tom moody

Archive for August, 2014

picnic grid


screencapture of Joel Cook tile piece, saved as a GIF

- tom moody

August 31st, 2014 at 5:16 pm

animated GIF Q and A (3)

Patrick is working on a master's thesis on animated GIF art and sent these questions.

When and why did you start making animated GIFs?
What is/was your main motivation behind choosing GIF for your works?

The art I was showing in New York City in the late 1990s was made with a simple paint program (Microsoft Paintbrush, later called Paint). I was printing out elements such as spheres, concentric circles, and stick-and-ball molecule diagrams, and making collages with the prints. In the early 2000s I was showing this work on my blog, and at the same time started making patterns using basic HTML and found animated GIFs. My work with found GIFs was done in 2003, and by November of that year I started making and posting my own animated GIFs. See for example,
I started blogging in 2001 and realized by '03 that GIFs were a way to provide visually dynamic, "web friendly" ideas that fit in with my lo-fi graphic aesthetic. By 2004 I was making GIFs more of a central part of my online work, and in the next couple of years I was being asked to submit GIFs to gallery exhibits.
I'm interested in low fidelity formats for philosophical as well as aesthetic reasons. Computers are sold on the idea of seamless perfection and efficiency but they are in fact riddled with approximations, guesswork, errors, and attempts at thought control. I don't care about making a perfect sphere, I want viewers to see how the sphere is made, with all its flaws and clumsiness, as well as insight into the thinking process that led to an unknown programmer's idea of "perfection."

Why have you chosen GIF over other formats (like video, flash, …)?

It wasn't a choice for me. I had no interest in video at that time, and I disliked the smooth "vector" style of Flash. I had no desire to learn Flash and resented that I had to install a plug-in to play Flash content on other people's websites. GIFs looked appealing to me, every browser could read them without needing a plugin, and there is a very small learning curve to make them. Essentially I was just importing my MSPaint drawings as frames and animating them at 10 frames a second.
See, e.g.


Do you feel that the technical limitations of the GIF format have/had a notable influence on your artworks?
In this context, do you think that limitation fuels creativity?

As mentioned above, technical limitations were already a feature of my work. I prefer a lower frame count and reduced color to the slick, polished look of photo-based video.

What are your thoughts on the current popularity of animated GIFs?

When I did my show in Brooklyn, NY called "Room Sized Animated GIFs," in 2006, very few people in the gallery world knew what a GIF was. As late as 2011, we were talking on the Art F City blog about the lack of interest of big web/computer companies in the GIF format.
Facebook didn't allow them, Google had no hard-wired way to search for animated GIFs, Windows 7's picture viewer no longer "played" animated GIFs, unlike XP, which did.
That year, Art F City's Paddy Johnson organized a GIF show in a college gallery, and more and more articles started appearing about GIFs. By 2012 GIFs were a "thing" -- widespread and popular. Google added animation to its search and started promoting Google+ as a "GIF friendly" site. It's been intriguing, as an early adopter (though by no means the earliest), to watch this cultural phenomenon take off.

Do you think that selling Animated GIFs (in any possible form) is an appropriate way of increasing its value as an art form?

Anything that helps artists to do their work and give recognition to their efforts is good. I have sold limited edition DVDs made with my GIFs. This doesn't hinder the life that those GIFs may have as expressions circulating around the web.

- tom moody

August 31st, 2014 at 5:16 pm

Posted in animations - tm

Surge Molecule 3


Surge Molecule 3, 2014, photocopies, linen tape
13 X 12 inches

- tom moody

August 28th, 2014 at 1:36 pm

The Limited Collection launches today

I have some work in a show organized by La Scatola Gallery (based in London, Berlin, and the internet). Curators Rozsa Zita Farkas and Valentina Fois asked 33 artists each to submit a GIF. A new GIF will be displayed each day on Tumblr over the next month and then the GIFs will be taken down and archived in a limited edition version to be sold by La Scatola (details TBA). The GIFs will continue to circulate on the internet and elsewhere, depending on whim and circumstance, thus avoiding the public relations gaffe of "taking the GIF offline so the collector can have it locally" (which one institution attempted a while back). Having a limited edition documents the moment and the collected nature of the work, although I'm sure skeptics will be ready with the well-worn explanation that "galleries create artificial scarcity." (It's a lot of trouble to go to if that's all they're doing.)

Am not sure yet which day my GIF, Small Universe Model, will appear. Will do an update with a link to it.

