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What Artistic Expression Do You Enjoy Most?

I was thinking about this idea of trying to define an artistic expression and its impact on our emotions in our favorite activities. What artistic expression do you truly enjoy?

Now before you answer the question, and I do want you to answer, consider what “artistic expression” means. I have friends and family who would immediately speak about their preferences for certain art styles or the idea that they might not find any art enjoyable. I realized I was being too literal and stopped after my initial heady response to this question to re-evaluate. After expressing my current interest in digital glitch art, or my overall fascination with epic photographic and filmic composition, what I realized that I regularly find enjoyable is video games. Now, I have had this conversation before about how video games are not perceived by most as a form of art. That’s fine if that’s your viewpoint, but let me present my reasoning for classifying it as an art expression before you dismiss it entirely. I’m not going to bother describing the gaming community’s origins or how we got to where we are with the media, but instead focus on the idea of what makes a media or entertainment able to be evaluated as creating joy through art. I choose video games because of their visual content, interactivity, and occasional story content.

The idea that art is not defined by simple structure should be what we focus on when expressing the joy that art brings to our life. If your favorite thing to participate in is a sport, that’s great! Sports use lots of art expressions to make the experience more enjoyable for fans and players alike, but I haven’t heard anyone say that sports are art. If you find more joy in those games, consider all the creative and artistic expressions taking place within them, even if the activity itself isn’t considered traditional art. From the graphics used for the paraphernalia and the intentionally visual elements added for maintaining fan attention, to the design of the playing area and the eventual glorification of the activity through visual objectification – it all uses art to make the games memorable and enjoyable. That’s awesome!

Even the more simple activities of enjoying nature for its beauty relies on your mind’s ability to construe joy from the activity and your association with development or design creating an expression. It’s really hard to argue that anything enjoyable in life doesn’t involve, include, or institute an artistic expression, even if that artistic expression is only experienced by participation.

So, when I ask you what artistic expression you enjoy most, please give it some thought and let me know in the comments or via the YouTube channel and other social media. I’m honestly interested in seeing where other find enjoyment and how the idea of artistic expression is seen from various viewpoints.

Are Mobile Apps Art Tools

For several weeks now, I’ve been using a few apps on my phone to create unique and interesting works of art. I say that, but then I began wondering if the pixel pushing I was doing on my mobile device could or would be considered art in the same way that traditional art was valued. The purely digital manifestation of my experimentation makes the proliferation of the artwork broader than many traditional artworks, but the audience size doesn’t really matter when evaluating something as art; at least I don’t think that’s how art gets measured.

The question then is, if what I make for the digital or social internet scene is art, then are the apps that I use considered art tools? I know from sculpting that tools are often created by the artist for very specific purposes in moving the clay.  I think, therefore, that the programs and apps created for moving and manipulating pixels of light are tools. If they are tools, then they are tools for the making of art? If they are tools for making art, then the renders produced are art. They might not be good art, but I think they are art.

Here’s a gallery of some of my recent art. Let me know what you think in the comments.

Explaining the Effects in the Welcome Video on YouTube

Several days ago I posted a welcome video on the Grasping @ Creativity YouTube channel and one of the viewers asked for an explanation on how the “effect” was done for the final edit. This new video above is a breakdown of the project and the sequence. This isn’t really a how-to video, but it might be just enough to get you going on a similar project.

I reference the CGA LUT pack a lot in here. It’s a free Lumetri Color correction pack that I released earlier. Watch the “Free 80’s PC LUTs” video to get the password for the Zip file: 

At the end of the explanation video up top, I also do a quick demo of the other Lumetri Looks that are included in the CGA LUT pack. I highly recommend watching the video on high-resolution too. I don’t use any callouts to point out where the mouse is or what the exact settings are. Anyone who’s used video tutorials knows that most of them are set-up with a “How I do” not a “How all do” suggestion format. This is the same. Don’t go out and try to replicate this welcome video exactly. That’s not the point of a video like this. This is just an explanation of the steps taken to create my video.

Take inspiration from it and go try creating something of your own. That said, if you do like the LUT pack, then post a link to how you used it (graphically or video) in the comments of that video. I’d really like to see the LUT pack go to some use.

