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Cultural digits or Digital Culture

 

by Genco Gulan

 

The technology, culture and art were two different things for a romantic artist but the things began to change by the end of this century. As the technology difused into life more, the more it began to effect art and culture.

Technology had always effected the culture but indirectly. Art and technology began to have a closer relationship with the invention of photography. The photography lead to a way where the art had shifted from representation to conceptualism. The turning point was not at the point where we saw the digits on the canvas but when we saw the digits as the canvas. The Y2K, year 2000 is very nearby today but we are far away from our dreams.

We grew up with science-fiction TV serials like Moon Station Alfa 1999 and Star Trek. But today at the year of 1999 we neither have a Space Station on the moon nor inter galactic space ships. All humanity could do, is to go to moon a couple of times and sending voyager to Mars once. We haven’t yet seen any of the improvements shown to us on the TV serials. Oh, I forgot the expensive anti missile system called the "Star Wars." We have to admit that the Cold War era had helped the improvement of the new technologies. The information technology has its roots in spying systems. But in the mids of the century the concern was still a destructive nuclear war andhence humanity could not be able think about anything else like shifting to another cultural level.

In the past we always thought that in the year 2000 we could shift to a new cultural level, 4th dimension or the travel at the speed of light. But today it’s the mid 1999 and nothing significant had happened yet. Nothing has changed our daily lives except the revolution in the communication technology and the Internet. Today we can not travel at the light of speed but our knowledge can. We do not need our bodies to travel at the light of speed while our information can. With the beginning of the 1980s we saw that communication has the power to change the world. We have to admit the transnational role of communication in the breakdown of the Eastern Europe. These social and economic changes have signaled a new era which people began to name as the information age.

What has changed in the information age? People did not begin to produce more knowledge but the value of theknowledge -in any kind- has increased. The amount of —relative and irrelative- information has increased. The speed of communication is increased. With the increased communication, circulation of data is increased. Hence we are in a communication age rather than the information one. The quality remained almost the same but the quantity and the speed of the information has increased. But the difference is, with the increased communication you do not increase the circulation of the goods automatically which we might call it knowledge  but you increase the circulation of the services which we can call raw data.

When we talk about the term circulation we use the term technically. In practice we experience the transfer of goods and services from the developed countries to the underdeveloped ones. So when we talk about globality it also meant a technical term. The world is global to countries that hold the technology and is not global for the others which still has to experience the national borders, trade barriers visa’s.

The digits of the culture
101 00 01 01 00 100 0010 01   010 00  10 0 1 0  1 0 0 011 111 10010 1 0 10 0

You can not understand or decode such a number but a computer can. The digits are very simple and rational things, the 0’s and 1’s. The system is purely logical. So how can such a logical system work for an illogical or counter logical system called art? As the computers enter into our lives the digits begin to effect the culture. The computers first began to be used for research purposes. Afterwards they began to take their places in our universities first, offices second and our homes the third. Now the computers try the capture the role of the TV sets At home???

But the drastic change did not emerge only as the results of the PCs but also with the advances in the information technology. With the emergence of the web our lives began to change. The web had created such an environment that you can store data in it and you do not need to know where the actual data is stored. This ne w notion created questions about space definitions.

To give a simpple example you can write an e-mail and send it to a friend. Or make a photo with your digital camera and transfer it to the web. In both cases you create an information and you do not use paper, or any material to suspend it. You make it digitally and send it digitally. Of course your information is stored somewhere in some as digits but digits do not have a form as we got use to it. Regarding to this change I argue that the  cultural object began to loose its form. Or rather the culture begin to loose its material and began to become purely knowledge or information. Human can not travel as fast as light but his information can. Still people also compete on web to earn money in any form. Any money has always had a subject refference. So the race will be between knowledge versus property.

Any way the production of the information is more important than its form. One has to produce information to survive. Today internet is open to all.  The monopolies have emerged but not repressive yet. If the internet is monopolized by the big companies like  TVs the artists in the short run and the people in the long run will disappear. The people will continue to use technology as it continues to provide freedom in some way.

 

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@The Light Millennium magazine was created and designed
by Bircan Unver. January 2000, New York
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