Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Zoomquilt (2004) (zoomquilt.org)
878 points by xingyzt 60 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 132 comments

I created this project back in 2004 together with a bunch of other illustrators. It grew out of a community where people collaborated on artwork over the internet. Happy to see it continues to gather interest. You might also enjoy http://zoomquilt2.com (2007) and http://arkadia.xyz (2015, my favourite)

This is of the things I love about HN. Someone shares a link and within 30 minutes of the link having been shared the original author of the site shows up and gives us more details about it and answers questions :)

I have no questions of my own but thank you for having given us these details and answers.

I shed a tear for the days when the major social news sites were like this.

The original one uses a red ribbon throughout the zoom; is there a reason why that helps visually maintain the illusion? Is it just a stylistic choice?

The second one doesn't contain a static object that travels with the camera in the frame at all times, and the zooming in effect is still visually compelling, so it doesn't seem necessary. But I really liked the constant ribbon in the first.

Also, who did the art for them? Was it a team effort or just a single person?

[EDIT] It looks like Arcadia also has a sort of ribbon effect, though it is more subtle than the single, same color ribbon in the original.

Zoomquilt 1+2 was done by a bunch of illustrators. A person would paint a single frame, which would be scaled down and given to another person to continue painting around while blending into the previous frame. The picture would develop much like the Cadavre Exquis surrealist drawing game, and part of the fun is to continue and transform what the person before you left. Arkadia I painted together with my friend Sophia Schomberg.

I remember those trees with the faces. I think I read about Zoomquilt in the mid 2000's in one of the magazines I used to buy. And I think they included a copy of the swf on the cover disc, which was nice because I probably didn’t have Internet on my computer back then.

The magazine where I read about it and got the swf from was I think either Digital Creative Arts magazine, or Digital Arts magazine, or Computer Arts magazine. All of those were different magazines I used to buy from time to time. Could also have been ImagineFX magazine or in one of the web design magazines.

Very pretty, thanks for sharing.

In Arkadia spacebar pauses the zoom. After a few minutes of watching the illustrations zoom in the scene appears to be zooming out but of course it is not, just neat illusion.

That effect carries through to anything else you're looking at (i.e. for me the HN comment box is shrinking right now...)

I think the color cycling (doesn't pause) might play a role also.

Yes, that enhances the illusion for sure

I particularly like arkadia too: fantastic use of colour. Do you sell your artwork, or prints, anywhere that's accessible to us norms?

EDIT: I notice that at one point you were offering prints from Arkadia on Etsy but, unfortunately, they all seem to have gone. Do you have any plans to offer more?

Thank You! We tried the prints thing but nobody ordered any, so we took it down again ;-) The one thing that is generating a bit of revenue is the Zoomquilt Android Live Wallpaper app were you can purchase Arkadia as an add-on. If you have an Android device you should definitely give it a go as the infinite zoom effect makes a super nice wallpaper.

Ah, that's a shame. I'm refurbishing my house and was thinking about something for one of the walls. Thanks for letting me know.

I somehow found it deeply relaxing.

For sure amazing artwork, but the overall experience staring at it - magical. Thank you for your creativity and how you put it on! Bookmarked.

This is my first time seeing it, and it strangely made me start to feel anxious and maybe... nauseated?

Any easter eggs or cool background stories/inspiration/deeper meaning to any of illustrations?

This creative work gives me life, thanks for sharing.

This is incredibly cool: thanks for making and sharing it. Can't believe it's taken me 16 years to discover this gem.

Thank you for this. I was in high school around that time and started play around with Flash with my friends. This was mind-blowing when it came out. It has been one of my references of cool interactions for many years back in the days, thanks.

Amazing stuff! How did you do the scaling back in 2004? I can only picture doing this with a modern JS stack, but I suppose I'm a spoiled web developer in that way.

The original wasn't done with code but animated with Macromedia Director and later ported to Flash. The smooth full window HTML5 version you see here I coded in 2013

what i'm curious about is how the 2007 zoomquilt2 has an easter-egg for the 2015 zrkadia.xyz in it...? Did the former inspire the starting frame from the latter, or was it retroactively retrofitted?

There was some nudity in there which I removed for the Android version to keep it family friendly as required by Google Play. I decided to change the web version as well.

is there source code for arkadia?

I'm curious to see what the code looks like

as a side note - it's great that the js is not minified :-)

Any chance these could ever be released as videos on youtube or vimeo? Or as a simple downloadable .mp4 (or format of your choice)? Or as a collection of still images?

I ask because I'm wary of letting untrusted websites run javascript in my browser, and try to avoid it as much as possible.

