back | next

The work I have been doing at the Media Lab in the last year has been a reflection on these issues. This work, for me, grew out of my research as an art history doctoral student. I have titled my recent work "Kinograffiti" to reflect a relation to both a history of moving images and a desire to identify with a specific practice of cultural writing. Graffiti interests me in that beyond being a form of writing, it is a very public kind of writing. Its generous forms that suggest the gestures of bodies in motion against architectural forms differ from, say, diary entries, which could also be shown to operate publicly, but along different tropological structures from those constituting street graffiti. Graffiti is more cryptographic. It is also more emblematic. Its forms are "tags," crossing the boundary from alphabetic territory into a pictographic one. Graffiti seems paradoxical in the way that it is both a gestural form, connoting an autograph, while it simultaneously depends on reproduction for its life, also like an autograph or signature. Individual tags exist in an economy of reproduction; they bear a great deal of resemblance to other tags. Gestures composing one tag may resemble those constituting a different tag. This gestural economy accounts for a great deal of the recognizability of graffiti as a form.


There is something of the structure of digital forms which resembles for me the aspects of graffiti I've just described. That some aspect of this resemblance is seen by others is reflected in that on the Internet there are a number of websites which use the metaphor of graffiti as a way to allow visitors to leave traces, markings, or pictographs. Of course, unlike street graffiti, such web architectures are designed to elicit and receive their taggings. Special software authorizes this graffiti. In this way, these websites encourage the graffiti artist's desire to deposit a mark, but without encouraging an aspect equally important to the success of graffiti as well as the web: the ability to copy and learn from the resource of forms that already circulate over that network. This aspect of digital practice is in fact central not only to the extension and popularization of the web, but an important part of all interaction we have with digital media. Digital media not only lends itself to being copied, but itself operates in terms of reproductive operations. On the web, novices learn to make their own websites by copying the scripts making up other sites. But experienced programmers at times do no different when writing code. And computers are designed to copy information from one area of memory to another. I will return later to this issue of copying.

Screen Imaging Device (progressive screen shoots)

screen 1screen2

screen 3screen 4

back | next Page:  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  |  12