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Subject:

Re: Analogue/Digital Art

From:

Goebel, Johannes E.

Date:

Fri, 4 Mar 2011 08:12:27 -0500

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 ```Regarding the common root of digit / finger / computer and independent of the further reaching interpretation by Charlie: It seems to me that the common root lies in the fact that fingers were and are always used for counting and doing math with one's hand. The common property of fingers and numbers (in basic counting) is that both are "discrete", that there is nothing "in between" two fingers or numbers (but maybe new fingers and numbers). We could not do counting with our skin, to take a continuous body part. Digits are (in our numberings system) the location of numbers in a stream of numbers, like 321 has three digit where each digit is assigned a range of certain quantities (hundreds, tens etc.) And there is never a number in between two numbers but another number which again can go ad finitum without ever reaching a non-discrete step from one number to the next. And basically digital technology is based on exactly that, the finite state of "either" "or" and not "somewhere in between, a little more to the left or a little bit more to the right". In musical instruments we have digital instruments like the piano (keyboards). There a no keys between two keys. And they are played with our fingers - so one might call keyboard instruments digital instruments. As opposed to e.g. a violin or even a flute or clarinet where one can interpolate between pitches among others through varying air pressure. The first digital clocks came about in the late medieval/early Renaissance times when one had plates with numbers displaying the time - like say every hour or minute the mechanical system made the next number appear - without "anything in between" those numbers. Like our digital computer-based time displays today. So if we want to define such a difference between digital and analog (without considerations of observer effects, general relativity or neurological evidence), we might say that the digital domain works with discrete steps (however fine), and the analog world is "continuous" (at least to our perception), like the difference between our fingers and our skin or our bones and our thoughts :) Up to today, we cannot assign to processes of digital technology any meaning, any evaluation if it works properly or not, unless it is converted to the realm of our senses through which we can validate that what the computer does is actually what it does. We have to use logic analyzers to see if the gates on a chip work - and these analyzers freeze the speed of the chip so our eyes can see what is happening - we have to print out numbers, project images, listen to sounds, make a bomb explode (and we can only experience if the computer we programmed to make the bomb explode by seeing the result of the explosion), we control water with digital technology and analyze chemicals in our blood - but we can only get a result or insight once the digital machine's working has been transposed into the realm of our senses, through which we can verify its functioning "properly" or finding a programming mistake. Johannes Johannes -----Original Message----- From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Gere, Charlie Sent: Friday, March 04, 2011 7:51 AM To: [log in to unmask] Subject: Re: Analogue/Digital Art Thought I'd jump in with some thoughts on the difference between analogue and digital... The word 'digital' has a number of apparently contradictory meanings, including 'designating a computer which operates on date in the form of digits or similar discrete data... Designating or pertaining to a recording in which the original signal is represented by the spacing between pulses rather than by a wave, to make it less susceptible to degradation' (the word for data in the form of a wave being 'analog'), as well as '[O]f or pertaining to a finger or fingers' and [R]esembling a finger or the hollow impression made by one'. At first glance it would seem that digital as in 'digital technology' and the digital meaning to do with the fingers and hands are diametrically opposed meanings; one involving the apparently immaterial world of data and virtuality and the other directly connected with corporeality and embodiment. But the situation is arguably more complex and these two meanings less opposed than it might at first appear. It is with the hands, and particularly the fingers with which we touch, and there is a long tradition within Western thinking, which privileges touch as the primary and most important sense. The hands are also the means by which humans grasp tools and there is another long tradition which connects the hand to the question of technics and technicity. Thus the digitality of the hand, its capacity to touch and grasp and the technicity of digital technology are closely bound up together Works of art have a curious relationship to this binding together of the hand and technicity. They are traditionally the products of handiwork, of grasp and touch, and they are also objects that can, in theory be touched. Yet, in the gallery, the traditional work of art is not to be touched. In the gallery or museum it is in a vitrine, behind glass or rope, bordered by dowling on the floor or protected by infra-red beams, alarms and guards. At the same time the work of art is highly tactile, haptic, tangible; the contours of sculpture or the surface of paintings seem to invite touch, while at the same time forbidding it. We are also 'touched' or even 'moved' by a work of art. Works of art can be sticky, refusing to let us go from their presence, even as they refuse to be touched. One can of course see this as merely a reflection of their perceived fragility and their value or of evidence of the continuing power of the 'aura' of the work of art, but it also can be seen as something more interesting and complex, a sense of their separation which in turn denotes something about their status as art. The work of art is a work of tact, meaning a polite ability to act appropriately though originally referring to the sense of touch. By contrast perhaps the real irony is that in the digital art world, works are not digital in sense of being discrete. They are part of a fluid stream, a flow, a continuum of data, with which we interact and become part of, a milieu, that precisely does not allow for the separation of the work of art, its sequestering behind glass or rope. The more immaterial or untouchable they are the more they engage in interactivity, in encouraging touching and grasping. Thus it can be suggested that the work of art in the digital age can be thought of in terms of a chiasmus in which the analogue work of art is distinguished by its digital discretion, whereas the digital work is characterized by its apparent analogue continuity. TTFN Charlie ```