You never know what will happen when Jesus washes his face. Sometimes, nothing. But other times, the towel he used miraculously turns into a holy relic, bearing the image of his face. It’s crazy.
According to legend, one lucky king received one such towel, which became known as the Image of Edessa. Fast forward like, a million years later, and two Internet artists, Evan Roth and Geoffrey Lillemon, have made an interactive website called Image-of-Edessa (the dashes indicate modernity, obviously). Using animated GIFs and WebGL, the two guys created a hypnotic sequence of flashing Jesus faces, surrounded by an intricate lattice of geometric patterns. Whenever I stare at it for more than five seconds, a mix of anxiety and awe creeps up on me. I guess that's sort of how religion is supposed to feel.
When I asked Evan and Geoffrey why they chose to work with GIFs, they said it was because GIFs are eternal--just like something sacred. According to the artists, "the idea of a looping image sequence that has no beginning or end creates a looping moment in time, therefore the idea of a timeless relic allows for worship without the pressure of the hourglass."
Watch the videos below to see Evan and Geoffrey's experiments leading up to the Image-of-Edessa website. As you can see, they cycled through a lot of '90s style demoscene graphics before settling on the final result.