Processing: Understanding Art as Encountering Ongoing Narratives

Page 1


Table of Contents Journeys In Travel: A Recombinanat, Computer-controlled , Cinematic Esssay Christin Bolewski, Loughborough University School of Art and Design United Kingdom

Processing: Understanding Art as Encountering Ongoing Narrative Heidi Moy, University of British Columbia Canada

From Site-specific Comics to location-based Comics:

Ordinary Things, Planting Comics, and GPS Comics Ozge Samanci, Northwestern University United States

Digital Narratology: Rethinking Narrative Competence in Interactive Media Jennifer Smith, Virginia Commonwealth University United States

Getting Your Hands on Electronic literature: Exploring Tactile Fictions with the Reading Glove Joshua Tanenbaum + Karen Tanenbaum, Simon Frasier University Canada

Conventions and Innovations: Narrative Structure and Technique in Heavy


Huaxin Wei + Dr. Tom Calvert, Stevens Institute of Technology Canada

igital, culture, art, media, narrative, aesthetics, abstraction, reflective, relational

writing in which she often examines the personal relat ionships we

with media. She holds on Honours Bachelors 01 Arts specialist in Art and Art History from the University of Toronto, and a n

Fine Arts in Studio Artlrom the University 01 British Columbia. She is

Processing: Understanding Art as Encountering On 路 Narrative

en digital media plays a role in the production and reception of art, an esthetic encounter may occur that influences the narrative perceived . digital aesthetic can be understood as the relational and behavioral rocesses tha t unfold while one encounters the media, which may ultimatel nd the narrative of the work to be recognized as a cultural mode of pression and a reflection of ourselves with/in contemporary culture. is paper exam ines artworks that explore the invisible processes of our iationships with digital technologies, in which there exists a continual state rocessin

and a desire to understand.


Living life under the sign of the d ig- at is gence of


spatiality and durotion in



t e emer-

ich re live speeds

and differential relations are foregrounded in embodied

It has been argued that in order to understand the basics of new media art we need to understand the dynamics of information aesthetics-design symbols and concepts

experience. It is these conditions thot constitute the basis

now being what pulls us into the work, ideally inviting

for on approximate aesthetics of the digital. -

viewers and users to participate with narrative elements'

I advocote a narrative theory thot enobles the differentiotion of the place of narrative in ony cultural expression without privileging any medium, mode, or use; that differentiates its relative importance and the effect of the narrative (segments) on the remainder of the object as well as on the reader, listener, viewer. A theory, that is, which defines and describes narrativity, not narrative; not a genre or object but a cultural mode of expression. 1

Information aesthetics is the combined understanding of information society, human experience, and visualization techniques. As the amount of digital information increases in our society, artists and researchers exploring new media and digital technologies continue to propose separate, yet somewhat related, understandings of database aesthetics's network aesthetics,6 and web aesthetics/ each of which can be understood in direct relation to the individual ways data is structured, stored, and accessed. In other words,

In many instances, art today has become less about producing an object or form, and more obout the processes and relations that emerge from the production of the work. The aura of the art-object has shifted to the encounter and the relations produced from the work, the latter often referred to as "relational aesthetics." 3 When Nicolas Bourriaud published his theory of relational ort

artists are responding to the variety of ways in which we interact with and experience technology. A common th reod I see amongst these creative and theoretical pursuits is the desire to know and express ephemeral aspects of the digital technologies we live with and use-the invisible processes that ultimately affect how we connect and communicate with one another.

from the 1990s, he described the human relations and social context of these types of art practices as the actual aesthetics; in other words, the viewer-participants' actions constituted the aesthetics of relational art. However, when contemporary artists incorporate digital media into relational and participatory art, there is a particular aesthetic experience that is informed by the processes of the media. I am referring primarily to artworks that incorporate digital media yet perhaps do not fit easily into traditionally defined categories of fine art or new media. Encounters with these artworks can lead to a sensation or awareness about our cultural relationships with digital media, thus allowing the digital to perhaps be perceived as something more than media. Drawing on ideas cited above by both Anna Munster and' Mieke Bal, this paper examines artworks that generate an embodied experience through an "approximate aesthetics of the digital" and elicit "narrativity" of the behavioral and societal processes

Extending on the ideas mentioned above, this paper examines artworks in which I argue a digital aesthetic contributes to an expression of narrative processes that are perhaps reflective of one's existence in digital culture. Through my analysis, I discuss how certain artworks appear to contemplate and work through narrative constructions of digital media and, by doing so, reveal processes of searching and attempts at understanding our contemporary existence. I argue for an expanded understanding of aesthetics, one that encompasses experiential and relational aspects. I begin by discussing how this thesis is aided by Bal's theory of narrative, elaborating on the concept of narrativity_ This is followed by further description of Munster's theory of a digital aesthetic, before moving into my analysis of two examples of digital media art: • glisten}

HIVE, by Julie Andreyev with Simon Overstall and Maria Lantin (2010), and LoopLoop, by Patrick Bergeron (2008).

inherent with/in digital technology.


