we caught up with Tim Drage a self-proclaimed Noise-ician ,pixel-farmer and the man/machine behind the project known as Cementimental to talk, noise, his new book and his love of obsolete Mac programs.
I created the artwork in the book using the ancient shareware Mac paint program ‘Lightning Paint’ on an old G3 tower which I’d kept to run such obsolete software. Most of the pages were generated using a kind of semi-manual pseudo-procedural hack; I discovered that, by repeatedly applying certain combinations of effects on a basic pattern or existing image/scribble, I could ‘grow’ weird and complex forms. Attached is a very old image explaining how it is done which I made back in 2000 at the time of discovery.
As you can see from that, the technique can make more ‘interesting’/figurative stuff too but I excluded that sort of thing book for not being ‘Noise’ enough. The results are somewhat similar to cellular automata e.g. Conway’s Game of Life, and to Turing Patterns/Morphogenesis, and also analogous to the video and audio feedback I use in my harsh noise and my experimental video work.
I modified my copy of the software using ResEdit to add hotkeys to speed up the process, and to allow for larger page sizes than the early 90’s screen resolution it was intended for, and started making hundreds of images. Some were created with the pseudo-generative technique described, while others were more expressionistic, mouse-drawn with tool modes which can repeat and invert the shapes into op-art confusion.
Everything is pseudo-random or spontaneous but it’s possible I subconsciously encoded some mysteries in there.
Recently I expanded the technique behind the book into motion, using the very esoteric obsolete After Effects plugin ‘Time Blend FX’ to render feedback loops. Here’s a compilation of some of the results so far; I’ve done a lot more of this stuff but much of it is so detailed and stroboscopic it defies youtube compression algorithms:
Everything is pseudo-random or spontaneous but it’s possible I subconsciously encoded some mysteries in there. :) I’ve actually had limited but promising results experimenting with putting the pages thru OCR software or phone-camera translation apps to capture weird gibberish visual poetry. Chinese translation seems to work best so far.
The book is largely the result of two fascinations at the time; the then-new technology of print-on-demand allowing the affordable publishing of a real bound book, and manga screen-tones, used by artists to add shading, textures and pre-drawn backgrounds and FX to their work. I had the notion of a manga entirely comprised of collages of this material, with no original drawing at all. This was in turn inspired by memories of reading Akira serialised in Manga Mania magazine back in the day; it was divided into such absurdly small chunks that some issues consisted *entirely* of extremely detailed drawings of exploding skyscrapers with no dialogue or characters. Other inspirations: a lifetime of moving pixels around since before it was ‘retro’, Bill Atkinson’s beautiful Hyperdither algorithm, dense ‘novel’-format art books such as Tom Phillips’ ‘A Humument’ and Darick Chamberlin’s “Cigarette-Boy”: A Mock Machine Mock Epic”, and surrealist objects — I decided to omit any information on the cover other so that the book could go out into the world resembling something one would find in a dream.
I perform and record with home-made instruments, guitar pedals, matrix mixers, junk
Originally I’m from Newcastle via Newport and now living in London. I am an animator, and have also been doing circuit-bending, harsh noise and rough music since 2000AD. My main projects are Cementimental and, in more recent years, Isn’tses — an audiovisual performance collaboration with Listen Lisse/Nnja Riot
Cementimental is my noise project which has been going since 2000, encompassing harsh noise, drone, doom, 8-bit and more. I perform and record with home-made instruments, guitar pedals, matrix mixers, junk and feedback, sometimes solo and sometimes with other people involved.
In the last couple of years I’ve also been playing alongside Listen Lisse as Isn’tses, a masked duo clashing harsh noise with noise folk, using DIY synths, circuit bending, processed vocals and live hardware-based visuals. We play Vinyl Bar London C4M 8EN on the 19th Aug, see isntses.co.uk for more upcoming dates.
Together we curate and perform at Noise Shed events, the next of which is coming up at Cosmic Carnage’s “Smash it Out” alldayer @ The Windmill Brixton, 12 Aug — we set up a 2nd stage in the beer garden outbuilding for afternoon/early evening noise.
I’ve also been part of numerous other noise/grind/noise-core/experimental projects over the years inc. Gymnastic Decomposition, SBV, The A Band, Photog, Horse Vomit, drones 4u.
some of my favourite sci-fi? Misc off the top of my head (and not having actually been reading/watching all that much sci-fi recently), probably forgetting loads of important ones and including a few over-obvious ones that I could nonetheless never leave out:
Ridley Walker, All Philip K Dick, Ursula Le Guin ‘The Dispossessed’, Sheri S. Tepper, Greg Bear ‘Eon’, Brian Aldiss, Burroughs, Ballard, Harry Stephen Keeler (he’s kind of sci-fi sometimes!?), Alfred Bester, John Brunner, Gene Wolfe
Ulysses 31, Stalker, Solaris, Blade Runner, 2001, Akira, Evangelion, Fantastic Planet, Time Guardians, Ghost in the Shell 2, Angel’s Egg, Nausicaa, We Are the Strange, The Wings of Honnêamise, Gunbuster/Diebuster, The Bed Sitting Room, Starship Troopers, The Atrocity Exhibition (2000), Cronenberg (especially the early shorts), Survival Research Laboratories videos, 964 Pinnochio, all the Tetsuo films + other Tsukamoto, Kaiba, Kemonozume, Mind Game
Akira and other Otomo (Memories, Domu), Kazuo Umezu, Gunnm, Berserk, 20th Century Boys, 2000AD back in the day, indie/fine art comics+zine+artists+illustrators inc: Lisa McKendrick, Brian Chippendale; Leon Sadler, Stefan Sadler, Jonathan Chandler + all Famicon cru; Matt Lock, Decadence Comics, zali krishna, David Surman
Click here for the digital version of a small zine I made a few years, including some more of the pixel noise material as well as other 1-bit art old and new.
More from Cementimental and Isn’tses
Get your copy of the Cementimental Noisebook here