With the above options I can just use youtube-dl to download the videos (or download the videos directly in the case of a simple link to an .mp4) and play them in my video player without having to run any untrusted javascript.

That's the most entitled comment I've read in a while.

If you really are that worried why not create a virtual machine for browsing untrusted things.

"That's the most entitled comment I've read in a while."

What's so entitled about asking?

I'm not demanding anything nor insisting that I have a right to it.

It's a simple request. Nothing entitled about it.

On the other hand, I find your baseless, unfounded accusation rather insulting.

"If you really are that worried why not create a virtual machine for browsing untrusted things."

Because my old, slow laptop is too weak to run a VM.

Not everyone is so fortunate to have a powerful enough computer to run a VM whenever they need to browse an untrusted website.

That's not to mention that there are ways to break out of a VM, so it's not the best solution as far as security goes anyway.

In any case, if you think running a VM is a valid response, I don't see why you'd be so aghast at asking for a much simpler, much less resource-intensive way of viewing the content: by using a simple downloadable video.

Of course the receiver of the request is under no obligation to comply. In fact, they usually don't because people like me who care enough about their security to want to avoid javascript are in the tiny minority, and can be safely ignored. I'm well aware of this, but it doesn't hurt to ask, does it?

I feel it was entitled because you asked for them to:

a) spend a non-trivial amount of time creating a work around for you.

b) release artistic control of their content in a way in which it will be shown to people alongside adverts and whatever else these platforms decide.

c) a video would likely be larger than the original generated version, or suffer from video compression artifacts.

It was a simple request with a good explanation. The author can say no.

I agree with pmoriarty in their statement that this is not only uncalled for; but offensive.

Nothing about that comment suggested pmoriarty felt 'entitled' to it - they were simply asking if it was an option / available.

Well, it feel entitled because he mention about don't want to 'let untrusted websites run javascript in my browser'. Said untrusted website however, is the author's website. And it feel like the author need to answer these personal request.

I mean, it may technically true in every way, just not a nice way to ask for something. He can simply just ask(hell, I'd love that too) without giving his personal technical reason and it will feel a lot nicer.

Sometimes you don't have to say every single details...

P.S. I don't think OP has evil intention though. In the end it's matter of different perspective.

I hope the person I responded to was not offended by some random stranger revealing that they didn't trust the javascript on their website, and would prefer a safer alternative.

I also have to disagree with the advice to keep my reasons for wanting a video secret. I feel it's important for content creators, executives and the many javascript developers on HN to be fully aware that javascript is a dangerous technology, which is not trusted by people like myself who care about their privacy and security.

I try to point this out every opportunity I get, and will continue to do so, so people can't claim they had no idea that javascript was so horrible because no one ever told them.

Javascript is horrible, and requiring your viewers to expose themselves to security vulnerabilities in order to view your content is not ok.

I understand your principled point of view (and I did not downvote), but at some point this becomes akin to a vegan or climate change activist chiming in on posts about steak-cooking techniques. It’s not wrong per-se[0], just pretty tiresomely off-topic if you point it out every time.

We get it. 1 in perhaps 1K web users doesn’t like Javascript. If you use it, your TAM shrinks to 99.9% of what it could otherwise be.

[0] - I think the danger is similarly blown out of proportion to the harm

One of the reasons that so many people are ok with javascript is that they're ignorant of the risks they're exposing themselves to by using it.

This includes even places like HN, where I've had people claim that JS was completely secure and refused to believe there were any JS vulnerabilities until they were shown proof.

So, yeah, my option is to stay silent and conform, and let everyone have a pleasant time at their steak dinner without mentioning that I'm vegetarian for ethical reasons and either eating their steak or going hungry.

Incidentally, both vegetarianism and environmentalism have become much more popular over the last few decades, while they used to be very fringe positions, far out of the mainstream. They didn't become popular by people staying silent about them.

You might say there's a time and a place for everything, and the reveal of artwork that's powered by a javascript website is not that time or place, but I say what better time or place is there?

This is the best opportunity for awareness to be raised.

That said, I didn't intend to derail this thread in to an anti-javascript screed, but if people are going to start calling me entitled simply for asking for a direct link to a video so I don't have to run their javascript, then I'm not just going to swallow their insults. I'm going to respond.

Agreed. If your setup in 2020 is to ask people for a non-JS version, it's time to put in a little work yourself to run a VM instead of asking other people to do work for you.

Time to learn self-reliance and resourcefulness.

The argument underneath this comment is unbelievable. I wonder if anyone arguing tried to just search for this: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=qnzfY4aODUc

> The argument underneath this comment

Keep in mind that the comments order changes in time and your comment may not stay above the comment you (tried to) point.

