One thing that’s standing out now that I have almost 30 days of continuous shots–there’s a definite emerging color palette, partly informed by the landscape–and also inherently filtered by the recording equipment and the original tapes.

In “The Vitality of Digital Media” (The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 55.2), Timothy Binkley investigates the inherent difference between analog and digital, materially and philosophically speaking. Analog equipment is primed for imprint, ready to form a physical response to stimuli–whether it’s a three-dimensional sculpture, actual grooves pressed into a record, or, in this case, magnetic information laid out on tape. Physical matter transports information across time and space, preserving actual traces of the events, making use of real light, sound waves, real movement. Analog recording does not treat the information it’s receiving as signals with inherent symbolic function (109).

In contrast, digital media are all about abstraction, storage, manipulation and process. The actual data itself is constructed of numbers–tokens, symbols and representations of the things, not traces of the things themselves. It’s essentially raw data, mathematical symbiology, that gets translated via converters and processors. Instead of storing the actual presence of sound waves on tape, it converts information from the material world into numerical entities: “digital media transform physical form into conceptual structure” (109). The numbers are almost alive, able to capture the essence of the subject, not mere replication. In this way, digital media actually philosophically reminds me of Chinese brush painting! It exists at this fluctuating point between art and science, were data tumbles into process into reception.

I don’t see either format as superior. There are still important uses for both kinds of data reception, which is why digital has not completely supplanted analog. However, their unique fabric is fascinatingly different, and inherently tied to our shifting understanding of the physical object itself, the great 20-21st century paradigm shift.

These images, then, capture a still moment from an original analog signal, which has been digitized for media storage, then captured again digitally through my camera. I have not yet manipulated the images, save for cropping and minor color-correction to match the original screen tones–but I’m thinking I might do more processing to the next batch of 30 (once the first 30 days are up) and perhaps print some of them out and experiment with the analog form.

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