Analogue Becomes Digital

Long before I had ever owned a mobile phone I had tested my own network of connections via creative artforms that extended the communicable space as an artist into the world wide web. As an artist and with the inspiration of role models such as Tim Burns (installation artist) and Rob Muir (sound artist) and his counterpart Rik Rue (sound artist) there seemed to be a space between the analogue world and that of a this new and replicable digital world. 

It was with this replicant value that I saw or considered to be a dilution of the original. It is that engineering feat of replication that I also envisioned great value in selling more, then realising that the whole point of an original was not in it’s replicant form, rather in its spiritual whole and original. My forays into the creative practices as an artist drew me closer to those whose creative output switched almost overnight from ultra high definition analogue tape recordings to that of the replicable, easy edit digital domain. Reel to reel tapes and analogue mixing decks gave way to personal computer powered programs, softwares and boxed sets of licensed, controlled and expensive suites of new digital tools. Likewise the scale and ferocity at which computational power was required to replicate previously easily attainable analogue practices meant humans were spending disproportionate amounts of time learning software programs as they were using them.

I spent literally hundreds of hours focussed on a few but relatively specific areas of this new human computer interaction. I was avidly interested in the internet, the capacity to create websites and creative domains that showcased the analogue creations as photography and textual explanations for form that could be electronically read by others in other locations. It is with that ‘other locations’ premise that it became evident to me that place or the whereabouts of information was as important as the content itself because a vast body of content could be rendered useless if the time and location of the data lost its hierarchical evidentiary trail.

Despite that awareness I still set about running countless editions through the artist mangle and even smashed a few boundaries of what constitutes art or creative commercial form by exhibitions such as ‘Print Online’. With great mirth I recall that I had persuaded 20 non artists to construct a visual form using a digital arts program via computer and print these, mount them and then display them as ‘works of art’. 

The point of the exhibition in 2000 was to demonstrate that whilst the computer gave rise to new creative forms, in some way the ‘seeing’ eye of an artist is never replaced by a computer generated copy or computer run algorithm. Many people I have found will contest this position as there are many examples of what I consider to be non-art hanging around in homes and people loving the lack lustre of it all. It is with that power in holding an original, the first of a print run or the maquette of the sculpture that I gravitated towards what an Internet mediated public could bring to the art world experience. I failed miserably to recognise that a relational embodiment involving the networked world that Elisa Giacarrdi had explored a decade earlier already prefaced my earliest awakenings in this domain.

So it is possible that for the PhD research experience to be also considered through the lens of the power differential, the facilitation of the haves and the demise of the have nots. It also means that in considering what I have experienced in the short years prior to writing my research submission, that these experiences really matter in understanding the background to the research journey, knowing more of what came before and why so much letting go occurred as I neared the end of the data collection phase.