To.be: A Tool to 'Collage the Internet' Leads to Insane Digital Mashups
If you’re the sort of person who revels in Web weirdness, but longs to do more with your online finds than reblog them on Tumblr or post them on Pinterest boards, then perhaps To.be is for you.
The site is billed as a “studio space where you can collage the internet.” It’s a relatively easy tool for combining your favorite Web objects — images, GIFs, video, audio — into one gloriously insane digital mashup.
It started on the Web, but a new iPhone/iPad app version just came out.
Examples? Check out this video — a trailer of To.be creations that range from tastefully spare to full-on mind-melting:
To.be ringleader Nick Dangerfield (whose past tech/arts experiments include the wearable MP3 device Playbutton) tells me that To.be started out about a year ago as a “hideaway” where digital creators could build virtual collages, and maybe share them with a few close friends or collaborators.
But gradually he and his small team concluded they might have hit on something bigger, and more social: a way to communicate with “a new visual language online — more personal, imperfect, one that does not hide the human hand behind it.”
Thus a more public-facing version of To.be debuted a few months ago. Dangerfield is the first to concede that there’s still tweaking to be done, but a steady stream of tech artists and totally random creators have glommed onto the tool to whip up a dizzying assortment of riffs on the digital-collage idea. Users fill a “field” with content they can rearrange and in some cases transform, and share the results in a way that other To.be users can remix even further.
Some of these may strike many viewers as somewhere between vertigo-inducing and flat-out hideous. Imagine a vintage Myspace page compacted into a single riot of moving parts. (And made even trippier by the ability to zoom in or out.) But some creations are more restrained, and in any case there’s definitely something new about the results.
“The stylistic range is unbelievable,” Dangerfield says. “We see great pictorial works with intricate use of stencil, and from there we go to insane and very dense transparent gif collages.”
Here are a few favorites he points to. (Note that in some cases I’m just using screenshots, because the actual piece includes sounds and would make this post a potential seizure-inducer)
Click here to launch animation and sound.