Category Archive • Computer graphics
December 15, 2004
Bite me

I like this, which I found here.


Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 05:48 PM
November 24, 2004
Computers have indeed come along nicely – but where are the flying cars?

Thanks to Dale Amon for the link to this. However, as Dale quickly discovered, it turned out to be untrue, an example not of false prognostication, but of more recent computer graphics.

I especially like the steering wheel …

Which reminds me: Where are the flying cars? I was promised flying cars!!

My point is, yes, we can scoff at the primitive ideas people did indeed have (as Dale rightly points out) circa 1950 about computers, but think how primitive our cars still are, circa 2000.

This one (thank you Dan Prinzing commenting at Transport Blog) looks quite good though.

This (thank you Tom – also commenting at Transport Blog), on the other hand, and like the one I originally wrote about, is just another clunky little airplane.

However, it looks very fetching, especially in this photo of it by Jason Bynum - which I am taking the liberty blah blah …


… - and looking very fetching counts for a lot around here.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:38 PM
November 14, 2004
Graffiti man running

Excellent if immoral graffiti animation here - via boingboing.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:43 PM
November 12, 2004

I will now criticise Instapundit. Twice. I don't remember ever having done this before even once, so this is new territory for me. Perhaps I will be hunted down by goon squads and locked up in a basement at the University of Tennessee.

GlennReynolds.gifCriticism number one of Instapundit is this beyond-frightful picture of him that the Guardian has been using to decorate his recent columns for them. It looks like something contrived for Halloween, and confirms, whether by accident or by design, every Guardianista prejudice about the man that there is. He is nasty, sinister, stupid, ignorant, and if this was an old and cheap black and white movie (which is what it looks as if it was taken from) he would be dead very soon and deservedly so, in the course of trying and failing to do something sinister and nasty.

Either Instapundit chose this photo, in which case he made a big mistake, or the Guardian chose it, in which case they did a very clever thing. If the Guardian chose it, and if Instapundit tried to get them to use another, but they went with this picture anyway, then that is a story and it is a story that the rest of us would, I am sure, love to be told.

And the other criticism I have to offer of Instapundit is that whenever, as he occasionally does, he features a small picture on the right hand side of a posting, he almost always fails to separate the text from the edge of the picture. This results in writing, and particularly the little permalink blob, jamming itself smack dab up against the picture, as for example here, here, here, here, here. here. and here. Here, he either did it right or got lucky, almost certainly the latter. I am not nearly such a clever blogger as Instapundit, but in this particular matter I always do better, this posting being only one of many examples of my superior typographical skills to those of Instapundit when it comes to placing small pictures in my postings, on the right hand side.

In my case the secret is to insert this gobbledegook into the code which inserts the picture:

align="right" img style="{margin-left:10}"

There. That wasn't very hard was it. Well, of course, like everything in computerisating, it is easy if you know it and do it regularly, and totally bloody impossible if you don't and you don't.

More seriously, now that the Old Mainstream Media have been toppled from their perch (my thanks to Instapundit for the link), Instapundit is now New Mainstream Media. And it is the duty of the rest of us to see that he lives up to the high standards that are appropriate for his new and elevated station in life.

In particular, he now has to realise that appearances matter.

UPDATE Nov 13: Incoming email from Gregg A Howard:

Note that the Guardian photo was taken using the "Frankenstein flash" technique used by old chaw 'n' spit newspaper photogs on particularly heinous criminals. It involved holding the flash a foot or two below the lens and the perp's face in order to distort the features in a way much admired by city editors back in the 30's and 40's. (see attached) But surely its use here is simply a coincidence and has no bearing on how GR's opinions are viewed by those at the Guardian.


I don't know whether Howard concocted this composite picture himself or found it somewhere else. The former, I'm guessing, if only because if the latter he would presumably have said. Either way, my thanks.

UPDATE Nov 14:

I did concoct it myself. The photos were scanned from Bloodletters and Badmen (isbn - 087131-113-5).

I picked the book up at a library sale for 25 cents some years ago. When I saw the Guardian photo, the inference was immediate. The composite was simple using the five-year-old software that came with this computer. The other faces are those of Harvey Murray Glatman, William Heirens and Stephen Nash.

A few more emails like this, and this blog will start to become a real Culture Blog.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:55 PM
November 09, 2004
Yeah baby!

GoBaby.gifI have been neglecting the visual arts lately, aside from the visual art that emerges from my own camera. So here is a fine piece of work.

Sadly, when I tried to copy it, all I got was what you see here. But go here, scroll down a bit, past the lone guitarist, and see it in all its twenty five times over majesty. Concocted by, I think, this guy. Hope it stays there a while.

