "In the future, all web sites will be generators." Jon Williams questioned that prediction recently on twitter in light of Zynga style games where you don't do much generating but use pre-set character templates.

It's like the devolution of model kits from elaborate balsawood parts that had to be cut with a knife to 1960s glue-and-paint kits with hundreds of plastic elements on trees to the kits of the '70s and '80s consisting of a handful of snap-together parts. Ultimately, though, it's just degrees of lack-of-choice. Even 3D and paint programs that yield elaborate personalized results start with someone else's menus.

Am prejudiced against all of it from years of making unique, quirky objects that a handful of people might theoretically view together in real space but am trying to overcome this. Snobbery is what artists have in lieu of barrels of cash (or Simoleons).

Generators haven't gone away: see downfall generator (hat tip Jon Williams).

Update: Also via Jon, the Generator Blog, where you can Warholize and Jesufy yourself, or make fake iPhone text, or spew loren ipsum consisting entirely of hipsterspeak (some popular art blogs use this). In view of all this variety the next stage will be a generator generator, if one doesn't exist already.

- tom moody

February 29th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Posted in art as criticism

canvas painter sequence 2

- tom moody

February 26th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Verbal Animation for the Takedown Era

Æon Flux, "Tide" (November 17, 1992)
The description below was written by Jason Forrest* for Network Awesome.
Chances are you won't find the animation on NA or YouTube because a certain youth-market producer is playing its little games (when they're not allegedly uploading videos under aliases to give them promotional exposure, they're in outraged copyrightholder mode, which appears to the case with NA's upload of "Tide").
But I like the idea of complicated narrative being a substitute for a complicated animation when the original is apt to disappear without warning. So this is a found text or art-equivalent.

Peter Chung states on the DVD commentary that he planned this episode like a piece of music. The entire segment is composed of twenty backgrounds shown for two seconds each in the same order and same angle for seven cycles. [The elevator in a modern industrial building becomes a stage set moving down among floors, with a series of more or less identical actions occurring on each level. The ritual aspect of these repeated actions also suggests a kind of high-tech, absurdist Noh play. --TM]

The plot:
Æon and a blond female accomplice are on an offshore platform. Æon is shooting at a rope draped from a hovering helicopter, trying to keep it from connecting with a semi-submerged pylon, while her partner holds Trevor Goodchild captive in a nearby elevator. As Æon returns to the elevator Trevor has overpowered the partner and attempts to exit, pressing all of the elevator's level buttons. Æon stops him and tries to grab the numbered key he's holding, but he throws it behind a sink. When retrieving it, Æon accidentally rips off the attached numbered label, so it is unknown on which level the key will be useful.

The elevator descends. Æon attempts unsuccessfully to use the key in a storage locker on level six, while avoiding gunfire from a Breen soldier and again shooting at the hanging rope, which has stopped swaying enough for another attempt to reach the pylon. Upon returning to the elevator, Æon handcuffs Trevor to a handrail and attempts to retrieve the numbered key-label, but it is just out of her reach. Æon repeats the leave elevator/exchange gunfire with Breen/try key/shoot rope/return to elevator cycle for several subsequent floors, while her traitorous partner smooches with Trevor during Æon's absences. By level two, Æon realizes what's going on and the partner tries to stop her from killing Trevor; during the struggle she snatches Æon's empty gun and throws it at her. Æon falls back, strikes her head and is killed (although it is not explicitly indicated in the episode that she is dead, the DVD commentary indicates that she is).** The partner takes the key and runs to the level two storage locker. The Breen soldier enters the elevator and shoots Trevor, and on his way out shoots the helicopter rope just as Æon had been doing. (We'll soon find out why.)

The partner opens the storage locker with the key and retrieves a latched yellow case, taking it back to the elevator. Inside she finds a giant, ribbed rubber plug -- an obvious double entendre. Unsatisfied with what seems like such a measly prize, she runs out leaving the plug behind. As she reaches the semi-submerged pylon, the helicopter has successfully inserted the rope, weighted with a metal device that interlocks with the pylon, and starts to pull up and away, carrying the Breen soldier who has come downstairs just as the device lifts upward (his shot from level two bought him a few seconds of needed time to arrive). As the helicopter ascends, it yanks from the pylon a rubber plug identical to the one the partner previously discarded, causing seawater to spout out of the newly vacant hole. The enormous platform and gangway behind her suddenly sink into the ocean, leaving her stranded alone on the concrete pylon.

*I made some edits for clarity, style--call it a remix
**Æon dies in all the early, short episodes.

