Do Not Fear The Gross, Ugly Stuff

Reduced to nothing more than a black and white shell of it’s former glory, I then used one of my many “chopping” filters (perhaps the infamous, “flip-chop”) to achieve the coup de grace.  Imagine an image made of a thousand dice.  Imagine rolling them all at once.

Or imagine a puzzle of pipes and cavities and then scrambling the pieces.  That’s what many of the chop-up and slice filters are like: you never know what sudden work of art you’ll stumble upon or what butchered piece of trash you’ll make instead.

Actually, it rarely works, that’s why I’m always so excited when it does.

Here’s the image it came from (below).

Another block-wave wonder made in the early stages of my exploration of that filter.  Crude, but effective in a raw sort of appealing way.

Art’s like that sometimes; disorienting and iconoclastic.  Shedding it’s skin every so often and showing up in new colors.  Or no colors at all.

October 1, 2008

Pictures on a Platter


In an interesting contrast to the traditional artform of oil painting, the digital canvas often wears a frame while being worked on and sheds it when it is finally displayed.

When I’m viewing images on my computer in an image viewer, I see them displayed with the window frame around them and from time to time I find they look better that way than when they’re posted to a web page and frameless.

Linux gives users so many window frame options one could spend all their time just trying them all out and tweaking their appearance.  It make Windows programs look like they were dressed by their mother.

These images looked so nicely polished with their new KDE 4.1 Oxygen theme (custom colored) in GQview (no connection with the magazine, I believe) that it felt like a brutal act of violence to separate them from it.

The top two are from Inkblot Kaos and India Inked.  The larger one on the bottom is the first image rotated 90 degress to the right, enlarged and blockwaved in Showfoto.  The usual mysterious world of seaweed tendrils and space invaders bubbles was created.  Hieroglyphics from a strange new Egypt — on a smooth Oxygen platter.

September 30, 2008

Among Other Marvellous Things

Among other marvellous things
are the air-plankton

Growing this way
they can go on forever
fiber-light, solar-thread
filament skies

Radia, Septua
An ancient name for everything

Sunshine is an apple
and it’s core
is a plankton thing

Image Notes: Made in Tierazon.  Here’s a parameter file for the first one.  The rest are just variations.

September 28, 2008

Where the Green Ants Scream

An Inkblot Kaos fractal processed in Ilyich the Toad’s Multicrystal (lens distortion) filter and the ever-popular India Ink filter by Flaming Pear.

Perhaps because of my Geography studies in university, I tend to see geographical themes in many of the things I make.  This one looks like a cutaway of a soil profile with grass on the top and increasingly deeper levels of the soil and roots displayed as you move towards the bottom of the image.  (I explain these things because I no longer expect everyone to see things in the same context as I do.)

The second image has been processed in a similar way but without the dithering effect of India Ink.  I made this over a year ago, but I think I used the Illustrator filter and put the color setting to the max, which saturates the colors.

I see a horrible underground battle between armies of ants.  But I see alot of things.

September 27, 2008


The solar wind
the stream of charged particles
billowing away from the Sun
is at its weakest for 50 years

extends billions of kilometres into space.

the far-distant Voyager spacecraft
launched in the 1970s
now bearing down
on the edge of the heliosphere
the great “bubble”

cross over into interstellar space
that region considered
to be “between the stars”

11-year cycle of activity

Calmer wind conditions
would be expected to prevail right now
but the Ulysses data indicates
circumstances unprecedented in recent times
The Sun is a variable star
activity rises and falls
in cycles

The entire Sun is blowing significantly
less hard
since the start of those observations
in the 1960s
at the start of the space age

Energetic rays
More of them will probably now make their way through
move at colossal speeds
The Voyager spacecraft
will move beyond the solar wind’s influence

engineers would have to take this into account
when deciding how to “harden” their spacecraft

so this is not a good time to be travelling in space

Launched by the shuttle in 1990
as it circles the star
in a six-year orbit
that also carries it out to Jupiter and back

But the harsh conditions of space
are now slowly taking their toll
on the spacecraft.

Ulysses’ main transmitter no longer works
and it is struggling to put enough power
into its heating systems

With the satellite currently moving away from the Sun
it is gradually getting colder
and engineers expect the hydrazine fuel
used in its thrusters
to freeze very soon

Ulysses will no longer
be able to orientate itself
and its antenna
and contact will be lost
with Earth


The entire text was condensed (“poem-ized”) from a BBC science article that had both a strange sadness to it as well as an exciting classic sci-fi feel.  In Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses, the main character, finally reaches home after a long troubled voyage.  But not for this Ulysses.  On the other hand, the original Ulysses was written off long before he returned also.  The image was made in Tierazon.  The second one is the original; the first was India Inked using the Straight Chaos setting which gave the transmission beam lines to the image.

