[NetBehaviour] Some things I've been thinking about lately

Pall Thayer pallthay at gmail.com
Mon Sep 28 19:56:04 CEST 2020

Hi Edward,

And thanks for the comments on my work. I appreciate it.

The whole point of the qpbd piece, as well as some of the others in that
series, is to get people to try to make sense of the code, regardless of
whether they are programmers or not, in an effort to understand the work.
There's also a circle that simply spins around its own center... obviously,
you don't see that it's rotating unless you read the code.

I like your phrase, "One medium commenting ironically on another" and see
quite a bit of potential in that. What I was initially thinking about was,
what if the running program doesn't do the work justice (as with the almost
invisible red speck). Can I just remove it from the computer and make a
"better" version by, essentially, running the program in my head and make
whatever comes out of that process? But the idea of one medium commenting
on another opens it up more. If I follow that idea, then I'm not
necessarily working on a "better" version of the running program, but
rather a "different" version of the running program. An idea that comes to
mind is that I could write a javascript object that draws random lines on
the digital canvas in shades of green. But instead of presenting the work
on a computer, print it on a surface and mount a flower pot with grass
growing in it. Same thing, right? It's an object that draws lines in shades
of green. I'm not sure if it's "better" than the program running on a
computer but it definitely creates an interesting dialog between the two

At any rate, my primary goal with these experiments has always been to try
to get the viewers to have to engage with the code in one way or another
and to try to make sense of it in an effort to make sense of the artwork.

Best r.

On Sun, Sep 27, 2020 at 12:23 PM Edward Picot via NetBehaviour <
netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:

> Pall,
> I've really enjoyed this thread, and I've been sitting here scratching my
> head trying to think how to express my ideas about it. The piece of yours
> that I've been looking at is 'Square with content flipping on two axes',
> which has got a q and a p opposite each other, and a d and a b opposite
> each other, inside a square, like this:
> q p
> d b
> Every now and again they twitch slightly: and it's only when you read the
> code, and reflect on the title of the piece, that you realize they're
> changing places every few seconds, either left-to-right or up-to-down, and
> the slight twitch is the only outward sign of this, because their symmetry
> is precise enough for them to step into one another's positions almost
> invisibly, almost without a disturbance. Probably, it occurs to me, the
> piece would be even more perfect if the slight twitch could be eliminated:
> then there would be no outward sign at all of what was taking place, and
> the meaning and action of the piece would be entirely latent, entirely in
> the mind and understanding of the beholder.
> It seems to me that what makes this piece work is that it's exploring the
> difference between what we see on screen and what's actually happening
> inside or behind that on-screen image, in terms of code and its execution.
> Ordinarily when you read a piece of text on a screen you just read the
> text, as if it were print on paper; you don't think about the digital
> process which puts it in front of you; but in the 'Square with content
> flipping on two axes' that inner process, which is always there, is
> foregrounded, and we feel as if a new dimension has been opened up for us
> inside or behind the flat visual shape we are looking at. On top of which,
> of course, there are parallels with concrete poetry, and there's an element
> of pure aesthetic pleasure, exploring the geometry of the typeface you're
> using.
> With your piece 'This is not a pixel', the same kind of thing is
> happening. What we seen on screen us just a red speck. In order to
> understand the red speck we have to look at the code, and understand that
> it's instructing the computer to locate the pixel right in the middle of
> your 'canvas' and turn it red. So it's not a pixel, it's a spot of redness
> generated by a piece of code. Again there's a reference to other art,
> namely Magritte's 'Ce n'est pas une pipe', but again it's a digital
> equivalent: whereas Magritte's painting asks us to recognise that a
> painting of something is never the same as the thing itself, your piece is
> reminding us that what appears on-screen never gets there without code and
> execution of one kind or another. We ignore it most of the time, but it's
> always there. And again, there's an element of pure aesthetics, exploring
> the possibilities of what can be done by working with code in this way.
> I do like the idea of making an equivalent to this piece by printing it on
> a t-shirt or sticking a square piece of wood on top of another piece of
> wood - but I think the meaning of such an equivalent would be quite
> different. It would be translating something born-digital into the realm of
> sculpture and DIY (or design, if you did the t-shirt); the code wouldn't
> actually be executing; it would be one medium commenting ironically on
> another, rather than an exploration of the digital medium itself.
> Edward
> On 24/09/2020 19:05, Pall Thayer via NetBehaviour wrote:
> Hi all,
> Here's another "sketch" where I'm sort of wrapping my head around these
> ideas. Used my dog, Hambae, for this one.
> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org/hambae/
> On Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 9:48 AM Pall Thayer <pallthay at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Hi Bruno. Didn't you and I share a hotel room in Bergen, NO many years
>> ago?
>> I think I get your point. Yes, programming code is like a blueprint in a
>> way. That blueprint then gets interpreted by a computer or software and
>> then turns into an action. A movie or play script is also a blueprint but
>> one that gets interpreted by humans. Obviously, a human "interpretation" of
>> something is going to be a lot more flexible than a computer's
>> interpretation of code. Therein lies the main difference between those two
>> schematics. What I'm proposing is a bit of a hybrid. If I feel that my own
>> (human) interpretation of a piece of code is going to make the outcome
>> somehow better (or just different, if people prefer), then I'm going to do
>> so from the perspective of a human who knows full well how the code will
>> perform when interpreted by the computer. So it's still grounded in a more
>> restrictive outcome than a movie or play script. If I allow myself too much
>> freedom in my interpretation, then I might as well abandon the programming
>> code part and we're basically back to 60s conceptualism. I'm looking for
>> something similar but different.
>> I do believe that the text of programming code can stand on its own as
>> works of art and have pursued that angle for several years in my Microcodes
>> (http://pallthayer.dyndns.org/microcodes/) and Object Oriented Art Code (
>> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org/stealthiscodeart/). I see the ideas that
>> I'm pitching here as my "logical next step".
>> Best r.
>> Pall
>> On Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 2:53 AM Bruno Vianna via NetBehaviour <
>> netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>>> hi Pall
>>> I don't know if I'm playing devil's advocate or standing for your
>>> point, but it comes to my mind the idea of a blueprint, which is not
>>> exclusive to code. Wouldn't a script for a movie, the  lines of a
>>> play, be also forms of laying out a final shape? And these codes
>>> (text) are also self-standing pieces of art? I could go even further
>>> and think of the frames of a movie compared to the screened result in
>>> a session.
>>> In case, the argument is very interesting.
>>> Bruno
>>> On Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 7:13 PM Pall Thayer via NetBehaviour
>>> <netbehaviour at lists.netbehaviour.org> wrote:
>>> >
>>> > As some on this list know, for many years, I've been pushing the
>>> notion that programming code should be viewed as an artistic medium when
>>> it's used to create art. The artist molds it into shape, as they would with
>>> a lump of clay, until it takes its final form. When I've discussed these
>>> ideas, I've always gotten a lot of pushback. People will say that
>>> programming code is a tool, like a paintbrush, not the medium, like paint.
>>> I don't agree. This notion has piqued my interest again in the wake of a
>>> rising trend where artists are creating graphic images by only using
>>> HTML/CSS (e.g. https://a.singlediv.com/ ,
>>> https://diana-adrianne.com/purecss-francine/ ).
>>> >
>>> > The problem with computer programmed art, however, is that it requires
>>> a computer. In my mind, there really hasn't been any justifiable reason to
>>> display computer programmed art on anything other than a computer... unless
>>> it adds something significant to the work. And this is something
>>> interesting that has recently occurred to me. I came up with this really
>>> simply piece:
>>> >
>>> > http://pallthayer.dyndns.org/notApixel/
>>> >
>>> > And have decided that this piece, although based entirely on computer
>>> programming code, will work better when divorced from the computer and the
>>> browser's interpretation of the code. On my 4k screen, it's practically
>>> impossible to see the red pixel in the center. If I remove the work from
>>> the environment that interprets the code, I'm free to determine the size of
>>> a single pixel:
>>> >
>>> > http://pallthayer.dyndns.org/notApixel/notApixel.png
>>> >
>>> > And I could choose to produce that piece in any physical material I
>>> want. It could be a block of wood glued to a panel of wood. What determines
>>> the size of a pixel of wood? What determines the result of a hexadecimal
>>> color code when it's been removed from the computer? If the code is to be
>>> interpreted in wood, what does #f00 mean?
>>> >
>>> > My main point is that with the example shown above, the piece can be
>>> made to work better at a conceptual level than it would if it were not
>>> removed from the browser environment.
>>> >
>>> > I'd love to hear other people's ideas on this. I did just write this
>>> all off the top of my head, so if I'm rambling and things don't make sense,
>>> just ask and I'll do my best to clarify.
>>> >
>>> > Pall Thayer
>>> >
>>> > --
>>> > *****************************
>>> > Pall Thayer
>>> > artist
>>> > http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
>>> > *****************************
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>> --
>> *****************************
>> Pall Thayer
>> artist
>> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
>> *****************************
> --
> *****************************
> Pall Thayer
> artist
> http://pallthayer.dyndns.org
> *****************************
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Pall Thayer
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