3 AUGUST 1997


I wrote "Physical objects will come tumbling from this emerging global digital network..." and I mean that literally.

They will tumble out from an overflowing of digital work because at some point anyone seriously working digitally will find themselves creating physical objects that reflect digital thinking.

These physical objects cannot be made as commodifiable alternatives to digital forms. We've been through that, it doesn't work. The results are pathetic. The closest example I can think of is the recent work of Tony Ousler. Very entertaining and smart but the content enevitably seems added on after-the-fact.

Or before-the-fact.

They reflect a linear narrative that isn't digital. The objects are not programmable. Physical objects that reflect digital objects will be programmable objects. They will have digital attributes that enable them to manifest in different forms.

What these objects will be like I can't say.

I do think the first objects to be viewed in this way, after sound-based work, will be paintings because the technology involved in making paintings is, at the same time, extremely simple but also intellectually complex because of the long history to painting. Photographic image-making tools are too difficult for artists to manipulate in any signifant way. Since the tools generally used to make images we call paintings and drawings are so simple, and the digital tools have proven so inadequate, there is also less chance of lapsing into demonstrating the technology.

This isn't a rallying cry for the return of painting. As Catherine David pointed out the age of Velazquez is over.

I'm talking about something that at first uses the technology of painting.

I'm thinking of Gerhard Richter (whose "Atlas" is at Documenta) as someone who has come close to making these paintings that aren't paintings. Some artists who seriously make physical objects have started making objects that truly reflect the digital.

These objects will come tumbling at us when we aren't paying attention and when we do take notice some of us will recognize them. There will be a great deal of noise in the meantime.

Tumbling objects don't make much noise.