Updating the Website

What The Old Website Looked Like

For nearly a decade I used the Grasping @ Creativity website as a blog for the most random ideas, rants, fabrications, and news reviews that I found interesting enough to write about.

In 2009 I had this grand idea that I was going to turn into a helpful site teaching people how to maintain creativity, but that was short lived. I was never truly interested in the topic. The content began to be a burden to maintain, and I eventually abandoned the topic and the blog for a couple years.

It is time for a change.

I’ve pulled all of the old content with no intention to repost any of it. Perhaps, I’ll pick out a few gems to make into an archive or ebook, but never as newly rehashed post content. For those of you who I interviewed for articles nearly a decade ago, just send me an email if you would like the post to go live again. I’ll be sure to do so and send you a new link for your convenience.

This week was the first hard push into remaking the site to be what I envision for the coming year. I’m going to be binding this site to the Grasping @ Creativity YouTube channel. I want to be able to create projects, art, and media experiments at will and this will be the account of those attempts.

I was always frustrated by the failures that I felt I couldn’t or shouldn’t share publicly, but that’s changing this year too. All projects I try, whether successes or failures, will get an entry. Some ongoing projects, like the re-creation of this site, will require regular updates until I feel they’re relatively complete. Not every attempt will be a success, but it will be good for me to show the process and progress of anything I try as I continue grasping at creativity.

Three 80’s PC LUTs to make your video look super rad!

Ever heard of CGA? Color Graphics Adapter by IBM? It was cutting edge video graphics in 1981. This was a video card for pcs that was capable of generating over 100 artifact colors using a 16 color pallet and some perception tricks, but few remember that. Most people think of CGA for its basic color pallet,  dubbed Pallete #1, which had Black, Cyan, Magenta, and White. Keep in mind most PCs back then had only two colors: Black and White (or black and Yellow, or black and Green) based on what kind of CRT monitor was attached to the computer. Even though CGA had a ton of colors available, they basically never got used and now CGA is mostly just remembered as Black, Cyan, Magenta, and White – it’s Pallete #1.
Back then no computer could run actual video in CGA because that would have required a ton of processing power which they never had. That didn’t stop me from trying to make a video that looked like it was running on a CGA monitor in the 1980’s though.
Turns out, it’s harder to do that than you might think. Until now, no one had made a consistently easy way to do color conversions of 4k video to CGA without having to compile beta programs or render out all the frames of a video and convert them to index color for reassembly.  It was a total pain.
So, I said to myself, “Jon, Adobe implemented Look Up Tables in their recent versions of Photoshop and Premiere; and Look Up Tables just reassign color values based on a perceptual arrangement of colors. Maybe you could make a LUT that changes video and graphics to CGA Pallete#1! That way anyone could use it and render time would be negligible. ” I set to work to do just that.
I had many failures along the way and some setbacks that made this whole idea seem valueless, but I wanted to finish it to prove I could. Plus, it’s kinda cool looking and hadn’t really been done before in a way that everyone could use.
There are a ton of videos on Youtube that cover the creation of Look Up Tables, LUTs, for use in Adobe CC and Lumetri. The video above will not cover the how-to of making these LUTs. Instead, I’m just going to give away my work to you for free and the video and this transcription will tell you how to apply the LUTs to your photos or videos in either Photoshop CC 2018 or Premiere CC 2018. LUTs like these will work in other versions of the Adobe programs and other Lumetri products, but I’m going to assume most of you know how to use LUTs in your preferred programs.
If you’re new to LUTs, just think of them like really powerful filters. I won’t be getting into any math or anything difficult here, so don’t worry. Pause the video as I go through the steps if you need to catch up because I’m not going to repeat anything or slow down.
The following is a link to a zip file containing several LUTs and special PNG graphics.  Did I mention: They’re Free?!!
Unpack the Zip wherever you like using the password GAC2017LUT80. Don’t forget where you put them. Now! let’s try these out in Photoshop and Premiere.
To load a LUT into Photoshop, just open your project file and create a new “Color Lookup” adjustment layer. Open the 3DLUT drop-down menu and click “Load 3D LUT”. Browse to where you unpacked my freebies and select your favorite CUBE file. CUBE is the extension of the LUT file, so you may not see CUBE if you have extensions hidden in your OS. The names of the files are really descriptive, so choose the LUT you want to try and let’s continue.
As soon as you load the LUT it applies a non-destructive color alteration to your project. Assuming you loaded the adjustment layer at the top of your previous layers, you will have a garish representation of whatever LUT color variant you’ve chosen.
Included in that zip that you got from me are a couple extra files to complete “the look”. There are different CRT scan-line simulations that you can choose from based on your desired end result.  Just place the scan-lines png in “Overlay mode” on top of your new LUT layer. This should get you started on that vintage 80’s PC look. For good measure, encapsulate the PSD project layers into a smart object under the LUT layer and apply a Mosaic smart filter to that new object. In Photoshop you can adjust the size of the Mosaic block to match your chosen CRT-Lines overlay for a more accurate image breakup and digital look. By the way, you can use this method with motion graphics, animations, and video in Photoshop too.
Now on to Premiere –
To apply the LUT in Premiere, load up your footage in your sequence, head to your Lumetri color grading section and open the Creative accordion panel. Click on the drop-down “Look” menu and browse to where you unpacked the zip that you downloaded from me. Pick your CUBE of choice and it will apply that LUT to whatever clip you had selected. Apply a Mosaic filter with 320 Horizontal blocks and 200 Vertical blocks to your working footage. I like the Sharp colors look for this application too. Next, load the Scan-lines file of your choice into your project and drag it on top of your newly color graded footage. In the Scan-line file’s effects panel choose “Overlay” as the blend mode. You’ll find blend modes in the Opacity section.
You’re done.
Well… sort of. You’ll likely want to tweak your source footage basic coloring a little bit to make these LUTs really pop. These LUTs create a really high-contrast look and you may lose some detail if your source footage has flat colors. Experiment with it. Have fun!
If you enjoy these LUTs and make something cool with them, share a link to your project in the comments and don’t forget to tell people to come watch this video and get their Free Vintage 80’s PC LUTs here!
Subscribe to the channel on YouTube and keep grasping at creativity!

