PostArt Poets Logo ETG Poem

Internet Art, Linguistic Deconstruction

Here’s a new posting of an Encoded Twitter Graphic, the protocol of which you may peruse here. This particular graphic is a tiled ETG, which is mentioned here. The tweets are as follows:





And encode the logo of the PostArt Poets in the CGA color space. These four tweets may be considered a poem, in four stanzas, celebrating digital art in all its glory.

Actual size:


Detail view (10x):

Another Way to Get More ETG Pixels

Data Representation, Internet Art

Continuing on the idea of stuffing the Twitter pipeline with pixels, maybe I should just not worry so much about compression and figure out a way to divide images up and let the coding enable people to reconstitute them. Thus, I have prepared a tiled Twitter graphic, expanding from a simple 9 x 12 pixel CGA graphic to a 27 x 36 pixel graphic in 9 tiles.

For this end, though, I’ll need to modify the header definitions. Consider this ETG V0.2, with a small tweak on how to deal with images that are supposed to be displayed together.

The ATG frames code includes a 4-letter ID squib and 2 hex digits for animation frame numbering. I reserved the first block of 128 for a non-looping animation set, which is actually kinda silly because most Web animations are looped anyway. So let’s use that block to indicate the location of each tile in the set. This gives us a latitude of 7 tiles across and 15 tiles down, or tile coordinates 7E.

If you have a tileset of 7 tiles by 10 tiles, then the tiling number 45 means “fourth tile from the left, fifth tile down”. The tiling number 12 means “first tile from the left, second down”. And, using hex, number 7A means “seventh tile from left, ten down”, or the last tile in this set.

For this image, I tiled an image into a 3×3 grid, or 9 tiles. For our first tile, the header will look like this:

`CGA which gives the color space

`09×12 which gives the size of the tile

`FedW11 which gives the ID squib and the origin tile (first from left, first down)

and `{ which locates the data payload.

The tiles can be tweeted in any order, because they share their unique ID squib and their ordering is contained within their headers. However, I prepared these in left-right/top-down order, so I’ll paste them here that way:










Here are those pieces:

Here they are assembled:

And here they are enlarged for more clarity:

Further CGA ETG Compression

Data Representation, Internet Art

I’ve been trying to find a way to compress images even more, so I could expand the size of the color tweets available. Basically, since Twitter uses only the usable characters of ASCII text, and it can be hard to type higher-bit ASCII on some keyboards, I’ve pretty much exhausted the palette of encoding options with my 6-bit “0-9 A-Z a-v” encoding scheme. So… instead of encoding, maybe I could address patterns in the data itself.

One of the easiest things to see in the data are strings of repeating elements. If I could further encode those strings I could save room and not have long lines of 000000 or 33333 for fields of color in the image. Let’s say I simply put the number of pixels in front of the code for the pixel color, and the TwGD will decipher what was meant. So, a string of eight white CGA pixels, FFFFFFFF, would be represented as 8F.

The only problem with this is that the character 8 already encodes for dark grey. Putting numbers in the stream will collide with the numbers already there. So I’ll need to convert the hex numbers into a new coding scheme, so the pixel quantities don’t mess with the pixel codes. Say, pixel 0 (black) equals a, pixel 1 (dark blue) equals b, and so on. In this scheme, the string of white, FFFFFFFF, would become 8p. That’s a savings of 6 characters!

Of course, you won’t get that kind of savings everywhere. Especially 2-pixel doubles, since you’re just replacing 2 identical pixel codes with a “2” and the new code. There’s still some squishing to be had here. For this special case, I came up with a second series of codes, using punctuation to stand for pixel doubles. Here’s the full set of codes for this scheme, which I’m calling Similar String CGA encoding (“CGS”)

0 = a   00 = !
1 = b   11 = "
2 = c   22 = $
3 = d   33 = %
4 = e   44 = &
5 = f   55 = '
6 = g   66 = (
7 = h   77 = )
8 = i   88 = *
9 = j   99 = +
A = k   AA = ,
B = l   BB = -
C = m   CC = .
D = n   DD = /
E = o   EE = :
F = p   FF = ;

So, using this additional compression scheme, I was able to encode a 12 x 17 pixel CGA image with plenty of room to spare. It doesn’t sound like too much extra, but that’s 150% the area of the 10 x 13 CGA pixel image I tweeted back in December, and includes the ETG header information, too.

Here’s the image, a color version of the self-portrait from yesterday:

And the resulting tweet, using “CGS” as the code for this new compression scheme:


A New ETG (Encoded Twitter Graphic) Self-Portrait

Data Representation, Internet Art

I dusted off the old ETC encoding protocol today for a project I’m doing for a show entry, creating a self-portrait to send through social media. I used the 6-bit compression scheme I used for old Teddy Roosevelt’s 2-bit gray image for an image of myself. Because I did a couple tweaks on the protocol between encoding Roosevelt and nailing down the format, I had to sacrifice a line of pixels for this image. It’s 15×25 pixels, not 15×26, but that’s not too bad. The tweet:


And the encoded image:

ATG for the New Year

Data Representation, Internet Art

It’s 2012! To celebrate, I’m posting this Animated Twitter Graphic (ATG):

















In animated GIF format, it looks like this:

Final ETG (Encoded Twitter Graphic) For The Day

Data Representation, Internet Art

I’m so amused by this silly thought-experiment that I’ll do one final one, a static image, as a response:


Which sums up today in a nutshell:

and at 1000%:

Helicopter ATG

Data Representation, Internet Art

I was so pleased with my PacMan graphic that I decided to do another one. Here are the tweets:











And here’s the resulting animation (displayed at 200% for better recognition):

Animated Twitter Graphic (.atg?)

