The Return of the Digital: Reflections on the Digital-Cultural Feedback Loop


Session Title:

  • Changing Perspectives on Digital Media in Global Age

Presentation Title:

  • The Return of the Digital: Reflections on the Digital-Cultural Feedback Loop




  • This article discusses the impact of digital technologies upon cultural percepts, focusing initially on linear perspective and its relation to Realist conventions, and the alternative model digital tools offer for realistic visual representation.

    The discussion is further contextualized through an explication of the French Phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s concept of “coherent deformation” – a structured, projected “way of seeing” that imbues phenomena with meaning. Merleau-Ponty’s concept is used to illustrate the dynamic by which digital ways of seeing not only shed critical light on accepted thinking but qualify the concept of  “coherent deformation” itself.

    The article ends with a presentation of two public art projects in which digitally inspired thinking has been ported (projected) into the physical realm, and the symbolic meaning of these acts:

    1. The Garden Library is an open-air library located in a public park in the center of Tel Aviv, established to serve the area’s refugee and migrant worker community.

    The artists’ collective that designed the library sought to break away from traditional classification categories and to realize an indexing system that would playfully manifest the values of an open society. Rather than cataloging the books according to genre or author name, books are sorted according to reader input, i.e. to emotional response the books evoke in their readers.

    The library is a small and parallel world: The books wander between the shelves as their readers have wandered/are wandering the world. They carry with them their emotional history.

    2. Hall of Memory – Ghetto Fighters’ House, Israel

    Unlike traditional historical archives, the Hall of Memory in the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum allows visitors direct access to its artifacts.

    The designers aimed to release to the general public the memories contained within the artifacts, enabling visitors access to the material legacy of the country, its people, and its history. These “semantic building blocks” of the historical narrative had theretofore been guarded as national treasures, accessible only to researchers and curators.

    The open archive democratizes the historical narrative, transferring responsibility from the institution to the individual, who must determine his/her own paths within the physical “database” of historical memorabilia.

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