3 Years and 6 Months of Digital Decay

3 Years and 6 Months of Digital Decay

3 Years and 6 Months of Digital Decay
Digital video | A website with an algorithm that affects the uploaded video in real-time | CD-Rs


On the online video screening website organised with arebyte Gallery, a video artwork by Toya – Is There Beauty in Forgetting? (2015) has 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 will be more and more fragmented (“decayed”) until the video disappears on 7th October 2019.

The period between this last screening date and the launch date corresponds with the average lifetime of burned CD-R media, that is three and half years. This lifespan was indicated by Kurt Gerecke: a physicist and storage expert at IBM Deutschland. CD-Rs have limited lifetime due to material decay, and this aspect has been adapted to the website art so that the video’s lifespan will be also limited as if it suffers from material decay.

The website is built as a platform to observe what it would be like to have a decaying data online. The project incorporates the CD-Rs that were designed, sold and distributed for this project. In each CD-R there is an audio file that is a sound piece/narrated instruction to direct the listener to the URL for the online screening site (http://storage-un.it/is_there_beauty_in_forgetting). In this sense, the CD-Rs become a physical reminder and offline indexes to the website artwork, so that the viewers may witness the progress of the digital decay. They were made to counteract the diluted sense of presence seen in the typical examples of Internet art that lack in physical manifestation.

The project has been planned and run in such a physical, event-orientated way so that it indirectly and symbolically critiques the online environment of corporate data surveillance built in the first decade of the millennium and the digital’s ability of total recall for the user’s online activities that were assumed to be “private”.


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


CD-R: material, offline index of the website art


Exhibition: Machines Will Watch Us Die