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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2011

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2011

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Subject:

Re: Analogue/Digital Art

From:

"Goebel, Johannes E." <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Goebel, Johannes E.

Date:

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

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (130 lines)

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

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