Pall Thayer
Since the beginning
Works in Greenwich, Connecticut United States of America

Pall Thayer is an artist.
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Re: Digital Ponderings

This isn't really something I sat down and decided to figure out. It's more
something that I feel has become increasingly appearant to me in my own work
and the number side of this sort of work is the truly moldable feature
that's unique to the medium. When you become aware of it, everything becomes
like clay and you can turn it into whatever you want. Flip it inside out,
upside down, turn sound into imagery but not in a way that the imagery is
truly representative of the sound except for within some sort of algorithm
that is used in the transformation. Kandinsky attempted to create some sort
of definition of imagery in relation to music on some shaky spiritual level.
I can however point out the relation in indisputable terms. And then I can
make a new piece where the relationship is entirely different but equally
true and indisputable.

> But having identified the fundamental material, then what? The bigger
> for me is what gives manipulations of these materials a value beyond the
> selfish expressive enjoyment of the artist?

I don't know. That's the thing. This is an aspect of digital art that hasn't
really been discussed, at least not to my knowledge. But actually, I think
what's even more interesting is, where are the numbers coming from? What's
being used to generate the numbers? It can be all sorts of user input or
random generation or some specific system created by the artist or a mixture
of several methods and once that's established we can be concerned with how
the manipulation and the input relate and deduce some sort of value from
that. It's expressive yet abstract. I get shivers down my spine just
thinking about it.

I think it's like the renaissance, when painting was supposed to become
mathematical like music but then they figured out that it wasn't that great
an idea after all. But with digital mediums art IS becoming mathematical and
instead of making it sterile and plain it can lead (for instance) to an
abstract form that some of the pioneers of abstract art would have drooled
over. The artists using those mediums just have to be aware of that aspect
of them.


----- Original Message -----
From: <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2002 8:30 AM
Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Digital Ponderings

> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Pall Thayer <>
> To:
> Sent: Wednesday, December 18, 2002 12:17 PM
> Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Digital Ponderings
> Thayer: See if you can come up with a fundamental, basic element that is
> essence of digital mediums and what it has to do with the artistic value
of the
> mediums.
> Young: This is well worth pondering. But the second part of the question
> deeper than the first part. It is possible to say that an art form is
> its fundamental material (or some basic aspect of the fundamental
material.) So
> painting is about color, ceramics is about clay, literature is about words
> digital art is about these infinitely malleable mathematical units to
> everything we transmit in digital form can be reduced.
> But having identified the fundamental material, then what? The bigger
> for me is what gives manipulations of these materials a value beyond the
> selfish expressive enjoyment of the artist? The digital raw material
will, by
> its very nature, be reflective of human activity, so the question is
really one
> of "added value." What has the artist added to the raw material that gives
> work depth and enlarged meaning?
> In short, the most interesting question for me is how to identify, from
> the vast number of manipulations of digital material, those that are
worthy of
> the serious and enduring attention given to recognized artworks of the
> I share your interest in seeing all these matters discussed on the Rhizome
> list. In my opinion there is far too much raw ego display and too little
> serious discussion of subjects that ought to be of interest to artists
> in a new area of art. It seems that the supply of art is more abundant
than the
> supply of reasoned discussion about it. I note that a time-tested measure
> value is the relative abundance or scarcity of an item.
> Daniel Young
> + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
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Digital Ponderings

I'm just wondering if it's every occured to anyone (I'm sure it has but I d=
on't recall having seen any discussions on it on the list) what the most ba=
sic element of digital artwork is all about? Stop and think about it for a =
while before you read on. See if you can come up with a fundamental, basic =
element that is the essence of digital mediums and what it has to do with t=
he artistic value of the mediums. We see throughout art history that all me=
diums appear to go through periodic "defining" and "redefining" periods. Ta=
ke for instance painting. It goes through various steps of definition, depe=
nding on circumstances at each moment and they end up discovering that it's=
all about color. That's it. That's the most basic element of painting. So,=
what is it with the digital medium? Of course subject matter comes and goe=
s and has nothing to do with it. The fact that we can involve many people f=
rom many places isn't it. That can be done with other mediums. For instance=
Yoko Ono's nailed cross. It's gone all over the world and contains nails f=
rom each place. We could even say that Christos umbrellas is a piece that i=
nvolves intercontinental interaction though it doesn't travel at all (and d=
oesn't have to be plugged into anything!). So what exactly is the basic ele=
ment that is unique to the digital mediums? Well, here's my take on it and =
it's something that I'm sure alot of people working in these mediums aren't=
even aware of because modern computers have been designed to not show us. =
Regardless of what you are using the computer to do, be it graphics, sound,=
text, whatever, once it's on the computer you're working with numbers. Now=
everyone's saying, well of course, we knew that. But have you really been =
fully concious of it while brewing your next masterpiece? Just think about =
it, if you are in fact fully aware and concious of it, think of all the pos=
sibilities. Once you have those numbers, you can make them do absolutely an=
ything you want. User input can become a gif can become video can become so=
und and back again. It's endless. The whole Carnivore project( http://www.r= ) is a really good example. It generates the numbers a=
nd from there it's up to you to figure out what you're going to do with the=
m. One of the reasons I'm writing this is because I think that there are in=
fact alot of artists who have never thought about this aspect of modern di=
gital mediums and I trully believe that, just as has happened within other =
mediums, there will come a time when these mediums will go through such a "=
defining" period and that this is going to be an important factor in that d=
efinition. With projects such as Carnivore (and many others), we can see it=
happening already. Another reason is that I haven't seen this discussed on=
the list and I'm curious to see what sort of response it will provoke.
Pall Thayer
Fjolbrautaskolinn vid Armula (



Oh yeah, and throw out that pesky WINNT folder while you're at it.

Hinn 3.12.2002 kl. 06:11 ritadhi Mario Vasquez:




Heimspeki og list/Philosophy and art

Heimspeki & myndlist
THann 21. november i stofu 101 i Odda kl. 20:00 gengst Felag ahu=
gamanna um heimspeki fyrir fundi um fagurfraedhi netsins og hvadha ahr=
if thadh hefur a skilning okkar a listhugtakinu. Margret Elisabet=
Olafsdottur flytur lestur um efnidh og Pall Thayer og Ragnar Helgi =
Olafsson syna verk sin. THau munu svo sitja i panel asamt fleiru=
m og raedha malin i vidhu samhengi. Her er ridhidh a vadhi=
dh medh adh fast vidh tengsl myndlistar og heimspeki, en adhur hef=
ur felagidh fengist vidh tengsl bokmennta og heimspeki.

Philosophy and art
8 pm, November 21 in room 101 at Odda at the University of Iceland
The Icelandic Association of Philosophy will host an evening on the aesthet=
ics of the internet and how it affects definitions of art. Margret Elisabet=
Olafsdottir will lecture on this topic and Pall Thayer and Ragnar Helgi Ol=
afsson will present their work on the internet. Afterwards there will be an=
open discussion. This is the first time the association deals with philoso=
phy and art but in the past it has dealt with philosophy and literature.

Pall Thayer

Ragnar Helgi Olafsson

Pall Thayer
Fjolbrautaskolinn vid Armula (