Every time you post a photo to Instagram, it loses a tiny bit of quality. It’s not really noticeable for a single upload, but if you save and repost the photo over and over, the quality loss becomes extreme. It’s a concept known as “generation loss,” and is the subject of artist Pete Ashton‘s project “I Am Sitting In Stagram (2015).” Read more…
Recognize the warning message above? It’s what Windows XP would show whenever you tried to rotate a JPEG image 90° using the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. If you’re like me, you probably didn’t think twice about it (and checked the checkbox), since you had done it many times already and hadn’t noticed any difference in quality. After all, how hard can it be to turn a digital photo sideways? You just move the pixels around right?
Well, not really. The fact of the matter is, JPEG is a “lossy” compression algorithm that’s geared towards storing and sharing photos without taking up too much disk space. Rotating these compressed images is usually done by decompressing, rotating, and then re-compressing. Since the re-compression is lossy (i.e. data is thrown away), this process results in slightly degraded photos (hence that warning). Read more…
“I Am Sitting in a Room” is one of the best known works of experimental music composer Alvin Lucier. In the piece, he records himself speaking, plays it back while re-recording it, and repeated until the words become unintelligible and simply “the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself”.
YouTube user canzona decided to pay homage to Lucier, and “covered” the piece in his own room using YouTube as the medium.
I started this project exactly 1 year ago, almost to the hour. The final version is a lot different than I thought it would be, I was expecting a lot more digital video noise, and a lot less digital audio noise. Let this be a lesson, though, always be careful how you convert your digital media!
An homage to the great Alvin Lucier, this piece explores the ‘photocopy effect’, where upon repeated copies the object begin to accumulate the idiosyncrasies of the medium doing the copying. Full words: I am sitting in a room different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice as well as the image of myself, and I am going to upload it to YouTube, rip it from YouTube, and upload it again and again, until the original characteristics of both my voice and my image are destroyed. What you will see and hear, then, are the artifacts inherent in the video codec of both YouTube and the mp4 format I convert it to on my computer. I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a digital fact, but more as a way to eliminate all human qualities my speech and image might have.
Here’s the original video before the 1,000 copies: