Essay - Maeve Connolly
In ‘Sequent’ the experience of the ‘everyday’ is inscribed through various
forms of technological mediation. The web-based art work is structured
as a diary or a notebook. Each page seems to contain a random set of
digital observations noted for further elaboration. Yet these fragments
are not simply displayed as a collection of sources, or ordered into
a narrative of artistic progress. Instead many of the clips are presented
as samples, available for further processing by any reader. The blurring
of boundaries between reading and writing in this work seems almost
effortless, an afterthought rather than a design strategy.
The apparent simplicity of both ‘Rain’ and ‘Anemometer’ also belie the
real investment in human time and in digital memory needed to realise
each work. In these pieces, changes in the temperature or the flow of
air currents seem to crystallise effortlessly into recognisable patterns.
The work of digital signal processing, the translation of drops of rain
into music or the harmonisation of motion fragments, is rendered invisible.
In ‘Monitor’, live footage of a collection of Livingstone daisies is
transmitted on a television screen.. Symbolically daisies do not simply
mark the passage of time through organic growth; they actually open
and close in response to sunrise and sunset. However the growth of these
plants is so slow that it must be tracked on a time-lapse recording.
The televised image appears static to the human eye.
Through their very subtlety and apparent simplicity, the works in Sequent
seem to articulate the condition of all writing within the age of advanced
‘media systems’. Friedrich A. Kittler writes: "The bulk of written texts…no
longer exists in perceivable time and space, but in a computer memory’s
transistor cells." 1 Writing now passes through other forms of inscription
which, unlike older writing tools, can both read and write by themselves.
The actual site of writing, the hardware, is now hidden from view.
The media of information storage, transmission and computation are deeply
implicated in Kittler’s theorisation of subjectivity. He proposes that
our "illusions of consciousness" are simply reflections or "interior
views" of media standards.2
Kittler offers a vision of the world in which even ‘nature’ exists as
a form of writing. Sequent resonates with references to the digitally
mediated world and to an older project of inscription; the mapping and
measurement of space and time associated with an earlier model of (rational)
The Cartesian perspective of the map offers an illusion of mastery,
in which the natural world can be surveyed in all its minute detail.
Digital encoding realises this dream of miniaturisation, offering even
greater opportunities for the creation of exchange value.
In Sequent however, Cartesian objectivity is displaced by a fascination
with the particular and the contingent. Instead of representing the
natural world as familiar and knowable, these works reflect an experience
of the everyday, which is structured through code.
1Friedrich A. Kittler, Literature, Media: Information Systems (Critical
Voices in Art, Theory and Literature), Amsterdam: G+B Arts International,
1997, p.147. 2 Ibid., p. 132.