Evolution of Digital America
We believe in learning. As we stop, start, make mistakes, scurry to clean them up, and grow as a journal project, we invite you to follow along. Maybe you can learn from our successes and mistakes, and perhaps we can learn from your ideas and suggestions
Issue No. 21
Alongside publishing the journal each semester, we read about and discuss internet art, and problems that plague the digital sphere. In response to numerous discussions this semester on data collection and ad tracking, our team felt the eyes of Big Media on us. We decided to track the targeted ads we received through Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, etc. and make composite collages that show who our social media apps think we are. As a group, we were overwhelmed by how many ads we see in a day.
Issue No. 20
We are so excited to share our 20th Anniversary Issue with you! This issue is like no other and features new work from artists who have previously been featured in Digital America in the past 19 issues while resurfacing some of our favorite pieces.
While publishing this issue, our team was inspired by famous digital artists, Ryan Trecartin and Nam June Paik, throughout our time working together. Ryan Trecartin is a filmmaker who creates chaotic and intriguing films ranging from 2 minutes to hours long. These films can be compared to sculptural theaters and screenings rather than movies. Nam June Paik was considered the founder of video art and created multiple types of media such as film, sound, photo, and video during his time as a digital artist. Paik’s art ranges from sculptures of everyday objects made entirely out of computers to real plants with computers embedded in them.
We decided to piece these two artists’ styles together and create a work of our own. Enjoy!
Issue No. 19
Do you remember what you did yesterday? Probably. Do you remember what you did exactly 8 days ago? Probably not. But you most likely can be reminded with a quick check of your phone. Maybe 8 days ago you took a selfie and sent it to your friend, or posted a picture of your dinner on your Instagram story. Or maybe you take a #ootd selfie every morning so you always know what you wore and when. Maybe you didn’t even take any pictures that day, but you’re in love with your Google Calendar, so everyday is planned to a T—a perfectly kept log of where you were, when, and with whom. With how unreliable our memories can be, these smart devices that we keep by our sides at all times have become little time capsules, capturing moments in time, big or small, it’s really up to us. However, in trying to make big moments out of otherwise little ones, we risk eliminating the existence of any important moments because there are simply too many.
We drew inspiration from artist Hasan Elahi and his work cirquing surveillance and its subsequent data explosion. Elahi was mistakenly put on an FBI watch list, but once cleared, was told to continue to keep them updated on his whereabouts. This necessary act for keeping his name clear grew into a large-scale art project where he began to document, and post, pictures throughout everyday–meals, airports, and even bathrooms. You can learn more about his story by listening to his TED Talk here.
Elahi photographed and shared minute details of his life for the FBI, but having all this posted publicly, suddenly the FBI had no exclusive information about him. Of course a lack of presence on social media keeps your life private, but Elahi probes us to think about the question if oversharing and creating an abundance of data leads to a point where its importance is now obsolete. In the spirit of Elahi, we chose a single day where each of us on the team took a photo or two for every hour we were awake. In this grid of photos, can you learn anything about us? You may think, more data, more information, right? But, how can you discern one computer from another, one plate of food as lunch or dinner?
We hope you enjoy Issue 19 Digital America and take a moment to reflect on what you share and why!
Issue No. 18
Hello readers of Digital America! We are thrilled to bring you the 18th edition of Digital America!
Like the rest of the world, we, over the past year or so have attempted to transition back into normal life. However, the term “normal” has become more and more ambiguous than in the past. What does “normal life” look like in today’s world? Is it “normal” to plan your mask to match your outfit? Is it “normal” to wear your convictions on your clothing? Is it now “the norm” to feel silenced and to protest as a response, more so than in the past? We took time to consider these things and have attempted to encapsulate this (hopefully) once in a lifetime experience by curating pieces we believe to represent the current “normal” happenings in our world.
We hope you continue to be mindful of the world, feel comfortable being “you”. Most importantly, we hope you enjoy Digital America Issue no. 18!
Issue No. 17
Each generation possesses a unique identity associated with the technologies we grow up using. A shift in childhood experiences took place with the introduction of the personal computer and video game console. Children turned from spending the majority of their free time with one another outdoors to inside in front of a screen. Join us in listening to team members as we reminisce over the video games and online platforms that defined our childhoods as kids of the early 2000’s, a time that we look back on with rose colored glasses as a brief period in which there existed a somewhat healthy relationship between children and the internet. Through ethnographic documentation, we reflect on what it was first like to identify with online versions of ourselves in a world now demanding virtual identities through social media. We hope you enjoy Issue 17 as much as we do. Let’s play!
