The Digital Image as Topological Surface

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Conference Proceeding
Proceedings of the Digital Cultural Ecology and the Medium Sized City, 2016, 6 pp. 56 - 65
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In the image economy the promotional image allows individuals and authorities to make various claims for the control of urban and architectural form. However, apart from texts like Anna Klingmann’s Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy, there are few voices that directly advocate architectural action in this arena. While impossible to succinctly explain this disciplinary mistrust of the Image, the return to figurative intent risks prefiguring formal choices to the detriment of architecture’s performative responsibilities. Within digital design discourse, the diagrammatic process is seen to circumvent the politics of Meaning that comes with the ‘already figured’. Instead, the procedural generation of form guarantees that Meaning occurs only after form emerges.i Thus the politics of the branded architectural object lies outside the remit of digital discourse. Yet Klingmann’s position suggests that contemporary digital image creation and dissemination runs an uncanny parallel to that traditional role where architecture communicates identity and prestige. Furthermore, as Trevor Paglen’s projects, ‘Symbology’ and ‘The Other Night Sky’ demonstrate ii, the dematerialisation of power within the flows of global capital is countered by either the desire to re-present power through covert emblems or in the residual traces left by the passage of data. In an age where the dematerialization of power threat
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