Hooray for Entropy!

Remember the days before digital copying? Every copy introduced small errors; a copy was always a degraded, inferior version of its parent. But entropy has a beauty of its own, as in this beautiful film By Alexander Stewart (it’s not embeddable, so you have to follow this link):

Errata is an animation made by photocopying copies of copies. Starting with a blank sheet of paper, each successive copy becomes a frame of animation, meaning that each on-screen image is a copy of the last. All movements, pans and zooms in the film were accomplished using standard zoom and shrink features on copy machines; the animation camera used to shoot the copies onto 16mm film was not used to manipulate or direct the film’s motion. Comprising thousands of copies made on a dozen copiers, the resulting imagery is a moving Rorschach test of analog textures, bleeding ink spots and pareidolic cloud formations.

In contrast, digital copies are perfect – indistinguishable from their “originals.” Compression, however, retains that exciting element of entropy, as artist hadto demonstrates:

Granted he intentionally increased the compression from frame to frame; the discussion on the video page  is enlightening (and led me to Errata in the first place).


3 comments to Hooray for Entropy!

  • slowtiger

    I had seen Stewart’s film before, and immediately I was reminded of “Copy Romance”, a 1988 film by Torsten Alisch, a friend of mine. He describes the making in the beginning of this interview: http://www.mfj-online.org/journalPages/MFJ30%2C31/MHoolboomAmateur.html

  • gul ramani

    There was a time in late 70s when Process Art become suddenly popular (Actually an off-shoot of Concept Art). This photocopy hack was done by a few people apart from Stewart and Alisch. Still seeing the video brings about nostalgia though noise filter could do a similar job nowadays.

  • Thanks for directing me towards “Errata”. I especially like Stewart’s choice of soundtrack. So many experimental films get drowned in a sauce of electronic music so much so that the images lose all their impact.

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