For the artist, I think it is important to understand that this algorithm basically governs the Internet's acceptance of your work... and should always be considered... even in its shortcomings (see Invisible Text projects at bradleycarter.com)
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
It was probably sometime before the turn of the century when my computer science professor mom told me to stop messing around with AltaVista (remember them?) and start using Google. Here is an interesting article on why Google has always been a better search engine than the others...
Monday, February 22, 2010
Continuing my musings into innovative ways of illustrating internet scale, I created a new sketch (one might prefer to call it a webpage). I started with the idea that the average web viewer uses the side scrollbar as a sort of measurement of internet distance... how long the content of a webpage is. One can tell quickly by looking at the scrollbar roughly how far they have come and how far they have to go.
My thought was that maybe I could parlay this basic contextualizing of Internet space into a greater realization by the viewer of how much content actually exists on the net. Further, my hope is that they could start thinking of the information they consume on the Internet in terms of standards of measurement used in the physical world, namely distance by inches, feet, and yards in this case.
The question is: Does the artwork succeed?
View piece here. (Be patient, it might take a little while for all of War and Peace to load)
This presentation (from a Stanford CS class) makes a case for the revolutionary nature of the IPad. For the artist, it provides some interesting food for thought: How should this device change our perception of how it is possible to present concepts digitally?
Monday, February 15, 2010
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Much of my recent work is concerned with the idea of scale on the internet. I am in awe of the vast amount of information available in cyberspace. Not only does the internet already harbor larger amounts of data than the human mind can wrap itself around but, theoretically, it has the potential to keep infinitely more. Drawings that are too big to exist in the physical world can reside digitally, requiring only a modest amount of disk space. Ballentine the Bird attempts to attest to this reality but, ultimately, falls a bit short.
Ballentine is 30 feet long and 20 feet tall @72 pixels per inch (72ppi is the resolution at which I drew her... though I did in fact later print her at a size manageable in the physical world by raising the resolution to 300ppi). She is made viewable within the constraints of a small browser window by using a similar technology to the one that Google Maps uses: AJAX allows the viewer to zoom in to full size and zoom out to see the drawing in its entirety.
I thought that the idea of a T-Rex sized bird existing in cyberspace would stoke the imaginations of her viewers and make visual the concept of Internet Scale. Ballentine did not have this effect. Viewers failed to grasp her magnitude. It took a greater mental leap to imagine her relative size than I can reasonably expect of my work's target audience (this is the work's failure, not the viewer's). After conversations with my colleagues, it has become evident that, within the limited browsing capabilities of the common internet user, it is not natural to perceive the Internet as having spacial characteristics (other than perhaps scrolling down to read text?). Browsers do such a great job of distilling web content to consumable portions that the average user has little reason to think beyond what is rendered in their 900 x 1,200 pixel window. And search engines, by nature, do their best to cut the entire internet down to a few simple results. Because the average site is so easily cropped, shrunk, edited, and doled, web content is seen as having no size at all. Why should I expect viewers to look at Ballentine differently?
(It makes perfect sense that the internet has evolved this way, I'm not contending that something about this system is "wrong")
My recent thinking is revolving around this issue. Viewers shouldn't be expected to naturally ponder the concepts of Internet Scale, I need to find a more effective way to elicit such a response in my work. I have several ideas brewing...
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
There are a lot of people that are really excited about the Apple iPad... I'm one of them. The thing has a general coolness factor off the charts, but what excites me most is specifically the way it (and products of it's kind) will affect art.
First, as you know, I have a passion for digital visual art (especially when it exists online). The iPad makes viewing the internet more accessible than ever. To "hold the internet in your hands," as Steve Jobs puts it, in a format large enough appreciate the average website, as opposed to smartphone size, is to become more intimate with cyberspace than we have ever been. People can take the internet with them in public and share it with friends in a more natural way.
As opposed to laptops and desktops, the iPad is truly mobile and that means that, along with the internet, digital art can be carried close to you at all times.
It's touch screen functionality is also more intimate and puts artists and viewers into a more traditional relationship with what is being displayed. I've been using a Wacom tablet for awhile now because it allows me to draw on the computer with a stylus, giving me more freedom of movement and better control than a mouse or track ball. While I'm not sure that the iPad will allow you to work with a stylus, it will definitely allow you to making natural drawing gestures with your fingers directly on the screen. This lends itself to creating a perfect sketchbook out of the iPad and leaves a great opportunity for developers to make drawing apps (finger painting!).
Because it is being offered at a relatively low price point($499 starting vs. $1k for a comparable Wacom tablet), it will be widely available. And the more artists work digitally, the more credibility digital art of any sort will have.
Art created digitally will surely lead to work that makes use of the digital world's unique advantages. Works can be dynamic, interactive, cloned and shared, and viewed instantly all over the world. Artists will find that leaving their work in a digital format (as opposed to printing it out or otherwise bringing it into the physical world) can heighten it's poignancy and sharpen it's effect.
And why should artists have to make the work into a physical object when the iPad could easily double as an electronic picture frame? When it's not being used, people can plug it into a dock and view digital visual art (presuming somebody makes an app for this purpose).
These are just a few reasons why the Apple iPad is making the future of art more exciting.
I'm working on a couple scribble drawing projects right now. One project is taking my representations of natural objects to a very basic level: drawing grains of sand or bits of dirt.
Each grain is to scale with my other large drawings.
For me, this is an obvious progression. I am interested in bringing the physical world into cyberspace and what better place to start than from such a basic building block as dirt. Plus I'd really like to see what a "dirty" browser window would look like!