Atshushi Kasao: Webcam Art

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    Webcam Art


Creation Year:




Artist Statement:

    Webcam Art was created to visualize the result of my experience and communication through the Internet. Many interesting Web cameras are set up around the world, and some of them have controllers that allow viewers to pan and zoom from their browsers. A lot of scenery and people are viewable via Web cameras. Most of the cameras transmit small, poor-quality images, but with a stretch of the imagination, we can perceive beauty in them. This imagination motivated me to create pieces from Web cameras, which is why I might be called a net-travel painter.

    If I were a “real” travel painter, people around me would stop to look at my paintings and talk about them. To know how the Web-cam owners feel about my work, I showed them my pieces and asked them to send back some comments. If a Web-cam owner wants a copy of the work, a poster-sized copy is sent.

    I used original rendering software, SIC (Synergistic Image Creator), to create Webcam Art. SIC can enlarge the work to any scale. Sapporo was created from a Web camera on a northern Japanese island. One comment was: “A live camera sends just photographic pictures, so I think we never stop the time in a Web camera. However, it is a good idea to make a CG from a Web camera, because the scenery created by CG conveys a different feeling and atmosphere and makes appreciators have a desire to know real scenery.” (Dosanko site Web-camera administrator.)

Technical Information:

    SIC is constituted of several GIMP plug-in modules, and it provides a wide variety of expressions. GIMP is an open-source photo retouch software working on Linux and Windows. The original functions of GIMP were only used to adjust color balance, so all creative tasks were processed algorithmically by SIC. Creating a large rendering image from a small Web-camera image is one of the characteristics of this software. Other important characteristics include:

    • It can control color and texture separately.
    • It provides numerous expressions.
    • It can select and/or create color maps from excellent paintings.
    • It can resist your own rendering expressions.
    • It creates artwork with a history of its rendering process.

    Most of these characteristics derive from SIC’s vector data-handling. Though SIC is a key technology of Webcam Art, I can’t make this type of art without the Internet and Web cameras. Controllable Web cameras have broadened my expression.

    SIC’s first version was created by the author, but the current version was produced by core members of the Synergistic Art Project, which was formed to revise SIC about one year ago. We are now planning to introduce SIC as open-source software. For more information:

Process Information:

    There are many Web cameras in the world, but who do these images belong to? In the real world, we can take a photograph or draw a sketch of scenery and use these created images and works for any purpose. Can I use the images I found through Web cameras as creative material? Who has copyright on these images?

    The Internet has made all of us information senders. In the next step of Internet development, the Internet should give us the ability to create. Images and documents should be open content, and many types of creative tools will increase. Also, image creation and information about how to use such tools must be shared.

    Through Webcam Art, I ask Web camera owners about copyrights of their images, and I show the works created from Web-camera images with SIC, a creative tool that is appropriate for an open-content culture, because images created in SIC include a history of the image process. Everyone has access to the history, and they can modify the processing information and apply it to their own images. We can share the hints and know-how about creation of new image expression through this history information.

    Other examples of Webcam Art are shown at right. The above image was created from a Web camera of the Hudson River, and the image below is a portrait of a Japanese girl.

Affiliation Where Artwork Was Created:

    Tokyo Institute of Polytechnics