‘The entire plant is toxic (including the roots and seeds), although the leaves o the upper stem are particularly potent, with just a nibble, being enough to potentially cause death. There have been instances o people conusing digitalis with the relatively harmless.’
Digitalis, Wikipedia contributors, Wikipedia,retrieved 1 December 2011, romen.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitalis
Animate began in 1990, commissioningartists and animators to make experimentallms or television. It was one o severalcollaborations between the Arts Counciland broadcasters as part o a strategy thataimed to lever additional nancial supportor ambitious projects and to enable therelatively vast television audience to readilyengage with artists’ moving image. It was,crucially, about television as a primary orm- not merely platorm - or contemporaryartists’ practice.Nowadays, exhorted to broadcast ourselves,the idea o ‘television’ itsel can seemquaint idea. ‘Digital’ is as unwieldy a subjector discussion as ‘writing’ or ‘biological’.Nevertheless, the institutions o supportreduce debate to their reminders that digitalmedia technologies are aecting everyaspect o our society, economy and culture.In messages that themselves reach us byemail. Interrupting our making and delivery oonline purchases or attending James Wales’personally appealing eyes.What this language o ‘aect’ and impactbetrays is how many o us in the arts and ourarts institutions are playing catch up with theworld. Digital doesn’t simply aect the world.It is the world. The world is digital. And aswith previous technological revolutions -the printing press, the threshing machine,penicillin - nothing is the same as it ever was.
‘Homer: Is this episode going on the air live? June Bellamy: No, Homer. Very ew cartoons are broadcast live. It’s a terrible strain on the animators’ wrists.’
The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show, TheSimpsons, Season 8, Fox Network, 1997The notion that ‘live’ is primary still prevails,with media - broadcast, and now digital -as carriers. Arts Council England assertshow ‘digital technologies enable artiststo connect with audiences in new ways,bringing them into a closer relationship withthe arts and creating new ways or them totake part.’In all the hoopla around digital relay o operaand Twitter eeds in theatres it would bewrong to conuse the ‘live’ - cultural objects- with culture itsel. Many o us are culturallyengaged elsewhere. In places the ‘live’do not go and cannot reach. A generationdoesn’t riot because it can’t sing in a choir. And the digital does depend on our ‘re-imagining’ what an ‘arts experience’ can be- it can be an authentic ‘arts experience’ inits own right. And the challenge or that artis to counter our acquiescence; to becomecelebrant not supplicant.
You are reading this. Either rom theprinted page (and i so, does this very act yetseem strange to you? I not, one day, it will.)Or rom a screen. Just as text isn’t speechand reading isn’t listening, so these aredierent ways o reading, and the dierence,inevitably, incurs a shit in meaning. Theways in which we compose and understandlanguage depends on circumstance.Platorm circumscribes text and we writeand read dierently accordingly. So muchirony lost in email translation. Animated moving image is ubiquitous now,on public and personal screens - newdigital spaces that are very dierent to thetraditions o cinema or television.Screen size, devices that we hold in ourhand, the choice o what, where and whenwe view – these are all elements thatcontribute to new modes and orms oexpression and receipt.
Artists have always explored andinterrogated technologies and animation isat the oreront o creative and technologicaldigital innovation. In the spirit o thepioneering project Container Ship (cship.e-2.org, 1998), and its proposition o ‘internetspecic art’, Digitalis set out as a tentativeexploration o digital ‘circumstance’ asmaterial and site or experimental animationpractice, and the inherent shits in practiceand engagement as the work that artistsmake responds to shits technologies. Artistsmake work in, or, and about these newdigital contexts and Digitalis oers pause torefect on making and engaging with art indigital spaces.
The Digitalis Commissions are our lmsselected rom an open call or short lmsthat explored and interrogated the digital astexture, material and site or artistic practice.Proposals were considered by a Jurycomprising o: Abigail Addison, AssistantDirector, Animate Projects; Nick Bradshaw,Web Editor, Sight & Sound Magazine; SusanCollins, artist and Director o the SladeSchool o Fine Art; Gary Thomas, Director, Animate Projects; and Sarah Williams,Coordinator, Jerwood Visual Arts.The selected artists are: Adam Butcher,Lizzie Hughes, James Lowne and MatildaTristram. The lms premiered at BFISouthbank on 14 December 2011. They canbe seen online at animateprojects.org andare available to download through iTunes.
