Experience the existence
Meta-album based on data re-interpretation
from digital photographs
“SUSPENSION - From Reality to Data” is a meta-album, or better, a data-album. Every piece of
the project requires to be experienced not as a simple artistic expression, but as a possible interpretation of digital data derived from our tangible Reality. The work is composed of a collection of 10+1 GIFs connected to the same number of audio tracks.
Every GIF has to be experienced with its relative track.
This work is a journey from the outside to the inside, from the resonant world of our five senses to a different interpretation of our tangible Reality.
All our life is based on perceiving through our senses, thinking through our ideas, performing actions with our bodies. From the simplest to the most sophisticated activity we engage in, our world is translated by our neural networks into complex sequences of only two electrical states: hot/cold, current/no current, fire/not fire. Depending on the way these binary signals and sequences are processed, we end up creating different levels of perception, sensations, feelings. Our interpretation of what’s out there...Simply put: what we experience and call life.
A similar procedure occurs when we try to capture the world through digital tools. Outer reality is processed and transcribed with a binary system of 0s and 1s: encoding; digitalization. From the same source differences emerge, depending on what and how you decide to filter, translate and decode. Complex states are transformed into more interpretable versions of the original content. The world is reduced to sequences of two states, ON and OFF.
The world is like a big database of complex raw data ready to be interpret- ed. Our everyday truth is only one of these possible interpretations, chosen because of an interpolation of different causes in the history of human evolution.
Is it possible to suggest something that goes beyond a common perception of Reality, using its digital depiction as the only starting material?
The aim of this project is to investigate this question, through a multi-disciplinary piece of art, merging images and sounds. Digital photographs become an act of suspension of tangible Reality, as well as the starting point for a data re-interpretation activity. Using different data-reading and bending methods, it’s possible to go beyond the content of the original pictures, creating new digital representations of previous subjects. Through a series of alterations and algorithmic processes on photographs, we obtain a result that, although deriving directly from a common Reality, tends to express something else. The output, composed of animated images (GIFs) and stereo audio tracks, is entirely produced from the digital data set of the original photographic shots. This form of animated visualization, the GIF image, is simply a quick rotation through a number of static frames. GIFs were chosen to give a fundamental characteristic to the work: they produce a visual immersion without precise time. Sometimes the sounds stop, while images continue to stream into minds. Other times the images seem to be blocked, while the audio continues. There is no beginning nor an end; it’s an unfinished moment that flows.
This is an immersive research, a path to reach a virtual space where every mind can search for and explore other meanings, where the same digital databases are rendered to establish memories of lives never lived. Using an instance of space and time com- pressed in a single moment (a photograph) and expanding it in a parallel vision of another reality (limitless GIF loops), a new Reality is born out of the chosen digital interpretation.
SUSPENSION is a work about time, different perceptions, mind, meta-art and virtual spaces.
SUSPENSION at the moment is hosted here on a private webpage,
where all the 10+1 GIFs and tracks can be privately experienced.
Enter the virtual rooms_
Join the Suspension_
• free your thinking
• lose yourself
An experience that starts from Reality and lands on your personality, your view... Your mind. Photography has the ability to block moments in Reality. All we can see from a photo is the common interpretation of its information. One 0 after another and in the middle a few 1, pixel by pixel, only the surface of multiple data layers. We experience that image as an infinitesimal of a second in our life. We end up believing it is all that exists.
What if we could work on the information of a single shot and, interpreting that data differently, build something above the tangible Reality? What about creating another vision, an altered state of our everyday life? What if we could all see above the Real, straight into another interpretation of the same information? How can our concentration act on developed data materials coming from the Real World as a suggestive incubator for Something Else? What can Reality suggest when its elemental data are distorted and manipulated on different lev- els of expression? A different level of data interpretation, a digital incubator of thoughts, from a digital translation of Reality to your mind. The data from pictures are reread through different processes and transformed to result in a new order of reality, letting our minds to flow through re-ordered BITS and scrambled levels of data hierarchy.
Could everyday truth be experienced in another way?
Every element of the work, from the GIF’s frames to the audio track associated with it, is the result of digital processes applied exclusively on the original pictures. No external material (audio or images) has been added during the manipulations.
The artwork utilizes GIFs as one of the two media supports. Redefining and repositioning a medium that exists primarily to communicate low resolution images for memes purposes, here GIFs become high-definition artistic tools. Starting from a simple positive/negative overlapping layers technique to produce new depth in the original image perspective, and further through alteration, distortion, data-bending and re-reading processes, the result tries to overcome the direct expression of the original material.
Each element of the work is thought as an instrument of investigation, as an incubator for something that goes beyond our common interpretation of the world. The project wants to drive you on a deeper level of exploration. Starting from some casual situations straightly taken from the everyday life, the multi-colored and psychedelic images, together with the soundscapes/drones audio tracks, allow you to make a change in perspective.
Excerpts from the artistic process
Different software programs have been used for this project. No fixed method was used to produce all the contents displayed in SUSPENSION, rather holistic trial and error approaches and schemes were adopted: trying, failing, modifying the process, trying again. Here below is a brief description of some of these procedures. (All the steps have been blended and mixed together, transcoding back and forth images in sounds and vice versa, potentially many times).
From the original image, data manipulation began with some classics images processing suites, like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. Some areas of the photographs were transformed inverting the tone-curve, to create contrasts be- tween positive and negative portions. Twisting the color spectrograms, some artifacts emerged. Altering heavily the common parameters like contrast, exposure, whites, blacks, saturations, the photos began to express something else... Layers over layers of these steps have been then overlapped.
In some cases, the image files were manually modified, adding, tweaking or deleting parts of the code contained in them. This was obtained through simple tools, such as TextEdit and 0xED.
Every format (PNG, bmp, TIFF, jpeg and so on) has its own data structure and methodologies for codifying the information into it, so switching between formats and altering the code in different ways produced an array of varied results.
Some ideas from Phil Tucker, Jeff Thompson, Kim Asendorf and tools like GLIC from the GITHub community around the glitch art movement were really helpful and powerful to achieve from the lightest pixel sorting changes to the strong- est data-bending results. GIFs have to walk on a subtle line, being built to maintain the perfect mental balance between our reality and what else could be above it. Not too much should be altered, not too little.
The operations involving sounds were developed using tools like Audacity, iZotope RX and GleetchLab for the decoding (RAW data import, data player and so on), decryption and deciphering of images into audio.
Gleetchlab software (versions 4 and X) was the only processing tool used to shape the sound material. No others DSP tools were used. Sounds generated by these processes in some cases have been re-converted into images or, better, re-opened into image editors or into simple text editors (or HEX data editor). However, nothing has been synthesized or imported as external sound material. Only the digital content available in the original photos was used as source. Finally, the relative soundtracks for the GIFs were assembled using Ableton Live (exclusively through copy, cut, levels and pan/balance operations). All these actions could maybe seem like wild flights to make new media materials. They are, totally. But the point is not to create new sound and visual impressions, but to find different interpretations for a database of raw data that was already interpreted in a single unidirectional way: as a photo.
It is important to underline that the methods and processes used to develop SUSPENSION have no pretense to be scientific in the sense of producing a result that could be repeated and potentially prove something. The aim of this project has been to use strictly only the available data from a set of ordinary digital photographs and to express something that goes beyond them. The artis- tic realm is the only domain in which we are operating – the result intending to push towards a data re-interpretation exercise that brings you beyond Reality.