Just discovered this archive of an exhibition I did with Rebecca Young back in 1997. We made an interactive piece titled Ghost in the Machine
Fingers on the pulse: digital aesthetics and (not so) dead media
The term digital aesthetics is of fairly recent coinage. It usually refers to the exclusive use of the computer within artistic practice. However the title of this exhibition is suggestive of the role of the digital in pretty well every form of visual art. It was no accident that all the letters of the word typewriter were confined to one line when Christopher Sholes designed the QWERTY keyboard in 1873. This enabled the impressive demonstration of its significant improvements upon earlier models, such as the discrete separation of type into individual characters, which facilitated speed and dexterity. This conceit was also a reflexive gesture. It neatly made the point that any new cultural technology, no matter how different from its predecessors, involves, and indeed necessitates, use of the fingers (the most famous instance of this insight being M.C. Escher’s 1948 lithograph, “Drawing Hands”). To exploit the ambivalence contained in the very notion of “digital” aesthetics is therefore no idle caprice, for it identifies an important consideration that must invariably face any contemporary artist: what is to be the role of the computer in an established practice.
All of the artists exhibiting in Qwerty come from an array of low-tech artistic backgrounds, from the fine arts and graphic design, to photography, music and literature. In their own ways they have set about appropriating the inventive potential of the computer.