Showing posts from 2007

Digital Picture Frames

Frames? Digital Pictures!

They really ought to be called something like, "Digital Display Frame" since the "frame" isn't really digital, is it? It's the picture that's digital. But I think it's an example of how language is a practical medium and changes according to the whims of those who use it, rather than the direction of any sort of authority. "Frame" is being used to refer to the entire mechanism, which in this case includes the picture.

Although they seem to be a little pricey right now ($79-4x6"), it's an exciting development for people like me who find printing to be a completely different medium than the digital, computer one. Of course, they've had these sorts of things in Star Wars for some time now. But apparently science fiction is not the same as reality.

Whole new digital communities are already appearing -- and disappearing

On the opposing side of things: isn't a digital picture frame just a low qualit…

Lookin' Great in Two Thousand and Eight

It's amazing how those two words, "Great" and "Eight" with such very different spellings can actually rhyme. And that's the way it often is with webpage designs; it's amazing what looks good together once you actually try it.

The Silent Star Award

Sometimes you have to see an example before you get inspired. For my current Fractal Beanstalk redesign (which may have changed, yet again, if you're reading this from the archives a year from now) of white page with grey sidebars and black strip across the top, I was inspired by a Wordpress template called, unsleepable designed by Ben Gray.

I didn't use the actual template but just took the general design and color scheme. Yes, black, white and gray is a color scheme. I'd been of somewhat half a mind to do something with my old design which was all black with white text. It was great for images (the black page background), but the text being white "ink" on black "paper" neve…

You think Nuclear Weapons are easy to make?

No way. Think again, brainiac.

Or go check out the articles in the Wikipedia regarding Nuclear Weapons. The hard part seems to be getting the fuel. You need Uranium or Plutonium, even if you want to make a Hydrogen bomb, but it's got to be a special type -- and lots of it.

I think because there are so many nuclear weapons in the world that people think they're easy to make. Also, since the principles behind them are relatively simple (nuclear physics is simple, right?) and easily available, it's reasonable to assume that anyone, who wants to, can make an "atomic bomb".

It's not as easy as you think it is

Enriching Uranium requires the concentration (isolation, separation) of the Uranium isotope, 235. This is difficult. "Difficult" means expensive in engineering or scientific circles.

Plutonium (239) isn't even a naturally occuring element and has to be created from Uranium 238 (stable and useless) in a nuclear reactor. Unfortunately it explode…


Inkblot Kaos Parameter File

Getting through the winter seems to be so complicated and expensive for us humans. On the other hand, in the tropics houses are simple. All you really need is a roof that keeps the rain out, screens on the windows (or a mosquito net to sleep under), four walls and a floor.

Winter is the reason that human civilization has primarily stayed in places where nothing ever freezes. Winter is an enormous economic drain.

Which makes me wonder how all these animals up here manage to make it through the winter without ever paying a cent for oil, gas or electricity to heat their homes and yet keep living and carrying on just fine without all the complexities that humans seem to require.

The secret is going underground ...and falling into a stupor ...waking up every few weeks ...seeing if it's over ...falling back into a stupor ...again ...again ...unless something eats you.

Take the Mongolian Gerbil of South Central Siberia, for instance. Don't be fooled by t…

When Art is Useful

Inkblot Kaos Parameter File

From time to time I become curious about something and I start reading about it. A month ago it was hibernation, and in particular, the winter homes of animals. Lately it's been nuclear reactors.

This sort of informal, casual study of things I've found to be similar to assembling a puzzle, or catching glimpses of something in the dark, or to guessing what's in a bag by putting your hand in and feeling it without looking. It's a process of sorting and assembling major (essential) and minor (detail) pieces of information.

Unless you're a serious student following a formal course of study at a school, most of us learn about new things in this sort of way: a process of discovery and tentative conclusions (eg. "breeder reactors are the way of the future; why don't we all use them?"). It's a natural way of learning, I think, but not necessarily the most efficient; a formal course might not be as interesting but will bring yo…

Desert Roads and Mountain Lakes

Desert Roads

Back several month ago, I posted about a program called Fyre. As is often the case with new programs and new forms of algorithmic art, I quickly reached what I thought were its creative limits.

