Archives for the Month of May, 2005

Brakhage Stills

Mothlight Stills – Stan Brakhage

As well as housing some excellent articles and writing on Stan Brakhage’s experimental film work, Fred Campers site has page of stills from Brakhage’s films. Brakhage took the texture and rhythm of film making to new dimensions by drawing and painting on, as well as attaching objects too the film itself.

‘Multicolored blobs contrast with fuzzy photographed lights, flickering specks become hundreds of tiny rods and later cracks in paint. Rhythmic complexity has long been a characteristic of Brakhage’s work, taking polyphony to new heights by creating different movements in different portions of the frame; there’s a sense of shapes being generated and reabsorbed in a cosmic vision of eternal change.’

Lost Formats

Lost Formats

The Lost Format Society was formed in 2000 at the launch of Émigré 57 – Jetset documents its treasures in a stylish way! The purpose of the society is to collect and celebrate Formats that would otherwise pass into obscurity to be forgotten.

I was intrigued by the shape of the Telstar Format which held one of the earliest Pong games. But it’s not nearly as strange as the console itself – A kind of triangular car dashboard with a steering wheel, gear set-up and gun attached.

Also of note is our friend the Paper Punch Card – forever infamous for in-directly causing the Y2k non-event. In order to cram an entire order or customer record into a single punch card with typically less than 100 character columns, the year was shortened to two digits. This allowed programmers to economise the use of card space but remained a legacy that continued through into the digital age.



Data is nature! Well nearly, separated by only 4 places in the heirachy of most commonly used Engl!sh words!

Wordcount is an interesting artistic visualisation of the popularity of words in the English Language done in Flash. ‘It presents the 86,800 most frequently used English words, ranked in order of commonness. Each word is scaled to reflect its frequency relative to the words that precede and follow it, giving a visual barometer of relevance.’

I find myself typing in words like ‘Heaven’ and ‘Hell’ to find out which is more common as if it’s some kind of social indicator. It’s also interesting to see the neighbours’ of particular words. The word ‘Heaven’ for example has the words ‘Improvement’ and ‘Perceived’ both directly before it. . . . . . .

Arcade Manipulation

ROM Color explores the manipulation and visualization of archival software systems to produce glitchey artefacts:-

ROM Color visually maps the data of Nintendo Entertainment System ROMs. However, instead of only constructing sprite data, ROM Color paints a picture of the entire ROM contents; the sprites, music and logic of an entire game.’ My favourite output is Mega Man with its broken pixel terrains of sprites forming abstract wallpaper – a genetic hybrid of William Morris and a Military Schematic Data Corruption.

AXBX takes video monitor calibration test screens and builds a generative browser space. ‘Because of the way each test screen has been created and the variables used in randomisation, each project has approximately four trillion possible pattern combinations.’



Escher Web Sketch is a javatronic drawing machine that symmetrically tessellates your drawings mimicking some of MC Escher’s complex mathematical works. ‘Escher Sketch was originally created for the purpose of designing periodic decorations. It was soon realized however that this application was an excellent teaching tool for the illustration of basic crystallography!’

Living Escher is a collection of Proce55ing sketches that replicate some of Escher’s works in 3d adding interactivity! Great work.

More drawing mchines

Typographical Portraits


While doing a little background research on an essay I’m writing on Typography in Flash I stumbled back upon a few little gems among the infinite library of personal bookmarks. follows the tradition of expressive typography with some excellent work grouped under ‘Typographical Illustrations’. The titles of each piece are simply the names of some well-know classic fonts, Book Antiqua, Century Gothic, Helvetica…. Over time an initially chaotic scramble of letter’s build into well-defined sketches and portraits. The soundtracks to the each work add another dimension, sometimes irreverently, as they play along while the illustration builds up on screen.

