Categories
coalescing

Art over time

I mean, I really don’t know what I am doing. You try to develop a theory, or make some kind of sense out of reality, but then at some point you just have to do something. That something for me is taking the materials of the Internet and combining them in different ways and observing the results. It doesn’t really have to mean anything. It is an activity. One that constantly surprises me and I look forward to every day.

Every day I fetch images that come into my RSS reader and composite them. It will produce a sort of digital collage, like this:

This was the #27th image created in the batch of several hundred. Many of the collages that are created, I just discard because they are not very interesting. The one above stuck out because I liked it’s composition. The image with the figure of a man came from a contemporary art website I follow which posts photos of current gallery exhibitions. I can’t tell you for certain where the other images came from, they could possibly be images from the popular Buzzfeed website which is another one of the RSS feeds I subscribe to. Not because I like Buzzfeed or even read it, god no, but it is there and a constant source of material. Something I want to “cut up”. If I wanted to do some digging I could find out where the other images came from, and in fact I am thinking how I can automatically just embed the links to the source material in the image meta data somehow. I have not quite gotten there.

I call the process “coalescing”, but that is just my romantic notion of it. These words, “the images coalesce” echoing back at me from a discarded poem I wrote over twenty years ago. Technically I am compositing the images. The command looks like this:

composite $OPTION $RANDOM_IMAGES coalesce-$DATE-$IMAGE_NUMBER.jpg

The random option function looks like:

Random Gravity
 function random_gravity () {
 There are 10 Gravity Options
 gravity[0]="None"
 gravity[1]="Center"
 gravity[2]="East"
 gravity[3]="Forget"
 gravity[4]="NorthEast"
 gravity[5]="North"
 gravity[6]="NorthWest"
 gravity[7]="SouthEast"
 gravity[8]="South"
 gravity[9]="SouthWest"
 gravity[10]="West"
 size=${#gravity[@]}
 index=$(($RANDOM % $size))
 GRAVITY=${gravity[$index]}
 }
 random_gravity
 echo "Gravity option selected is: $GRAVITY"
 OPTION="-gravity $GRAVITY"

Here is the entire script:

!/bin/bash
 DATE=$(date +"%b-%d-%Y")
 IMAGE_NUMBER=$1
 EXPECTED_ARGS=1
 E_BADARGS=65
 if [ $# -ne $EXPECTED_ARGS ]
 then
   echo "Usage: Needs a number to put on the end of the file name."
   exit $E_BADARGS
 fi
 Random Gravity
 function random_gravity () {
 There are 10 Gravity Options
 gravity[0]="None"
 gravity[1]="Center"
 gravity[2]="East"
 gravity[3]="Forget"
 gravity[4]="NorthEast"
 gravity[5]="North"
 gravity[6]="NorthWest"
 gravity[7]="SouthEast"
 gravity[8]="South"
 gravity[9]="SouthWest"
 gravity[10]="West"
 size=${#gravity[@]}
 index=$(($RANDOM % $size))
 GRAVITY=${gravity[$index]}
 }
 random_gravity
 echo "Gravity option selected is: $GRAVITY"
 OPTION="-gravity $GRAVITY"
 function the_images_coalesce () {
 RANDOM_IMAGES=$(ls .jpg | shuf | tail -3)
 echo "compositing these images:"
 echo $RANDOM_IMAGES
 composite $OPTION $RANDOM_IMAGES coalesce-$DATE-$IMAGE_NUMBER.jpg
 echo "I made you this: coalesce-$DATE-$IMAGE_NUMBER.jpg"
 }
 the_images_coalesce

Then you just put it in a directory full of .jpg images and run it in a loop:

for i in {1..100}; do bash composite_three_random_images.sh; done

It is just a gross bash script, and I plan to move on from here using other ImageMagick libraries to develop new techniques. The bash script was the quickest way I could start doing what I wanted to do, which was to illustrate the randomly created bits of text, also taken from the stories in the RSS reader, with “coalesced” images. Here is today’s cutup:

There are two things I haven’t done before in this post, one is creating a link to some source material and the other is including an animated gif version of several static images that I created in the usual way. While browsing the images and experimenting with including one image in the script and combining that with other randomly chosen images. There is a persistent frame of reference in each image with changing elements:

Again using the ImageMagick command line tools, a command like this does the job:

convert -delay 10 -loop 0 coalesce-Mar-06-2021-541.jpg coalesce-Mar-06-2021-542.jpg coalesce-Mar-06-2021-543.jpg coalesce-Mar-06-2021-545.jpg coalesce-Mar-06-2021-546.jpg coalesce-Mar-06-2021-547.jpg coalesce-Mar-06-2021-548.jpg coalesce-Mar-06-2021-549.jpg coalesce-Mar-06-2021-55 animated2.gif

I’m not certain yet how to glob the image numbers to avoid typing all the image names in succession, but I’ll figure it out eventually.

I know what I am doing is not new or novel or unique. Today I did a little research, I was actually trying to find a project where some painters did a serious of various brush strokes, and then in software combined those strokes to make many thousands of variations of an abstract painting. I couldn’t find that artwork, but I came across another that is very similar to what I am doing:

Which is a project started by Cornelia Sollfrank way back in 1997. And lo and behold they are embracing Free and Open Source software as well, this is certainly something I am going to look into further:

About the same time I tried to start making net art, the way back machine capturing my first site back in January of 1999, but I had started working on it sometime in 98. I began putting a loose conception of what I wanted to do here over the past twenty years but only now have realised this sort of baseline activity. Coalesce.me being just one small part in a larger portfolio I’m hoping to build.

The real art for me about this particular project I’m working on now is in the ongoing activity. Inspired by David Lynch among others, the commitment to some daily creation like his “Weather Report”. It’s not that I want to do the same thing over an over again though, there is a current process to produce the text and images I generate everyday but it also forms a kind of narrative. The process will change over time, so the work too, will evolve over time. I’m only 5 months in, but over time, over years, it is then I hope that the art will emerge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *