[NetBehaviour] Livecoding As Realistic Artistic Practice.

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Mon Mar 1 13:33:35 CET 2010

Livecoding As Realistic Artistic Practice.

By Rob Myers on February 5.

Realism in art is the absence of sentiment. Livecoding is writing 
software in public while presenting the source code and its output along 
with the programmer as a kind of performance. Hacking (computer 
programming) is usually a solitary activity and hackers (computer 
programmers) rarely get to hack on (program) software that they 
themselves will use for their own ends or benefit directly from. 
Livecoding turns hacking into a public, social, self-directed activity 
by turning it into an artistic event.

By doing this livecoding briefly restores the kind of shared social 
context and the relationship of hackers to the fruits of their labour 
that Richard Stallman described in his account of life in the MIT AI Lab 
of the 1970s[1]. As Simon Yuill points out[2] about this account, 
Stallman describes the proletarianisation of hacking as business 
interests took over from pure (state funded) research.

If livecoding romanticised hacking or was simply an exercise in 
professional nostalgia for a lost age of authentic relations between 
hacker and machine then it would be sentimental. Sentimentalising 
hacking would add nothing to culture or to the socioeconomic situation 
of hackers. It would mis-represent its subject to its audience. It would 
be distraction, a comforter, spectacle.


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