Paul Slocum suggests using knitPro to upload bad JPEG images so they could be rendered as cross stitch or needlepoint projects. Good idea, but man, that would be difficult to pull off. My sense is the stitched piece would have to be both enormous and extremely detailed to show the horrible "bicubic mush" that results from poor compression (which only the extremely perverse are apt to find funny anyway). Nevertheless, I have a candidate: it's a late Op Art piece by Julian Stanczak on the Stefan Stux website [Since removed]. In real life those stripes are super hard-edged, but on the Web, well...

UPDATE: Here's Paul's draft of a proposed "bad JPEG" fiber art project. He has more to say about it in the comments. I'll be away from the computer for a while but the obvious next step is to run this through knitPro.

More opinions on what the Stanczak image suffers from would be welcome--Paul pegs it as a bad resolution issue rather than a too much compression issue. I realize it's hard if you haven't seen the actual painting, but assume it's a black and white image with razor sharp lines. The whole thing is out of focus but mushy spots with added color at regular intervals look like the type of thing you see when saving something too many times at the "low quality" setting. It's important to know why things are an utter failure at communicating.

UPDATE 2: Another comment, from Dan, persuasively identifies the problem with the Stanczak image as one of bad resolution, not bad compression, but it's academic now because Stux has removed the murky black and white pic from its website. A new show of Stanczak work opens soon so I'm sure it was because of that. For bad jpegs of famous Canadian paintings, please see this post on Sally McKay's weblog, which she explains was inspired by a now somewhat quaint 1953 article by George Elliot warning that art should not be shown on television. " A painting needs an intellectual presence before it can work its magic. Placing anything between the viewer and the painting kills the viewer ."

- tom moody 1-03-2005 8:26 pm

I think it could be reasonably small. the trickiest part would probabably be keying the color right. That op art image is likely suffering more from resolution issues than compression which is also interesting, but more difficult to illustrate with thread. maybe something like this:

(would be better with an older version of Windows though)

it's funny how everywhere you look now, you see sick pixellation and JPEG artifacts -- on menus, signs, pamplets, within software, at George Lucas movies, etc.
- paul (guest) 1-03-2005 10:19 pm

This is a great idea. Maybe the converse would be creating a pixel art image that appeared to be a lo-res sprite blown-up but on further inspection (when zoomed in on?) actually has the imperfections of a fiber process rendered pixel style.

This guy has some pretty great lo-res jpegs:

(One of my favorite mainstream pixellations is digital cable - the fade to blacks on my MTV2 look like video toaster style dither fades)
- Michael Bell-Smith (guest) 1-04-2005 7:00 am

On the Stanczak image...

Definitely resolution, though it's not so much a matter of "bad" resolution as of a mismatch between the resolution and the pattern in the original image. It looks like the grid of lines in the painting is simply off-register with the jpeg's raster. At some points, then, the black and white show up clearly and distinctly while at others they are interpolated together as gray.

It's the same effect that causes Moire patterns when halftone images are scanned or when an idiot man-child does a TV press conference in a patterned tie (
- Dan (guest) 1-04-2005 7:40 am

As for "added color" in the "mushy spots"...

I'm not so sure I see that, but suspect that it may be an optical effect in your eyes rather than one on the screen.
- Dan (guest) 1-04-2005 7:51 am

Right you are on the color. I zoomed in in Photoshop and it's all greys. I'm such a psychedelic person I see colors everywhere. I guess I need to find a new bad jpeg to pick on.
- tom moody 1-04-2005 8:04 am

Another funny thing about the Stanczak jpeg--it's at 100% on the gallery page and when you click on it, it shrinks.
- tom moody 1-04-2005 8:06 am

I tried running it through knitPro, but the fixed resolution and light blue guide lines are causing problems. here's one with a similar guide that I made using photoshop. unfortunately, I don't know much about how it would actually be created, although I suspect it would be a lot of work. :o)

- paul (guest) 1-04-2005 8:17 am

"Right you are on the color. I zoomed in in Photoshop and it's all greys. I'm such a psychedelic person I see colors everywhere."

