Compression Reel from David OReilly on Vimeo.

8-bit chip music went mainstream in the last few years. Well, now it’s video compression’s turn. What, you thought crunchy blippy glitch sounds were cool, but that video could only look crap when over-compressed digitally? Too late: even Kanye West is doing it now.

First up: the best of this genre seems to come from director David O’Reilly, pictured above. The man has his own compression-themed t-shirts.

The music video getting the most blogosphere airplay comes from Chairlift. Chairlift’s “Evident Utensil” is a music video made of datamosh errors – a twisted visual special effect formed from an algorithmic anomaly. You’ve seen it before, and like many of us, were as fascinated by these digital artifacts as you were by the patterns your NES made when the carts got dusty and the VHS’s when you taped one few too many Cinemax feature presentations. Of course, because this is pieced together from compression artifacts, it looks even more horrible compressed, so you need the HD version. As the uploader says:

NORMAL QUALITY LOOKS LIKE BUNK. clink on “WATCH IN HD” to WATCH IN HD!!! HD stands for “HOLY DATAMOSH,” which is what G-D bestowed upon us in the form of a MASSIVE COMPUTER GLITCH that eats up INDIE MUSIC VIDEOS and turns them into INTERNET GOLD. See the gold in its purest form at:
http://www.court13.com/Chairlift-EvidentUtensil.mov

Evident Utensil, HD on Vimeo

But don’t think for a second this is going to stay some obscure “Internet” thing. No, media moves too fast for that now. Enter Kanye West. As Jeremy Elder writes on his blog shape+colour:

Datamoshing is the new tiltshift. I guarantee. Now it’s just a matter of who’ll do it well and which big company will soullessly made a campaign out of it “because the kids think it’s ‘dope.’”

datamoshing: kanye west + nabil elderkin: welcome to heartbreak. chairlift + ray tintori: evident utensil. « shape+colour

That’s just the beginning.

Then you discover a visual wormhole full of datamosh. After all, YouTube’s “related” feature is only going to pull up more digital nonsense. And so you dive in — and the vids with 300 counts turn out to be way more interesting.

They start normal, but get strange. You’re soon under someone’s umbrella of glitch.

And then you’re here, like, following a glowing piñata down your own optic nerve.

“a;slkgha;sovi[ro843;ligj;alkfg jafu9vp984poij;4k34.gk;kj;” murmurs a man named cosmosabravo to you. You think you’re on something, or maybe you swallowed the “wrong character encoding pill.”

But you press ahead.

Cosmosabravo drools pixels, and you follow.

And there’s something about “Takeshi Murata,” but you’ve lost any fidelity. The odd YouTube commenters start to make some freaky kind of sense. “Whole wheat! bananas! tarpit is on the cartune exprez dvd. Plate Tectonics *is* Pixeltan. Devin Flynn and his lovely lady, Mika. thanks for the venues, keep it real”

“i wish i could see the real thing some day .”

Nope. This is real.

So, the next time you’re frustrated uploading to a dozen different web servers with Flash that doesn’t play anything right on your PowerPC Mac anyway, and you’ve forgotten how you muxed your demuxers and your head is becoming mosh …

Keep going. Set the corruption settings wrong. Get 500,000 of your friends to watch it and claim it’s CBS. Wait for a takedown notice. Upload it again.

A hundred uploads later, you might have some new form of art.

Or maybe it’ll just be another useless glitch.

You know what I think will be the “next big thing”? HD without artifacts. But better catch it now, before it gets appropriated.

Previous post

From Comments: Edirol's P-10 Firmware Makes it Useful Clip-Triggering Hardware

Next post

What Adobe Means By "Open" Screens, and a Mobile Open Scorecard