Participating artists and curators' statement:

We asked some of the artists we love to send us a gif each. They are artists that use digital tools at various stages in the production of artworks, and occupy online modes of distribution for both presentation and development, of practice and discourse - around the nature of art today and the relations that implicate the artist within these very social economies.
Alexandria McCrosky . Alice Khalilova . Anne de Boer . Arvida Byström . Beth Siveyer . Chris Shier . Christopher Schmidt . Eloïse Bonneviot . Emilie Gervais . Faith Holland . Georges Jacotey . Hanna Nilsson . Jeff Baij . Jenna Sutela . Kim Asendorf & Ole Fach . Lawrence Lek . Leah Beeferman . Maja Malou Lyse . Mary Bond . Niko Princen . Petra Cortright . Rachel Lord . Raquel Meyers . Rob Chavasse . Sabrina Ratté . Samuel Kenswil . Sæmundur Þór Helgason . Sullivan and Flint . Tom Moody . Vanessa Omoregie . Viktor Timofeev . Yuri Pattison

The tumblr version commences here.
La Scatola's site is here.

- tom moody

August 28th, 2014 at 7:58 am

Posted in general

zucchini grab


enlarged version of GIF posted by frankhats

- tom moody

August 28th, 2014 at 7:29 am

phone story

Was on Church Street near the WTC around 10 pm last night. A young-ish man (to old to be a "kid" but let's call him that) was randomly walking alongside me, talking loudly into his phone.
"They're gonna buttfuck you," he said. "And they're not going to use Vaseline. And I think you know that is gonna hurt."
I was trying not to listen but it just kept going.
"Wait a minute," the kid said to whoever he was talking to, "are you taking a shit right now? You are -- I can tell. Are you? C'mon, you gotta tell me. You are! Ha ha ha, I knew it, man! Ha ha!"
I fantasized about knocking the phone out of his hand and stepping on it.

work in process

- tom moody

August 26th, 2014 at 10:09 am

Posted in general

michael manning's breakthrough


He annoyed the haters by insufficiently respecting left wing pieties on twitter. Then his enlarged, smeary tablet art attracted painting collector interest. The haters went into high gear. Here is a graphic representation of his pale male fist bustin' through...
(Actually the background isn't a Manning but a facsimile by DoritoWitch, who was planning to layer it with the logo of a well-known investment bank. He dumped this marshmallow fist over it, it was screencaptured, and the rest is hater history.)
I posted this to be irritating after someone was connecting Manning's non sequitur contribution to the AFC "swag" discussion -- as in, they thought it was foolish for him to point out that Shakespeare used the term "swag" in Midsummer Night's Dream -- to his current market success, or appearance of success, which has led AFC and others to diss the work without seeing it. This particular moment needed an emblem, so here it is.

tags: #manning #resentment #fan_art

- tom moody

August 26th, 2014 at 9:47 am

ryder ripps instagram paintings



As mentioned in an earlier post, these paintings come out of a larger project of Ryder Ripps', where he is critiquing a fashion model's Instagram account: it's all explained step by step on this Tumblr he created for the project, titled On Ho.

Let's jettison all the anti-Instagram backstory -- I know many folks who adore Instagram but Ripps didn't have to convince me that it sucked -- and just look at the above as jpeg-painting-things.

First, you have the self-posted photos of the fashion model Ripps keyed in on. Her name is Adrianne Ho and she makes money posing for various brands. So you have whatever decisions she made for the poses, angles, cropping, background, etc. Then, you have whatever Instagram is adding -- "arty" filters that soften contours, tweak colors, and play with the lighting. Ho's work looks completely professional by the time she and the Instagram algorithms are through.
Then, you have Ripps' alterations using a multi-touch interface on a smartphone. This is pretty conventional Photoshop-style dragging and smearing to create funhouse-mirror distortions. (Ripps compares his efforts to Bacon and De Kooning but that's just hubristic retcon -- retroactive continuity -- as almost anything can be compared to a Famous Modern Master.)
Ripps' digital reworkings are then given to a painter-on-canvas: Ripps says he hired "Jeff Koons' assistants" but I'm guessing it was one of those mainland China shops that will render any image as an oil painting.
Then, the paintings are photographed and posted as web-friendly jpegs. Ripps says he got many likes for these painted images.
It's this final stage, what you see above, that's the most intriguing. George Condo meets James Rosenquist, with Instagram ephemera as subject matter. Rosenquist worked as a sign painter, so he was essentially using himself as one of those Chinese painters-for-hire, putting art quotes around his own manual technique. Instead of billboards as Pop Art subject matter, it's Instagram. The fast, easy distortions of the multitouch, where algorithms make many decisions regarding what is to be smeared and how (responding to the minimal input from human gestures) leave pockets of digital blur and mush. The painters-on-canvas must then make additional decisions of how to render the distortions for maximum polish and closure. Then the painting is lit and photographed. Thus, a sequence of banal techniques leads to a satisfyingly surreal result.

Addendum: One issue not covered is the scale of the painting/jpeg/things. I like them at 650 pixels wide and wouldn't much care about seeing them this big (link to show scale, recoiling slightly at the dumbass high fives Ripps is getting from the Facebook/Instagram net art community -- how about upping the quality of the discourse just a hair). See more on artisanal photorealism.

