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Digital Musings
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The days run together like negatives in a camera with a broken film winder. When the photographer had to wait to see the images, paper and silver meshed together in a camera shop, too late to take another shot, but still, so laborious that we put the camera away to experience the sights with our own eyes. But it’s a soft blur, a Vaseline lens focused on a life well lived. Suffused with contentment, only occasional flashes of fear of failure pop by to rumble my intestines, I hesitate to say I am as happy as I ever remember being.

Tonight it’s another tangerine sky for the apple of my eye. I think about color. About color and pixels, and trying to explain how every form of display reads the bits and bytes of your image differently. Navy blue is #00080 and Dark Blue is #0008B. Seems logical, but then, Royal Blue is #4169E1 – so it’s not like you can guess what shade is spelled how. Each shade is an embedded hexadecimal code, and these codes are universal, but the ink cartridges and printers and screens produce the shade their hardware can, so not the same. Alvey Ray, who coined the phrase “Digital Light”, a second reality where what you thought was a pixel, isn’t. I was reading an interview with this pioneer in Computer Generated Graphics of all kinds in the Wired magazine October 2021 when I came across this quote: “the pixel is the product of a two-part process in which an element of some consciously created content is presented of some sort of display.”

I had to read that about three times, then I started thinking that the pigments and oils spread on the original canvas – the sassafras and the ochres, charcoal and lead, these are artificially created colors, too. You cannot smash a handful of violets and get a teaspoon full of light purple paint. You cannot grab a handful of cloud, and smack it down on the paper as the puffy white and gray object that floats across the sky. Primary colors, opaque colors, palettes smeared by the artist, the painter blends them, at first to mimic nature, then to transcend it, to better it by hinting at the flowers within, obliquely implying the sky, making daisies with dabs of yellow and slips of green.

What then is an “original”? Peripherally, there is all this buzz about NFTs Non Fungible Tokens, which are essentially instances of the item’s first appearance in digital form, all documented and everything. That’s just so weird, right? But maybe not. I spent the afternoon scrapbooking, which leads one to lofty thoughts, all those photos not scanned in, all those memories, so fragile – especially grandparents and great grandparents – who besides me has those? And I have WAY too many binders, looking back now wondering what I was commemorating, and for whom. Who would ever flip through the carefully curated pages again? Poof there goes the contentment bubble, I am back to wondering what it all means…

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