The Aesthetics of Erasure


Presentation Title:

  • The Aesthetics of Erasure



  • In an era in which state surveillance is capable of capturing, storing, and analyzing all personal communications, and in which even the much-heralded ephemerality of photographic sharing applications such as Snapchat is revealed to be just another instance of deferred, secreted permanence, erasure seems all but impossible. Yet this is precisely what makes erasure a vitally necessary artistic, technological, and social practice. Erasure provides a point of departure from network culture, from the constraints of big data, the archive, and the cloud; through erasure, forgetting and disappearance become radical, profoundly productive and disruptive acts.

    This panel seeks to theorize the aesthetics of erasure across various media, platforms, and contexts in the digital era. Bringing together artistic and critical contributors from the forthcoming Spring 2015 issue of Media-N, the journal of the New Media Caucus of the College Art Association, on the special topic of “The Aesthetics of Erasure,” and chaired by the issue’s Guest Co-Editor Paul Benzon, we aim to consider the stakes of erasure for digital art and culture through consideration of a range of questions: What does it mean to consider erasure as an artist’s mark, and how does it reshape the relations between making and unmaking? How do acts of erasure allow artists to harness and resist the possibilities and problems of the archive, of (self-) surveillance, of public and private, and of datafication? What do practices of digital erasure, and the absences they produce, tell us about the materiality of digital activity?