Binary Inventions and the collapsing of space and time

Yesterday I walked across the street to hear the panel discussion hosted by the 2012 Arts and Culture Series. The panel brought together practitioners of various forms of digital art ranging from music to animation to digital and new media journalism. The panel was packed with smart, thoughtful people. (The screening and conversation with Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata from Tiny Inventions was particular remarkable.)

The panel discussion began with an interesting question regarding the place of digital technologies as a kind of “philosopher’s stone” that could transform one media to the next. This resonated a bit with some of my thoughts regarding the role of archaeology as a mediating discipline between physical objects and ideas. Texts (and photographs, plans, drawings, and increasingly video) do much of the heavy lifting between object and idea within the archaeological discourse. As Max Porter and Ru Kuwahata and Andy Ihnatko noted at several points in their talks, the goal of the (new) media’s philosopher stone is to tell stories and create experiences. 

Another useful question that the able moderator asked is how digital technologies have transformed the rhythm of life for the artists on the panel. The journalists commented on how the digital age has created a 24 hour new cycle in which they must at least attempt to engage. Others commented on how they could now communicate in realtime with collaborators and partners around the world. Others still noted that the manual components of their work (practicing piano or making prints on paper) seemed to stubbornly resist any of the supposed efficiencies presented by a digital commons.


I got to think about our academic pace of life on how digital technologies have transformed it. One thing that the panelists make clear, the ability of the digital world to collapse space has a clear connection with its tendency to compress or collapse time. Global workflows and instant communication have changed work patterns and professional expectations. I blog every day because not only because I think I might have something to say, but also because the digital rhythms of internet-mediated, personal publishing demands a kind of regularity in the production of content that a group of writers would have managed to fulfill the expectations of earlier media.  

This is all to set up an advertisement for myself (in a round-about way). Check out the Cyprus Research Fund Lecture today at 4 pm CST. Keeping with the theme of collapsing space and time, the talk will be streamed live on the internets. Click here to get to the talk.

If you’re old school, stop by the East Asia Room in the Chester Fritz Library at 4 pm to hear the talk live and in-person. 

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