A recent comment on my blog asking for information on how the images from Fyre are made, re-kindled (ha, ha...) my interest in the program. I went looking for the Fyre website to see if it had the information needed (I avoid trying to explain mathematical processes). While there, I visited the official Fyre gallery on Flickr where I saw some very interesting images and asked myself, "How come I couldn't make stuff like that?".

One of the extremely smart and super-convenient aspects to Fyre is the incorporation of a parameter "file" in the meta information (hidden notes) of the images it saves. Open up any image saved from Fyre and you can rework it just as you can with the autosaved parameter files from some fractal programs (Inkblot Kaos, Tierazon...).

So I…

Test-Tube Art

Inkblot Kaos parameter file

Back to fractals. I think I did something to the other machine. It's leaking oil, or something. I smell something "electrical", too.

My seven year-old daughter was recently invited to a birthday party. While we were looking around in the Barbie Doll aisle of a department store for a suitable present, me and my nine year-old son came across a misplaced item --TEST-TUBE ALIENS.

I can't imagine who would put down a kit for "making" aliens in a test-tube and choose a Barbie doll instead because my daughter soon shared our interest in this hand-held Easy Bake oven for mutants. Some poor girl must have gotten a Barbie doll after her mother intervened and told her she'd probably have a lot more fun with a glamour pageant Barbie doll than the TEST-TUBE ALIENS that she picked up on the other aisle (where all the exciting, boy's stuff is).

My interest in the TEST-TUBE ALIENS subsided somewhat after reading on the back that there w…

Peter and Alice visit Santa

Santa's Bunker
Peter and Alice were still a long way off, but stopped to take another look through the telescope.

"I can see it!' said Peter, "It has to be Santa's home. But it looks strange."

"Here, let me see" said Alice. "That's barbed wire. It's all over the place. He's practically living in a fortress."

"I guess it's true, then" said Peter, "He really has changed. It's Santa against the whole world. He's lost all hope in humanity."

"He hasn't lost hope in anything --he's gone ape-crazy! Get the radio out of your backpack and let's call in the airstrike before one of his elves picks us off with a sniper rifle."

"Can't we at least try to talk to him? He'll remember us from all those letters we sent him. Maybe all this is just for defense --to protect himself."

"Sure, let's talk to him. I suggest we start by ringing his doorbell with a cruis…

I'm going to play football till they drop the Bomb


The Wind Stole My Piano

Made with vernissage.8bf, a couple of Andrew's filters, India Ink, some hue adjustment, and the cold November wind.

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Spider Writing

Block-waving is all about lines. If there's no lines, then you just end up with a pile of block-waved mush.

I was looking through an old book on my computer. It was a series of scanned, tiff images. I noticed the fine lines in the black and white engravings and instantly opened it up in ShowFoto and block-waved it. As is often the case in exploratory oil exploration or prospecting for gold, the results were disappointing; all it made was a whole lot of (uninteresting) tangled threads.

But I don't expect these things to work out the first time, so I tried another black and white engraving. This one wasn't a full page illustration, so it had some text included in the tiff image, above and below it. I didn't bother to crop the image out and just went ahead and block-waved the whole page, illustration and text.

The full-page tiff images are quite large and I had to scroll down to look at the illustration. I did it so quickly in fact, that I didn't pay any attentio…


(from the journal of Columbus)

Whereas, Most Christian, High, Excellent, and Powerful Princes, King and Queen of Spain and of the Islands of the Sea...

...this present year 1492, after your Highnesses had terminated the war with the Moors reigning in Europe...

...having been brought to an end in the great city of Granada...

...I saw the royal banners of your Highnesses planted by force of arms upon the towers of the Alhambra...

...the Moorish king come out at the gate of the city and kiss the hands of your Highnesses...

...So after having expelled the Jews from your dominions... ordered me to proceed... to the said regions of India...