Hey! According to my blogging software (as opposed to Photoshop), it moves. It's alive I tell you, alive.

UPDATE: Hang on. I think I can do this.



Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 03:58 PM
November 04, 2004
The battle of the Icons

This is brilliant.

I grovel in awe at the feet of the multi-headed comedy search engine that is the Dave Barry blog.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:56 AM
October 01, 2004
God is angry with the Republicans

This is a definite laugh, in the form of a map of Florida showing how Hurricanes Ivan, Frances and Charlie between them attacked all the bits of Florida that voted Bush in 2000 and carefully avoided all the bits that voted Gore. I don't know if this ever got as far as the Mainstream Media in the USA. If they did I'm guessing some pompous Republican accused it (the Mainstream Media) of blasphemy and political bias, and pointed out that God is obviously a pompous Republican too. So hurrah for the Internet that we can still get to chuckle over this. Like the previous posting, this is a fine example of what the democratisation of computer graphics plus the Internet has made possible. And unlike the thing in the previous posting, no one is claiming that this is art. It's too good a joke to need that kind of justification.

I got to this via here and to there via here.

My computer refuses to look for more than a few tiny moments at this map in its full size version. It makes it fit the screen, and I can't make it stop that. The problem is that if the map is not full size, the lettering is gobbledegook. Anyone know what I should do about that? I had to save the map and look at it in Photoshop, because when Photoshop is told to keep if full size it does, and I then scrolled.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:01 PM
May 21, 2004
The fake Gherkin and the real Gherkin

Recently I acquired a second hand copy of a book about and called Skyscrapers. It includes the illustration on the left, of my favourite, the Foster's London Gherkin, familiar to regulars here (which is why I chose this picture to illustrate my point). The picture is a bit blurry, which is my scanner not functioning properly rather than the original. And I fear that it may have taken rather a long time to load, so sorry if that was the case. (At present it's a .tif file. If anyone knows how to slim that down into something like a .jpg, comment accordingly please.)

gherfake2.jpg   GherReal.jpg

Anyway, my point is: the picture on the left is a faked up guess as to what the building was going to look like, which is what appeared in the book because when the book went to press the real thing hadn't been built yet. On the right is the real thing.

The difference in the shape is probably down to the weirdness of the lens on my camera. No, the difference that interests me is the way the inner structure dominates in the fake, while in the real thing, the glass surface dominates. And it's not just me. All the pictures I've seen of the finished article resemble my photo, in this particular respect.

It isn't as if this picture was just dashed off. A lot of work and thought obviously went into it. Yet, it is seriously misleading. It looks like a real building, in other words it is "realistic" enough to be misleading, in the absence of the real thing. In the book, there are lots of fake pictures of this kind, to the point where it is extremely difficult to determine which skyscrapers have actually been built and which ones remain on the drawing board. They should definitely state this item of information, and clearly. Not stating it at all means that I cannot recommend this book nearly as much as I would like to.

But that is a mere criticism of a book. The serious point here is how relentlessly difficult it is to know what a building is really going to look like, until it is built. Which is just one of many reasons why ... architecture is difficult.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:47 PM
May 06, 2004

Whenever I see a really good piece of computerised art at, I copy it. Who knows what happens to old computerised art, once it disappears from view? So here's a great picture of George Foreman advertising some new plates which he should have thought of but hasn't yet, and then to fill in the gap this picture would have left, I picked another, which highlights the horrendous problem – one of Western Civilisation's most burdensome in my view – of gum scum, who put chewing gum on tube posters in what they think of as clever places. (Bear with me, I'll sort this out, if they're still in a vertical pile. But it'll take a bit of time.)

GeorgeForeman.jpg    gumshoot.jpg

I also think that this, which for some bizarre reason I got to by clicking on the George Foreman picture in a different way to the way you click on it to copy it, is rather hilarious.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 09:56 PM
Far out man

I agree with Dave Barry's co-worker judi that this is fairly pathetic. On the other hand, Dave himself links to this, which I think is really something.

Punky Brewster agreed. He left twelve identical comments on the DB posting, linking to this twelve times, and then a thirteenth comment saying sorry for the previous eleven comments.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 08:25 PM
April 10, 2004
Why the tortoise won

nandralone.gifThis made me laugh out loud, perhaps because I am drunk. If sober, I would fill up the rest of this space with sober verbiage. But alas ...

Got this at Do your own link. (I'm drunk, etc. ...)

Is this art? Who cares?

