Author Archives: Alina Pontius

Kinetic Text

From viewing other work in class, I liked the idea of  using background images to keep the composition cohesive as the text changed.  I wanted to recreate the colors and textures that I was seeing when I wrote this poem. I struggled to fill four minutes before the deadline.  I started by breaking up my source text into stanzas and worked only with the first stanza.  I have been thinking recently about the differences between still and moving images.  Gotthold Lessing says about the difference between painting and poetry that “signs existing in space can express only objects whose wholes or parts coexist, while signs that follow one another can express only objects whose wholes or parts are consecutive”.  This made me think about how reading a sentence is different from looking at an image.  I realized that language is a time-based art form, just like video.  (And if we are talking about video as a medium for expression of ideas, then obviously language is also a medium). I was introduced to the idea of “radical digital painting” by a friend recently, through this webpage:  This made me think about the work we are doing as paintings that can be run.  I think these works have a lot to say about objects existing in space and time.  A section of Scudder’s Ten Minute Painting states that “repetition is the only thing that makes something less random than it already is”.  I see a connection between this quote and the way I have been using patterns in my work. This project tested my patience and taught me much about when things go wrong.  I was working in a version of Aftereffects which didn’t support the H.264 format, so I tried using Media Encoder.  I knew I was in trouble when the software ran for only a moment and then announced that the encoding was finished.  My first attempts strangely exported as files which were 0 seconds long, showing only the last frame of the comp.  I tried opening the autosave file and exporting from there, but the same thing happened.  I tried a different computer in the lab – perhaps it was the software.  But no – the green checkmark on the screen taunted me.  I went to composition>pre-render and selected Quicktime .mov in the output module dropdown option, hoping that maybe I’d found a loophole.  This time, an error message told me that “current work area settings will cause the replaced item to be out of sync with the original.”  Online messaging boards gave me no hints as to a solution.  Then, I looked at the project panel and discovered my in point was set to 00:59:29.  A right-click on the comp prompted me to “make a new comp from selection”.  Success!!  I have only my rage and my compound stress headache to thank for pushing me forward to fight through this nightmare.  I will offer a sacrifice to the Aftereffects Goddess tonight.

Space Oddity

Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 4.15.29 PM

still from climax of video piece.

My first action in response to this prompt was to make a mood board. I found myself drawn to representational images of the solar system. I was finding images of spheres and circles. I was also influenced by images I found in a book on Elizabethan theatre: Kingdom for a Stage by Joy Hancox. The architects of the Globe and other contemporary theatres were influenced by cultural ideas such as astrology, sacred geometry, and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Their sketches contained complex interlocking patterns composed of simple shapes. I wanted to work with rich colors and textures, and this dark purple to me has the mood of Bowie’s song and the feelings of deep space and travel.  The background layer is a solid color with a “noise” effect.  I lowered the opacity of the noise so that it would show the purple. Now for the animation. Initially I wanted nine planets and nine movement paths for them. If I’m able to work on this animation further I think I’ll build it out.  I started with the goal to animate a single planet moving along the path of its orbit.  There is no sun or visible central point in my animation until the video shifts and I cross fade in the fractal shape.  I kept my turbulent purple background layer behind the fractal to keep continuity, but key framed the color scheme of the fractal to create a sequence of rapid change.  The symmetry of the fractal equation complements my symmetrical orbital paths.  I see the fractal as a wormhole or mysterious portal, and the color wheel sequence as an electrical storm in deep space.
Preliminary movement sketch.

Preliminary movement sketch.

I began with a solid filled circle overlaid on a circular shape layer with a trim path. The circle follow the rotation of the white path. The rings of my planet are larger than the frame to suggest a cosmos which extends beyond what we are seeing. The blue planet disappears and reappears to stimulate the eye.  I used a repeater effect on the shape layer of the original white ring to create 2 more complementary rings moving in harmonious motion. Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 4.13.31 PM Screen Shot 2018-03-29 at 4.13.55 PM I was challenged early in the process to think about color holistically. The flat fill inside my circle created by the program was not speaking the same language as my textured background layer. I tried creating a sphere shape, but that changed the way my animation moved, so I stuck with the simple circle. In critique I received the suggestion to stack many shape layers together and reduce the opacity of the fill color to create depth.  I am also not satisfied with the spacing of the rings.  They do not align with the center of the image.  I believe that this is an unintended consequence of the repeater animation.
showing the building of concentric, harmonious movement

showing the building of concentric, harmonious movement

Digital Tools: The Art of the GIF

!!openmeangelicinfinity This glitch gif started as a cut-out mask of my image from the original photo.  This I layered over a stock photoshop background.  I saved this file in various formats, like png, jpeg, and bmp.  I then experimented by converting the files to txt, opening the text file, and making changes to the text.  I started by typing sentences or phrases, like “hi mom!” into the code because I wanted to find out what these sentiments looked like, and whether an angry sentence produced a different glitch than a happy one.  This process initially produced very subtle changes that were not extremely glitchy enough for my taste.  The alternate image in this gif is a glitched png in which I deleted large blocks of text before I converted it back to a png.  I then opened the two files in photoshop and alternated them with one another in the timeline. After learning to tween the layers, I wanted to play with a subtler shifting.   I played with color overlays of pink (the file behind the pink image is a jpeg glitch) and introduced a peek of city hall behind me in one of the between layers.  So, the portrait can be seen glitching from my original photo to a color shifted, turquoise toned block in the middle of the image. gif5

These two gifs are variations of an animation which shifted the color of the background layer behind graphic tiles.  If I were to make this again, I would start with a suitable base file.  Instead of opening a tile pattern on top of a base layer, I started with the jpeg image I had made as a wallpaper of leaves.  Then, I used the magic wand to select the negative space around the leaves and delete it to show the purple layer beneath.  This resulted in a pattern with small imperfections in the mask – they can be seen in the final gif.  However, what I like most about these two gifs is their style of clunky, neon internet art.  So I’m happy that these look like the myspace background of a clueless 13 year old.   These two gifs show how I developed my animation of the lighter pink square.