Friday, March 17, 2006

What Have I Been Missing?


(Editorial originally published in Mojo, Sep 2005)

You might call me dumbfounded as I listen to "Like A Rolling Stone" for the seventh time in succession, were it not for the act of writing these very words. Immediately after reading Greil Marcus' somewhat adulatory synopsis of Bob Dylan's masterful song, I excavated the allegedly cave-like record in a frenzied attempt to discover the spinning walls and flickering lights that I must have overlooked during the countless other times I've listened to this tale of … knights, dragons, and transvestites?

Upon listening much more carefully than on past occasions, I can confirm my previous observations that this must be one of the best songs ever recorded, telling a Karmic story about a pompous high-society girl left destitute after her wealth is stolen—once oblivious to the "Riff Raff," she is now an involuntary member.

I only wish I had the same synapses firing in my brain to visualize countless instruments scatter across separate journeys, each one shooting off to the next like a series of ricochet bullets; witness the enveloping sound on a weight scale as the meter jumps from 1 to 2 million; find this mysterious, empty road of ghosts with unsurpassable, magnanimous mountains; and fathom exactly when the song gets away, who gets it back, and just how it subsequently loses its sound. I would also greatly enjoy the opportunity to study the incredibly detailed charts of measurements that must exist somewhere, acquired from some sort of pressure gauge on Dylan's nasal flow during the song's recording.

Until now, I have considered myself to be an avid music fanatic for most of my life. It has become painfully clear that I have been missing out on key musical experiences, such as transporting myself in time and space to the actual recording of a song, after following a magical and mystical trail of fairy dust left behind by a bunch of siblings of a sorcerer who is a vague acquaintance of mine. Please sign me up—I want in!

Ice Is Not Blue

A discussion on conceptual design

"If you can't beat 'em, join 'em!"

[Originally published Jun 2005]

It may be an obvious concept, but upon witnessing various ice-renderings colored in blue tones by other artists, it became very clear that as designers, we ought to study an object thoroughly in order to simulate a realistic appearance.

Visualize ice.

Why would ice be blue? Is it the color's association with a cold sensation or the blue appearance of water in an ocean that overpowers our common sense? Whatever the reason, the association can be so powerful that our renderings of ice simply lose their appeal when painted in only grayscale tones mixed in the colors of any objects that are represented behind the ice (i.e. the true color of ice).

To work around a somewhat irrational perspective, we might choose to display the ice on a blue background, allowing the color to blend through the translucent object, while maintaining a realistic appearance (as in the image above).

"What color is chrome?"

I often remember this question once asked of me when I was attempting to render a paper clip. Our natural instinct seems to think of chrome as consisting of sharp gradients of silver and/or gold, which is not necessarily accurate. A thorough examination of the actual object reveals the color to be very silvery and shiny, yet also mixed with a reflection of objects in front of the chrome. That is, whatever is between you and the chrome object, the face of that item (which you cannot see) is being reflected in the chrome object (albeit distorted).

If there is a complimentary color to ice, then it must be chrome.

Visualize chrome.