September 26, 2008

The Bayeux Tapestry of our Times

Look closely, and you’ll see numerous details from a battle of great historical importance that occurred, or perhaps is going to occur, in a parallel dimension.

I made this with the blockwave filter from Digikam’s Showfoto, a digital photo enhancing program for KDE in Linux.  It might be available for Windows as I believe the KDE desktop suite is available for Windows.

This particular blockwave filter does things that other ones I’ve tried don’t see to do anywhere near as well and for that reason I consider it a very valuable tool when it comes to making art from pushing buttons and turning dials.

What’s of greatest importance is that the creative effect is enhanced when you enlarge the image you’re going to process.  That’s unusual because normally enlarging images makes for blurry and unpleasant results.  Usually one has to work in a large size and scale down to make something better.

I’m still not finished experimenting with the blockwave filter.  Lately I’ve tried making super large images and cropping out interesting “bits” (600x600px).

September 25, 2008

That Wonderful, Chopped Up Satellite Photograph Look

This above is a composite image of several hundred satellite photographs taken of the surface of Mars.  Actually it’s the fractal image just below, processed in the on board slicer filter in XnView.  The fractal, from Sterlingware (parameter file link below it) has a nice color scheme but just didn’t seem to be interesting enough to be displayed on its own.

icecap05.loo  (Original image from Sterlingware)

Normally, you get pretty mixed results with the slicer filter and if it works well it usually just produces an image that looks nice because it preserves an already good color scheme while adding some slightly interesting distortion to the image.  What makes this one such a surprise is that it actually improves the image.  I think it’s because the textured surfaces when chopped up take on the composite satellite photo look.

It’s a pretty simple slicer filter in XnView and doesn’t have any options unlike many of the more sophisticated ones do.  All you can do is click on it and save or try it again and see if that looks better.  I rarely go beyond five or ten iterations because after that it just starts to look like mush and more slicing just moves the bits around without changing them much.

September 25, 2008

Art from pushing buttons and turning dials


That’s what it’s all about here. That’s all I really do, and these images are (with the exception of whatever skill it takes to compose or frame-up and image) the results of those simple actions.

It’s as much discovery as experimentation or invention; often radical settings of the “buttons and dials” produce amazing results, but it’s always a very laid back, vicarious, remote-control type of operation. Something like taking photographs with a telescope, but with more things to adjust and experiment with.

This image is an unprocessed Sterlingware fractal using the same arctan image settings as the previous post. The rich orange/brown-blue/white coloring creates some very stunning things. Also, there’s a strange, space-like, high contrast lighting effect that makes images like this even more impressive. The parameter file will recreate the image in Sterlingware if you want to explore it yourself.

September 23, 2008

An Eniwetok Atoll of the Mind


In Mandelbrot’s greatest scenes we seem to see
that stunning moment in which
mathematics became

They pour upon the monitor
dice roll symphonies
parameter powered
plutonium geraniums
perfect in dirtless reality

I have seen the brightest minds of my generation
mouse-click crawling
down the spiral streets at dawn
looking for that heavenly
something that isn’t self-similar

The spiral twists and tricks
us into twisting along with it
mathematicians bail out here
but the artists ask why
why is it all the same?

The mathematicians come and go
talking of something I don’t know

Johnny Appleseeds
virtually respected
plant the same formula
in every forum they pass
and quickly link away

The threads have strange usernames
tweak holes in digital doilies
clamp chaos in cuff-links
the uninformed in uniform
with engines
that devour our bandwidth

Image Notes
Made in Sterlingware and nothing else. Try the parameter file out if you don’t believe me. This is a new arctan color setting. They’re hard to come up with. Or maybe I’ve just lowered my standards… In Hodkinson’s most horrible scenes we seem to see…

September 18, 2008

The Big, the Small and the Distorted


I made the first image after tweaking a Sterlingware “Twister Weed Falls” image. First with a coloring filter, and then shifting the hue just 6 points (6/265) in the graphics program to produce something that was even better.

After that, I went to the thumbnail view of the directory in order to copy and paste the image to another directory. The tiny thumbnail looked even better although it was so small as to be merely the size of the finger nail on my thumb (funny, eh?).

I wasn’t able to produce the same image by resizing so I just took a screenshot of the thumbnail and cut it out and saved it.

I then accidently turned the scrollwheel of my mouse on the thumbnail image forgetting that in XnView, my graphics program, it has the effect of zooming into the image rather than scrolling through the directory to the next image, which is what I was intending to do.

The zoomed image was naturally pixellated because the thumbnail was so small, and yet it looked quite interesting although the pixellated effect distorted it somewhat.

Anyhow, it’s just an example of the sorts of accidental discoveries that have happened for ages in the traditional art mediums. The tools are just different, that’s all.

September 15, 2008