March ’05 Installment: Arboretum

A landscaped space where trees, shrubs, and herbaceous plants are cultivated for scientific study, educational purposes, and to foster appreciation of plants. – Source

About Arboretum

An arboretum is, as the definition clearly states, an exhibition for study and appreciation trees. As a tree hugger, it is only fitting that I do my part in this teaching. Thus, a virtual gallery of gnarled and strange trees, possibly not of this world.

"Arboretum" holds many references to my previous installment, "Surrealisme", both in the composition and the mood. One of my mantras is: don't reinvent yourself every day. Refining a past concept is not necessarily a no-no and in all honesty it wasn't until I was done with 3 of the pictures I remembered having done something similar recently.

For the essense of this Arboretum is a universe I've been developing for quite some time. Mostly in my mind, a little bit in past archives without your knowing it and a little bit on blocks of paper. I plan to make something of this one day, suffice to say: more on that at another point.

Technically, the illustrations are composites of a 3D tree placed on a cloud/sky background. Texture and colours were added with the usual techniques. A celestial body (of sorts) was added to each image to give an off-worldly feel. Trust me, this is not some place in Sweden. And even though you can spot both our moon and Saturn, it's supposed to look like "somewhere else".

This month I will release a layered PSD (well, technically it's a TIFF, but you won't notice), that's full-size and to everyone (not only newsletter subscribers). Which one do you want?

Music

The music track is a track I've used countless times before because I love it. It's as always composed by Kate. Download tracks, and read more about her music in the installments section.

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February ’05 Installment: Intermezzo

In music, an intermezzo, in the most general sense, is a composition which fits between other musical or dramatic entities, such as acts of a play or movements of a larger musical work. — Source

About Intermezzo

Something new, and something completely different. "Intermezzo" is not meant to be more than that—a brief interlude. A simple brief excercise in simplicity.

For too many months now, I've kept things overly complex to myself. When things start to blur, it's always helped to backtrack, and graphics such as these are graphics I've done before (January 2002, May 2002).

It's a statement in graphics and in life: keep things simple. Do it the easy way. Play more.

With that said, I really only think #2 came out well, with #1 and #5 being okay.

Technically, the illustrations were built using Illustrator and flash. Most of it was a matter of "duplicate / move / scale". The windmills in #1, "fractals" in #2 and the wire-blends in #3 are re-used these from prior pieces. But that's part of the lesson: recycle! If you made something you like, save it for quick access in a folder with thumbnail preview, and use it again and again and again! Once you've drawn a windmill once, you don't have to draw it again—no matter what elitists say: there's no shame in using ClipArt. Unless it's not your own. Ahem.

  • The "fractal" in #2 was made using Illustrators "duplicate" function. This function is perfect for when you need to draw, for instance, a clock; draw the little black line that symbolises every hour, and select the Rotate tool. While holding ALT key, left-click where you want the center of rotation to be. A dialog should appear: select "Copy". Now press CTRL + D to repeat this (this is the trick), and there's your clock.
  • The blends in #3 are made using Illustators "Blend" function, hence the name. To make a similarly looking blend, draw two lines using the pen tool, select them both, and select "Object > Blend > Make". To adjust number of blend steps, select "Object > Blend > Blend Options… ". Select "Specified Steps" from the dropdown, and type in some number, for instance 30. Press OK and watch the goodness.

Listening to

While making February, I was listening to Massive Attack's Danny the Dog and Two rocks and a cup of water from "Danny the Dog Soundtrack". I believe the movie "Danny the Dog" is also known as Unleashed.

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January 05 Installment: Frost

While making Noscope January, quietly and in the comfort of my own home, large parts of Asia and Oceania were hit by devastating tsunamis. The randomness with which such disasters happen, is the same randomness that drives me, during these monthly sessions. As such, it is with the outmost humility and respect for the victims of said disasters, that I feel it appropriate to dedicate this installment.

Needless to say, I would like to encourage everyone to help. The most effective way is by making a monetary donation directly to an organisation you trust.

About "Frost"

"Frost" is based on photos I took during a recent visit to Sweden. This is nothing new, as many of my past installments have revolved around the same theme. But it was a conscious choice to keep things simple and easy. After all, it's easier to elaborate on a fleshed out theme, than it is to re-invent the wheel every month, and there are many things one would rather do in the last week of December.

