The Poetry of Photoshop Layers: Tanlines' New Interactive Music Video

The creative team OKFocus twists humdrum digital interfaces into mind-bending interactive art.

The creative team OKFocus twists humdrum digital interfaces into mind-bending interactive art. 

OKFocus, the creative design agency that counts artists Ryder Ripps, Jonathan Vingiano, and Jules Laplace as its members, is a company that likes to take the path less trodden when it comes to website design. This is newly reinforced in their latest project, an alpha channel video experiment for the Tanlines track "Not The Same" (it works best in Chrome).


The site was developed as a companion piece to the Tanlines-directed music video for "Not the Same," where multiple Jesse Cohens and Eric Emms perform the various instrumental and vocal parts on the track in a white room. The website version lets users to drag and drop Cohens and Emms in the scene, positioning them as you like and stretching them beyond their aspect ratio (if the OCD part of you can handle it). The ingenious design mimics the Photoshop interface, with the familiar Layers and Tool Bar from everyone’s favorite graphics editing software. You can also change the background to space, Stonehenge, Fish Cam, and images from Dump.FM, and add or delete the performers (thus turning off their instrumental parts) using the Layers tool.

The website also features two bonus Easter eggs: Click the word “Experiment” in the top nav to watch the band members animate into trippy visuals and tag your Instagram photos with #notthesame to have them show up as the background in the Instagram layer of the site.

The design of the Tanlines site is typical of the way OKFocus repurpose existing designs and interfaces, and follows their Modernist ethos of “form follows function.” Their design for the item/idem site, for example, repurposed elements from e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay, re-appropriating the signs and and social cues of the internet we’re all familiar with, and turning them on their heads with knowing humor and irony. It’s an aesthetic that mocks and laments staid web design practices — replacing them with a playful intertextuality, as the company leans on their artistic background to create sites that revel in internet culture.

The website they created for artist/fashion designer Item Idem is like a fake e-commerce site showing various conceptual items that users can add to a concept cart, to create a “conceptual investment.” The “Add to Cart” icon from Amazon is instantly recognizable here, as is the spoofed eBay logo that now says item/idem.

Let Me Tweet That For You gives you the opportunity to write fake tweets as your fav celeb, or even open source site GitHub. The site replicates the Twitter interface and provides you with the avatar of the person, site, or whatever you’re tweeting as.

Using the likeness of everyone’s favorite 90s trashy time waster, Hot or Not, where users submit photos and the web gets to say whether they’re hot or not — the Art or Not site does the same thing for art. Submit something you think might be art and let the hive mind pass judgement by rating it on a scale of one to ten.

For more on Tanlines, check out the Creators Project video interview with the band below:

This post also appears on The Creators Project, an Atlantic partner site. 

The Creators Project, a partnership between Intel and VICE, supports artists across a range of disciplines who are using technology in innovative ways to push the boundaries of creative expression. More

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