In Process, Ep. 12: Drain Creates Contemplative Glitch Portraits with Data Sonification

In Process is a series that examines the inspiration, methods, and tools used by artists to create their work. Each episode focuses on a specific piece.

Find all episodes of In Process on the Ep. 0: Index page.

In this episode, we explore dc_23 by Drain (pictured above).

As a lover of glitch, Drain’s art has always caught my eye. The particular curation of glitches that Drain creates capture the overall aesthetic of glitch but in a way that, to my eye, tames the out of control madness often associated with glitch art.

The dc series in particualr, with its focus on human-like figures, exudes a calm, contemplative quality that can be quite rare in glitch art.

Read on to learn more about how Drain creates glitches using data sonification.

See dc_23 on Teia →

What was the inspiration for dc_23?

As with most of my work, it starts out with a fairly simple 3D rendered image created with Blender. I start with a basic human figure with subtle emotions displayed.

I try to keep this less detailed as a lot will get lost in the glitch process and the glitch often creates new “faces”, which is my aim.

Initial Render

The initial goal for this render was to have a head that would work as a vessel, more like a container than a portrait.

GIFs like this are new to me since I got into the NFT space. I have always wanted to find a way to animate my sonification experiments, and saw this as the time to sit down and work it out.

As you will see, there is likely room to streamline the process. It is currently quite like making a flip book animation, so I like to think of these as “handmade” even though they are digital, because I am crafting each frame almost like an illustrator would.

Describe the technical process of the piece. What medium and tools were most important to creating it?

The first step is applying sonification to the render using Audacity.

The general process for sonification is converting an image to RAW format, and importing into Audacity, applying effects, exporting and converting back to a .jpg or .png.

Lately, I have been going for 30 frames of animation. That will typically have me applying two different effects from Audacity to the image. For instance, I will apply a High Pass Filter in incremental stages; apply effect at a value of 100, export, revert image, apply effect at setting 150, export and repeat until I have enough frames. This gives a gradual building of the effect.

I then use these first 16 frames to reverse the animation and end up with 30 frames of movement. I’ll then do another 30 frames of another effect from Audacity.

Once I have two sets of animations, 30 frames each of different effects, I will go about combining them into a single set of 30 images, which has elements of both effects.

I use glitched versions of the render as a template for combining the Audacity outputs. These templates are created using Processing and some light hex editing.

Glitch Template

Some GIFs are done here, like the one shown below, while others will still undergo a bit more glitching from there, changing colour spaces among other things.

After getting all 30 frames, I create the GIF animation using an online tool. This is the first time I actually see it animated, and a lot of times I end up scrapping it once I see it move! Haha! Every frame can look so beautiful individually, then make a crap animation.

Talk about the NFT of the piece, specifically. How did minting the piece as an NFT affect how you approached making it? Why did you choose to mint on Teia?

The GIF format is new to me since I’ve entered the NFT space, so I consider them special to this format. I have made all of the D and dc series GIFs 1/1 editions. I think this allows them to be appreciated even more, in this 1 edition format.

Each one is unique and special to me and I spend quite a bit of time on each one. I hope the craftiness of each comes across, even for a digital piece of art.

I have decided to mint these on Teia, as that is where the dc series will live and die. The GIF pieces fit with the overall theme of the series, which is figure and form based studies (painted with a glitchy brush).

Unused Frame

Where is the best place to learn more about your work?

I did a lovely little podcast with Gen-A where I talk more about the process.

Other than that, the best place to view my work is on Instagram.

If you want to know more about sonification, there are lots of different tutorials out there to get started. Feel free to reach out to me via Twitter or IG if you want to know more.

Drain on Twitter →

Drain on Instagram →

Thank you!!

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