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t e l e m e t r y


t e l e m e t r y

transmissions from the galores

archive for June of 2006

analog fatbits

posted by janet on June 03, 2006

macpaint toolsA Mac 512 caused me to fall in love with technology and computers. It was so compact, so visual. Playing with MacPaint in the late 80s, I'd drag the brush tool with my blocky mouse, leaving big blobs of pixels in my wake. Zooming in with Fatbits, inserting squares of different colors bit by bit (blop, blop, blop), zooming out, squinting to see whether that gave me the effect I was looking for...

Modern pixel art from people like eboy, icontown, and even various forms of ASCII art capitalize on the retro appeal of digital pixels to create a sensibility distinct to the cusp of the 21st century.

But now we go even more retro, all the way to analog. Lately artists and designers all over have been using 70s-era crafts and toys like Legos, needlepoint, Lite Brite, Ministeck, and even breadclips to render modern icons and imagery. It's a pleasing combo of analog and digital nostalgia.

Norbert Bayer puts it well: "The enthusiasm of the masses for 'everything goes with a computer' was reflected by a few with a nostalgic view on what seemed to get lost forever. It evoked the wish to create something new with the outdated material and giving it the nimbus of a posh and glamourous technology, for example like Vinylvideo which stored video images on vinyl records."

You know, anything reasonably small and repeatable can be an analog pixel.

I've been collecting marshmallow Peeps each spring for a few years, gathering enough colors to make a 5-color pastel mosaic called "Jesus of Peeps." It will be about 4 feet tall. It has to be big since the Peeps are so low-res, each about 2.5"x1.5". It'll take about 550 Peeps at this size. I keep trying to time it so it's done just before Easter, but then Easter comes and goes, and I put the Peeps back into the closet till the next year. Once I get a little time I think I'll just finish it! It would probably go over well any time of the year.

Here's a small roundup of "analog fatbit" artists and media. Most portray icons and imagery from computer games, but some go beyond, moving towards traditional grid and mosaic based art. All have some conceptual reference to computer and pixel nostalgia. I'll add to the list as I find more.

Analog fatbit art

(c) norbert bayer
Mr. Ministeck, Norbert Bayer
Just what makes it so different, so appealing?

This guy is my hero.

space invader in harajuku

malcolm x by wil hathaway
Wil Hathaway breadclip art

Mario pushpin art

For the record, I don't consider Chuck Close an analog fatbit artist, as, according to him, his work has no reference to computers, nostalgic or otherwise: "Some people wonder whether what I do is inspired by a computer and whether or not that kind of imaging is a part of what makes this work contemporary. I absolutely hate technology, and I'm computer illiterate, and I never use any labor-saving devices although I'm not convinced that a computer is a labor-saving device."


vintage ministeck box

vintage lego box

vintage lite brite box
Lite Brite!