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GIgapixel ArtZoom: Focusing on the Seattle Art Scene

Posted by Rebecca Blake on February 11, 2014

In October 2013, Microsoft teamed up with Seattle artists to create Gigapixel ArtZoom, an online panorama that shows off Seattle’s stunning vistas and vibrant art scene. Gigapixel ArtZoom was built on technology first demonstrated in 2006, when Johannes Kopf, Matt Uyttendaele, Oliver Deussen, and Michael Cohen at Microsoft Research improved upon existing gigapixel imaging. They figured out how to capture images of billions of pixels, and developed smoother panning and zooming technology that would permit viewers to properly explore the images.

The original image was beautiful, but stark in that the cityscape appeared to be sparsely populated. So in 2013, the team developed the Gigapixel ArtZoom, working with prominent people in the local Seattle artist scene. A plan was developed to create the panoramic shot of Seattle, and populate it with painters, fashion and costume designers, performance artists, dancers, and acrobats. On a beautiful day in October, from the top of a condominium tower in downtown Seattle, a team of photographers shot two panoramas using a Canon digital SLR camera, a professional 400 mm lens, and a Gigapan robotic tripod head. Since no single spot on the roof could yield a full panorama of Seattle, two shots were required and were later stitched together using Microsoft’s Image Composite Editor software.

During the next two weeks, the artists were posed in situ, photographed from the rooftop, and composited into the final image. Video crews also photographed and filmed the artists. The result is a stunning vista of Seattle, which viewers can pan and zoom in on from any computer or mobile device. The experience is a wonderful “Where’s Waldo” adventure; as an artist is centered in the screen, a pop-up window provides information and links to a video. The range depicts the diversity of Seattle’s art scene. Participants include landscape painter Tamara Stephas, filmmaker Wes Hurley, diva Sari Breznau, and the Kelly Lyles Art Cars, participants in the uniquely Seattle Art Car Blowout.

Gigiapixel Art is also memorable for the poignant scenes of everyday Seattle life that have been captured in the panorama. Panning across the image reveals a skateboarder mid-air, a father strolling with his infant, couples nestling by the river, and the crumpled sheets of an unmade bed, spied through a sunlit window.

Top right – GigaPixel artists from top left (going clockwise): landscape painter Tamara Stephas, actors in filmaker Wes Hurley's performance piece, opera diva Sari Breznau, and Kelly Lyles Art Cars.

Photos © Microsoft.
 

An Invitation: Intensive with Bob Gill, June 9-13

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 31, 2014

Self portrait, © Bob GillAn invitation to the first six intrepid souls to spend an intensive week with Bob Gill in his New York City studio, June 9-13. The workshop will consist of the following:

  1. A comprehensive evaluation of each designer's portfolio.
  2. A discussion of each designer's goals (attainable and unattainable).
  3. A complete description of Gill's process of changing ordinary design and illustration problems into exciting, original solutions that really work.
  4. A series of one-day assignments tailored to each designer's needs.
  5. Frank criticism of each assignment.
  6. Bagels and coffee.

Fee: $850.

Gill is in the New York Art Directors Hall of Fame and is one of the founders of Pentagram Design. His latest book is Bob Gill, So Far.

www.bobgilletc.com   |   bobgilletc@nyc.rr.com   |   (212) 460-0950

Guild Joins Organizations in Amicus Brief in Fine Art Appropriation Case

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 30, 2014

Amicus brief Cariou v. PrinceIn mid-December, the Graphic Artists Guild joined other arts organizations (ASMP, Picture Archive Association of America, PACA, PPA, NPAA, Jeremy Sparig, APA, and ASJA) in filing an amicus brief in opposition to a brief filed by the Warhol Foundation in Patrick Cariou v. Richard Prince. Photographer Patrick Cariou sued fine artist Richard Prince for copyright infringment after Prince appropriated a number of Cariou’s photographs for a series of paintings. Prince duplicated the photographs from a published book of Cariou’s photos without seeking permission from Cariou, and minimally altered them. While the District Court found in favor of Cariou, the United States District Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed much of that decision, withholding judgement of five of the paintings. The court found that the bulk of the paintings fall under fair use since they “manifest an entirely different aesthetic from Cariou’s photographs.”

