thought-provoking stuff from Charlie, as ever.
Some years ago I attended a German conference that brought film/video people together with the massy tradition of German art history. Three ancient Kunstwissensh‚ftligher presented their conjoint research of thirty years. Tugging at beards, and picking up one another's sentences they told us
we are now ready to make some preliminary statements about the nature of the image. We are almost at the point of being able to identify the immediate problems of the diptych. But what we fail to understand is what you mean when you speak of the "moving" image . . .
Collapse of stout parties in the audiovisual ranks
Some 20 odd years later the story reverberates still.
Moment the first: if (as they held) there is something which constitutes the image as a unity, a coherent whole, then for the moving image there is a lack of such coherence, unity and wholeness. This is doubly true of electronic images where scanning means that the image is never contemporary or simultaneous with itself. Whether analog or digital, scanned images contain time in a way that even cinematic frames do not
This is why the Johannes' analogy with digits (spot Derridean pun moment) doesn't work: it may well be that the digital condition concerns a dialectic of coherence and incoherence, but it is very definitely not about an essential discretion of units:
Technical footnote: there is a temporality: the duration of the exposure, in wet photography, but the whole frame is exposed for that duration simultaneously; digital cameras for the most part receive the light similarly across the array of sensors simultaneously but in the process of draining charge form the photo chip and converting to digital form, they rely on the clock function)
Moment the second: this failure of the moving image to exist in the same time as itself can be expressed as non-identity: the toxin of substitutability, of relation between images (exactly the problem of the diptych, bit also of the frame, the title, the institution) make sit apparent that once we look at historical images from the standpoint of the moving image, they too lose their coherence
Technical explanation: where for the German tradition of Bildwissenschaft, the image is the image, A=A, this is not the case of the indefinitely substitutable condition of the moving image, in whatever technical form though with substantial technical differences (see moment the third below). Crumblies who read badiou or Miller will recognise the nod to Frege who's mathematical philosophy starts from the observation that since everything that exists is identical with itself, nothing is not identical to itse;f, therefore he can define the swymbol zero (0) as the non-identical. He then demonstrates that every counting number (1,2,3,4 . . . .) in some sense contains an element of this unstable non-identicality. For further reflections, and for a critique of some incorrect accounts of the supposed privilege of analog photography see jy Latent Image, forthcoming in the online Journal of the Image)
Moment the third: there is little point saying that digital and analog are different unless you want to slip into abstraction. In concrete, material terms, and sticking with photography, the camera body, interior light trap, lens construction, use of coatings, tools of measurement for exposure and focus etc, tripods and other peripherals are all of a kind. Moreover, not all processes are alike: it is different to use Photoshop or Gimp; Microsoft, Linux or Apple; to display on screen, printed in bubble-jet or transparency and so on. We must take the concept of medium specificity in its real specificity: the medium of any one digital expression ios a one-off assemblage of specific tools and practices. It is not some abstract "digitality"
definitonal note: "code" will not do as a marker of the digital. we must specifiy protocol, codec, machine code, programming language, software, operating system, application . . . . these are at least as different as say french and sinhalese, and probably as different as radio and bark painting
Historical comment: when MacLuhan wrote about electronics ot print in the 1960s it made more sense: film was a stable medium use din stable institutions; television was made using these tools in a clearly defined cultural practice. These conditions no longer obtain. But that does NOT put us in a post-medium condition -- absolutely the contrary: we can learn from (deeply apolitical and therefore suspect but nonetheless useful) Latour that the human-physical assemblage of a device is extremely specific - so much so that generalisations of difference based on vast de-differentiating of practices is unlikely to help us.
best from m y new berth at Winchester UK
Professor of Global Media and Communication
Research Centre in Global Art and Culture
Winchester School of Art
Winchester SO23 8DL,
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Editor-in-Chief Leonardo Book Series