that consists from a number of self-contained segments looks at
the phenomenon of Flash graphics on the Web that attracted a lot
of creative energy in the last few years.
just a result of a particular software / hardware situation (low
bandwidth leading to the use of vector graphics), Flash aesthetics
exemplifies cultural sensibility of a new generation.
does not care if their work is called art or design. This generation
is no longer interested in the "media critique" which
preoccupied media artists of the last two decades; instead it is
engaged in software critique. This generation writes its own software
code to create their own cultural systems, instead of using samples
of commercial media.
is the new modernism of data visualizations, vector nets, pixel-thin
grids and arrows: Bauhaus design in the service of information design.
the Baroque assault of commercial media, Flash generation serves
us the modernist aesthetics and rationality of software. Information
design is used as tool to make sense of reality while programming
becomes a tool of empowerment
and Flash Remixing
[for www.whitneybiennial.com ]
is a web-based software that allows the user to mix in real-time
different Flash animations, in addition manipulating color palette,
size of individual animations and other parameters.
the participating artists were asked to submit short Flash animations
that were exhibited on the site both separately and as part of Turntable
remixes. Some remixes consisted from animations of the same artists
while others used animations by different artists.]
a cliché to announce that “we live in remix culture.”
it possible to go beyond this simple statement of fact? For instances,
can we distinguish between different kinds of ermine aesthetics?
What is the relationship between our remixes made with electronic
and computer tools and such earlier forms as collage and montage?
What are the similarities and differences between audio remixes
and visual remixes?
The basic building block of an electronic sound track, the loop
also conquered surprisingly strong position in contemporary visual
their own devices, Flash animations, QuickTime movies, the characters
in computer games loop endlessly - until the human user intervenes
As I have
shown elsewhere, all nineteenth century pre-cinematic visual devices
also relied on loops. Throughout the nineteenth century, these loops
kept getting longer and longer - eventually turning into a feature
narrative…Today, we witness the opposite movement –
artists sampling short segments of feature films or TV shows, arranging
them as loops, and exhibiting these loops as “video installations.”
The loop thus becomes the new default method to “critique”
media culture, replacing a still photograph of postmodern critique
of the 1980s.
same time, it also replaces the still photograph as the new index
of the real: since everybody knows that a still photography can
be digitally manipulated, a short moving sequence arranged in a
loop becomes a better way to represent reality - for the time being.)
What was referred in postmodern times as quoting, appropriation,
and pastiche no longer needs any special name. Now this is simply
the basic logic of cultural production: download images, code, shapes,
scripts, etc.; modify them, and then paste the new works online
- send them into circulation.
with Internet, the always-existing loop of cultural production runs
much faster: a new trend or style may spread overnight like a plague.)
ask my students to create their own images by making photographs
or by shooting video, they have a revelation: images do not have
to come from Internet!
I also reveal to them that images do not have to come from a technological
device that record reality – that instead they can be drawn
Compare it to sound. It seems possible to layer many many many sounds
and tracks together while maintaining legibility. The result just
keep getting more complex, more interesting.
seems to be working differently. Of course commercial images we
see everyday on TV and in cinema are often made from layers as well,
sometimes as many as thousands – but these layers work together
to create a single illusionistic (or super-illusionistic) space.
words, they are not being heard as separate sounds. When we start
mixing arbitrary images together, we quickly destroy any meaning.
(If you need proof, just go and play with the classic The Digital
separate image tracks can be mixed together before the composite
becomes nothing but noise? Six seems to be a good number –
which is exactly the number of image tracks one can load onto Turntable.
versus the whole work. If we are indeed living in a remix culture
does it still make sense to create whole works – if these
works will be taken apart and turned into samples by others anyway?
why painstakingly adjust separate tracks of Director movie or After
Effects composition getting it just right if the “public”
will “open source” them into their individual tracks
for their own use using some free software?
the answer is yes: we still need art. We still want to say something
about the world and our lives in it; we still need our own “mirror
standing in the middle of a dirty road,” as Stendahl called
art in the nineteenth century.
also need to accept that for others our work will be just a set
of samples, or maybe just one sample. Turntable is the visual software
that makes this new aesthetic condition painfully obvious. It invites
us to play with the dialectic of the sample and the composite, of
our own works and the works of others. Welcome to visual remixing
article is about “Flash Generation” and not about the
Web sites made with Flash software. Many of the sites which inspired
me to think of “Flash aesthetics” are not necessarily
made with Flash; they use Shockwave, DHTML, Quicktime and other
Web multimedia formats. Thus the qualities I describe below as specific
to “Flash aesthetics” are not unique to Flash sites.
instance, the work of Lisa Jevbratt, John Simon, and Golan Levin.
Flash” incorporates revised versions of the texts commissioned
Both exhibitions were organized by Miltos Manetas / Electronic Orphanage.
“On UTOPIA” was commissioned by Futurefarmers.
GUI-based applications such as Hypercard, Director, Photoshop and
others became commonplace, many computer artists continued to do
their own programming: writing custom code to control an interactive
installation, programming in LINGO an interactive multimedia work,
etc. This was not refereed to as software art; it was taken for
granted that even in the age of GUI-based applications a really
serious artistic engagement with computers requires getting ones
hands dirty in code.