realigningsimpsons realigningsimpsons
Cartoon CultureExperimental

“Realigning My Thoughts on Jasper Johns” by JK Keller

Realigning The Simpsons

“Realigning My Thoughts on Jasper Johns” is an art project by Baltimore-based JK Keller that digitally reprocesses the animation from The Simpsons episode “Mom and Pop Art” into a glitchy, bright hot mess. Keller explained his process:

I ripped all the frames, then used software to turn the ripped images into vectors. Then I processed the files through Illustrator using the default Alignment & Distribution tools (23 different combinations). The resulting files were then brought back together for the 23 final videos.

With the audio, I used a similar process, making a spectrogram image of the audio from each cut in the episode. Then I applied a variety of processes to the image to mimic the alignment/distribution used. Then took the resulting image and turned it back into audio.

The project is intended to be shown as an installation of a 9 screen grid. Viewers would be able to adjust dials and switches to adjust volumes & video sources to create their own juxtapositions of the 23 videos.

Interested in the incorrect use of default software tools and how they can be used to generate new forms, and the absurdity that results between default digital manipulation and purposeful manual influence.

The results of Keller’s experiment are visually mesmerizing. The introductory video is below followed by the rest of the project on this YouTube playlist.

(via @FezFilms)

  • Gbop

    I imagine something like this is what you hear when you die

  • I tried to watch this, but came to my senses and stopped before I wasted anymore of my time.

    • Joe

      It’s 2 minutes long, I think you can afford to “waste” them. Watching other art that might not suit your taste can only broaden yourself. That kind of attitude of yours is how you get stuck in a terrible place artistically. And that’s how your work ends up looking like clip art.

      • The Gee

        In general, I agree that sometimes it is good to not be comfortable or to like art.

        It certainly can challenge you to expose yourself to different things. Whether a person sees the world differently and finds that they have been changed in how they create greatly depends upon the art and on the person experiencing it.

        I watched the intro. not impressed one iota.

        It is trompe l’oeil, right?
        Chaos from Order? Madness from Sanity? An icebreaker? A tragedy of how the modern world doesn’t realize just how modern it is and what it looks and sounds like? It looks messy.

        While it appears the artist has some control over how it was presented is this ugly art, abstract art or noise. I think it is just noise. You generally don’t let the color yellow do its own thing, you use it wisely, adeptly.

        Not everyone is going to appreciate noise as noise. Artists are best when they clarify, fine tune from that which we haven’t already seen or heard.

        How do I put it like the kids put it: Editing Remix Fail!
        Is that how that goes? And, yes, I know that is lacking tact. But, so many and so much seems to lack that these days.

      • Charlie

        Trompe l’oeil is creating a 3D optical illusion on a 2D surface (paintings, walls, etc.) with such staggering detail, that it literally fools one’s own eyeballs.

        But I do agree with your statement to an extent. I am all for looking at many other mediums of art for inspiration, but this just looks like really bad video encoding or something along those lines.

      • The Gee

        True. That is tompe l’oeil. What I meant was simply ‘fooling the eye’, an illusion. Beyond that I was just slapping some hifalutin artspeak onto the comment I made, for sarcasm’s sake.

        No biggie.
        Your description of what the re-jiggered Simpsons looks like is close to what I guess the guy did. It looks like a mistake as the result of bad encoding. To wit, I have to ask:


        It could’ve been really beautiful. If it were composed of fewer angles and more curves, it might be as mesmerizing to me as it was to Amid. Heck, the soundtrack could have been fine enough if put together with a mish mash of b-roll footage. A story could be had from it and it still could have been artsy and mesmerizing. But, instead, the embedded clip is just jarring noise…to my senses.

        As a comment or statement or as a piece, it says nothing to me. It wasn’t engaging enough for me to seek the rest of the piece either. If that is my fault for not caring enough to discover more, so be it. But, the piece shown and the project’s description isn’t engaging to me.

        No biggie.

      • amid

        What’s ‘jarring noise’ to you is art to others. Your comments suggest more about your preconceived notions of what art should and shouldn’t be than any meaningful critique of Keller’s work.

      • The Gee

        Your opinion on this is greatly appreciated.

        Though, I never said it wasn’t art.

        Perhaps I was wrong for not clarifying that Noise and Jarring Noise can be art.I thought mentioning them in conjunction with abstract art and ugly art made that clear. I guess between that and the rest I wrote, the message I made was muddled.

        ( I should really get a filter that I can run my writing through, a de-muddlizer. Does Adobe make one?)

