For two years I have been working on an art project.
I’m not sure whether the concept predated when I first heard James Allard’s lecture on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but the lecture is a great demonstration of how labeling does interpretive work when it comes to art.
Presented with a digital file, we may struggle to decide what it is in both a technical and artistic sense.
Perhaps it’s an HTML file with embedded image files being displayed in a web browser, or the raw data from the sensor of a digital camera. In either case, it’s also an object within a software and operating system-defined architecture and also bits physically written to some data storage medium.
From an artistic perspective, it may be a line from a play quoted in a piece of art which has been photographed and posted online (or a screenshot of a cell phone app displaying a tweet of a digital photo posted online of a print of a photograph taken illicitly in an art gallery, on display in that art gallery).
The multiple presentations of the same data are the idea of interest: like all the exposure and white balance modifications that can be applied to a raw file from a digital camera, meaning that every photograph arising from that process is an interpretation.
These experiments are also intriguing insofar as they concern cybernetic relationships between individuals, organizations that archive data (like search engines), algorithms nobody fully understands, and governments. The location of a data file on the internet does everything to establish its visibility and significance.
The idea of the project is that every distinct work within it is presented to the viewer with multiple possible modes of interpretation, whether they are based on data architecture, metadata, or the cultural and political content of the human-readable image.