I've looked at the final version, and it needs just another line or two, otherwise the coloured rectangles at the bottom get all piled up together, and I don't like that.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:16 AM
April 01, 2004
Space (sponsor)ship

shuttlead.jpgI put up a brand-X posting about private enterprise in space on Samizdata, but this picture, included in a comment by paul d s was what got most of the rest of the comments.

The parallels between the next wave of space travel and the second wave of ship-borne exploration of the rest of the world by Europeans are there, but they are not exact. When Captain Cooke landed in what became Australia there was no live TV coverage of the event, or instant communication of the news back to earth. The first settlements in America were not built in order to accommodate European tourists. But European flags were planted on alien shores, to the greater glory of the sponsors back home.

Robert Heinlein wrote a short story a long time ago, entitled The Man Who Sold The Moon, about a guy who managed to get Coke and Pepsi to shell out two fortunes, merely to keep the other's logo off the moon. Just as well. A logo on the moon would have really taken some doing. Logos on space rockets are a far better bet, like the picture says.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:38 PM
March 05, 2004

evilchicken3.gifThe entire purpose of this posting was/is to see if this animated .gif file on the right would work. And so far it seems that it does.

I got it from, and I don't understand what it was doing there, other than that it was vaguely related to another graphic of the evil chicken coming out of a magic door. But there I was looking at it, and then when I moused over it up came that set of little pictures that usually mean you can copy it, so I copied it, to see if it would copy, and it copied. If you doubt me, you could copy it yourself, from here.

How do you set about creating something like that? Is it easy, or quite hard? Do you make lots of pictures and then pile them together into one file? How do you make it happen at the correct speed? Why did the evil chicken cross the road?

This file contains rather a lot of white space on its right side, doing nothing very much. I tried cropping it in Photoshop, but although the result was duly cropped, it was also immobilised. So that was no good. Is there any way I could have cropped it and kept the evil chicken moving? Can that be done in Photoshop, or would I need other (animation?) software?

One of the annoying things about Movable Type is that the "preview" function isn't. That is to say, you do not preview exactly what you will end up viewing in the final blog posting. That's no good. In particular, it means with an exercise like this that I can't do exactly the right amount of text to reach the bottom of this graphic and then stop. I have to do more than I really need, with some of it sticking across under the graphic, and I only get to see what I have actually done when it is posted.

Blogging is an art, but how can I practise my art in unsatisfactory working conditions of that sort?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 03:03 AM
February 15, 2004
Life's an animation – then you die

This great bit of computer animation about the brutality and futility of life is linked to by

Lefty grumblers are hopeless at serious politics, and god help us all when they ever get into complete charge. All they ever cause in those departments are brutality and futility. They make the world a lot more like what they say it already is than it already is. But if, as they always should be, they are prevented from having any direct real world influence and they instead turn to art, their complaints often have great aesthetic merit and considerable entertainment value, as here.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:16 PM
December 31, 2003
A nice picture

On Monday night I attended a dinner party and my hosts had this image up on their wall, which I rather like. It's by Peter Saville, a new name to me, but a very big cheese in the world of graphic design, record sleeves, etc..

I rootled around various websites and the version here is the best that I could quickly find:


It's called "Colour and form" and dates from 2002. Saville was a late-comer, compared to many graphic artists, to computers, but now he loves them.

Once again, it seems that in all innocence I've picked a very well known picture, one of those ones that lots of much Better Informed people know about and like, apart from maybe disliking how many badly informed people like me like it too.

In a way, art is a bit like pop music, in that things which are merely rather nice get copied and experienced on this colossal scale, which seems out of all proportion to the modest niceness of the original object. Add a couple of million square yards of posh writing in praise of these innocuously nice objects and you're going to stir up a lot of hostility, not to the things themselves exactly, but to the enormous fuss that gets made of them. This fuss (which I'm now adding to of course) seems particularly bizarre when you compare it to the total lack of fuss that is made about millions of other objects and images which are just as nice but which don't happen to have got the attention of the Designers.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 02:36 PM
December 11, 2003
More PMI

Time I had another posh picture, straight, with no post-modern irony.

Here's one I found earlier:


Ah, culture. Seriously, can anyone point me to the original, into which ML is inserted? And I seem to recall that in the original, he isn't so happy, right?

I found it via (again), but can't remember how exactly. It's something to do with these people, who also link to this amazing page, which I am now about to link to from Samizdata, because they'll love it.

Post-modern irony is a hard habit to shake.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 03:01 PM
Photoshop meets speed cameras

speedcam.jpgThese people fear for the future of speed cameras, and not in a good way.

