What is a line?
In the world, a line is a horizon, a wave in an ocean, a strand of hair, an eyebrow, a surface of a wall, the edge of a house. A line is also a ditch, a gouge, a conveyor of things.

What is a line in a digital world? An approximation of the real world, or it’s own entity?
In the digital world, a line is a series of points, of vertices expressed by a series of 3 numbers. Why 3? A cartesian explanation of space, left to right, front to back. A contrivance, a construct to explain eyebrows and ditches, trajectories, movement, waves. We can add these lines together, make meshes and do things to them to approximate; to make the illusion of waves, hair and surfaces.

Now the softwares have matured, developed far past its origins. Cyber lines and resulting surfaces so quickly animate beyond our ability to break them down, back to their original and simple-seeming points in space.

How can I absorb these constructs, understand them better in order to evaluate whether I have something different to offer? How can I understand our increasingly digitized and in may ways sterilized cyborg visual world in order to connect it back to its roots? For myself, for others? Can I offer a path for learning and understanding digitality that is more artistic, specifically one more connected to computer vision and the ways the softwares are constructed?

I have gouged lines in linoleum, I have iterated through digital processes in manual, analog form. As I iterate, I absorb the algorithm. I see both its sterility but also its authors’ thought processes.

Sterility, or formality. The need for rigidity, stability, repetition so that we can rely on these algorithms to do as expected. A tree grows like a tree. Every time. A computer vision edge-detection algorithm must find that line every time. We need stability.

We also need flexibility. Where is the flexibility in these algorithms? Perhaps there cannot be any or otherwise the digital processes fail to function as expected. What then? Where is the satisfactory feeling of gouging that line into linoleum, or tracing a teapot shadow on canvas?

Perhaps for me, it comes down to this:
How am I like a machine? How am I different?
Do I value rules? When?

How can I be a performative, cyborgian line maker?

Cyborgian but with a variation: I am not trying to get the machine to draw like me, but I am trying to get to the point where I understand what it’s like to draw as a machine.

What is a line?
cindy bishop
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