Saturday, February 27, 2010

A couple of things I never knew about the Red One

The Red Corporation's Red One camera – the most widespread of high-def pro cameras – employs a Super-35mm CMOS chip which, through a structure employing amplification and a dedicated transistor for draining charge on every pixel, givies none of the smear and bloom or the noise of CCD cameras. At a notional 4.5K (4480x1920) resolution, this should be capable of the kind of accurate account of the optical scene that 35mm film has. But the RAW format data in CMOS is digitised in situ, rather than converted from charge to voltage at the chip and only subsequently converted to digital data as in CCD architectures. The result is that the latent image is inaccessible: the chip itself reduces the data by a factor of ten before it is even buffered in the cameras's hard drive.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Further notes on the history of invisibility

The characteristic cultural formation of the capitalist epoch was realism, and its characteristic visual form geometry, specifically the geometry of projection. This is the form of perspective, of cartography. Not primarily or exclusively illusionistic, realist projective geometry is about scale and dimensionality – making small things big, big things small, and round things flat.

By contrast, the fundamental cultural formation of the network era is the database, and its principle is no longer geometrical but arithmetic. The database is dimensionless: it has taken the logic of converting time into space (the graph, the calendar) and eradicated space as well. The database is decreasingly visible, hidden behind the screen displaying the results of a specific search. Thus the invisibility of database-driven sites to search engines.

The long journey from the dominance of hierarchic and semantic visual forms under feudalism has led to the layering of semantics under observation, and now under ubiquitous digital enumeration. The questions are whether this new form is so voracious it will consume the previous modes of visual culture; and whether this is a genuinely new form of political economy or merely the latest twist in the tail of capital.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Old and the New

Apple launch the iPad with fanfared agreements with publishers, and a buzz as to whether this will be the saving of the news and magazine trades. And they sign up with the DECE Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, designed to harmonise digital rights management across multiplatform downloads using cloud servers. Old school IP corporate business. Google meanwhile use advertising revenue to support expensive, loss-making ventures like Books and YouTube so they can give away services in return for information. New school P2P network business.

January 2010: new decade in an old century

two black swans

two black swans westering at twilight

I looked up

lazy white-pinioned wing-strokes
, a herringbone of light

not only human, this passion for order, nor an instrument

An essay in Periodisation

Before all this began, cutting the long story short. there was the Sovereign, the alphabet and the manuscript.

In the era of the Nation, there was printing, the republic, discipline and capital version 1. In the era of the Market, photomechanical and broadcast media shared their diagram with representational democracy, biopolitical management of populations, and the globalisation of capital version 2. In the era of the network which is coming (and in many respects already here), telecommunications align with government by control (Deleuze) or protocol (Galloway). But we do not yet know what political or which economic forms are emerging. The choices would appear to be between Sassen's TAR (territory-authority-rights) model, and Hardt and Negri's multitude as polity, and Bauwens' peer-to-peer or a harder and deeper capital as economy.

Form of government, principle of power, and mode of economy are relatively autonomous, in the sense that they evolve according to their internal logics, but informed by relations with the other spheres. The media forms are slightly different, autonomous but at the same time integral to both the internal functioning of each sphere and the relations between them.

The ethics of "Don't be Evil"

In the matter of Google vs China, three players meet: Nation, Market and State. China sees the market as servant of the nation. The market sees nations as infrastructure, providing the legal and physical systems it needs to run. The network sees the market as a way of getting money to secure the free flow of information. Nations want to protect their people against these flows; markets want to control them. Networks want to extend the logic of "free" from free-from-worry (national goal) and free-to-compete (market goal) to free as in borderless and cashless: free as in flow, free as in beer.

Google doesn't embrace free beer, even though it dispenses it. It wants to be innocent.