Is the negative (as in the acetate base) the carrier require to hold the sensitized silver to enable a print to be made?
Is the digital file the required carrier to hold the electric light values to enable an output to be made?
Both processes require a practioner to make decisions to apply to the "start point" to interpret the possibilites into their vision of the finished image. Digital may be less visible as it live in a hard drive compared to analogue which lives on the acetate but they both still "exist" - a hard drive can have no space left for more images.
Oil painting, watercolour painting, digital print, analogue print...