Conference Project Proposal: The GIFer at the Gates of Dawn

My conference project proposal is six GIFs, with fifteen or more frames each, made on GIMP. My GIFS will be inspired by psychedelic art, film, and sculpture. Most of my inspirations come from the counterculture/psychedelic art movement of the late 60s-early 70s. This type of art, from its more colorful, pattern-oriented forms to its satire of contemporary culture and iconography has always inspired my artwork. I also enjoy the freedom of using GIMP, where I can create what I want and not be limited by technical or mathematical properties. I especially enjoy creating interesting, cohesive GIF animations. In my project, I plan to embrace psychedelic art in all its forms, from its most abstract to its most satirical. However, I plan to unite all of these forms into one encompassing moral of psychedelic art: there are many ways to abstract reality. When it comes to the content I will include in my GIF, I get most of my ideas by building an inspiration folder. My folder contains many different artworks from many different counterculture artists, sorted by name. Virtually collecting this artwork allows me to see the plethora of psychedelic art that is possible, identify common themes, and gain inspiration to be able to create my own artwork.
A painted collage piece by Tadanori Yooko, a graphic designer and illustrator. Yooko is one of my inspirations for this project.

Poster for the movie “Diary of a Shinjuku Burglar” (1968) by Tadanori Yooko, a Japanese counterculture graphic designer and illustrator. Yooko is one of my biggest inspirations for this project.

A concert poster for Big Brother and the Holding Company in the Avalon Ballroom (1966) by Victor Moscoso, another counterculture artist. Like in Moscoso's work, I also plan to explore the abstract elements of psychedelic art and the contrasts between bright colors.

A concert poster for Big Brother and the Holding Company in the Avalon Ballroom (1966) by Victor Moscoso, a Spanish counterculture artist. Like in Moscoso’s work, I also plan to explore the abstract elements of psychedelic art and the contrasts between bright colors.

Throughout working on my project, I plan to focus on the following aspects:
  • Animation: Working on these GIFS will be a general exploration of the threshold of computer animation. My GIFS will be an experiment in several aspects; including frame number, frame rate, and the transition of the moving images between frames in relation to the overall quality of the animation.
  • Motion: Building on my goals relative to the animation quality of the GIFs, I will experiment with frame quality, frame transition, frame timing, and shape placement in order to create the illusion of movement through my GIFs.
  • Color: Mirroring the psychedelic art of the counterculture movement, I plan to explore the relationships between bold and bright colors in my GIFS. I plan to use changes, contrasts, and comparisons between color; which includes shifting hue, saturation, and R, B, and G values in order to create different moods and thoughts throughout my pieces.
  • Pattern: Much of psychedelic artwork is made up of patterns. I plan to use symmetry, texture, and balance with shapes and colors to create moving patterns throughout my work. I also plan to experiment with irregular patterns throughout different surfaces.
One problem that I feel that I could face is the poor translation of psychedelic themes to a digital interface. Being as the counterculture took place in the late sixties to early seventies, when personal computers were not yet available, most psychedelic art was hand-drawn, painted, and created. I feel as if the brighter colors, computerized animation, and pixelated images of GIMP may not truly capture the spirit of counterculture art that was.
A 1967 concert poster by counterculture artist Bonnie MacLean. Notice the subtler lines, dimmer colors, hand-drawn lines, and paper look.

A 1967 concert poster by American counterculture artist Bonnie MacLean. Notice the dimmer colors, abstract shapes and patterns, hand-drawn lines, and paper look.

A fractal image by modern psychedelic artist Julia Set. Notice the brighter colors, lack of blending, and computer-generated lines and shapes. It is more bold and flashing than MacLean's work or the work of the previous artists that I have posted. I fear my work will look less authentic to counterculture art as I am using a computer to create it.

A fractal image by modern psychedelic artist Julia Set. Notice the brighter colors, uniform patterns, lack of blending, and computer-generated lines and shapes. It is more bold, bright, and modern-looking than MacLean’s work or the work of the previous artists that I have posted. I fear my work will look less authentic to counterculture art as I am using a computer to create it.

However, I believe that my fear of wanting to make something “genuine”, while valid, is a bit asinine. GIFs are inherently products of the digital age, and to go through with this project, I will try my best to blend the old with the new. I believe that there can be beauty and spirit in any form of art, whether traditional or digital. In addition, I have learned a lot from my time in Digital Tools for Artists that will allow me to convey my message properly. The course taught me to use the tools I have, including GIMP, to my will. I was able to learn how to manipulate the look of an image, using filters, brush types (some brushes come out looking less computer-generated than others, such as the paint brush), toolbar tools (such as smudging and airbrush) and other elements in order to make the image look as I want it to. In addition, artistic concepts that have been discussed in class, such as the different types and ways of creating patterns, proper color coordination, animation storyboarding, shape manipulation, timing, and storytelling through images will help make the messages conveyed through my GIFs not only more concise, but more authentic. The first part of this project, though not yet completely finished, is a simple, forty five-frame self-portrait. I drew a picture of myself in my sketchbook (which I was not able to find at the time of writing this), which I redrew again in GIMP, using bright, primary colors and minimal lines. Although, currently, the colors are bright and there is not as much blending as with the other images I have shown from the sixties time period, it is an experimentation with colors, the abstraction of realism, frame timing and frame rate, the illusion of movement by manipulating shapes and colors, and with unrealistic, “trippy” psychedelic imagery. I believe that I could further improve this imagery by blending the colors of my head (using the “oilify” filter). I also believe that the background could be a little bit more interesting, perhaps even moving, but I do not want to take the focus away from the falling eyeball. self portrait This particular image was inspired by the abstract, colorful portraits of the members of The Beatles by counterculture artist Andy Warhol and by the grotesque psychedelic animation in the Japanese animated feature Kanashimi no Belladonna.
 Andy Warhol's interpretation of The Beatles was a combination of psychedelia and pop art.

Andy Warhol’s interpretation of The Beatles (196-) was a combination of psychedelia and pop art.

Kanashimi no Belladonna (1973) is a staple of colorful and surreal psychedelic animation.

Kanashimi no Belladonna (1973) is a staple of colorful and surreal psychedelic animation.

Even if it is not exactly like the psychedelic art of the 60s and 70s, I hope to portray an array of this weird and wonderful genre of art. I hope that viewers of my works will see the many ways in which reality can be changed, whether colorful, uncomfortable, larger, smaller, faster, slower, or generally unconventional. I hope that, through using a modern medium, I will be able to bring this “vintage” style of art to a new, present-day audience.