Lecture 2 Analogue: Digitisation and the disappearance/re-emergence of materiality

Main focusses for the lecture:

  • The general shift towards digital, material to digital signals.
  • Shift to photography and the reaction against it, reverting to old technologies.
  • Things become more interesting as they disappear due to nostalgia we have a special relationship with forgotten technology.
  • What’s the attraction? What do they offer?
  • Embodiment theory, material things, skin of the film, photography engaging with the body. Different experiences.

Analogue definition:

Analogue – 1.a. a physical object or quantity used to represent or measure another quantity. b. (as modifier) analogue watch; analogue recording. 2. something analogous to something else.


Anon., portrait of Edgar Allan Poe, ca. 1850.
  • Material, physical.
  • Indexicality, is it lost when we move to digital image?

Tacita Dean

  • Needs as an artist to work with her hands, artist as maker.
  • Argument against film; the audience can no longer tell the difference between analogue and digital.
  • However; some people can detect quality in analogue, the quality, not just sharpness etc.
Tacita Dean, The Russian Ending – Beautiful Sheffield, 2002.
Tacita Dean, The Russian Ending – The Story of Minke the Whale, 2002.

One explanation of analogue, Dean says, is ‘a representation of an object that resembles the original; not a transcription or a translation but an equivalent in a parallel form’.

Tacita Dean, ‘Analogue’, in Analogue: Drawings 1991-2006, Gottingen: Steidel/Schaulager Basel, 2006, p.8.

Everything we can quantify physically is analogue: length, width, voltage, and pressure. Telephones are analogue; the hands of watches that turn with the rotation of the earth are analogue; writing is analogue; drawing is analogue.  … Thinking too becomes analogue when it is materialised into a concrete form; when it is transmuted into lines on paper or marks on a board. It is as if my frame of mind is analogue when I draw; my unconscious reverie made manifest as an impression on a surface.

Tacita Dean, Analogue (exh. cat.), Basel, 2006.

Tacita Dean, The Russian Ending – Ship of Death, 2002.
  • Finding things by chance and responding to an object.
  • Using postcards of disasters.
Tacita Dean, Study for Majesty, 2006.


  • Study of trees.
  • Big physical objects, 3D (can see curled edges).
  • Scale relates to body, more size of trees.
Tacita Dean, Kodak (still), 2006. 16mm colour, 60 min.
  • Fighting the end of analogue film (Kodak) when the factory closed down and filmed the film roll.
  • Disappearance of skill, work almost got destroyed when someone cut it wrong.


  • Work shown at the Tate, Turbine Hall, installation piece, projection onto the wall.

Moyra Davey

  • Photographs the everyday, references to the analogue.
  • Material things we don’t want to get rid of (dust) outmoded.
  • Materiality.
  • Ageing, illusion to mortality.
Moyra Davey, Glad, 1999.
Moyra Davey, Bird Songs, 1999. C-print.
  • ‘Speaker’ book by Moyra Davey.
  • Recovering from illness.
  • Idea of communication.
  • Intimate relation to her own body.
  • Speakers and receivers. Material things relate to them to her own body.
  • Series of lights arranged in blocks.
Moyra Davey, Untitled (Speaker), n.d.
Moyra Davey, Receivers, 2003.


Moyra Davey, Rester Calme, 2010.
  • Mail art (mailers) work sent to friends, being who are buying the art or galleries who are commissioning it.
  • Davey pins work onto the wall, not flattened.
  • Mail art; post it and send it. Everything has a date stamp.
  • Can get damaged or lost (although that’s rare)
  • Can use different kinds of stamps.

Zoe Leonard

  • Disappearance of small shops.
  • Uses a medium format camera (Rolex)
  • Analogue, individuality, materiality, passed their prime, closing down.
  • Tactile, physical things.
  • Impact of globalisation.
  • Destroyed memory.

Walter Benjamin on the ‘outmoded’

Benjamin writes of André Breton, the surrealist leader, that:

He can boast an extraordinary discovery. He was the first to perceive the revolutionary energies that appear in the ‘outmoded’, in the first iron constructions, the first factory buildings, the earliest photos, the objects that have begun to be extinct, grand pianos, the dresses of five years ago ….

