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In the reading about post-digital, it is discussed how digital really just means that something is divided into discrete units.  I think it’s interested to think about that because I never thought of digital in that way.  Now it makes sense, I guess I just never even had a good definition of what digital was.  Good thing we figured that out by the last week of Digital Media.

The author then says that technically anything aesthetic is by definition analog, since our senses only perceive non-discrete signals.  I think that that is something interesting to consider.  The first thing that comes to mind there is that classic duality of light that we learn about in middle school, where light is both a (continuous) wave and (discrete) particle.  Similarly, you can see how our eyes have rods and cones which are these discrete structures that perceive light.  Obviously, Cramer only mentions this as a technicality but it’s interesting to consider in what ways aesthetics differs between the continuous and discrete domains.

If you look at a display, you can see that all the little lights are arranged in a grid pattern.

(Sorry the image is so large)

It’s sort of cool to think about how all the pictures we see on digital monitors are created from something looking like this, and to what extent it matters whether or not it is discrete.  People care a great deal about screen resolution and whether or not they can see the pixels in an image.  It’s cool when you look at how an animated movie is rendered, there is an algorithm that literally divides the screen into a grid of pixels, and shoots a ray through each pixel into the 3d scene and then bounces around until it figures out what color it is.  It is the epitome of a discretized aesthetic.

 

Pretty fun stuff.  So you do this per pixel thing for every frame, and then play all the frames really quickly so that it looks smooth.  So basically you combine a bunch of colored squares to look like a coherent picture, and a bunch of pictures to look like a coherent movement.  This would obviously be characterized as digital.   But then apparently since the light from this motion picture travels to our eyes as waves, this is called analog.

It’s cool to step back and look at something like a flip book animation and see a whole bunch of pencil drawings that act as the images.  You lose the per pixel operation, but still have the motion simulation.  This might be a little less digital to most people.

In conclusion, it seems like the idea of something being digital has a lot to it, and there is a lot of gray area to decide what is digital and what is not digital.  Do we use technical definitions or not?  Is there a specific time to use a technical definition, and how do we know what that time is?