square monitor discussion (rescued ephemero-blogging)

Rhizome.org continues its practice of "ephemeral blogging" -- apparently after becoming alarmed by reader flight to flighty social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, they decided their best course was to imitate those, rather than continue to offer an alternative (a permanent record, "substance," a way for artists to keep score).
More substantive articles continue to appear alongside "Rhizome Today," but it's the blink-and-you-miss-it content that's often the most interesting, before it disappears down the ephemera-hole.
Our sharp-eyed editors saved one such discussion and it is reproduced below. Anyone trained as an artist will weep with frustration reading Zachary Kaplan's somewhat dismissive failure to see why someone might not want a 16:9 cinematic ratio for everyday computing and art-making. Imagine an art class where a teacher hands out long sheets of landscape-oriented paper and says, "draw a picture of the tallest person you know, and you are not allowed to rotate this sheet of paper."
What follows is all from "Rhizome Today":


A very odd promotional image for the FlexScan EV2730Q

This is Rhizome Today for Friday, November 21, 2014.

Rhizome Today is an experiment in ephemeral blogging: a series of posts that are written hastily in response to current events, and taken offline within a day or so. The latest post can always be found at http://www.rhizome.org/today.

[Editor's Note: We offer Rhizome Today contributors a variety of formats to use in writing their ephemeral post. An IM chat is one.]

Dragan Espenscheid: EIZO announces square monitor: http://www.eizoglobal.com/press/releases/htmls/ev2730q.html

Zachary Kaplan: I don't get it.

DE: 1:1 ratio like a Blackberry screen

ZK: Ok, I get it, but, as we've been taught, the cinema screen is the screen above all.

ZK: 16:9

ZK: or whatever.

DE: Most users don't watch video all day though.

ZK: Ah, yes, as I see on the site:

ZK: "The extended vertical space is convenient for displaying large amounts of information in long windows, reducing the need for excess scrolling and providing a more efficient view of data."


DE: I want one for sure.

ZK: But Dragan

ZK: You're an artist.

DE: The cinema format is so lame because it is optimized for not moving your eyes.

ZK: Can u expand?

DE: Cinema is supposed just to fill out your whole view and to take in the "complete picture."

ZK: Whereas a square, you're like, "why is this a square?", and then u pay attention?

DE: On the square, I can let my eyes wander.

ZK: ah. hrm.

ZK: Still think this sounds like an office piece....

ZK: Are there any artworks or other media things you think would look particularly good in this format?

DE: I believe it is more interactive, gives a viewer more power.


ZK: Ha. Yes. Any mobile phone type thing, right? Which is based on the scroll paradigm?

DE: Casio WQV10 photo exhibition.


Dragan Espenschied, The Thousand Faces Of Pikachu

DE: No, vine and insta just chose square because it is the same no matter how you rotate the device

ZK: Well, I don't think either rotate, tbh.

ZK: Classic Blackberry owner comment.

ZK: Tho I'm starting to see the FEED use for this... but then I'm still like, "just scroll!"

DE: Well, touch screens *and* device rotation weren't worth all the trouble.

ZK: (Btw, I like the kind of opiate of the masses take on cinema you're plying here. Very Kracauer.)

ZK: (Very anti-authoritarian.)

ZK: Is the square computer anarchist?

DE: It is not consumerist for a start.


DE: The best exhibition for this format would be Olia's collection of transparent web pixels.

DE: http://art.teleportacia.org/observation/clear.gif/

ZK: Nice.

ZK: Oh wait, one last q

ZK: is this happening only now?

ZK: Is it hard to make a square monitor?

ZK: Or is the market so fractured, individualized, it only made sense to make one now?

DE: If you read the comments on tech blogs announcing this monitor, lots of users speak up that they had enough of 16:9 or 21:9 because what they need to see expands below that format.

DE: The market for screens is actually shockingly homogeneous, with everything being 16:9 or wider.

DE: I don't think other formats are more difficult to make



ZK: Well — I'm happy for people who need this. The market should meet every need!


[Rhizome] Editor's Note: During the editing process, this last minute comment was added:

Scott Meisburger: LCD panels are manufactured in giant sheets and then sliced up. I've read that the recent move to 16:9 everything (which is further from the golden ratio than the original Apple Cinema 16:10) has to do with normalizing the assembly. because all the panels are really made by 1 or 2 companies in Asia.

SM: ^^ pro tip

Comments (2)

Golan Levin | Fri, Nov 21st, 2014 1:08 p.m.
It's understandable that there wouldn't be a lot of "home-cinema" demand for square LCDs. But many new-media artists -- particularly those who work in the field of generative software art and abstract computational imagery -- have sought a square LCD format for years. The usage case for such a monitor is the gallery or art-collection. Think about the work of artists like Manfred Mohr, John Maeda, Marius Watz, or (the Austrian software artist) Lia.

One reason the square format is appealing is that it doesn't "privilege" the horizontal over the vertical; it is neutral or ambivalent on the question of the inherent "orientedness" of the frame, which has (until now) not been an available option. Another reason it's appealing is that it's simply a 'different' format; we are so accustomed to 4:3, 16:9 and 5:4 screen ratios, that the square helps distinguish and defamiliarize the graphics. Finally there is a strong connection to historic abstraction and modernist image-making: think of the Malevich square, or this terrific article (brought to my attention by Zach Lieberman) about Eisenstein's thoughts on the "dynamic square" in cinema: https://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/cinema_journal/v051/51.2.wasson01.pdf
Golan Levin

Zoë Salditch | Fri, Nov 21st, 2014 2:53 p.m.
Good Today post. Impressed with Scott's knowledge of panel manufacturing.

I'm biased towards the 9:16 ratio or "deep portrait" as Andrew Benson likes to call it. ( ^-^)