software art vs. programmed art

Posted by Antoine Schmitt | Sat Oct 4th 2003 1:13 p.m.

Hello Shirley, Andreas, Pall and all,

Wittgenstein seems to have struck again : isn't it all a matter of
agreeing on the words.
There is no doubt that there is a large group of artistic productions
out there that use "programs" as their main material. A subset of
these have "software" as their main subject.
Wouldn't everybody be pleased by naming the first group "programmed
art" and the second "software art"? This is the position that I have
taken recently in my talks. I use this terminology because "program"
is a more generic word, and "software" tends to mean "commercial
software product", which gives it a "cultural" orientation.

Then, whether the "software art" category of transmediale should
accept "programmed art" in general is a decision of the transmediale
people and jury (this is what we had done when I was member of the
jury in 2002).

Stating that all artworks having programs as their main material
*should* talk about software, as Andreas seems to imply, seems to be
a bit slippery. As Pall says, who are we to say what artworks should
talk about ? Do all "interactive art" artworks talk about
interactivity ? Do all "video art" artworks talk about video ? And
I'd like to quote Philip Galanter (taken from a eu-gene discussion
last year) : "In medieval times painting was about God. With the
Enlightenment painting was about man. In Modern times painting was
about paint. And now in Postmodern times painting is about painting."
I thought that postmodern times where behind us now, and in anycase
shouldn't we wait before stating what programmed art talks about. All
this is just starting.

Talking about the cultural and economic footprint of software indeed
seems to me a very important subject these days. But more important
for me is the fact that a new artistic material is born, and it is
very specific and radically different from its predecessors : indeed,
a program means action. This is an unprecedented fact in art history
and makes it a very exciting material to work with. If artworks using
a certain material should concentrate on the specificites of this
material, as Andreas says and with which I can agree, I believe that
this specificity (program = action) is what programmed artworks
should concentrate on. Note that this is not *different* from the
"cultural" subject, it actually includes it, as "software art" mostly
talks about control, which is a kind of action.

So, "programmed art" ?
--

++ as
  • dan katz | Sat Oct 4th 2003 4:41 p.m.
    Programmed art is agreeable to me.

    I informed NewZoid that "Antoine Schmitt Says "Programmed Art" Is Best Term
    For New Artistic Phenomenon."

    In response, here are some of the headlines NewZoid fetched from the
    parallel worlds:

    Antoine Schmitt To Use Mice To Test APEC Summit Food
    Antoine Schmitt Says 'Programmed Art' Is Best Name For Matrix
    US Says 'Programmed Art' Is Best Name For Fresh Faces
    Model Caprice Says 'Programmed Art' Is Best Name For First Time
    Thousands Say 'Programmed Art' Is Best Name For Poll
    NASA Says 'Programmed Art' Is Best Name For New Artistic Phenomenon
    Fraudsters Win Damages For New Artistic Phenomenon
    Flu Vaccine Safe For New Artistic Phenomenon
    Marlins' Rodriguez Says 'Programmed Art' Is Best Name For New Artistic
    Phenomenon
    Antoine Schmitt Hoping For Successful Return To Tampa Bay
    Microsoft Says 'Programmed Art' Is Best Name For Iraqi Self-Rule
    Nintendo Says 'Programmed Art' Is Best Name For New Artistic Phenomenon
    Antoine Schmitt Can Be Cheap To Make, Toyota Says
    Pensioner War Veterans Urging Approval For New Artistic Phenomenon
    Porn Candidate Mary Carey Asks For Time For New Artistic Phenomenon

    Best Wishes,
    Daniel Young
    (in hiding)

    10/4/03 12:16 PM, Antoine Schmitt at as@gratin.org wrote:

    >
    > Hello Shirley, Andreas, Pall and all,
    >
    > Wittgenstein seems to have struck again : isn't it all a matter of
    > agreeing on the words.
    > There is no doubt that there is a large group of artistic productions
    > out there that use "programs" as their main material. A subset of
    > these have "software" as their main subject.
    > Wouldn't everybody be pleased by naming the first group "programmed
    > art" and the second "software art"? This is the position that I have
    > taken recently in my talks. I use this terminology because "program"
    > is a more generic word, and "software" tends to mean "commercial
    > software product", which gives it a "cultural" orientation.
    >
    > Then, whether the "software art" category of transmediale should
    > accept "programmed art" in general is a decision of the transmediale
    > people and jury (this is what we had done when I was member of the
    > jury in 2002).
    >
    > Stating that all artworks having programs as their main material
    > *should* talk about software, as Andreas seems to imply, seems to be
    > a bit slippery. As Pall says, who are we to say what artworks should
    > talk about ? Do all "interactive art" artworks talk about
    > interactivity ? Do all "video art" artworks talk about video ? And
    > I'd like to quote Philip Galanter (taken from a eu-gene discussion
    > last year) : "In medieval times painting was about God. With the
    > Enlightenment painting was about man. In Modern times painting was
    > about paint. And now in Postmodern times painting is about painting."
    > I thought that postmodern times where behind us now, and in anycase
    > shouldn't we wait before stating what programmed art talks about. All
    > this is just starting.
    >
    > Talking about the cultural and economic footprint of software indeed
    > seems to me a very important subject these days. But more important
    > for me is the fact that a new artistic material is born, and it is
    > very specific and radically different from its predecessors : indeed,
    > a program means action. This is an unprecedented fact in art history
    > and makes it a very exciting material to work with. If artworks using
    > a certain material should concentrate on the specificites of this
    > material, as Andreas says and with which I can agree, I believe that
    > this specificity (program = action) is what programmed artworks
    > should concentrate on. Note that this is not *different* from the
    > "cultural" subject, it actually includes it, as "software art" mostly
    > talks about control, which is a kind of action.
    >
    > So, "programmed art" ?
  • Pall Thayer | Sat Oct 4th 2003 7:35 p.m.
    I like 'programmed art'. It addresses the process without addressing the
    content which is exactly what I was trying to say the whole time. Thanks
    Antoine, if you don't mind, I'll use that from now on. But I don't think
    Andreas was implying that 'programmed art' should talk about software but it
    does seem to me that transmediale and read_me 2002 put quite a bit of
    emphasis on art about software, which I just don't really see as a very big
    or important step within the arts (Read_me 2003 doesn't appear to emphasize
    this as much). But as you say, a new artistic material is born. This is huge
    stuff. A big new step within the arts.

    Just for fun:
    OK, so on one hand we have 'software art' and on the other we have
    'programmed art'. Would the practitioners of these then be 'software
    artists' and 'programmed artists'?

    Pall

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Antoine Schmitt" <as@gratin.org>
    To: <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Saturday, October 04, 2003 4:16 PM
    Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: software art vs. programmed art

    >
    > Hello Shirley, Andreas, Pall and all,
    >
    > Wittgenstein seems to have struck again : isn't it all a matter of
    > agreeing on the words.
    > There is no doubt that there is a large group of artistic productions
    > out there that use "programs" as their main material. A subset of
    > these have "software" as their main subject.
    > Wouldn't everybody be pleased by naming the first group "programmed
    > art" and the second "software art"? This is the position that I have
    > taken recently in my talks. I use this terminology because "program"
    > is a more generic word, and "software" tends to mean "commercial
    > software product", which gives it a "cultural" orientation.
    >
    > Then, whether the "software art" category of transmediale should
    > accept "programmed art" in general is a decision of the transmediale
    > people and jury (this is what we had done when I was member of the
    > jury in 2002).
    >
    > Stating that all artworks having programs as their main material
    > *should* talk about software, as Andreas seems to imply, seems to be
    > a bit slippery. As Pall says, who are we to say what artworks should
    > talk about ? Do all "interactive art" artworks talk about
    > interactivity ? Do all "video art" artworks talk about video ? And
    > I'd like to quote Philip Galanter (taken from a eu-gene discussion
    > last year) : "In medieval times painting was about God. With the
    > Enlightenment painting was about man. In Modern times painting was
    > about paint. And now in Postmodern times painting is about painting."
    > I thought that postmodern times where behind us now, and in anycase
    > shouldn't we wait before stating what programmed art talks about. All
    > this is just starting.
    >
    > Talking about the cultural and economic footprint of software indeed
    > seems to me a very important subject these days. But more important
    > for me is the fact that a new artistic material is born, and it is
    > very specific and radically different from its predecessors : indeed,
    > a program means action. This is an unprecedented fact in art history
    > and makes it a very exciting material to work with. If artworks using
    > a certain material should concentrate on the specificites of this
    > material, as Andreas says and with which I can agree, I believe that
    > this specificity (program = action) is what programmed artworks
    > should concentrate on. Note that this is not *different* from the
    > "cultural" subject, it actually includes it, as "software art" mostly
    > talks about control, which is a kind of action.
    >
    > So, "programmed art" ?
    > --
    >
    > ++ as
    >
    > + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
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  • Liza Sabater | Sat Oct 4th 2003 9:29 p.m.
    On Saturday, Oct 4, 2003, at 15:40 America/New_York, Dan Katz wrote:

    > Programmed art is agreeable to me.

    No. It will certainly come to mean there is determinacy in the outcome.