Anna Munster, "Digitality: Approx imate Aesthetics," in CTHEORY, 10093, March 14,2001). eds. Arthur and Marilouise Kroker.

2. 3. (accessed May 11, 2011). Mieke Bal. Narratalogy: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, 2nd ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), 222. (italics in orig.) Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (Dijon: Les presses du reel. 1998; trans, 2002).


Margaret Lovejoy, Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age (New York: Routledge, 2004) .


Victoria Vesna, "Seeing the World in a Groin of Sand: The Database Aesthetics of Everything," in Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of


Warren Sack, "Network Aesthetics." in Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of information Overflow, ed . Victoria Vesna (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007) .


Vito Campanelli, interview by Geert Lovinck, "Interview with Vito Campanelli about Web Aesthetics, " <nettime>, May, 2007, http:// (accessed May 11 , 20 11 ).

information Overflow, ed_ Victoria Vesna (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 20071-

Narrating Ephemeral Processes According to the narrative paradigm, a theory proposed by professor Walter Fisher, there is a natural tendency for human beings to search for a story within all forms of

and applies to not only what we see but also what we experience. As someone with a background in fine art, I am less interested in analyzing the structural system we apply to the

communication, to comprehend life as a series of ongoing

understanding of digital narratives and more interested in

narratives B

Just as our perceptual system directs us to cre-

examining aspects of narrativity, which Bal defines as, "not

ate visual shapes out of random elements, our minds also

a genre or object but a cultural mode of expression." '2 My

create a narrative out of pieces of information, whether

understanding of narrativity might also be explained as

the pieces consist of images or text. As human beings, we

a meta-narrative approach to understanding the network

are naturally driven to understand what is happening to us

of narratives that constitute our lives. By exploring the

in our lives-we piece individual occurrences together to

narrativity of digital media artworks, and by contemplating

make sense of them, arganizing and arranging things into

the aesthetic approaches to these works, I intend to ad-

stories that we tell to ourselves and share with others.

dress both the experiential and relational aspects of what I

Narratology, the theory of narrative and narrative structure, has never been all that popular in art history since art historical interpretation has often relied on the narratives that the image allegedly illustrates, as opposed to literary narrative. 9 In her book Narratology: Introduc-

tion to the Theory of Narrative, cultural theorist Mieke Bal suggests that in addition to film narratology, "the analysis of visual images as narrative in and of themselves can do justice to an aspect of images and their effect that neither iconography nor other art historical practices can quite orticulate." 10 It has also been argued by Bal that attention

see as a cultural mod~ of expression that reflects a kind of processing of, or grappling with, our everyday encounters with/in digital technologies.

Contemplating the Invisible Digital media researcher and artist Anna Munster argues that although the content and ideas expressed through new media or digital art should be addressed over and above the technology that supports them, an "approximate aesthetics of the digital" can be found within the production, dissemination, and reception of these art proctices:

to visuality can greatly enrich the analysis of narratives derived from text, allowing for interpretation not restricted to

Despite the fact that the notion of digitality to pro-

the text alone. Definitions of narrative in fine art discourse

mote, describe or identify a still emerging aesthetic

have always been kept general and vague, perhaps to

seems already ;aded, I wanl to argue that there is

allow for individual subjectivity and to ovoid structural methods of analysis that some feel can often distract from the effect of the work. A recent description of narrative on a popular website for artists and educators defines it

nevertheless something specific about digital arl. This specificity is in part a resull of the mode of producing, consuming and participating with those machines that are the condition of possibility for digital art

as, "The representation in art, by form and content, of an

proctice ... 1wont to suggest that there is increasingly a

event or story. Whether a literal story, event, or subject

sense in which il is possible to aesthetically locate the

matter-or a more abstract relationship between colors, forms and materials-narrative in visual art applies as much

digital. 13 Munster writes that the notion of the aesthetic needs to

to the work as it does to the viewer's "story" of what they

be rethought of as on "arena of sensation," rather than

see and experience."" By this definition, narrative in visual

dependent upon the style or formal qualities of an artwork.

art can be anything from a depiction of a simple event, a

In her 2001 article, she refers to Graham Harwood's

detailed linear sequence, or even a fragmented process,

Internet artwork Uncomfortable Proximity (2000),14 in


Walter Fisher, "The Narrative Paradigm: tn the Beginning." Jo urna l of Communication 35, Autumn (1 9 85): 74-89.


