Sunday, November 30, 2008

"the digital image is . . ."

To say "the digital image is . . ."is to misunderstand both image and digital. An Image, in some sense, always is not. To the extent that it is an image *of*, it denotes an absence; to the extent that it imagines, it images something non-existent. 'Digital' meanwhile denotes – in relation to images – that they are not themselves, nor representations, but expressions of a numerical matrix. Randomy generated or products of scientific instrumentation (and thence realist), the 'digital' of digital imaging denotes an act of expression which can always be expressed otherwise. Because of the colour gamut and resolution of the host machine; because it can be expressed in different codecs or file types; because it is capable of labelling and bitrot and so unique; while also because it can be willfully or accidentally altered in detail or in whole. These unstable states and their blending – as when we make an idealised portrait or a caricature, or when we alter the convolution algorithms for a satellite observation – have no self-identity. As non-identical, they do not have being: they become.

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