>LogCam PopUp window. [require: webcam and flash player installer]

>Imagem em formação Os avanços tecnológicos têm possibilitado a evolução das mídias em direção a uma maior “fidelidade” na captação do áudio e vídeo. Equipamentos de segurança sofisticados permitem o monitoramento de ambientes sem que se perceba sua presença. Por outro lado, gadgets como palm tops, telefones celulares, mini câmeras (que funcionam de modo cada vez mais integrado) são utilizados de forma intensa nas grandes cidades, atualizando a idéia de meios como extensões avançadas do homem.


Raquel Rennó
An image taking form Technological advances have enabled media technology to move towards acquiring a greater “fidelity” in terms of audio and video reproduction. Sophisticated security equipment carries out its functions of surveillance without being noticed. Gadgets, on the other hand, such as palm tops, mobile phones, mini cameras (all of which work in an increasingly integrated fashion) are in constant use in big cities, giving currency to the idea that such media devices are improved human extensions.

The digital camera makes it possible for photos to be developed several times over, and for the digitalized result to be instantaneously modified by means of specific types of software. Mobile phones with in-built cameras modify the use and function of photography in people’s everyday lives. Potentially, any daily event “worth a photo”.

The digitalization of images and their presence in technological devices which are increasingly used in everyday life, generates fragmentation and diffusion, increasing its role in the lives of all, creating a subsequent naturalization of media images.

By the naturalization of images we mean the cognitive process where the sign is no longer perceived according to its classical definition, “that which is in the place of something” and goes on to become the thing in itself, or as Baudrillard calls it, a “real effect”. This is exactly what is so powerful in the graphic interfaces that operate through the use of metaphors and graphic icons. The speed with which they send your message is related to the simplicity of the message and the persuasive force essential to metaphors themselves (witness the frequency with which it is used in rhetoric discourses).

According to McLuhan (1998:348), the notion itself of what is “real” is proper to the visual world. The author draws attention to the fact that the word phony, which in English means “false” or “inauthentic” originally meant “as unreal as a telephone conversation.”

Cameras used for cinematic and photographic purposes, videos and web-cams serve as the gateway to information, which, through its extreme referentiality, creates objects which become confused with reality, lacking in the “true essence” of the real world. The race to achieve greater perfection in the capturing of real images, or even the creation of digitalized animation has become a reality in terms of the market, acting on media products overall. In this context, “The next big thing” will be geared towards greater fidelity than either a software product or image-capturing device could produce.

It makes possible for a media product to appear as being a world in parallel to the “real world”, understood as part of a meta-reality, both seductive and vigilant. MacLuhan observed that the advent of new media technologies in living spaces has brought about the “Narcosis of Narcissus”, a general lack of awareness regarding its psychic and social effects, with the said technological devices becoming invisible.

On the other hand, to speak of a controlled environment, “dominated by media devices”, turns the latter into an omniscient and dominating whole, whose tendency to control humanity had already been anticipated in the film Terminator, portrayed in Blade Runner by the more human than human replicants, where man is condemned to succumb owing to the difficulty in distinguishing the “real” from the “imaginary”.

It is not the intention here to ignore the communicative power of media devices, but rather to break with the idea that such issues are inherent in media supports. Whereas it’s true that media technology enables communication to be both fragmented and integrated, the fact that it is used to control and subvert cannot be seen a priori, as an issue.

Such approaches exclude the discussion of the pioneering role played by media technology which is established by means of contracts between user and creator and which go beyond the mere illusory. It’s important to point out that the input output process creates a code, subject to alteration at any moment, not necessarily stucked in a world of icons and metaphors created by a few. With regards to media images, these are incorporated and customized. However, the nature of the support is absorbed without any further questioning. As many authors have already deliberated, it is important to make plain that such and such an image is of a different nature and moreover, that it does not necessarily relate directly to the real which it captures, despite Peter Lunenfeld’s observation of the change (or re-interpretation) that the image undergoes each time it is “compressed and decompressed”, the very notion of original and copy does not does not function in the same way as images generated by chemical procedures. The capturing process is also a code, subject to alteration at any moment.

An well known example of the unsuitability of metaphors introduced by software such as Office Suite, for example, originates from the fact that initially the use of computers was directly associated with offices, whereas nowadays their use is much more widespread, having become an integral part of most people’s everyday lives. References, on the other hand, have not caught up, leaving the computer to mirror the routine of an old business company. Even with new customizing proposals of some types of software, there is a constant need to adapt to a standardization of use. One single discourse, one single way of perceiving the digital environment ­ and what are the consequences of this?

