“Six Sided Strange” (Rubikesque Creatures) by Jason Nelson


Six Sided Strange is a net-artwork series built from unsolvable Rubik’s cubes and hidden narratives, from pixilated game character collages to abstract streams of color and lines. The cube is central to how we organize and understand. It is a puzzle of unsolvable junctures, a humanistic shape created to order and organize. Six Sided Strange disrupts the cube, wandering inside/around the recombinatory playground of Rubik’s 56 squares, exploring how images and designs relate to narrative. These are interactive/dynamic sculptures, brief storylands, and all manner of wonderments. There is nothing to win, but then again there never was.

This recent commission from Turbulence is a series of interactive/dynamic sculptures each taking the form of animate and unsolvable ‘Rubikesque Creatures’. This work follows the messy, lively and content heavy aesthetic that permeates some of Jason’s previous work. It also uses an interface, the rubik’s cube, that implies an (albeit challenging) end goal to the experience however thanks to the animate and nongeometric nature of the each cube face the puzzle is unsolvable. A futility that has also been explored in Jason’s previous game-based work.

Most of Jason’s work has been programmed in ActionScript to run on Adobe’s Flash platform. The Flash platform has recently been taking a fairly significant battering by open web advocates (as well as Steve Jobs whose interest are clearly different and predominately vested). Although there is rationed argument for open standards in web technologies there is also a chapter in the evolution of the Internet that Flash is a significant part of.

Jason’s work is part of this canon of culturally significant Net Art works but also using Flash as his material of choice has meant his work, unlike many early work in JavaScript and Java, has not been rendered unplayable by advancing software and conventions of the web, i.e. subject to bit-rot.

Further reading on Jason’s work.

GIFMarket.net – selling a GIF as an artwork


GIFMARKET.net is a recent project from Kim Asendorf and Ole Fach. They have created an instant digital art market for selling unique digital files in the form of the increasingly art-friendly format of animated GIFs.

The GIF Market anticipates and encourages the acceptance of digital artworks as a collector’s item. Digital files, particularly those that began life on the Internet, naturally lend themselves to being copied, remixed and shared and therefore do not naturally align with a traditional artwork; the value of which is determined by exclusive ownership and scarcity. Rhizome have previously sold GIFs at a New York art market and validated the exchange by delivering the file in a more tangible format (USB drive) but more importantly by also taking the file offline to guarantee exclusivity. It seems an odd choice to make an artwork in a medium that lends itself to ease of transmission (and also owes it’s own popularity to this affordance) and to then take it out of circulation once sold. Tom Moody had an exchange with the artist regarding the rationale for ‘taking it offline‘ that is worth reading. The artists states that as part of her practice she is continually adding and removing work from her website.

In contrast to Rhizomes approach the GIF market is both a platform for sale and ongoing exhibition of work. They validate the exchange by providing a receipt of payment and also putting the owners name with hyperlink against the particular piece. Since the GIF is hosted there and online I can use standard Internet protocols to display it here and not hide it away from the world: (Below is my own – #247)

Gareth Foote - GIF#247

Each work in the GIF market has a mathematically determined form both from the perspective of its creation and display using code/software (as all computer generated files are) and the determination of value through its relative uniqueness within the market (explained below). I also assume that each GIF was generated using an algorithmic process, opposed to being drawn frame by frame using a graphics editing program, although I cannot be certain about this without the artists input.

This alignment of medium, form and concept adds to the aesthetic of each piece and the market as a whole. On top of all of this my GIF has already tripled in value, which can’t be bad. =]

Artist explanation of the series and calculated cost:

The project contains a series of 1024 animated GIFs, each named by a #number. The GIFs show a black line which marks the centre for the 1px large particles rotating around it. #1 is the most unique, it has only 1 pixel flying around, and therefore the most expensive. Down to the end there are so many particles that you can’t see the difference between #950 and #1000.

The price gets calculated by this formula:


We’ll Be Right Back! by Max Capacity at Fach & Asendorf Gallery

The latest online exhibition at the Fach & Aschendorf Gallery is a collection of animated GIFs by Max Capacity. The show is called We’ll Be Right Back!. Each work is a snippet of The Itchy and Scratchy Show created using the unique graphical restrictions (or affordances) of a ZX Spectrum such as colour palette and resolution.

I have taken a still from one of the gifs to give a general idea of the results of Max’s techniques but since it is only a single segment of a motion graphic you must visit Fach & Asendorf to see the full show.

Quinn Norton – Privacy, Ephemerality, and Self

An interesting talk about how we allow the Internet to invade our sense of self. Some enlightening statements made here about the effects of persistent, ubiquitous engagement in social networks. Specifically the fact that your personal life becomes a consistent performance and it is during the time out of this limelight that we develop our own sense of self. Secondly Quinn points out that everyone who grows up in this environment becomes an expert in brand management of their own online identity and this is not a good social norm for our children to adhere to.

via Rhizome

Kevin Slavin – Reality is Plenty, Thanks

Kevin Slavin recently (May 2011) delivered an excellent talk on Augmented Reality at the Mobile Monday event in Amsterdam. It is a well constructed and timely critique of what is becoming a widely recognised practice under the guise of a sprawling and ambiguous term.

Any critique of AR will most likely start with the semantics of the phrase I have just used, “creating [augmented] reality”, which from the outset is more grandiose than the practice is revealing itself to be.

Kevin’s critique challenges the predisposition of AR to ‘render reality in front of us’ and suggests, as with the uncanny valley hypothesis in the field of Robotics, that perceived reality is diminished by attempted mimesis. And an attempted mimesis is all that the common approaches in AR extend to. Also that the privileging of vision (occularcentricism), exemplified by conventional practices in AR to offer a translucent layer of ‘enhancements’ or infographics, seeks to change what we already see opposed to how we perceive it.

Kevin proposes a challenge to AR designers to enable the expression and sensation of the world in different ways, which can but does not necessarily have to involve anything you look at or through.

A healthy discussion has already developed around this talk and in particular it is worthwhile reading the responses of Julian Oliver and Usman Haque.

From a developer’s perspective the technical knowledge barrier for creating AR is significantly lower thanks to frameworks created for this purpose. The proliferation of standardised tools appears to have standardised what is expected from these experiences and led to masking of what an augmented reality has the potential to offer.