Wednesday, September 07, 2011

morgul days

so i mentioned that my mfa course required us to produce artwork of any sort in the process of obtaining a masters of fine arts.  preposterous.
and while i'm sure the rest of my students are so effervescently passionate about Art that they're churning out pieces as if they were living on the banks of the seine at the turn of the century (note: they're not, except for maybe that one girl whom i've never seen before...), i had no clue what i was going to do.  go to hobby lobby (where they apparently sell more than hideous Christmas ornaments) and get some canvas and paints?
i like photography.  maybe i could do something with that....  then, later that day in my "digital image" class, our teacher briefly showed us a program that showed the code for any digital picture.
oh, yeah, it also let you play with the code.

basically, it works like this: the computer processes color in a type of code called "hex code", which, instead of having numbers 0-9 like we're used to, it has sixteen base numbers, adding letters A-F after 9 in a way that today's quiz proved i still don't grasp.  but this hex code can be translated from regular letters and junk like this: ´…v– `eù äwáƒ)mÈGÏÁ 7$ .
it can also come from junk like this: sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell.
and each letter gets translated into hex code, which then affects the image.

normally, you wouldn't want to mess with that.
but art projects don't do normal things.  : )

in full disclosure, this wasn't entirely my original idea.  my friend had this as his desktop wallpaper this summer, part of the publicity work from "the social network." (ok, i couldn't find the site with his wallpaper...)  i knew that it was created by inserting random lines into the pictures code and i decided i wanted a crack at it.

my initial thought was to go around campus and take some shots, but i remember from my byu days that it gets pretty old of seeing "your campus" in photography assignments of any kind.  and i've learned that all the more since i've graduated and have been all around the world.  so, i used some of those, instead.

doing the actual work, my screen looked like this:

again, i understand this only enough to know "put junk here to screw it up."

experiment the first:

i tossed in all sorts of things here.  i'd delete lines, i copy and paste sections from sheep go to heaven or other blogs, i tossed in some tally hall lyrics, a chapter from the song of solomon, and all sorts of things.

experiment the second:

 i did this one twice, first tossing in the same sort of random code.  then i started adding lines from daft punk's "technologic", which has slightly varied repeated lyrics, which meant that the code would be mostly the same with only subtle variations.  i thought that might be an interesting experiment.  and it kind of was.  the results are still very hard to predict or even see correlations between the code and the image.
an interesting note: my mutant images looks significantly different here than it does directly on my computer.  the colors are much more washed out here.  significantly.

experiment the third:
hi, sister

this time, i raided my junk mail.  lines about trusting kenyans who know i'm a good soul and want to send me $3.5 million u.s. dollars, viagra from russian pharmacies, and, well, that was mostly what was in there, i would just grab lines and toss them in there.

one thing i started noticing was that, obviously, higher lines of code would mess with the upper portions of the image.  but not until i started adding lines, rather than just deleting, would the color change (or was that the other way around?)  and it would usually shift to one color, rather than creating different colors throughout.  i think we may have learned about why that is in class.

experiment the fourth:
i'd started checking my progress as i was working, rather than just attacking all at once.  this was looking really cool until the bottom half suddenly disappeared (actually, it went grey for me.  but it's showing up white/empty here).  and there's no "undo" function here, so i was stuck with it.  i decided to stop there.
it wouldn't be my first casualty of progress, though.
but such is experimental art.

experiment the fifth:

i had gotten nervous about doing too much and ruining good work, plus i didn't like how some of them became so garbled that you hardly recognize the original image, so i held back on this one. besides, i really like the original picture in the first place.
i think it could use a little more work, but art is never finished, just abandoned, and i bailed early on this one.  : )  i freaking love that red stripe in the middle, though.

i felt pretty good with the ten images i took to class this morning but felt that i'd kind of exhausted the project: random stuff happens when you mess with code.  got it.  but the faculty liked my work (one said he would commission me if he had the money) and offered enough thoughts that i wanted to keep with it.
so, the experiment continues....


Anonymous said...

Experiment the 4th is my favorite. I'd love to see the other half. I also really like the last one.


The Former 786 said...

It's amazing how a little chaos can produce art. Well done, Jeff! You are an artist.