Digital Materiality

Within the framework of the Berlin Summer University of the Arts and Studium Generale of the UdK Berlin the seminar "Digital Materiality" has taken place in our Hybrid Lab. The workshop-group was a mixture of regular students and international participants, one of them is telling us about what effect the seminar had on him...

 The following pixels you are about to read are my conclusions on the intensive seminar Digital Materiality, guided by Baruch Gottlieb at the Hybrid Lab from the Technische Universität and the Universität der Künste Berlin <3 on some debates from all of us, the assistants (the workshop-group is a mixture of regular students and international participants). It was a seminar that moved my brain, I was never thinking in all this aspects. Maybe was the context, the Hybrid Lab in very simple words is a combination from Art and Maths, and this seminar was the perfect combination of both. I do digital art, and always thought my art was in a cloud or in electricity; even people that appreciate my pieces ask “Diego, when are you going to evolve and make them real?” -What can I answer to that?. When people mention the word real, usually feels the same like Neo before he met Morpheus, I thought I knew what was real. After this seminar I can explain everybody that digital is physical, it is REAL! Baruch & the seminar were a kind of Morpheus: “You take the red pill Seminar —you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes…”

We live in a material world, and by material I am not only talking only about the human conduct orientated to materialize efforts, hours, attention, time... by materialism I mean that everything we know is tangible, even ideas as a result of material interactions, have a physical part.The prefix digital doesn’t change the condition of the materiality. It change only the support in which it is reflected, and all digital , need a part of analog (no on the other way round).

We are the digital materiality, or better say, digital materiality is us and no more than a reflection of us. Applying the same principles of energy (energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another) and also following the principles of description (describing an image into a code) I can easily think that what we are converting into digital is nothing more than our own ideas, thoughts, laws, personality, our own Humanity… Digital Materiality is the result of our efforts to achieve immediateness.

The digital behaviors are a mere reflection of our own behaviors, we are not innovating nor evolving in digital. Of course over there, there would be nothing of this without us, in all the chain of the digital materiality (and analog) we can find human presence, we still need a miner to extract Lithium and one programmer to develop a software for a machine.

In both Analog & Digital interfaces, we face the same overproduction and waste, that are the clear examples that the human scale is wrong, we really need to start exploring the alternative support for our digital material. We share the same resources for both worlds, the water we need to survive, is the same water needed in the production of Microchips, mining, electricity, and is limited in our surface.

We see all this like a process, a process that is a reflection of us. Like the Bibles were reflections and interpretation of each writer, the same happen with us. Is the responsibility of the results on the programmer shoulders? Are they responsible for the Ethics of their own tools/programs framed in a defined society? Where is the limit of the Digital and analog responsibilities?

Like McLuhan told, artists are the distant border line radars, we are sensors sensible to detect this and are the artists the ones able to program the sensory life. But there is something failing in today artists, we are incapable of solving underlying issues with some common Ethics, Ethics comes from the greek word habits; in practice, ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles. Some simple question is still in debate: do we want freedom to do something or freedom from something? One day we will need to develop a branch of Psychology to analyze Software behaviors in order to understand why they are taking that decisions, what reflection of our habits or programmer habits are inside that program. In the end, there is an Art here, a technic we are suppose to understand with errors as possibilities, and the control (cyber) is still ours.


DIÆGO ARIMAYN CAPALBO is an digital artist, who participated the intensive seminar "Digital Materiality" in june 2017 conducted by Dr. Baruch Gottlieb.