...and for that purpose
granted me great favors
and ennobled me
that thenceforth I might call myself Don
and be
High Admiral of the Sea
perpetual Viceroy and Governor
in all the islands and continents which I might discover
and acquire...
...and that this dignity should be inherited by my eldest son
and thus descend
from degree to degree

...Hereupon I left the ci…

Meet the New Masters

Large Bank with Tree
Just as some people admire the traditional artform of painting because of the skill and effort that goes into making it, I've come to realize that I have the same sort of admiration for machine-made art. Furthermore, just as many people will quickly associate artistic merit with almost any subject done in oil paint --the traditional, hard to do, artform-- I am also accommodating of work done by machines when it doesn't seem to have obvious artistic merit, because of the admirable and noble process that made it. I find that "dead" computerized process particularly fascinating and, in turn, gives advanced standing to its results and associate a special "aura" of value to it. In short, I show favoritism when considering the merits of algorithmic art over other artforms; I like it because it was made by a machine.

Although algorithms can be very complicated and creative (fractals, for instance), it's natural, I think, for anyone to be …

Fresh-made Rothko

These days, you could find yourself travelling half-way around the world in a few hours. And in the world of art: a couple clicks and you could find yourself in the Louvre. That's the reality of our tiny, modern world: technology takes our little feet and straps jet engines on them.

Unfortunately, there are no licensing requirements for these turbine-powered, photoshop filters. The accidents will continue. He's my latest attempt to land safely in the Louvre.

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Stone of Mystery!

Look at it. Stare into it.

Learn it's mysteries --if you dare!

Stop! Stop!
Your mind is in its icy grip!
Run, you fool!
The Stone of Mystery will DESTROY YOU!!!
Your puny brain can not survive its thunderous torrent of KNOWLEDGE!!!
(sung to the tune of, "Here Comes Santa Claus")

Could this be the innocent precursor of... The Stone of Mystery?

I started with an old record cover I found at; India Inked it, double resized it and wheeled it into the ever promising, and soon to be famous, block wave filter from digiKam's showFoto. Then I cropped out a piece of it that looked great at the time, but which I have since deleted. This was then distorted several ways to produce something that looked like a Mayan temple painted pink and sitting in a snowstorm, which I then deliberately saved as a black and white, two-color file, for some reason.

Upon noticing the fine, intricate lines it had just then acquired, I returned to the block wave filter (the roulette wheel of f…



Click-ism: a Manifesto

I've been reading a book about various "-isms" in the art world. Eagerly wanting to follow in the footsteps of those great, outspoken artists of the past and to contribute something new and personal to the exciting pursuit of labels and the ever teetering tower of human achievements, I propose... Clickism.

First rule is: Mouse clicks only.

Second rule is: Start with any kind of image you like, but when you get finished the result should bear no resemblance to the original and in fact, can only be connected to it, with some doubt and lingering uncertainty, by careful DNA testing.

Third rule is: One level of undo, only. Clickism is forward thinking and reflects the relentless progress of technology which refuses to admit mistakes but rather sees them as a challenge and attempts to correct them with more clicking.

Fourth rule is: Stay lazy. Sure you can open your image up in a graphics program and start masking and layering and all that sort of artist stuff, but "painti…

a little water


star of arabia 2

in the world
there is a cave

and the eye that looks from it
sees the star of arabia

years have passed
the eye, unblinking
looks from it

pale, dark, written with red
sees the star of arabia

the wind blows
the sand is rewritten
the eye, unblinking

there is a cave
in the world
pale, dark, written with red

and the eye that looks from it

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Artists and Craftsmen

Here's another theory in the rough; something that I think is relevant to Fractal Art, and probably all artforms: There are "Artists" and there are "Craftsmen".

An artist is... I don't know what an artist is, exactly. They make "Art". What is art? It's more of a concept, somewhat subjective in nature, but not just anything at all. When we look through an art book, something general, like a history of art, then we know what art is. You can feel it, or sense it, maybe not while viewing every item, but I think we all sense something when viewing art that we don't sense when we're looking at an image that is merely nice to look at or colorful.

Nice to look at. That's the other kind of work. People who make works that are only "nice-looking" are what I would call craftsmen. This isn't supposed to be an insult; it's just describing what takes place, describing the audience's experience, or at least mine. Goo…