Grenfell Campus Intro Digital Imaging 2011

Class website for VART 2600/2601: Introductory Digital Imaging at Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland, 2011-2012

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Class 21 Notes (Artist Websites)

In Assignment 6, you’ll use Dreamweaver to put together a website with some of the work you’ve created during the year.

Peter Schuyff - Drawings On Old Drawings

In today’s class we looked at some examples of interesting and effective artists’ websites. Here are the links we looked at:

Are there any other artists’ websites that you really like? You can leave a comment to share them with the class.

You can also see past examples of websites that students have created in this class on the old VART 2600/2601 course website.

Class 20 Notes (iDVD)

Editing a video project in iDVD, with iMovie in the background.

For Assignment 5, you can submit your work by uploading to to YouTube or Vimeo, or by creating a DVD of your video. Today’s class covered iDVD, which works with iMovie to let you easily create a DVD of your work, complete with an interactive menu.

The easiest way to get your video into iDVD is to open your project in iMovie, then click Share → iDVD. Use the theme browser in iDVD to choose a theme for your project. Themes are used for the interactive menu on your DVD. Many of the themes are geared more towards family vacation videos, so I’d suggest sticking with the more minimal ones. We’re using a more recent version of iDVD, so you may notice that only widescreen themes are available. If your video is in standard definition, you can still use a widescreen theme. When iDVD prompts you to Change Project Aspect Ratio, choose ‘Keep’ to avoid altering the aspect ratio of your movie.

If this is the first time you have used iDVD, it’s a good idea to click iDVD → Preferences and turn off the Apple logo that appears in the corner of the menu.

Each of the iDVD themes contains ‘Drop Zones’ that you can fill with content. These appear in various places during the interactive menu. You can use the Media menu to drag movies or photos from your computer into the Drop Zones (click the Edit Drop Zones button to see all Drop Zones at once). You can also edit the text which is used for the title and buttons on the DVD menu. Use the Inspector Window (the ‘i’ button in the lower left corner) for more options when editing the text or Drop Zones. You can also use the Inspector Window to edit the audio that plays during the interactive menu. Try clicking the Play button to preview your DVD.

By default, iDVD will create a DVD menu with one button, which simply plays your video. For more complex interactive menus with more than one video, use the ‘+’ button in the lower left corner to add multiple movies or slideshows. You can use the DVD Map window to further customize your DVD, including controlling what happens when you first insert the DVD into a DVD player. By default, iDVD will create a DVD which automatically plays your movie before showing the menu. You can use the Inspector Window here to create a DVD video which automatically loops when inserted into a DVD player.

When you have finished customized the menu, insert a blank DVD, then click the Burn button to burn your DVD. The Burn button is next to the Play button, and looks like a camera aperture.

Note that if you already have a YouTube or Vimeo account, you can also send your project to those websites straight from iMovie, using the Share menu.

Class 19 Notes (iMovie Green Screen)

Green Screen in Photoshop

Today’s class was mostly a work class for your video art assignment.

Recently I demonstrated how to use iMovie’s green screen feature to add animations with transparency on top of your videos. To use this feature, you need to turn on Advanced Tools in iMovie by clicking iMovie → Preferences → Show Advanced Tools.

You can create an animation in Photoshop with a green screen background, then add it to iMovie. This will work best if you work in Photoshop using the same pixel dimensions as your movie. For the example shown above, I am working at 960×540 pixels, which is the same size as the ‘Large’ quality setting in iMovie (use the ‘Video’ tab in iMovie Preferences to import video at Large size).

In Photoshop, create an animation as usual, but add a new background layer that is visible in all frames. You have to fill in this background colour with a particular green colour, which you can get by typing colour values into the Colour Picker in Photoshop. In RGB, this is (R: 0, G: 255, B: 0). As we discovered from this Apple Support Discussion, iMovie green screen works best when the green colour is a gradient instead of a solid colour. So you should create a gradient background that goes from (R: 0, G: 255, B: 0) to (R: 0, G: 240, B: 0).

