Archive for the ‘crypto-zoetropical’ Category


Hybrid Models

August 29, 2010

“These anomalous forms may almost be called living fossils; they have endured to the present day, from having inhabited a confined area, and from having thus been exposed to less severe competition.” - Charles Darwin, Origin of the Species

Crypto-Zoetropicalism, or the study of hidden animation, has revealed a great swathe of living fossils basking in the white light of the white box.  Hidden in plain sight, the movements of these creatures are implicit, not explicit.  Their bastion of crypsis relies on the exploded view, a con-sequence of the time-honored tradition.  Unlike sequential art, an acknowledged ancestor of the moving image, these crypto-zoetropical candidates began to memetically drift by way of Cubism and Futurism, modern isms intermingling but divergent also from nascent cinematic apparatuses.

Like the slowly exterminated fresh-water forms that Darwin refers to above, this particular menagerie persists by formal stealth as much as memetic isolation.  Sheltered from the heterogeneity, density and toxicity of life in the oceanic Interweb, their fossilization may well dissolve into extinction.

Putting audacity before caution, several of these “living fossils” have been hybridized with the GIF species.  If biodiversity is too hopeful, memetic contamination too much of a brag, perhaps the old haunt of context collapse will suffice as a provisional place-holder for these kinetically modified organisms (KMOs).

Is there much to be learned in from these pulsing hybrids? Can these animalized isms maintain their prowess in the thick of everyday media life?

Entertaining the simultaneity of one and three chairs, myriad soup cans and untitled stacks is perhaps a whimsical reminder perhaps a whimsical reminder that “an infinite number of contexts [are] collapsing upon one another.” (Wesch) –Network culture is cosmically indifferent towards an anomalous [read: obsolescing even now] strain of GIF speciation. Exclusivity is not synonymous with heroism in battle.


Notes on GIF Speciation

December 20, 2009

If the Metaphortean agenda is, at times, detoured when traversing ficto-quizzical terrain; the latest (((WFT))) endeavor, “The GIF Economy,” makes up for this harassing labor tenfold. The GIF Economy, a menagerie created under the auspices of the antiquated Graphic Interchange Format, invites denizens of the Interweb to create, appropriate and share GIF animations that more or less illustrate core tenets of the Weird Fiction Mythos.

Of myths and menageries, recall the origins of cinema. Muybridge, as eccentric shepard, herding animals into animations. Capturing their movements, indexing the species, accumulating a Noachian archive of images. Antecedent innovations–magic lantern shows, the zoetrope, the thaumotrope and their kin contributed likewise in caging the vital principles for playback and analysis.
The GIF is in some respects a stationary species, a living fossil, a holdover from the kinship of philosophical toys. Of particular import: the “wonder maker,” or thaumotrope. A smallish disc on a string, with images on either side, spun by its user so as create a third image by way of superimposition. The thaumotrope, a cine-molecular conceit in two frames looping is the common ancestor of GIFs today.
In other reports, a GIF is a dithered, limited to 256 colors, life in a browser, and its most splendid mega fauna typically weigh-in at no more than 1000 kilobytes. Of lines of descent, curvature and segmentation, there are a variety of speciation events to consider. Technocultural isolation, reduced meme flow and, of course, the Anomaly.
Crypto-zoetropicalism, and/or Crypto-zoetropical studies have made strides in identifying anomalous forms of animation including circuit-bent video games and data-moshing and other glitchcraft. This emphasis on cine-molecular variation within moving image arts is not, however, the distinguishing characteristic of the GIF animation, per se.

Limiting GIFs to a thaumotropical ancestry shot thru with pulses of the crypto-zoetropical is, at best, destined for deletionpedia if we do not consider the role of memetics.

Is this for instance a duck, or a rabbit? a still image or moving? The onlooker has no choice but to oscillate between animals ad infinitum. No need for a film projector, the mechanics are mental, part of a well-oiled cultural apparatus, a meme machine. Another two-frame loop, activated from within the mind, no strings attached. It is the strength of the meme pool that most vividly “animates” this of course. It’s pattern recognition rather than sequential logic.

Relatedly– the Bigfoot exists as moving image in an oft looped film sequence, recorded circa 1967, featuring the classic cryptid tromping through a clearing in Northern Californian woods.Over the years, skeptics and believers alike have poured over this filmstrip in attempts to understand the contents. Experts from both camps have broken down the sequence into discrete images in hopes of either exposing a hoax or proving the existence of Bigfoot as a living animal.

Memetic anatomy is what’s paramount here– “Bigfoot” begins and is sustained as a putty like thought-formation: rumor, report, filmic capture, tabloids, mass media and mass amateur mediation via digitized images, mashups, homages, reference hoaxes, spin-offs and jokes. This interplay of memetic nodes is amplified by computer networks, distributed globally across the Interwebs. Network realism is the lifeblood of a cryptid’s survival, photo-realism is secondary, actual occurrences sheepishly clawing at third place.

