fredag, februari 25, 2005

[music] "Son of Metropolis San Francisco" to Premier at Other Minds 11

The great audio-artiste Charles Amirkhanian"(ah-meer-KHA-nyan) will premier his radiophonic tape piece, Son of Metropolis San Francisco at the Other Minds 11 Music Festival in --natch-- San Francisco. The "Son" part means it's actually more of a condensation of the "Metropolis San Francisco" work, twenty-six minutes squeezed from the original fifty-five.

The "Father," so to speak, was commissioned in 1997 by West German Radio, Studio 3 Horspiel in Cologne, and premiered in the U.S. by New American Radio for the NPR satellite network. The piece is like a pastiche of the San Francisco Bay Area, "a part-abstract, part-representational audio snapshot" that makes for an idiosyncratic chow-mein of bits "ranging from barking elephant seals at Año Nuevo Beach to a runaway overflow valve next to a hot tub at Harbin Hot Springs."

And hopefully he'll squish in the parts with the "Chinese sitcom, Tongan gardeners, and conga drummers at Ocean Beach", as transfigured on a Synclavier digital synthesizer. Lots of fun, if you're hip for some experimental ear-candy by a meditative luminary.

For more info: Chas. Amirkhanian's interview with "American Mavericks" here, his discussion on balancing composing and arts administration here, and an old ('98, old for an avant-gardist!) NPR interview here.

torsdag, februari 24, 2005

[Nintendo] A Spritely History of Mario, Alas Now Blotchy w. Aliased Fringes

A funky and spritely history of the famous Mario by Nintendo in its official mag: "When creating Mario - originally called simply 'jumpman' - Shigeru Miyamoto made him look the way he does because of hardware limitations of the time." The videogame character required a mustache so his nose could be distinguished from his face, "overalls so arm movements were visible, and a hat because hair was hard to draw."

But Nintendo is blinded by its need to take the lead in 3D modeling; it doesn't heed the lessons of "underpowered hardware (that) produced hideous looking graphics," previous failures like 3DO, Jaguar, SegaCD.

"Instead of pure colours and clearly defined edges, Mario now has a blotchy appearance - a result of reducing the number of colours in the 3D model. Instead of clear edges Mario's now saddled with aliased fringes, usually black, resulting in the kind of blue-screen border seen in old movies."

And it's only getting worse. The article shows us four renditions of the lil' fella, and the latest one is not only not the best but is arguably the hardest to look at, even when compared to the first Mario from over twenty years ago.

"It's a shame that Nintendo, home to some of the world's finest 2D animators, is taking the quick way out and producing these ugly graphics. Many people consider 2D animation to be superior in many respects to the 3D graphics prevalent in modern games. If Nintendo keeps squandering their position as standard-bearer for this declining art form it will lead only to less joyous times for us all."

Via SimpleBits. Check out the reader comments. There's more in Slashdot awhile back here, with reply and rebuttal here.