Sit Down, Stand Up

November 2, 2008

This is something I done a few years ago, and one of my favourite pieces in my portfolio.

It’s basically the contents of my internet browser cache, arranged by smallest size to largest, with Radiohead’s ‘Sit Down, Stand up’ as the music backing.

It all happened by accident.  I was looking for a particular picture I had seen on a website, but couldn’t remember the site address, so I started scanning through the jpgs and gifs in my browser cache.  I arranged the sort order from smallest file size to largest to help find it, I then just held down the right arrow key to flick through them all at a frenetic pace, and just by coincidence I was listening to Radiohead’s Hail to the Thief album.  Watching the streaming blast of internet content along with the dark overtones of the music made an instant and provocative connection.

So I decided to make a video based exactly on this.  First I copied about 7000 files out of my cache, enough to cover the length of the track.  I then had to renumber the lot so that the smallest file would be named 00001 and so on – this was actually the most difficult bit – it took me about 2 days to find a piece of shareware renaming software what would actually rename and number files based on file size.  This would allow me to import everything into After Effects in the desired order.

I then added one simple camera move to zoom into the imagery and fill the screen at the climax of the music.

Can trash be art?

The video speaks volumes I think about modern culture, media, celebrities, advertising, politics, consumerism.  There’s something nauseating, relentless and spellbinding about it all, but only when seen in this context of menu bars, buttons, thumbnails and banners spat out like some sort of internet sewer.

With kind permission from Radiohead’s management, the video was featured at a screening night at the National Film Theatre in London, to a packed house and a distinguished industry panel giving it critical praise.  I designed the poster for the event which was a still from The Drop (my video for Peter Gabriel).

Here’s the text from the flyer,

Thursday 19 February (8:45pm)
@ National Film Theatre, South Bank, SE1 (020.7928.3232) Tube: Embankment/Waterloo
Price: general £7.50 | concessions £5.70

Links:  National Film Theatre | Johnny Hardstaff | Floria Sigismondi | Ruben Fleischer | The Directors Label

Antenna, the bi-monthly showcase that celebrates the very best in music videos, returns to the NFT this week with yet another selection of the latest and greatest in the genre. On the panel discussing the work this time is rising star Sam Arthur, director of the superb Royksopp’s “Poor Leno” video, and Karl Badger, head of promos website Video C. Joining them is commissioner John Moule, who’ll be discussing his latest work, including a Goldfrapp promo.

As usual the line-up of videos is under wraps, though revealed highlights include two gems from animation whiz Glenn Marshall — his short film The Drop and a never-before-seen test-film for Radiohead. Also on view will be the most recent work from previous panel member Dougal Wilson who’ll be screening his promo for Klonhertz. Book now to avoid disappointment — with music videos finally getting the recognition they deserve this will be a popular night.


7 Responses to “Sit Down, Stand Up”

  1. Dan said

    Glenn, this is beautifully brilliant.

  2. synthhead said

    Another impressive video – love the way it builds to a hypnotic climax.

  3. TheRafMan said

    Very unique, perfect example of serendipity 🙂

  4. William said

    What a great idea.

  5. Richard said


    This is almost a year late, (and you might probably already know this after your involvement with processing), but another use of processing is that you could easily write a short code that renames all your images according to file size.

    Other than that, I just wanted to say you’ve been a big inspiration to my processing work.

  6. Yeah I know! anything’s possible now that I can program these damn computers..

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