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3 Years and 6 Months of Digital Decay | 2016-2019 | Shinji Toya

Digital video (mp4), HTML, Javascript that affects the uploaded video in real-time.

This is a replica of a website artwork entitled 3 Years and 6 Months of Digital Decay (hosted at On this website, a video artwork by Toya – Is There Beauty in Forgetting? (2015) had been screened repeatedly since 7th April 2016: the launch date of the website. The video speculates about aesthetic meanings of forgetting in the digital age. As months and years pass, the image of the video on the website had been more and more fragmented, and the code for the fragmentation effect had become slightly outdated and incompatible for functional video playback so that the video started to fail in certain browsers. These processes of “decay” continued until the video expired on 6th October 2019.

The period between this last screening date and the launch date corresponds with the average lifetime of burned CD-R media, which is three and a half years according to a storage expert at IBM Deutschland. A CD-R, which started to connote its technological obsolescence in the 2000s, has a limited lifetime due to material decay, and this aspect has been adapted to the website art so that video’s lifespan will be also limited as if it suffers from material decay.

The gesture of erasure and the staging of the digital decay in the work, symbolically resist and critique the online environment of corporate data surveillance built in the post-millennial time and the digital’s ability of total recall for the collected data. Alongside this subtly political gesture, the artist explores the Japanese aesthetic of Wabi-Sabi that is associated with the beauty of impermanence and transience, originally derived from the historical Buddhist philosophy that believed nothing lasts forever.

3 Years and 6 Months of Digital Decay has been developed in association with Arebyte Gallery.

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Instagram: @shinjitoya

Twitter: @SHINJI_Toya


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