While the hype over cyberspace and "virtual worlds" has largely subsided, the idea of a clear separation between what happens online or in the "digital realm" and what happens in the physical world or IRL (in real life) is today taken for granted in popular culture. What this masks is the degree to which we have always invested in the production of virtual spaces through symbolic representation, whether pictorial, linguistic, or mathematical. Technically, the word digital refers to anything countable. The power of language as a technology is in its capacity for treating the non-identical as identical. Human experience has always been digital. Its manifestation in electronic technology is only its most recent and salient phase.
While the significance of "digital technology" (i.e. speech, writing, counting) in the "real" world is often overlooked, in the age of information and intellectual and immaterial labour, the rootedness of abstract knowledge and algorithmic thinking in prior forms of embodied, non-linguistic experience is also easily forgotten. My recent work engages this binary by making words "material" in a "virtual," three-dimensional space, recontextualizing screens so that they apprehended as objects rather than "windows", making alpha-numeric characters function alternately as word, image, or image-of-word. When creating work, I look for opportunities to problematize the common-sense, but ultimately artificial division between those aspects of life involving electronic media and the rest of it. Likewise, I see the split between contemporary visual art and media art (which thankfully, is narrowing) as originating less in differences in media per se, as in arbitrary historical circumstances driven by our default mode of relating to algorithmic culture.