Noah Marlowe ︎︎︎


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Cultural Transmission as Still Life

Bookbinding & Mixed Media

“The poor image is a copy in motion. Its quality is bad, its resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an errant idea, an itinerant image distributed for free, squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution.”

– Hito Steyerl, In Defense of the Poor Image, 2009.

Permanence is relative. “Don’t get a tattoo of something stupid,” my stepmom would say, “it’s permanent.” But once my body fades over time, so does my tattoo. Our awareness of our own immortality forces us to question the nature of time. Our engagement and hyper-fetishization of technology in our everyday lives questions the idea of permanence and ephemerality. We understand digital images as being permanent, but only in relation to our bodily selves. The computers, phones, and servers that store our digital archives might outlive us, but their lifespans are not infinite. Images are impacted bytime and engagement, and thus are just as mortal, ephemeral, and poor as our aging bodies.

The mortality of digital images is amplifiedby our contemporary digital communication. Despite the absurdity of memes, ephemera, and images we share, they have become normalized additions to our daily vocabulary. The inside jokes we create with our daily communication alters the meanings of the original images themselves. With each new additional save, the original image ages into something entirely new. These new images age and evolve simultaneously with us and play an increasingly crucial role in our definition of contemporary communication.

Cultural Transmission as Still Life. 2021. Leather Handbound Book. 12” x 12”. 1008 pages. Exhibitied at the ICA Gallery in Chattanooga, TN. 


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