        The clip you embedded is art.

        But it is crappy.

      • the kids don’t put it like that.

      • The Gee

        If the kids don’t put it like that then from this day forward, rock on with new phrasing, young ones!

  • rnigma

    Reminds me of “Tricky Cad,” where someone took Dick Tracy comics and turned them into verbal and visual gibberish.

  • I have seen this process in several gallery art exhibits in New York where a similar technique is used to sample other’s materials. This technique was referred to as “video mulching”. It does little to the original material other than abstract it and relies on the familiarity with the original to work at all.
    It is minimally entertaining but a novelty like the old kaleidoscopes using newer technology.

  • wow, this is weirdly effective.

  • obj_solid

    interesting that they kept all the original colors the same, making it feel very familiar yet so abstract

  • tedzey

    Well… it’s very post-modern. That’s a start!

  • Chris Sobieniak

    “Lighthearted apron not included, snapping fingers will not make food appear!” :-P

  • Honestly? I think this is kinda cool. I also like how the artist basically said that there’s no real ‘purpose’ behind it–he’s just messing around with computers and posting the results. I like that kind of honesty from a fine artist.

  • @Joe, if I don’t like it, why should I watch it? I respect the hoops he jumped through to create it, but I don’t care for it. Now I’ll get off the internets so you can watch it without my head in the way. : )

    • The Gee

      Surely no one needs to sit through something which they don’t like.
      As far as we know people walked out in a huff at the early Greek plays or from Shakespeare’s performances.

      Most likely Joe realizes not all things are for all people. Audiences of all types can love or hate high or low art. That’s just the way it goes. Even as artists we don’t have to be fully immersed in everything. Though it is a good thing to be aware that most things exist. Amid’s description could have sufficed for that knowledge.

  • Robert Schaad

    Like it!! Helps to be familiar with the original, in this case fleeting glimpses. Cool.

  • I forsee this becoming the new “Simpsons: lost episode” or ‘ded bort’ go-to video for creepy springfield shenanigans.

  • Ryoku75

    This is basically a simulation of how hippies see the Simpsons intro.

  • Matt

    This is much more interesting when viewed as individual frames (like the top image in the post of Homer), than it is when viewed in motion.

  • Rajesh

    I felt like was listening to a horror movie and watching a Jimi Hendrix album.

    Good in small doses.

  • Anybody else keep watching to see what couch gag is was going to be?
    I know I did. :D

  • LazyBoy

    I had a “teacher” who only found this kind of too-much-experimental, disoriented and uncomfortable videos. He shew us only videos like this one during one hour and a half. My friends thoughts I was about to faint and myself to become seriously mad. It was horrible.

    I really dislike this kind of “work” because what I see is only a pile of rubbish put together with no sense. I have nothing to focus my mind on BUT there’s still something that makes you believe that there’s a meaning, a story to focus on, but it’s a trap and my brain is disoriented.

    Seriously, I can appreciate experimental and unusual work very much but in case like this, I hate it because it’s painful to watch for me.

    • evidently wasn’t an English teacher

  • Absolutely excellent. It takes The Simpsons to a place they deserve to go, Art.

    • The Gee

      Say that file were placed online as the Simpsons intro for that episode. There was no other explanation, no additional context explaining intent, just a distorted video file on YouTube, Vimeo or what have you. Would it mean more or less?

      An artist can slap a label on anything they make as being greater than the symbols, signs and clues inherent in the work being presented. Likewise, a viewer, audience member, etc. can offer any interpretation of any created thing they experience.

      But, stripped of context, would this still remain impressive for some who find it so?

      Art should be able to stand on its own two feet.

      Granted, I certainly realize that throwing meat to a pack of starving dogs may result in an unscheduled dog fight, too. So, surely the fact that this is debated as Art or Not Art offers the work a chance to become ART. Sometimes it works out like that mountains from molehills and all that…

      That said, someone extrapolate the nuances so that folks like me can grasp the nuances being unseen and unheard?

  • When unstructured thought or creativity is a habit or kept in practice through experimental art making it may become easier to make creative choices on less experimental works, right? What’s more abstract than trying to draw a film into existence?

  • big bad balloon

    God Bless the Hollywood Formula.

    1. Take something already popular.
    2. Tweak it.
    3. Get praise like you’ve really ‘created’ something.

    Just a personal preference but I like experimental art when it’s made from scratch – not with someone else’s art.

