Working notes from the Scandinavian Institute for Computational Vandalism

Pixel

As with their ancestor, perspective, today’s binary seeing machines, have managed to convince us that now we really can possesses an infallible method of representation: a system for the automatic and mechanical production of truths about the material world. That is, if we buy the new 15-megapixel cell-phone with the Adobe plug-ins that will no doubt be available next year. Or was that last year? Aided by the political and economic ascendance of Western systems of objectification and piggy-backing on photography’s history, artificial seeing has conquered the world of representation.

[…] No matter whether it is a monitor, camera, printer, or the screen of a mobile phone, the output device is always an attempt to reflect or transmit light to the retina of a viewer. The viewer in turn, mesmerized by the light, enters commands that again shine onto the retina. In this way the pixel and its attendant soft and hardware systems can be seen as an element in a net drawn up by the social, economic and cultural reordering of the variables of ambient light. Such a net is made possible by reducing the spectrum of light to a set of repeatable tasks, as analyzed by the linguistic tools of code, made possible by contemporary hardware environments. This is now the natural mode of representation in most rich countries and through it we enjoy our neutral appropriation of the pixel’s reality.

Graham Harwood, Pixel in Software Studies: A Lexicon, p. 216-217

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