A few months ago I saw an amazing art installation in the basement of Selfridges (I have such postmodern Saturday afternoons) – Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings. Like you, my first thought was “Brian Eno may be a genius but even he can’t do 77 Million Paintings… or can he?”. Well, he has – sort of. He actually painted about 300, then used software to merge and blend them at random, to create a shifting kaleidoscope, inevitably accompanied by his signature ambient music.
OK that description doesn’t sound too mind-blowing and even this YouTube video doesn’t do it justice – but when you see the paintings blown up on massive screens in a cathedral-dark space and you feel the deep notes vibrating through your body, it’s a genuinely mesmerising experience. As if stained glass windows had come to life.
One of the most impressive things about it was the slowness with which the images changed, so that the transformation was barely discernible. I would stare at an image, waiting for it to change, convinced that nothing was happening, then suddenly realise I was looking at a different picture. I had the feeling that at last I was looking at what computer-generated imagery should be capable of – not in terms of dazzling fireworks, but subtlety and suggestion.
So it was great to come across this post on the Bad Banana Blog, informing me that 77 Million Paintings is available as a DVD and software CD – so I can (ahem) install the installation in my living room and experience something of the (ahem) ambience of the original. And so can you – Amazon links on the 77 Million Paintings site.
Thanks to Roger for introducing me to the Bad Banana Blog which looks terrific – written by Tim Siedel, Creative Director of Fusebox, who have won so many awards they’ve given up entering them. A man who obviously knows his creative onions, well worth reading.
(Photos courtesy Mrs WT.)