Invisible Airs, Contraptions, Bristol, UK

bnr#53 => Invisible Airs, Contraptions, Bristol, UK


Harwood 2006

Pixel (r,g,b)
Now a days all well fed peoples are expected to take pictures in the same way that everyone is expected to speak.
Pixels, bitmap's, frame buffers, digital cameras, phone cameras, cctv cameras and scanners litter our homes, offices and landfill sites. At the MediaShed, a centre for free media at the mouth of the Thames (Southend-on-sea,uk) we have been given 15 scanners, 4 digital cameras and 20 graphics cards in two months as people upgrade to the next level of constructed seeing machines. Convinced by offers of unlimited consumption of reality whist drunk on the fantasy of instantaneous, unmediated appropriation.
One possible explanation of this glut of constructed seeing and it's associated heavy metals, cheap labor and environmental damage, might be - the continuation of a historical pre-occupation with moving light from one place to another as seen in the formulation of perspective by Alberti in 1435. He helped to create a set of 'neutral' formal rules based on the fact that light is normally propagated along straight lines and that we can therefore work out, for any object in space what light rays from its surface will reach a given point.
As a consequence of this formal projection we are optically tricked into taking up the position of a witness to the scene being depicted.
Whilst scientific capitalisms ascendancy in which seeing has become sinonemous with possession can explain much of our mechanical seeing and processing habits exhibited in the pixel. We still find ourselves having to explain the irrational myopic power of pictures in an age of binary rationalism, which seems to originate from our own physically embedded biology of looking. Seeing the pixel - it seems is conducted through an analysis of the variables of the structure of ambient light. Information obtained includes everything that the specified variables of optical structure can afford. Information about: animals, objects, motions, events, places. It is supposedly genetic and hardwired in the sited. Or as Hume puts it " A picture naturally leads our thoughts to the original state that created the appearance of light. The scare leads us to imagine the pain. "

It is useful in our inquiry to see the picture element or pixel as the smallest base structure of binary seeing machines. They enable us to dive through our screens and into peoples lives. Each pixel is a set of visual data that is a convincing optical illusion of a spec of coloured light, that is moved from source to visual data and then to display. The pixel usually consists of a structure of one to eight bits for each of its red, green, and blue component values of light.

PIXEL => (

According to scientific capitalism light is an electromagnetic wave or signals that are made out of one or more frequencies. The human eye is sensitive to a very narrow band of frequencies, namely the frequencies between 429 THz and 750 THz. Which is the same sensitivity of charge coupled device (CCD) or a complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) chips found in digital cameras.
Light falls on the retina reflected from pixels that are stored as bitmaps. Agitated by small electrical charges, the monitor bombards the retina with light. At a biological level this is experienced through electromagnetic waves falling on the retina, which has 2 types of cells with photosensitive chemicals. These photo receptors are divided into rods and cones. The rods detect whether or not light is present and Cones detect color, by photo receptors that are sensitive to only a certain frequency red, green and blue light which mirrors the component light values held within a pixel.
As with it's ancestor class perspective, todays binary seeing machines, has managed to re-convince us that NOW we really can possesses an infallible method of representation. A system for the automatic and mechanical production of truths about the material world. Well, if we buy the new 30 mega pixel cell phone with Adobe plug ins which will be available next year or is it the year after that. Aided by the political and economic acendence of western binary systems, artificial seeing has conquered the world of representation under the banner of market expansion, reason, science, and objectivity.

W.J.T Mitchell says “What is natural is, evidently is what we can build a machine to do for us.”
Iconolgy image text ideology w.j.t Mitchell page 37

Bitmaps allow pixels to coagulate into pictures and can be thought of as the Tupperware for holding red, green and blue light values. Sets of visual data usually rectangular in form, mirroring the underlying 2D mathematical arrays that hold the derived variables of light. Bitmap's hold the visual data while it's manipulated and displayed. In the case of a personal im/printer of our image – this is a series of commands to use certain inks in a set order. For monitors this is a set of electrical impulses to create light intensities that create an appearance of whatever we are working on.
No matter, monitor or printer the output device is always attempting to reflect light on to the retina of the viewer. Who hypnotized by the light enters commands which again reflect on the retina, recursively confining us to constructing flat pack software factories - in which we farm ourselves for someone else's profit,

The pixel and it's software systems are the social, economic, cultural re-ordering of the variables of ambient light - made possible by reducing this spectrum of light to a set of repeatable tasks as analyzed by the linguistic tools of code made possible by contemporary hardware environments. The photo-realism of binary seeing machines has became the natural mode of representation through which we enjoy our 'unmediated' appropriation of it's reality.

Seen from some future water table polluting slag heap of heavy metals made from last years cast off monitors, printers and scanners. The Pixel will glint, wink and be seen as the guiding light in reordering of our individual and collective sight, reduced to the soft/hardware systems that are used to record, display and manipulate the ambient variables of light. Just as the financial adviser is fast becoming the flesh face to the software systems that govern every aspect of his work so the machinical systems of seeing is rewiring our eyes.

Scientific capitalism dictates that the digital cameras photo-realism originates in our innate, biological equipment for dominating our environment, our genetic 'programming' for survival in a hostile world and that mechanical seeing evolves in a progressive fashion toward greater mastery over the environment, identifying itself with the scientific , rational, objective representation of reality. It claims for itself a universal international validity exported in the form of Orange, Voderphone, Microsoft and Apple.
The pixel and it's associated bit's, bytes and bobs ultimate goal then is the 'natural', effortless, automatic, mechanical representation of reality, and the reproduction of itself, which can be charectorised as a 'neutral' carrier or a system with a very low signal to noise ratio.
The construction of the 'neutral' carrier allows for a form of self survallence for fun and relies on sampling light from a particular position of the lens: which involves converting the domain of the signal from continuous-light to discrete-light. Which can be thought of as picture resolution. And Quantization: which involves converting the amplitude of the signal from a continuous infinite range of values to a finite set of discrete values. Which can be thought of as the bit-depth of the picture.
The pixel mistakenly imagines it can depict everything just as Knuthian gnostic coders are fooled into thinking that code can model anything. The pixel then and it's 'neutral' carrier turn the work of the programmer into god like actions. Programmers wielding the bits&bytes of light hidden in the bowls of electronic states. To the Knuthian gnostic_coder neutrality is all. Nothing can ever be true/false/right/wrong everything is permitted. Boolean switches are nothing more then pathways to other levels of recursion. Their is no purpose to the Knuthian gnostic-coders existence. They have wedded themselves forever to networks for the unlimited modeling of a reality which in turn allows them to reincarnates its specter at will.

Now a days all well fed peoples are expected to take pictures in the same way that everyone is expected to speak. Implies that the taking and viewing of pictures has become as much a biological necessity as speech itself. One manifestation is the production of cell phones embedded with cameras, arguably taking the worlds first truly networked pictures. Fortunately for us the Knuthian gnostic-coders has great difficulty in getting the computer to recognize an arse from an elbow, let alone what we might associate with each. But given time, it may well be able to search our memory sticks of intention instantaneously from anywhere in the world and issue fines accordingly.