statement: Are avant-garde practices still important to you?

I am not consciously “avant-garde” in the sense that I am an advance guard preparing a way ahead of others. I am not trying to be “advanced” or different for the sake of “difference”, but the things that inspire me are not necessarily main-stream. They do certainly derive from much that was avant-garde in the past – the anecdotal topography told by the rolling-dice of the Mozart-attributed Musikalisches Würfelspiel, to Tristan Tzara’s hat and the scissors-and-glue of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin; the linguistic IDGAF of Gertrude Stein and James Joyce’s Ulysses; the invisible literature of chain-letters, spam emails, advertising and packaging; interactive fiction, the dot-com boom and the dot-com bust, net.art, web 2.0, HTML5 and the framework-of-the-week.

Or, as I said to a woman 28 years ago (who eventually married me, anyway) – “I used to be a nerd, but now I’m avant-garde.

project description:

  • OBSCURUS is a multiplane camera animation driving through Borges’ Library with Hunter S. Thompson at the helm and Gertrude Stein as the focus-puller.
  • OBSCURUS is a repeated replacement of bounded two-dimensional slices from the multi-dimensional river of text-space, flowing through past over under sideways down and around us.
  • OBSCURUS is confident, confused, constructed, contorted, contemplative, contrapuntal, consecutive, contrived, concrete, contrite, contrary and contradictory.
  • OBSCURUS is written in ECMAscript and makes use of the p5.js library. The texts are fragments from https://poeticalbot.tumblr.com/ and hidden or revealed by Perlin noise.

Providing a text that is difficult to read (both textually, and visually/mechanically) has long been a fascination of mine. By “visually difficult” I don’t mean encoded or hermetic textual references – that would be “textually difficult”. More like a challenge to find or reveal the text, without making it into a drawn-out game. The ebb and flow of the black-squares obscure and reveal text, but as the text in turn flows and changes what is revealed now may not be what was hidden before.

Manual controls
  • Drag-and-drop an image onto the canvas to serve as color-source
  • Arrow-up/Arrow-down - change amount of black squares
  • space - pause
  • n - increment all values while paused. NOTE: values incrase, but image may not change.
  • i - random image of 5 pre-loaded (or drag-n-drop your own)
  • s - save 200 image frames (press again while saving to cancel)
  • t - switch to another of 20 pre-loaded texts
  • o - grid outline on/off
  • r - randomize values
  • g - randomize image position
  • c - load 20 new texts
  • w - fill white on/off
  • e - color on/off