Mieke Bal. Narratolog y: Introduction to the Theor y of Narrative, 2nd ed. (Toronto : University of Toronto Press, 2009) .

10. Ibid, 162 . 11 . Art21 Glossary, y_pop.html (a ccessed May 20, 2011) . 12. Mieke Bal, Narrata/ogy: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, 2nd ed. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009), 222. 13. Anna Munster, "Digitality: Approximate Aesthetics," in CTHEORY, (0093), eds. Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, March 14,2001, para. 2. (accessed May 11 2011) 14. Grahom Harwood, UncomFortable Proximity, 2000, website artwork .uk/netart/mongrel/collections/default.htm (occessed May 11,2011)


which the artist creates a mirroring of the Tate gallery's

user to question the essence of larger narratives withheld

website, where new images and ideas are offered that are

by society, yet does so in close proximity to the infrastruc-

collaged from his own experiences and readings of Tote

ture it critiques: "The sensation the work produces for the

artworks and publicity materials. This piece functioned

viewer/user is not suspension of belief and/or acquies-

on top of the official Tote website during the year 2000,

cence to the phantasmagoric digital world but disbelief,

and every third online visitor was directed to Harwood's

disconnection, discomfort." 16 It is on example of artwork

reworked site. The artist used sections of paintings from the

that makes visible what we cannot physically see, while

Tate Collection-extreme close-ups digitally photographed

also addressing hidden aspects of society, ultimately pro-

and scanned into a computer-and combined them with

ducing a feeling of distress in the viewer路participant.

foce and skin close-ups of his friends and fomily .

Now, nearly ten years after Munster's writing of the digital aesthetic, how has the arena of sensation in relation to contemporary digital art changed or evolved? How have the developments within digital culture influenced our perception of art that uses digital media, namely art that does not fit easily into traditionally defined categories? What is to be understood from the narratives of these works? Similar to how experimental video art often encouraged a critique of televisuallanguage by utilizing on apparatus inherently connected to the source, 17 how might the digital aesthetic address our relationships and interactions with current digital media? Perhaps by looking at contemporary digital art through the lens of narrativity-expressions of encounters with/in digital culture as opposed to narrative objects-we can beNer think about these questions in a way that approaches the work from both a relational and a behavioral perspective as opposed to an object路oriented mode of thinking. As with a great deal of visual art, the invisible is made visible, regardless of whether the purpose is experimental or critical. The use of computers in the production of art

Figure 1 Uncomfortob/e Proximity, by Graham Horwood, 2000,

grew out of formalist art practices from the 1970s (Mini-

website artwork, h~p:/ /

malism, Neo-Constructivisml and Conceptual aesthetic

lections/default.htm (screenshots from h~ps:/ /

tendencies explored during the 1960s and beyond. 18 In

intermediaarl/entryl5470.shtmllaccessed May 11,2011) Harwood's use of digital media reveals that which we

1965 Nom June Paik made a piece entitled Mognet TV which employed neither videotape or broadcast imoges

cannot see and which is often concealed: "The digital

but instead was created by moving a large magnet ocross

camera allows a proximity to material, to skin, to the

the surface of 0 television set in order to produce a moving

surface of paint that excels the eye's trained ability to sort

abstract paNern. Paik, a member of the Fluxus anti-high art

and recognize. Skin pores become alien matter folding in

movement, created works in which t~e television was emp-

billows, blunt bogs trimmed with iridescent grease, pinked

tied of its usual function and transformed into a statement

mudflats." 15 By altering and disrupting the visual aesthetic

about technology in general. Similar to Paik's exploration

of these master paintings, and by manipulating the content

of the televi5ion 5et in the 19605, contemporary artists

of the gallery's website, the artist challenges the viewer/

such 05 Julie Andreyev and Patrick Bergeron are cho05ing

15. Ma~hew Fuller, "Breoch the pieces," in Intermedia Art Archive (Tate Online, 20001. h~ps:/ /www.late entry 15470.shtm (accessed May 11,20111 16. Anno Munster, "Digitality: approximate aesthetics", CTHEORY, a 093 (March 14,2001 L Ed Arthur and Marilouise Kroker" http:// www.ctheory.nel/ articles.ospx ?id=2 90. 17. Heidi May, "Interrupting the Program: Descrambling TV through Video," Conodion Art 18, no. 2, 120011: 66-73 . 18. Margoret Lovejoy, Art in the Electronic Age (New York , NY Routledge, 20041.