The reason I'm putting this picture here is that I wanted at first to put it up at White Rose, as an example of the direction speed cameras are heading in, ho ho. But I am forbidden to upload pictures to White Rose. I can only put up words there. Which is probably the wisest arrangement.

So then I thought, I'll do a small bit at White Rose, and then link to, where I found this picture. The trouble with that is that nothing ever stays put at and they don't let you link to individual pictures. Or if they do, I don't know how.

So then I thought, I know, I'll stick it up here, and then link from White Rose to here, while giving their credit by linking to them also.

So now I have to explain why this is cultural.

I could just refer you to the slogan at the top of this blog. But I think that there's a little more to say than that. This set of pictures does make the point that computer programmes like Photoshop have opened up a whole new world of popular art (of a sort that the people at specialise in), of such things as kittens with the heads of eagles, famous paintings with moustaches and added captions, celebrity morphing combinations, and, as here, adulterated signposts. How Stalin would have loved it.

Actually, as I think may already have been commented here when I said something similar here a while ago, Stalin would not have loved Photoshop, because his rearrangement and deletion effects depended on people not realising that he was doing this sort of thing, and now everyone does realise.

Changing the subject, I'm now two thirds of the way through Kieslowski's Three Colours. I thought Blue was tripe, and considered leaving it at that. But I gave White a go, since I'd already got it out of Blockbuster, and I'm glad I did because it was much more amusing. So, I'll definitely be viewing Red between now and 10pm tonight when it has to be back in Blockbuster.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:31 AM
December 02, 2003
What the web looks like

What do you think this is?


Gabriel Syme ("Colourful web") of Samizdata links to it, and explains:

A project to create a comprehensive graphical representation of the internet in just one day and using only a single computer has already produced some eye-catching images. The Opte Project uses a networking program called "traceroute". This records the network addresses that a data packet hops between as it travels towards a particular network host. The project is free and represents a lot of donated time.

Well I didn't fully get all that, but it sure looks pretty.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:51 AM
November 27, 2003
Thinking in HTML

I love this, from Lileks today, in a Thanksgiving mood:

It’s snowing right now. Even though it’s nighttime the sky has a pearly grey light – I look up, marvel, and think "#C0C0C0" – and realize I’ve spent too much time on HTML colors.

I definitely haven't spent too much time on HTML colours, but just enough to know what he's talking about and to smile a lot.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:36 AM
October 14, 2003
Violinistic animation

Okay let's try what Natalie said.

At first, nothing. Then I tried one of the Samizdata ones, and that worked:

And the sanscrit in that one was what Natalie said. So I went looking again for the violinist, and found one. Not as good as the first one I found (but have now lost) but ...:


So, progress. If you think miniature animated violinsts is progress.

Now I have to work out fitting it to the text, but one thing at a time, eh?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:52 PM
October 13, 2003
How do I get the smiley violinist?

I don't normally like those twee little smiley faces laughing, being sad, waving sticks, etc. But here's one I found by accident that plays the violin. The instructions for it say this:

But what do I attach to that to turn sanscrit into the picture?

Last time I posted a technical query I got the answer very quickly, so I'm optimistic about this one too.

If the comments are as helpful as I hope - and actually rather expect - this posting will have the answer added to the question. Thanking you in advance.

And if this works, how and where can I get other culture-related smileys?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 03:09 PM
October 07, 2003
Smart left

Okay these people are very post-modern and lefty and all that. I mean, here's what they think of the Pentagon.

But you do get a sense from their site of just how expressive the Internet can be when it's in inventive (don't miss this and this) and exuberant hands like these.

Well worth a look. Link via

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:43 PM
September 12, 2003
Libeskind at Ground Zero

Here's a useful piece of computer graphics to show what Libeskind wants to do with the WTC site. Probably lots of you have seen this or something very like it before, but I hadn't until yesterday.

There was a TV show about the WTC competition here a few days back. I must say that the Libeskind design is now starting to make more sense to me. The sunken garden is a very good idea, I think. The office blocks look broken and half finished to me, but maybe that will be effective.

Anyway, Micklethwait's law on the matter says that you can never really tell how good it will look until it's built. Although, there's a long way to go before this one is even started.

More generally, I continue to be intrigued at how the internet makes it so much easier for the public to haggle about mere architectural plans. That TV show made it very clear how much public involvement there had been in the WTC process. I didn't follow it at the time, but the original plans for a bunch of boring, "undesigned" lumps were just shouted down by the populus, apparently. Libeskind got it because he at least attempted a little … how can I put this? … spiritual showmanship? And the skyscraper 1776 feet high. A shameless play to the gallery, and isn't that just New York, New York, all over?

