© Rosa Menkman

20th Art Division New Face Award

DCT: SYPHONING. The 1000000th interval.

Video installation

Rosa MENKMAN [Nederlands]


This work tells a story about image compression algorithms. “DCT” stands for “Discrete Cosine Transform,” a core component of image compression algorithm such as JPEG. “SYPHONING” comes from the name of the open source software “Syphon,” here used as a verb meaning to translate data from one image compression format directly to another. Anthropomorphized DCT Senior takes Junior, who just completed his 1,000,000th test run, on his first SYPHON trip. Starting from the familiar territory of legible images, they move into other realms dominated by images in other formats. Senior narrates their quest in detail: how Junior became disinterested in images from old compression techniques, or how he became confused when he encountered incomprehensible images from new techniques. This work offers a novel and humorous perspective on technology.

Reason for Award

Stunning originality leavened with eccentricity instantly draws the viewer’s eyes to this video installation of “imagery about imagery.” The work’s theme is the visual disarray brought about by image compression technology, but what makes it fascinating is that it also illustrates the essential characteristics of that technology. The artist dubs the transcoding (reencoding without decoding) process “Syphoning” and anthropomorphizes old and new Digital Cosine Transform (DCT) techniques as DCT Senior and Junior. Furthermore, in homage to Edwin Abbott Abbott’s 1884 novel Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, the protagonists are squares or cubes, with planar domains arranged in virtual space by different compression methods. Everything about the work is exquisite. (NAKAZAWA Hideki)