Recursive & Geometric Mosaics

Knowlton Mosaics

Ken Knowlton, computer graphic pioneer possibly best know for his invention of computer languages for visual output, has a site of his mosaic work online. In 1963 Knowlton authored the BEFLIX programming language for bitmap computer-produced movies, later EXPLOR and other experimental languages for stills and films for scientific and artistic purposes. It seems most of his time is now spent as a mosaicist. I particularly like the recursive space filling curve mosaic portrait of Douglas Mckenna.

On the geometric works, Knowlton says:

‘Geometric in nature, several inspired by the interests of practitioners depicted. Mathematicians sometimes have the weirdest fascinations; in the spirit of their practice, some of these portraits of them observe appropriate esoteric constraints. Art and mathematics often strive for elegance — that optimal balance between severity of constraints and attractiveness of results.’

Imaginary battles #02


The Cellular Automata vs The Biomorphs

Our favourite computational life simulations left alone are happy to demonstrate all kinds of fantastic emergent behaviour – happy to swim in there territorial data ecologies flexing their complexity muscles and showing off their penchant 4 symmetrical mutation. But what if they were pitted against one another. The Automata Vs the Biomorphs – survival of the fittest!

‘Cellular automata are arrays of cells that “evolveâ€? step-by-step according to the state of neighbouring cells. Though apparently simple, the visualized output of a CA program can produce infinite permutations of complex graphical patterns known as emergent behaviour. At times they look like psychedelic fungal space invaders mutating in gamespace.

In a different universe Biomorphs take on the Transformers in a competition of organic and mechanical shapeshifting. In our universe they are computational simulations of genetic mutation invented by Richard Dawkins to promote a philosophical debate to do with natural selection and the existence or non-existence of God.’

Taken from a little essay I wrote a little while back for

If we were to judge them, perhaps they should judged on beauty alone. Below is a selection of fine links so you can work it all out yourself.


‘When I wrote the program [Biomorph], I never thought that it would evolve anything more than a variety of tree-like shapes. I had hoped for weeping willows, cedars of Lebanon, Lombardy poplars, seaweeds, perhaps deer antlers. Nothing in my 20 years’ experience of programming computers, and nothing in my wildest dreams, prepared me for what actually emerged on the screen.’

Blind Watchmaker Applet
Richard Dawkins’ evolution game
Les Biomorphs


Cellular automata are abstract structures which make it possible to study virtual completely known universes. They help us to understand our Universe : “Thus complex physical and biological systems may lie in the same universality classes as the idealized mathematical models provided by cellular automata. Knowledge of cellular automaton behaviour may then yield rather general results on the behaviour of complex natural systems.”

CA Gallery
Conways ‘Game of life’ Applet – Hit OPEN, select a rule set then click GO!
MJ Cell – download the program if you can, it’s the best CA Application I can find and it runs at the speed of light!
Cellular Automata & Art

Imaginary Battles #01

Brainfuck Vs M9ndfuck!

Brainfuck is an Esoteric Progammming Language designed to be one of the most compact languages possible while still being Turing complete. While Brainfuck has only 8 commands, it is still theoretically possible to do anything in it that can be done in any other language. To converse seriously about Brainfuck some programmers have preferred to call it BF!. Each of the eight commands consists of a single ASCII character.

M9ndfuck is a repository of esoteric glitch art, anti-software and textual anarchy from Netochka Nezavanova (also known as Integer, Antiorp or M9ndfuck).

01 02 03 04 05

‘Remaining an anonymous, multiple and antagonistic persona allows Nezavanova to avoid becoming too cosy in the art world, making alliances and friends there who might limit the definition of what she is doing by grounding it in the specific cultural context of art.’

From the excellent article ‘Useless Utilities’


Agentware – Biothing

‘L-garden’ is an L-system cultivation mechanism via string-set computational ecology. A turning machine that spawns algorithmic rhizomes. A garden in the machine.

Elsewhere Biothing explore genetic programming and the use of sound patterns projected through holosonic speakers – some of their design objects encapsulate interesting cellular formations.

Via coolhunting