Transitional digital objects: Fluidity in compositing an autobiography or a failure to create a portrait of the whole?
The paper explores the transitional aspect of digital objects in relation to autobiography. D.W. Winnicott coined the term ‘transitional objects’; it travels around the theme object and fantasy. The paper assumes the fluid nature of digital objects, “a new media object” could be “variable, mutable, liquid” as per Manovich’s definition. Placing autobiography as the aim from transitional digital objects manipulation, the paper questions whether the fluidity will act as a facilitator to autobiographical visual writing or will it fail to create a portrait of the whole?
The first part is dedicated to look at the fluidity of digital objects through observing and relating theories and artworks of practitioners who have investigated the theme object (1970s onward); Hollis Frampton doubts the object’s third dimensionality on the screen, Sherry Tuckle emphasizes the emotional in objects, the Cult of Less upload their material lives on external hard drives and online services platforms, and Michael Craig-Martin challenges belief through a glass of water, a shelf and a printed text in his sculpture “An Oak Tree”.
The second part is focused on autobiography in the digital realm. Different autobiographical manifestations come together to reach the final conclusion later; Mark Amerika speaks of the “technomadic” and the “hyperimprovisational narrative artist” in Meta/Data, and Marcel Proust gives a lesson in generative autobiographical storytelling and involuntary memory in his book “In Search of Lost Time”, specifically the episode of the Madeleine.
The conclusion is preceded by notes on ‘recollection’ (Mark Freeman) and the ‘wholistic fictionalization of the past’ (Michel Foucault) as well as Nietsche’s statement of ‘the whole’ that ‘no longer lives at all: it is composed, calculated, artificial, a fictitious thing’.
The findings of the paper affirm the fluidity of autobiographical visual writing through transitional digital objects as well as the failure of creating the portrait of the whole but do not judge the latter conclusion as necessarily inconvenient.