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Moiré Noise, Please. 001

Museum Link:

Source Link:,-please.-001-1823

Date Minted: February 3, 2019

Artist Description: Moiré Noise, Please - A series of GIF sequences exploring moiré patterns and aliasing in glitched images.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Following along with Moiré Noise, Please. 001 requires more than just focus or effort. The piece is in a singular position to confound us, to make us doubt what we’re seeing. It is a beautiful and mesmerizing optical illusion, one which is built off the idea of a Moiré pattern, what we see when, quoting from Wikipedia, “an opaque ruled pattern with transparent gaps is overlaid on another similar pattern.” In other words, when a pattern with slats is overlaid atop another pattern with slats, assuming that they are not totally identical, strange effects begin to reveal themselves. Moiré Noise, Please. 001 takes this to an extreme, with the patterns changing helter-skelter, with glitchy colors as much a part of the overall impression as the twitchy patterns themselves. It provides an impressively ungrounding effect. This piece burns itself behind our eyelids, burns itself into our minds, and ultimately burns itself into our meta-perception itself. I’d say that’s pretty successful for what amounts to a short, colorful Gif.

Though, of course, such a moniker is intentionally reductive. Moiré Noise, Please. 001 is so much more than a short colorful Gif, it’s a really intuitive and thought-provoking examination of our own ability to process visual imagery. It’s a test I imagine most of us will fail, and then we’re left alone to ponder what that means. What I mean by that is Moiré Noise, Please. 001 is visually confounding. Watching it, watching patterns of movement and color shift instantly into others, and then others, and then others with such speed and ferocity that our eyes begin to compensate, desperately trying to impose some logic or understanding onto a completely impossible sequence of effects. We fall under the impression that we’re being zoomed in, rocketed out, that the colors in the piece are like textiles, strings intertwined and pulled apart and crossed over and undone with startling speed. It’s much more than a traditional Moiré effect. Moiré effects are interesting and surprising, but rarely do they make our eyes water with the sheer glut of movement that appears before us. That might be a result of the “moiré patterns…aliasing in glitched images.” That glitchiness, the twitchy color shifting and pell-mell nature of it, contributes to this ultimate visual confusion. It’s best to observe this piece with the understanding that it can’t be made sense of, that our eyes will be compensating for that lack of understanding by creating patterns. 

Which is specifically fascinating because of the piece’s outwardly simple appearance. It’s only a black background, after all. And all that sits upon that black background are a sequence of rainbow lines. That’s really it. But something is happening with these colors. They don’t seem to be moving, don’t seem to be shifting, and yet the very spatial fabric of the image is constantly in flux. It seems to expand and contract, the colored lines forming an abstract shape, but only for a moment, because now they’re spinning, now they’re contracting, now they’re thumping like a beating heart, all while somehow appearing to remain static, no different than when the Gif first starts. That’s a central, fascinating ability inherent in this piece: it moves and stays still at the same time. This, also, is from where stems our visual confusion. How can something be moving and not moving simultaneously? If we seek to find the movement in this piece, we will find it; it’s unavoidable. If we seek to see the lines remaining static, we will as well, unable as we are to pinpoint exactly how, where, and in what ways they are contributing to the overall impression. Is it the lines which are moving, or is it an imposed perspective like a camera angle? 

This is a Moiré pattern, at least in theory, so it’s safe to assume that there are multiple layers of slatted patterns overlaid atop each other here. That’s what a Moiré pattern is, isn’t it? Yet Moiré Noise, Please. 001 seems to be exploring this pattern from a different, higher plane. We really are induced to let go, so to speak, to allow the piece to travel onward on its predefined loop despite our inability to quantify what we see.

Do you also find yourself doubting your eyes? At the very least, our attention is called to our vision. Teary-eyes. Eyes in need of rubbing. Heavy blinking. If the greatest conceptual art is that which draws our attention to being alive, or different aspects of being alive, then Moiré Noise, Please. 001 exists in that upper echelon, forcing us through its unique and thoughtful composition to consider the predominant sense with which we see the world and with which we see art. When our eyes can prove so obviously fallible, when our visual representation of the world can be corrupted so easily, does it not force us to examine what other aspects of our perception might be fallible? Moiré Noise is a long tongue unraveling, one  that leads inevitably to our stomach, to the very core of us. Our experience, our living, waking understanding of the world, is not just fallible but easily distorted. With ​​Moiré Noise, Please. 001, artist Mike Almond may not have set out to make us reexamine our entire relationship with the world around us, but nevertheless, it does. How can we look at the world with confidence again knowing that it can be so easily mutated by even the apparently-simplest of stimuli? Maybe Almond has a piece to answer that question too. 

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