Re: [-empyre-] making a meta-living / a-life & generative art

Hello Mitchell,
it is getting interesting, so let me bring in something here.
Could this movement to hermetic purity of code in itself be a reaction
to our contemporary visual culture? An escape maybe from the omnipresence
of images addressing our complex social political and economic reality.
One could compare watching these "pure" introvert processes to looking
at an aquarium: an autonomous small ecology, where organisms live
(hopefully) in harmony. It feels good to be an outsider, an observer of
this separate world. In my opinion this position often leaves more space
for reflection or contemplation compared to interactive installations where
the user is easily distracted from the more intrinsic qualities of the
presented work. Interaction does not always mean engagement.

Modernism cleared the way for AL art. To be able to percieve the abstract
worlds like those of Mauro a.o. is made possible because modernism opened
up the abstract domain. We don't have to defend it anymore. AL art can link
up so easily with abstract art. It is also somewhat inherent to algorithmic
art. You could say that AL art realizes the potential released by Duchamp,
Warhol and Beuys. We can use it as an area of exploration. They showed that
everything can have an aesthetic quality, we now can physically explore that
We can also make a connection with AL and the even earlier aesthetics of the
sublime. In the nineteenth century the sublime was linked to a sense of
futility in relation to the unpredictable forces of nature, sensing the
tension between pleasure and fear. That you can now do something with the
computer, run a program that shows something of the amazing power of the
computer, has something of the sublime about it. The underlying generative
process cannot be directly grasped but we are capable of experiencing it
through the machine. You can be overwhelmed by a sense of being out of
and at the same time enjoy the spectacle. The same Jon McCormack introduced

the term Computational Sublime for this in a paper at the Second Iteration
conference in Melbourne. It makes sense to me. What nineteenth century
painting could only portray figuratively, you can let the observer actually
experience with AL. You can pick up the ideas from that era again, link them
with the principles of abstract art from the last century and the
of Duchamp and Beuys. In my opninion, all these threads are being drawn
together right now.

Maria Verstappen

Eikenweg 9 d/e
1092 BW Amsterdam

> Yes. Jon McCormack has been arguing the same thing for quite a while,
> re software literacy. I support the concept completely, and it aligns
> with a broader push to understand software as cultural/political. What
> strikes me is the contrast between this quite savvy project, and the
> actual work it produces, which sometimes seems quite introverted. I am
> interested in the potential of this kind of work to engage more
> strongly with its "outside", rather than noodling away like old C64
> graphics demos. An example, on the topic of Casey Reas (whose ears must
> be burning), there's an older work which processes a live video feed
> (he used cable TV) but simply analyses an average colour value for each
> frame, and fills the frame with that colour. The result is a "one pixel
> tv" which decimates the content but reveals temporal / visual patterns
> and makes a strong comment on its source.
> If this movement heads towards a hermetic "purity" of code, it seems to
> me it's retracing some well worn Modernist tracks (we've already
> discussed LeWitt) - and actually really recapitulating the history of
> computing in the arts, especially computer music, which has long had a
> fascination with the algorithm as pure "seed" for the work.
> A-life systems sometimes share this hermetic tendency, but they always
> seek to escape it, either by making the internal "world" increasingly
> complex, in the hope of emergent outcomes, or (more often recently) by
> opening the work up to outside influences, coupling it to its wider
> environment. Both Ken and Mauro's work are examples here... another one
> I like is Scott Draves' Electric Sheep, in which the graphical outcomes
> are really a residue of a human/machine "ecology" of
> distributed-processing clients. (
> Mitchell Whitelaw
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum

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