GIFs have facilitated Bigfoot, other cryptids, various memetic phenomena, yes. Strikingly, as context is collapsing galactically, globally and locally, the authority of photo-realist regimes does not compute. GIFs are contemporary cryptids, living fossils re-fueled, despite playback problematics and varied chokeholds posed by modern day browsers. Valuable operatives in a paradigm shift towards the ficto-quizzical! GIFs take the helm as stand alone memetic organisms thriving within the pervasively networked information environment. Abundant in internet forums, redolent of embarassing webcam moments, panopticoncentrated CCTV blips, celebrity gaffaws, unintended celebrities, faux-error messages, geocities artifacts, pop cultural in-jokes, optical illusions, visual trolling pranks and deeper, darker abysms of vile intent, GIFs prevail.

Hybridities and mutation are commonplace, as one memetically charged GIF infrastructure is piggybacked by another’s visual variant, thus altering the species. Modular and multiplex traits proliferate rhizomatically ‘cross the Interweb via recursive instantiations of memetic debris and endless bouts of ludic recombination, (not unlike exploits of the Majestic12) Initially short lifespans beget meandering permutations and coalessences that irupt into novel and derelict theory objects. This sprawl is facilitated by automated GIF animation sites, the mandate to recombinate, manageable possibilities and the sublimely abject aesthetics that are ever present and richly wielded in GIFs.
Having successfully erected obliteratariums for the study of denizens of dark webs and negative net space, i.e. the obliterati—Weird Fiction here laterally move this stronghold of greymarket R+D, aiming at the polterzeitgeist that is, in other words, the GIF ridden, memetic lifeworld of Interweb phenomena today. Temporary Autonomous Clones and temporarily autonomous Lorkurers are stationed in the foyer, sifting through incoming GIFS, classifying visual projectiles and building up a reservoir of GIF animations online and on site. Ultimately, these galleries-cum-GIF strongholds likely to crop up offline, elsewhere, globally– will be as rest stops and road-side attractions for the space-time implosions predicted to manifest in the coming age of ubiquitous computing and spimal taps. Weaponized whimsy, symptomatic of second-wave vampling? Again, dear readers, this ficto-quizzical is a curious lot for the fleshy mind of a mere Metaphortean Researcher to process in full. Till next time!


Missing Links

October 27, 2007

Above is an overview of the sasquatchery and related phenomena witnessed last weekend. The Crypto-Zoetropical Pursuit was held at Rererato Art Space in Portland on Friday Oct. 19th, 7pm, and at LumpWest, Eugene on Saturday Oct.20th, 8pm, in an anniversary celebration of the infamous Bigfoot image and the menagerie of associated mysteries….

there may be interest to further pursue the artists involved with this adventure! so here are the missing links:

Screening includes a variety of crypto-zoetropicalism, such as:
LoVid (NYC),
Daniel Heila (EUG),
Stephen Slappe (PDX),
Gretchen Hogue(PDX),
Carl Diehl (PDX),
Eric Ostrowski (SEATTLE),
Jesse England (EUG),
MAck Mcfarland (PDX),
Gijs Gieskes(Netherlands),
Phil Stearns (LA),

(Friday night only) Portland’s Pulse Emitter uses eclectic electronic synthesis to uncover the unseen sound of saucer/sasquatch sightings!

Then Universe will present the poetry and possibilities of sasquatch-UFO interdimensional collaborations!

(On Saturday only) Eugene’s Don Haugen synthesizes field recordings using home-made apparatuses, circuit-bent instruments and a belief that the Bigfoot exists.

(Both Nights)
Performance by Portland’s Instinct Control…using the all but forgotten technology of cassette tape to re-mix the evening’s audio, and pushing the tape deck’s own fortean impulses further afield via the electronic art of circuit-bendiing!

Son of Sasquatch performance by Jason Jones, of Eugene. Unusual, but now well substantiated, the infamous Bigfoot is believed to have been one of the thousands of young dreamers who flocked to the San Francisco Bay Area during the Summer of Love. Unknowingly siring an offspring–the Son of Sasquatch! What does this new era hold for us and the Son of Sasquatch?


Coming Sooooon!

October 1, 2007



The Old Crypto-Zoetropical Pursuit

September 5, 2007

Cryptozoology, the study of unknown, hidden, or mystery animals is a marginal scientific discipline operating outside of traditional zoological practice. Believing firmly in things that are not supposed to exist, cryptozoologists counter dominant ideologies with alternative theories and new taxonomic models. The Bigfoot, shuffling by in Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin’s home movie from October 20th 1967, is Cryptozoology’s most moving image.

