Affordances in Transitioning from Analog to Digital

The ability to analyze, represent and simulate phenomena digitally on a broad-scale today is a result of a series of inovations in hardware, software and computation in the past 40 years since the introduction of the desktop computer in the early 1980s. In this paper, I will present a number of my digital media arts projects that engaged new digital technologies from raster image-processing, to digital scanning, time-based media, multi-linear interaction, sensing devices, databases, and computational algorithmic methods such as artificial neural-networks, self-organizing systems, multi-camera interactions and machine learning to explore the cultural narrative potentials of the evolution of computation and photography, and data visualization.

“Image, Language and Belief in Synthesis” which I presented at the CAA in 1989[1] addressed some of the fundamental issues I perceived at the time at the intersections of the photograph, semiotics, and computational image-processing, as the culture transitioned from camera vision to computation-based machine-vision. The current paper will address how each new technological invention and methodologies since then led to an opportunity to creatively engage with multimedia innovations from the 1980s, and what conceptual, cultural, and aesthetic issues have been at the core of the digital media arts discourse.

[1] Also published in “Computer and Art: Issues of Content” (edited by Terry Gips) in the fall 1990 issue of the CAA Art Journal and later in “Critical Issues in Electronic Media” (edited by Simon Penny), SUNY Press, 1995.


George Legrady is a media artist working in photography and digital media installations. Born in Budapest, he carries both Canadian and US passports. His work has been exhibited in installations at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Haus der Kunst, Munich; ZKM, Karlsruhe; Musée de beaux-arts, Brussels; National Gallery of Canada; PS1/MOMA; MOCA Taipei; Chronus Art Center, Shanghai: Kiasma, Helsinki; National Gallery Prague; International Book Fair, Bogota; and numerous other places. 

His work has been supported by a Guggenheim Fellowship, Creative Capital Foundation, National Science Foundation, National Endowment of the Arts, and the Canada Council for the Arts. His works are in numerous museums collections such as the Whitney Museum of American Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Art, National Gallery of Canada, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, and others. 

He is distinguished professor in digital media at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and directs the Experimental Visualization Lab in the doctoral Media Arts & Technology program. Additional information can be found at www.georgelegrady.com