American Pixels
Technical Notes About American Pixels

These "American Pixels" are an experiment. Image formats like jpeg (or gif) use compression algorithms to save space, while trying to retain a large fraction of the original information. A computer that creates a jpeg does not know anything about the contents of the image: It does what it is told, in a uniform manner across the image.

My idea was to create a variant that followed in the footsteps of what jpegs do, but to have the final result depend on the original image: in a very direct way the computer algorithm becomes part of the image creation. The idea was to build a hierarchical compression algorithm, where the compression - in effect the pixel size - depends on the information in each uncompressed pixel and its neighbours. So adaptive compression (acomp) is a new image algorithm where the focus is not on making its compression efficient but, rather, on making its result interesting.

Another, slightly simplified way to think about this is to say that the algorithm leaves detail where needed (or desired), and compresses all the other areas.

As computer technology has evolved to make artificial images look ever more real - so that the latest generation of shooter and war games will look as realistic as possible - acomp is intended to go the opposite way: Instead of creating an image artificially with the intent of making it look as photo-realistic as possible, it takes an image captured from life and transforms it into something that looks real and not real at the same time. What is more, it produces images that have spatial depth: as you zoom in you can see more and more details. acomps are designed for a wall: The viewer has to be able to walk back and forth in front of them.

I used to call this algorithm adaptive jpeg (ajpeg), but unfortunately that is just confusing: acomp is not a varient of jpeg, it is a unique, different compression algorithm.

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