Postdigital

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Postdigital is a term which has recently come into use in the discourse of digital artistic practice. This term points significantly to our rapidly changed and changing relationships with digital technologies and art forms. It points to an attitude that is more concerned with being human, than with being digital. If one examines the textual paradigm of consensus, one is faced with a choice: either the "postdigital" society has intrinsic meaning, or it is contextualised into a paradigm of consensus that includes art as a totality. Either way, Roy Ascott has clearly demonstrated that the distinction between the digital and the "postdigital" is part of the economy of reality.

Kim Cascone uses the term in his article The Aesthetics of Failure: "Post-digital" Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music. [1] He begins the article with a quotation from MIT Media Lab cyberpundit Nicholas Negroponte: "The digital revolution is over." Cascone goes on to describe what he sees as a 'post-digital' line of flight in the music also commonly known as glitch or microsound music, observing that 'with electronic commerce now a natural part of the business fabric of the Western world and Hollywood cranking out digital fluff by the gigabyte, the medium of digital technology holds less fascination for composers in and of itself.'

In The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age Mel Alexenberg defines "postdigital art" as artworks that address the humanization of digital technologies through interplay between digital, biological, cultural, and spiritual systems, between cyberspace and real space, between embodied media and mixed reality in social and physical communication, between high tech and high touch experiences, between visual, haptic, auditory, and kinesthetic media experiences, between virtual and augmented reality, between roots and globalization, between autoethnography and community narrative, and between web-enabled peer-produced wikiart and artworks created with alternative media through participation, interaction, and collaboration in which the role of the artist is redefined.

In Art after Technology Maurice Benayoun lists possible tracks for "postdigital" art considering that the digital flooding has altered the entire social, economical, artistic landscape and the artist posture will move in ways that try to escape the technological realm without being able to completely discard it. From lowtech to biotech and critical fusion - critical intrusion of fiction inside reality – new forms of art emerge from the digital era.

Jem Finer defined the term "post digital", in relation to his work, as "a return to a tactile relationship with ideas and materials informed by over 30 years of working with computers. A practice that seeks to transcend mediation via a screen and locate itself in the physical world, rather than at one stage removed, through digital representation". He first formulated the term in relation to his 1000 year long musical composition," Longplayer"[2]. Though starting out its life as a computer generated piece of music, it needed to be "composed" in such a way that it could survive possible computer mortality, that it could assume any technological form.

Extending these ideas, in 2005 he proposed a "post-digital" sonic sculpture of indeterminate duration and composition, "Score for a Hole in the Ground"[3] which was installed in Kings Wood, a forest in Kent in 2006. This bypasses the digital phase completely and uses only gravity, rain and wind as energy sources. Inspired by suikinkutsu, water chimes found in the temple gardens of Japan, Score for a Hole in the Ground uses tuned percussive instruments, played by falling water, to create music. A root like system of ducts collect and amplify the sounds, via a cor-ten steel horn, rising 20 feet above ground level. Finer describes his project as, ‘both music and an integrated part of the landscape and the forces that operate on it and in it’.

In addition to the wide scope of artistic discourse, the notion of postdigital is emerging as a term that describes the exploration of our relationship to the computer age as a dominant paradigm in a time of global mixing, intertwined economies, population certainty and planetary limits.

Giorgio Agamben (2002) describes paradigms as things what we think with, rather than things we think about. Like the computer age, the postdigital is also a paradigm, but as with post-humanism for example, an understanding of postdigital does not aim to describe a life after digital, but rather attempts to describe the present-day opportunity to explore the consequences of the digital and of the computer age. While the computer age has enhanced human capacity with inviting and uncanny prosthetics, the postdigital may provide a paradigm with which it is possible to examine and understand this enhancement.

For new-media artist Theo-Mass Lexileictous, #postdigitalism primarily refers to the exploration of new avenues dealing with the extraction of the digital into the physical, the result of which aims to create hybrid artworks. Artworks resulting from the cross between two diverse realities. That of the physical existence and that of the abstractness of the digital world. Coined in 2012, #postdigitalism according to the artist, is a term necessarily preceded by a hash mark (#) in order to be identified as part of this decade’s language formation and highlight the emergence of a hybrid language evident in our everyday communication, present in all types of media. A creative exploration into art and language, the #postdigitalism notion according to Theo- Mass Lexileictous consists of: #POSTDIGITAL ARTWORKS: #hybrid_artworks and #postdigitalist_objects / #POSTDIGITAL LANGUAGE: #postdigitalist_automatic_writing and #hybrid_language. In 2012, Theo-Mass Lexileictous wrote the first Postdigital manifesto; the #postdigitalism_manifesto.

Further reading[edit]

  • Alexenberg, Mel, (2011), The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness. Bristol and Chicago: Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press; ISBN 978-1-84150-377-6.
  • Alexenberg, Mel, ed. (2008), Educating Artists for the Future: Learning at the Intersections of Art, Science, Technology, and Culture. Bristol and Chicago: Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press, 344 pp. ISBN 978-1-84150-191-8. (postdigital chapters by Roy Ascott, Stephen Wilson, Eduardo Kac, and others)
  • Ascott, R. (2003), Telematic Embrace. (E.Shaken, ed.) Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-21803-5
  • Barreto, R. and Perissinotto, P. (2002), The Culture of Immanence, in Internet Art. Ricardo Barreto e Paula Perissinotto (orgs.). São Paulo, IMESP. ISBN 85-7060-038-0.
  • Benayoun, M. (2008), Art after Technology abstract of the text written by Maurice Benayoun in Technology Review - French edition, N°7 June–July 2008, MIT, ISSN 1957-1380 Full text in English
  • Benayoun, M., The Dump, 207 Hypotheses for Committing Art, bilingual (English/French), Fyp éditions, France, July 2011, ISBN 978-2-916571-64-5.
  • Bolognini, M. (2008), Postdigitale, Rome: Carocci. ISBN 978-88-430-4739-0
  • Pepperell, R. and Punt, M. (2000), The Postdigital Membrane: Imagination, Technology and Desire, Intellect Books, Bristol, UK, 182 pp.
  • Wilson, S. (2003), Information Arts: Intersections of Art, Science, and Technology. ISBN 0-262-23209-X

External links[edit]