Walter Benjamin, ‘Surrealism – latest snapshot of the European Intelligentsia’ (1929)

  • Surrealism found energy in analogue, not nostalgia but re-born, potential in analogue.
Zoe Leonard, TV sets in store window, 2001, from the series Analogue, 1998-2007.

Laura Marks

Marks says that the title is ‘a metaphor to emphasize the way film signifies through its materiality … It also suggests the way vision itself can be tactile, as though one were touching a film with one’s eyes: I term this haptic visuality’.

Laura Marks, The Skin of the Film: Intercultural Cinema, Embodiment and the Senses, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 2000, p.xi.

Laura Marks The Skin of the Film

  • ‘tactile visuality’ – feminist and inter-cultural film
  • ‘optical visuality’ – mainstream, commercial cinema

‘Haptic visuality’ – the way  an image can evoke tactile memories.

Synaesthesia – by stimulating one sense, we produce a sensation in another.

  • Physical forms.
  • Memories, empathy, other body senses, tactile way.

Broomberg and Chanarin

  • Hybridity, analogue and digital.
  • Face from four different cameras ‘stitch together’.
  • Program contains glitches, blurred patches.
  • Face detachable.
  • Printed, look plastic, material quality.
Broomberg and Chanarin, Spirit is a Bone, 2016.


Helmar Lerski 

  • Photographer and cameraman.
  • Lots of detail, high definition, hybrid.
  • Left scope for viewer’s imagination.
  • Reflection of sunlight on models.
  • 16 mirrors, project imagination onto the subject.

Daisuke Yokota


  • Experimental, works on paper.
  • Performative, making stuff.

Sean O’Hagan

One could also link Yokota conceptually to the iconoclastic Mono-ha movement of the late 60s and early 70s, where sculptural raw materials included sand, glass, soil, cotton and even paraffin, as well as traditional stone and metals.

Sean O’Hagan, ‘“Aphex Twin is my inspiration”: Daisuke Yokota, the acid-loving photographer of tomorrow’, at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/may/22/daisuke-yokota-acid-loving-japanese-photographer

Nobuo Sekine

Nobuo Sekine, Phase – Mother Earth, 1968.

Jiro Takamatsu

Jiro Takamatsu, Shadow, 1977.
  • Sekine and Takamatsu, silhouette’s inspiration for Yakota’s light and shadow work.
  • Parallel to Yokota’s work.
  • Experimental process.
  • Otherworldly sense.
  • Performing for the camera.
Daisuke Yokota, from Corpus.
  • Corpus focus on the body, abstract.

Yokota’s technique:

O’Hagan describes Yokota’s technique:

‘His process is meticulous to the point of obsessive. He shoots on a compact digital camera, prints and rephotographs the results on medium-format film, then prints them again several times using heat and light to mark or distort the images.’

  • Obsessive and material, attacking the surface.

Daisuke Yokota – experiment and influences:

“there’s a lot of experimentation with delay, reverb and echo, which is playing with the way that you perceive time. Of course there’s no time in a photograph, but I thought about how to apply this kind of effect, or filter, to photography. I was definitely influenced by the idea of “ambience.” David Lynch is probably the same for me, in the way that he works with time and perception.”

Daisuke Yokota interviewed by Dan Abbe, July 11, 2012, at: http://www.americanphotomag.com/shoot-print-repeat-interview-daisuke-yokota

Daisuke Yokota – on the time of the photograph:

“There’s no element of duration to your experience of a photograph; it’s closer to an object. I felt that this was an extremely weak point of photography. So, I’m aware that photography can’t function in the same way as films or music, but I wonder whether it isn’t possible to create a way for photographs to carry time within them.”

Daisuke Yokota, interview with Dan Abbe.

  • Away from photograph as still image, engage with time, richer experience.
  • Hybrid, works with music.
  • Borrow ideas from different media. Move from frozen moment.

Essential Reading:

Thompson, Matthew, ‘The Object Lost and Found’, in Thompson, The Anxiety of Photography, Aspen Art Museum, 2011 – available online at: http://old.aspenartmuseum.org/archive/archive_aop_thompson.html

George Baker, ‘The Absent Photograph’, in Speaker Receiver, Basel: Kunsthalle Basel; Berlin: Sternberg Press, 2010.


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