The Macintosh Lab series has been in standby during the last three years, but it has been recently updated and firstly featured through two great mediums ; two new pieces are announced on the last issue of the Japanese magazine MASSAGE 10 containing a screenshot series “Vertical Desktops” and a screen video capture called “Returning Folders”, and another four new screen-video-captures exploring the "Opening Folders" property from the operative system have been presented in a group exhibition titled Kaleidorama curated by Josephine Skinner at Stills Gallery, Sidney.
All these new pieces have in common a gradient rainbow color palette which has been used as background of the folders performing in live on the desktop and which color gradient composition and design varies depending on the animated concept of every piece. Into the post you can read and watch all of them.
Vertical Desktops, 2014
Macintosh Lab mostly plays with animated concepts working with the dynamic features from the own operative system, but there are also few static series made of screenshots where a specific moment on the desktop is captured to be documented as a photograph.
Operative systems and graphic user interfaces are designed to mimic the same organizing methods and items (desktop, folder, document, file..) we use irl, so when working on the computer desktop the feeling is pretty physical while dragging and placing items, as it’s for working composing different elements into the space as well as setting up the start of an animated performance, the best example for this digital and physical relationship could be External/Internal http://emilio.jp/macintoshlab/externalinternal/ where the digital icons are organized as real physical objects.
Vertical Desktops also plays with a static concept, consisting on blocking the folders while they are minimized to the dock, this process has been done for single folders as well as for a bunch of folders that were going down, right or left on the way to the dock, so they all are stopped at once in the middle of that sensual and organic movements provided by the Genie Effect. In order to get a major chaotic abstraction into the desktop, the folders have been blocked while going to different directions, which is where the dock was placed at the time of minimizing that same folder.
The blocking folder action is not a default feature but is still caused through a script using the Terminal program from OS X. Vertical Desktops is inspired by a natural error that happened once in 2011 while minimizing the window using the Genie Effect, it was recorded and took part of Macintosh Lab series called “Suctioning”. This ability of blocking the folders at any time during the minimizing process brings other possibilities to interact with the GUI, new shapes stopped in the air and new ways to compose around the space following the operative system actions and the user’s preferences such as desktop and folders background color, dock position and minimizing effect. — http://emilio.jp/macintoshlab/verticaldesktops/
Four screenshots from this series presented in the last issue of MASSAGE Magazine, a japanese based printed publication highlighting digital and internet art
Vertical Desktops, 2014 at MASSAGE #10
Returning Folders, 2014
This piece plays with the memorized position of the windows that keeps before to be minimized to the dock and the possibility to place them somewhere, this time almost outside of the desktop area. A group of folders with an horizontal gradient background have been enlarged horizontally bigger than the desktop region and placed them as far as possible by the dock side in order to get the largest horizontal transition as possible and make them go and return creating an abstract animated visual effect while the folders overlap each other causing a boomerang effect. — http://emilio.jp/macintoshlab/returningfolders/
Opening Folder Series
For the recent group exhibition Kaleidorama which took place at Stills Gallery in Sidney, the curator Josephine Skinner put together a spectacle of experiments with colour, filled with an evolving ensemble of artworks and practices, and embracing a spirit of investigation and fun. From darkroom experiments to digital aesthetics, the scientific and serendipitous, the old and now, combine, overlay and interplay, as installations and interventions add new dimensions to the multicolored mix.
Josephine Skinner introduced to the visitors of the exhibition into the new and previous works from Macintosh Lab series exhibited at Kaleidorama as it follows_
“Taking us into the terrain of digital interface aesthetics, for example, is a selection from emilio.jp’s acclaimed Macintosh Lab series. Using screen video capture, emilio records his desktop as he performs artful manipulations with the most basic tools and keyboard shortcuts available in the Macintosh operating system. In a cross between computer gaming and the rigorous methodologies of science, he tests and trials Mac’s graphic user interface, enabling him to intelligently predict—and then play—with its pre-programmed features.
Finding inspiration where others would find limitation, default settings, numeric colours and generic graphics are cleverly choreographed by emilio.jp into animated geometric abstractions. His newly created videos for Kaleidorama, such as Opening Folders (2015), for instance, echo the everyday task of organising our desktop folders. In emilio’s hands, however, folders open and close in vibrant rainbow gradients and perform dynamic dancing patterns. In the earlier work Twisted Coreography (2012) it’s TextEdit windows that perform—in an ensemble of monochromatic stripes. Like an animated stripe painting by Colour Field proponent Frank Stella, or perhaps by Op-artist Bridget Riley, the windows mesmerize and entertain as they minimize and jump up from the dock.
