Februar 2014

Microanalysis as a Means to Mediate Digital Arts

Ein Netzfundstück aus dem Jahr 2004. Die schriftliche Fassung meines Vortrags an der Birkbeck University, London, im Rahmen der CHArt-Konferenz 2004: It is an obvious fact that computer arts, and the fashionable “software art”, create their own recipients, disregarding the traditional art scene's public. Both the recipients and the art historians dealing with the relationship between computing and art are limited to a small number of specialists in a culture derived from the art and pop scene of the early 1990s. Although there is an international history, one could ask what is really behind these works. Are programs like "Autoshop" (Ade Ward) or "Forkbomb" (Alex MacLean), to name two of the more prominent applications developed in recent years, something more than simply the dystopian misuse of programming language? Is there a formal and aesthetic motive? In this paper a thorough analysis within the realm of the micro-structure of each work will be presented, in order to discover the level of awareness of aesthetic problems, depicted via the means of programming language and programming itself as an artistic practice. Furthermore it will be argued that contemporary practitioners do not quote, recall or reflect earlier explorations and practice in computer arts. One of the intentions of this paper is to close a "short-circuit" between current and past investigations, with close consideration given to individual works of art. Finally, this paper intends to demonstrate that computer arts, historically and currently, are able to maintain a new role in the field of new media arts, which should be taken seriously by art history in a classic manner but with a change in skills. Microanalysis of code is not a usual practice, but in order to uncover the type of relationship that exists between the arts and computer arts, this method is absolutely necessary, as will be shown in this paper.