Figure 2 Left: Magnet TV, by Nom June Paik , 1965. 17 in. block and while ,elevi5ion and magnel( ( Right : Participation TV, by Nom June Paik, 1963. Manipulaled ,elevision, signal amplihers, and microphine. Installation view, 2007 (Frieling el 01. , 2008, p. 99: udio/ aop_'our_403).

to manipulate digital media to incite new understandings

gestive of the multidirectional interactions that takes place

and possibilities. Julie Andreyev, a new media artist based

in one's cognitive visual database. Although Bergeron 's

in Vancouver, creates work that includes interactivity with

work may not intentionally be about narrative processes

audio-video installations. Andreyev's recent projects within

that take place in a networked culture of transportable

Animal Lover examine the distinct being of the animal

screens and mobile devices, through a combination of fast-

through the use of digital technologies. The interactive and

paced rhythmic movement and layering of multiple screen

animated piece * glistenJHIVE ' 9 explores issues surround-

divisions and fragments, the artist manages to convey a

ing communication, social media, and animal experience.

sense of space and time representative of the ongoing

Participants are asked to send text messages via Twitter

process of working through our digital existence.

based on what their companion animals ore thinking, feeling, or doing. The text messages are then randomly processed according to a computer algorithm and visually composed on screen in a real-time space. What transpires is an abstract amalgamation of words, characters,

Assembling, Processing, and Working Through The term "working through" is derived from psychoanalysis and is known as the point of therapy when the

and sound that is suggestive of the networked processes

subject realizes something relevant and feels a need to

behind the screens of our mobile devices while also resem-

replay and reanalyze things continuously. Freud coined

bling insect swarming patterns.

the term, describing it as the boring port of the process

Patrick Bergeron, a video artist and researcher based in

from the analyst's point of view as he states, "this working-

Montreal, makes work that can be classified as a mix of

through of the resistances may in practice turn out to be

animation, documentary, and experimental film.

an arduous task for the subject of the analysis and a trial

LoopLoop, 20 a work that was conceived in

2008 and

of patience for the analySI.-21 The act of working through is

continues to be exhibited now, is a five-minute video loop

crucial to a better understanding of the self and therefore,

constructed from a sequence of film captured from within a

the self in relation to culture .

train traveling to Hanoi in Vietnam. The looped video con-

In regards to understanding ourselves in relation to

sists of multiple horizontal strips of cropped imagery that

technology, Marshall McLuhan argued that we need

individually shift back and forth in different directions, sug-

to recognize that technology is in fact an extension of

19. Julie Andreyev, 'glisten}HIVE, 2010, video documentation, 3: 12, (accessed May 11, 2011) 20. Patrick Bergeron, LoopLoop, 2010, video documentation, 4:31, (accessed May 11 , 2011) 21 . Sigmund Freud, "Remembering, repeating and working-through; The case of Schreber; Papers an technique and other works,"

The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychology Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume 12, ed. James Strachey (London: The Hogarth Press Ltd ., 1964), 155.


ourselves. In an interview in 1969, MeLuhan writes, "The

viewer-participants are more likely to become sell-reflective

central purpose of all my work is to convey this message,

when engaged with the overall effect of the work as op-

that by understanding media as they extend man, we gain

posed to when examining the individual text messoges or

a measure of control over them." 22 Richard Cavell has

singulor images that make up the larger works. This level

brought MeLuhan's argument into contemporary discourse

of engagement can occur il one allows him or herself to

by writing about his interests in "biomedia," elaborating

become absarbed into the continuous looping process, the

on MeLuhan's notions of technology not only being an

narrativity, while also forming personal responses to the


01 the

human, but being human, stating: "MeLu-

han ... was arguing that ... technology is the pre-condition


thought insolar as it is the pre-condition of being, at which point technology and 'being human' collapse into each other." 23 In applying this theory to digital communication systems in contemporary culture, Cavell reiterates what I feel to be a significant point to consider from MeLuhan's often undervalued theories: "In any communication, it is the sender who is sent." 24 Covell orgues thot we hove


