[-empyre-] Glitch / HCI

curt at lab404.com curt at lab404.com
Tue Jan 28 11:10:44 EST 2014

Hi Daniel,

I think of modernist interest in materials (the flatness of ab/ex paint, for instance) as stopping and existing within a kind of hermetically sealed-off "aesthetic" space. But there is another way to approach materials, where their agency doesn't merely affect your painting, but it connects out into the rest of the material world (art economies, art supply stores, the color of a patron's sofa). But then that kind of materials-engaged artist I'm imagining is no longer merely an abstract expressionist painter.

Particularly if your material is code, then code is already very embedded and entangled in the world. This observation dovetails with your interest in the arbitrariness of human logic and reasonableness, and with G.H.'s comment about the anti-logic of JODI. ("I got remote control and a color TV / I don't change channels so they much change me." -- Billy Joel) So what kind of computer systems and programming languages would aliens make? Arguably, not all hardware/software would universally tend toward the binary, or even toward the analog. And the ways in which their alien systems functioned would lead outward into (and ingress inward from) the ways that those cultures had constructed their worlds. 

A peculiar hallmark of modernism as a way of being in the world (and I'm following Latour here) is that it implicitly claims its own objective universality. So you could say that esolangs and JODI question/foreground/undermine the implicit assumption that modernist (aristotelian? occidental? human?) logic is universal. They do this by treating code as material, but from an a-hermetic perspective. Latour might say an approach like JODI's is not so much post-modern as a-modern/medieval.

As with Latour on modernism, so to Bersani/Dutoit on Rothko. All that ab-ex work was doing something -- it just wasn't doing what its proponents claimed it was doing. A rothko makes you cry not because it is saturated with the artist's soul made visible, but because it enacts the impossibility of making anything visible at all.

But until we begin pragmatically "interacting" with these materials (in the studio/world, in affective ways, via an art practice), we aren't yet able to follow where they are actually leading.


On Jan 26, 2014, at 4:20 PM, Daniel Temkin wrote:

> The practice described in the (amazing) Wire piece
> (http://thewire.co.uk/in-writing/essays/collateral-damage-mark-fell) is
> familiar from glitch practice, but it struck me how much it resembles
> formalist, modernist practice as well. Is this a problem or is a strain of
> modernism in this type of work not necessarily a bad thing (given that it is
> not the only thing the piece does)? 

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