I was referring to the siblings of my comment, being "underneath in depth" the parent in the tree, not "underneath in vertical pixels" my comment. It seemed unambiguous at the time, but clearly not.

That's the original Zoomquilt, which is not either of the videos I asked about.

Ackshually, you said "these" on a page about Zoomquilt 1, in a thread about Zoomquilt 2 and Arkadia, which is not specific. And my comment was meant to suggest that you can simply search youtube to find all of them. But here:



The trick here is that it's meant to be an infinite loop, so "give me da Yooo Toobs" isn't gonna work here.

If you don't trust JavaScript in general, then just accept that you can't experience this, and move on. No hard feelings.

"The trick here is that it's meant to be an infinite loop, so "give me da Yooo Toobs" isn't gonna work here."

Except it would work perfectly, as I'd just download the video using youtube-dl and then play it in mpv, which can easily loop the video.

After watching this all the way through my mind wanted to push my screen around after I closed the tab. Almost like Hacker News was going away from me or something. It was a bit trippy. Just me?

Motion aftereffect! The most extreme version of this effect I've ever seen is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzSRVgF501M

I used to get this as a kid mowing the lawn on a riding mower. After a couple hours, when you get off the mower the whole world seems like it's receding from you slowly.

This naturally happens in an automobile as well after driving the stateside highways long enough.

Oh my god, I had the same thing happen to me! I had bad eyes from a young age, so I always just attributed it to that... Neat. Makes sense.

After being a scuba diving assistant to instructor thru one summer, I had similar effect after spending close to 10 hours under water every day for weeks: when I lay down for the night on a flat bed and open my eyes, the whole ceiling would float like a water!

This has be somewhat depicted in movie "The Big Blue" https://youtu.be/82onGmBx9ZM?t=74

Trees outside were moving in the wind. Wasn't clear to me when the effect stopped...

This is crazy. Feels like it was revealed that my brain is no different than the AIs creating trippy art that Google made a while back. They just had a longer stare

Eerily similar to one aspect of mild psychedelic trips (wavy-ness)

I first experienced this as a kid, after playing Guitar Hero for a while with some friends on a gigantic TV. The middle third of the screen scrolls away from you at a constant speed the entire time, and eventually we all started having a collective hallucination that the carpet around us was warping and undulating. It took us a minute to realize what was happening. It was a wild minute.

This is called the "motion aftereffect"


I freaked out as a kid after playing River Raid on the Atari for hours.

It's happening to me right now.

I know I can find someone feels the same in the comments!

i felt exactly the same sensation.


It is sad how I intuitively felt the urge to scroll to see if I could zoom in quicker. I think the Web is getting us too used to quick scrolling and just short glimpses of artworks, places or articles, and unable to stop even for a couple of minutes to try to explore the essence of some art and get absorbed by it.

Apologies for making what may sound like the average "edgy teen" comment, but is exactly what I felt in this case.

You can use the arrow keys to zoom faster

But we are still very much absorbed by something, it's just that the individual pieces are blended together into this new thing: The web, or The Scroll.

If you're interested in a more rigorous/academical take on this stuff I recommend checking out Marshall Mcluhan (There are some clips on the YouTube) He wrote about TV in the 60s but his ideas are startlingly relevant and provoking.

I feel this comment a lot. The art work was just amazing but the urge to go all the way down was higher.

I feel this when I watch tv shows and movies from the 70's and 80's

And SNL, but that's another story.

I'm watching plenty of old movies and series in the past couple years, and I usually switch the speed to 1.08 to 1.15 in VLC. That works wonders with stuff from the 60-70-80s.

Quicker? I would've liked it to go slower so I could actually take in the artwork. Mind you I never tried the keyboard, I too have gotten used to things like tutorials and on-screen instructions.

I remember there being a slider control for the speed/direction..

This reminds me aesthetically of the game Gorogoa. It's beautiful and only takes a few hours to complete, so I highly recommend it.

[1] http://gorogoa.com/

In terms of spatial geometry, it's more similar to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manifold_Garden.

I love this game! Great rec.

This would be awesome in one of those monitors that look like a hanging picture frame

Extra awesome if it was infinite or procedurally generated using style transfer GANs or something to showcase different types of art.

Even extra awesomer with the ability to zoom in more than one point


Good find. Answers my initial question, "How was this done?"

See also 2nd version: http://zoomquilt2.com/

Interesting. The 1st version gets a cool 60 FPS on Firefox, while the 2nd version gets 30 FPS. Much less smooth. They both get 60 FPS in Chrome.

Both perfectly smooth in Safari, although the second one seems to be higher-resolution to my eye.