When your Photoshop animation is ready, choose File → Export → Render Video to export your animation as a QuickTime movie that you can then import into iMovie. Once the clip is in your iMovie Event Library, drag it on top of a video in your Project (you should see a green ‘+’ icon), then choose Green Screen to create the transparent effect. Your animation should play over your video, with the green background in your animation becoming transparent.

Getting the timing of your animation to line up with your video can be tricky. You may find that 0.1 second frames work best when exported to video. If you want your animation to loop, you may have to copy and paste your animation frames a few times in Photoshop to create the loop, because when you Render Video, it will ignore any loop settings for your animation. You can also loop your animation by adding multiple copies of it to your video in iMovie.

Green screen can be a really fun way to combine animation and video. You can also use it to create more creative titles for your movie, such as handwritten or illustrated titles. Have fun with it!

Class 18 Notes (Bill Viola)

Bill Viola - The Eye of the Heart

During this class we watched the documentary Bill Viola: The Eye of the Heart, by Mark Kidel. It’s a fascinating look at the life and work of a pioneering video artist. I really enjoy documentaries that allow us to see an artist’s working process – in the case of Bill Viola, you can see that part of his brainstorming process is isolating himself and writing pages and pages of ideas for projects. His technique of bringing in an outside observer partway through a project (his partner, who is deeply familiar with his past work) is also interesting. It is also clear from the documentary that he spends a lot of time with the Renaissance art that informs some of his recent work. I hope you enjoyed the documentary!

You can see more of Bill Viola’s work on the artist’s website,

Class 16 Notes (Wholphin Videos)

In this class we finished a few critiques from the previous assignment, and I introduced some examples of video art. The first few are from Wholphin, a DVD magazine:

Jeroen Offerman - The Stairway at St. Paul's (still)

“My parents are Jehovah’s Witnesses and so I had a very strict Christian upbringing. There was a suspicion of rock and pop music, and some music, Led Zeppelin in particular, was branded downright evil. The rumor was that if you played “Stairway to Heaven” in reverse you could hear messages that would urge you to follow the devil’s path. Supposedly even if you listened to the music in a normal manner you would subconsciously pick up these messages and act accordingly. In my early teens, I destroyed some music that I thought I shouldn’t listen to or have at home. “Stairway to Heaven” was a difficult one for my friends and me. We thought the song and the lyrics were so utterly beautiful and yet we couldn’t listen to it out of fear of what could happen to us if we did. That’s the tension I felt by listening to this record: a teenage attraction to something dangerously beautiful. I am still intrigued how these myths are created and the effect they can have. So I started to learn to sing the song and its lyrics in reverse. After three months the job was done. I went up to the steps outside Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London and performed it for an audience of confused passers-by, pigeons, and a video camera. Back home I reversed the tape and put a karaoke track underneath.” – Jeroen Offerman

Funny 1980 “Newfound­land” Video

Hey guys. just wanted to share this “gem” I’m working with for this project. Dated 1980 you see this americans first take of newfoundland. I laughed.

Public Domain Video and Audio

Here are some sources of audio, video, and other media that is either public domain or Creative Commons licensed (for more about Creative Commons, see Please be sure to credit other artists appropriately if using Creative Commons licensed work in your project.

Class 15 Notes (Working with Divs)

Fixed-width page layout in Dreamweaver CS5

We’ve been creating basic pages in Dreamweaver CS5, but haven’t spent much time yet learning to organize our page so that we have more control over how the content is displayed. Usually everything is either centered or left-aligned. You may have noticed that by default text will stretch all the way across the browser window, which can be difficult to read. It is also difficult to control how images are positioned in relation to text.

In HTML, “div” elements are used to organize content. A div is basically an invisible box which has content in it. We can then adjust the properties of the div to control how that content appears on the page. Dreamweaver allows us to easily create divs and adjust their properties using CSS.

Here is how to create a main div to use as a container for all of your web page content. We’ll create a div with a fixed width that is centered in the browser window. Here is a screenshot of what this looks like in Dreamweaver’s Design view:

Using divs to organize web page content.

First, start a new HTML file. Click Insert -> Layout Objects -> Div Tag. In the “Insert Div Tag” dialog box, fill in “page” in the ID box, and click OK. A box appears on the page with some default text in it.