tendency to see the reflection of ourselves in the Internet without fully realizing we are located in this reflection, similar to how the Greek hero Narcissus fell in love with his reflection without realizing it was his own. The artworks by both Andreyev and Bergeron illustrate relational and perceptual processes we have with the technologies we use to communicate with one onother, however, the

questions posed by the work. As mentioned above, with Andreyev's *glisten)HIVE, participants submit text messages based on how they are interpreting their companion onimals feelings and actions. The messages then transpire, via digital projection, onto the semi-transparent screens that line the wall of an exhibition space experienced in real-time. Visitors to the exhibition space can also contribute messages using an on-site computer terminal. The participatory interaction mimics the" acute form of self-reflection" 25 that con often occur on social networking web sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, but requires humans to reflect on the subjective experiences of animals. Snippets of text, restricted to the 140-character limit of the Twitter social media program, are generated into swarms of social-insect patterns, resembling the movement of bees navigating themselves toward a hive. The concept of "emergence," and the related underlying theory of complexity science, is exemplified in the visual arrangement of messages that are assembled and projected in the darkened room. The artist describes this emergent pattern as a "collective effect," in which "each organism is primarily reliant on the movement of others in its immediate vicinity."" The viewer of the piece is therefore required to work through the overall aesthetic experience and, whether the texting participants are aware or not, they are also involved in a self-reflexive act. * glisten)

HIVE demonstrates ongoing processes of narrative, yet requires the viewer to work through its aesthetics in order to decipher the actual messages-words and letters are playfully rearranged and presented backwards once the messages are filtered through the computer software program. The emphasiS is therefore placed Figure 3: *glislen)HJVE, by Julie Andreyev (technical collaboration with Simon Overstall I, 2010. Installation for CODE Live 2, Vancouver Cultural Olympiad, Vancouver. Photo courtesy of Volen Keeven.

more on the invisible processes of communication and the overall narrativity, rother than the individual content of each text message.

22 . Marshall Mcluhan, "The Playboy Interview: Marshall Mcluhan," Playboy Magazine (March, 19691, http://www.mcluhanmedia. cam/m_mcUnter_pb_02.htm l. (accessed May 11,2011 I.

23 . Richard Cavell, "Mclu han and the Body as Medium," Sk路;nlerfaces: Exploding Borders-Creating Membranes in Art, Technolog y, and Society, ed. J Hauser (liverpool UP and FACT Gallery, 20081: 32-41. 24. ibid. 25. Clive Thompson, "Brave New World

of Digital

Intimacy," The New York Times, (September 7, 20081, http://www.nytimes.

com/2008/09/07/magazine/07awareness-t.html. (accessed May 11 , 2011 I.

Figure 4: LoopLoop, by Patrick Bergeron, 2010. (photo side) Installation at grunt gallery, Vancouver. Photo by author.

Similarly, in Bergeron's LoopLoop, imoges are assembled into a continuous, ongoing ponoramic sequence that communicates less about the individual photos and more about the sensory qualities of the experience of global traveling. Bergeron captured the everyday events, places, and people he encountered and composed an audio-video animation made up of 1,000 images stitched into one long panoramic image that loops rhythmically on screen, moving back and forth to echo the way memories are replayed in the mind. The

of the computer screen and later to the multidirectional

work is encountered in the gallery space as a large pho-

abilities of the Internet, ultimately contributing to a flicker-

tograph suspended from the ceiling with the looped video

ing web that has now transformed into what some might

projected on the reverse side of the image-with a sus-

define as an embodied experience.

pended support resembling that of a classroom or home theatre screen (upper right). If interpreted as a screen for home movies or slideshows, viewers might be reminded of moments from the past when travel photos were presented one at a time, as opposed to the multilinear perspective we now have in front of our miniature digital screens.

