Publication Details

Ballard, S. "Mutable aesthetics: emergence in digital installation." perthDAC 2007: The Future of Digital Media Culture: 7th International Digital Arts and Culture Conference, 15-18 September, Perth, Australia. Media Space 1 (2008): A. Hutchison


In order to make the claim that the aesthetic specificities of digital art practices are about more than their technologies, this paper contends that the micro- and macrocosmic realms of information theory are applicable and useful in the field of art history. In his introduction to The Digital Dialectic, Peter Lunenfeld presents the impact of the digital on representational media as the recasting of 'everything' as 'digital information.' Consequently, everything can be 'stored, accessed, and controlled by the same equipment' (Lunenfeld 2000, xvi). For Lunenfeld, the digital does not merely represent an aesthetic, or a process, but operates from 'similarity at the level of binary coding' (xvi). Lunenfeld wants to capture this moment of the digital, as he sees it representing a change in the very way we negotiate the world. But representational change can not simply rely on the zero and one of the digital binary, as if these two elements always behave appropriately, falling neatly into place and forming unimaginably complex patterns that simply make digital things go. The zero and one of the digital binary often slip up. Although everything can be stored, accessed and controlled by the same equipment, this does not mean that we have unlimited and uninterrupted access, storage or control. The process of digitization results not only in the loss of continuity, but also in the gain of noise. A number of recent digital art works such as the networked digital installations and films by New Zealand artist Douglas Bagnall use the complexity of programming to create works that appear to recast 'everything' as digital.

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Media Space Journal