    Good effort – the installation sounds intriguing but my feelings went from:

    curiosity > bewilderment > frustration > annoyance > relief(after watching the new ‘Brave’ trailer)

    • Ryoku75

      This was creating from the Simpsons, but had that not been said it’d take a while to notice that.

      HW makes things quite obvious.

  • MG

    Why must so much recognizable Simpsons artifact be left in a purportedly abstract work? Oh, to lend it cred, that’s why. A purely abstract animated piece might be in danger of being original, and nobody’s head would turn one iota to watch it. Mention Simpsons video remix and you hook millions of eyeballs. Amazing how dependant on the commercial fine art is.

    • B.Richards

      I am curious as to what makes this “fine art” as opposed to another piece of “commercial” or “experimental” work using someone else’s original animation. What transition was bridged to change our understanding based on the original?? What new ideas where presented that would make the concept of the original animation closer to “fine art”? Randomness, non-linear thinking? It uses John Cage’s principals developed in the 50’s of random selection using chance systems to create a new system. He would use the roll of dice to make decisions on a piece, Merce Cunningham would use similar methodologies to determine choreography moves. Unlike their’s, this piece still relies on the Simpsons to hold the fabric together and does not push it into a new realm of vision just mulch. It’s a re-mix using current technology, it is “new” but may not be “fine art”.

    • Joe

      …. pop art?

  • Michel Van

    i have the impression to watch a damage MKV file with VLC…

  • Robert Schaad

    Well, it’s ruffling some feathers, as the best art should and generally does. I would love to see this on a big screen (theatre size).

    • big bad balloon

      I think you’re onto something here. I’d love to see some feather-ruffling bareback porn on the big screen. “Best art”, baby!

  • Scarlet

    [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

  • I thought it was interesting. I just hope he does something else with this technique- this reminds a bit like one of those doodles that I’m usually afraid to show on my blog (or any public way) because it’s experimental, it contains anatomy issues, misses perspective, etc. Unfortunately the video also reminds me when I had epilepsia at the age of 8 (no joke) where you unconsciously move your head to one side and can’t avoid it, hearing the people around me in a continuous monotone sound (as in “peeeeeeeeep”)– a bit what happens here. Not saying this is bad and can cause you lung cancer, but this too much non-sense can’t be good for you.
    Even so– sincerely speaking; if he adds a rhythm to the video it will come out something great… there are some kind of “animated brushstrokes” that would be fantastic for a film– well, in this case, a long paced video.

  • Nice, but easy to make. I have a hard drive full of such video manipulations that I would never have imagined could be considered “art”. It’s fun to hammer on and abuse graphic and video programs. Somebody got paid for doing that? Ree speck.

    • maybe you should start considering them art and stop worrying bogus notions of the value of effort, or about other people’s hypothetical money?

      • Ryoku75

        Messing with clips from the Simpsons can produce interesting work, but this example is not art.

        Someone got bored, played around with Adobe, and made something weird.

    • The Gee

      Funny thing, Frank, I was actually hoping you would chime in on this.
      When I went to reply to Amid yesterday evening, I almost wanted to write that if you had a differing opinion from mine then I would acquiesce and accept that I wasn’t looking at the video with clear eyes.

      It is weird to say but I have seen enough of your work and I know enough about some of your tastes that you seem to be at the tolerance, if not beyond the tolerance, level of my tastes. That isn’t a bad thing in my mind. There is animation and art you seem to like that I can’t stand. However, I respect why you like it.

      That’s probably Weird to read, I know. Is it as weird as how Tim seems to be taking critical barbs leveled a the video clip….maybe, maybe not.

  • Too “accidental” to be good or interesting.

  • Pat

    The most interesting part of this post came after “Keller explained his process” but before the actual video.

    I’d give another 2 minutes to watch if he collided 2 tangentially-related pieces of pop culture instead of just mulching one.

  • This is far too high falooting to be analysed using earth words like ‘merit’, ‘craftsmanship’ or ‘taste’. I think it more than likely falls into that closed shop were money changes hands and champagne flows. The kind of world in which they make up words to fit such works of art and notions are clutched from the air to maintain the hipness.

    Towards this mash up or whatever it is my reaction is mostly disappointment. I like his other work but this appears to be a failed experiment… it will probably make a fortune. Good for him

  • [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, “Be considerate and respectful of others in the discussion. Defamatory, rude, or unnecessarily antagonistic comments will be deleted.”]

  • Ryan Storm

    Anyone else think of the Dead Bart creepypasta during this?