Although clearly constructed and presented through digital means, LoopLoop merges viewing mechanisms of the past and present in a manner in which we are reminded of the intimate relationships we have with the technologies we use. As described above, the suspended screen resembles a modified version of the kind of home movie

Upon reflection, one might consider the animation of these photographic sequences as a representation of the mind searching through the static images that often becomes the signifier to a forgotten time. At one point in the loop, perhaps at the beginning, the video is still, but upon close examination one can see subtle flickering movement that

screen on which many of us viewed slideshows and 8 mm films

of family

vacations. The subtle use of a computerized

tronsition effect might eosily go unnoticed amongst the predominant attention to visual characteristics of texture, color, and formal composition (Figure 5 LoopLoop). As an artist myself, and someone who comes to digital media

soon disappears as the assemblage of imagery shifts once again through the sequence. These glimpses are contrasted by the warm aesthetics that we usually associate with analog media and which invite us in to the work, to search for understanding and perhaps a reflection of ourselves.

with a background in painting, I can appreciate the artist's sense of mixing media, in terms of the use of both painterly and photographic language, situated within the larger context of a video installation. Bergeron reveals the primary processes of not only the visual representa-

Sensing Aesthetics and Decoding Narrative

tion of these captured maments, but through his rhythmic placement of detailed close-up shots, he seems to suggest a journey through an archive of memories. In an artist

Raymond Williams once wrote about the difficulty to respond and to interpret television's intrinsic visual experi-

Figure 5: LoopLoop, by Patrick Bergeron, 2010. {video stillltnstalla-

ences and the lack of description surrounding the topic.

tion at grunt gallery, Vancouver. Photo by author.

Williams felt that the attentive moments belonging to the viewer, "an experience of visual mobility, of contrast of angle, of variation of focus," 27 may be one of the most significant aspects of that medium's power, further describing it as one of the primary processes of the technology itself. The sense of visual mobility experienced with television was transferred over to the aesthetics

26 . Julie Andreyev, 'gJisten)HIVE, project statement, 2010. 27.

Raymond Williams, Television: Technology, and Cultural Form (London : Wm Collins Sons & Co . Ltd. ,

1974), 77.

statement, Bergeron reflects on his relotionship to the

subdued and the strings of words transform to floating dots

documentation of his travels, stating, "When I come bock

that recede into darkness. As new visitors approach the

home, mony experiences and details hod been forgotten.

screens, digital sensors are re-triggered and a feedback

My brain foiled at accommodating the abundance of the

loop instigates the projection once again.

subjects met ... My memory is activated by these images. By wotching them several times, I detect new interesting facts. " l BThe formal qualities of the selected imagery, distorted soundtrack and layered, continuous horizontal movement, combine to transport the viewer to another time ond place. Bergeron's manipulation of digital footage could be

Andreyev's installation consists of a digital aesthetic, an arena of sensation, that emanates from within the networked relations that make up the work-physical, technological, psychological, and social-rather than focusing purely on formal qualities alone. In other words, the aesthetic experience not only emerges from the visual and audio components, but is also informed by the partici-

viewed as similar to or influenced by certain experimental

pants' interactions and post experiences with the technol-

animation that used single images one after the other in

ogy (cell phones, computer station, and motion sensors)

quick succession, fusing stotic imagery into motion. Robert

and, in particular, a social media platform that has come

Breer's Recreation (1956} 29 combined split second shots

to represent a global language. The rhythmic and visual

into a sequence that makes the viewer uneasy and nearly

movement of the text in *glisten)H/VE clearly contrasts the

nauseous. Breer described his treatment of the single im-

usual grid-like structure in which we receive messages in

ages as individual sensations and his fast-paced technique

Twitter, and ultimately interrupts any sense of a sequential

seems representative of today's Internet culture in which

story. The flowing text could be interpreted as on abstract

we constantly click from one image to the next. Bergeron's

representation of on aerial view of the communications

LoopLoop may not be intentionally directed at the subject

that span social networks like Twitter, perhaps resembling

of the Internet, however, the quantity of imagery that con-

the reduced form of ASCII 30 art from the 1990s. In Vuk

tinues to fill the screen, combined with a design that feels

Cosic's ASCII History of the Moving Imoges 3 ' from 1998,

as if it is meant to be interacted with, results in on aesthetic

film clips from such clossics os King Kong, Star Trek, and

experience conveyed by the artist that one might relate to

Blow Up were manipuloted to reveal the normally hidden

our online world. The sensory experience of Julie Andreyev's * glisten)

HIVE is heightened by a processed soundscape of bells and flute, layered with low blips and constant pulses, and the recorded voice of Tom, the artist's dog. As the text enlarges on the wall, certain words and phrases of animal thoughts and feelings become legible:

coded properties of the digital forms we see on screen, which makers of web browsers work very hard at concealing from us. Lev Manovich describes the experience of this artwork " as satisfying poetically as it is conceptually-for what we get is a double image, a recognizable film image and on abstract code together. Bath are visible at once."32 The code becomes a character in the narrative, while simultaneously disrupting the story to draw attention to

