4.3 Pixelated Images

TASK

Liquid crystal display or LCD digital screens are made up of tiny liquid crystals (LCs) that shine either red, green or blue light (RGB). Digital images also use pixels, but use a wider palette of colours. Internet images such as jpgs or gifs work with 256 web colours to create all the images, illustrations and web content online. Pixels work on a simple grid format with lines of equally-sized squares. The blending of the colours takes place visually, with pixels being too small to be easily seen by the naked eye.

In the early days of digital images pixels and the rough edges they create were more evident and consequently more a part of the visual language of  computers. Certainly early computer games had this very squared, pixelated feel to them and many artists and illustrators used this way of working to represent the digital.

See Pixel Art

Using a grid format of pixels, create a series of illustrations that explores your relationship to digital technologies. This might be a love or hate relationship, a document of all the forms of technology you engage with, the games you’ve played or pixel portraits of your friends on Facebook. Be imaginative with how you approach this.

You may want to work on graph paper or create your own grid on the computer or by hand. The size of your pixels is up to you. For example the animation DEADLINE (available via YouTube) uses post-it notes as pixels. But stick to the rule of only using one colour per square. You may want to limit your palette or perhaps work in full colour.

My relationship with digital media is mostly a very positive one – it enables rapid and cost-free exploration of multiple possibilities and interpretations through changing colours, blending modes and so on (See my discussion in the Review for part 6 of this course). At the same time I suffer from RSI with overuse and am aware of the effects on both eyes and posture.

I am also very interested in the wider positive and negative effects of the spread of the Internet on social, political and economic life.When I started to think about this project in January 2017 there was an interesting debate on Al Jazeera on the effects of Digital media on political processes and democracy. This started with the Arab Spring, then Trump and more recently with Jeremy Corbyn. See Post Digital  Dissidence and Democracy

I saw this project as an interesting way of bringing together these issues, focusing particularly on ways of abstracting the figure, characterisation and relationships through altering patterns and colours of squares using Vector Art. I started to look at this using icons in Book Design 1 Identity . I am also exploring the ways in which the brain groups and interpretes dots as faces in some of my media experiments with blobs (See some of my work on Hybrids in Part 1)

This would have been possible using Illustrator (See tutorials on my Pixel Art post). But because of my issues with RSI sitting too long at my computer, I decided to use an App called Vector Illustration on my iPad. This needed me to follow the same process of setting up a grid, then selecting and changing the fill in squares. The images can be exported as jpg, png, svg or pdf to Dropbox, as e-mail, or to iTunes (though I could not find these last on my iPad???). Incidentally, the Ap also displayed one of the annoying downsides of digital media – the fact that export to Dropbox would be discontinued after June 28th 2017 because of incompatibility with a Dropbox upgrade – Grrrr….Adding a sense of urgency in a fast-moving world. But the svg files can be imported into Illustrator and edited for further development.

I started by doing a mindmap in my notebook (need to transfer this to something other people can read and understand)

Exploration of abstract pixel characterisation

1) Gender, age and mood from simple mid grey

2) Different cultures

3) Relationships

Promotes understanding between cultures and generations

But can get complicated

Having transferred now to Illustrator I am planning to explore these different ideas and relationships further, including much darker sides of grooming and sexting. But I need to give work at my pc a rest because of RSI. I also want to do some experimentation with Photoshop pixel art.