Dedd Pixel

Archive for May, 2014

It’s an 8-bit World

by on May.23, 2014, under Art

Mashable recently described fascinating artwork by Adam Lister, who creates watercolor paintings of classical works in blocky, 8-bit like format.  I love his work, not only because of the video game reference, but because I’m impressed by his control over the medium.  As someone who can’t make watercolor paint do anything other than form nebulous blurs, I can appreciate his fine linework and controlled coloration.

I feel 8-bit video games are a natural inspiration for his work.  Impressionism used tiny brush strokes, often focusing on how light hits a subject.  8-bit video game graphics are constructed from tiny pixels, with every pixel critically placed to provide definition of the subject.  Sometimes a single pixel is all that exists to represent the highlight or shadow.

What’s especially interesting about this work is how the human brain reacts.  While the images are abstracted from what we recognize from the original art pieces, we clearly know what paintings they represent – assuming, of course, that we are familiar with the originals.  I zoomed in with my browser as far as it could go and the images were still recognizable to me regardless of what part of the image I was looking at.  The brain has an amazing capacity to process information and it does not require realism to understand it.  Most of what we see and experience on a daily basis are fast glimpses of reality, but our brain assembles these bits of information to present to us our understanding of the world.

While modern day video games focus on high-resolution, highly realistic graphics, the 8-bit imagery of yore will always hold appeal.

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Human Disconnectedness

by on May.13, 2014, under Art

Digital art has a tendency to feel cold and distant.  What fine art looks like in the selfie era exemplifies this.  It’s easy to feel emotionally distant when steel-blue pixels fly across the screen against an auditory backdrop of electronic, robotic noisescapes but these examples put a more depressive human angle on the new-wave of human disconnectedness .  In real life, you can barely have a conversation with someone and not have them check their facebook status or check in with foursquare, now we can experience art that barely notices that we are even there.

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Labour of Love

by on May.02, 2014, under Tech

Programming sucks, it’s true.  But it sucks in a way that all worthwhile things in life suck.  As humans, we are constantly engaging in endeavors that drive us mad but are insanely compelling to us nonetheless.  Whether it’s programming the impossible, or running a business, or parenting – there is something about these activities that we as a species are drawn to despite the plethora of obvious hardships and less-than-ideal moments that are inherent within.  Despite what we tell ourselves, almost any effort at crafting the perfect, standards-compliant, future-proof Madonna of {} will inevitably be soiled by a plague of impossible deadlines and slimmed-down budgets.  More often than not, we plan for the perfect project but nothing is perfect, so we end up with hacked together snippets littered with /* TODO: Fucking code, how do they work? */ that we pray is never witnessed by another programmer.

We start our careers with the brightest of hopes, intent on mastering every technology that rolls down the hill and keeping our code as beautiful as our idealist outlook on everything in life.  However, life usually gets in the way, and mastering everything is a goal destined to fail.  We inevitably start using code libraries without a clue of how they work because of the promise that it will shave off some development time and help us meet the deadline that the the project manager (who is not a programmer) scheduled.  The two greatest fears for a programmer is a manager that doesn’t code and manager who hasn’t written code in years.  The landscape is ever-changing, and that which sort of worked years ago is no longer valid.  This is the way it has always been and they way it will always be.  The cutting-edge tech we use today will be laughably lacking in the future but we use them regardless.  We are in a career of planned obsolescence.  Anything we are doing now will be lagging-edge in the future, and unless we are fully committed to shunning everything else that is worthwhile in life we cannot honestly hope to stay on top.

We choose this profession despite the inevitable.  Why?  We choose it because of the moments of triumph.  Despite how cludgy a snippet of code is, it is joyous when we actually get something impossibly difficult to actually WORK.  Despite the insane damn people we have to deal with on a daily basis, it feels glorious to get a project done and out the door.  This is not any different than any other pathway people choose in life.  If it was easy and clearcut and if there was always a right answer that you can check against the answer key, it wouldn’t be worth the effort.  There would be no joy, no mystery, no reason to bother.  We thrive on the opportunity to try out something new, even if there is truly no hope in mastering it and even if we are drowning in a sea of unreasonable expectations where we can only hope to stay afloat.  This is a field that is constantly changing and it is that wild abandon that entices us to this land of chaos.

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