What is Grasping At Creativity all about?

Learning from history. Forging anew. Risking it all. Leaping from safety. Following inspiration. Flying free. Grasping at Creativity.
What is Grasping at Creativity?
Grasping at Creativity is an art and media project begun by me, Jon Decker, in 2009 as an archive to show the process and struggles of my maker projects, writing, and artwork. In the fall of 2017 I re-initialized the overall idea behind Grasping at Creativity with one focus in mind: to create a space for creative collaboration with artists and makers around the world in the hope that by creating new things together we could be a force for positivity, support, and encouragement to all the people of Earth. That, and it would be fun to make stuff together.
What is Grasping at Creativity all about?
Together I hope we’ll learn from history and build on the experiences that others have shared to cultivate kindness, creation, and collaboration that benefit the world.
Forging anew, we should strive to continuously reshape ourselves; take responsibility for our actions; learn from failures; don’t repeat mistakes; accept changes and build a new worldview. (Sometimes this hurts.)
It’s worth risking it all. Humiliation, failure, wasted time, wasted money, the unknown, death, a worthless contribution: all of these fears are possible, but we try anyway despite the risks.
We’re leaping from safety. Taking action creates momentum. Safety is short lived and leaping is never private or certain. There is always a risk; so let’s not just sit here waiting for a perfect opportunity.
Let’s follow inspiration. That moment of intense clarity, like a slap in the face, realizing the obvious or discovering a misconception; accept it and act on it even if it hurts or changes everything!
We’re flying free. We’ve jumped head first, reaching toward the future with its endless possibilities. Forget planning the landing, and live in the moment, come what may. Everything is changing. It’s exhilarating and terrifying, and there’s no going back.
It is valuable to try, even if the attempt ends without attaining a goal. The process itself is a contribution. Constantly hope, reach further: we are never finished. Creation is an ever-changing, evolving project. Join us as we keep Grasping at Creativity.


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