JERESPanic Blooms

100 curated pieces • Presented in Highlight's Spring Collections • March 26th, 2024

Feel the lilacs grow, feel the panic bloom Black Moth Super Rainbow

When approached to do a spring collection, I froze a bit, maybe even panicked a little—if you'll allow me to overuse the word from the jump. The concept was a little scary in how broad and inherently optimistic it is, at least at first glance.

Spring carries a lot of baggage along with it: rebirth, growth, beauty, nature, etc. Initially, it just felt too, well, happy for me; I couldn't immediately find the tension.

Luckily, if you look hard enough you can find darkness in anything and that's the kind of mood I was in apparently. Sure, fine, while I concede that spring is symbolic of life, and rebirth... it's only moments past winter and the death it may represent. The snow melts to reveal the evidence of nature's brutality, if you will.

Yes, I'm reducing life to death's preamble. (Please bear with me, the light is coming.)

In terms of a visual experience, I'm trying to create an impression of spring's energy where all this life is coming back; insects are busy, birds are returning to sing, beavers are making their dams or whatever again, and a whole slew of other aspects of life are re-emerging like flowers blooming, obviously.

I want it to feel like looking down on a city from far above, where you can see the movement, but not make out the details; a little Broadway Boogie Woogie, but more organic. You know the system is engaged and the gears are moving but what is actually happening?

Is all that energy being well spent or are we just running in circles?

I'm trying to show that activity as a symptom of panic and anxiety around death. Each spring is a reminder of another year passing and starting, and that we have finite number of seasons left before we die.

That sounds dark—and yes, it is—but I think we can reframe it a bit.

That urgency, that fear, is perhaps one of our greatest assets if used well. I'm all for a little extension of life, sure, let's eat well if we can and not run towards death... but knowing it's coming is impetus to do something (anything) before it happens.

I forget where I read/heard the following sentiment, but somewhere someone was talking about how immortality could destroy our motivation to create anything substantial because effectively, what's the rush?

What would drive us to enjoy anything if we didn't know it will be taken from us?

That feels reductive because it is. I'm not arguing that people would do absolutely nothing if they were to live forever, I'm just positing that knowing you have limited time may drive you beyond what you would accomplish if you had infinite time.

This ticking clock can move us to create something beautiful, fix something terrible or build something monumental. Perhaps to be remembered or just to know before you die that something you did mattered (to you, at the very least.)

The fear of having done nothing is too much for some of us to bear, and while not everyone succeeds in their endeavor, just having tried can be enough, or at least something.

We may not cure the cancer we set out to, eradicate bigotry or create the digital equivalent of Hilma af Klint's legacy... but pushing towards it can hopefully ease our fear of having an existence where we only consumed.

For me personally, I'm far more fearful of having been an entity that has merely fed off a system, leaving the world in worse shape than it would be if I hadn't existed. I'm not sure I've succeeded yet (or if that's even possible in this modern civilization) but I'll die trying, presumably in a perpetual panic state until then.

Maybe it's not even death that motivates, but simply guilt for existing. As any recovering believer, I have to do something with the shame I was programmed with.

Related: Keep a lookout for the companion piece to this collection, Guilt Blossoms*, where original sin is reframed as your birth being an attack on nature, and life a test on whether you can make up for your existence, trying to find salvation in being carbon neutral.

But like I say with all my work, please take my ramblings with a grain of salt. They're just where my head went when working on this. Let it say something else to you or nothing at all.

Who knows, maybe it's all just a metaphor for the bull market we are supposedly entering; the spring to the bear winter... where we all scramble with meme-coins and novel mechanics on various blockchains as a desperate attempt to make it before we all go to zero, but tbh that sounds way more cynical than life being merely death's preamble, at least to me.

* I joke. There will be no Guilt Blossoms. Probably.

While these are made to be experienced as animated digital pieces, I think they look great as prints as well which is why I took a frame from the piece above and printed it. See below.

I recommend a print around the size 21"x28" (like pictured above) but something around 15"x20" would be lovely as well. I would recommend a textured matte paper of archival quality. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or anything like that. (Notes on rendering high resolution images at the end of this write-up.)

Here's a close-up of the print. It would be hard to get this on a digital display, which is why I think prints can be lovely as well.

URL Params for custom sizes (Print notes, etc)

Panic Blooms was created using p5js and a shader. Make sure your GPU is enabled.

Key Commands:
G : Save a 10 frame GIF at 1300x975
S : Save the current frame as a png
P : Play/Pause animation (or mouse click)
A : Advance a frame
Z : Go back a frame

URL Parameters:
?fullscreen=true : Fill entire window
?animated=false : No animation by default
?width=x : Render image with x width (read notes below)
?print=true : Use with "width" to render larger than 5000px wide
?frame=x : Start at frame x
?gwidth=x : Configure GIF export to have x width
?gframes=x : Configure GIF export to have x frames

Render notes:
The default renderer can only render up to about 5000px wide because of how it uses a shader. If you want a super high resolution file for printing, use print mode, as this can render at much higher sizes. Print mode removes the ability to animate.
For example: ?width=12000&print=true

For high resolution images, please use a Chromium browser (Chrome, Brave, Edge, Arc) as Safari gives up pretty easily, at time of publishing at least.

Exported image files will be named like:
The 'f' specifies the frame. This way if you want to recreate a print quality render of a particular frame you can deduce that.
For example: ?width=9000&print=true&frame=20

By the way, with all of these URL params, chances are the URL already has some params in it. In that case, instead of using the ? when you append, try something like: &width=9000&print=true&frame=20 and leave all the other params already there.

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