Reflections on medium specifi city occasioned by the symposium ‘Digital Light: Technique, Technology, Creation’, Melbourne, 2011

Reflections on medium specifi city occasioned by the symposium ‘Digital Light: Technique, Technology, Creation’, Melbourne, 2011

Sean Cubitt

Daniel Palmer

Les Walkling

Moving Image Review & Art Journal · Volume 1 · Number 1

© 2012 Intellect Ltd Article. English language. doi: 10.1386/miraj.1.1.37_1

이 글은 아주 나와 의견이 동일하다. 결국 디지털을 자꾸 분리해내려는 시도들은 결국 Modernistic medium-specific 입장에서 벗어나지 못하는 것이다. artist의 개개별의 작업을 분석해내려는 시도가 있어야만 한다. 

Codecs establish an aesthetic: they are the frames through which we observe and construct the world and our experience of it. Without necessarily meaning to, and left to its own devices, such normalization would stifle the innovation and creativity it was designed to encourage. (39)

All three artists deploy digital image processes, and all pass through an enumeration of light as computer code, but their outputs have not been homogenized. (41)

In fact there is no single, universal and coherent digital aesthetics but a plurality of different approaches, deployments and applications. (41)

By inference, for Krauss there is no ontological characteristic defining digital media; there are no distinguishing features separating digital and analogue, nor verbal and visual or any other media. Against Krauss, however, and against the concept of a post-medium condition, we argue that there are indeed ontological properties and unique aesthetics attached to specific devices of both digital and analogue media. These arise with particular choices such as what analogue film stock or what digital codec to employ, and the design of tools shared by both, such as wide-angle or macro lenses. The machinic visions we have described thus far go further still. Monteith engages aerobatic manoeuvres and the logistics of recording under extreme conditions; Sowerwine aligns her animation lighting rigs with the sensitivities of chip cameras; and Wallworth uses the architecture of the interface to structure the emotional and physical impact of her work. These practices instruct us that we must take the concept of medium specificity in its real specificity: the medium of any one digital expression is a one-off assemblage of specific tools and practices. It is not some abstract ‘digitality’. Moreover, continuities in practices outweigh any radical break from analogue to digital, a point powerfully made in a range of contexts during the symposium. 다양한 작업들이 연속성을 입증하고 있는데, 왜 이렇게 자꾸 단절로 보는가. (42)

Midway through the twentieth century, in the age of McLuhan and Greenberg, modern media industries like fi lm and the press seemed stable technically and institutionally. Their theories of medium specificity, based on the stability of film run on sprockets or of painting as a practice involving pigment on canvas, made sense thenKrauss’s attack might be applicable now if it did not ignore the critical feature of new media formations, especially in artistic practices: that media are remade more and more specifically in order to be used in unique ensembles. If on the one hand there is a tendency towards soft ware standardization, on the other there is radical divergence in technique, and radical innovation in technologies and their assemblage into new apparatuses. These developments must drive us to pay far more detailed attention to the materiality of artworks now than in the recent past, when what a work was made of scarcely signified, since most works were made of the same things as all the others.(43) 디지털이 이전 매체들과 많이 다르기 때문에 이걸 단절로 여겨서는 안되고,오히려 그 이유 때문에 더 공들여서 분석하고 접근해야 한다. 

Th is crude binary opposition between digital and analogue stands in need of redefinition. (45)

Once again, we reiterate that to reduce the complex interactions of digital and analogue into a simple binary opposition is to grasp at essences where none can be relied on. Both the speed of invention, and the unstable relation between bitmap and vector graphics and displays suggest that there is no essence of the digital to distinguish it from the analogue, and that instead we should be focusing as curators and scholars on the real specifi city of the individual work or process we are observing.(47)


The ‘Digital Light’ symposium provided refreshing evidence that the inventiveness and creativity of artists is integral to technical innovation, and to assessing not just cost and efficiency but such other values as the environmental and social consequences of technological ‘progress’. It became clear that, faced with such dedicated craft , at the very least, a critic should pay precise and careful attention to the actual workings of moving-image media in the twenty-first century, now that the old stabilities of twentieth-century technology and institutions are gone. Only in such attentiveness will we avoid both film studies’ prematurely assured belief in the specificity of digital versus analogue media, and art theory’s equally assured dismissal of medium specificity. If our symposium has contributed to an awareness of these challenges, while also widening awareness of the richness of contemporary digital media arts, it will have done well. (48)









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