I’ve revived my temporarily-abandoned Apocalypse project, which now lives at apocalypseanimated.com. Instead of a movie, I’m illustrating the Book of Revelation with animated gif loops, in the tradition of Medieval and post-Medieval Apocalypses. Except instead of being hand-lettered and painted on parchment, it’s all digital. Still, the gif is the 21st Century’s equivalent of the woodcut, as I discussed 6 years ago:
…the advent of the printing press led to the explosion of a unique kind of illustration: the wood-cut. Since…the internet is in many ways analogous to the printing press, I saw a parallel in its own new kind of illustration: the animated gif.
I am currently up to Chapter 8, out of 22 chapters total. Here are some of my favorites so far:
Ultimately I’d like the whole thing to be available for download as an eBook. Some of the gifs are heavy, weighing in at over 4MB, although many are under 2. With up to 17 gifs per page (each chapter is one page), that can make it unwieldy to download on-the-fly in a phone’s browser. That said, it looks freaking great on phones, thanks to the “dynamic” WordPress template I was willing to wrestle with. As an eBook it could be downloaded in a single package and viewed at will on any device. But get this – there aren’t any eBook publishing programs that support animated gifs in this way! A few e-Readers support animated gifs, so such an eBook is at least possible, but it will take some custom coding for it to happen. Meanwhile, if you have a proper Internet connection, view the work-in-progress at apocalypseanimated.com/.
MysticSymbolic has a long way to go, but continues to improve! We now have a rudimentary mandala generator, a Randomize Colors button, and an easier-to-remember work-in-progress URL: mystic-symbolic.art
Though primarily a collaboration between me and outstanding code genius Atul Varma, we now have a “team” including Dave Weaver of Webaissance, and my old pal Maneesh Yadav, who will hopefully dial in the colors. I’ve always scorned work-culture ideas like “team” and “meetings,” but I must say these are making the project better.
Speaking of colors, I am amazed at how well purely random RGB colors are working. I assumed unrestricted random palettes would be 90% horrible, but in fact they are 50% tolerable, and sometimes quite lovely. All the color combos below were generated randomly.
I continue to design and upload more symbols for MysticSymbolic, finessing most, deleting many. We now have a “Randomly invert symbols” toggle, which I recommend to get a nice balance of black and white. I also recommend a complexity setting of 2 (the slider goes from zero to “bonkers”).
Sometimes I take screenshots and name them. Here’s my latest gallery:
On January 27 I awoke with an idea for a mystic symbolic art generator. I immediately sketched copious notes and put out word I was looking for a coder to collaborate with. By some miracle, Atul Varma responded within an hour, which makes me believe this project really wants to exist.
My plans are vast and sprawling, so we’re starting simple. And by simple we mean bonkers:
Atul and I are on the same page regarding Free Software and Free Culture, so we’re both happy to share as we go along. You can generate your own strange images like the ones above by clicking the “randomize” button here:
I don’t want to have to animate a hand by hand. So I made this articulated “bone” model. Problem is, it’s a little stiff, and there’s no way to make the white outlines smooth and even. It seems like a nice smooth hand would be easy enough; the problem is when the fingers go in front of each other, as in the making of a fist. Then you need layers, where each part of a digit that obscures any other part is on another layer. This model has 16 layers: one for each “bone” of the fingers, plus a palm that is also warped by the “bones,” albeit not enough.