-Sometimes when I'm anxious at night I puke in the morn-

ing- We 'll iust sit and wait- If you close your eyes no one can see you- Maybe there'll be so';e fun today *hopeful* . Except for the small amount of light emanating from the projected animation, the room is pitch-block. As the swarm

the historical and social aspects embedded in the visuals produced on screen. As we search for recognizable forms, our minds work to fill in the gap between the code and moving imagery. Similar to *g/isten)H/VE, the visual elements foreground the larger meaning and narrativity of the

of tweets become slower in pace and reduced in size, the

work-the complex relationship between technology and

volume of the sound lessens, and it feels like a quiet sum-

culture, and our individual experiences in contemporary

mer night. The technologically busied mind now becomes


28. Patrick Bergon, LoopLoop, synopsis, May 11 ,2011) . 29. Robert Breer, Recreation, 1956, videa, 1:24, hffp:// (accessed May 11,2011) 30. ASCII is an obbreviation of Americon Standard Code for Informotion Interchange. Manovich (1999) describes how the code was originally developed for teleprinters and was only later adopted for computers in the 1960s. Towards the end of the 19805, it was commonplace to make printouts of images on dot matrix printers by converting the imoges into ASCII code. 31. Vuk Casic, ASCII History of the Moving Images, 1998, - vuk/asci i/film/ (accessed Moy 20, 2011) . 32 . Lev Manovich, "Cinema by Numbers: ASCII Films by Vuk Cosic," Contemporary ASCII. (Lj ubljana, 199 9), para 14.

Figure 6: ASCII History of the Moving Images, by Vuk Cosic, 1998. Screenshots from http://www.ljudmila. orgrvuk/ascii//ilm/ (accessed May 20,20111.

Our current fascination, some might say obsession, with daily text/image updates to social networking websites can perhaps be explained by the narrative paradigm and our innate desire to comprehend life as a series of ongoing narratives. And if one incorporates Freud ' s theory of working through into the mix, the contemporary networked self starts to become clearer. With this in mind, we can consider the invention of the blog for instance, which has now evolved into the form of a digital photo diary, as the individual's way of working through ideos and feelings in an effort to connect with others. Artists' recent exploration of the blog as a medium (or postmedium) 33 to work within and perhaps reinvent, is a continuation of the need to provide critical reflection of our everyday interactions with/in digital culture. Some artists are using the blog format as a way to document relational art (Marianela Ramos Capelo, A Stranger A Day). whereas others are making work on blogs in which our use of the technology is central to the subject of the work (Cory Arcangel, Sorry I Haven't Posted, 35 and Heidi May, Selfpost I Postself 36 ). The use of online technologies and social media web sites provide artists the opportunity to merge visual and

textual explorations, creating a multimedia account that appropriately reflects our contemporary existence. Regardless of the particular type of digital media used in the artworks discussed throughout this paper, each of them have explored a notion of invisible processes that contribute to human experience-how we see, how we think, how we remember, and how we speak. I have explored qualities of narrativity that, in addition to notions of the invisible, have allowed for analysis of artworks in which cognitive processes (working through) and sensory relations (aesthetic encounters) are made apparent through the use of digital media. Finally, I have argued for a theoretical approach to understanding artistic modes of expression that capture the inner processes of digital technologies, revealing digital media as an extension of ourselves.

33 . Julian Stallabrass (20101 describes the lack of materiality and (often I gallery displays 0/ Internet art (and , I would include the lack of materiality of other kinds of digital artl as its " post-medium condition"-the Internet not being a medi um but rather a transmission system . Digital media in contemporary ort often self-consciously refers to itself to draw attention to 路h e processes and structures that contribute to its ephemeral identity. In these cases, the artists are not so much concerned "..itt modernist interests of formalism, as they are with the fundamental characteristics of the behavioral and societal as pects 0; digital media. 34 . Marianela Ramos Capelo, A Stronger A Day, 2010 and ongoing, blog, (accessed May 11 , 20111 . 35 . Cory Arcangel, Sorry J Ha ven 't Posted, 2010 and ongoing, blog, (accessed May 11 , 2 0111. 36 . Heidi May, Se/fpast

