Elusive Borders

Virtual Gravity and the Space-Time of Metadata


  • Maja Bak Herrie




In this article I discuss the themes of movement and restriction inherent in digital technologies in two very different artistic projects, both of which offer aesthetic material for debating the politics of data. I approach this discussion through the term gravity as used by philosopher Levi R. Bryant (The Gravity of Things; Onto-Cartography). Through an analogy to Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity, Bryant suggests the term gravity to denote how both semiotic and material entities influence the becoming and movement of subjects and collectives in time and space (Bryant, The Gravity of Things 10). I use this as a point of departure to investigate the shared space between physical and virtual borders, and the streams of data that are formed by, and also form, the space they traverse. The term gravity is used to elucidate the contours of the digital space that determines the paths between sender and receiver, as well as draws and erases borders, restricts and enables movement.