- tom moody

August 23rd, 2014 at 9:20 am

Posted in art - others

rhizome today, instagram corny-core, non-accountability's Community Manager Zachary Kaplan has brought some needed zip to the website with a series of daily posts linking to and discussing various web content he is following. Sometimes Rhizome's editor Michael Conner makes contributions. How often does Conner weigh in, and in what proportion to Kaplan's blurbs? What types of things are they covering? Unfortunately I can't tell you, or I can tell you only in the most vague and general way, because they delete the posts the next day.
Kaplan says the content isn't lost -- he is planning to have a "best-of" post each month -- but the record that's created is entirely at his (or Rhizome's) discretion.
In a way, this solves a problem Rhizome has always had: is it a museum, being studiously neutral and objective in picking the most important "internet art," or is it a magazine, with a feisty and opinionated voice about what people are doing online (whether art or not)?
Kaplan's posts give us the pleasures of the latter but regrettably throw out the baby of a permanent record with the bathwater of studied faux-neutrality. Why should a record be treasured? It's a way to keep score -- one of the few honors for a so-called internet artist. Also it keeps the writers honest. If you think your words might trip you up a few years later you write them more carefully.

Below is an example of some of Kaplan's writing, from the Friday, August 22, 2014 Rhizome Today post. By Monday it will be gone. This sucks for Ryder Ripps, whose project Kaplan is discussing. Maybe Ripps will make the monthly best-of, maybe he won't. Do readers get a say in this? Maybe, or maybe not. Comments are deleted along with the daily posts (I tried a few days back). You can always email, or hit up the Rhizomers on commercial social media channels.

Instagram Corny-Core
Ryder Ripps is thinking about Instagram's "mawkishly sentimental tone to everyday common things," a heavily filtered, hypermoody selfie-lifestyle confluence. He takes Adrianne Ho's Instagram account as its apotheosis, and it's no coincidence that Ho's is a sponsored feed, tied to the clothes she's given to model.

I've been aware of a profusion of variously branded content on Instagram for a while now, a result of friends working in the lifestyle publishing world — food, in particular, is a good way to see how this, pardon the pun, sausage is made. Brand diffusion on Instagram takes different forms. There is that which is obviously sponsored, as in paid (to the social network) ads that pop into feeds, or clearly demarcated sponsored 'editorial content' with brand @ing on 'independent' accounts. There is also a shadow economy of soft sponsorship by way of freebies then imaged by trusted native accounts. What Ryder is thinking about is what I see on a daily basis.

One reason that Instagram is so fertile for both styles of advertising is that its discoverability is so horrible — like its owner, Facebook, Instagram closes your feed in on itself, with very little invitation to explore different Instagram experiences, different Instagram worlds, different people. The Explore tab used to filter in all sorts of weird images that were trending, but as of late last year, it now displays things your friends are liking. Vine — wonderful, amazing Vine — in contrast, is all about discoverability, randomness, and blur. One powerful mechanism here is the ReVine, which allows anyone to republish anything. Instagram instead is personal, owned, and hermetic. A closed world where one can fully know and expect another's audience is a world built for advertising.

Does Ripps' project deserve a permanent, implied thumbs-up validation as important internet art on Rhizome's front page, or is it half-amusing, ephemeral, daily link fodder? Kaplan hedges his bets here. Ripps' slide show on Tumblr, On Ho, commenting on the closed loop style of image evaluation of the popular Facebook-owned Instagram application/database/website/thing, would seem to have the right blend of front page critique and cheek. But perhaps it falls short of that, and is only a curmudgeonly rant with elements of dashed-off creativity (Ripps's smartphone defacements of Instagram images and painted versions of the defacements that may or may not be done by Jeff Koons' assistants -- more on those paintings later). Also, Kaplan wants to get in his own point of view, which is that Vine (a rival application/database/website/thing owned by Twitter) is a better, less hermetic, less commercial experience (and therefore more innately art-like?) than the product Ripps is critiquing. As a Rhizome editorializer, this is within bounds, as a curator, it's probably overstepping. Imagine a museum wall-label that suddenly goes off on an artist for deconstructing the wrong thing. Whatever problems this raises, rest assured they will be not be discussed, because by the time you've wrapped your mind around them the post will be gone and we will be on to something else.

- tom moody

August 23rd, 2014 at 8:36 am

Posted in general

from the vault: hug emoticon pyramid (2003)


This was originally a "found HTML" piece that I posted to my Digital Media Tree blog in 2003.
The sideways pyramid design was copied more or less intact from the then-front page of Deviantart user Chiyoko. It reminded me of Sol LeWitt, except, slightly better. The image above is a GIF made from a screencapture of the GIFs in my post.

- tom moody

August 20th, 2014 at 6:48 pm