The text below is an image.

It is easy to ‘capture’ text. The act of copying, here through the snipping tool, means I do not have to type these words any longer in order to get the writing on the screen. Writing and typing can be replaced by taking images. Where previously words were keyed in, letter by letter, I can now offer a simulation of the physical act.

The written word can be ‘authored’ based on the following definition,blurring writing, constructing, originating.

Definition of author

au·thor  (ôthr)

a. The writer of a book, article, or other text.
b. One who practices writing as a profession.
2. One who writes or constructs an electronic document or system, such as a website.
3. An originator or creator, as of a theory or plan.
4. Author God.
tr.v. au·thoredau·thor·ingau·thors

1. Usage Problem To assume responsibility for the content of (a published text).
2. To write or construct (an electronic document or system): authored the company’s website.
An author, can now be understood as the individual who writes the words, a creator, someone who builds the web page, but not necessarily writes the contents.
By the way I did not ‘write’ any of the above, I ‘appropriated’, which here, means ‘cut and paste’ but I did ‘author’ the post.
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Today in the UK another company went into administration, Blockbusters, the video/game/film rental company. This follows HMV, Jessops and Comet, all within a few weeks. Journalists on the radio were explaining that all these companies were doomed since they did not embrace the online retail model.

It seems to me that commentators focus on the competitive downturn, changed habits of the consumer, new online behaviour that has proliferated in terms of viewing and retail experiences.

Whilst I agree with all these economic observations, one experience that lies at the heart of these companies is the manipulation of the digital image and the speed and ease by which imagery has become available, making their exclusive quality redundant.

To illustrate my point, there is the image above, taken from the BBC website. It took no more than around 3 minutes to caputure and upload. A few years ago, it could have taken a day or so to take photos (not mentioning to have them ‘developed’) or use an illustration, scan or do the repro for the artwork etc.

Generally speaking, we all accept that these images are part of our all day /every day online and offline experiences. We live, indeed are surrounded by these images, beamed across TV monitors, computer screens, digital pads, smartphones. Purchasing these images as part of a potential exclusive experience is no longer the case. Indeed, going by online behaviour our purchasing is linked to a relatively small digital representation (JEPG) of an actual object, and we rather manipulate the electronic image in favour of the  real physical object.

The trouble with HMV and Blockbuster is that they were still banking on an element of exclusivity available from the physicality of the object.  But today, downloading a movie from the internet is no longer associated with that unique setting and watching it on a dedicated home system, in a dedicated space. Indeed, families watch multiple movies, via multiple technologies at the same time, in different rooms.

Digital images are now experienced like a Maelstrom, a whirlpool of visuality, blended and mashed. Their uniqueness lies in there temporarily,  the fleetingness of the moment which can be re-experienced and re-located at any time. Where consumers before paid for that uniqueness of the image, the premium is now associated with the mobility of the online spaces.

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Anabel Jankel and Ricky Morton

This book published in 1984 (available from Amazon) was one of the first computer art books I bought and offered a fascinating insight in digital visual culture, seen as quite separate from ‘traditional’ cultural expressions.

The blending of the ‘material’ and ‘immaterial’ had not quite taken shape and the idea of cyberspace was a space ‘out there’ or at least that was my perception of it then (and now). The readings in the next few weeks will bring an opportunity to take stock.

Anabel Jankel and Ricky Morton were also responsible for Max Headroom, a TV character that was made-belief entirely digital, but in effect was an actor. Computer imagery was not quite sophisticated enough to be able to visualise fully digitised realistic  animation.

This idea is in stark contrast to the character of Rick Deckard in Blade Runner, who (if one listens to Ridley Scott)  is not quite certain if he is a replica or not…both fictional characters appeared in 1984 and it seems that back then any visionary conceptions of what CGI might develop into was unlimited…

CGI articles in specialist journals seem to endlessly describe the wire-frame modelling and rendering of images,with ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ for a perfect realistic result. Hence the refreshing appearance of Pixar Jr which was actually telling us a story, in addition to some pretty good animation…

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