Issue No. 16
The Digital America team is super excited to announce the publishing of the 16th issue during the fall semester of 2020. The team approached this issue with a little guidance from the 10 RULES FOR STUDENTS AND TEACHERS by John Cage (adapted from Corita Kent). We started with wearing a mask and social distancing of course but have certainly put together a strong issue of digital artists who have mastered these 10 rules. As you read these rules, focus on yourself and the qualities in which you might need to develop your student and teacher skills. Thank you for your time and hope everyone enjoys the issue.
Issue No. 15
Dispersion is present in all of our lives, and the digital is that which keeps many of us connected. In the context of the present day, we’ve become accustomed to physical disconnection from other people, thanks to our reliance on technology. But now, in the midst of the COVID-19 quarantines, we’re all coming to terms with exactly what it means to be “disconnected.” So, we project ourselves into famous works of art during one our of last classes. This was our way of connecting our knowledge of art and a playful twist on how art and people change over time. We hope you enjoy issue 15!
THINGS FROM BEFORE…
Issue No. 14 (✫*ﾟ･ﾟ｡.☆.*｡･ﾟ✫*.)
Digital artwork has a duration as a dimension and unfolds to the viewer over time. Therefore, throughout the time the viewer devotes to a work, time, light, sound, and space all bring you a four-dimensional, whole-hearted experience. This piece combines the words and images from everyone in the class. Every work is surrounded by a 3-dimensional space. The starry sky in the background is the only light source, and countless stars are like neurotransmitters connecting the thoughts in this digital world. The technological explosion of the last-half century, and the implied future is overwhelming. We are crowded by the information, and the power of the technology will connect our thoughts, but simultaneously take over our thoughts. As, while we are running all the machines with complacency, machines are running us.
Issue No. 13 (Taking Control)
The digital world exerts a huge amount of power over us, whether we are aware of it or not. Fascinated with this concept, our class created an image mirroring how this digital world is taking control of us, even when we may not know it. We started with combining images of everyone in the class, which represents part of the process in the digital world of taking information that exists and altering it to create something new. We then blurred the picture and sketched over our bodies. This action shows how digital tools, like the pen tool in the Adobe Illustrator Draw, can be used to alter human form and human life, blurring out our authenticity. It works somewhat like an Instagram filter or editing app. Lastly, we drew images above our heads. Some of these images represent our students’ various talents, passions, and personalities. These seemingly authentic and original images are mixed in with images of elements in the digital world, including spam, data, and surveillance. In mixing these images together, we aim to show how our authentic lives will never be free of the digital world. Our lives will exist among technology and perhaps even be overcome by it, as our lives meld together with technology.
Issue No. 12 (Our Very Own Happening)
Over the past few months, the DigA staff was constantly intrigued and astonished as we learned and discussed the ways in which American counterculture (the Merry Prankster’s of the 1960s, the Whole Earth Catalog, Allan Kaprow’s Happenings, cybernetics, and so much more) influenced how the internet came to fruition. Through these perusals, we were inspired to organize our very own digital Happening. We distributed vague fliers advertising our event, and with Norberto Gomez Jr.’s fabulous recreation of LALiveChat.com as our stage- we just let it Happen.
Issue No. 11 (We Didn’t Start the Fire)
Meghan communicated her ongoing fantasy of writing the last three decades into Billy Joe’s 1989 hit We Didn’t Start the Fire–a longtime favorite. Of course, no one in the class had heard the song, or seen the classic video (He flips the table! The future is so 80s!). So, we embarked on a semester long adventure with Billy at our side, and here is our homage to that classic piece of pop (with some digital art and culture). *Major props to Rachel Bochner, who put this together!
Issue No. 10 (Ethics)
Dear DigA Readers,
The day has finally come! Digital America has reached its 10th issue! This fall semester of 2017 has reached new heights of discussion and interaction as we step foot in deepening our understanding of the internet. So for this issue we decided to collectively annotate Steven Levy’s Hacker Ethic, based on the knowledge and opinions we’ve gained from learning about cyber culture, materiality of the internet, and hacker culture.
Steven Levy’s Hacker Ethic:
- Thou shalt not use a computer to harm other people.
- Thou shalt not interfere with other people’s computer work.
- Thou shalt not snoop around in other people’s computer files.
- Thou shalt not use a computer to steal.
- Thou shalt not use a computer to bear false witness.
- Thou shalt not copy or use proprietary software for which you have not paid.
- Thou shalt not use other people’s computer resources without authorization or proper compensation.
- Thou shalt not appropriate other people’s intellectual output.
- Thou shalt think about the social consequences of the program you are writing or the system you are designing.
