Sunday, March 1, 2009

Is Pixelation Stereotyping?

"A stereotype is a preconceived idea that attributes certain characteristics (in general) to all the members of class or set. The term is often used with a negative connotation when referring to an oversimplified, exaggerated, or demeaning assumption that a particular individual possesses the characteristics associated with the class due to his or her membership in it. Stereotypes can be used to deny individuals respect or legitimacy based on their membership in that group." 1

In this case pixelation (generally caused by compression)is created by averaging the color information attributed to a digital picture. As HD programming becomes more relevant in the film industry, the question arises as to whether we can extract information, previously hidden from the process of pixelation and generalizing data.This is similar to the process of data sampling in statistics and how conclusions are derived about a population of concern.

Both pixelation and stereotyping assume negative connotations specially in the digital age where collecting and refining the size of the sample rate and analyzing massive amounts of data is increasingly achievable. (see DNA sequencing). However the question still remains whether generalized information can extrapolate hidden information about a process, previously unknown?

Artist Florian Cramer puts this to challenge with some interesting outcome in his project "Floppy Films", where he has compressed all the 2009 Oscar nominated movies into floppy size gif animations (at full length). Can we quantify all the qualitative data of a feature film by studying its pixels?

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