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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2011

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2011

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Subject:

Re: Analogue/Digital Art

From:

"Gere, Charlie" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Gere, Charlie

Date:

Fri, 4 Mar 2011 12:51:05 -0000

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (61 lines)

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

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