[NetBehaviour] a new Microcode: Vito Acconci's 'Seedbed'

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Mon Jul 6 01:08:48 CEST 2009

I agree with you here, and as usual a couple of points.
If k:> Seedbed
doesn't run, can it be said to run as not-run? This isn't trivial; Max 
Black discussed it in terms of defining blackbirds as not-this, not-that; 
obviously the list is infinite. Certainly 'Seedbed' as a command tells us 
something - that the only thing it will run is the generic not-found - but 
that's something.
I do understand the non-issue of reproduction of other work in micro-code, 
and as you say, Seedbed is referenced; what I was on about, was what sort 
of reference? There's a whole phenomenology here of course, which might or 
might not be of interest.
- Alan, and thanks

On Sun, 5 Jul 2009, Pall Thayer wrote:

> I think I have to bring things back down to the ground now. After
> taking a bit of a break in the country in glorious weather, I see that
> this discussion is really going far beyond the work that's being
> discussed. Obviously, none of the microcodes that reference other work
> (and keep in mind that there only 3 or 4 out 20-some codes that do
> this) are meant to be accurate reproductions of those works. Actually,
> as reproductions they are meant to fail and in doing so they become
> new works of art. "Seedbed" attempts to reference the original
> performance with the words "touch myself" and by using the same title.
> But the way these words are applied within the code gives them a very
> different meaning as code. They also produce a result and it's a
> result that has absolutely nothing to do with the non-code meaning of
> the works. So these arguments about whether or not the code version
> references the original "Seedbed" accurately enough, are entirely
> beside the point.
> The reason some of the Microcodes reference older work is to highlight
> the differences between the media. To show that while code as a medium
> is incapable of reproducing other work created in different media, it
> is also a distinct medium of its own that is capable of doing things
> that other media can't.
> Your suggestion of "an absolute minimum" wouldn't work as a Microcode
> because, as I mentioned earlier, I set a rule for myself, that all of
> the codes be runnable. Since, as Alan points out in his post,
> "Seedbed" doesn't run as a Unix command, this code wouldn't really be
> runnable.
> As mentioned above, the idea is simply to bring the original
> performance to mind. No more. Because the medium being used is
> incapable of doing more. It's entirely incapable of "bringing it to
> life, enacting it, redoing it, reperforming it". At the very most, it
> can "suggest it".
> best r.
> Pall
> On Fri, Jul 3, 2009 at 10:16 PM, <lotu5 at resist.ca> wrote:
>> At the risk of stating the obvious, perhaps the problem here is that there
>> is no one essence of this performance, or any performance for that matter.
>> While you do say "a single 'essence'", and not "the", to me a major part
>> of the very idea of performance is to create something which is in excess
>> of language and representation, something which the techne of words or
>> photo or video don't capture, much less a few lines of code. While I think
>> the notion of translating a performance into code is interesting, perhaps
>> what this discussion precisely raises is that there are a multiplicity of
>> essences, dirtiness, fantasy, masturbation, soreness, mystery, discomfort,
>> the body, the absence of the body... Your microcodes seem to be a sort of
>> review or remix of another work, based on your personal interpretation. In
>> fact, I think that the reduction of the body to a set of files in your
>> home directory is in itself an abjection and a sadness, a departure from
>> all the rich, sensual complexity of the body and a reduction to a few
>> digital bytes. Perhaps the sadness of the digital is expressed very well
>> here.
>>>> Pall Thayer wrote:I guess by "the essence" of the work, I'm
>>>> considering the absolute minimum that it takes to bring to mind
>>>> "Seedbed" when looking at the code.
>> Hmm, but here is sounds like you're talking about a simlpe representation,
>> and I think being very reductive! Wouldn't the absolute minimum be
>> something like
>> #!/usr/bin/perl
>> $p = `seedbed`;
>> ? When in fact, the interesting part is to go beyond simply bringing the
>> performance to mind, but as the furtherfield review writes, to bring it to
>> life, to enact it, to redo it, to reperform it, in the form of an actual
>> running program?
>>>>>>>> On 2/7/2009, "Alan Sondheim" <sondheim at panix.com> wrote:
>>>>>>>>> Hi Paul,
>>>>>>>>> The essence it seemed to me wasn't self-referentiality or touch
>>>>>>>>> (good
>>>>>>>>> unix
>>>>>>>>> command too), so much as it was about targeting the ab/use/er, as
>>>>>>>>> well
>>>>>>>>> as
>>>>>>>>> dirtiness. And code's always clean; even dirty code's clean, so
>>>>>>>>> there's
>>>>>>>>> On Thu, 2 Jul 2009, Pall Thayer wrote:
>>>>>>>>>> Hi Alan,
>>>>>>>>>> One of the primary reasons that I've "redone" a number of known
>>>>>>>>>> pieces
>>>>>>>>>> by other artists in these Microcodes is more to point out the
>>>>>>>>>> difference between code as a medium and other media. So the point
>>>>>>>>>> isn't necessarily to emulate the work as closely as possible but
>>>>>>>>>> rather to capture a single "essence" of it in very compact code. I
>>>>>>>>>> think that trying to work the incline and fantasies into this
>>>>>>>>>> "version" of the work would result in considerably more code which
>>>>>>>>>> would in turn make the work overly complex.
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> -- 
> *****************************
> Pall Thayer
> artist
> http://www.this.is/pallit
> *****************************
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