Sutton, Damian, Susan Brind, and Ray McKenzie. The State of the Real: Aesthetics in the Digital Age. London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2007.

This publication was preceded by a conference of the same title at the Glasgow School of Art in 2003 and serves to stand as a partial representation of the thinking at that conference. Tellingly, the editors note that the conference suggested that “the need for a more in-depth investigation was evident” (xiii). This collection of essays sends two messages. The first involves the notion that a major process of cultural transformation is taking place, with potentially far-reaching implications for the way we come to experience the real world. The second message implies that visual practices are/will be one of the most important elements through which transformation is brought about.

For the purposes of my research questions this book raised some important issues regarding visual primacy of the GUI.  Michael Smyth suggests reintroduction to the other senses, in particular touch and the physical manifestation of space. Another interesting issue involves the phenomenon of  hyper-representation. The chapter entitled “Between the Representational and the Real: A Sampling Sensibility” may be of help when talking about remediation. This chapter ultimately takes up and elaborates the notion of an aesthetics of sampling. I see this notion as speaking to Bolter and Grusin’s concept of remediation, in that its aesthetic element “consists in the prevalent re-presentation of fragments and/or races of pre-existing media material” (Saether 49). Sampling, as it is used in the fields of musicology and electronic music deal with the “aesthetic” representational strategies of repetition and return. Saether goes back to Duchamp’s readymades to locate the “aesthetics of sampling” within the world of art. In this chapter Saether discusses the importance of transposition to Duchamp and his readymades: “Duchamp’s objects were not of great significance in themselves, so that attention was directed to the processes of transposition rather than upon meanings attached to the objects themselves” (Saether 51). This process implies that new associations are produced by placing elements from a work already known within a new framework. The central idea here implies that objects, elements, etc. are not of great significance in themselves–instead they point toward the process of transposition rather than on the meanings attached to the particular elements that comprise the whole. 

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