Some time around 2009, I asked myself whether there was a way to make images whose amount of pixelation depended on how close the viewer would be to them. The idea was for the images to always look pixelated – and thus centered in artifice – and real – taken from the real world – at the same time. I wanted to break up the usual effect where a photograph looks like a photograph from far away, and close up it looks like a set of pixels.
From this basic idea, American Pixels originated. After spending a few hours creating such an image by hand (using Photoshop), I wrote a computer program that automated the process. So I had a process, and now I needed to apply it to something. As it turned out, images of rocket launches or explosions produced the most spectacular effects.
While these images – most of them sourced from the US military’s public-domain websites – by themselves are spectacular, the pixelation adds a whole new level to the experience, amplifying the source images’ confluence of physical and aesthetic violence.