    / l i z a
    =============================
    http://culturekitchen.com
  • Michael Szpakowski | Sun Oct 5th 2003 7:18 a.m.
    Hi
    My threepenn'orth:
    The interaction between any human being and any work
    of art is never, can never, be completely determined (
    most importantly because we live in history, but also
    because although we are social creatures there is such
    a thing as individual psychology) and this is a much
    deeper and more fruitful question than anything
    digitisation has brought to the table.
    There will *never* be 'determinacy in the outcome'.
    Questions of technique and categorisation, "software
    art", "interactive", "digital", "generative" &c are
    minor and wholly subsidiary.
    best
    michael

    --- Liza Sabater <liza@culturekitchen.com> wrote:
    >
    > On Saturday, Oct 4, 2003, at 15:40 America/New_York,
    > Dan Katz wrote:
    >
    > > Programmed art is agreeable to me.
    >
    >
    > No. It will certainly come to mean there is
    > determinacy in the outcome.
    >
    > / l i z a
    > =============================
    > http://culturekitchen.com
    >
    > + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
    > http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set
    > out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at
    http://rhizome.org/info/29.php

    =====
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  • Michael Szpakowski | Sun Oct 5th 2003 9:57 a.m.
    Liza
    Curious that Wittgenstein was mentioned earlier on as
    on rereading your post I think my rather stern
    rejoinder might have hinged on a Wittgensteinian
    reading/misreading of it.
    Did you *mean* that the expression will come to *mean*
    ( in the sense of *signify that*) there is
    'determinacy in the outcome', in which case its a
    debate about terminology or did you *mean* that the
    adoption of the term will *actually lead* to such
    content.
    I read it as the second and although I absolutely
    stand in general by what I (rather pompously) said, I
    think it might have been a rather over the top
    reaction to what you *meant*.
    Sorry.
    michael

    --- Liza Sabater <liza@culturekitchen.com> wrote:
    >
    > On Saturday, Oct 4, 2003, at 15:40 America/New_York,
    > Dan Katz wrote:
    >
    > > Programmed art is agreeable to me.
    >
    >
    > No. It will certainly come to mean there is
    > determinacy in the outcome.
    >
    > / l i z a
    > =============================
    > http://culturekitchen.com
    >
    > + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
    > http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set
    > out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at
    http://rhizome.org/info/29.php

    =====
    *** QuickTime large QuickTime NUMBER, it is small, office being nearly office OF the office OF the COMMANDS office OF the film or many nearly time the small order where that, that is the office OF the office OF the COMMANDS QuickTime when into the film, is given, it gives the office OF the
    http://www.somedancersandmusicians.com/Some_QuickTime_Movies
    http://www.somedancersandmusicians.com/ ***

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  • Pall Thayer | Sun Oct 5th 2003 10:56 a.m.
    But if we decide to call it 'artware' and an underground subculture
    developes, can we call that 'underware'?

    However, on a serious note, I don't understand what is meant by 'determinacy
    in the outcome'. Could you elaborate?

    Pall

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Michael Szpakowski" <szpako@yahoo.com>
    To: "Liza Sabater" <liza@culturekitchen.com>
    Cc: <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Sunday, October 05, 2003 12:57 PM
    Subject: Re: RHIZOME_RAW: software art vs. programmed art

    >
    > Liza
    > Curious that Wittgenstein was mentioned earlier on as
    > on rereading your post I think my rather stern
    > rejoinder might have hinged on a Wittgensteinian
    > reading/misreading of it.
    > Did you *mean* that the expression will come to *mean*
    > ( in the sense of *signify that*) there is
    > 'determinacy in the outcome', in which case its a
    > debate about terminology or did you *mean* that the
    > adoption of the term will *actually lead* to such
    > content.
    > I read it as the second and although I absolutely
    > stand in general by what I (rather pompously) said, I
    > think it might have been a rather over the top
    > reaction to what you *meant*.
    > Sorry.
    > michael
    >
    > --- Liza Sabater <liza@culturekitchen.com> wrote:
    > >
    > > On Saturday, Oct 4, 2003, at 15:40 America/New_York,
    > > Dan Katz wrote:
    > >
    > > > Programmed art is agreeable to me.
    > >
    > >
    > > No. It will certainly come to mean there is
    > > determinacy in the outcome.
    > >
    > > / l i z a
    > > =============================
    > > http://culturekitchen.com
    > >
    > > + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
    > > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > > -> subscribe/unsubscribe:
    > > http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > > +
    > > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set
    > > out in the
    > > Membership Agreement available online at
    > http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >
    >
    > =====
    > *** QuickTime large QuickTime NUMBER, it is small, office being nearly
    office OF the office OF the COMMANDS office OF the film or many nearly time
    the small order where that, that is the office OF the office OF the COMMANDS
    QuickTime when into the film, is given, it gives the office OF the
    > http://www.somedancersandmusicians.com/Some_QuickTime_Movies
    > http://www.somedancersandmusicians.com/ ***
    >
    > __________________________________
    > Do you Yahoo!?
    > The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
    > http://shopping.yahoo.com
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  • Rhizomer | Sun Oct 5th 2003 11:50 a.m.
    dear antoine,

    thanks for your clarification, and thanks for offering a definition
    of 'software art' that makes it specific rather than general.

