What a perfomance

The demonstration of the “digital imag(in)ing apparatus” is more than a final flourish or a show-and-tell, it is an integral part of the project. In some ways the ‘demonstration’ is a necessary part of the apparatus, not only as a proof of concept, but also as a critical component in the network I am setting up.

The demonstration of the working of the “digital imag(in)ing apparatus” is at one scale a performance. The stream of imag(in)ings that appear and disappear, that are visible and unvisible, are particularly present as the apparatus works before its ‘audience’. Of course the presence of the particular actants, their status as ‘occasions’ in the moment of becoming is the central theme of the apparatus. It is designed to explore the particular ways in which jpeg is present and absent within the digital imag(in)ing pipeline.  But those actants take on a particular presence as the apparatus works in reality as opposed to the way it works in the ‘diagram’. This is not just in terms of how the audience perceives or relates to those actants, but also how they articulate the viewer or the “superject” in Whitehead’s terms. In the space of the demonstration, particular actant network relations are set in motion that reconfigure the network and position the actants as different ‘occasions’ or moments of becoming.

This is a performance in the sense of a practice. Not only my practices, but also that of the other actants within the apparatus. It is a making visible of the moments of becoming that are the ‘nature’ of the actants in play. This staged performance echoes the countless similar performances that other digital imag(in)ing apparatuses make every day across the Live Web as camera buttons are pressed, CCDs register light and convert it to electrical signals that software and protocols encode in particular formats (usually jpeg/JFIF) and then write to a memory device; as that data is passed across local area and wide area networks and the Internet through WiFi and wired networks; as that data is decoded as imag(in)ings and enfolded into social and media relations and ecologies.

My ‘performance’ is a deliberate act of imag(in)ing, making those relations present. But it is also an integral part of the digital imag(in)ing apparatus. Without that performance that I do and that countless other imagers do every day, the digital imag(in)ing pipeline would not work, the imaging and imagining relations would not work and the actant-network would have a different configuration. The moments of becoming, the actant as occasion would be different and so the “societies” in play (in Whitehead’s terms) would be different.

My digital imag(in)ing apparatus is the material components (actant-occasions), the immaterial ones and the practice-performance actant-occasions. The apparatus is camera, software, interface and practice. To submit the thesis, the diagram and even the hardware/software device without submitting the practice would be incomplete.