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:45 AM
August 29, 2003
Fractals may look like art but they're not really

This kind of thing is interesting from the Art point of view, I think.

I found it by typing "Art" into google (which makes this a quota posting - well spotted), and then going here and then here and then to this and finally to this.


I do actually quite like this particular one, although I prefer the blue bits to the brown bits (which I think have a somewhat Monty Python feel to them) and unlike some of the other pictures in this set it has no appalling poem or ghastly music attached, which is a bonus.

Obviously, Art Critics hate pictures like this, and they presumably hate the internet for serving up such stuff as Art hit number three out of twenty zillion. Too many trailer trash people actually like them, and popular things need no critics to explain them and decide about them. Popular stuff may attract critics later, who reminisce about what fun it used to be and how great it still is, but no critics are needed to get it going in the first place.

But such critics do have a point about the idiocy of people who seriously like these kind of fractal pictures, as opposed to just, you know, liking them, because they're quite pretty. This "Hawk" person is obviously not someone you'd want to know personally.

The other thing that is wrong with these things is that they are too easy to do. Art-wise, they are cheating. I don't mean that I could do them myself. I wouldn't know where to begin. But there are thousands who can. And they do it not with months of devotion, but with half a page of equations, a personal computer and a few clicks of the keyboard. And easy isn't art. It can't be. They are more like mathematical discoveries, that happen to look nice and are best expressed in pictorial form.

Nevertheless, I do like these pictures. And this doesn't make me a mad hippy any more than liking the Rolling Stones makes me a philandering libertine or a Marianne Faithful clone.

But I do admit it. If I'd had more time to do this posting, I would have found something more cultural.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:46 PM
June 25, 2003
BBC3 Blobs

It's completely stupid, I know, but I really like these creatures, who are the work of Aardman (although I can't find them on their website), and who appear in between programmes on BBC3 TV. They don't do anything obviously useful, like announce television programmes. They just say strange or inconsequential animated things, which when animated become amusing.

This one is my favourite, probably because I also wear glasses. "With these glasses", he says to his audience of smaller blobs in a powerfully deep voice with what sounds to me (but I could be very wrong) like a South African Jewish accent, "I can do terrible damage."

BBC4, however, is gone again.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 12:08 PM
May 17, 2003
Optical illusions

About ten minutes to deadline, so nothing long or profound tonight, just a link via 2 Blowhards, to this. Be sure to scroll down when you go there, to see others besides the relatively dull cube. The seeing-black in colour one and the spiralling one are the best, I think. Michael found this for one of his websurfing ("linkorama") pieces. These are always good for an hour's fun and profundity.

I'm off to read the piece on evolutionary biology.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 11:59 PM
May 01, 2003
Art plus loadability

I've spent the last hour worrying about the fact that I haven't the time to do anything profound here today, which wasn't very logical, but there you go.

I thought about just shoving up some picture or other, but pictures usually take time to load if they're to make any sort of impact, and I've already got some pictures on the go as it is. And a mere link to a picture seems very short change.

So instead of a picture or a link to a picture, here's a thought instead, in the form of a competition if you're the competitive sort. A prize – what it will be yet I know not, but it will be the envy of the world, King Lear, mucked about – for the item of artwork or link to an item of artwork which combines maximum artistic punch with minimum loading time. (And by the way I do know about "pop-up" pictures – I just don't like them very much, and besides they take me a bit of time to put up and check out, and time I don't now have.)

The kind of thing I have in mind is one of those miraculous little matadors that Picasso used to do in one squiggle, or maybe something wonderful that is achieved just by being typed out in courier. I remember a magical picture of a magically young Queen Elizabeth II done like this. It was typed, on a ye olde typewriter, yet how it shone and sparkled. Any thoughts?

If not don't worry, I'm really just playing for time. I may be back before midnight with something more substantial to say, but don't count on it.

Meanwhile, by way of more stalling here's a link to this piece of foolery, courtesy of Dave Barry.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 06:56 PM
April 25, 2003
I don't know anything about bread but I know what I like


It's too entertaining to be art. With thanks to

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:47 AM
February 05, 2003

I like this picture. I got it from the 2Blowhards, but I forget when the posting was, or who the artist is. I like two things about the picture. I like the way he's done the face, and I like the way he hasn't finished the rest of it. It's a bit like a lot of adverts you see on the tube, where you are encouraged both to see a thing, and to see that it is very definitely only a drawing of a thing. This is a pipe. This is not a pipe. Etc. Most of all, I like that I am learning how to put pictures here. My thanks to Alex Singleton.


Expect many more pictures.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 06:43 PM