Individual Work

Giselle Beiguelman’s //**Code_UP (2004) is a re-expression of Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up (1966), a film about a photographer named Thomas who may or may not have taken pictures of a murder in a park. In //**Code_Up, Beiguelman digitizes images from the film and expresses them in various ways, including waving patterns of Flash-animated code; a still image rendered almost three-dimensional in appearance, which the viewer can, with density controls, freeze, zoom, enhance, or erode; a canvas of changing colors that “reads the color of every pixel of an image and displays this color to fill the window”; and another canvas that re-creates various images from the film by re-distributing their RGB color values. There is also an application, available free for download, which allows users to manipulate images of their choice on their own computers or mobile phones.

The result of this inter-textual and inter-medial play is that, in addition to offering beautiful images that are objects worthy of contemplation in their own right, //**Code_Up blurs boundaries between the categories of artist, artwork, and spectator. By creating different ways to express and manipulate Antonioni’s “original” image, Beiguelman has, in her words, “reproduced Thomas’ movements, working on the same images he developed in the film,” albeit in an entirely different medial milieu.

//**Code_Up receives some critical attention in chapter four of Terry Harpold’s Ex-Foliations: Reading Machines and the Upgrade Path (U Minnesota P, 2009). In this section, Harpold suggests that Beiguelman is not the only one who shares an affinity with Thomas’ image work. As the reader-viewer of //**Code_Up interacts with the images Beiguelman offers, Harpold argues that he or she similarly acts “as Antonioni’s protagonist, fascinated by an artifact of the film’s technical manipulation that seems to disclose hidden values” (Harpold 108).

In this same section of Exfoliations, Harpold refers to //**Code_Up as a “web-based re-envisioning of” the Antonioni film and discusses the way that it and other works enact a “revenge of the word” against the alleged dominance of the image. In that in such works filmic images have the potential to yield to numbers, letters, and other written signs, Harpold’s argument makes perfect sense, and it is worth noting that there is an even longer sequence of remediation at play here, in that Antonioni’s “original” film is based on a short story by Julio Cortázar entitled "Babas del diablo" (1959). Hence, by “re-envisioning” the story this way, Beiguelman’s art—via code—makes a nod to the film’s original written form.

By converting a slice of the analog into raw and supremely malleable digital data, //**Code_Up also participates in discussions about the consequences of what Mark B.N. Hansen has called the "de-differentiation" of media in digital art (cf, Mark B.N. Hansen, New Philosophy for New Media MIT 2004).