Wednesday, 14 September, 2011 - 10:45 - 11:45
The dominant media of the 21st century are now in place: spreadsheets, databases and geographic information systems. Evolved from double-entry book-keeping, from the early adding machines and filing cabinets of the first office revolution, and from the maps that guided the first wave of European imperialism. All three share a move away from origins in chronological ordering. Time is being squeezed out of contemporary media. We need to look hard at its position in digital technology. The moving image media begin with succession – one frame after another – adding the interlaced and progressive scan with the invention of video. Digital imaging brings with it the clock function in image capture and processing; and the introduction of the time-to-live principle in packet switching, which ensures undelivered packages erase themselves so that they do not clog the system. Time is integral to digital media, far more so than to their mechanical predecessors. Vector graphics are a startling example of the potential of this temporal specificity. But vectors are both constrained by the universality of raster displays, and redeployed in video codecs as a means for managing and controlling time. The aesthetics of digital time cannot be separated from its political economy: and art that is digital needs to pay attention to the materiality of digital media, and the politics and economics that define them, especially in the moment of IPv6, HTML5 and the MPEG-LA patent wars.