Re: [-empyre-] upgrading downtime?
On Nov 20, 2005, at 3:42 PM, Kenneth Newby wrote:
>This has also come up for some of our graduate students who come from
>professional careers in that industry who want to move into a more
>relationship with media practice.
Just some thoughts -
is it necessary for someone who makes software as art to make
software that is actually useable?
I liken it to a something similar of tired old (but oddly continuing
and heavily hybridised) realist/abstractionist argument:
Software that is built to work: realist
Software that is built with no intention of working: abstract
write an extremely complex piece of software that say, eternally
shuffles data from one register to another, and doesn't necessarily
do it very well. Or continuously.
The "user" might see nothing, sense nothing, except that the
computer's getting warmer from working and the resource manager is
fluctuating around 100%...
Or, the program might spin out of control, and run the memory right
off the table, crashing the computer in an instant.
As a former Scientist/Engineer at Apple Computer, I would sometimes
find that the "failures" of software could be quite entertaining.
Like, capturing some video, going to File / Save and have the
computer lock up so badly, I had to unplug it from the wall. Or
stacking the same short video loop on a dozen tracks, and each
track's loop is one frame shorter than the previous, creating a kind
of video version of Steve Reich's tape music, and the result? It
would freeze so hard I'd have to unplug it, or it would get stuck and
stutter and then freeze out, and blow up. Eventually these "bugs"
were worked out, but I often thought about the joke of a bug being an
"undocumented feature" and how that is essentially true, especially
when a product might ship with 800 known bugs. It "works" but only
within a set of socially negotiated parameters of acceptibility. Pull
those parameters apart - explore code functions metaphorically, or
The code might not be about usability - it might be about
relationships of data and forming complex arrays. It might not have a
UI or even want one. The software itself may not "work", but it might
be written in a very beautiful way.
Or, it might not even be code - it could be pseudocode, a sketch - we
admire artist sketches - they're obviously incomplete - but they
might say something interesting.
Where is the place for that kind of creativity in "media practice?"
I feel that present "media" is so tied to engineering and
computability that often it seems to be indistinguishable from
commercial design, and frequently comes off as half-baked attempts at
something more well funded industries do for the simplest purposes
(on one end of the spectrum) or completely dismissive of other
notions of digital creativity (on the other end). And it seems
anything that specifically flouts the unspoken (and often boolean/
manichean) regulations of engineering that underpin much of new media
and computer arts are tossed right out with no questions asked.
Is there a beautiful new media / software design failure? Or is the
intention of "working" always a precondition of realisation?
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