Like most dorks of the internet, I have a small habit of buying domains without projects to go along with them. A great example of this is TheLivingJacksons.com; a domain I have been sitting on for more years than I care to admit.
There is half a reason for keeping this domain – around the time I bought it, I had decided that if I had a band, I would call it The Living Jacksons. Never mind the fact that I have no known musical skills – I can still just about beat-match records on a pair of SL-1200s, and I can drop the Rhumba rhythm on my Casio VL-1 to great effect, but beyond that, I’ve never even tried to learn an instrument. I figured, though, that an absence of musical skill doesn’t necessarily exclude a career in pop music, and decided I would put a stake in the ground and claim The Living Jacksons as my own idea by buying the domain.
If this all sounds like an incomplete thought, that’s because it was: I knew I had no musical talent, but I didn’t even consider that I didn’t have something to put on the website. The domain sat doing less than nothing, absorbing renewal money for years, until the penny finally dropped on what the shape of my band was. Introducing The Living Jacksons:
N.b. I’m a lot more handy playing the washing machine than ironing boards, but the publicist and I both agreed that bending over to unload a washer wouldn’t have conveyed the message we are looking to convey with this band!
So finally – I created some press images of the band, and put a website together, with marginally more than nothing on it. Still no music though.
I’ve got into the habit of making my own fresh flour tortillas. They’re more satisfying and less alarming than the store-bought ones you get here in Britain, and as a bonus you can make them the right size for the job, instead of the not-quite-burritos-but-too-big-for-tacos one-size-fits-all approach they have here.
They’re not difficult to make either, but things do start getting a bit jugglesome when they’ve finished their second rest and it’s time to cook them. I usually find I could do with several extra pairs of hands between the rolling out, transferring to the pan, flipping, and putting in the tortilla warmer, which happens on loop until I’ve run out of dough.
Several extra pairs of hands, or a squad of small robots! I realised the process was prime for the production line treatment.
As ever, this is an animated gif that loops about every second, but there is a lot more to look at than just one second of looping. As the dough disappears off the bottom and top (under its cling film), you have to imagine it’s going to rest for twenty and ten minutes respectively.
These robots are doing a pretty legit job of making these tortillas otherwise. We’d need an army of hungry people to eat them before they go stale though!
“This isn’t what I expected when I said I was looking for a more fulfilling job”
A recent experience of having a letter go missing in the postal system inspired another looping factory gif. This one is simultaneously simpler and more complicated than the previous robot-laden ones – there’s a lot less happening in this one, but it’s also a seamless tile. That means this one loops in three dimensions – horizontally, vertically and in time.
A bit like my missing package!
One of my favourite cakes is a coffee and walnut cake. I got the recipe from my gran – she still makes the cake, my mum makes it, and now Lilly and I make it too. The only thing about the cake is it has a secret ingredient – it’s not coffee in any way I’ve known it.
Can you tell what the secret ingredient is? Chances are, if you’re American, you probably can’t tell (as Lilly and I learnt last time we were on the other side of the Atlantic). If you’re British you might not know what it is either – the only occasion I’ve ever known to use it is in this cake.
Look at the robots go though! And the electric butter cow! Never stop making those little cakes guys, coffee and walnut forever!
If the title of this post didn’t make it clear enough, I was really pleased with the hyper-detailed looping animated gif of a robot factory I made earlier this year. So much so I have decided to make another one. This time they’re making – you guessed it – washing machines!
It took a lot of energy, but for a 1.1 second loop, you can spent a whole lot longer than that looking at it to follow what’s going on.
My favourite bit is the robot who stretches the drive belt over the drum. It feels nice when things come out of my brain in the way I imagined them!
I like to dip my toes into the waters of animation, and in this YouTube-dominated era of the music business, the importance of the video-sharing site has given me new opportunities to mess around with the medium. I’ve created some small animated loops for a pair of albums this summer, for Hospital Records and its sister-label Med School.
Hospital’s most prolific artist Logistics is back with a new album called Polyphony. Matt comes from an incredible creative, artistic background and has frequently collaborated on or designed his own record covers. The cover for this album was no exception – it was something he created himself on his phone (!), and I found on his Instagram account. We all thought it was fab in the Hospital office, so it became the cover for Polyphony.
I loved the kaleidoscopic style, so I reverse-engineered it in the process recreating a small, hypnotic animated loop. This proved useful not only for the YouTube videos (as embedded above) but also became the source for the rest of the artwork on the album.
Keeno’s debut Life Cycle was a bit of a puzzle for me. He is a brand-new artist that incited a lot of passion from the Hospital CEO Tony Colman – many thoughts were expressed about classical music, reference points were made that I wasn’t getting and dead-ended sketches were produced.
After a while I gave up on the reference points and just followed my nose – I figured as the album was called Life Cycle, I should try and represent a life cycle visually. I remembered back to my past experimentation with phonotropes – using a turntable and a camera’s shutter speed to create animation. After all the sums and technical experimentation, I got the design working. The little guy gets eaten by the big guy all the way along the cycle, which made the nice radial image used on the cover.
The next most difficult part of the project was convincing Med School to release the album on limited-edition picture disc, to make it all make sense. It’s taken me such a long time to write this that they’ve all sold out already, and it’s had to be re-pressed on regular black vinyl! If you were speedy and got a copy, put it on a turntable under a really bright light, and if you look at it through your phone’s camera, you should see the design come to life like it does in the YouTube video!
I was digging through my archives last week and got completely distracted by this six-piece post-it drawing I did a year ago. After staring at it for a moment, I had the idea of turning it into an animated gif, so this weekend instead of watching it rain, I got to work.
I think it has to be the best damn animated gif I’ve ever made. It loops so perfectly, and it’s full of robots and washing machines. It’s a pretty good representation of what goes on in my mind too.
You can click it to load a huge version of the drawing if you want to check out some of the detail in it!
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