Obey the Tiny Giant

I love street art.

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I love the posters and the stickers and the graffitis, and I specially love the black and white. I usually scan the streets looking for the surprising, rebellious kinematic images, and I don’t really care much if some of them actually are dummies of profitable merchandising or disguised alternative advertisement. Even after all this years, I still smile when I find a new manifestation of the OBEY propaganda campaign. I wonder if the internet could allow some of that, if there was a way of sneaking artwork in the space between transitions or somewhere else. If there was a way to scratch on advertisement banners or draw a mustache on the pictures of the celebrities. If there could be a layer of persistent user expression on top of everything else. I guess community generated websites can be understood to play that role a bit. They allow for free space of expression that can eventually lead to surprising mutations of street art. For example, the last time I saw the OBEY trademark was not on a street corner, it was not on a mailbox and it was not on a street sign. In fact, it could never be found anywhere in the street world at all. It was created within the web by some anonymous contributor to the Tiny Icon Factory that miraculously managed to translate the curvy shapes of Andre the Giant’s graphic portrait into a 13 by 13 square black and white little grid. I’m sure it must be hard to find such a virtuoso creator of icons. As Brent already pointed it out, there is a potential for making 2^169 different Tiny Icons, and we humans are only around 7 billion, leaving each one of us with as much as 1.0690e+41 possible icons to create. Finding the right combination of black and white squares that looks like Andre the Giant is an impressive achievement that would have never happened if it was not because of an interesting chain of events that started last thursday and fueled the Tiny Icon Factory with unprecedented mouse clicking human power. Brent told John about our Tiny toy project, John blogged it, a few people bookmarked it in del.icio.us, some other people digged it, and by the next morning the Tiny Icon Factory was producing more than 200 ipr (Icons Per Hour) by the creative few out of around 10000 visitors. 6999 Tiny Icons are sitting in the PLW database right now, although the Icon birth rate has already slowed down to a couple of tens per hour. All kinds of stuff, some of them silly, some of them dull, some of them clever, some of them pretty, some of them obscene, some of them brilliant, and all of them equally Tiny. One particular Icon called my attention out of the multitude, a tiny tribute to a giant man.

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