wahiba wrote:This is really the old audio analogue/digital debate taken to a new level with images.
However, let us be brutally honest. Most people, me included, cannot tell the difference between a digital and an analogue audio, except the latter might have clicks and scratched.
Same for analogue and digital imagery except the latter might have hairs in the gate!
The great thing about technology is that it also permits us to continue with old systems out of interest rather than necessity.
Debates about change probably started in the caves of the ice age. New fangle flint, you cannot really beat good old bone!!
Long may it go on. maybe there is a film it there somewhere?
New technology, you would think, is a result of a desire for and/or discovery of something better than an existing technology. And this is typically the case. But it's not always obvious what aspect of an existing technology is being improved. But it can be made obvious.
With the invention of tv, video and digital, their adoption wasn't in terms of a better image with respect to film. It was in terms of something else. For example, it wasn't for image quality reasons that NASA did not use film to broadcast the lunar landing. Video, for it's part, doesn't emerge as an alternative to film in terms of image quality. It emerges as a more effective way of storing/retrieving a tv signal. And digital emerges firstly as a computational/language system. It's relation to images and sounds is something that comes much later, and then only to re-argue the status of language as a system prior to sensory systems.
We should not forget that early digital images are easily distinguishable from film. And are, by conventional criteria, poorer in quality. In terms of image quality the digital image is invented as a worse technology! The same goes for video before it, and tv before that. If we're telling the story in terms of image quality alone, we get a story where new technology is going backwards!
For what possible reason would one adopt a worse technology? Answering that question is the real question, rather than how to maintain the idea that technology always is, was, or should be, an improvement on every front.
But this invention of images that are worse than an already existing technology introduces this strange interval in modernism where the new technology will then do it's best to catch-up or more strangely, to converge on the other understood as better - to become the same as the better one. The concept of Modernism (progress) would otherwise be in trouble. It is the era of Simulation. A restart of ideals created in the renaissance (to relive the Ancients). To reach that apparent Nirvana where one can't tell-the-difference. As if this state were desireable. As if sameness were some pinnacle of human achievement. But it's only an interval. Modernism doesn't require this convergence. It is purely the retrograde step that produces this apparent direction towards sameness. One step backward, doesn't reach two steps forward, without passing through one step forward, ie. back through the starting position. Through simulation.
And that's purely from a conservative position, ie. using conservative notions of image quality and history (modernism).
Introduce more radical notions of image quality and the concept of modernism/progress becomes unstable. As it should. For there is no fundamental reason why any image should be considered 'better' or 'worse' than any other. A 40,000 year old cave painting is no better, and no worse, than some painting made yesterday. Picasso as, some supposed pinnacle of modernism and originality will acquire this position while actually appropriating techniques of art practised in Africa for thousands of years. Its not until post-modernism does the same, in a more obvious and critical way, that modernism will be unmasked.
The question becomes, not if we can tell
the difference between one technology and another (quite often we seemingly can't), but how to make
a difference between them. To make such visible rather than invisible. And one answer to that question is by looking at the differences, however small, and amplifying such. To prise apart this convergence. To deconstruct a narcotic desire for sameness. To critique an implosive desire for a Unified Theory of Everything.
And this is already happening. No longer is the digital domain that interested in simulating a film image. It is breaking free of this peculiar gravitational pull.
And film, for it's part, is pursuing it's alternative path.