What are young pixels dreaming of? A pseudo quarrel on “supports”.


Session Title:

  • Medium and Media

Presentation Title:

  • What are young pixels dreaming of? A pseudo quarrel on “supports”.



  • What is the pixels’ gender, after all? Is it possible to speak about male-pixels and female-pixels? Wouldn’t be better to say they are hermaphrodites, just like angels? The question is neither rhetoric nor ironic; on the contrary, it is getting more and more imperative to answer it today, when this entity called biocomputer enjoys such a rapid development. I am certain that, despite being are not sex discriminated the young pixels, as “qualia sensibles” would rather dream of playing the part of immaterial actants, since they consider themselves to be minimal subjects to the digital process of updating programs capable of generating digital objects and fictions. Naturally, they would also like to play some parts in a “new arena of representation”, seen as a “new space for revelation”.
    The complexity of this theme is so fascinating and overwhelming that I will have to narrow it down to two particular sub-themes: enunciation medium and reception medium. The former being the medium upon which the computer produced work is transferred whereas the latter is creating an interactive relation between the work and the user.
    An Arts History from the exclusive perspective of media (“support”) evolution would be rather interesting to write. In this respect, it is not difficult to notice the lack of a clear distinction, in all traditional arts, between media and means by which works are created. Similarly, there is no distinction between enunciation media and reception media (painting, books, etc). However, there is a general agreement on the artistic representation on a material “support”, an agreement established during the Renaissance and still observed by the iconological “theory of strata in a work of art” (Panofski, 1939).
    A clear separation between media (“support”) and means of creation occurs at the same time with the appearance of recording means (mechanical, optical, chemical), such as photography, cinematography, discography or later video and television – all paradigmatic means of analogical expression. Media can be divided into enunciation media (films, magnetic tapes) and reception media (screen, computer display).
    In Romance languages, the meanings of the terms: “means of creation” and “media” (“support”) are clearly distinguished. (The same distinction appears in German: Ausdruckmittel and Unterlage). Unfortunately, the two meanings are covered by a single word in the English language, the word medium, which explains McLuhan’s famous phrase: “The Medium is the Message”. The polysemantic aspect of the English language makes the understanding of this essay rather difficult, as my approach relies on the distinction between means of creation (materials, instruments, technique) and Medium (“support” on which works are transferred).

    Translation: Livia Marinescu