- Thou shalt always use a computer in ways that insure consideration and respect for your fellow humans.
 Unless they ask for it. She [site no longer live] asked for it.
Caveat: a computer can be used to harm other people for the sake of production.
 Unless it’s for personal gain masked by the façade of national security.
Or unless other’s computer work can be tinkered with for ‘national security’
 Unless they ask for it. He asked for it.
 However, who can punish you, if you don’t identify with any country.
Or unless you’re Seth Price and it’s not considered stealing.
 Unless the Russians do it for you.
 Unless you are a broke college student.
 This goes against the notion of the web as a Hacker playground—a utopic, democratic free-for-all.
 This is pretty much cornerstone of the Internet.
 Unintended consequences are a common theme among hackers. Did Dread Pirate Roberts envision the consequences when he set out to craft a libertarian utopia?
 Until humans insure consideration and respect for fellow humans…what is one to expect? An ethical manifesto of conduct?
Issue No. 9 (Marching Onward)
These last difficult months are the start of a long road—a long four years—ahead of us. In times like these, we take time to mourn, to cry, and to fear. We gather together, friends and families and strangers alike, to begin to march. We take precautions. We take risks. We fight for ourselves and for each other.
In times like these, when the familiar unravels into a strange and desolate unknown, we must look within ourselves for guidance. For solace. For strength to push onwards.
For us, it’s been helpful and healing to look back within our own archive for bits of wisdom that might serve us well now. We hope you find as much comfort, hope, and understanding from these quotes as we have.
On digital art:
“The Internet has served as a platform for endless individuals who would previously have been limited by geography, age, or even class. But the idea that the Internet could serve all equally, or that it could leave centralized media outlets in shambles, well… It sounds naively utopian. Net.art no longer operates as intended; removed from their original context, the works are only linked to by the rare art history student or seen in museum halls. In the place of net-graffitists and artist hackers we are left with a new breed of Internet artists, artists who must fight for capital (and must cater to the hands that feed) in a realm more competitive than ever before.”
– Kenta Murakami, The Demise of net.art
“[It] is a form of intervention, calling attention to the use of devices by family members and those around me that I do not know. The making of the photograph operates as a way of disrupting the isolation I feel from strangers who barricade themselves behind their technology.”
–Eric Pickersgill, Removed
On misogyny online:
“The internet, then: a mirror of a violent, boy’s club id, skittering away from that locker we maybe got stuffed into one too many times. We’ve since redecorated. Smeared the walls so they’re purpled and bruising. A screwworm infested belly. There’s a hand painted sign hanging out front. It says NO GIRLS ALLOWED. And any one of us would be ashamed if we copped to painting it.”
– Michael Leonberger, Bad Mirror
“Many feminists, in turn, have re-deployed misandry alternately as an elaborate joke, a rhetorical weapon, a model for resistance to patriarchy, and as a survival strategy. Particularly on the Internet, they have done so with all of the inventiveness and strength that man-hating requires.”
– Jillian Horowitz, Collecting Male Tears
“So why is Twitter an important new type of text? Precisely for the reasons that it is so difficult to use in academic writing: it is accessible and collaborative. Twitter hashtags can bring together the dialogue between public figures and its average users. Since its inception in March of 2006, Twitter has become a new and innovative platform for social movements and political dialogue. During the Arab Spring, Twitter was an organizing tool that spread information about meetings and protests quickly and effectively. During the 2012 presidential election, debates were quoted, critiqued, chewed up, and spit back out all onto the same platform by political talking heads, fellow politicians, and average voters alike. Its accessibility and connectivity are what make it an innovative type of text or media. Twitter certainly does reinforce the digital divide, and privileges those who have smart phones and can tweet and read tweets in real time from their phones. Nevertheless, it is much more accessible than an academic press or other form of published media. Users have complete control over the flow of information, including what information gets prioritized, reused, and trends.”
– Amanda Lineberry, Black Feminism, Hashtags, and the Importance of Twitter to American Studies
On the revolution:
“Get comfortable shoes — you’re going to be marching. Rest your voice — you’re going to be shouting…When you know the truth, feel free to sing.”
– Michael Leonberger, Our American Song
Issue No. 8 (A Whole New DigA)
As you may have noticed, Digital America recently underwent a pretty big makeover — which we hope you’ve liked. As we once again consider the evolution of the journal, let’s take a look back at the old Digital America while we celebrate the new and improved site!
Issue No. 7 (Open letter)
Dear DigA Readers—
In 2013, Digital America was created to elevate the voices of millennials who are thinking critically about our digital world, to celebrate artwork that lives online rather than in a gallery and the long-form research piece that lives in the space between classrooms and peer-reviewed journals. We’re like the Internet’s Island of Misfit Toys for digitally focused writers, thinkers, and creators.