We have given the div an ID so that we can adjust its properties using CSS. The ID could be any word, but you can think of this div as a sort of page to hold your content, so “page” is a good name. You can see your div in Dreamweaver’s Design view – it appears as a dotted-line box. Let’s use CSS to adjust the properties of this box.

Make sure you have clicked to place your cursor inside the box. At the bottom of the Dreamweaver window, you should see the Properties panel (if not, click Window->Properties). Click the CSS button on the left side of this panel, then click the “Edit Rule” button.

In the “New CSS Rule” dialog box, the Selector Type should already be “ID”, and the Selector Name should already be “#page”. Click OK. A new dialog box called “CSS Rule definition for #page” appears which allows you to adjust the properties of our “page” div. Here are the CSS properties we want to adjust for this div:

In the Positioning category:
• Position: relative

In the Box category:
• Width: 800px (I’d suggest a value between 400 and 1000px)
• Margin: Uncheck “Same for all”, then use Right: auto, Left: auto (this centers the div)
• Padding: With “Same for all” checked, use Top: 20px (this adds space around the inside edge of the div)

If you explore this dialog box you will find many other div properties that you can change – you can give the div a border or background colour, use a background image, and adjust how text appears in the div.

Click Apply or OK to see the changes to your div. Save your HTML file and Preview it in the browser. Adjust the width of the browser window and you’ll notice that your div stays centered in the middle of the window. This is a great basic structure for your web page. From here, you can insert content into the “page” div. If you want to go back and edit the “page” div’s properties again, click the “Edit Rule” button again, or double-click “#page” in the CSS Styles panel.

For even more control over your content, try inserting “AP Divs” into the “page” div. AP stands for “absolutely positioned”, and these divs are useful because you can drag them to position them wherever you want. They will always stay in position relative to your “page” div and will not be affected by other content on your page.

Class 13 Notes (Assignment 4)

Jing Zhang - RULES

Today we started Assignment 4:

For this assignment, write between 800 and 1000 words on the topic “Digital Art”. Some questions you might want to consider: How is working with digital media different than working with other media? How is it similar? How does the internet affect how artists work and communicate? Present your finished text as a web page.

Here are some examples of creative approaches to a similar writing assignment, from a couple of years ago:

You can see more work from previous years of this class on the VART 2600 website.

Class 12 Notes (Innovative Websites)

Miranda July - screenshot from website for No One Belongs Here More Than You

This was a work class; I took a look at what everyone is working on for Assignment 3.

Learning how websites are made can quickly turn into acronym spaghetti – HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP are just a few of the many languages you might encounter when reading about making websites. Dreamweaver’s visual interface allows you to create websites without working directly with code, but the process can still be a little overwhelming at first. Like much of the software we are using, Dreamweaver is quite powerful and designed to meet the needs of a wide range of professionals. Focus on the elements we cover in class and you will be fine. See the Class 11 Notes for a diagram of important elements of the Dreamweaver interface.

Here are some examples of websites which are quite innovative and interesting despite being not very technically complex. These are good examples of what you can do with just a little bit of web design knowledge.

  • Miranda July is not a web designer, but created a website to promote her book No One Belongs Here More Than You using a permanent marker, her kitchen, and a digital camera.
  • The website of actor Jeff Bridges is composed mostly of his sketches and handwriting. There are some great photos from the making of True Grit in the Photography section.
  • Olia Lialina’s Pages in the Middle of Nowhere is the home of her net art projects, including the Animated GIF Models we looked at as examples of loop artworks. By creating a web page which is larger than the screen both horizontally and vertically, the page becomes a large explorable area.
  • Similarly the Solar System Scale Model uses an extraordinarily long horizontally-scrolling web page to create a vast virtual space, giving the viewer a sense of the scale of our solar system.

For another example of a brilliantly unconventional website design, check out Sagmeister Inc., a design firm which uses a live webcam of their New York office as their website – the navigation interface is painted on the office floor!

Exquisite Collaboration!

It's allliiiiiiiiiiive!

