32 Comments

  1. No one ever asked “Are we real or are we just a simulation” back in the day. I suppose knowing you only existed in virtual reality would cause one to question their existence.

    Or like Dixie Flatline (or Mr. Data in Star Trek: Picard), instead of questioning it, they would want to end it.

  2. I don’t know why the newer character is in black and white either. But I think the idea is that a pen-and-ink drawing is genuinely unique, a one-off. OK, people can scan or photograph them and print them out, but that is never the same – different materials, for a start. With digitally-created imagery, on the other hand, the original (assuming it is not somehow compressed, anyway, or corrupted) is identical to the copies: the numbers that define each pixel are exactly the same, for a million copies.

    Also, a unique pen and ink drawing exists without any power – digital imagery on a pad requires electricity to manifest itself (and a printed-out version is only a copy-in-a-different-medium). Though does a pen-and-ink drawing exist if no one is looking at it?

    These NFTs do rather muddy the water though. I must say I don’t really yet get the point of them.

  3. Andréa, I’ve been thinking of the NFT stuff as essentially an extension of the “digital watermarking” idea, combining it with a secure system of registration. It doesn’t prevent making a bit-by-bit exact copy of a digital art file (or digital-anything file), but any such exact copy can still be provably matched to your registration.

  4. The newer character is black-and-white explicitly to differentiate him and make it clear the boy is a digital character in an analog setting. Some speculation on why that tactic was employed:

    He is drawn with more detail and before color was added, the effect worked well. It was apparent he was rendered in a more sophisticated fashion. When they went to add color, some of the complexity of the shading was lost, so the decision was made just to stick with the grayscale version.

    Or maybe they just made him black-and-white to differentiate him and forgot to consider that B&W typically suggests “old”.

  5. narmitaj – If you put an ink on paper drawing in a drawer, does it exist? Or does it need to be seen to exist?
    A digital image exists as bits in the computer memory, which could be quite stable and not require power to be maintained. Those bits could be nearly as stable as ink on a piece of paper.
    A digital image stored in non-volatile memory but not displayed exists in the same way an ink on paper image exists. You might argue it takes energy to view the computer image, but that is also true for the ink on paper image. At the very least, you need light.

  6. I also can’t shake the feeling that the kid is drawn in the style of a specific digitally-created cartoon done by a friend of Speed Bump’s creator.

  7. In my day, we were dreamt by emperors, or possibly butterflies, but at least we knew we existed.

  8. The Taoist Zhuangzi dreamed he was a butterfly and woke up unsure he wasn’t a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Borges used that anecdote in his essay ‘A New Refutation of Time’.

  9. I thought that “we knew we existed” is a variant of “you don’t know you’re born” and isn’t referring to the art styles specifically.

  10. When your computer (or hard drive) crashes, you suddenly realize that all your work that was save exclusively on your computer no longer exists.

    Did it ever exist? Of course, but not in tangible form. It never did, and now — because of the computer crash — it never will.

    I’ve heard it said, “You never really have copies of your records unless you have them in physical form.” It doesn’t matter how many copies of it you make on your computer, if something bad happens to your computer, it happens to all of its data as well.

  11. Bishop George Berkeley, around 1710 or 1720, wrote that material substance does not exist. Only spirits, ideas and perceptions exist. Even earlier than that, Descartes came up with his famous proof of one’s own existence, so people must have been doubting their own existence many centuries ago.

  12. Thanks.
    What is the story – probably not Borges – where there is a basin on a stand and you put your face down into the water in the basin to be transported into the stream of an alternate life? If your situation in that alternate stream becomes untenable, with an effort of will you can try to get out of it by having the original other-world self lift its face out of the basin and, sputtering and recovering, try to find solutions in the original plane.

  13. Rene Descartes walks into a bar, the bartender says, “How about a beer?” and Descartes says, “I think not,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

  14. I’m probably missing something crucial, but I’m sorry to say that the supposedly modern character doesn’t work for me at all. I think it would be more effective if it had been drawn like the characters in computer animated films. Those characters all look they’re based on some unyielding light and movement algorithm – “art” untouched by human hands.

  15. Back in my day, we had to laboriously hand-draw comics that may or may not have been funny. None of those new-fangled computers. And we liked it that way!

  16. The $500,000 may or may not be real money depending on whether it’s cashed out before the cryptocurrency it was paid in implodes. It’s the person who bought that thing that’s been taken for a ride.

    J-L, stuff stored on your computer exists in a physical form, and unless something unusual happened it probably still exists after your computer dies, you just can’t get to it. Which is why people who like their data keep physically independent backup copies, so they don’t all get lost at once. (Meanwhile, remember that the form you’re calling “physical” is also subject to physical damage; e.g. paper is combustible, but also can get chewed by rodents, accidentally recycled, or just plain lost, and it’s much harder to back up.)

  17. J-L I back up computer and Robert always said I do so too much. Data, kept on flash drives, is backed up after each work sessions on to one of two alternating other flash drives. Backed onto yet another flash drive weekly with 6 rotating backups. (All of this week’s work gone – I have 5 past weeks of backups to work with.)

    Monthly I backup data and my computers to an external hard drive – February 15 first quarter back up is started for past month, with incremental backups for first quarter on March and April 15, next month a new backup is started. Each quarter (matching to the April 15 backup just mentioned) I make a quarterly backup onto a different external hard drive.

    I do this for both my desktop and laptop computers. When my laptop had problems and its hard drive was reset by the repair company (under warranty) we were able to reinstall the most recent backup with relatively minor loss of non-essential data – such as which posts on CIDU I have replied to and needed to check for replies to my replies the next week.

  18. Yeah, Arctic Circle has all along been pretty environment-conscious, but have pumped it up some recently.

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