The Warhol Foundation issued an amicus brief in which they argued in favor of the fair use finding, contending that the paintings are transformative in that they convey a different meaning or message than the original photographs. Additionally, the Foundation’s brief asks that the court consider the “broader art community” to be the reasonable observers of the paintings, to whom the transformative nature of the work would be apparent.

The amicus brief filed by the Guild and the other organizations disputes the Warlhol Foundation’s framing of fair use:

“The application of the “reasonable person” test for transformativeness, in the form advanced by Defendants and the Warhol Foundation in its amicus brief would permit the blanket appropriation of artistic creations without compensation to the authors and owners of the copyrights in those works. While appropriation is a long-known practice in the artistic community, the use of an artist’s underlying work in a different medium is no different than selling any intellectual property through a different channel of distribution. The standard articulated by the Warhol Foundation would create an unwarranted safe harbor around a small coterie of well-connected elite artists who sell their works for extraordinary prices, at the expense of the greater community of working artists.” 

The brief urges the court to reject the “reasonable person” standard proposed by the Warhol Foundation, and to find no fair use in this case:

“Defendants and the Warhol Foundation propose an application of the “reasonable person” standard that would not even require modification of the original photographs’ aesthetic in any way. Such a standard would permit appropriating artists to circumvent the available licensing systems, knowing that a standard that permits simple after-the-fact rationalization for appropriation as a “fair use” defense forecloses many less-endowed visual artists from fighting them in the courts... Photographers, and all creators of original work, should not be deprived of their work’s value on the basis of appropriation.“

Fine Art Appropriation and the Culture of Taking

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 29, 2014

Recently the science and science fiction blog io9 posted on article that hit a nerve with illustrators.  In “How a Science Fiction Book Cover Became a $5.7 Million Painting,” Charlie Jane Anders reported on the sale of artist Glenn Brown’s 1994 painting, “Ornamental Despair (Painting for Ian Curtis)”. What hit a nerve with illustrators is that the painting is a faithful copy of  scifi illustrator Charlie Foss’ cover art for Isaac Asimov’s book Stars Like Dust. In light of continuous highly publicized cases of fine artists appropriating and profiting from the work of illustrators and photographers (Richard Prince, Shephard Fairey, Jeff Koons, etc), the ire is warranted.

Images © Charlie Foss (left) and Glenn Brown (right)

Glenn Brown's painting (right) is unmistakeably derived from Charlie Foss' original illustration. Images © the artists.

However, as with any circumstance that inflames, it’s advisable to take a closer look at the facts of the case. This is exactly what artist Glendon Mellow did in his  article ”How Plagiarized Art Sells for Millions“ on the Scientific American blog “Symbiartic.” Mellow first summarizes the history of contemporary art from Modernism through the “Internetz”, tracing the practice of appropriating cultural imagery through iconic artists such as Robert Indiana and Andy Warhol. He then revisits Brown’s offending painting, pointing out that what is lost in the translation to web is an understanding of the difference in scale and detail between the painting and the original illustration.

Anders then issued a follow-up article, in which she clarified the details of the story: Brown had received permission from Foss before creating the painting, and didn’t see a single penny from the recent sale. Some comments on the article have pointed out that Brown could have credited the original illustrator in the painting title – many works are labeled “After…” in recognition of the original source. However, as Mellow points out, the current state of affairs, in which fine artists churn out mediocre work largely based on others’ original creations, is a reflection of the our culture of mash-ups and repinning, reposting, and reblogging, with no thought to crediting the original authors. As Mellow wrote, “Fine art culture is holding up a big expensive mirror at you and Internet culture right now.”

Brought to our attention by @ColleenDoran.

