We talk to Tim Nolan about Cachemonet, a generative web art project that explores man and machine working together.
If you haven’t seen Cachemonet yet, run along and take a look at it for a while. We'll still be here when you get back. Okay, done? Great! It's an endlessly entertaining random blend of animated pixel art GIFs and eclectic electronic music, and having spent a lot of time gazing at it we simply had to get in touch with its creator, Tim Nolan, to find out the story behind it.
Why don't you introduce yourself?
I work at an advertising agency called BBH in New York City as its interactive group creative director. I also am a 50 per cent partner with Jen Lu in Universalscene, an aesthetic testbed and creative studio. Together we create everything from clothing to iOS apps.
And Cachemonet: auxiliary memory designed for high-speed retrieval meets the father of Impressionism?
I think it pretty much sums up the conceptual idea. I knew I wanted to automate a cache of stored images to generate artwork compositions in the browser. Also, it's just a nice pairing of dissociated words that are phonetically fun to say. Sometimes the domain name comes first, and I try to figure out how to use it. Sometimes, the idea. In this case, it was some time before I had the right idea for the name.
What is the project looking to explore?
The primary driver was to explore the idea of man and machine working together to create new and unexpected results within a set of defined parameters. It also plays into the short attention span people have for consuming entertainment online. Using Vine as an example (each video file is six seconds long), the system delivers a new composition every four seconds. The visitor can also manually generate new compositions with a mouse click.
Is it a serious-minded piece of work?
Yes it is, but what I think is nice about it is that it is so approachable, simple and fun. It's up to the viewer to read into it as much or as little as they like.
Why do you think Cachemonet become so popular?
It has a lot to do with the nostalgic nature of the visuals. For me, it reminds me of the time during the late 90s when the web was experimental and fun to explore. Three weeks from launching we've tracked over 800,000 views.
Is it true you're looking at projecting the project onto large screens in museums?
We've spoken with a few gallery spaces and NetArt friendly spaces. I like the idea of Cachemonet running on four walls simultaneously to the music. It gets interesting when thinking about the different participant and observer situations that occur when watching something that is live on the internet and in an exhibit space. We are also thinking about including it in a larger group show of single serving sites that are adapted to physical installations.
This article originally appeared in net magazine issue 251.