Our collaborative Exquisite Collaboration project is online! Here is the link; feel free to post to Facebook or wherever you like.

The final conglomeration looks great, although it definitely has a creepy side and I’m not sure I would want to run into it in a dark alley. Everyone put a lot of effort into this project – thanks for all your hard work! Everyone’s names are listed at the bottom of the page. If you hover the mouse over a head, body or legs segment, a little tooltip will let you know whose work it is.

Class 11 Notes (Dreamweaver Intro)

With Assignment 3, we’ll start learning to use Adobe Dreamweaver to create web pages. This assignment is meant as a brief introduction to Dreamweaver – we’ll simply be using it to present our finished work, which can be created using other software, such as Photoshop. We’ll take a more in-depth look at Dreamweaver in future assignments.

The Dreamweaver CS5 Interface

  • Our introduction to Dreamweaver began with a brief tour of the interface. See the image above for details (click for the full-sized image).
  • When starting a new project in Dreamweaver, set up a “Dreamweaver Site”. This creates a folder on your computer which will store the files that make up your website. A website usually contains multiple files (HTML files, images, and so on). I’d suggest saving your Site folder on your Desktop, and backing it up on your flash drive each time you work on it.
  • After setting up your Site, the first thing you want to do is create a new HTML file. When you do this, you should save the file immediately. This is so that when you start inserting images, Dreamweaver will know where your HTML file is saved, and can copy the image files to that location. Otherwise you can end up linking to images that are outside of your site folder, which means they will be missing when you hand in your work.
  • We’ll be using Design view most of the time, but you can use Code view or Split view to see the HTML code that makes up your website. Notice how the code changes when you make changes in the Design view. The Design view is called a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) interface, because what you see while editing corresponds closely to what the finished document will look like.
  • Although we are creating web pages, we’ll be working entirely on our computers for now. In later projects, we’ll look at putting files on the web.

Jenny Odell – Satellite Collections

Just came across these today and thought you might like them as much as I do: Satellite Collections by Jenny Odell.

Jenny Odell - Every Baseball Diamond in Manhattan

“In all of my prints, I collect things that I’ve cut out from Google Satellite View– parking lots, silos, landflls, waste ponds. The view from a satellite is not a human one, nor is it one we were ever really meant to see. But it is precisely from this inhuman point of view that we are able to read our own humanity, in all of its tiny, reliably repetitive marks upon the face of the earth. From this view, the lines that make up basketball courts and the scattered blue rectangles of swimming pools become like hieroglyphs that read: people were here.” – from Odell’s artist statement

Class 10 Notes (Uncreative Writing)

During this class, we assembled everyone’s work to create our Exquisite Collaboration. It looks great so far. We’re still waiting on a few files from people, but I’ll put up a separate blog post with a link to the final project when it is ready. We also had an informal critique where everyone spoke briefly about their work.

Continuing with our current assignment’s theme of using text as source material, I’d like to introduce you to the work of Kenneth Goldsmith. We’ve already come across some of Goldsmith’s work recently, as he is the creator of UBUWeb, the online archive of avant-garde poetry, sound art, and video where we watched the video about John Cage. In addition to his work as an archivist, Goldsmith is a poet and creative writing professor, and teaches a class called Uncreative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania. He is interested in reinventing literature for the digital age, in part by applying the Conceptual art strategies of artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Sol LeWitt, and Douglas Huebler. Some of Goldsmith’s creative works involve retyping newspapers, recording every word he says for a week (Soliloquy), and transribing radio broadcasts (Traffic).

“My books are better thought about than read. They’re insanely dull and unreadable; I mean, do you really want to sit down and read a year’s worth of weather reports or a transcription of the 1010 WINS traffic reports “on the ones” (every ten minutes) over the course of a twenty-four-hour period? I don’t. But they’re wonderful to talk about and think about, to dip in and out of, to hold, to have on your shelf. In fact, I say that I don’t have a readership, I have a thinkership. I guess this is why what I do is called “conceptual writing.” The idea is much more important than the product.” – Goldsmith, from an interview with Believer magazine

During this class we also looked at some examples of artists using texts as a kind of source material:

A famous statement by Douglas Huebler

Remember, with this project you can create your work in any way you like, you just need to use Dreamweaver to present the final work as a web page. We’ll look at Dreamweaver in more detail during the next two classes.

