me, kdg
Kim de Groot is a design researcher with an MA in new media. She is part of the lectoraat Communication in a digital age and teaches new media at the Willem de Kooning academy Kim's research deals with the inverted relation between image and reality. Moving from representation to the performative, from the visual to the infrastructural, images are no longer created to represent a reality but to manage it. Kim examines images as informational objects and traces the relations between image, event and media.

Now is the time! on Media


On October 3 the University of Amsterdam organized the first two lectures as a part of Now is the time! a lecture series on art and theory in the 21st century. The topic of this evening was the relation between new media and art.
What is the status of the medium in art production and the discourse in art, in this situation referred to by Rosalind Krauss as the ‘postmedium condition’? How can an artist act critically in this complex cultural field now dominated by multimedia and mass media?

Kaja Silverman discussed the role of the digital image in the work of James Coleman, an intervention in Leonardo da Vinci,  for the Louvre in 2003. Her lecture was followed by Laura Marks who held a very interesting talk about the relation between new media and Islamic art. Both lectures presented intriguing insights on the current state of the (digital) image.

Presence and Absence
Besides a project on da Vinci, Coleman's work for the Louvre is about the digital image and conditions of the digital. Kaja Silverman started her lecture with an overview of the exhibition space at the Louvre and continues to talk about a wall text by Coleman, four editing monitors and the digital Last supper. The overview of the floor plan with Coleman's notations written on it visualizes exactly what is happening; the imaging of information. A remark made by Laura Marks later that evening couldn't describe it any better. "Images are products of information. We do no see an image but a window to some software". In this case, this software is Coleman's grounding program of his project; the presence and absence of the image.

The classic condition of the museum archive as a linear timeline from which works are selected and presented is one of the concepts that is being reinterpreted by Coleman under current digital conditions. Coleman created a stage within which images could emerge and disappear. This concept of presence and absence was emphasized by using computation, screens and software, as a means to present work of da Vinci. The screens claimed a hybrid status of the da Vinci's drawings since they were presented in a slideshow in which they constantly appeared and disappeared.
Besides the flow of images being present or absent, the slideshow used techniques of zooming and panning. Silverman mentions how the digital zooms and pans of The last supper of da Vinci become multiple Last Suppers. The original is randomly cut in pieces by the software zooming in and out. It results in the absence of one original and the presence of multiple originals.
The zooming technique of the slideshows produces a kind of Deleuzian mirror image. "...a formation of an image with two sides, actual and virtual. It is as if an image in a mirror, a photo or a postcard came to life, assumed independence and passed into the actual [..] a genre of description which, instead of being concerned with a supposedly distinct object constantly both absorbs and creates its own object" [1]

The presence and absence of the image was used by Coleman as an overarching theme. Besides the exhibition design and the use of digital images and techniques he developed a strategy of exclusion. Coleman tried to get out of  "the threat of lineage" (lacan) in the project by a build-in expiration date which made it impossible for the works to become autonomous. He decided his work could not be archived by the Louvre, the digital Last supper was destroyed. In that way, Silverman describes, every digital da Vinci image disappears in the dust of numerical data both continuously during the exhibition and eventually forever.
The constant flow of absence and presence of the images on screen makes it impossible to relate to the images as singular objects. The expiration date of Coleman's work makes it impossible to objectify it and thus to claim property. A question that rises is how much can one still receive this work?
Silverman opposed the concept of receiving and reception to transmission. Coleman transmitted images of da Vinci to screens but eventually created a receptive work that could only be viewed and experienced at a particular moment. This move away from infinitude runs parallel to the work of da Vinci who created a lot of unfinished drawings and paintings. Silverman claims da Vinci to be a receiver himself, not an imitator or transmitter. It seems that a momentum was more important for da Vinci, "it is all about the image entering the eye". Although Coleman ignores the classic museum timeline, he does bring his work closer to the museum by creating this momentum, and stage both the creation and presence of new images and their disappearance at the Louvre and through that creating an inextricable link between the work and the museum.

Even though the Louvre could not archive Colemans work and was Silverman urged not to show any pieces of the screen presentations, as a listener to the lecture it feels as if you're part of a derivative work or a work that is continued in imagination? A kind of virtual work that contains many different potentials for future actualisations.
Imaginary Property happens when Coleman decides to give his work an expiration date. It prevents the works to become autonomous and possible property of the museum.
This means the public relies on the will to share, in this case on Kaja Silverman's will to share because her talk eventually enables the reception of Colemans work. The disappearance and retelling of this work eventually enables it to become an abstract program, a method that can be used or appropriated by other people. It lives on in the imagination of people.

[1] Deleuze, Cinema 2, The time-image, h: 4 The crystals of time, p. 68, 1989

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