A Matter of Fidelity
The phrase “high fidelity” might be said to be “tuned to moralist resonances”. The promise of technological transparency implies that sounds and images should not be altered during translations between recording, restitution and reception. “High fidelity” technologies would aim at invisible translations, sanitizing anything that might “parasite” the “original”. However, it might be argued that pretending to efface the medium would be, as such, a betrayal of the nature of translation. Sensitive to indexical and language issues, many artists during the 1960’s such as Mel Bochner, Dick Higgins, Alison Knowles, Alvin Lucier, Christine Kozlov, and later such as Laurie Anderson, voluntarily damaged or misused media in such ways that the result would question what lies behind the aesthetics and politics of transparent translations. They experimented reiterative procedures of translations as alternatives to hermeneutics based on the idea of transparency and truth. Opposed to the moralist ideology of sanitization, these artists were faithful to the imperfections, the noises that any translation entails, and claimed any malfunction of the medium not as failures but as supplements. Whereas according to customary bias the noises of media and language should go unheard, with the supposed aim of remaining faithful to the “original”, these artists on the contrary let noises speak.