Tacita Dean

Analogue

i realise that i do not know what analogue means. I flounder about trying to find a definition that will make sense in the context of this text, this book and this exhibition. Analogue, it seems, is a description—a description, in fact, of all things I hold dear. It is a word that means proportion and likeness, and is, according to one explanation, a representation of an object that resembles the original; not a transcription or a translation but an equivalent in parallel form: continuously variable, measurable and material. Everything we can quantify physically is analogue: length, width, voltage and pressure. Telephones are analogue; writing is analogue; drawing is analogue. Even crossing out is analogue. Thinking too becomes analogue when it is materialised into a concrete form; when it is transmuted into lines on paper or marks on a board. It is as if my frame of mind is analogue when I draw: my unconscious reverie made manifest as an impression on a surface.

Analogue implies a continuous signal—a continuum and a line, whereas digital constitutes what is broken up, or rather, broken down, into millions of numbers. I should not eschew the digital world because it is, of course, the great enabler of immediacy, reproduction and convenience and has radicalised our times, indescribably. But for me, it just does not have the means to create poetry; it neither breathes nor wobbles, but tidies up our society, correcting it and then leaves no trace. I wonder if this is because it is not born of the physical world, but is impenetrable and intangible. It is too far from drawing, where photography and film have their roots: the imprint of light on emulsion, the alchemy of circumstance and chemistry, marks upon their support. We are being frogmarched towards its sparkling revolution without a backward turn, without a sigh or a nod to all we are losing. And that is the point, what we are losing is a vast immensity of treasure and yet we are choosing not to replace it properly. We are giving up our ability to make as near as perfect simulacrum of our visual world, which digital still fails to replicate despite its increasing proliferation of pixels, and we are doing so willingly.