[NetBehaviour] Art and usage

Rob Myers rob at robmyers.org
Thu Oct 16 05:56:04 CEST 2014

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On 14/10/14 11:23 PM, Pall Thayer wrote:
> I encountered an interesting discussion today about contemporary
> digital art that referenced the "user" in a prominent way. I'm
> wondering whether this has become a "thing". Does our art need to
> be "used"? If so, is its quality determined by its "usability"?
> Will gallery guests start saying, "That was so usable. I might buy
> it." Or "That piece on the left was one of the most useful pieces
> I've seen in years. It left me with this vague sense of still using
> it."

If you're interacting with a computer in such a way as to drive its
activities then you are a user of that computer. If you're looking at
its output in a gallery then you're not. There are various edge cases
and implications for and from Free Software for this. But in general
it's similarly ornithological to the question of whether we behold or
onlook art or simply see it.

Being a software "user" doesn't mean you're not human, a citizen, a
revolutionary subject or whatever. It just means you're whacking away
at a keyboard at this precise moment and if the software doesn't help
you with that then the capacity in which it's immediately affecting
you is as its user.

Unusable software art is a thing and comparing art computing to
desktop computing in terms of simple usability would be fail (imagine
iArt...). But as I say, if we're using software to experience art
there's a small thicket of ideas and implications that this trips over
on its way to the bar.

- - Rob.

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