Class 9 Notes (HTML)

The due date for Assignment 2 has been extended until next class, so this class was mostly a chance for everyone to continue working on their animations for the Exquisite Collaboration.

During this class there was a brief introduction to HTML, or Hypertext Markup Language. We learned how to “View Source” in a web browser to see the HTML code that is used to create any website. HTML code can be written in any plain-text editor, such as TextEdit on a Mac or Notepad on Windows, so you don’t need any special software to write code. I demonstrated how to configure TextEdit for working with plain-text, and how to create an HTML file on your computer that you can open in a web browser. We looked at some basic HTML tags such as <p> to create paragraphs, <b> and <i> to create bold and italic text, and <a> to create links. Some tags have attributes – for example, with an image tag (<img src=”puppy.jpg” />), the “src” attribute indicates the source of the image file. Note that tags can be nested, and that white space is not interpreted by the web browser, but can be used to organize your code. HTML is a markup language, which means that it is mostly used to “mark up” existing content. You can compare HTML tags to punctuation marks, which we use to give context and form to written language. HTML gives context and form to the content of a web page. If you’d like to learn more about HTML, HTML Source is a great place to get started.

At the end of this class we took a brief look at Dreamweaver, which we’ll be using to display our work from Assignment 3. Dreamweaver provides a WYSIWYG (“what you see is what you get”) interface for creating web pages. In other words, you can use the tools in Dreamweaver to visually build web pages, while the program writes the underlying HTML for you. Working with Dreamweaver is similar to working with Microsoft Word or other word-processing software, but we can create more complex interactivity and combine images and text in interesting ways.

Jared Tarbell's "Substrate" is an algorithmically-generated drawing.

Class 8 Notes (John Cage)

John Cage, in a tv interview

In Class 8 we looked at the work of John Cage, avant-garde composer and poet – a very influential figure in music, poetry, and visual art. In a 1978 interview with Richard Kostelanetz, Cage discusses the techniques he uses in his works Writing Through Finnegans Wake and Writing for the Second Time Through Finnegans Wake. We are looking at this interview in preparation for our next assignment, Assignment 3, where we will use a text as the source material for a new artwork.

John Cage is perhaps best known for 4′33″, a composition which consists of 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence. When performed (here’s a performance by the BBC Symphony Orchestra), the audience is meant to experience the ambient sounds of the setting as music. Cage also created chance or aleatoric music, such as prepared piano (here are a couple of videos).

Writing for the Second Time Through Finnegans Wake was created as part of Cage’s Roaratorio, a musical composition which uses Finnegans Wake as its source material. Finnegans Wake is itself an experimental modernist novel by James Joyce, another hugely influential figure in 20th century literature and art. The novel is full of puns, wordplay and made-up words, and uses a stream-of-consciousness writing style. Like Tom Phillips’s A Humument, which we looked at last class, Writing Through Finnegans Wake creates a new narrative by navigating an existing text.

Writing Through Finnegans Wake might also be thought of as an example of Conceptual art. In the words of Sol LeWitt, “In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”

Class 7 Notes (Navigating Databases)

bpNichol - The Complete Works

As we work on our second project, a key point I keep referring back to in class is that the database – a system of components that can be organized in different ways to create meaning – is an important form in new media. Lev Manovich notes that “many new media objects do not tell stories; they do not have a beginning or end; in fact they, they do not have any development, thematically, formally, or otherwise that would organize their elements into a sequence. Instead, they are collections of individual items, with every item possessing the same significance as any other.” He refers to the database as “a new way to structure our experience of ourselves and of the world,” and proposes that “creating a work in new media can be understood as the construction of an interface to a database” (from The Language of New Media).

