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Exquisite Corpse (Digital) by Gadget, Burn Unit, star5, Cameron

March 14th, 2007 8:26 PM

INSTRUCTIONS: Find at least two other players to create an Exquisite Corpse in Photoshop or other image-manipulation program. Refer to An Exquisite Corpse for methodology. Initiation and all steps of this collaboration must be executed from within virtual space. However, the final product must be reviewed in person at either the SF MOMA, where they may or may not frequently have surrealist exhibits, or make the pilgrimage to Emperor Norton's grave.

We were so excited we decided to do 2 exquisite corpses. Each started by a different person.

Corpse 1:

Part 1: Burn Unit:
Very long ago, we started talking about this corpse. I was thinking maybe we could do something that would fit into an aspect ratio suitable for desktops--something I'd done before and it looks fun to have as your desktop. It's easy to divide a 1280x960 image into four slices of 1280x240. My piece of the first corpse was designed as a cityscape, enduring some kind of cloud--is it doubt? wonder? I took a picture of the skyline of MPLS, fiddled with various black and white values, and layered a multicolored miasma on top. Over on the right I had a closeup of a woman's face which I also messed around with--was she enduring a painful experience? or in the throes of an erotic one? or something else? I started and then sliced the bottom 15 pixels off and sent it on.

Part 2: Star5:
The 15 pixel by 1280 pixel image i was given was so tiny. I hadn't realized how small it would be to start from. I decided to duplicate and flip that first bit to give me a little more to go with. From there i duplicated things down the photo.. trying to bring elements from the top all the way to then bottom of my section in hopes that it might continue through the whole photo. I added photos from the giant Cranes down by the bay in San Francisco, and most of the rest was my own drawing. It was exciting. I really enjoyed it.

Part 3: Cameron Suey
Hoo, boy, this one was difficult. The slice I got was paralyzingly tiny; and I had no idea where to start. I eventually ended up photoshop painting by hand, which I wasn't as good at as I thought. when I had gotten a good enough blend, I started adding simple archetype images: Eggs, doors, moons, trees, etc. I honestly can't believe, even looking at it now, that it actually worked.

Part 4: Gadget
This was my first ever exquisite corpse. I started by pulling in the color pallet from the wedge that I received. I found myself in quite a pickle with regards to the textures that I was given to work with. I decided to go with an Asian theme because... well... that's what the sliver that I received inspired me to create. I pulled imagery from the internet and massaged, morphed, and modified until it seemed to fit.

Pulling together
Burn Unit welded the four slices together. No bull, no photoshop funny stuff--that was just pure copy and paste. So I think we're very proud of how hard it is to see the seams on this, how it flows. Burn Unit also coordinated the phone call and if anyone's interested, or for your future reference/convenience it No affiliation or whatever, just wanted to note it was pretty convenient.

The Discussion:
We had 4 players in 4 locations in 2 states. And as fun as it would have been, we were not all able to discuss in person. Instead, we had a phone conference with all 4 players in different surreal places. Burn Unit was in the home of an up and coming young modern artist who focuses on the abstract. Star 5 was at the Walker Art Center Sculpture Garden in Minneapolis, hanging out by the giant Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture. Cameron went to Emperor Norton's grave (though due to technical difficulties was unable to get in on the phone conference, though did communicate with Star5 over the phone and text). Gadget, unable to get to Emperor Norton's grave in time, went to Union Cemetary in Redwood City.

We discussed our piece. You can note that there are elements that continue throughout the entire piece: elements of architecture, elements of color and certain styles. There are bits of architecture from images of both Minneapolis and San Francisco.

We also discussed how it could be seen as a giant purple head eating the planets with buildings coming out of the top of it's brain and a dinosaur going for its throat.

We talked about what we felt worked, what didn't, and what we would have done differently if we would have been able to see the big picture.

The Cemetery Adventure Corollary - by Cameron

Having successfully infiltrated a cemetery before, I underestimated the security at Woodlawn.

First, it's a freaking fortress: 20 foot tall stone arches and walls in the front, and fences all around. There was no going in the front door this time...

First, we walked the perimeter, until we found an partially open gate on the north side. This led to a completely vegetated hillside, covered in a long linear trial of pallets and wooded ladders, resting on the thickets below. After clamoring across for 50 yards, it deposited us on the backside of a warehouse. Graveyard warehouses, we discovered, are eerie. There were piles of casket shaped tubs, which I can only assume were grave liners.

We snuck across access roads to the cemetery proper, where we used a smart phone to get a satellites view of the area. Unfortunately, I lost my bearings and we went off on several ill advised detours, bringing us dangerously close to the clearly inhabited guard's office.

Once back on the track, we located the Emperor's grave, only to find that the cost of displaying satellite data was the lack of a camera. Fortunately, my traveling companion, Toom, had a camera with a small light. It was barely enough, as evidenced by the ugly photo shopping of the proof pictures below.

Mission accomplished, we retraced our steps, and began walking over the improvised walkway in the dark of the night.

Then to my left, something moved...

It was small at first, but as we continued on the path, it grew louder. Spooked, I lost my footing and slid to the bushes below, and the mysterious something began to make so much noise, that it could only be a person crashing threw the brush 15 feet away.

I stood up and peered into the dark, and whispered loudly: "It's cool. We're just leaving." The noise stopped, and what I am forced to identify as a man's head peeked up above the brush, hooded and nearly invisible. After a few silent moments, I rejoined the walkway and beat a hasty retreat.

So, the moral is: research your target before attempting an incursion, and always, always be nice to mysterious Cemetery Dwellers.

Gadget's Cemetery Adventure Corollary

Other than being in a cemetery alone at night, my adventure was pretty chill. The Union Cemetery in Redwood City is also a park, so, despite my expectations for hopping the fence and sneaking in, I was able to stroll through the opening in the front gate. There were a few guys there when I arrived sippin' on a bottle of hooch, but they quickly finished up and left. As the last remnants of daylight fleeted, I found myself among some old oak trees with leafless hand-like branches that looked like they would spring to life and grab me at any moment. The lights in the cemetery were eerie. They would go off whenever I would walk under them. If it wasn't for the fact that they seemed old, I would have sworn that they had motion detectors.

Union Cemetery was quaint. There were lots of headstones from the late 1800s and a statue devoted to those who "Mustered Out" and gave their lives fighting for the Union. My favorite headstone was one that read "Uncle Abe", followed closely by the tombstone built-for-two that was in the shape of an upside down horseshoe with a window in the center.

No trip the cemetery would be complete without bats and without a black cat crossing one's path. Both of which happened to me.

Corpse 2:
We weren't able to see the completed pieces to review the second one, but we included it for your viewing pleasure.
It will be completed soon, as the last slice is currently... trapped in a space between Burn Unit's hands and his computer, but soon!

+ larger

4 part digital exquisite corpse
end of part 1
star5's part of corpse 1
the 15 pixel deep image cameron started with
star5 at the spoonbridge & cherry
star5 standing on the spoon
Corpse under discussion
Also from the gallery
a printout of our corpse in the snow
Gadget's Digital Corpse Review
Nortons Grave
Presenting the Picture

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1 comment(s)

posted by Jason 7au on March 15th, 2007 12:28 AM

Thank you guys for doing this task! I've tried kicking this one off twice with teams of four and it died somehow both times.

Doing the meeting over the phone was definitely an EquivalenZesque maneuver. :) And the end result is fantastic. I applaud you four!