Author Archives: Callan Keller

Space Oddity


When I found out that the theme for this project would be space, I immediately knew what music I wanted to use. The song Gold Pilot from the album coloUrs and mayhem: Universe A has always been strongly evocative of outer space and celestial bodies to me, and I was honestly thrilled to have a chance to work with it. The first thing I did in my ideation process was mark up the music, identifying the six primary musical components of the piece, which I referred to as pulse, chime, beat, strings, drop, and cascade. From there, I proceeded to identify which types of elements and motion I felt would fit best with each musical component. For instance, I knew that since that the piece opens with a slow fade-in to pulse, I wanted to use a zooming, circular fractal to reflect that musical composition in my visual composition.


I found the cascade element of the music particularly evocative, as it reminds me of watching meteor showers, so I decided I wanted to depict a stylized version of that using a loop of descending star shapes.


I also found the drop sections of the music, where it rapidly cuts to silence, and then to a brief section of rather unsettling music, very evocative of a specific image. My idea was that the frame would transition to black on an out-to-in wipe, simultaneously with the music cutting out the previous elements to silence, followed by the appearance of a green fractal in a shape reminiscent of an eye. This fractal was, after that, meant to be distorted in time with the beats of the music.


When I started working on my composition in after effects, I very quickly ran into a series of problems. As my background is more in computer science and video editing than visual art, I attempted to work primarily with expressions in my manipulation of the properties of my visual elements, since that is the method that made the most sense to me. Unfortunately, I quickly realized that After Effects does not seem to follow the same syntax conventions as normal Java code, much to my confusion. I found myself spending multiple days reading documentation on Adobe expressions, with little comprehension of why the things I was trying were causing errors. For example, in attempting to create timed distortions of the fractal pictured above, I attempted to use at least three different distortion effects, encountering errors with each of them that I could not solve on my own. I encountered similar, but more extensive issues with my attempts at creating a randomized pattern of small circles appearing then fading out as the circle expands for the chime sections.


Eventually, as the deadline approached and I ran out of time, I decided to temporarily stop working on the sections of music in order, skipping forward to add base images to most of the sections, and compose the kaleidoscope in the strings section of the music. While I am not satisfied with the result of this project, I hope to build on what I learned from the many difficulties I encountered in my work in After Effects in the future.

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF


I wish I could say it’s just my art style, but honestly, my work on this project is pretty basic by artistic standards. I’m not an especially experienced or practiced visual artist, and it shows in my work on this project. I didn’t have much of a plan going in, just trying to find the right mindset to create the types of images I saw everyone else creating around me. This was, obviously, not a very concrete plan. Trying to directly find inspiration in the work of other artists wasn’t working for me at this point, so I decided to focus on creating images inspired by things I enjoy seeing in the world around me instead.

As I had previously created a brush that reminded me of a bird’s wing, and the motion of wings flapping is one that I have always found fascinating, I decided to try to mimic that sense of motion in my first gif. I created five layers in photoshop, and used the transform and distort tools to alter each layer, until they looked similar to how I visualized the stages of a bird’s wing flapping. Once animated, the image was much smoother and more convincing than I had expected with only five layers, and I was quite pleased with the result, despite its simplicity.


In creating glitch art, I decided to work from a selfie I took while in cosplay, with a pastel rainbow overlay. I chose this image because I really only like looking at pictures of myself when I am cosplaying in those pictures, but unlike in most such images, I took this picture while out of character. As such, this is the rare picture that captures the uniquely comfortable way I am able to inhabit my body while in cosplay, without the obscuring effect of my being in-character.

As I was unable to glitch my image on my computer itself, as was taught in class, I used an online glitching tool to glitch my initial image. (The tool I used.) In order to avoid my tendency towards using tiny variations on the same image, I did all of my glitching using this tool’s “randomize” feature.

In this first glitch gif, I made the transitions between images crossfade, to create a sense of smooth continuity. My intent was to make this image glitched but not unsettling, and this continuity allowed the image to have the calm sort of flow I imagined.


When glitch gifs were assigned, it was suggested that we try to make our two images representative of our “good” and “evil” selves. While brainstorming how I might convey the idea of my “evil self” through glitching, I was inspired by the glitch art created by Andrew Hussie for his groundbreaking multimedia webcomic, Homestuck. In Homestuck, he uses glitching frequently, as both an artistic tool and a plot device. This work was my first significant exposure to glitch art, and as such, it felt natural to me to derive inspiration from it while attempting to create my own glitch art.

To create this second glitch gif, I selected the most heavily glitched images I had created, alongside those that I found most viscerally unsettling, and tried to juxtapose contrasting images through rapid transitions between frames. By only using rapid glimpses of the more heavily-glitched images, I tried to convey a sense of foreboding in the composition of the gif. While I wish the frames of red and green glitching were shorter, to better convey the effect I was going for, overall, I am satisfied with this result.