During this class, we looked at some examples of non-digital systems which use a database-like structure, such as Magnetic Poetry, Scott McCloud’s 5 Card Nancy, and Endless Landscape toys. You might also think of euro-style board game tiles such as Settlers of Catan and Carcassone as examples of these kinds of systems. Canadian avant-garde poet bpNichol presents the keys on his typewriter as a kind of database in The Complete Works, a concrete poem.

We also looked at some examples of artists working with database-like systems, or creating narratives by navigating existing systems:

A Humument is a great example of an artist creating a new work by “constructing an interface to a database”. By altering the original book (A Human Document), Tom Phillips reorganizes its data in an innovative way, uncovering unexpected narratives. The original book can be thought of as a database, while Phillips’s work takes the form of an interface, or a new way of navigating and interacting with the original work.

Class 6 Notes (Collage & Collaboration)

During this class, we looked at the origins of the exquisite corpse collaborative drawing game, including some of the original Surrealist drawings. The Surrealists were particularly interested in the subconscious, and came up with many techniques of exploring subconscious thought, including automatic writing, the cut-up technique, frottage, and collage. Wikipedia has a great list of Surrealist techniques. Think about how some of the commands and tools we use on our computers reflect the avant-garde strategies of collage and collaboration:

“Avant-garde aesthetic strategies became embedded in the commands and interface metaphors of computer software. The avant-garde became materialized in a computer. Digital cinema technology is a case in point. The avant-garde strategy of collage reemerged as a “cut and paste” command, the most basic operation one can perform on digital data. The idea of painting on film became embedded in paint functions of film editing software. The avant-garde move to combine animation, printed texts and live action footage is repeated in the convergence of animation, title generation, paint, compositing and editing systems into single all-in-one packages.” – Lev Manovich, from The Language of New Media

An exquisite corpse drawing by André Breton, Man Ray, and others.

We also looked at some examples of how the exquisite corpse technique has been adapted for new media and the web:

Besides Corpsify, here are some other examples of web-based collaborative drawing tools:

Finally, we created some paper exquisite corpse drawings in class, and I demonstrated how to go about slicing a Photoshop animation into three smaller ‘head’, ‘body’, and ‘feet’ animations for our exquisite corpse project. If you’d like to read more about collaboration on the web, check out Vague Terrain 17: Collaborative Spaces.

Class 5 Notes (Exquisite Collaboration)

A screenshot from last year's Exquisite Collaboration

After our critique, I handed out Assignment 2, the Exquisite Collaboration project. For this project you’ll each create several animated GIF images, which we’ll combine into an interactive, animated “exquisite corpse”. To get an idea of how the final project will work, check out the Exquisite Collaboration from last year’s class.

Remember, in the spirit of the original Surrealists’ drawing game, your ‘head’ images don’t have to be heads; your ‘feet’ could be tails, clouds, flowerpots, or anything you wish. Your images can be either drawings or photo-based or some combination of both.

The project requires you to create six animated GIFs, each 500 pixels wide x 250 pixels high. You might find it easier to work on two 500 x 750 pixel images, and then crop each into 3 images. Don’t forget about the two 500 x 750 background images as well – these don’t have to be animated. The animations for this project should be short loops, they do not have to be particularly complex. You are welcome to make extra images if you find time!

If you each make 8 images, how many possible combinations will the creature have? The time-based nature of animation adds additional variation and complexity – animations with different frame rates will not always line up the same way.

“Who are we, who is each one of us, if not a combinatoria of experiences, information, books we have read, things imagined? Each life is an encyclopedia, a library, an inventory of objects, a series of styles, and everything can be constantly shuffled and reordered in every way conceivable.” – Italo Calvino, from Six Memos for the Next Millennium

Artists and Animated GIFs

Michael Bell-Smith - Faceted Sphere on an Escalator

Geeks in the Gallery is a three-part interview (1, 2, 3) with Tom Moody and Michael Bell-Smith, two artists who have worked extensively with animated GIFs and other ‘low tech’ digital art. Tom Moody is an artist, musician and art critic who often makes use of older digital imaging software such as MS Paint. Michael Bell-Smith draws on the aesthetics of old video games and cartoons in works such as Up and Away, Return To Forever, and Action Hack Series. He is also the creator of Subterranean House (

Tom Moody: “Animated GIFs have evolved over the last several years into a kind of ubiquitous “mini-cinema,” entirely native to the personal computer and the World Wide Web. Almost anyone can make one and almost every browser will read them. In other words, no YouTube compression, no wait time, no subscriptions or proprietary formats to view, and they can be made in the most elementary and cheap imaging programs (free if you search for open source). GIFs are the purest expression of the democratic web and along with JPEGs and PNGs comprise its most authentic visual language.” – from his article Psychotronic GIFs.