Web Design Trends for 2014

Posted by Rebecca Blake on January 26, 2014

It’s the first month of the year, and all our favorite web gurus and resources have been issuing their predictions for 2014. The opinions range, of course. An expert in responsive design, for example, is going to identify different innovative trends than a developer working on creating a new content management system. While reading through the slew of advice, certain predictions kept cropping up. Below are the most frequently mentioned trends taken from an informal survey of webdesign blogs:

Flat design: 
Microsoft’s Windows 8 and Apple’s iOS7 dropped skeumorphism, and the design world celebrated. Almost every blog predicts that flat design will continue to be popular in web design, permitting the focus to be on the website text, with fewer and less distracting images. Web designer Joseph Howard of Pencil Scoop speculates that flat design will evolve into layered design as a way of creating more textured, distinctive layouts. Envato’s CEO Collis Ta’eed sees an upswing on trends such as long shadows, and also predicts layering and gradients applied subtly so as not to detract from the flat sensibility.

Video and motion:
Almost every web design trend article predicted an upsurge in the use of video.  Chris Lake, Director of Content of Econsultancy, and Matt Hall of Web Ascender see video backgrounds becoming more prevalent as newer browsers and faster page load speed enables their use. (For a beautiful example, Lake points to The Guardian’s online article, “The Firestorm.”)  Amber Leigh Turner on The Next Web predicts video will be utilized more often as a hero graphic in lieu of a banner image or slide show, while Howard sees room for video use to grow in blogging, Google hangouts, and news services. While parallax effects (slideshows and scrolling) have been around for a while, both Howard and Webascender predict their usage will continue to grow and become more mainstream in the websites of more prominent, established companies. Front-end designer Jonathan Cutrell on Webdesign Tuts+ sees a rise in animated and responsive icons, creating a new trend in user experience.

Design for mobile devices / increased scrolling:
It’s not a surprise that web design gurus see design for mobile devices continuing to increase in importance. Craig Butler, Director of OptimalWorks Ltd, predicts that from 2013 to 21014, mobile access will increase from one in five web visits to one in four.  Both Benjie Moss of Wedesigner Depot and Dan Rowinski, Mobile Editor at ReadWrite, predict the long-anticipated death of the mobile web, the development of a secondary website designed to work exclusively on mobile devices. Moss doesn’t see this as an entirely good thing, pointing out that some businesses (such as restaurants) may prefer to direct content differently for desktop versus mobile viewers. The increased viewing on mobile devices has re-familiarized website visitors with scrolling, which is facilitated by swiping. As a result, Hall, Turner, and Lake all see longer scrolling sites becoming acceptable again, and outdated terminology such as “above the fold” being finally dropped.

SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics):
Another prevalent prediction is the increased use of SVG, in part driven by the popularity of icons. As Moss points out, SVG icons have a huge advantage, in that they are more efficient than icon font files, are responsive, and fit with the popular flat design sensibility. Animated SVGs, already popular as icons, will become more prevalent; Howard cites a number of tools and sources which ease their implementation.  (Howard also predicts the death of the raster icon, in part because of the availability of SVG and icon fonts.)   Cutrell highlights a beautiful example of SVG created by fixate.it, and sees the development of accessible tools for the creation of infovis (graphical representations of data).

Other web design trends include the increased use of CSS to generate imagery, the prevalence of larger images, both as hero images (replacing slide shows) and as backgrounds, the integration of more interesting typography, and the use of fixed headers. Check out our list of references below to read the predictions in full:

Fizz or Fame: 10 Design Trend Predictions For 2014, Joseph Howard, Pencil Scoop

2014 Predictions for Web Design, Collis Ta'eed, Envato

18 pivotal web design trends for 2014, Chris Lake, Econsultancy

14 Website Trends for 2014, Matt Hall, Web Ascender

10 Web design trends you can expect to see in 2014, Amber Leigh Turner, The Next Web

Web Design 2014: What to Watch Out For, Jonathon Cutrell, Webdesign Tuts+

10 Web Predictions for 2014, Craig Bulter, sitepoint

7 web design trends you’ll actually see this year (and how to survive them), Benjie Moss, Webdesigner Depot

In 2014, The Mobile Web Will Die—And Other Mobile Predictions, Dan Rowinski, ReadWrite

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