Recovering connections It is known (and widely used in advertising) that the more efficient the communication, the more simplified it is. The question is what sort of standard of efficiency could be used as a sufficiently partial instrument in assessing the exchange of information, since it departs from the viewpoint of the sender and therefore comprises a one-sided vector, which prioritizes reception. The efficient message is that which arrives to the receiver with the least “noise” or interruption.

The paradox faced by communication is the following: according to cybernetic theory, entropy (or noise) is more frequent than order. Communication as an exchange of flows of information is in constant search of a closed structure that will minimize the dispersion of energy (or information). Yet permitting entropy to be somehow incorporated into the communicative process allows for a greater complexity of information. It is also known that a message with a hermetically sealed structure receives such a small information load that it becomes incapable of informing. What might happen to the reiteration of the communicative format is that by losing its information load, it is subsequently perceived as being its own object. At the same time, this phenomenon creates a perceptual violence that does not allow for a separation between sign and object, thereby reducing every perception to one single pattern.

The code however, is in a constant state of expansion and exchanging energy. The media operate within closed circuits created in environments, where entropy appears as the most constant element and the codes as mere traces. The notion of environment here is derived from its Greek equivalent perivello, which means to strike from all sides at the same time” It has less to do with being related to the natural world, than with simultaneity which includes constant processing. Reception is not only de-codification, but rather re-codification according to the parameters of whoever is receiving. 

The idea of a media bios can be re-incorporated by means of the notion of BIOS as Basic Input Output System, not as a parallel life which imitates, deceives, the materialization of the Platonic cave myth, which proposes a duality between the real and the imaginary. It is in the potential offered by the connections where important material for exploration is to be found.

It is necessary to leave the real vs imaginary dichotomy for another that provides for communication as mediation. The medium is in the environment, the latter containing another space, distinct and traditional in nature. Understanding does not take place by means of dichotomies, but by means of elements in a state of constant tension of a kind which does not tend towards the equilibrium provided by the traditional communicative setup (sender, message, receiver). There is the necessity of complex thinking, diagrammatic and rizomatic, transcending platonic logic as a means of resolving contradictions.

Images produced by media technology are difficult to analyse because, according to Flusser (2002:13), “they do not need to be deciphered” Yet there are several examples of artists and theoreticians who seek to break with this notion of screen as window on the world and demonstrate that it is more a question of another door leading instead onto an Alice in Wonderland-type world than a “real” world. If photography has checkmated traditional painting, whose perfection lay in overcoming the real by means of a realistic representation, it was Eisenstein who introduced us to non-naturalistic cinema by means of a montage, which in the case of the digital media is made possible, among other means, by creating new formats through the convergence of media, all of which in their specificity, become informative and mutable signs.

It is not a question of assessing referential or non-referential images using value judgments where the referential is “bad” because it deceives and the non-referential is “good” because it is a liberating truth. It is a matter here of discussing a unilateral approach for constructing interfaces which would merely offer a channel for the perception of digital space. Its references to the natural world are also learnt. In fact even the most basic computer program requires an operator with a certain digital literacy to handle it. Graphic interfaces, which at first overlay codes, may assist in understanding the multiple computer codes but which might bar access to the codes themselves, which may be perceived separately and not as part of one single element. As suggested by Flusser (2002: 9), “images are mediations between Man and the World. They are meant to represent the world, yet in doing so, they come between the World and Man.” The graphic interface becomes the “real” ordering of digital space, sometimes understood as the only possible ordering of this space.

Image-information In the same way digital devices have their use widely spread around the world, but a significant part of consumers use them merely as an analogical media with new features. Web-cams are exploited as “points of connection” between several parts of the world where it is possible to presence that which takes place in locations very far from one another. These images, however, produce the opposite effects, of non-referentiality, of a constant no-place, where all spaces are equal in terms of result: cars, passers-by, a fortuitous landscape. Obviously, there are other examples illustrating the use of such cameras, but those which have been mentioned, clearly characterize the fragility of web-cams as mere video cameras without an operator; in such cases there is a clear indication of the need for the resumption of a user who would bring information which would interchange with that which is within. The idea of a relation with the outside as an eye without a brain exhausts the support as a medium and thus fails to explore its potential.

