It seems the Analogue/Digital discussion is taking place during a
month of sliding scales - from the quantum level of digital/analogue
processes to the near meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant. The
instability of the reactors seems to embody a clash between our
understanding of the universe, and our lack of ability to make things
we need, such as renewable energy, and our inability not to make
things we really could do without (and may soon have to do without -
Sean's point about lithium in Bolivia is crucial here).
But I'm wondering how this relates to forms of making?
A work that keeps coming to mind - is the Flow watermill being
designed and built by artists Ed Carter and the Owl Project for the
River Tyne in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. The wooden mill will harness
the energy of the river to drive the acoustic-electronic sound works
that combine mechanical and digital automation. See
Can we relate the discussion about sensory perception of the world to
the experience of making?
We know that the streaming light of the film projector, or the flow of
the river, can be measured as both digital and analogue forms of
information, but does it affect what we make? or what we measure? Is
there a form-content relationship in other digital/analogue work,
which I think the Flow project is attempting to capture?
On 8 March 2011 12:51, Jon Ippolito <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Big picture (though) this is a (natural) philosophical question. In quantum
>> physics the universe is discrete and thus digital. There is no analogue.
>> Analogue exists only as an illusion, a series of discrete moments where
>> every moment is itself binary.
> Thanks for bringing up this Big (or Very Small) Picture, Simon. As much as we're accustomed to thinking of digital media (CDs) as an approximation of our continuous reality (LPs), what we imagine as continuous reality is more like an approximation of a discrete reality.
> As a reformed former student of physics, however, I would caution against taking the universe's lack of continuity at very small scales to mean that it is digital, or even discrete in the usual sense. Such a pat conclusion would provide an early resolution to this month's question--"Digital wins!"--and leave me more time to chop wood and pay the bills. But it wouldn't take into account how wacky things get when you measure them with eensy-weensy rulers and clocks.
> At scales small enough for both quantum mechanics and relativity to apply, you'll find neither points in space nor moments of time. To make matters worse, you won't even be able to tell whether a given region of space-time is occupied or is empty. This last result pretty much nixes the theory supported by Stephen Wolfram (among others) that the universe operates like a computer. According to Wolfram's theory, at its lowest level space-time is a computational lattice full of 1s and 0s. But such a lattice wouldn't be much use to a universal computer that couldn't tell which compartments had stuff (1s) and which didn't (0s).
> For the curious, there are a slew of pop-science books that introduce these concepts by analogy to Asian philosophy or metaphors of "quantum foam." If you aren't satisfied by phrases like "the mathematics are beyond the scope of this book"--and aren't turned off by the sight of Greek letters and square roots, either--then this free textbook is a good introduction:
> Chapter XI derives most of the "universe-is-neither-continuous-or-discrete" results from a couple basic equations from quantum mechanics and relativity. I'd venture that its conclusions are weirder than anything Lacan, Miller, or Badiou has to say, though I should probably wait for Sean's forthcoming article to be sure :)
> Oh, and most of this cosmic inscrutability is already experimentally verified. Which is like dreaming that you lived in Wolfram Alpha but waking up to jodi.org.
> Still Water--what networks need to thrive.
Lecturer, MFA Curating, Dept of Art, Goldsmiths College, Uni of London.
m: +44 (0)7989 502 191