Grafik Dynamo is a net artwork by Kate Armstrong and Michael Tippett. The artifact is a triptych of images continuously taken from social networking site, Flickr and are then laid out on a comic book style halftone blue background on a HTML 4.01 page. The blue, halftone background gives Grafik Dynamo a pleasant retro look. The work visually reassembles comics and perhaps specifically the newspaper comic strip with its iconic layout of three panels. However at the same time it pushes the limitation of a comic book given that it shifts its images and texts continuously. Even though it is impossible to keep a traditional comic book look, when infinite number of images are displayed three at a time, the authors have successfully achieved it by choosing a halftone background. These images refresh at a random rate, the rhythm does not follow an order or a time. The artwork doesn’t offer any sort of interaction except for one hyperlink Launch, which is not necessary because as you open the web page the art piece starts playing automatically. It is easy to navigate through the page since the amount of interactivity is extremely limited.
The artifact has no start and no end because new images are constantly web fed from the social media site Flickr. Overlaid each rectangular frame is a speech bubble or a thought bubble. They also refresh at a random rate just as the images, with a short question or statement in large capital letters. The speech bubbles don’t have the common comic onomatopoeia and the text has a hidden or ambiguous content such as, “-Go!” “-Wait for me at the frontier!”, -“Sweet dreams! Heh heh!” At the bottom of these rectangular frames, there are rectangular text boxes containing short sentences. These texts also change in a similar way like the speech bubbles. For example these text boxes include text such as “-But the journalists asked no questions, and seemed to have been hypnotized.”“-The control panel had been removed, and still the ominous device continued to hum.”
Grafik Dynamo has a nonlinear story and the context is shifting through its correlation to the images and the text. Sometimes the text and images do not fit together, giving a sense of defamiliarization. Since the text and images are chosen randomly, it creates surprising juxtapositions, which resists conventional interpretation. Therefore challenge for the reader is to make sense of the three frames together and individually as images and texts shift randomly. Grafik Dynamo as a dynamic artwork, is organic and technological at the same time. The organic material consists of real people's images and their combined lives and experiences: the technological aspect lies in the work's use of images and text to create new interpretations or defamiliarize their conventional meanings.
This entry was drafted by students in Maria Engberg's Language Studies II course, part of the Bachelor of Science program Digital Culture and Communication at Blekinge Institute of Technology (Sweden) during the spring of 2012.