Geek Stuff

 

Hello fellow traveler. Curious how in this day and age we find ourselves obliged to talk about the technology we use to create things. 'The Making Of...' genre and its demystification of the tricks of the trade has become just popular as the parental subject it seeks to promote. You show people stuff and the first question is often, 'Gosh, how did you do that?', when you hope it would be, 'I was moved by what you had to say'. Perhaps we are so busy playing with the digital tools of creation, that we don't have time to consider content anymore. The medium is the message after all. Or perhaps the way we use and play with these tools tells our audience something personal. Like handwriting. I wonder if Rubens was constantly asked about the formula of his paints? Or has nothing changed and artists have always been technicians, grinding powders, preparing canvases, developing methods of application?

Computers seduce and tantalise us with promises just beyond our grasp. Their approach to allowing us create is bizarre. They make us jump through conceptual hoops which constantly change. We are forced to perform insane gymnastics by manipulating unfriendly objects with unnatural actions. Still we persist. In the amount of surrounding window/button/icon/menu noise that proclaims to assist us, we find a world of distraction which conspires to fool us that we are productively engaged in real work. To feel satisfied to have achieved a good day's work in the service of this technology is pure madness. Mucking around with computers puts one in a addictive mindspace that eats time, corrodes relationships. And yet... once having been infected with this virus, you can never, ever resist the computer's siren call. Sweet surrender. I love it! The act of creating multimedia work is about as interactive, as fun, and as engaging as this stuff ever gets.

Anyway here it is...

The Amiga: (an ode)

An Epson GT6500 scanner with Art Department Professional - a beautiful combination
DeluxePaint - that classic animating paint program, great for GIF animations too!
OpalVision - a brilliant, rock-solid 24bit paint program (designed in Australia)

The Mac:

DeBabelizer - indispensable
Photoshop - if you want to get lost in a world of possibilities
SimpleText

 

 

Ode to the Amiga


You came into the world in 1984. You were a revolution disguised as a toy. A breath of fresh air. You astounded us with your cheeky capabilities. You gave us glorious colour where there was black and white, you gave us high quality stereo sound where once there was silence, you made things move about the screen where once there was only the blink of a flashing cursor. From the day you appeared your text could be made to speak to us with a synthetic voice. You blew away the constraints of DOS. There were no rules. You were an open system that anyone could develop for. Your backyard band of arrogant programmers gave you innovation. They took the best of impossibly expensive high-end workstation applications and brought them down to the level of the common man. You had 3D animation on a standard affordable machine, digitised image and sound via your parallel port, digital graphics, morphing and arcade quality games. The chaos in the way each application looked and operated was part of your unregulated charm. You were a machine that looked forward to a future that was video, interactivity and sound, not backwards to the static white page. You multi-tasked superbly. We didn't have to wait for your OS to unfreeze while logging onto a disk or formatting a floppy. Heck! you could even write to a disk with one program while simultaneously reading from the same disk with another, for heaven's sake. You had SCSI and could properly connect to the world. The code of your programs, like the code of your operating system was clever, tight and efficient. It needed only a whiff of RAM to work. Software loaded in a flash and you were ready for work in no time. From time to time you were re-badged by others as fancy state-of-the-art gear, but your fans knew the truth.

You were released before your operating system was ready, you had no hard disk when you first appeared, your GUI looked noddy and unprofessional, everybody pirated your software and there was no profit for your serious developers, the plans for your specialised graphics chips were lost and you stood still for too long when the world began to move to 24bit, your software developers began to harness the potential dormant in your revolutionary design too late in the day, you were marketed badly, you were owned by Commodore, your loyal fans tried hard to save you, but you quietly backed into the wings.

I am still making productive use of Amiga's 14 year old technology, still creating sound, image and animation more efficiently, more simply, more joyfully than on most other platforms. What other machine can hold a candle to you? My Amigos, my friend.

datkinson@rmit.edu.au