Material to Digital, Digital to Material

When you talk about the digital processes of transformation and creation, you can’t ignore its connection to the processes and transformations of the platforms before it. The material aspects of creation that are just as imperative even today to technology.

As above, this art piece by Julius Pop at MONA called Bit.Fall. A work that consists of digital content, generated by a statistical algorithm of predominant words across the internet. Each drop of water represents a pixel, and creates the digitally generated word in a material form.

While the digital world has excelled in being able to create almost anything the same way it be could be created materially, what digital cannot capture is the appreciation of making something, and being ‘seized by the gentle rhythm of work’ (Esther 1998). Creating something digitally just won’t have the same satisfaction.

Take this for example, an original creation of mine.

What you are seeing, is paint on 6mm film strips shot through a projector, then transferred to digital and edited through the computer. The material images created, would be impossible to replicate in the digital world because of its randomness and flaws. Engaging with the material aspects of our environment is a way to learn and understand the world around us. And in an increasingly digital world, it’s important to uncover how we can still maintain that connection. (Leslie 1998)

While digital and material consist of the same processes at their core, the results they can create are vastly different. The digital-material movement of ‘bringing closer’ and ‘remodelling’ the two processes (Leslie 1998) brings about more creations like Bit.fall that create a message far more powerful through the way it combines the two opposing elements.


Leslie, Esther (1998) ‘Traces of Craft’, Journal of Design History, Vol. 11, No. 1, pp. 5-13

BitFall, Dublin Science Gallery https://dublin.sciencegallery.com/surfacetension/bitfall/

Files, T. D. (2010) MONA – Bit.Fall by Julius Popp. Available at: https://vimeo.com/22509478