SDHO – Friday, Critical Making session

Just realised I’m supposed to be blogging.
Excellent fun, but I’m sceptical to the uniqueness ascribed to digital making with respect to any form of making. All material objects have creation processes and intrinsic hidden or visible attributes, and rely on technology in some form (perhaps with the exception of singing and dancing?). These along with their spatial dissociation contribute to any copy of any object being unique in any number of ways, but in the digital world we may, although not always, have more easy access to the accompanying metadata.

The differences between cave painting and digital image production could be considered as purely a matter of scale and complexity. To assume the digital is unique is to underestimate the complexity of human actions and technologies in the past. Creating charcoal and paints requires knowledge, experience and technology – just as the creation of physical and software digital tools does. Admittedly, the copy paste action in a computer simplifies image reproduction, reduces the probability of visual variation between copy and original. But so does the camera, the forger or that frame thing from the 1980′s that allowed you to copy drawings. “…the image on the screen is not even identical to itself.” (Drucker, Speclab, 139) – what does that really mean? Admittedly I’m quoting out of context, but there appears to be a tendency to mystify DH through the use of obtuse and ambiguous expressions. Does the uncritical reader perhaps may assume that if something is difficult to understand then it is of necessity true?

Post by guest blogger:
Dr Philip I Buckland
Senior lecturer in Environmental Archaeology
Director of the SEAD infrastructure
Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society
Dept. Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies, Umeå University

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