[-empyre-] ambiguous artistic strategies & critical engineering

Julian Oliver julian at julianoliver.com
Sat Feb 11 21:54:35 EST 2012

..on Thu, Feb 09, 2012 at 03:18:06PM +0000, Simon Biggs wrote:
> Much contemporary computer based art work has a cargo-cult like quality due to
> such illiteracy. This can be interesting but usually in spite of itself.

Indeed, also one of the fruits of Bricolage. However with a language like
Engineering having such influence over the lives and minds of people - how we
eat, travel, communicate - I really think you need to speak the language to
truly act critically within its scope. 

This is what we sought to underscore in the manifesto:


I've talked to several artists that have expressed disempowerment in this age of
database automation, google maps, wireless networking, the Cloud etc -
technologies that shape how they live and even their practice yet they find no
entry point to dissassembling and thus critically engaging them. It's not enough
to talk about how we are influenced by all this engineering - technology that
becomes social, political and cultural infrastructure - this leaves us in little
better position. It must be engaged it directly to understand the mechanics of
influence. This is the difference between a topic (technology) and as a material

Most that receive this email will have little or no idea how it arrived to their
inbox, unable to accurately describe it to another, not even close. At the same
time most would be able to describe how a postcard arrived at their friends
mailbox. Just 15 years.. 

Ignorance as to how these engineered infrastructures actually function, what
they do and what is done with them behind their own presentation, is actively
being abused both inside and out of democracies. 



> On 9 Feb 2012, at 13:44, César Baio wrote:
> > Hallo all,
> >  
> > It is interesting because this remains a field of questions for me.
> > But I can talk a bit about my experience with this.
> > 
> > When it comes to technology, you look different when you know the device from it inside. It makes me think too much on the importance of clearing the black box claimed by Flusser. So think of a culture in which people produce technology as nowadays they produce text and images. It leads to reformulation of the concept of technology. I think this is an immense power of the empirical point of view because for those who can operate with the technology has in your hand a very powerful language. We say "programming language" but why not to say something like "technological language"?. Who understands the language written by programmers is the computer, but he does so only to turn it into other languages.
> > 
> > In the theoretical aspect, for example, at various times I am led to take my technical background and compare it with aesthetic aspects. An example of this happened in a part of my dissertation I put some questions to some arguments used by Manovich when he relates film and digital. My background in video gave me important clues for me to understand that digital is much more closely related to the video than to the film. Not by chance this relationship feels very strongly also in the aesthetic field. It comprehension changed a lot the way deals the other problems of my thesis.
> > 
> > I find these very thought-provoking issues. I'm very curious as to how each of the people who cross these areas deals with these issues. To me it would be fascinating to hear other people on the forum.
> > 
> > > From: gabriel.menotti at gmail.com
> > > Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2012 09:59:37 +0000
> > > To: empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > > Subject: [-empyre-] ambiguous artistic strategies & critical engineering
> > > 
> > > Hey!
> > > 
> > > > my first area of study was the electronics, and I
> > > > think that today this has much influence on what I have written and on my
> > > > experimental projects. [César Baio]
> > > 
> > > Being fascinated by the way some programmers write about software, I’d
> > > be very curious to see what kind of insights this technical background
> > > provides to your research. Are these overt influences or more subtle
> > > ones? Could you please give some examples – either theoretical or
> > > empirical?
> > > 
> > > Also, do you see some coherence in the way you move from one field to another?
> > > 
> > > 
> > > > I'm interested in if
> > > > and how artistic practice can reformulate the concept of technology making
> > > > their production and use more accessible, how are different (and ambiguous)
> > > > the strategies that the artist uses [CB]
> > > 
> > > Julian Oliver’s appeal for a “critical engineering” comes to mind here
> > > (there was a debate about it on empyre on July ’11, moderated by Simon
> > > and Magnus). Do you think there is anything particular in artistic
> > > practice that allow it to employ ambiguous strategies, or would these
> > > strategies be within the reach of anyone – such as academic
> > > researchers or technicians? Otherwise, shouldn’t they?
> > > 
> > > Best!
> > > Menotti
> > > _______________________________________________
> > > empyre forum
> > > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> Simon Biggs
> simon at littlepig.org.uk http://www.littlepig.org.uk/ @SimonBiggsUK skype: simonbiggsuk
> s.biggs at ed.ac.uk Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh
> http://www.eca.ac.uk/circle/ http://www.elmcip.net/ http://www.movingtargets.co.uk/

> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Julian Oliver

More information about the empyre mailing list