Falling into the Digital Divide: Encounters with the Work of Hito Steyerl

A feature I wrote for AfterImage Journal on the work of Hito Steyerl. A dirty, digital replica of my dirty, digital ideas.

One of Steyerl’s more widely disseminated essays, ‘In Defense of the Poor Image’ (2009), explicitly confronts the aesthetic conditions of digital images. In a twist indicative of her work, Steyerl defines an image’s value by its ease of flow and distribution. The highly compressed, deteriorated ‘poor image mocks the promises of digital technology. Not only is it often degraded to the point of being just a hurried blur, one even doubts whether it could be called an image at all.’ The aesthetic affect of digital images thus stands in metonymically for the networks they navigate and the means by which those networks are exposed.