EYES ON CULTURE #006
07 December 2022
A Patchwork of ‘Digital Trash’
EYES ON: Cloaque
Another word for the orifice in which excrement, urine and sperm meets in many animals, Cloaque was also the name of a collaborative collage-based Tumblr page created in 2012 by Carlos Sáez and Claudia Mate. Dubbed a “digital landfill” by its contributors, the page stitched together what they called “digital trash” or the “thousands and thousands of nonsensical, stupid and beautiful images floating on the internet” as its material.
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
It’s a visual feast. Inspired by the anything and everything era of Tumblr images — Cloaque treats each image equally. Not only does its collaborative nature mean we get a taste of the vast assortment of digital image aesthetics of the time, but slammed together and vertically piled, interesting things come out of their seams. Giving an all new feeling to the 'infinite scroll’, this mountain of digital trash, this modern day exquisite corpse, is endlessly engaging.
A 17th Century Rarity Trait
EYES ON: Hercules Segers' Printed Paintings
In most cases, prints are not unique and that’s partly their point. Etched into a metal plate, then pressed with ink, a design can be endlessly replicated, producing identical copies of the original. But in the case of the Dutch artist Hercules Segers’ series, The Enclosed Valley (c.1625–30), each print is made to be different from the next with added variations in colour and material (hence their nickname ‘printed paintings’). With entirely different moods across editions, each print is cherished for its unique qualities.
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
This set of prints — revered for their individuality — resembles something of why digital generative art collections are valued today. Crucial to our appreciation of long-form generative art are these qualities of uniqueness imbued amongst the sameness.
Almost four centuries later, in a world drowning in digital images that can be infinitely reproduced in identical copies, a ‘printed painting’ continues to offer something special. It offers something rare, something surprising.
Difference amongst uniformity (although now automated) has been coveted for a long time, and this set of landscape prints is a nice reminder of that.
AI’s Quest for the Meaning of Life
EYES ON: Memo Akten’s Deep Meditations
The AI artist Memo Akten’s film project, Deep Meditations, is described as a "brief history of almost everything in 60 minutes.”
Trained by both images (from every corner of Flickr) and sound (from YouTube videos of religious and spiritual chants), neural networks dreamt up the ultimate ballad of life. With sunset shots fading into internal organs, the film inundates us with unreal images tracing all of human time — from our birth to our death.
WHY WE’RE WATCHING:
How does one make a film about what it means to be alive out of images that don’t depict real life? It’s a tricky question.
But regardless of the ‘realness’ of these images, together, in large numbers, they are overwhelming. In awe of the colours and subjects flashing across our eyes, we certainly feel something of 'life' from this depiction.
Perhaps it’s like that description of faith, as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And so, maybe, that which ties these images together — their invisible intermediaries, their constant refiguration — is the stuff of life.
WHOSE EYES: Lamia Priestley, Partnerships @ DRAUP
Renaissance religious art historian turned digital art enthusiast, Lamia dove headfirst into digital fashion as the first employee at DRAUP.
FAVOURITE HOT TAKE ON NFTs:
An interesting perspective on immutability in Web3 art:
“Why not ephemerality?” “What do we lose when we lose deletion?” - Robin Sloan
“Things disappear; such is life. This is what all live art has done for the history of time: exist solely in the present, disappearing the moment it’s created. Some things should be permanently stored, yes, but not everything”…. “The notion that everything has to be here forever treats this whole thing with way too much self-importance.” - Gus Cuddy