Perry Hoberman
The Sub-Division of the Electric Light
In The Sub-Division of the Electric Light (1996), the screen of the computer is treated as an undifferentiated light source that can be parceled into discrete images. At one extreme, each phosphor of the cathode-ray tube is a miniaturized lamp; at the other, the computer screen is a flood of light that is constantly articulated by the computing machinery. The user manipulates image projectors and projected images, redirecting and altering them. Interaction here does not involve choicemaking, but instead an active intervention into the flow of time itself. The history of the production of images with light, first by electricity and then by electronics, leads back and forth between the public and the domestic. Before Edison's incandescent lamp, the sub-division of light was thought to be impossible. Similarly, the early history of computing is defined by massive, centralized, mainframe computers. But eventually, light and power are sub-divided, domesticated.