The Fetish of Resolution
As a child I was lucky in having access to a darkroom and training in wet photography. One could choose between the speed of the film and the ability to ‘capture’ events with less blur at the expense of bigger grain and lower resolution. Likewise, different papers had different properties and finishes, the final print having a weight, shine or materiality.
Similarly seeing the development of faster and finer grain cellulose film stocks for capture and print as an emerging filmmaker in the 1980’s and the then the subsequent meteoric and competitive rise of video tape and digital video also followed in a scientifically led quest for higher resolution within new technology.
The transitions from different technologies starting with photography at the beginning of the industrial revolution mirrored a scientific journey to see in more detail and represent objects close and far. In parallel we also know that magic and illusion were strong pulls for the birth of cinema and other devices aspects of entertainment/art, it was never just scientific.
Video technologies were developed primarily for scientific purposes from the 1950’s and much else was a by-product. Subsequently more sensitive chips, printing devices and digital displays; projectors, lcd or led combined with portability and private ownership has led to a situation, where resolution has been fetishized as a commodity in itself, perhaps topically and popularised by Apples marketing of the ‘retina’ display, beyond practicality.
But this is not purely about value or corporations, but also quality and the appreciation of quality, whether a higher cost audio file or limited edition digital print of a commercial website, added value beyond the quality of experience and the quality of simulation of real world scenarios. When integrated into game, VR or AR environments, increasingly the merge between actuality and imagination will turn histories of representation on their head.
As artists all we can do is interfere, abstract, play with the glitch, low res (think of the craze for Indy films made in pixel vision in the 1990’s) and experiment with non-representational forms.