Thomas Y. Levin (Princeton University/IKKM, Weimar)
Datamoshing as Syntactic Form
The video recording of this lecture is not yet available.
Virtually all moving images we encounter today are “compressed” digital video images, a post-photo-chemical material condition we confront most strikingly when, for example, DVD playback encounters a sampling error and we witness the oddly beautiful ghosting of one image by another, a foregrounding of the pixelation which is the conditon of possibility of the “proper” apearance of such digital media. This technological “error” has recently become appropriated as an expressive idiom known as datamoshing or digital video compression algorithm hacking. What is at stake in the vocabulary of such “compression errors”—evident both in the domains of avant-garde video and in the more popular idiom of music video—is a rendering readable of “differencing,” of what I call the “preductive aesthetics of the absent image.” It may also be the signature of a new visual language, a post-photo-grammatic image syntax whose contours I will begin to sketch.
Thomas Y. Levin is a professor in the German Department at Princeton. He is the translator and editor of Kracauer’s The Mass Ornament (1995), the co-editor of a collection of Walter Benjamin’s writings on media (2008), and the author of Technoaesthetica: Medientheoretische Schriften (forthcoming). Levin co-curated the first exhibition on the Situationist International in 1989 and curated “CTRL [SPACE]: Rhetorics of Surveillance from Bentham to Big Brother” (ZKM Karlsruhe, 2001). He is currently a Senior Fellow at the IKKM (Weimar) and the Einstein Prize Fellow at the Schlegel Graduiertenschule at the FU Berlin.