Firefox on windws - The first one was smooth a silk, the second, not even 30fps. more like 10.

Definitely putting this on the projector next time I have a party.

Hahah, that's a good idea.

If you like this and like Three Body Problem I'd check this out (droplet video)


Really nice video. Captures the essence and the terrible beauty of the franchise.

Damn this brings back serious memories from like 2008 when I first saw this

Next someone is going to post Badgers Badgers Badgers.

That's a lot older and I personally just watched that in the last week when archive.org added flash animations. https://gizmodo.com/internet-archive-brings-flash-games-and-...

Something of the same nature but with video:


I am a visual junkie and have long known about things like Zoomquilt, Zoomquilt like going through Oz, music visualizers etc

Definitely getting some Powers of Ten vibe to it


If I stare directly at the center of the screen for a bit, say 10 seconds, then look somewhere else, my field of view appears to be flowing towards wherever I'm looking. I am surprised that this happens after such a short period, and am not sure why my brain "corrects" for the zoom effect. I guess maybe it could be because my vision tells me I'm moving, but my body tells me I'm not.

I think this was a flash animation about 15 years ago. I seem to remember it working much better as flash. Either way it's awesome.

It’s the kind of thing that would have taken < an hour in flash and ages in JavaScript.

I know because I’ve tried both.

From what I can see, it's literally just frames growing and the new frame being places at the right place and time. It's honestly impressive how smooth and seemless it is for a bunch of images being placed and zoomed

I remember this. Because the images get more frightening as you zoom in, I thought it was going to be a shock site.

Wow. When I came back to HN after watching the entire loop, my browser was totally throbbing like a waning acid trip.

I remember the Guns n Roses spin-off band Velvet Revolver had a cool Flash site around then that had a similar navigation effect. When you clicked something it would zoom in to that part of the site. It blew my mind when I ran across it back then.

It would be great if Google Earth and Google Street View zoomed like that in any direction.

Whoa! That is bizarrely addictive. Quick, someone reformat the newsfeed to deliver images from my friends in this format for greatly increased engagement. Call it Insta-Trance. Pop up ad every 30 seconds has your revenue needs covered.

Is there enough precision in a double for this to be formatted as an SVG?

I thought SVG was arbitrary precision before reading this comment. Reading now, it seems like you aren't guaranteed any more than single precision.

I StumbledUpon(.com) this in 2005/2006 when I was excited about learning how to code and create on the Internet. I need to create again, but got beat up along the way.

Something similar to this, "Visual Meditation": https://mesmerizeapp.com/

This has been around forever. It's still gorgeous, but the jpeg artifacts and compression demanded at the time definitely show.

Someone should change the title to (2004).

From https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=6542450 this version dates to 2013, but I think 2004 is probably fair.

I wonder if the Internet Archive has the Flash version somewhere...

Does it end?

No, but you can press the up key to make it not end sooner.

You can also press the down key to zoom back out forever.

It loops after several of those paintings, or about 5 minutes

It loops back around

Wow even with my now poorly trained attention span I couldn't peel away. Very impressive! I would long to see a whole story told in this way.

Here's something - does anyone else's brain try to tell them that the trees are 3D? That's certainly a cool optical illusion!

My normal screen looks weird (opposite to zoomquilt; everything is zooming out from the edges).

Is that normal?

looks wonderful, though the experience seems more like moving through a world than infinitely zooming (i.e. what feels like it's changing is the camera position rather than the scale)

I have never seen a more phallic fish in my life...

This takes me back. Thanks fir the memories.

Your screen is now shrinking...

Anyways, great job!

I want this as a screensaver!

Escher love! amazing work

This looks interesting.

An oldie but a goodie

That is wonderful.



how does it work ?

thats wild

Did anyone else think, before clicking, that this would be a service to order a quilt in which each square is a friend or family member's picture of them as if they were on a 'Zoom' call?

I misread it as Zoom Quit and thought it’s going to be the monthly Zoom bashing thread.

I was thinking a plugin to make the grid of people on zoom look like a quilt. Then, I thought maybe it's a thing where a bunch of people get together and make a quilt together over zoom.

I was certain it was going to involve Zoom though. I was wrong.

Was thinking exactly that.

I was thinking more of some sort of web-based quilt of zoom calls.... or something? I dunno. But certainly something zoom.us related versus what we actually saw.

I thought it was creative backgrounds for Zoom.

I am a still anticipating that if I wait long enough the pixels will enlarge into a grid of zoom.us camera feeds.

Exactly what I thought I would see.

Yes, then upon clicking it my next thought was how to make this my Zoom background.

Now there’s an idea...

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact