Art: Pushing pixels from ‘The Dudleys!’ to Dead Pixel Designs

Our passion for retro lo-fi pixel art has really fired up these last 2 years. It all began with the discovery of the freeware progam IcoFX which allowed us to reconnected us with our c64-generation creative urges. I produced our first pixel art poster for a Supermarket show in Big Star Records’ basement in September 2008 and things have snowballed from there!

Happening around the same time was the erection of a giant public lo-res screen at the end of Adelaide’s busy Rundle Mall- The Rundle Lantern. Astonishing in both scale and low-resolution, it wraps around two sides of a multi-storey carpark at a highly trafficked intersection. Emma Sterling and I leapt at the opportunity to produce original animation for it. Our ‘how to’ guide to producing animation for it is available here at Creativity Base. Merge Magazine also caught wind of what I was up to, and commissioned artwork for a front cover and feature article spread.

Meanwhile, in North America, a man I met through a chiptune email-list was cooking up a grand design. Emerging theatre writer and director Steven Gridley put a call out for chiptune musicians and pixel artists and animators, to help create a world that slips between the ‘real’ and that of a glitchy 1980’s Nintendo game. I was originally eager to animate many projected sequences throughout the play, but in the end the team expanded and the workload was shared nicely. Below is a showreel featuring some of the animated sequences from the play, and a chiptune score also written by Steven Gridley. Mine is the flat-looking Mario-esque sidescroller. You can read more about the show at the blog Brooklynshiner.

Since then, I’ve had enough compliments on my pixel art to decide to open an online store, and make designs for merchandise and apparrel. Dead Pixel Designs launched late last year, and the inventory in the Zazzle shopfront is growing nicely. Recent friend and gun programmer Jay Straw also helped me integrate the store into my website, closing the associative gap between danimations and Dead Pixel Designs.

In March, Emma Sterling and I are running a pixel art and animation workshop as part of the DIY cultural event Format Festival right here in Adelaide. Keep an eye on their website, and come along if you love pixels as much as we do- finished works will be screening on the Rundle Lantern!

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Video: Sir Ken Robinson speaks on creativity & education’s future

A friend and current artistic collaborator sent me the link to this video after a conversation we after working on a mulitmeida scuptural work together. We were talking about the difficulties we all face as creative adults, economically and socially, as we watch the numbers of creatively active peers thin out progressively through school, high school, university and finally, entering the ‘work force’. The video Diwani shared with us is an entertaining and enlightened keynote speech made by Sir Ken Robinson, former university professor and current lobbyist for a reformed education system with improved balance. Ken’s call to action demands the value of creativity to be placed an even keel with the traditional academic pillars of language and mathematics. His rationale? To better prepare humanity for an uncertain future, and stop society from educating individuals away from (rather than fostering and nurturing) their unique talents. Anyone who cares about the future of humanity should watch this clip and ponder its sentiments… as fully commited creative beings, Ken’s words struck a chord with Emma Sterling and I, and we hope it does the same for you.

Dan Monceaux

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Web 2.0: Share web badges for charity and heal the world

Since Em and I work as freelancers in a young start-up business, it’s often difficult for us financially to ‘do our bit’ and donate to worthy causes. By that I mean organizations and activities that toil to improve the states of the planet and humanity. I did however just stumble upon the website Everywun which makes spreading positive messages and raising money for charitable causes exceptionally easy for anyone with an internet presence.

My first encounter with web 2.0 charitable giving came through the Causes application for Facebook back in 2007, and it’s good to see that the process is evolving. Unlike many alternatives who require viewers to donate directly, simply displaying sponsored ‘badges’ like these drives financial donations from the sponsoring businesses, directly to the causes you care most for.

Signing up is quick, simple and doesn’t ask for any personal information beyond your name and email address, and your account can be linked to your Facebook profile with a simple click of a button. Code is also generated so you can embed the badges, as they appear below. The process is painless and takes well under 5 minutes… time well spent in reducing the disparities in education, health and welfare between developed and developing countries. It’s not all about people either, and badges supporting progressive environmental action and animal welfare are also available, no doubt with more great causes to follow. In short, if you’re a sensitive, altruistic internet user with a web presence (even if it’s just a Facebook profile) spend a few minutes at Everywun and brighten up the planet’s future.

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