Monday, September 7, 2009

ZX page 13: Downtown Athens




This is a composite trace from a few photographs of down-town Athens, assembled in a way that suited my aims. I mean, the vantage that looks towards the Parthenon doesn't have these exact buildings below it, but these exact buildings are the ones I found most pleasing from my trip to Google Image.

Talking about Google Image, man what a useful thing for artists that need reference. Back before it most serious artists had tons of magazines stacked in a corner, fashion, IKEA catalogs and the like just to have a reference archive. That's probably gone, now, the ever-constant process of digitalization.

This page was really tortuous to draw because I kept feeling like I wasn't making any progress, right up close to when I was almost done with it. Can't explain it very well.

-Helm

15 comments:

Sergio said...

Great work once more. If you make a book out of this, I will probably buy it.

Also thought I'd tell you I plan to write something really pretentious about your Spartan pixel art for University, hope you don't mind...

Helm said...

Thank you.

Just give me a link to the text once you're done. Also, what will you be pretending to be?

Katia said...

Μόλις το διάβασα όλο, πολύ καλή δουλεία, μου αρέσει. :)

Markus Rosse said...

Your expensive rendering of this scene was totally worth it to me. It creates a very interesting and calm mood in a yet inimical city. Which means to me it doesn't give the impression of a pleasant place to live. But maybe it's because I'm an introvert and I don't like places where a lot of people live ;)

Btw: Small typo in title, Page "14"

Sergio said...

When I said pretentious, I meant I'd try to act smarter than I actually am, and probably get things wrong.

If there's anything (just something small) you could say about your ambitions with the piece, that would help. But it's up to you, really!

Helm said...

You don't know how smart you are because you're living inside you. Don't look at yourself from the outside, it's a waste of time. Eyes looking out, they see no lie. The people that will call you pretentious have their own issues. Don't fake a humility so as to not upset others, just do what you need to do. Let them be upset, let them ridicule you!

The spartan piece is an exercise in purity and control in the medium. The actual thing it portrays, though pleasing and important to me, isn't the focus, instead it's the excercise of how it's made. It's made of very few colors, set at the full intensity the computer screen allows, along with black. It's an examination of what happens when clusters of these bright pixels come into various permutations to fake a fidelity that they'd be incapable of achieving alone. A holistic effect that occurs when all the disparate parts are acutely controlled. There is a beauty in this process for me that makes me return to this medium again and again. I don't even use color for my comic work as you might have noticed, most of the time. Color is for pixels, in my brain. Pixels are square and arranged on a grid and their values are 256x256x256 RGB ones, I can understand them. They are opaque, clear atoms of this aesthetic universe. When one controls the application, he can then let his subconsciousness call the forms into existence, he can do no wrong. You look at the end result and it has that 'togetherness' that only such pure and controlled methods can attain.

Of course it's a partial failure, I see so many errors when I look at it now, but it's also an inspirational failure for me because it underlines the concepts of pixel art purity that concern me to this day. It's a roadmap towards something, you see. I'd also suggest you read the following text I've written for more musings on pixel art.

http://www.pixel.schlet.net/

They're more technical than theoretic from a point onwards but it should still be of interest to you, I hope.

Helm said...

Also, Katia, σ'ευχαριστώ. And Rosse, yes, I was trying to convey that this isn't particularly a nice place, it's very hot, very cramped, lots of bad fumes, I hate downtown Athens.

Sergio said...

Wow, your pixel.schlet site was amazing. Some of it went over my head, but it was a great read.

Here's the thing I wrote for my University course, anyway: http://technoculture203-09.blogspot.com/2009/09/pixel-art-part-2-of-2.html

P.S. You enjoying Spelunky? Reach the City of Gold or anything yet?

rnd1 said...

Surely saying everyone who says "pretentious" has issues is not smart thinking. Yes, everyone has issues. But any concern could be shrugged off that way. "Your food poisoned my children!" "You're just jealous of my cooking".

What ideas are missed by doing so? Do all the people who made the following quotes have inferiority issues:
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/pretentious.html


Define what pretentious is. Define what is and isn't pretentious. Explain the benefits of each category. Explain the moral of story of the emperor's new clothes.

Pretentious analysis has no use. It is done merely for the writer's ego. Here is a quote I read scrawled on a table: "The brain is not simple enough to be understood otherwise our brain would not be able to understand it". Brilliant quote which applies to your analysis. Helm you are trying to explain something that people understand intuitively just by looking at the piece. It is doubtful that those theories helped you to make the piece. By choosing to analyze pixel art in that way you are making it harder for people to appreciate what it really is. You are placing an emphasis on technical features rather than whether the picture is pretty or not (=true purpose). Hence the flawed analysis by Sergio. He extrapolated the ideas of limitation and thought that there was a mathematical limit to the number of pieces that could be made. Whereas a mathematical analysis shows that there is very large number of total possibilities (though considerably less that would look pleasing or depict real life things).

