Surreal Shadows in California
Redwood City in California is now home to some curious play with everyday objects and implied shadows. Artist Damon Belanger was commissioned to paint striking and unusual images in the place of shadows cast by regular city scene items.
Causing people to make a double take observation of things that are commonly seen around town, it's hoped to improve the experience of Redwood City as well as jiggle people into a more awake and observant frame of mind. The element of surprise, hidden within the usual, makes an interesting exhibition of concept and idea.
The effort was loved to such an extent that the International Design Awards declared the works a merit winner. The competition was fierce, with global projects all competing for those all important historical listings.
Damon's website contains images of the shadow work and from other projects he's been involved with, including some touching paintings called “A Long Memory” and a quirky aviating elephant called “Junk Pilot"
So, creative computers may be a long way off from now, with the basic baby steps being taken with concepts such as the poetry writing robot. However, artists are finding ever more ways of using computers to improve their work. A symbiosis of entities, being the artist and their computer, they can do much more than either can alone. When we combine our efforts, the scope for creativity is huge. Now as we see animation almost completely reliant on computers, photography is touched up by standard, and manuscripts must be sent in digital format. It's all very digital these days, and it's because it gets easier to be creative and then use the creativity when it's a bunch of binary.
The annual Siggraph conference draws together experts in the field of creative computing, to showcase and talk about everything new. They've been meeting in this way since the 1970s when digital first began to make an impact in a big way. In this year's conference, AI was the dish of the day, with several projects exploring the possibilities that it offers. It seems that side-car computer intelligence is going to be something more people use as the technology evolves.
In animation, the benefits of machine learning can be shown to adequately create 3D drawings from 2D ones inputted by a person. DeepSketch2Face is a University of Hong Kong project designed for just that, and although currently pointing at social media and avatar usage, the know-how could easily translate into many more sectors. Bendsketch is offering a similar tool, this joint project from Hong Kong University, Microsoft Asia, and the University of British Columbia is using computer intelligence to convert simple line drawings of objects into 3D rendered examples.
Perhaps the most commonly used application in art is digital photo manipulation. A project by MIT and Google has aimed at using bilateral deep learning to aid with this very task. It is said to learn how to best edit an image according to previous data. The algorithm takes a low resolution version, predicts the best edits, then uploads the edits which are transposed over the original image. This is said to work on smartphones in real-time without lag, thanks to the smart thinking technology.
The Pandora's box of digital applications in art is open, and all we can do is sit back and enjoy what the programmers think of next. It's going to be a truly exciting time for artists as the technology increasingly improves and gives us more scope and ability to create wonderful pieces and artworks.
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London's Wellcome Collection is an arts hub organised and owned by the charitable wing of Wellcome & Co, a large pharmaceutical company. Their American born but British based owner was an avid collector of medical art. Now, the curators of the Wellcome Collection are drawing on this collection among other pieces to show how graphic design has played an instrumental role in saving lives, by educating through pictures.
Usually the field of government informationals, the art works include several pieces from history, as well as more modern examples. With the use of shocking or striking imagery with a clear and simple message, its been the job of such designs to get a point across without any fuss. The most appropriate way of delivering vital information to many people in a short time, perhaps.
The exhibition shows off some work from the 1930s, with war-time designs about how to conduct oneself and what to do. There is also a poster designed in Brazil which educates about Zika with the use of the human scent. The scented poster attracts mosquitoes, but the clever thing is that it also kills them. This gives people a laugh as well as encourages better personal hygiene as a worthwhile preventative measure.
Co-organiser Rebecca Write has described an Italian plague poster from 1681 which “uses bold typography to give authority in times of panic” (The Art Newspaper). This show is due to begin on the 7th of September and run until the 14th of January, and showcases over 200 examples of graphic design that have been instrumental in saving lives. Look around next time you're out and see if you can find some examples yourself. Can you think of any examples now? Comment with them!