I Postself,

2010 and ongoing, blag, (accessed May 11 , 20111

.. BIBLIOGRAPHY Andreyev, Julie. * glisten)HIVE, 2010, video documentation, 3: 12, glisten-hive/ Andreyev, Julie. *glisten)HIVE, project statement, 2010. Arcangel, Cory. Sorry I Haven't Posted, 2010 and ongoing, blog. (accessed May 11, 2011


Art21. "Glossary." (accessed May 20, 2011). Bal, Mieke. Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative. 2nd ed . Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009. Bergeron, Patrick. LoopLoop, 2010, video documentation, 4:31, (accessed May 11, 2011 ). Bergeron, Patrick. LoopLoop, synopsis. (accessed May 11, 2011


Bourriaud, Nicolas. Relational Aesthetics. Dijon: Les presses du reel, 1998; trans. 2002. Breer, Robert. Recreation, 1956, video, 1 :24, (accessed May 11, 2011) . Capelo, Marianela Ramos. A Stranger A Day, 2010 and ongoing, blog, (accessed May 11,2011). Cavell, Richard . "McLuhan and the Bady as Medium." In Sk-interfaces: Exploding Borders-Creating Membranes In

Art, Technology, and Society. Edited by J. Hauser, Liverpool UP and FACT Gallery, 2008 . Cosic, Vuk. ASCII History of the Moving Images. 1998, vuk/ascii/film/. (accessed May 20,2011 ). Harwood, Graham. Uncomfortable Proximity. 2000, (accessed May 11,2011). Fisher, Walter. "The Narrative Paradigm : In the Beginning." In Journal of Communication 35, Autumn (1985): 74-89. Frieling, R., Pellico, M. & Zimbardo, T. The Art of Participation : 1950 to Now. Edited by R. Frieling. New York: Thames

& Hudson, Inc., 2008. Published in conjunction with an exhibition of the same name, shown at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Freud, Sigmund. "The Case of Schreber; Papers on Technique and Other Works," In The Standard Edition of

the Complete Psychology Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. 12. Edited by James Strachey. London: The Hogarth Press Ltd" 1914; reprint, 1964. Fuller, Matthew. "Breach the pieces." in Intermedia Art Archive (Tote Online, 2000). . uk/intermediaart/entry 15470.shtm. (accessed May 11, 2011).

Lovejoy, Margaret. Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age. New York: Routledge, 2004. Lovinck, Geert. " Interview with Vito Campanelli about Web Aesthetics." <neltime> (May, 20071. http://www.nettime. org/Lists-Archives/nettime-I-0705/msg00012.html. (accessed May 11, 2011


Manovich, Lev. "Cinema by Numbers: ASCII Films by Vuk Cosic," In Contemporary ASCII. (Ljubljana, 19991. Exhibition catalogue. Available at (accessed May 20, 2011 May, Heidi. Selfpost

I Postself.

I. (accessed May 11, 2011


May, Heidi. "Interrupting the Program: Descrambling TV through Video." In Canadian Art 18, No.2, (2001

I: 66-73.

Munster, Anna . "Digitality: approximate aesthetics." In CTHEORY, a093, March 14, 2001. Edited by Arthur and Marilouise Kroker, =2 90 .(accessed May 11, 2011). Sack, Warren. "Network aesthetics." In Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow. Edited by Victoria Vesna. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. Stallabross, Julian. "Can Art History Digest Net Art?" In netpianeers 1.0: contextua/ising early net-based art. Edited by D. Daniels and G. Reisinger. Berlin-New York: Sterberg Press, 2010. "The Playboy Interview: Marshall McLuhan." Playboy Magazine. March, 1969. Also available at http:// www.mcluhanmedia .com/m_mcUnter_pb_02.html .(accessed May 11,2011


Thompson, Clive. "Brave New World of Digital Intimacy." In The New York Times. September 7, 2008. Accessed online at http:// 2008/09/07/magazine/07awareness-t.html .(accessed May 11, 2011 I. Vesna, Victoria. "Seeing the World in a Grain of Sand: The Database Aesthetics of Everything." In Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow. Edited by Victoria Vesna. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007. Williams, Raymond. Television: Technology and Cultural Form. London: Wm Collins Sons & Co. Ltd., 1974.

Facing page and right: loop loop, by Patrick Be rgeron , 2010.

Ivideo stililinstallation at g runt gallery, Vancouver. Photos courtesy of the ortist ..