Over the years, skeptics and believers alike have poured over the Patterson-Gimlin filmstrip in attempts to understand the hairy homonid. Experts from both camps have broken down the sequence into discrete parts in hopes of either exposing the hoax or proving the existence of Bigfoot as a living animal. From animals to animation (that other illusion)– unknown, hidden and mysterious experiences are engaging because they activate and agitate the human capacity for wonder and curiosity

The Bigfoot experience begins and is sustained as data: rumor, report, filmic capture, reproduced images, video capture, digitized images, and so on. Communication and participation in this network is as fundamental to the cryptozoological encounter, as technology is crucial to suspend disbelief in moving image experiences. The actual living, breathing thing is an [optical] allusion. These entities are facilitated by cultural and technological apparatuses.

In deconstructing the animal’s movement, the proto-cinematic motion studies of Eadward Muybridge come to mind.

From animals to animation, movement is broken down, the wonderment surrounding both phenomena, both illusions, is halted. Returned to scien


Applied Blobsquatchery

July 20, 2007

Crypto-Zoetropicalism, that strange survival from the B.B. (Before Blobsquatch) era, returns in the vidsonic saga Hidden Animals. Following theories that from animals to animation, if there are hidden animals like bigfeet, there are also hidden animations. These anomalous entities would surely consist of animation outside of traditional sequencing, inside of experimental practices…. including but not limited to: vjing, staged accidents, kinetic modification, scratch film and other ideas.

Hidden Animals: A Search For The Crypto-Zoetropical Yonder is a testament to the anomoulous audio-visual pursuits unfurled in this arena by yours truly in cahoots with sound artist Padna last year.

Test-run this Saturday at DIVA in company of grayscale slo-mo glitch hoppers INCITE of Hamburg, Germany! For the Official premiere, in Padna country, look forward to Thursday August 2nd at Monkeytown in Brooklyn, NY

In this instant replay of initial inquiries, and/or considering what we now know about the Blobsquatch, Crypto-Zoetropicalism might be better understood as Applied Blobsquatchery. We could break this down further into nooks and crannies of intent…


The Crypto-Zoetropical Pursuit!

July 16, 2007

Call For Entry has closed, but Rhythm from Wreckage proudly presents The Crypto-Zoetropical Pursuit culled from submissions! It all advances this Friday Oct.19th and Saturday Oct 20th. in honor of the (filmic) Bigfoot’s 40th anniversary!

Friday Oct. 19th, 7pm, $4 admission at Rererato Art Space in Portland,NE 42nd @ Sumner, Bus75

Saturday Oct.20th, 8pm, Free, at LumpWest, Eugene
Harris@25th street


An Archival Impulse

April 13, 2007

With all due respect to Borges, it may be considered that animations are divided into: (a) belonging to Disney, (b) archived, (c) Saturday Morning, (d) claymation, (e) CGI, (f) stop-motion, (g) experimental, (h) included in the present classification, (i) kinetic, (j) innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine pen, (l) et cetera, (m) SFX, (n) that from a long way off look like blobs.



October 27, 2006

On Loren Coleman’s Cryptozoo News blog last February the question “Why frame 352?” was posted. Frame #352 being the lone frame out of nearly a thousand in the Patterson-Gimlin 16mm filmstrip that has become widely recognized as a central cultural signifier associated with Bigfoot (and Fortean activity generally!)

One commenter to the aforementioned post suggests “Frame 352 displays a classic and recognizable human form. As humans we tend to extrapolate and describe things we cannot explain into anthropomorphic terms, making them less frightening to our psyches.” (drshoop) Likewise, the appearance of friendly paperclips, smiling computers, avatars and emoticons, dwelling in computer interfaces everywhere are an attempt to familiarize the unknown. “We imagine we have more control because the icons seem to notice us,” writes Norman M. Klein in an essay included in The Sharpest Point anthology, “but with each user-friendly step, we move farther from the programming itself.” (Klein, p.27)

Frame 352 is of course a result of veiled “programming” as well. Beyond the film itself, this particular image was selected by some newspaper office, then reprinted, propagated and multiplied through the mediasphere. Culturally hacked to hype all manner of consumer schlock (see this post for more on these exploits) What makes the Bigfoot so fascinatingly photogenic at this frame may also be tied to human beings’ narcissistic response when looking at animals in general. In his 1977 essay “Why Look At Animals,” John Berger writes:

“The eyes of an animal when they consider man are atttentive and wary. The same animal may well look at other species in the same way. He does not reserve a special look for man. But by no other species except man will the animal’s look be recognized as familiar. Other animals are held by the look. Man becomes aware of himself returning the look.” ( Berger, p.4-5)

The theories surrounding Bigfoot as “missing link” speak to this want of familiar (family?) traces.

