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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2011

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2011

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Subject:

Re: Analogue/Digital Art

From:

Curt Cloninger <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Curt Cloninger <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 6 Mar 2011 15:14:13 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

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I recently enjoyed (finally) reading Anna Munster's "Materializing 
New Media." For me, it was one of those texts that I wish everyone 
was required to read so we could all pick up with it and avoid 
re-hashing the same old embodied/disembodied dichotomous fictions 
that serve as so many distracting bogeys when discussing topics like 
analog/digital.

I would call Munster's approach largely Deleuzean (although she 
revisits Leibniz a lot). New media is always a complex entanglement 
of physical, proprioceptive bodies and "ephemeral" media. In even the 
most "virtual" spaces, human bodies are inflecting and coloring the 
experience; in even the most physical installations of projected 
media, aspects of "digital" media are inflecting and coloring the 
experience.

At the last mile, humans experience all media "analogically." analog 
light waves enter a physical eye, analog sound waves enter a physical 
ear, physical skin and muscles feel analog signals (heat, 
resistance). Whether I'm listening to a digital CD or analog vinyl, 
both ultimately enter my ear analogically. This is obvious, but I 
don't think that makes it unimportant.

Of all the characteristics Manovich points out about "new media," the 
most significant might be that computers allow all media to be 
synesthetically massaged (the max/msp patch effect). So the final 
state of the "outputted object" ("digital" CD or "analog" vinyl, for 
example) is less important than the process through which the media 
have been massaged on their way to finally encountering a human 
receiver. Because ultimately, the very last mile of this encounter is 
always technically analog. (How could it be otherwise with human 
bodies?) So then the interesting questions have to do with process 
and translation, signals hopping back and forth between (throughout, 
over/under/within) digital and analog divides. What are the 
qualitative ways that such translations affect the behavior of the 
signal? These are questions of deterritorialization and 
reterritorialization. These are questions of residual affective 
artifacts. These are questions regarding embodiment, immanence, and 
particular performative instances. Frequently (and here Virilio 
becomes increasingly relevant), these are questions of speed -- the 
qualitative difference(s) of speed as it crosses various 
thresholds/changes-of-state.

Here is Kevin Shields' (My Bloody Valentine) guitar foot pedal configuration:
http://www.guitargeek.com/rigs/img/m/mbv_kevin_1991.gif
The same exact hardware could be configured in a different sequence 
resulting in a radically different tone. (Not to mention the settings 
on his guitar, the way its pickups are wired, the gauge of strings he 
uses, whether he is playing with his fingers or a pick, the humidity 
in the room, etc.) These orders and contexts and details matter 
because signals are flowing through these configurations in 
historical (albeit rapid) time, in physical (albeit electronic) 
space. Matter always matters (light waves and sound waves are matter, 
language is matter). As software/hardware allow more rapid/extreme 
flavors of material modulation, matter matters more than ever.

Best,
Curt

-- 
Curt Cloninger
Assistant Professor of New Media
University of North Carolina Asheville

+++++
Home: http://lab404.com
Garden: http://playdamage.org
Archive:  http://deepyoung.org
Portfolio: http://lab404.com/art/
School: http://mmas.unca.edu

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