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seeing pixels is kind of like seeing behind the curtain
June 27, 2013 12:54 AM   Subscribe

Chris Pace (some images NSFW) creates 8-bit portraits of people on New York City's subways.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants (25 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh my GOODNESS it really never will happen where people finally understand that "8-bit" doesn't actually mean "pixel art."

That said, these are good and cool.
posted by DoctorFedora at 2:19 AM on June 27, 2013 [15 favorites]


Where are the NSWF images? I'm not at work, so it doesn't matter.

Maybe my screen resolution is set too high.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:53 AM on June 27, 2013


A slang term from the 1940's: "two-bit". cheap or trivial of its kind : petty, small-time: a two–bit chiseler. The term origininally meant 25 cents, as in a two-bit whore. (More from Wikipedia.)

So you've got this idea of "two bits" as the low end of economic value and it's linguistic realization by Claude Shannon, clever punster that he was, as a truncation for "binary digit".

Shannon was an able juggler but I'm pretty sure some of his jokes will be forgotten forever.
posted by twoleftfeet at 4:15 AM on June 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


Where are the NSWF images?

The link with the artist's name goes to a gallery -- three or four pages in, you start seeing drawings of some nudes.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:32 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


By the way, the term byte was coined by Werner Buchholz in July 1956, during the early design phase for the IBM Stretch computer. It is a deliberate respelling of bite to avoid accidental mutation to bit.

I don't think we're going to remember how much fun they were having with this. We're just going to keep using words like "megabyte" and "gigabyte" and "terabyte" without seeing the puns.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:00 AM on June 27, 2013


By the way, the term byte was coined by Werner Buchholz in July 1956

A byte it eight bits so these are byte portraits of individuals. Gives a new meaning to the phrase "byte me".
posted by three blind mice at 6:12 AM on June 27, 2013


Buchholz could have called it an "octo-bit" or something else, but he clearly saw the humor in the word "bit" and decided to extend it. A chunk of bits of information is a bite, right?

The way terms come into common use, I'm pretty sure no one will remember the original jokes, which were a play on "bit" (as in "tiny bit") and "bite". We're just going to assume that "byte" was a word the Greeks or Romans used.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:30 AM on June 27, 2013


I used to work with this guy! He helped me get started with design work when I was just a project manager. He is awesome and it is exciting to see his work here.
posted by dame at 6:38 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure no one will remember the original jokes

A fitting end for a pun - beginning and ending its life completely devoid of any real humor.
posted by three blind mice at 6:42 AM on June 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also four bits is a "nibble."

Kind of surprised at people talking about "byte" in here like they hadn't heard of it before.
posted by Foosnark at 6:47 AM on June 27, 2013


Nybble
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:53 AM on June 27, 2013


Isn't chomp half a word as well? It would vary in size depending on the computer making it essentially useless. A chomp on this machine (64 bit) would be 32 bit but a chomp on an earlier 32 bit machine would be 16 bit.

For an 8 bit machine a nybble=chomp
posted by koolkat at 6:58 AM on June 27, 2013


A gobble is 1000 gulps.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:06 AM on June 27, 2013


I guess "limited color palette and low resolution", although more accurate and descriptive, isn't as catchy as "8-bit".
posted by achrise at 7:06 AM on June 27, 2013


If art can't be expressed as a favicon then it's not art.

God, I hate the word "favicon". This is what happens when you get fifteen Microsoft project managers together to come up with a single word.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:13 AM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eight bits was/is also called an octet, in telecoms. For a while word was de-facto 16 bits in microprocessor archtecture, but it was originally and still is more accurately any contiguous binary field bigger than a byte that should be qualified by width (as in 12-bit word). The 4-bit nibble was always a bit silly, and nybble even sillier...

IBM did have a habit of making up words, which is fair enough as it often invented the technologies too. Most of them didn't catch on outside the company even when they were somewhat handier than the alternative - planar instead of motherboard, pel instead of pixel and so on. (There's a comprehensive PDF dictionary of IBM jargon, which is quite fun).

When I started in computing, there were still old hands who talked about mills and engines instead of CPUs, and core instead of RAM. Engine survives, a bit, but in the thirty years I've been active in tech there've been a couple of cycles of jargon, at least.

Getting back to the topic - I know why eight-bit rankles as a catch-all for this sort of aesthetic. For me, that qualtity of graphic only really got going with 16-bit processors and the graphics chips that went with them. 8-bit had a much narrower gamut of colours, in general.
posted by Devonian at 7:15 AM on June 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


%n: Where are the NSWF images? I'm not at work, so it doesn't matter.

Maybe my screen resolution is set too high.
Funny.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:19 AM on June 27, 2013


My favorite pun used to describe something elemental is "quark", which, according to Gell-Mann, refers to calls for drinks at the bar.
posted by twoleftfeet at 7:26 AM on June 27, 2013


For a while word was de-facto 16 bits in microprocessor archtecture, ...

If we're talking about x86/64, it still is! It's getting a little silly referring to "quad words" as though 16 bits is a meaningful chunk size any more, but what are you going to do.

IAmBroom, are you using a broken quote script? It's not the first time I've seen a %n placeholder rather than the actual username in a quote here, though I don't remember where I saw it or in whose comment it appeared last time.
posted by invitapriore at 8:41 AM on June 27, 2013


Eight bit artwork should be characterized by color palette design: I mean that was the real genius of the era, making 256 colors look like you had every color in the world. 4 bit 16thly so, with particular emphasis on the some of the major palettes of the era e.g. default EGA would be even more impressive.
posted by niccolo at 9:13 AM on June 27, 2013


I'm sorry but this isn't really 8-bit and then there is the whole thing about the NYC Subway and it is just like two things at once that make me go "UGH."
posted by Our Ship Of The Imagination! at 10:09 AM on June 27, 2013


I'm sorry but this isn't really 8-bit

And that two-bit whore wanted more than 25 cents!
posted by straight at 10:43 AM on June 27, 2013


And don't get me started on the little derail about chiptunes. As if we don't already have enough trouble getting past the "sounds like a game boy imitating a modem handshake" generalization. The variable width pulse wave is a challenging musical instrument capable of expression, not just a pandering nostalgic fad.
posted by jake at 1:32 PM on June 27, 2013


People who balk at chiptunes are easy to convert: just make them listen to Anamanaguchi and if they're not dancing all over the place in a minute or less, well, congrats finding the replicants, Decker.
posted by byanyothername at 9:33 PM on June 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even I love Anamanaguchi since I heard their Scott Pilgrim game soundtrack
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:38 PM on June 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


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