Digital Ontologies: The Ideality of Form in/and Code Storage – or – Can Graphesis Challenge Mathesis?






  • The attempt to understand the connections that link human thought to its representation through the act of formgiving (in language, image, or signs) is central to Western philosophy and aesthetics. In every generation, some version of this question has been posed: If it were possible to understand the logic of human thought, would there be a perfect representation of it in some unambiguous, diagrammatic symbol set of entities and dynamic relations among them? Informed by classical metaphysics and philosophy, this question also has a life not only in contemporary struggles that are carried on in the varied and very different domains of visual art, information design, and computer graphics, but also in cognitive science, with its legacy of symbolic logic, artificial intelligence debates, and a disposition towards the intersection of speculative and specifiable apprehensions of what constitutes thought.


  • 1. Osborne, P. (1989). Adorno and the metaphysics of modernism: The problem of a postmodern art. In A. Benjamin (Ed.), The problems of modernity: Adorno and Benjamin (pp. 23-48). London and New York: Routledge. Brunkhorst, H. (1997). Irreconcilable modernity: Adorno’s aesthetic experimentalism and the transgression theorem. In M. Pensky (Ed.), The Actuality of Adorno. Albany: SUNY. Dews, P. (1989). Adorno poststructuralism, and the critique of identity. In A. Benjamin (Ed.), The problems of modernity: Adorno and Benjamin (pp. 1-22). London and New York: Routledge.

    2. Derrida J. (1962). Edmund Husserl’s The origin of geometry: An introduction. Lincoln: The University of Nebraska Press (translation John P. Leavey, 1978).

    3. Brunkhorst, op.cit.

    4. Lister, M. (Ed.). (1995). The photographic image in digital culture. New York and London: Routledge. Amelunxen, H., lglhaut S., Ratzer F., Cassel A., & Schneider N.G. (Eds.). (1996). Photography After Photography. Basel: G&B Arts International.

    5. Amelunxen & Ratzer, eds., & Lister, ed. op.cit.

    6. Besant, A. & Leadbeater, C.W. (1905). Thought forms. London and Benares: Theosophical Publishing Society.

    7. I’m thinking of the context in which Wilhelm Worringer’s work is produced, for instance, or that of Wassily Kandinsky: that early 20th century investment in the aesthetic systems of correspondence and universals that came out of late 19th century symbolism.

    8. Prueitt, M.

    9. Virilio, P. (1995). The vision machine. Cambridge, MA & London: MIT Press.

    10. Amelunxen, op.cit.