What is pixel art? Digital art that tends towards smaller size and smaller colors, with the aim of being appealing.

Lastly isn't it insulting to assume others have issues? Maybe you don't draw good action poses only because you have issues with your lecturer.

Helm said...

It appears to me you've been trying to maneuver an argument in taking place that I don't have the taste for, really. Are you the same begrudging Pixelation person, again? I'll attempt to explain a few things briefly but please don't hold it against me if I don't go into too much detail, given your past comments (if I understand correctly, also using previous handles) I don't have a lot of faith that you're going to approach them with intellectual honesty and you'll be too preoccupied in putting me in my place, as it were, so I don't want to potentially waste a lot of my time.

Surely saying everyone who says "pretentious" has issues is not smart thinking.

The cry against pretension is a very specific insult, especially online. It's really telling of various emotional desires when one judges another person to be 'less smart than they are attempting to pass for' and then automatically shifts the burden of proof of this judgment from themselves to the person in question. In other words it's to take "I think you're not smart" which has to be qualified with why you think so, and turning it into "I couldn't help but notice that you're an idiot pretending to be otherwise". When labeled as pretentious it's almost as if that is a natural characteristic you assume, one you extrude, one in the core of your being. And one, presumably, that you should do well to attempt to amend because the rest of the world has noticed, and is laughing.

It's an insidious accusation, one extremely potent, because in the core of their being, all humans are not pretentious, but uncertain. And therefore plagued with low self-esteem. You can't really base your own appreciation of your person on your own self, can you? You have to base it on how other people seem to appreciate you. Everyone's really afraid therefore of how the come across as because a lot of social gaming rests on this matter. So it's a surefire way to make anyone,who has strung together a longer sentence than normal uncomfortable, to tell them they're pretending to be smart.

Helm said...

And especially in this post-modern, anti-intellectual climate, it seems if someone is branded with this accusation, their positions are discredited as a de facto summation. If he's pretending to be smart then he surely has nothing useful to say.

Why do people try to bring others down? There's many reasons I'm sure you can think of, most of them have a psycholocial component that is pathologic. Whenever people use language and communication as a weapon to cut others down, there is a psychopathology there. Yes, everyone has issues, and these issues do not mean that whatever they're saying in a form of insult doesn't have any use, but I do feel when I spot this happening, I have an obligation towards myself and the other person to rise above the surface squabbling (on which area the veiled insults are hurled about) or 'the argument' as it were, and instead underline the social game that is occuring at the time and the psychological ramifications of indulging in it.

I am not interested in being right, or defeating your logic, or putting you in your place. I am interested in understanding and sharing understanding.

This is why I suggested to Sergio above that he shouldn't second-guess himself and try to pre-emptively shield from accusations such as these. (1) As long as he strives to express any higher meaning, he will never be safe from these accusations. (2) Why try to deflect these accusations? When they do happen they bring to the forefront issues much more important than whatever surface noise the person accusing is employing in order to snipe at the other person's self esteem.

Yes, everyone has issues. But any concern could be shrugged off that way. "Your food poisoned my children!" "You're just jealous of my cooking".

Any concern could be shrugged off if someone so desires, and that desire is part of that social game of bringing people down and bringing yourself up that I describe above. This is not the only purpose a focus on the psycho-social brings though. For those braver it helps in other ways.

Also - and this is the crux of the thing - in your example above, how you express that someone is not a good cook tells a lot about you as a person. The issue is not whether really I am pretentious or not, or Sergio a good cook or not, as these are matters of perception, of point of view, they are not set in stone.

we exist first and we perforce make choices, and, trying to understand or describe our existential choices, people attribute "Essences" to us, but these "Essences" remain lables -- mere words.

Helm said...

The issue is what is the demeanor of the person making the statement. Are they perhaps disaffected and taking it out on others, or are they genuinely trying to help with their points of view?

To call people who have different points of view to yours, which you might be misunderstanding, victims of self-delusion of grandeur then, is an attack and a very cheap one at that, so if you're really one of the helpful people, I'd suggest you strike it from your social vocabulary.

What ideas are missed by doing so? Do all the people who made the following quotes have inferiority issues:
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/pretentious.html


Did you read the list you're giving me? There the term is used to attack with, it is used to self-efface, ro defend with, it is debunked, it is glorified and it is scrutinized. All these people who are quoted there are not doing the same thing with the term, they're not all leveling it against their intellectual opposition as an easy way to get it to feel self-conscious. Some are, and yes, I'd think these people have their issues that urge them to do so.

Define what pretentious is. Define what is and isn't pretentious. Explain the benefits of each category. Explain the moral of story of the emperor's new clothes.

