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“Light symbolises the highest good, it enables all visual art, and today it lies at the heart of billion-dollar industries. The control of light forms the foundation of contemporary vision. Digital Light brings together artists, curators, technologists and media archaeologists to study the historical evolution of digital light-based technologies. Digital Light provides a critical account of the capacities and limitations of contemporary digital light-based technologies and techniques by tracing their genealogies and comparing them with their predecessor media. As digital light remediates multiple historical forms (photography, print, film, video, projection, paint), the collection draws from all of these histories, connecting them to the digital present and placing them in dialogue with one another.
Light is at once universal and deeply historical. The invention of mechanical media (including photography and cinematography) allied with changing print technologies (half-tone, lithography) helped structure the emerging electronic media of television and video, which in turn shaped the bitmap processing and raster display of digital visual media. Digital light is, as Stephen Jones points out in his contribution, an oxymoron: light is photons, particulate and discrete, and therefore always digital. But photons are also waveforms, subject to manipulation in myriad ways. From Fourier transforms to chip design, colour management to the translation of vector graphics into arithmetic displays, light is constantly disciplined to human purposes. In the form of fibre optics, light is now the infrastructure of all our media; in urban plazas and handheld devices, screens have become ubiquitous, and also standardised. This collection addresses how this occurred, what it means, and how artists, curators and engineers confront and challenge the constraints of increasingly normalised digital visual media.
While various art pieces and other content are considered throughout the collection, the focus is specifically on what such pieces suggest about the intersection of technique and technology. Including accounts by prominent artists and professionals, the collection emphasises the centrality of use and experimentation in the shaping of technological platforms. Indeed, a recurring theme is how techniques of previous media become technologies, inscribed in both digital software and hardware. Contributions include considerations of image-oriented software and file formats; screen technologies; projection and urban screen surfaces; histories of computer graphics, 2D and 3D image editing software, photography and cinematic art; and transformations of light-based art resulting from the distributed architectures of the internet and the logic of the database.”
failed. In a third attempt he finally received the copyright (Noll 1994: 41). Noll is also quick to note that while the piece was not issued a copyright until 1965, it was ‘actually made in 1962’, making it, not the computer art produced by the Germans, Noll is proud to report, the first work of computer art (Kane 2008c). Computer historian Margit Rosen suggests, however, that there is no known date or ‘birth year’ for the origins of computer art, as there is with photography and film,
tensions for the work to work (where sacred colour tends to bear anthropocentric associations, while synthetic colour tends to denote artificial and machine-made colour). However, sacred must not be confused with anti-scientific, naïve, or romantic notions of colour. Rather, as this work clearly demonstrates, both sacred and synthetic colours co-exist, in this particular historical and cultural moment of technological intrigue, along with a fascination with the future, and progressive social and
viewer and user—inviting us to be both witness and participant (Manovich 2001: 207). In this way, with the real-time image generated in the time of the viewer, the computer screen becomes a space of performativity. That is, rather than emanations of the past, photography has become a performative calculation, where temporality is not so much historical as recursive. Commercial Conditions: From Film Sales to Algorithms Finally, I want to turn briefly to a less commonly discussed aspect of digital
mirror through the encoding of light. In Snow Mirror (2006)—from the software mirrors series—the image of the viewer, read through a video camera, is re-created through a projection of white snow flakes that accumulate in areas of the image that are brighter. Light again is the basis for encoding the simulated ‘reflection’. In Weave Mirror (2007), the mirror image of the viewer stepping in front of the camera is (re)created by the movements of 768 motorized and laminated C-shaped prints that form
Victorian pathology museum, each object glows in a responsive fluorescence. And it responds to your presence. Katherine Hayles has evocatively described this experience: When an ionizing current is passed through the gas, the glass models fluoresce, creating a beautifully eerie glow … [As the ionized gas] arcs towards the visitor’s hand, a connection and possibly a communication seems to be established between the interiority of the glass nervous system and the cognition of the visitor as she