The Digital Domain: A Reality Trap that may Bring us Closer to Understand Reality
Digital Ambiguity, an Enforced Senseless Subject to Master
The digital world has been commonly referred to as that space or domain where computation can be applied. Those who have been maturely alive for the past 20 years have likely been reading the term in countless billboards, LED strips, product frames, and varied media. It has been posed to us as a revolution, which has inevitably raised the thread flag on the grounds of the skeptical.
But there is no-one to blame, the digital was early presented in a rough and raw graphic shell. It was publicly portrayed as a fast-lane to the future but subconsciously meant a heavily price tagged low-resolution draft of reality, often presented through pixelated screens or tiny loudspeakers embedded in lo-fi game consoles.
Nowadays the digital is sailing fast and proud. Nevertheless, there still exists a strong gap between the digital promise and the digital reality, at least in terms of mainstream usable outcomes. While computational processing still remains an abstraction, society is presented with lag-heavy graphic representations of impostor human identities (avatars, profiles, game characters,…), and we are told to embrace them. Fast worldwide connectivity may be the only obvious life impact we are left with, everything else is understandably depreciated by the grumblings of the elder. Life should be an obvious terrain to navigate through, and digital is not, it is currently a sophisticated transitioning prototype that we are enforced understand.
Digital Imperfection, from Roughness to Enlightenment
Behind the scenes, though, the moving into the discrete realm appears to be unstoppable, delivering, and moreover, necessary. The reason why digitalization was greatly linked to a downfall of quality is that it inherently means quantization, compaction, and simplification, and it is still very apparent. This appreciation issue is to blame for timeframes and scales, though. What we call reality seems to be a high-resolution stream of events which can be perceived through our senses with no apparent loss of quality. This is what we call analog: a continuous watercourse of experiences that allow no space for gaps, glitches, or artifacts. Analog is whatever appears to be free from the artificialization of (jaggy) human inventions and its derivates. Is it then just an engineering problem to digitally fabricate the analog?
What if the quality issue regarding the digital was just a side-effect of it still being in early development stages? What if the digital is just a baby born prototype of how to represent reality in better terms for observation, analysis, and generation? What if progress could get us to a place where we destroyed the gap between reality and digital in terms of presentation, processing, and information acquisition? Wouldn’t it be great to have a system to process, amalgamate, and output reality-alike events? That would be an upgrade in the search for better and more insightful outcomes in our condition as beings embedded in reality.
To Create Reality is to Understand Reality
The process of generating digital data is that of translating human-sense perceptions into computer-ready assets. If we increase translation resolution and enhance computer processing, we might be ready to enable and enjoy augmented understandings of the world, from where distilling deeper insight shouldn’t be such a challenge.
For this reason, the question should not be of the type ‘what should be digitalized?’, but more like ‘what should not?’. It is on the side of every expert to think about ways with which an enhanced information processing system could serve each one’s needs and goals.
Landing on my own domain of interest, which is stationary and ephemeral arts, I see many ways in which the digitalization of artistic tools, processes, and outcomes may be extremely useful to propel the essence into new landscapes, but generally fall into the next concept:
Objective representation of subjective inner-processes. Pursuing the modelling of hidden complex (and very valuable) creative processes, which currently could be labelled as intuition or serendipity. To capture the muse, and be able to call her more often.
Turning the world into flawless digital translations means defining nature in our own terms, it means becoming creators and experiencers simultaneously. The true digital would bring alignment to nature and its details, it would mean proving our own capacity to understand, eventually proving reality as both, spontaneous and manufactured.
Idyllic digitalization is much more than aesthetics, it is an attempt to define, and regain agency for our own existence.
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I would like to highlight some inspirational references, authors, and articles that have been interesting and inspired me.
Memo Atken AI’s organic and spiritual views; Boden, Koestler, and Csikszentmihalyi approach on Creativity and Flow states; all sorts of abstract attempts in the field of Machine Learning interpretability (including some psychedelic consequences such as Deep Dream); daring attempts of a rigorous description of ineffable processes by Simon, Gowan, and the likes; Joscha Bach and his depth of knowledge; and other engineers and creators who use technology as a creative toolset (Zach Lieberman, Kyle McDonald, and many more).