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“Light symbolises the highest good, it enables all visual art, and today it lies at the heart of billion-dollar industries. The control of light forms the foundation of contemporary vision. Digital Light brings together artists, curators, technologists and media archaeologists to study the historical evolution of digital light-based technologies. Digital Light provides a critical account of the capacities and limitations of contemporary digital light-based technologies and techniques by tracing their genealogies and comparing them with their predecessor media. As digital light remediates multiple historical forms (photography, print, film, video, projection, paint), the collection draws from all of these histories, connecting them to the digital present and placing them in dialogue with one another.
Light is at once universal and deeply historical. The invention of mechanical media (including photography and cinematography) allied with changing print technologies (half-tone, lithography) helped structure the emerging electronic media of television and video, which in turn shaped the bitmap processing and raster display of digital visual media. Digital light is, as Stephen Jones points out in his contribution, an oxymoron: light is photons, particulate and discrete, and therefore always digital. But photons are also waveforms, subject to manipulation in myriad ways. From Fourier transforms to chip design, colour management to the translation of vector graphics into arithmetic displays, light is constantly disciplined to human purposes. In the form of fibre optics, light is now the infrastructure of all our media; in urban plazas and handheld devices, screens have become ubiquitous, and also standardised. This collection addresses how this occurred, what it means, and how artists, curators and engineers confront and challenge the constraints of increasingly normalised digital visual media.
While various art pieces and other content are considered throughout the collection, the focus is specifically on what such pieces suggest about the intersection of technique and technology. Including accounts by prominent artists and professionals, the collection emphasises the centrality of use and experimentation in the shaping of technological platforms. Indeed, a recurring theme is how techniques of previous media become technologies, inscribed in both digital software and hardware. Contributions include considerations of image-oriented software and file formats; screen technologies; projection and urban screen surfaces; histories of computer graphics, 2D and 3D image editing software, photography and cinematic art; and transformations of light-based art resulting from the distributed architectures of the internet and the logic of the database.”
effects house, Industrial Light & Magic. George Lucas had hired us principally (only, it turned out) to build three instruments for him: a digital optical printer (which we realized with the Pixar Image Computer and laser film reader/writer), a digital video editor (which we realized as EditDroid), and a digital audio synthesizer (which we realized as SoundDroid). It came as a surprise to us that George did not seem to want us in his movies, but not until I had assembled a world-class team to do
Wash., June (revised 15 August, 1995). 42 Alvy Ray Smith ———. 1995b. ‘A Sprite Theory of Image Computing.’ Tech. Memo 5, Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., 17 July. ———. 1995c. ‘A Pixel Is Not a Little Square, a Pixel Is Not a Little Square, a Pixel Is Not a Little Square! (and a Voxel Is Not a Little Cube).’ Tech. Memo 6, Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., 17 July. ———. 1995d. ‘Alpha and the History of Digital Compositing.’ Tech. Memo 7, Microsoft, Redmond, Wash., 15 August. ———. 1996. ‘Image Sprite
when a glass rod of one refractive index was fused inside a glass tube of another, and the two heated and extruded to a fine filament. Already in use over short distances for gastroscopy in the 1950s, the nascent technology was wedded to lasers in the 1960s (Hecht 1999: 88–91). In a return to cinematic technologies, confocal lenses—deliberate ‘imperfections’ functioning as series of lenses keeping light away from the walls of the fibre—guide and thus amplify the transmission of light through
———. 2011. Synthetics: Aspects of Art & Technology in Australia, 1956–1975. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. ———. 2013. ‘Bush Video: Towards a New Secular Electronic Notion of the Divine.’ In ReLive : Media Art Histories, edited by Sean Cubitt and Paul Thomas, 169–89. Cambridge, Mass.; London: MIT Press. Kilburn, Tom. 1947. A Storage System for use with Binary Digital Computing Machines. Progress report to Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE), issued 1 December. Laposky, Ben. 1969.
became an art because different lenses required angles, and different proximity to the lens. Sometimes, when we were outside we’d use mirrors. … We had two cameras, so sometimes we had two different spotlight operators. When there was atmosphere in the room, you had to be really careful because you could see the beams. … [It] feels like the future is that bright. (Woerner 2009) Abrams’ flares takes us back to the affective level of image capture, and to the artful engineering of analogue flares