I'm curious whether the painting itself ever has a similar effect in real life. (I'd imagine it's probably too big to give the eyes the necessary jittery optical interference.)
- Dan (guest) 1-04-2005 9:03 am

See update 2 above.
- tom moody 1-05-2005 12:41 pm

thanks for the link, Tom. The famous Canadian painting post was spurred by a 1953 article by George Elliot warning that art should not be shown on television. " A painting needs an intellectual presence before it can work its magic. Placing anything between the viewer and the painting kills the viewer ." Things have changed a bit since then.

- sally mckay 1-05-2005 6:36 pm

I added this info to the update.
- tom moody 1-05-2005 7:23 pm

you gotta admit B&W TV had its simulacrum limitations.

- bill 1-06-2005 1:27 am

It was pretty convincing at the time; the Group of 7 on the other hand...
- alex 1-06-2005 3:25 am

hey what's wrong with the G7?! don't you like rocks and trees and pretty colours? or maybe you prefer Marsden Hartley.
- sally mckay 1-06-2005 4:12 am

Just trying to get a rise out of Canada; I was doubtful whether anyone here had ever even heard of the Group of 7. Of course in the US they are considered hopelessly provincial, which is probably what the Europeans thought about Hartley. Iím already on record slagging MH, but I did once visit a swell museum devoted to G7 (sorry, I remember the building better than the artÖ)
- alex 1-06-2005 7:22 pm

I think I can speak for all canadians (why not, eh?) when I say we're pretty dang sick of the Group of Seven. though it might be fun to champion them as a sort of perverse reverse rebellion...if you could stay awake long enough. We had a chant at my art school, based on one professor's obsession, that went like this: "Marsden Hartley is an important artist...Marsden Hartley is an important artist...Marsden Hartley is an important artist...Marsden Hartley is an important artist...etc"
sorry Tom! this is sooo off topic.
- sally mckay 1-06-2005 9:47 pm

Going off topic is fine as long as you're not a troll trying to bait other commenters into an argument over whether the UN is corrupt, which was the the right wing talking point du jour a few weeks ago intended to deflect attention from Bush's miserable failures in the foreign policy arena. I actually didn't know about the G7, being a self absorbed American so I learned something. The Marsden Hartley clones in Dallas were called "The Nine" and some of them were pretty good.
- tom moody 1-06-2005 10:00 pm

oh man! What was it with these clots of painters calling themselves by the number in their group. We had "The Painters Eleven" and "The Regina Five."
- sally mckay 1-06-2005 10:26 pm

I remember Greenberg talking about the Regina 5, only not by that name, when I met him in the early 90s. Interesting that page calls it "abstractionism," which is one of Jerry Saltz's derisive terms for self-consciously purist work.
- tom moody 1-06-2005 10:33 pm


- bill 1-06-2005 11:11 pm

- sally mckay 1-06-2005 11:47 pm

Two words: Guido Molinari.
- alex 1-06-2005 11:54 pm

The "Ashcan School" were known as "The Eight" in the first decade of the 20th century. Is that the beginning of the number thing (I don't recall Braque & Picasso being "the two")?
- alex 1-07-2005 12:04 am

Molinari was passably cool. For famous Canadian painters, though, I dig the figurative guys. Here's a few of the more famous highlights:

Paul Kane (1810-1871) a wacky Irish colonialist painting the natives of the new world

William Kurelek (1927-1977) who did cute pastoral scenes suitable for childrens books and calendars except every once in a while there'd be a mushroom cloud on the horizon, or a human crucifix in a cornfield

Alex Colville (1920-) with his strange super-realism and unwavering dedication to sell sell sell.

Paterson Ewen(1925-2002) with his plywood and his router and his big weather iconography.

Of course Philip Guston was actually born in Canada too, but even we Canadians think its a bit ridiculous to try claiming him as a native son.
- sally mckay 1-07-2005 12:15 am

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