Friday, January 15, 2010

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Duplication

Still Reading Gene Youngblood's "Expanded Cinema" and came across an interesting section on television and the gallery oriented art world (p292):

"The traditional triangle of studio-gallery-collector in which art historically has thrived is slowly being transformed. The psychological effect of television's totally immaterial nature may be largely responsible for the contemporary artist's awareness of concept over icon."

The operator of a "television gallery" (Fernsehgalerie), Gerry Schum, is quoted:
" '&hellip After the broadcast there is nothing left but a reel of film or videotape. There's no object that can be seen 'in reality' or be sold as an object.' "

This immateriality, the absence of an object to be sold, is even more pressing for digital artists. Back then the original video tape master was the highest quality original, any copies would be degraded (generation loss). Digital copies on the other hand can be identical to their original. The original? The file in which the data was stored for the first time? Is that file not a copy of the data that was stored in memory first? One step further back and one could argue that the original is the input data from which the computer calculated the output data, the manifestation of which is the digital work of art. Which brings me to The Big Paper I may never write: "The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Duplication". Maybe it is time to read Benjamin again.

Unfortunately the Art world transformation never materialized. Video artists in stead created objects: installations. Still enjoying reading the optimistic text though!

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