In the end, however, I think the images turned out alright, albeit a little uninspired.

The format is the same as last month, which has a widescreen feel that seamlessly melts into the bottom whitespace. The composition is also straightforward; some 50% "action", and the rest of the image framing this.

As promised, the images rely heavily on textures to make the images different from plainly stylized imagery. I've tried to capture the feel of waking up a winter morning, wiping away the frost on your window and looking out at a white world.

As such, I've not only tried to add frosty textures, but also the illusion of glass, an effect which is most clearly defined in in image #2. This "glass effect" was basically achived by a) blurring the backround of where the glass would be, b) painting in 30% with a solid color to give some density, c) add textures and a fingerprint.

The fingerprint idea came from one of my texture photos where my sister had melted the frost on the window with her hand. Obviously her fingerprint wasn't visible, but merely "melting" the frost on the photos wasn't enough to convey the sense of glass, so I googled a fingerprint and simply added that. I know that such a "print-on-frost" could never happen in real life, but in this case, exaggeration helps to communicate.

Additionally, I added a "sparkler" that follows the mouse. It's been a long while since I actually properly used the Flash that all the Installments are embedded in. The sparkler is basically a particle spray that follows your mouse. Click anywhere on the Flash to disable it, click again to enable it. Alas, I must admit that it's a cheap effect, and it's not even put to as good use as it was the last time I used it. Nevertheless, I thought it added some dynamics to the images.

Music

The beautiful musical track is, as always, composed by Kate. Buy her record at CDbaby.

Listening to:

While making January, I was listening to M?m's On The Old Mountain Radio (Christian Kleine Mix) and Please Sing My Spring Reverb (Styromix by Styrofoam).

Due to the magic of computers, this entry, and the header image will automatically be online and available the 1st of January 2005 00:00:00.

Happy New Year!

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December ’04 Installment: Surrealisme

Noscope December is an attempt to step back in history to the surrealists. Surrealism was a movement, and the surrealists tried to penetrate the crust of the existing reality in search of the true reality – the super reality. Hence the name, "sur – realisme", french for "over-realism".

About "Surrealisme"

It all really started with an illustration I saw in a Danish magazine called "Ud & Se". It was an illustration accompanying an article about "mind medication", and showed a blissfully smiling man, with his head being poetically dragged apart as though it was goo. It was a lovely inspiration, and reminded me that Photoshop has just such a tool, called "Liquify". I cut out the illustration, and hung it in my kitchen. It was enough for me to decide to explore the "liquify" tool this December.

I did the images chronologically this month, so picture #5 was the last one I did over a period of two days. I do think I went overboard with the liquification of the clouds in some of the images, but all in all, I'm satisfied with the final result.

As for the composition of the images, since the very purpose was to explore the liquify tool under the cover of "Surrealism", I wanted a big canvas to liquify. As such, I have purposefully let the clouds be the major player in the images.

The tiled ground/forests in the bottom of the images, that too, is on purpose. On one hand it adds to sense that "something's not quite right here", and on the other hand it clearly communicates "this is just decoration, look at the interesting part above".

The huge tree limb, or tree tops in the right of the images are there for a couple of reasons. First of all, it looks eerie, and adds some dynamic to an image that would otherwise just be a vista. Secondly, it adds distance from the background to the individual tree.

Music

The beautiful musical track is, as always, composed by Kate. This specific track, is one of my absolute favourites – let it play for a few minutes to get the full experience.

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November ’04 Installment: Autumn

Noscope November is a celebration of the most beautiful of autumns I have experienced in years. The leaves are saturated more than ever before, and the sky has been gray in the most wonderful way.

October was a good month for me. While I was busy as ever with moving from Vesterbro to Amager, it's been a great experience, and I'm thrilled with my new locations. In fact, Image #1, my personal favourite of the 5, was taken not long from my new apartment.

But October did not only present me with a new apartment, it also presented me with a fantastic trip to Sweden with some of my close friends. We sat under the cold cold night sky, around the fire in the garden, packed in layers of sweaters we found in our house. We counted shooting stars, while drinking white russians. On the last day, we grilled dinner down by the barn, with extra coal due to the sub zero temperature. Those are moments to remember.