It’s always been part of our mission to be transparent and honest with you about what we do and how we do it. We want you to get to know us, the four people sitting around a table regularly checking the emails, editing the submissions, designing the layout, and more (all while eating a lot of Pirate’s Booty and dancing to Meghan’s ‘90s music).
Throughout DigA’s journey to elevate unheard voices, we’ve staffed editors of different races, ethnicities, sexualities, and gender identities. Issue 7’s staff has been one of the most diverse group of editors DigA has ever had, bringing together a wide range of identities, perspectives, and skills. For this issue, the eclectic quirks and varying experiences each one of us brings to the DigA table has shaped the journal in a new way.
DigA is a home to writing, artwork, columns, and research that might go unnoticed elsewhere. To truly welcome the unheard, the overlooked, the disregarded, we have to center the voices of people that are unheard, marginalized, and too often unappreciated. We cannot celebrate experimental emoji art and untraditional academia without also appreciating the voices of people of color, queer folks, those with visible and invisible disabilities, and others who aren’t recognized.
Our staff is always the first step to creating a truly inclusive and welcoming journal.
But we can always do better. None of our regular columnists are people of color. Our website does not easily accommodate the visually impaired. And we, as editors, all have the privilege of being students at a private, liberal arts university.
We still have work to do, but we’re proud to be moving forward as a staff and as a journal. Thank you, as always, for sticking with us on our journey.
The Digital America Team
(Sharon, Miranda, Luriel, and Damian)
Issue No. 6 (Growing)
With this new issue, we plan to deliver. We’re always growing, learning, and reflecting over a cup of hot tea. Change is good, and as a testament, we’re dropping this little vid of us doing our digA thing. We hope you enjoy this new issue, and that this journey of digA gives you a few laughs. We’re excited to introduce more art into the mix of our publication, and we’re excited about the abundance of submissions we’ve received. The future of DigA and the dig.art column is bright, so thanks for staying along for the ride as we go new places with the journal.
Issue No. 5 (Oops…)
Issue No. 5 got away from us, not gonna lie. It’s the result of having too many seniors on staff and too many lofty goals for the Evolution. (We were thinking about animations of the entire staff…it was getting a little heady.) Anyway, we will be back with a killer Evolution 6 update. Stay tuned.
Issue No. 4 (diga.rt)
Every semester, we try to give interested interns the opportunity to develop, curate, launch, and maintain their own special section of the journal. Issue 3 worked with two sections: Re:Analog (curated by the great Hayley Mojica) and Comics (curated by the wonderful Francesca Lyn), and as we explored aspects of creating little niches of the journal, we ended up learning a lot–like giving them an expiration date. Issue 4 is featuring a new section dedicated to the arts, curated by the-one-and-only Kenta Murakami (he did not write this part) and with it (of course) came some unexpected difficulties. Between hassling artists over email and coming up with content for our new Instagram, we quickly discovered we were treading upon new terrain. Nonetheless, we’re excited for a more visual and more social Digital America than ever before, and are endlessly grateful for the trust of everyone who has continued to make it possible.
Issue No. 3 (Reflecting)
We are introducing a new staff to the journal, and we are finishing up the final updates for Issue No. 3. So, it’s a great time to give a huge, huge THANK YOU to our 2013/2014 staff: Andrew Jones, Hayley Mojica, and Francesca Lyn. Here are some of our hopes and dreams for the future, along with some DigA favorites.
Issue No. 2 (We got this…?)
Office Playlist of the Day: “Grimy Jeans and Flannel” – Andrew Jones on Spotify
We have some serious educational moments here in the DigA space (despite the ample time the team spends chatting about 90s music and eating pretzels). We tackle problems weekly–should we accept or reject? Edit or walk the plank? We can’t control what gets popular (what’s the “front page” of the journal) online, so every piece should be reflective of our mission. Oh, and what’s our mission? Publish stuff we love? (Meghan: “No!”) Deciding what to publish and how to publish it is a serious struggle. Most days are learning moments for us all—particularly the wee interns—and we are always working to figure out who we are and where we are going. So, alongside our dinosaurs, magnet poetry, and issue wall…we should probably invest in a magic 8-ball. Check out our running slideshow below to see where the DigA magic happens (and where we very diplomatically decide who gets to DJ our two-hour Tuesday/Thursday meetings.)
Issue No. 1 (The Beginning)
Issue No. 1 was, well, our first issue. As you can see, we’ve grown up a bit.