See it's this sort of patronizing that makes me feel you don't have the best of intentions. Is it to my benefit to take you as my elementary school teacher and have you grade my papers? See what I mean. Your demeanour isn't inspiring a lot of trust.

Pretentious analysis has no use. It is done merely for the writer's ego.

It is interesting you believe so. Have you considered that your posts here are also for your own ego?

The point of view you express is a psychologically naive one. You're sweeping intention under the rug and are trying to 'stick to the facts'. There are no facts, words can be used towards any effect. If you'd inspect your own desires you'd be more honest. It is a great use of life, I posti, to utilize it to empower one's ego. The mediator between social instruction and primoridial desire being strong means the choices the mechanism ends up making are most balanced. Why do you think one should try to destabilize their ego? Do you know what happens then?

Helm you are trying to explain something that people understand intuitively just by looking at the piece.

Have you considered that perhaps you are misunderstanding? Perhaps I am too experiencing this foremost intuitive transaction? Perhaps I do not react to information, but experience the transaction with information? That is to say, I am experiencing a process of active interpretations of signals when I look at a piece of art, some of which process occurs on one level and some of it which occurs on a different one, neither offsetting the other or indeed battling it.

Whether the picture is pretty or not (=true purpose)

To make of existentialism, easthetics, brain function, social function of art, such a base model you stand only to wound yourself philosophically. Take that dagger out and tend to the wound for as long as it takes until youre brave enough to never use the words 'true purpose' again.

What is pixel art? Digital art that tends towards smaller size and smaller colors, with the aim of being appealing.

Pixel art "isn't" anything. Your definition is of use to you but it might also be of abuse to you, check it out.

I sincerely recommended you read some material by the following philosophers: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Camus. They will have answers for your concerns and their answers are further questions, which it will be life-giving to spend a full life trying to answer on your own.

rnd1 said...

It is interesting you believe so. Have you considered that your posts here are also for your own ego?

Definitely.

The issue is not whether really I am pretentious or not, or Sergio a good cook or not, as these are matters of perception, of point of view, they are not set in stone.

Sergio could have made an example. Say the runner dude in logo runner. Lets say it is a 8by8 pixel sprite,2 color (this isn't accurate). Then could say 2^64 possible combination. Then argue say only 10 are recognizable as men (and draw some). Then say that we could interview 100s of people and ask which one they find best. If they all agreed that one was best, we have achieved 'perfection'. And this could not be achieved with line drawings, paintings etc. But this argument would break down for larger sprites and more colors which is most pixel art.

Isn't there a philosophy called empiricism (ie. set in stone)? Isn't asking for some intellectual rigor (eg. asking someone to show they understand a word since they continually try to wipe out its meaning) a good thing?

Helm said...

Then argue say only 10 are recognizable as men (and draw some). Then say that we could interview 100s of people and ask which one they find best. If they all agreed that one was best, we have achieved 'perfection'.

If I find perfection as a concept very hard to deal with, I find this focus-tested perfection even more absurd, personally. I'm not even sure what you're trying to get at with this.

Isn't there a philosophy called empiricism (ie. set in stone)?

No. Epistemologically speaking, that knowledge comes from one's own experience and testing doesn't mean the resultant theory is set in stone at all. Why don't you do some research, perhaps?

sn't asking for some intellectual rigor (eg. asking someone to show they understand a word since they continually try to wipe out its meaning) a good thing?

Your understanding is another man's butter cookie. Also I'm not trying to wipe out any meanings at all. Meanings are forever, they have nothing to fear from me. Finally, intellectual rigor, huh?

I think that's enough with this conversation.

rnd1 said...

If I may made add finally:

"Thus, I would speculate that some level of perfection is possible."

The focus tested example is a specific case to back up Sergio's point. It is an example of rigor.

I could say pixel art is a medium that opens up perfection. But I could be wrong. I could just be saying it because it sounds like an important idea and I want to impress the audience that I have a big brain. The audience might believe it because they equate big words with truth. That would make the piece pretentious (even if Sergio isn't - it might be the uni marking scheme promotes pretentiousness. The marker wouldn't actually know anything about the subject in depth. He just wants to tick important sounding (though possibly inaccurate, superficial) ideas).

But if I give a tangible example then it backs up the point. It also shows where the concept could apply and where it doesn't. Providing evidence is good, it is more accessible to the audience and more likely to be true. They might also be able to apply the knowledge. "I'm working in B+W and small sprites, maybe I can just try random things till it looks good". And then later, "why doesn't this method work in color and larger sprites? Wait, maybe I need a different skillset, similar to drawing on paper where there are many combinations"

If you don't like the 'focus testing', instead replace it with the question could any artist improve on logo runner while following the same restrictions.

Anyway, good luck convincing people to understand from the inside out. It worked out for the emperor.