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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 ."
Dubious NY Times Op Ed of the Week. Here's what seems to be the gist of Simon Singh's argument regarding what he calls Albert Einstein's "greatest failure" (not really sure what Singh is saying--and if you thought the "failure" was E's inability to find the unified field theory you're wrong):
1. Albert Einstein published papers in the same year (1905) proving the existence of the atom, showing the validity of quantum physics and introducing special relativity. He was not a "perfect genius," however.Previous Dubious NY Times Op Eds:
2. We can learn much from his greatest failure, which was hypothesizing antigravity to justify his stubborn belief that the universe neither expanded or contracted.
3. We now know the universe expands after the big bang; Einstein eventually admitted his error.
4. Except it turns out he called it correctly after all. Scientists now believe that a propulsive force called "dark energy" makes the universe keep expanding instead of collapsing in a big crunch.
5. Except Einstein wasn't talking about an expanding universe but a steady state universe, one that just sits there, making his notion of antigravity seem not very applicable to the current model.
6. So we actually don't learn much from Einstein's being wrong. The reason he's a "better than perfect genius" is he admits his mistakes, which is a very good quality.
1. The tsunami had nothing to do with restoring balance to the ecosystem but it's really cool to talk about Gaia.
2. We shouldn't do something because it's right but because scientists have learned monkeys do it.
"Pops at 49" [mp3 removed]. Noisy, dirty micro-trance. If it was a car someone would write "wash me" on it. Pops commencing at :49 are pretty jarring but as Pee Wee Herman would say, "I meant to do that" (I think); gratuitous filter sweep at 1:49 takes you to climax, meaning the loud end of the song.
"XP Hardware Failure: Intro and Main Theme" [mp3 removed]
Made this awhile back and never put it up. Inspired by Clown Staples' immortal "Windows Noises," I did what many did on hearing that music--said "I could do that." Of course I couldn't, but it's taken a few months to see the charm in my own klutzy hubris. It's all done--poorly--using the little sndrec32.exe editor lurking in every Windows OS, with some help from Goldwave, a shareware .wav editor. Think I'm ready for drum and bass now.
This is one of my pixel art pieces rendered as a knit, crochet, needlepoint and/or cross-stitch pattern (I'm a little out of my depth as to which would be the most applicable). An actual size screen shot is here. I generated it using microRevolt's knitPro, where you can "upload jpeg, gif or png images of whatever you wish -- portraits, landscapes, logos... and it will generate the image pattern on a graph sizable for any fiber project." The application was conceived as a "protest tool that generates knit patterns of sweatshop offenders"--an excellent idea, but I don't see anything that would prevent the current program from generating, say, swastikas or confederate flags. (I admit I didn't try that.) So with all this in mind, go browse the site and see what they're up to. Also, kudos to microRevolt founder Cat Mazza for an excellent stint reBlogging at Eyebeam these past few weeks.
Interesting article in Wired on the "shadow internet"--haven't read it all yet but am intrigued by what it's saying about file-sharing being an alternate form of broadcasting. Only a tiny portion of peer to peer file sharing consists of people ripping CDs and putting them online--mostly it's the same few pirated (crappy) CDs or movies spreading virally really fast. This suggests that the RIAA and MPAA lawsuits are a worse than useless form of kicking-the-dog--like going after pot smokers because crack dealers are hard to catch. Or maybe that's not a good analogy: maybe it's like going after Perrier-sharers because you can't have a global monopoly on tap water.
Old School Techno from Dallas, Part 2
Ravestock '94, Dallas. That is seriously a lot of stripes. And girls.
x-eleven "Ecstasy" 1992 [mp3 removed]
Previous post on x-eleven is here. Since it was written, Gary Wicker has put up some more tracks, including "Ecstasy," the one highlighted above. Not sure where it's going at first, the sampled "ooh" sounds silly, but at the 90 second mark it grabs your attention, and at 120 seconds, when the Larry Heard-ish house part with the synth-flute kicks in and those "oohs" become joyful, stuttering vocal science, it really takes off. Some of the appeal is rooted in time travel but this is among the happiest music you'll hear, and Wicker feeds the retrograde desire to hear lots of arpeggios played at high speed. Haven't checked out Todd Hixon's videos yet, also from the vault, but will--just wanted to get this track up. It's weird, I'm nostalgic for a scene I never participated in, except in my studio listening to these tunes on the radio. I moved to NY the next year and found drum and bass everywhere--right about the time Wicker sold his gear and stopped making x-eleven tracks. "Ecstasy" is earlier--'92. Update, December 2014: The X-Eleven links above are dead but the group has a page on bandcamp.
I'm trying to set up a music studio and it's slow and frustrating as hell. There's a reason I use simple-minded programs in my visual work--I want the tech to be fast and uncomplicated, and then I compensate by doing something ridiculously labor-intensive on the physical end. So far I've had a similar approach to music, somewhat in reverse: using entry level programs and the computer's sound card but mousing in the entire composition note by note on an old fashioned staff. One of my family members said, "Yeah, but it's the same four notes over and over!" I tried to explain that there are timbral variations that make the work similar to my sphere paintings, which this person likes, and exciting octave jumps, and subtle things with syncopation, and...well.
The problem is I'm tired of the textures of the low end music programs and want the sound to get richer. I love the Sidstation synthesizer I bought recently and think it deserves better accompaniment than the sound card synths in the shareware program I downloaded. I'm tired of buzz and hum in the recording. I want better bass and drum sounds. I want a real sequencer.
Before Christmas I bought a sampler from craigslist: an E-mu E6400 Classic. I've been playing with it tonight and it's been fun learning how a 9 year old sampler works but, actually, I'm not sure it does work. I managed to record a 1-second sample but couldn't save it. This machine has no internal hard drive, so my options are to hook a scuzzy (SCSI) cable up to a zip drive or CD ROM, neither of which I have, get an adapter card and enter "Scuzzy Hell" trying to get my PC to read it, or use the floppy drive to store small bits of data. Watching this thing slo-o-owly format a floppy was discouraging, and then I couldn't save to it. After 3 tries I successfully named a "bank," but then the sample wouldn't go in it. Eventually I turned off the machine and lost the sample.