Since they came into our lives a little more than a year ago, Vines — those looping, six-second videos that you can record and watch on your mobile phone — have gained artistic recognition and a much wider audience.
Now a new tool called Sawbaum, released this weekend as part of the Seven on Seven conference, allows anyone to combine, overlay, and present multiple Vine clips together, transforming these standalone videos into frenetic, hypnotic digital collages.
Watch, for example, the Sawbaum creation above: a string of yellow balloons, Jack Dorsey flying an airplane, someone’s window seat view, a man skydiving with his pets, and a wandering pigeon. Though these short clips were never meant to be set side by side, their visual similarities combine to convey a feeling of commonality.
The new site is a collaboration between founder of the Flatiron School (a coding academy) Avi Flombaum and artist Hannah Sawtell. The two participated in digital conservator Rhizome.org’s annual Seven on Seven conference, in which seven technologists are paired with seven artists and each pair is given 24 hours to create and present a new technological tool or artifact.
At their presentation, which took place at the New Museum in New York, Flombaum said the project was inspired by Sawtell’s previous media-inspired creations.
“A lot of Hannah’s work is about the juxtaposition collaging of culture or images that are found on the Internet or that exist,” he said. “I really like that theme. And when I was looking at her work, I thought it would be really fun to do that with motion and video.”
The final tool they created — which lives at Sawbaum.com — is meant to create the feeling of painting or composing with found videos on the Internet.
“We thought what was cool is that we could put things that don’t necessarily make sense next to each other and all together they kind of make sense,” Flombaum said.
Using the tool is quite simple:
First you’ll need to visit Sawbaum.com. The home page displays some of the most recent creations from the site. Up top, you can create a title for a new piece of work, and click Get Started!!! (exclamation points theirs).
You’ll be brought to a blank page with a toolbar. Click Add a Video in the upper-right corner. A blank entry section will show up. This is where you’ll need to paste the link to the Vine video you’re hoping to use.
To access a specific Vine video URL from your feed, you’ll need to click the three small dots at the bottom-right corner of the Vine in question.
From there, click on the View Post Page. Copy the URL for that page, and then tab back to your blank canvas.
The Vine will appear on your white screen. Adjust its opacity and its z-index (whether it layers in front of another image or behind it) by clicking on the tool icon in the upper-right corner of the video. Adjust its size by dragging the bottom-right corner out. You can move the video squares around by dragging them.
Continue the process until you’re happy with your creation. Then click the See It! button at the top-right corner of the page. This will generate a static URL for the page, which will allow you to send it around to friends. This is the one I made for my coworkers. They’ve thus far ignored it. (Editor’s note: I saw it.)
Though Flombaum said he was crunched for time to complete the first iteration, he said he hoped to eventually create a tool that allowed you to “paint” with videos. Meaning that instead of filling in a brushstroke with color, you could fill it in with video.