Costas K is a graphic designer who used Cyborgology Editor Nathan Jurgenson‘s post on digital dualism as part of a design project. The physical book explores the intersection of atoms and bits. The creator was invited to write a short essay about the project.
As kids, we were told to stop ‘wasting’ our time with electronic devices and that we should be outside, engaging with the ‘real’ world. Early on, the idea was planted into us that what we do using a computer is an alternative false state that bears no value. To still believe this is naive. Personally, I have met some of my best friends online. I make transactions, articulate opinions, receive feedback and get commissioned professional projects. How is this not real?
Still, when approaching the topic the first expressions that came to mind were ‘physical world’ and ‘digital world’ – the cornerstones of digital dualism. Nathan Jurgenson’s text ‘Digital dualism versus augmented reality’ helped me put things into perspective, before exploring them visually.
It is my belief that online activity is a continuation of what we do physically, following similar patterns – although this is not always recognisable. A room and a web page both provide a defined ‘space’ in which to hold different elements, and are connected with other such spaces. Facebook isn’t different to talking to your friends in a crowded city square, where other people can hear you. A ‘tweet’ is the equivalent of making a statement in front of the crowd.
As the digital aspect of life becomes increasingly important, so does design. The electronic environment is more formidable than the physical, and is not subject to certain limitations. Changing visuals is fast and cost-effective. Making a clean start is easy and this is not influenced by history (e.g. existing buildings) or nature. Resources are almost endless. Some new limitations appear which are determined mostly by the choices and equipment of the user. The user also contributes to the design of the environment, by customizing it. The outcome is not determined solely by the designer.
The result of my exploration is called ‘Connected’. The centrepiece is a booklet which explores the relationship between the physical world and online activity and uses photography, graphics, typography and cut-outs to establish conceptual and visual relationships, in accordance with the text. The latter is a collection of found sources, mostly in the form of quotes, with an editorial written by me. The only complete article included is ‘Digital dualism versus augmented reality’. The project also has a web aspect which is currently in the form of a model website (with static links) influenced by Net Art. Since the project is about the interconnection of the physical with the digital, it was important to use both types of elements. The digital aspect though was limited significantly by time constraints and I hope to explore it further in the future.
The main concepts that are examined in the project are: (a) digital elements becoming one with the physical world [fig. 1-2] (b) the idea of digital dualism (c) social networking [fig.3-4] (d) the political role of the internet in suppressive regimes [fig. 5] (e) the notion of ‘information overload’ [fig. 6]