Data Representation, Internet Art

Another stab at using Twitter as a data pipe, this time I’ve decided to send an animated graphic as CGA-encoded color frames. This will be similar to an animated .gif file, and I’ve prepared one of those to show what the final image will look like, but this will be completely text-encoded for Twitter.

I’ve also decided that this process needs some machine-readable codes, so if you created a Twitter Graphic Decoder (TwGD) that monitored a Twitter feed it would automatically understand that a graphic was coming its way. Since Twitter itself already uses the hashtag (#) and the at sign (@) to encode Twitter-related information, I’ve decided to co-opt another rarely-used ASCII symbol for my own purposes. So, my Twitter Graphic Tag (TGT) will be the grave-accent, or (`).

So my tweets should set the format and the image payload for the TwGD as a matter of course. With that in mind, I need to have a given area of the tweet for such encoding, so let’s use the convention I set before, maybe using 8-15 characters for this information. To make it easier on the TGD, let’s use that space as a header instead of a footer like I did before. With all this in mind, here’s the first frame of my ATG:


The header convention spelled out here is this:

`CGA is the color encoding scheme, in this case, the hexadecimal CGA color palette. This will be a three-digit alphanumeric string.

`11×11 is the pixel dimensions in WWxHH, always two digits for each dimension with an (x) in-between. We really can’t encode anything larger than 30 pixels in a Tweet anyway, but the extra overhead is nice.

`80 will be the hexadecimal sequence number of the frame in an animation, starting with 00. For styles of animation, let’s define the first 128 frames (00 – 7F) as encoding static images and the second 128 frames (80-FF) as looping frames. This way we can keep two digits for animation encoding, include a looping option,  and still have around 100 frames to play with.

`{ is a code that makes it explicit that the image data payload is next. It’s not entirely necessary to encode this, but since I have the text space available, I figured it would be nice to have a strong signifier for the payload. The ({) works nicely.

With all that, I still have four text spaces to play with. It would be nice to have a unique identifier for the image so the TwGD can properly assemble the animation, kinda like the ASCII squib used for links and such. Of course, this is limiting the Animated Twitter Graphic size to 121 pixels, or a max of about 11×11 or 12×10 or thereabouts. I think that’s okay. Animation always adds something extra that makes the image more human-readable. If there’s no animation-frame ID, the TwGD will assume it’s a static image and those extra seven spaces can be used for payload. So let’s redefine the animation frame code to be a four-digit ASCII ID with a two-digit frame count:

`XXXX00 will be the image ID number and frame sequence number in an animation.

So our new tweet will be:


Which will be joined by its siblings






Which, when assembled by the still-vaporware TwGD, will look like this:

Let’s Get UltraMeta: Tweeting a Compressed QR

Data Representation, Internet Art

My success in compressing 1-bit black and white images (as Holly Golightly) through the Twitter data pipe got me thinking about 1-bit images in general use, and it’s not surprising that I thought of QR codes. QR codes are nothing but 1-bit bitmaps that can be interpreted by your smartphone through image analysis. I still don’t think they’re very useful, but that’s okay.

Most QRs are too large for the compression systems I’ve been using, but the URLs produced by the link-shortening utility on Twitter itself will just fit within the Twitter data packet. This post now has the shortlink, which turns into this QR code:

This particular image is 216 x 216 pixels, but it can be easily reduced to 25 x 25 by resizing it and trimming the white borders:

25 x 25 1-bit pixels can be split into 5 groups of 5, which gives us 5-bit compression, or 32 encodings. I like to think of this as “duotridecimal” encoding, and I merely extend the hexidecimal encoding from 0-F to 0-V. It’s not as much compression as the 6-bit version I used on Audrey and Teddy, but it’s easier for the human operator to work with. Suitably encoded, the bitmap now looks like this:


Which turns into this Twitter stream:


The encoded image is only 125 characters, which means I have 15 characters to indicate the encoding scheme! W00t! “5b1” would mean “5bit-encoded 1-bit B&W image”, “25×25” gives the final dimensions, and “QR” would indicate what the image is to be used for.

I find this highly amusing, and I’m quite entertained. ; )

And Finally, A 2-Bit Grayscale Image of Teddy Roosevelt with 6 Bits of Compression

Data Representation, Internet Art

For my final trick this evening, I decided to see what would happen if I applied some pixel-level compression a la Audrey Hepburn to a grayscale image. Of course, I’m working with the bare-bones of grayscale, having only four levels of value: white, light gray, dark gray and black. That allows me to clump the pixels in triplets: 4 values x 4 values x 4 values = 64 encodings. So the encoding here is similar to Audrey’s, but instead of encoding “white-black-black-white-white-black”, the letter “P” now encodes “light gray – dark gray – light gray”.

The practical upshot of all this is that I could encode a 2-bit grayscale image of Teddy Roosevelt at 15 x 26 pixels and still fit it in a tweet. Here’s what the Rough Rider looks thus rendered:

Which is actually pretty recognizable, if not as Theodore Roosevelt, then at least a middle-aged white guy in a suit. That’s pretty good for only 140 bytes. Here he is embiggened:

Here are his compressed pixel values still in a grid:


and, finally, his resulting tweet, with an information blurb included:

QvRfKMfbb5MwsgLNkhbLNwka5NkRfPAfI!aBc2gGgMHP1hV1a6ghQgQh 2bG 15x26