Somewhere in this mess of ripped billboards there lies a hidden message. The layers of time worn away to reveal something secret. Maybe.


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Been thinking about the digital world we live in. Every time I get on the train I look around and see practically every person engaging in some way with their phone: listening to music, playing games, checking email, some even make phone calls. And I’m just the same – that little screen demanding my attention. FOMO – Fear of missing out (Could your FOMO Kill you?) The challenge is stay in the present moment.

Anyways, it got me thinking about digital information and how it’s brought to us. I know it’s ones and zeros at some level but I still can’t get my head around how all the information is stored inside the device. I have to imagine billions of minuscule ones and zeros all in a tiny container. How can I be so close to technology but have no real idea how it works? You try and look inside but there’s really nothing to see.

I found one way to illustrate this idea, to take a USB microscope and to record in close up detail the computer screen itself. No image as such but just the screen pixels. And what’s it looking at? Well, itself – the screen image of the output of the microscope looking at what the screen output of the microscope is looking at. A nice feedback loop. I used to do this with video cameras back in the 1980s by pointing the camera at the monitor output for the camera – an easy psychedelic effect.

Here’s some examples:

 

See more of my work at www.marktamer.co.uk


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Continuing on from my attempts to deliberately break or glitch images I’ve been looking at how digital files are downloaded and what happens when some of the data is missing. Torrent sites host illegal downloads of movies, software, music etc and the idea is that when users have downloaded a file they then “seed” this to other users. Each seed offers smaller parts of the whole file and each part comes from a different computer in a different part of the world. It’s all part of the ever increasing deluge of data pinging around us at all times.

It’s an interesting idea that one file, or more specifically one image could be made up of smaller parts from anywhere in the world. Of course, when you look at the image it is identical to any other digital version of the same image. So in order to highlight this process, I thought I would try downloading (“leeching” in torrent terms) a series of images and then halting the process half-way through – when there is enough information to open the image but but not enough to complete it.

The result is something like this:

Being a torrent site most of the images available were pornography. My interests aren’t necessarily in the  rights and wrongs of this, but with what makes the image in the first place. The stuff under the hood. I settled for a folder of images of women with at least some clothes on. I think the glitches make the final image more suggestive than the original.

I then took this one stage further and added some additional code glitches (see previous post for more on this) just to finalise the image.


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I’ve been manipulating the inner workings of images for a while. Essentially, it’s a digital image that I have opened up in a hex editor, changed the code around and then resaved. For these portraits I thought it would interesting to add something personal from the sitters. So, after I’d photographed each person and loaded the image onto the laptop, I asked them to name a favourite song. I then cut and pasted the lyrics from their song straight into the code. Resaving the file then causes the image to “break.” the results are quite unpredictable, which is part of the appeal.


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