The Nature of Perfection


Session Title:

  • Perfection, Error, Sublime

Presentation Title:

  • The Nature of Perfection




  • The prefix post (as in postmodern) can sometimes suggest the redundancy of ideas that are surprisingly persistent despite the aesthetic changes that come with the new ideology/technology. Looks can be deceiving!

    Precision, perfection and beauty have a persistent presence in art, science and religion and a contemporary presence in digital technology, which carries these attribute/attitudes. Although the desire for and promise of progress can lead to image content that appears to supersede the preceding idiom, digital technology has a metaphysical character that has more in common with a pre-modern sensibility. Indeed, precision and perfection can be thought of as beautiful, much in the same way a scientific theory can be.

    Another characteristic of digital technology is the extent to which the supposed separation of physical form and content actually masks its inherent qualities. Global communication suggests a transcendence of analogue imaging media such as photography and there is a sense that digital images are free or have gone beyond the physical limitations of older media. A photograph has intrinsic visual qualities inherent in the medium whereas a digital image does not; it can look like it wants, even masquerade as a photograph. Measured against the standards of older media digital media can be thought of as trans-media.

    The organizing principle of digitization is mathematical and the appearance or pictorial content of the image is of no consequence to it. Like science, the method can be divorced from the outcome and the medium is indifferent to the consequences of image content. The difference between the aesthetic character of the medium/technology and the aesthetic relating to form/content of the image is a significant element of digital media

    Kevin Todd’s paper will examine the conceptual archaeology of digital imaging technology and how it informs his art practice, exploring concepts such as the quest for perfection in art science and religion. His acknowledgement of a metaphysical character of digital technology suggests it has a longer history and can’t be neatly quarantined from an imperfect past.

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