This chapter deals with the role that vision and images play in the conjunction of technics and aesthetics in the twentieth century. Based on an analysis of the fundamental technicity of human visual perception, it discusses the complicated notion of the “image” and that of the “medium” in art. The chapter begins with a detailed analysis of the concept of “operational images,” which pinpoints the tension between images that are produced to be seen by human eyes, and technical vision systems that are independent of human vision and human intervention. The author then presents artworks by artists including Nam June Paik, Steina Vasulka, and Julien Maire which articulate the complex aesthetics of visual media techniques. A discussion of early computer graphics artists like Vera Molnar, and more recent works by Antoine Schmitt, JODI, and others, exemplifies how issues like seriality, chance, and control have concerned visual artists working with different media supports ever since the 1920s. Finally, an analysis of works by David Rokeby, Wolfgang Staehle, and David Tomas serve to further outline the particular aesthetics of machine images and automated vision systems.
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