Letters from Somnolescent

 

Category: Essays

Soapboxing or just showing off something cool–point being, these are more edited posts than the usual recaps and rambly retrospectives.


November 20, 2021

Hiraeth

caby

Hi! Bet you forgot this blog even existed. I personally haven’t posted on here in a long, long time. But I had a bit of a rant about a word, and I think it deserves a spot on the blog.

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July 29, 2021

Nostalgia vs. Wistfulness vs. A Productive View of the Past

mariteaux

I’m not really a nostalgic person. I don’t tend to look back at the things I’ve been through or the experiences I’ve had very positively. I’m a much happier person than I used to be. I have better friends now. I have the skills to take on what I want to now, or I’m rapidly developing them. I’ve taken my first stabs at proper digital art recently. I don’t have much reason to be properly nostalgic.

Of course, when you’re dealing in the kinds of things Somnolescent does–hand-built websites, vintage computers, analog aesthetics, 90’s period pieces–there comes with it the assumption that this is all based on nostalgia, or more often “false” nostalgia. It’s not hard to find 14-year-olds who fixate on cassettes, fixate on VHS tapes, or in its most artificial form, are in love with the “vaporwave” thing. Of course, they weren’t around to see those things when they were in vogue, and overall, it can be a bit of a joke.

False nostalgia is misguided, but I don’t think misplaced. Here’s a bit of a meditation on where nostalgia ends, wistfulness begins, why the young folks get swept up in it, and the more practical side of bringing the past with you.

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June 24, 2021

The Absurd Netherworld of Internet Archive Tape Transfers

mariteaux

A sampling of the Internet Archive's batch of cassette transfers

For a period of time after Sound of Dentage’s release, I was pretty keen on digging through archive.org’s Cassette Audio section to see what strange, forgotten things I can find. It’s ostensibly only non-copyrighted audio, but that’s a crock of shit. The flood of content makes policing it with anything other than automated bots a non-starter. And even then, I think the Internet Archive is too busy with me wgetting Somnolescent’s old sites to run them.

In any event, I found something rather fascinating, and the kind of collection that no one but me would be interested in: over 1,300 amateur-recorded cassette tapes, transferred and stored in lossless. We’re not simply talking releases (though there’s tons in there). We’re not just talking demos (though they’re in there too–everyone from Dave Grohl to Coheed and Cambria to Juicy J). In a lot of cases, we’re talking mixtapes. Often recorded off the radio mixtapes! (And nature sounds. That’s what 90s kids did for their ASMR.)

Now, invariably, a lot of this is probably just noise and ambient stuff, same sorta thing that has always flooded the avant-garde experimental underground scene, same stuff the netlabels put out now, and the same stuff I’m not really interested in. However, the hand-dubbed tapes? Are where, well, strangeness lies. I’ve picked out three amateur ones for us to go through, recorded from various sources by regular people on cheap equipment. Download links are provided for each.

Tags: 70s, music, technology,

May 31, 2021

Zip Drives!

mon

It’s time for a pretty short blog post from me, mon! Made from an outline that I’ve had sitting around since almost a YEAR ago.

It’s well-known that I own a good bit of old Apple computers at this point. But along with the large-ish collection that I own, I also own a small collection of peripherals and accessories. I think the most notable out of these would be my two Zip Drives…


February 22, 2021

On Rewrites

mariteaux

I come back to my “On” series of essays every couple of months to ruminate on little mindset shifts I have and myths and fallacies in the creative process. Whether I’m ever satisfied with them afterwards is less sure, but whatever, they’re cathartic. Worst case scenario, I’ll probably rewrite a few of them and have them on my site proper instead.

Fittingly, today’s little essay is on a weird mental wall I’ve had on the topic of rewrites. It’s easy, hell, the default to make something once and then never return to it. Drafting, building on what you’ve got–isn’t natural at all, but it’s important.

I felt for a long time like I had to get it right on the first shot. Come as I explore that some.


November 21, 2020

Yerf, yerf, yerf

caby

I post once in a blue moon, but I finally have a new thing to talk about, so here I am! That thing is a little old art portal named Yerf.

Tags: anime, art,

October 27, 2020

The Clever Feat of PNG Optimization

mariteaux

A neat old PNG logo I found on the official PNG site

I’ve become mildly obsessed with how compression algorithms of various stripes work over the past year. They really do make every bit of our modern computing existence work so smoothly, from gzipping packet data to speed up slow connections to storing vast archives of high quality music on flash drives the size of a ChapStick. Some simply rearrange the data in clever ways, and others take advantage of our weak eyes and ears to throw out 90% of what was once there–and we hardly notice.

Of the lot, the humble PNG is so ubiquitous, it might not even warrant mentioning. Every format has some magic up its sleeve, however, and in the case of PNG, the way they’re encoded usually makes it possible to shrink them after the fact to the tune of up to a few megabytes with no loss in quality. If you make sites, you might wanna take notes.

I recently decided to run a battery of tests to determine just how well PNG works, on what, and what optimizes the best. I’ll give you the rundown on how it works (in-depth but no math, no worries), and then I’ll give you some hard data and lovely charts to peek at, and finally, show you how to get smaller, lighter PNGs at home, no tricks, no catches.

Tags: art, technology,

July 9, 2020

On Confidence

mariteaux

Last summer, I wrote an essay on creating characters with purpose and how adoptable culture seems to miss the point of having lads in the first place. At the time, I remember wanting to do an entire series on these kinds of creative pitfalls, and recently, I’ve been reminded of another stumbling block–this one affecting me probably more than anyone else, amazingly enough.

Let’s talk confidence.


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