Naturally all those events saturated the leaves extra for me, and as such, this is a tribute to mother nature and all the fantastic events she can present to us. I hope you'll all have a great autumn.

Music

The beautiful musical track is called "Red Tide", and was initially composed for May 2003. You can download the full-length song from Kate, but consider purchasing her bands CD, "The Aqua Path" for 10 USD (+ shipping) at cdbaby.com.

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October ’04 Installment: Vesterbro

In a few days, I will be moving away from the part of Copenhagen that is known as "Vesterbro". While I am looking forward to this, it also represents the end of an era. Thus, Noscope October is dedicated to the fond, and not so fond memories I have of life at Vesterbro.

About "Vesterbro"

While Vesterbro is in a constant state of change, it does represent "classic Copenhagen". It's got the pulsing energy of city life, a diverse sub culture, but also whores, hustlers and drug-addicts.

I have come home from work many times, only to ask a few people on my doorstep to please have their fixes elsewhere. I cannot count how many times I've gone to pickup my bike to the smell of someone who just marked his territory. I have seen many tragic cases, many struggles and many fights.

Those are the not so fond memories.

Yet, it is not without a sense of genuine sadness, that I move from Vesterbro to Amager, in a few days. It's hard to put a finger on what exactly it is I like about this place. The memories? Perhaps. The sounds? Unlikely. The smells? Not bloody likely.

In fact, it's pretty hard to explain why at all, one would miss my part of Vesterbro. So I have created these pictures, to try and tell the story.

I have focused on capturing the sense of a summer nearing its end. The kind of special melancholic feeling that allows for a precious, yet terribly sad memory.

Other images of Vesterbro

While I am unsure as to whether I succeeded graphically this month, I am satisfied that I was able to focus on the fond memories. This is quite unlike the time I moved, from Nykøbing Falster to Vesterbro in May 2002. My "4800 nykøbing" Installment was definitely focused on the negative memories, and was almost sarcastic in its expression.

Soon after my moving to Vesterbro, my interest in the big city was sparked. This resulted in "1701 cph v". Rough edgy pictures that pretty much represented my emotionally tumultuous state at that time. Yet the imagery from 1701 cph v was distinctly more positive than 4800 nykøbing.

March 2004 would again use imagery from Vesterbro, this time packaged in an almost comically sugar sweet packaging. The "Happyjoy Issue" would show warm pictures from around the Copenhagen lakes (which is near, and part of Vesterbro), but also an intentionally shrouded picture if Istedgade, the main street for prostitutes to hang out on.

I hope that by making these images, I can save not only the pictures, but also the emotions and memories of a place, in some form of time-capsule I can revisit when I grow old.

The Music

The beautiful musical track is called "Bones", and was composed for the 4800 nykøbing installment. It is composed by Kate, and can be downloaded on her project page. While not part of her band Melusine's The Aqua Path, that CD does contain more ambient music, and is definitely worthy of purchase. Make it yours for 10 USD (+ shipping) at cdbaby.com.

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September ’04 Installment: Frozen

Noscope September is a collection of images frozen in time by means of camera. They represent memories, as pictures from a photo album would do.

I have documented the entire design process.

The beautiful musical track is called "Gelid", and is composed by Kate. Gelid can be found on the CD "The Aqua Path". The Aqua Path, containing 60 minutes of ambient water music can be purchased for 10 USD (+ shipping) at cdbaby.com.

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July ’04 Installment: Sommarlov

The music is called "Marigold", and was composed for July 2003 by Kate. The song can be downloaded freely on her website, n-heptane.

"Sommarlov" is swedish, and roughly translates to "Spring break", or "Summer holiday". The choice of theme is a reflection on the current bulk of rain Denmark is being hammered with currently… and of course hopes that it'll stop in time for my going to Roskilde Festival 2004 from the 1st – 4th of July…

So, in hopes of good weather for everyone this summer, I've tried to capture the feel of summer.

I think it worked out, mainly with credit given to Kate's great musical piece.

The pictures from this month are from my two recent photo collections from sweden, "Vännaryd" & "Kullen". Added to the composition is a techno-trixy pixelly effect that I first stumbled into when designing Greenpeace Amazon Crime Files sometime last year. It involves filling areas with aliased pixel-patterns, to achieve a flickering effect on the edge of big screens. Unfortunately, this part of the images didn't work so well.

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