Michael Bell-Smith: “I don’t think I’m entirely anti-narrative. I like to play with gestures of narrative (change, conflict, progression) without necessarily engaging in its structure and the pleasure that comes from it. I like to think I’m working in a tension between something pictoral, something narrative and something atmospheric, trying to create work that a viewer engages a bit differently from most time based media art.” – from the Geeks in the Gallery interview

Class 4 Notes (Video Loops)

During this class we looked at some examples of video artists working with loops:

Martin Arnold is best known for Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy (1998), a frenetic remix of film from old Andy Hardy movies in which a few frames of film are sampled, replayed and stretched into extended sequences. There are some clips of this project on YouTube: 1 (above), 2, 3. Passage À L’Acte uses a similar technique.

In works such as La Ronde and Momentum, Montreal artist Bettina Hoffman creates video loops where a camera continuously arcs around a group of people who are perfectly still. This mechanism allows the viewer to examine these awkwardly frozen social situations in minute detail, working out relationships between the characters in each scene and imagining what has happened or is about to happen.

Think about how both of these video artists use loops and repetition to focus our attention on otherwise ordinary moments, creating a sense of tension and unease, and drawing attention to the conventions and constraints of cinema.

We also looked at Marco Brambilla’s Civilization and Continue. Many of Brambilla’s video projects make use of loops. Brambilla directed the 1993 Hollywood blockbuster Demolition Man before turning his attention to video and installation art.

“The cinema of Hollywood is a cinema of exclusion, reduction and denial, a cinema of repression. In consequence we should not only consider what is shown, but also that which is not shown. There is always something behind that which is being represented, which was not represented. And it is exactly that which is most interesting to consider.” – Martin Arnold

Cinema­graph Tutorial

Tilen Sepic - vir wall

Photography website Photojojo has a great tutorial about how to make your own cinemagraphs, the “photos that move” that we looked at last week. Even if you aren’t working with photos for your animation project, you might find the tutorial useful – it includes details about how to import a video file into Photoshop, using a layer mask as part of your animation, and working with GIF’s limited colour palette.

The cinemagraph above is by Tilen Sepic – check out the blog youhavetostartsomewhere for more.

Class 3 Notes (Animation Examples)

Class 3 was a work class for our loop project. Here are a couple of looping animated GIFs I made as examples for class. The first is hand-drawn, while the second uses photographs:

Types of Loops

M.C. Escher - Möbius Strip II (Red Ants)

A few different types of loops:

Infinite Loops
An infinite loop is “a sequence of instructions in a computer program which loops endlessly, either due to the loop having no terminating condition or having one that can never be met.” Here is an example video of someone creating a simple infinite loop using the BASIC programming language.

Feedback Loops
A feedback loop is “a circular causal process whereby some proportion of a system’s output is returned (fed back) to the input. This is often used to control the dynamic behavior of the system… A control system usually has input and output to the system; when the output of the system is fed back into the system as part of its input, it is called the feedback.” Here is a video of someone creating a video feedback loop by pointing a video camera at the screen it is connected to. We demonstrated this in class using a webcam.

Strange Loops
“A strange loop arises when, by moving up or down through a hierarchical system, one finds oneself back where one started. Strange loops may involve self-reference and paradox. The concept of a strange loop was proposed and extensively discussed by Douglas Hofstadter in Gödel, Escher, Bach, and is further elaborated in Hofstadter’s book I Am a Strange Loop, which appeared in 2007.” You might think of the work of M.C. Escher as visualizing strange loops. Another example is Duane Michals’s photo series Things Are Queer.