The level of engagement surrounding seemingly familiar faces bring me back to a previous post–the Fantastic encounter rendered as kinesthetic experience –the potential of this first-hand sort of experience design has been demonstrated, par excellence, by contemporary media artists. The performance duo GRANULAR~SYNTHESIS for example, operate by effectively weaponizing the process of anthropomorphization and amplifying the period of hesitation associated with the Fantastic.

Using custom built computer software for live performance, split-frames of audio-video information are extracted from pre-prepared digital recordings of human performers and then resequenced in real-time into kinetically unfathomable new formations. Media theorist Tom Sherman has written at length about these artists and describes their project as the assembly of “a technical apparatus, a machine, an instrument for processing recordings of human appearance and behaviour into something post-human, something we have never seen before.” ( GRANULAR~SYNTHESIS : The story so far…by Tom Sherman) There is a reversal here of the usual anthropomorphic gesture, a moving away from human characteristics. “Granular Synthesis turns people into machines,” (Sherman) any familiar traces are fleeting and glimpsed only in the interstices of “the essential characteristics of machineness (speed, precision, unnatural control)” (Sherman) . This audio-visual encounter is typically augmented through multiple floor-to-ceiling projections, surround sound and sub-audio that physically affects its live audience.

“There is no time for reflection or anticipation. No time. The perpetual moment machine scrambles and destroys narratives before they ever get started. The audience is carried through the work in the present tense. Clock or machine-time mean nothing to the audience during exposure to the work. As the model’s presence is refreshed, rewritten, renewed, instantly/endlessly updated–so it is we are there for the moment and the moment only. Perpetually.” (Sherman)

Like a first-hand encounter with an unknown animal, the (Techno)Fantastic realm opened up by GRANUAR~SYNTHESIS unfolds in real-time. The duration of uncertainty and anxiety is extended indefinitly by these kinetic engineers who unleash familiar, yet captivatingly other and unknown animations –terrifying and fascinating onlookers.


Fantastic Accidents

October 25, 2006

“So perfect a monster is Bigfoot that he has become one of the three great popular mysteries of our time, sharing this distinction with the Loch Ness Monster and the UFO, or flying saucer. Other popular mysteries materialize from time to time but usually prove transient in their appeal.” (Sam G. Riley, A Search for the Cultural Bigfoot: Folklore or Fakelore?)

Riley’s claim was made in ’76, but I’d imagine these three are still title holders. These three entities are sustained both as “zoological entities” and “cultural phenomena.” I’d like to consider the possibilites of the zoological cryptid with Lippit’s theories in Electric Animal:

“the cinema developed, indeed embodied animal traits as a gesture of mourning for the disappearing wildlife…The medium provided an alternative to the natural environment that had been destroyed and a supplement to the discursive space that had never opened an ontology of the animal” (Lippit,p.197)

I’ve previously been hinting at the lack of straight-up “experience,” the shivering sensations of some…thing…awry–and this is not specific to Bigfeet/Nessies/UFOs in your midst, but can be initiated by all manner of unknown, unexpected occurrences. The literature of the Fantastic comes to mind, prompting “that hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event.” (Todorov, p.15) This sudden real-time rupture of the of the world at hand, (an absorbing text or the here-and-now) throws everything asunder, if temporarily, as one grapples to make sense of the occurence. Blurry photos, shaky footage and otherwise poor documentation of cryptids suggest accidental, or chance encounters with the unknown. “Accidents…demonstrate that we have a speed of thought,” notes video artist Bill Viola, a certain delay in making sense out of external stimuli, in a sudden change of events. Viola extends this logic to rites of passage and rituals which he describes as staged accidents, “designed to bring the organism to a life-threatening crisis state.” (Viola, p.88)

There is of course a rich legacy of audio-visual experimentalists who have explored the possibility spaces made accessible through staged accidents, deliberate ruptures, and other engagements with the Techno-Fantastic realms. Here I’m thinking of the Expanded Cinema movement and what Erik Davis calls Experience Design, more so than dramatic narratives with supernatural plot twists. Although, the elaborately shocking stunt devised by movie producer William Castle for theatrical screenings of his 1959 film The Tingler elevated schlock cinema, for promotional ends, into the realm of the Fantastic, too.

Skeptics and believers of the Bigfoot pour over the Patterson-Gimlin filmstrip, plaster footprints and the like for indexical proof of “that thing out there,” a zoological mystery eluding physical capture. Entertaining Lippit’s statement in the company of Robert Smithson’s notion of “non-sites” (photos, footage, and other debris collected from site-based works that are understood not as documentation pointing to the artwork but an integral part of the original whole)…I wonder what sort of experience design could be accomplished by staging accidents in the extended forms of the cryptozoological set. Genetic makeup become kinetic makeup and/or memetic engineering settles in. Exploring and experiencing these creatures first hand, in kinesthetic terms, shot through with the holding power of these “perfect monsters.”


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