Post-digital art. The projection of technology as a way of seeing.

As the integration of technology, into the arts, matures I see a pattern forming. Technology does not give us access to things other-wordly. It does not expose objective realities about our material world that help us understand it in a new light. Rather, it allows us to see ourselves in a new light.

But this isn’t my key point. This new way of seeing can then stand independently of that technology. So technology opens a door that it didn’t create. It just opened it.

Consider Chunky Move’s Glow (2010). A dancer’s form is analysed by a computer, interpreted as ‘outline’ then re-projected into that dancer. Add a bit of digital delay to the imagery and what you get is a kind of human spirograph. The inherent geometry within the dancer’s organic movements is extracted and displayed. The computer’s vision acts as a kind of partner dancer, perfectly in-sink yet utterly different. Its a relationship that gives the dancer’s movements a transient permanence that reveals both a pattern of movement but also the frailty of human physical inconsistency.

Now consider the work of artist Tony Orrico. Penwald Drawings (2011) take a leaf out of Chunky Move’s appropriation of technology, but delivers it analogically. The drawings take a similar form. BUT the movements of the dancer are significantly different. Without the aid of a computed digital delay and re-projection the dancer must himself physically perform much repetition. Here, the human form is cast into the iterative repetitions natural of computed logic. When considered in the same breath as Glow, this is an example of the human form mimicking technology’s eye appropriated to reveal human form. To produce this work, the dancer must cast themselves into a formalisation characteristic of machines.

My hypothesis is that this work of art would not have materialised without technology… even though there is no technology involved.

So whilst technology is *not* involved in Tony Orrico’s work, it remains central. I think we will see more of this. Technology’s way of seeing will infiltrate the non-technological arts to create a kind of post-digital practice; where what the digital medium has exposed remains but without the digits. One characteristic of this, I suspect, will be the human simulation of the iterative and repetitive tendencies of technology.

Tony Orrico’s work also reveals something very different … through repetition, the¬†frailty of human physical inconsistency is no longer the subject of the work, instead providing the work a textural depth that reveals a kind of knowing commitment that geometries will appear.

[Addendum: would I be right to suggest that photography had a similar effect on painting? Photography introduced a new way of looking which then infiltrated how painters worked? If so then it might be better to ask specifically; how does contemporary technology differ from older technologies? Maybe, in essence, it doesn’t differ from older technologies. At which point one might say that art is about finding new ways of looking, and technology serves as just one means for discovering new ways of looking…. in other words … there is no special relationship between art and technology]

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