Posted by: Yorgos | April 20, 2008

Text 16 – An Internet Story

This is a simple story that could only happen online and touches several of the themes of this blog.

I like to play video games; a lot. Maybe this is the one thing that can keep me away from the things I have to or want to do. Among the games I play is one called Team Fortress 2, which is basically a “3D environment-online play-kill that other guy” kind of game. It is brilliant and funny, but, as tends to happen with most of my posts, this is not what I want to talk about.

Since it is an online game, you can meet a lot of interesting people (more on meeting people online at some later post…maybe), but you never really get to find out anything about them, apart from their mysteriously chosen nickname and how good players they are (and if they like to complain a lot). With one of those guys, I started chatting maybe for no particular reason, other than the liking of the other’s comments. He turned out to have a really interesting background. Born in Bosnia, the war drove him away. He tried to get to Turkey, but us Greeks didn’t let him pass, which was not very polite of us, but it turned out that it did him good. He ended up in Sweden, where he studied Art and now he is an artist. Here is one of his paintings.

gasmaska

This picture gives an even more interesting story. The girl is his pregnant (to a now almost a year old little boy) partner, wearing a gas mask because she didn’t want to breathe all the chemicals a painter uses. She’s an artist as well. She is actually the artist behind the painting you can see on the top part of the picture.

There is something very appealing to me in the way I found out about her paintings. This whole chain of media involved, the unfathomable amount of people that had to work in order for her painting to reach my computer screen, the vast number of metaphors (the word here used both as the tropos and with its other meaning in Greek: transportation, here used metaphorically – if that makes any sense).

Right now I am wondering if there is any difference in the way I perceive my friend’s painting and his partner’s. Since he painted a painting, he remained in the same field, mediating the picture through his own eyes, of course, but we are still talking about a painting. It is a translation, in a way, which may not be the original, but is accepted as a legitimate way to enjoy a work of art.

The problems start when that picture was digitized, was sent through emails and became the trivial sequence of ones and zeros that permits it to appear on a computer monitor. The girl’s picture becomes a picture within a simulacrum, itself a simulacrum in the nth degree. The experience of my friends picture is already crippled by its digitization, let along the one inside it.

And you, reader, you only look at the thumbnail of a picture. At least I have a bigger file in my hard drive, which still cannot reach the size of the original. Even if it did, it wouldn’t fit in my monitor and my experience would even be more fragmented.

What remains of the original (of both paintings)? My answer is nothing. And the loss must be immediate, not gradual. As soon as the painting leaves its form and place, it is already completely gone. Even a painting in a gallery is not the same painting anymore.

Too many thoughts on my mind. Let’s leave the subject along for now.

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