[NetBehaviour] CODE.Determination / Indeterminacy in Analogue and Digital Systems

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Fri Jan 31 00:56:40 CET 2014

On 27/01/14 01:19 PM, Laura Plana Gracia wrote:
> The relationship between Art and Technology is strengthened with the
> use of open source software. The use of "free software" has become a
> crucial material stimulating the Digital Age. The ideology of pro-common
> networking encourages the creation and development of tools such as
> GNU/Linux, Processing, Pure Data, Openframeworks, and other open source
> software. Much of the developers operate establishing networks of
> collaborative work, facilitating emerging practices that allow access to
> the use of free software and free-code.

Yes Free Software started in part to restore this kind of community,
which proprietary software works against.

> The distinction between open
> source and closed source respond to different conditions. The use of a
> type of code is determined by functions or intentions, 

I don't quite follow this?

> and it is or
> transparent or opaque. Open source facilitates the copy, the improvement
> and the distribution of the software. Open source is rooted to certain
> ideological motivation. Its birth was the Free Software Foundation,
> founded by Richard Stallman, who created the GNU/Linux operating system
> in 1998.

Open Source does try to hide Free Software's ethical motivations, though:



> [lots of interesting stuff]

> <https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6858931326314872725>. These
> considerations evaluate the code as something essential and determining
> in the computer processes in communication and others devices.

One of the things that interests me about the GNU GPL is the ontological
status of programs covered by it. The provision of source code that Open
Source so fetishizes means that programs are something that is always
*remade*. And the remade versions of a program will be dissimilar at the
bit level. The binary executable of even a simple program compiled from
source on (e.g.) and ARM GNU/Linux system and a SPARC Solaris system, or
even on later versions of the same OS, will be a very different
translation or instantiation of the same source text. Platonism again?

> Most artists use electronic circuits, programming languages ​​and
> algorithms that relate analogue systems to digital systems. The code in
> art is understood as an instruction for the creation, a tool for art.
> Instructions and textual annotations are also linguistic processes in
> conceptual art and electronic art. An algorithm can be considered as a
> detailed and systematically order to perform a task procedure.

There are examples of people using the execution and even the unseen
execution of code as "the art" but yes.

> Casey
> Reas uses the programming language and the code as part of the process
> for drawing. The work entitled “Software Structures” takes conceptual
> art references. The drawings of Sol Lewitt, the “Wall Drawings” made
> using instructions and diagrams were inspiration for the “Software
> Structures” by Casey Reas. Therefore, the creator of Processing is
> interested, as Thomas Dreher is, in the ability of language as a code
> and as an order to execute. The interest in processes that approach to
> the conceptual operation of language is an elemental characteristic in
> the three authors. As Casey Reas defined: "The catalyst for this project
> is the work of Sol Lewitt. I had a simple question: Is the history of
> conceptual art relevant to the idea of ​​software as art? I began to
> find answers implementing three of the Sol Lewitt drawings into
> software"[4]
> <https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=6858931326314872725>. Reas
> took three of the drawings from the “Wall Drawings” by Sol Lewitt: #85,
> #106, #358. Following the instructions, the verbal concepts or the
> annotations of the conceptual artist Lewitt had used for the realization
> of the drawings, Casey Reas made ​​the first steps towards the
> development and problem solving in programming. He then used these
> concepts in different programming languages such as Processing, C++ and
> Flash MX, with the help of Jared Tarbell, Robert Hodgin and William Ngan.

I like this kind of translation of programs between languages. Some of
my current work is in its fourth language implementation and is now web
rather than command line based.

This kind of thing is common in the history of computing and in digital
art. UNIX was ported from machine code to C and reimplemented as BSD and
GNU. Emacs was reimplemented to start the GNU project. And artist Harold
Cohen ported his AARON drawing system from C to Common Lisp halfway
through its now 40-year lifespan. Those are all examples from the 70s
and 80s.

Porting and reimplementation and rebuilding are more interesting than I
think is generally considered, and it's great to see them related to
conceptual art so directly.

> The relationship between Analogue and Digital systems responses to
> different models of perception, knowledge and cognitive processes. The
> differences between analogue and digital systems lie in its nature as
> language for signal transmissions. Finally, a new designation and
> context for code art is required. Nominations as Conceptual Software Art
> or Conceptual Sound will help to historicize the New Media Art.

Dreher mentions "The Cybernetic Art Work That Nobody Broke" (1969) by
Art & Language member Harold Hurrell, which is a historical new media
conceptual artwork. I think the historical link can be made quite
directly but that new media art actually predates Conceptual Art if we
date the former to 1950s pioneers and the latter to the mid-60s. At
worst they start at around the same time.

Lots of canonical conceptualism used the now dated information and
communication technology of mid-20th century bureaucracy, and was
interested in cybernetics, mathematics and communication theory. There's
a common pool of ideas to both conceptualism and software art and yes
there is absolutely such a thing as Conceptual Software art, both from
the "side" of conceptualism and from the "side' of software art,
although I'd argue that the era of software art has lasted longer than
that of actual conceptualism as opposed to neoconceptualism.

I'd be very interested to see what gets nominated.

- Rob.

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