- tom moody

February 26th, 2012 at 6:19 pm

Posted in general

"Nano Crunchy"

"Nano Crunchy" [3.2 MB .mp3]

This starts with a sad, chromatic-ish nursery tune and goes all Black Dog about halfway through.
I avoided the urge to add drums or percussion -- that might happen later.
The scratchy, nano crunchy sounds at the middle and end are supposed to be a feature, not a bug.
#fm #wavetable

- tom moody

February 25th, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Posted in music - tm

untitled (shower light)


posted to by unicorngirl

- tom moody

February 24th, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Posted in animation - others

c3ns0rsh1p r0undup

Some recent censorship stories intrigue mostly for what they say about the type of environment someone or some group hopes to create (see added boldface below). Particularly if that environment is going to be touted as some inevitable, be-all-and-end-all arena where future art will be forced to operate. Publishing in a realm of random, inexplicable censorship will create strange wrinkles or ripples in discourse.

1. Low-wage Facebook contractor leaks secret censorship list:

The list’s disclosure by gossip blog Gawker marks the first time that the public has been given a glimpse at the inner-workings of the planet’s largest social network...
The list also shines a light on Facebook’s darker underbelly: how it uses third-world laborers to police first-world content.

2. From the original Gawker story:

Facebook has fashioned itself the clean, well-lit alternative to the scary open Internet for both users and advertisers, thanks to the work of a small army of human content moderators...

3. So we're not always picking on Facebook, Reddit has censored blog posts from the reputable, outspoken Big Picture blog (whose author now writes for the Washington Post):

There are certainly also more open-minded moderators [than davidreiss666 and Maxion] at Reddit. But a couple of censors can squash discussion on entire topics.

Smaller operators (say, Word Press blogs on Dreamhost) don't have to worry too much about low-wage moderators on a post-by-post basis but everything you put out there is going to be filtered and monitored by somebody. So it becomes tempting to self-censor and speak in code to the few people you know are reading and will get it. This code, whether internally or externally imposed, becomes "part of the art."

- tom moody

February 24th, 2012 at 9:13 am

Posted in general



modified and enlarged version of sketch_d4

- tom moody

February 23rd, 2012 at 11:15 pm

recent music listening

A listicle!

Erik Satie - score for "Entr'acte Cinematographique," Rene Clair's film that ran between the two acts of the Relâche ballet. The film music is better than the ballet music; it's very contemporary-sounding in its use of loop-like compositional fragments that could be cut, stretched or repeated to accommodate the action onscreen. Alternately bombastic, comical, hypnotic/seductive, mock-elegiac, these fragments could be arranged like furniture (which is how Satie often described his music).

Zomby, Dedication. Just listening to this for the first time tonight, and was surprised by the Satie-like piano composition "Basquiat" plunked in among the repurposed club bits. Lots of one and two minute songs - yeah.

Ennio Morricone's score for the Mario Bava film Danger: Diabolik. A completely nutty, echt-1960s romp with surf guitar, Yé-yé vocals, hammond organ tone wheel freakouts, and eerie strings. This music leaps out of the speakers, grabs you by the neck and chokes you. You can't unhear it and you can't get it out of your mind. Brilliant.

4Hero, In Rough Territory and Tek 9, The Early Plates. This is the same artist team recording under two names, a couple of years apart. In Rough Territory captures the moment when Manchester Bleep'n'Bass was starting to become Jungle/DnB, tipped off by a song called "The Last Ever Bleep Track (Used to Death)." My favorite song is "Mad Dogs (Feeding Propaganda)," with its magnetic, layered sample of a voice over tinkling piano keys that reveals more of itself as the song progresses. Tek 9's "You Got to Slow Down (Original Mix)" has those great pads, Rhodes stabs, and meaty breakbeats of classic drum and bass (i.e., no heavy drilling yet).

- tom moody

February 23rd, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Posted in general

we don't quite have this down yet but let's launch it anyway


worm reports: "little did i know that my venus de milo gif was secretly...lettuce"

- tom moody

February 23rd, 2012 at 8:39 am

Posted in art as criticism

"Kick Echoes 2"

"Kick Echoes 2" [3.9 MB .mp3]

The Doepfer A-112 sampler module has a delay effect and it's literally that. An incoming sound is sampled, put in a ROM slot and played...once. How soon after the original sound comes in can be set by a knob. To get feedback (where the delay is mixed with the original sound and/or multiple repetitions of the sound) you have to use a separate mixer. In any case, once the feedback starts you can mess with it until it becomes staccato white noise with very little resemblance to the original sound. For this track I set the repeats for infinite, let it run, and came back three times to capture what the output was doing. The pitch and timbre were both slowly changing but the change is more noticeable when you leave for awhile and check back in. Each captured increment here differs from its predecessor.

The other thing I was doing was adding pitch and filtering steps to the repeats in real time via MIDI-triggered control voltage changes. So the staccato white noise can be made to play simple tunes. Some additional percussion is added via multi-tracking.

Musically this is kind of "no wave."

- tom moody

February 22nd, 2012 at 9:27 pm

Posted in music - tm