Logcam is a project developed by the Argentinean artist Rafael Marchetti that carries the debate along a different path: this image is not an image, but a system created from codes the input and output of which continue to reproduce results already obtained.

Here the approach of the digital image as graphic interface is once again taken up; an image-system where the output and input of information create one dynamic whole. According to Manovich (2001:183), digital images can be image-interface or image-instrument, depending on what they are used for. What they have in common is that these images are not simply offered up, ready for enjoyment since they may be altered by the viewer.

The objective here is the exact opposite of realistic visual experiences in order to explore what is not immediately visible or at least to build a whole, which is geared towards experimentation into the particularities of the support itself and how it relates to the surrounding media environment. It is based on an inter-related vision, far from the realm of metaphor that we can promote new discussions on the technological environment and its surroundings.

The images created are synthetic and do not conform to any external referent. On the web there is a continuous here and now element, albeit mobile, non-localized. It is defined by Contreras as follows: (1998:106):

“these images born of the computer are converted into signs which do not signify any external object, signifying themselves as a self-contained project. In the universe of simulation we can  ensure the results of an experiment beyond any risk of the same action in the real world. It is a game played with algorithms and mathematical procedures. Time and space have not coordinates in single action which can go backwards and forwards without altering the final result. Actions may either reconstruct themselves or be altered and modified.”

This continuous temporality does not relate to the evolution of media technology taking as its base merely the sequences of new technological developments but to a distinct temporality which can be further removed from spatial limits. It is a fluid space which continues to be discovered by means of experimentation bound to go beyond the real vs imaginary dichotomy.

An interface is understood according to both Contreras and Manovich, as being based on the cultural codes, which carry messages, and for the same reason, signified phenomena which may be altered or re-worked.

Interaction is also a term which Logcam aims to discuss, but interaction as a cognitive process by a user that fills spaces left by possibilities opened up by codes (understood as cultural memes). If the referent-oriented image creates a strict codification the images being constantly created by the webcam in Logcam seek to highlight such discrepancies.

The digital image is made up of pixels, luminous points which in turn are basically consist of a binary code which circulates by means of electrical energy. In Logcam there is the fragmentation of the image, its two-dimensional presentation, the montage  created by means of a random sequence which operates through contrast.

If it is true that metaphors and references directed at the real world can be new forms of control, the mathematical matrixes which comprise digital images can be reconstructed ad infinitum. In the case of painting and photographs on the other hand, there is one sole perspective, in digital systems, a perspective from which the image will be projected is determined by multiple and temporary modes.

Logcam searches some means of rationalization, the visual concretization of an idea. Yet this rationality cannot be confused with closing or rigidity, for if this were the case, they would lose their communicative force. A project that aims to put in discussion the characteristics of digital mean implies to be constantly modified, since relations governing distinct vectors of meaning and density do not operate in absolute equilibrium.

Logcam: exchanging languages In Logcam the media supports will not be used in isolation, but by interchanging functions.

The project make use of webcams and other digital cameras, both as a means of capturing images in physical space, and like sensors of movement, also trying to explore typical textures and colors.

The aim is to expand the means in which the various media may be used, for example: physical space as an interface for interaction and webcam as a sensor for capturing images of a non-referential nature and graphic results which do not operate on the level of “author/spectator”, but rather as a dynamic spatial reading. The degree to which the work is rendered more or less complex equally depends on the use made of it by the message receptor.

Logcam experiments aims to create a whole, which on the one hand, seeks to highlight a possibility for digitally processing the creation of a graphic sequence, while on the other, including the individual as part of the process without necessarily making use of the camera setup which merely captures the external, simply reproducing it, or alternatively, interactions using the mouse ­ a graphic interface widely used on the web and which may generate certain automatisms (causing the disappointment by some users when an action involving the mouse does not generate an immediate response on the interface).

On the contrary, the element of chance has been included by random sequencing in an effort to integrate causality in the ordered structure of the work. It is known that there are rules in chaotic organizations, but rules, which Peirce called “evolutionary”, not defined a priori, as a rationalized variety.

Clearly, the Logcam’s proposal does not claim to provide an answer to all the questions raised, but to present itself as a diagrammatic experiment of some of the presented proposition. Assuming that visual language is rapidly absorbed (hence its persuasive power), we have attempted to subvert the closed discourse of icons by moving in the direction of an open representation, which is constantly re-building itself. This leads us once again to agree with McLuhan (1998:355): Why should it be the fragmented lines of the monitor that emphasize the sculpted outlines of objects?”


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