It’s happened to you at least once ‚ÄĒ a color explosion on your screen created by an ill-fated download or a codec mismatch. A compression algorithm slip-up can introduce surprising colors and patterns but retain strange motion memories of the original video.
A little over a week ago, Ray Tintori premiered his music video for Chairlift’s “Evident Utensil”, which wrangles the technique, “data moshing,” into a fun, effortless, mind-bending trip with the members of Chairlift. Every time you start to wrap your head around whats happening, the band breaks through the frame, tearing the pixels with them.
A couple days ago, another data moshing video was released ‚ÄĒ much to the debate of the internet echo chamber. Directed by NABIL, Kanye West’s “Welcome to Heartbreak” has a grittier take on the datamoshing technique. Ghost Town Media contributed the post effects and look like they had a really good time dragging the footage through the digital wringer.
Both parties acknowledge Takeshi Murata as a key influence. In Monster Movie and Untitled (Pink Dot), Murata used 80s movies Caveman and Rambo: First Blood as moshing fodder. The only video documentation I’ve been able to find is on YouTube ‚ÄĒ it’s quite impressive, though it’s hard to tell which compression artifacting is from the original and which is added on for extra YouTube flavor. Murata is still making artwork and gave a screening/talk last Tuesday in New York that I’m sad I missed.
Other artists who have explored datamoshing include PaperRad, David O’Reilly, Owi Mahn & Laura Baginski, Kris Moyes, and Sven K√∂nig. The technique also brings to mind more painterly pixel-bleeding artists such as Robert Seidel and Takagi Masakatsu, who I’m not sure used the same process, but give a similar feeling, especially Masakatsu’s Bloomy Girls.
As with any technique, there’s probably more people than the ones mentioned who have tinkered but we’ve tried to link to many of the pixel explorers ‚ÄĒ please fill in any blanks in the comments.
We were fortunate enough to get a thorough overview of the process behind the Kanye “Welcome to Heartbreak” music video from Ghost Town Media. A special thanks to Matt Primm and everyone at Ghost Town for taking the time to share their pixel-tripping story…