If you pine for the days of cathode ray tube televisions, with their thick side by side pixels, each one visible when you suck you face against the glass, then Nicolas Sassoon is the artist for you. Based in Vancouver BC, Sassoon uses computer generated moire patterns to recreate simplified natural systems. Evoking the bygone era of analog pixel snow, that harsh black and white fuzz of a lost channel, Sassoon is creating his own grainy pixel weather. He uses custom rendering software to make large pixel fog, shifting tides, sunsets, blowing sands, thumping rain, and rippling water.
Well calibrated to fight the break-neck speed of online viewing, Sassoon's works encourage long looks by subtly varying the repetition over time. Click on Sunny Lands, for example, and a fountain of alternating blues ebb from the center of the screen. It's soothing at first, a clear idea, but keep watching and the center warps moving offscreen until the original overhead curves of sky blue, stack up in parallel, before melting back again.
Nicolas Sassoon, Sunny Lands
Watch them long enough and your mind's recognition wanders from water waves or falling rain, to fields of rippling grain or cloud-crowded skies, each pattern giving its own sense of place. Tides 1, a field of soft, rippling gray, seems to quote directly from the Bay Area's rushed, got-places-to-be fog, while Grey, which could be a blowing snowstorm pressed against your windows or a stormy sea, recalls the wintery north.
Nicolas Sassoon, Tides1
Nicolas Sassoon, Grey
Sassoon's most recent work, a website titled Flat Ripple was commissioned by Sidian Ersatz & Vanes, a trio of English clothing designers. The site hosts a sheet of diagonal multi-colored rain made by generating the surface of a wind-whipped body of water. Using one-pixel-wide streaks of color in strict patterns, Flat Ripple attempts to capture, Polaroid-like, the depth of natural complexity -- the physics, molecular chemistry, fluid dynamics and refraction index behind analog water -- with the least digital information possible. The minimal hard-edged graphics that result cut a swath of abstraction somewhere between physical water and a perfect computer model of water.
Why would a few clothing designers be interested in a guy making websites? Because Flat Ripple was then reworked as a static fabric pattern for the trio's 2013 collection. In this, the era of a t-shirt for every fandom, cause and convention, Flat Ripple has the fantastically post-digital attitude of "Why not wear a website as a shirt, too?"