Jörg M. Colberg, an accomplished astrophysicist and photographer, created a series of images entitled "American Pixels" in which he applied a self-made compression algorithm to photographs, turning them into artworks of the digital age.
But Colberg's works aren't just commentaries on the state of images in an age of lossy file types. He designed his own compression algorithm that responds uniquely to the contents of each photograph.
For Colberg, the compression becomes part of the creative progress. He explains:
A computer that creates a jpeg does not know anything about the contents of the image: It does what it is told, in a uniform manner across the image.
My idea was to create a variant that followed in the footsteps of what jpegs do, but to have the final result depend on the original image...adaptive compression (acomp) is a new image algorithm where the focus is not on making its compression efficient but, rather, on making its result interesting...As computer technology has evolved to make artificial images look ever more real - so that the latest generation of shooter and war games will look as realistic as possible - acomp is intended to go the opposite way: Instead of creating an image artificially with the intent of making it look as photo-realistic as possible, it takes an image captured from life and transforms it into something that looks real and not real at the same time.
The American Pixel renders are intended for hanging on walls, allowing the viewer to study the different layers of pixelated detail by move closer and farther away from the work.
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To see the whole set of these fascinating works, head over to Colberg's collection. [Jörg M. Colberg via Kottke]