Animate OPEN Digitalis
The Animate OPEN: Digitalis is Animate’srst online exhibition selected rom an opencall or submissions by a Jury comprisingFrancesca Gavin, writer, curator and Visual Arts Editor at Dazed & Conused; RebeccaShatwell, Director, AV Festival; Gary Thomas,Director, Animate Projects; and artist andmusic video director, David Wilson.Works by 11 UK-were selected rom morethan 200 works submitted. The Jury ocusedon the Digitalis theme - considering howworks explored digital technology and ideaso the digital, and their appropriateness toonline exhibition and engagement.The artists are: AL and AL, Tony Comley,Phil Coy, Kristian de la Riva, Joe Hardy, MaxHattler, James Lowne, Rob Munday, NorikoOkaku, Edwin Rostron, and David Theobald.The Jury Prize was awarded to JamesLowne or his lm Someone behind the doorknocks at irregular intervals. Joe Hardy andKristian de la Riva were also awarded SpecialMentions. Max Hattler won the Audience Prize. All the lms can be seen at
, along withinterviews with the artists and backgroundproduction materials.This newspaper includes inormationabout the lms and artists in the Digitalisprogramme, along with commissioned textsabout the lms and related themes. Thereare two Digitalis Discussion events -a screening and panel at BFI Southbank inDecember 2011 and a symposium at LondonCollege o Communication in 2012.The Digitalis Commissions are supported bythe Jerwood Charitable Foundation. Digitalisis supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.Please share your thoughts on the digitalwith us at
Digitalis: Algorithmo lie is apowerul beat
Digitalis About the Writer
Gary Thomas is Director o Animate Projects
About the Writer
Nick Bradshaw is a writer and journalist andWeb Editor at Sight & Sound magazine.He was a member o the selection jury orthe Digitalis Commissions.
William Gibson, as ever, puts it best: ‘Theprex “cyber” is going the way o “electro”.’The digital world that just a ew years agoseemed so brave and new will soon be – oris? – such a commonplace that it won’t bearmention, just as we take or granted modernlie’s electrical inrastructure. Digital will bethe deault modes o movie production,distribution and exhibition, but more thanthat, its voracious appetite or simulating allthe techniques and qualities o the analogue– rom the celluloid ‘look’ on down – willleave precious little to contrast betweenthe two modes. Or so I’m increasinglyconvinced. Perhaps the subtleties o penciland paper are still not replicable, but Iwouldn’t be surprised.Still, the light o strangeness has not yetdimmed on the digital revolution; and as Iwatched James Lowne’s Someone behindthe door knocks at irregular intervals (andspeculated on the outcome o his DigitalisCommission, Our relationships will becomeradiant), it seemed that there was stillsomething unexpected, or counterintuitive,about the notion o contemplative ormeditative art in the digital space. Isn’t digitalabout artice, reconguration, alchemy,commotion, whisper our prejudices? Isn’tthe internet, the acme o the digital, one bigdistraction system? (Yes, but only becauseit’s an expression o the human id.) Isn’t itthose ruminants o the cinema – NathanielDorsky, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, BélaTarr, Lisandro Alonso, you name them– who’ve clung on longest to celluloid, withits Bazinian indexical relationship to a worldbigger and wilder than the artist’s palette?Yes, but even then I’m reminded o thosewho have crossed the foor: Americanlandscape artist James Benning, say, whorecently retired his 16mm camera or HDvideo. His rst video eature Ruhr, thougha typically ultra-minimalist single-shotcontemplation o a actory at sunset, sawhim immediately take up digital’s oero invisible, DIY image manipulation: themovie’s condensation o two hours’ wortho colour changes into one hour-long shotmakes Ruhr the most spartan instance odigital animation I know. (I’m also minded topropose the elided rog symphony at the endo Abbas Kiarostami’s Five Dedicated to Ozuas a comparable case o extreme-minimalistpixilation, but perhaps that’s pushingthe point too ar.) O Animate’s Digitaliscommissions, Lizzie Hughes’s Fountain(zoom) seems to promise a variation on thislong-take manipulated-photography theme,with its slow zoom and trompe l’oeil ocussounding echoes o both Michael Snow’sWavelength and Hitchcock’s amous dollyzoom in Vertigo.O course, animation doesn’t have to claima photographic relationship with the world inorder to create a space or contemplation, asmany Animate commissions down the yearshave demonstrated. But those animationsthat are explicitly ‘digital’? O the worksselected or the Animate OPEN: Digitalisexhibition, Max Hattler’s conveyor-belt enter-the-void visions 1923 aka Heaven and 1925aka Hell could be classed as trance lms (anequal but opposite state to contemplation?).Edwin Rostron’s Visions o the Invertebratecertainly conjures a meditative, immersivespace somewhere in the back zones oour mind, speaking directly to the worldo concepts and the subconscious. Mostpertinent, Joe Hardy’s visually minimalist,aurally evocative Cassette Tape: Side Aopens up acres o thought time over its15-minute span.It’s striking, though, how many o theselms – Cassette Tape, David Theobald’sWorker’s Playtime (a TV or our robotcolleagues), Phil Coy’s eleven secondso paradise (2010) (fash-rame images o‘paradise’ grabbed rom the internet) harkback to earlier iterations o technology itsel.Can digital animation look beyond its ownmeans? James Lowne’s two projects seemto come closest to striving or an answer,even as they wear their digital means ontheir sleeve. Someone behind the doorknocks at irregular intervals is both a portraito contemplation and an inducement to it. As I write, Our relationships will becomeradiant awaits inspection, but I rememberits proposal sketching the eerie incongruityo a conab o (opaque but presumablypowerul) executives within a solitarybuilding inside a nature reserve – a contrastthat conjures all manner o salient thoughtsabout the current ways o the world, rom itstwisted power relations and environmentalsegregation to the moti o separation andisolation that may or may not implicate thebrave new digital world itsel. Could it besel-refexive and more? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolly_zoom