The controlled patterns and hard-edges of emilio.jp’s digital choreographies evoke the Minimalist and Conceptual art tendency to reject signs of the ‘author’s hand’. Yet we also watch as his cursor fleets across the screen, selecting folders and clicking commands. By sharing his methods to creating mechanical-madness, much like techy ‘How To’ YouTube tutorials, emilio’s videos equally embody the ideals of ‘digital democratization’ and ‘collective intelligence’. In this unique combination of everyday and ‘elite’ aesthetics, emilio.jp reframes our functional desktops as the expansive canvas for expressive and conceptual possibilities: his artistic hand reveals the performative nature of computerised commands and the latent formal beauty within our taken-for-granted digital tools.
From the controlled patterns of the Macintosh Lab videos to this freeform flow of symbols, emilio’s kaleidoscopic works echo the psychological effects of psychedelic drug taking, as described by Wikipedia. When the eyes are closed, it states, “fantastically vivid images appear: first geometrical forms and then landscapes, buildings, animate beings, and symbolic objects”. emilio.jp’s visual intensification of computer-generated colour, however, suggests that our senses are now commonly stimulated not by hippy hallucinogens, but by our daily desktop interactions—what he calls “the magical relationship between computer and user”. “ – Josephine Skinner for Kaleidorama at Stills Gallery / http://www.josephineskinner.com/ / http://www.stillsgallery.com.au/exhibitions/2015/kaleidorama/
Opening Folders, 2015
This first piece exploring the opening folder action shows how the OS understands the requirements of the user as the folders are opened when previously they have been selected through cmd + A (select all) or by dragging the cursor creating the selection area.
The folders are placed on desktop following a concentric and symmetric layout but they are named by numbers in a clock wise direction, with 8 folders on every corner and the rest in the center, this composition makes the user create different animated transitions as the folders are selected differently before to open them. Though each corner uses a different gradient background design on the folders placed in, the same for the ones in the center, this makes a visual coherence while they are animated. A good example of breaking that visual flow is when in the minute 2:05 the folders are arranged by name on the right side of the desktop and selected by order through cmd + A, they still open by order but the gradient designs are alternated provoking a greater complex visual. — http://emilio.jp/macintoshlab/openingfolders/
Nyan Folder, 2015
Nyan Folder gets a similar concept than Opening Folders while exploring and interacting with the GUI through the selection area, discovering how the OS reacts to the multiple selection modes at the time to open the folders. In this case the folders have been placed by rows and the opened folders placed manually one by one in order to fill the entire desktop area when all the folders are opened, again using the memorized position of the items over the desktop when they are opened or either minimized or maximized, a feature that has been quite utilized on several pieces from Macintosh Lab.
In this case the small size of the opened folders, their gradient pattern and the continuous way they open along the screen provoking different animated choreographies forming a trail of rainbow colors reminds of the pixelated Nyan Cat’s wake. — http://emilio.jp/macintoshlab/openingfolders/#nyanfolder
Deep Gradient, 2015
Following a minimalist composition of folders in the centre of the desktop as a unique column, the opening folder property is triggered basically from top to bottom and vice versa, not using the mouse control but just the keyboard shortcuts, for this time also to play with the idea of linking the consecutive opening action with the colour hue of the gradient. Thus every folder has a different background, same design but changing its hue (360º of a color hue cycle has been divided by 31 folders, so each folder has increased its hue 11,61º to complete a entire cycle between the first and the last folder) in order to create a visual feeling similar to a kind of a colourful tunnel or video feedback behaviour. — http://emilio.jp/macintoshlab/openingfolders/#deepgradient
Spinning Beach Folders, 2015
The opening folders feature it’s one of the most dynamic properties used on the Macintosh Lab series so far, they open and close really fast and also can be triggered using the Shift key which slow down several actions on the Macintosh OS. This has allowed using the folders as frames to experiment with animation, as the transition from one folder to another is quite fast for the human vision to feel it as a fluent animation.
Again following same composition of folders and concept that in Deep Gradient, the background of each folder is different but having the same design, in this case a radial gradient has been modified increasing its color hue 2 cycles along the 31 folders, which makes a radial animation when the folders are opened at once.
The title and context of this piece makes reference to another GUI element from the same operative system, the “Spinning Beach Ball of Death” that every mac user knows very well, depending on how the folders are opened it can looks differently, unfortunately this video capture only shows how the folders are opened using the shift key that slow down the animation creating more an animated spiral, instead of when they are opened normally they open faster and the animation looks closer to a circular radial animation that could reminds more of the spinning beach ball of death, there is this other video that was recorded during the training before to do the final video capture and which shows both ways, have a look to this video https://youtu.be/rUNbxVzzedI.
The main problem why some things doesn’t looks the same during the training and the final video capture is because of the screen-video-capture software, while recording in high definition its performance is divided with the one from the operative system, slowing down a lot its process and blocking the actions during the artistic performance on the desktop. During the Macintosh Lab history that has been the main cause of repeating several times the same performance even using powerful and different computers until getting a good recording, but not always the most desired one. The solution should be using a video capture hardware that process its own performance leaving also to the computer work totally with its own for the OS. — http://emilio.jp/macintoshlab/openingfolders/#spinningbeachfolders