    >artistic productions that use "programs" as their main material. A
    >subset of these have "software" as their main subject.
    >"software art"?

    i would go along with this, yet i don't think that i have said what you infer:

    >Stating that all artworks having programs as their main material
    >*should* talk about software, as Andreas seems to imply, seems to be
    >a bit slippery. As Pall says, who are we to say what artworks should
    >talk about ?

    i completely agree that not all artworks that are somehow based on
    programming should deal with software - that would be a
    late-modernist position which would be easy to argue, but of course
    it excludes a lot of worthwhile work, so i am not interested in such
    a limitation. i cannot remember making such a claim, the only thing i
    wanted to say was that 'software art' *should*.

    what you, antoine, are suggesting is what i have also tried to argue:
    call 'software art' the artistic engagement with the social, cultural
    and aesthetic meaning of programming and software.

    where i am in doubt is regarding your term 'programmed art' - i don't
    think that this is much different from conceptual art, and i would
    argue that artworks that simply use software programmes as one of
    their materials, balloons, projections, sounds, etc., as other
    materials, they should be discussed in the context where they engage
    their artistic material most strongly - as sound art, interactive
    art, dance performance, etc. i'm not sure what kind of work you would
    refer to as 'programmed art' that would not sit more comfortably
    under one of the already existing art categories.

    best regards,

    -a

    ps: indeed, i don't read rhizome-raw and appreciate direct forwarding
    of msgs concerning this thread.
  • Liza Sabater | Sun Oct 5th 2003 9:11 p.m.
    On Sunday, Oct 5, 2003, at 08:57 America/New_York, Michael Szpakowski
    wrote:
    > Did you *mean* that the expression will come to *mean*
    > ( in the sense of *signify that*) there is
    > 'determinacy in the outcome', in which case its a
    > debate about terminology or did you *mean* that the
    > adoption of the term will *actually lead* to such
    > content.

    The first ... AL thOUgh ...

    > I read it as the second and although I absolutely
    > stand in general by what I (rather pompously) said, I
    > think it might have been a rather over the top
    > reaction to what you *meant*.
    > Sorry.

    Like my little one says, DONT BE SORRY!

    :-)

    / l i z a
    =============================
    http://culturekitchen.com
  • Liza Sabater | Sun Oct 5th 2003 11:46 p.m.
    On Sunday, Oct 5, 2003, at 09:56 America/New_York, Pall Thayer wrote:

    > But if we decide to call it 'artware' and an underground subculture
    > developes, can we call that 'underware'?

    :-)

    > However, on a serious note, I don't understand what is meant by
    > 'determinacy
    > in the outcome'. Could you elaborate?

    When in the "professional" vicinity of M Napier, I spend a lot of my
    time explaining to people not just what he does but how is it that he
    does what he does. As the "little" wife, I get asked questions that
    people would probably would not ask him, a curator or other art
    "professionals". These are the questions I am asked, in order of
    frequency:

    1. Can I make that screen happen again?
    2. Can I freeze it and print it?
    3. Is that a video loop?
    4. Who is doing that? Is it a program?
    5. I can do anything with it? ANYTHING?
    6. If it is not a thing, how is it art?

    To a lot of people, art is a thing that you collect either privately or
    in a museum. It usually means ownership of one. Most importantly, the
    art object is thought of as a "thing-in-itself" (think of Nietzsche)
    and thusly considered a monolith: closed and unchanging in its being;
    univocal in its expression and systematic in its execution.

    You have to consider that, back in the days, the glee that came with
    producing a work like Digital Landfill was caused by the fact that not
    only could you mess around with the browser but that you could see how
    the piece evolved, almost instantaneously, through people's
    interactions. So to say that something like that or the 3Dots
    thingy-majig is "programmed" is a disservice to the artwork. Not so
    necessarily to the artist, btw.

    I've been in the dubious position of correcting people's praises at MNs
    "amazing precision" at "controlling" all the "pictures" that happen on
    the screen with his work --as if we could predict, least to say,
    control something like net flag or Waiting Room. And as anybody who
    works closely with software developers knows, bugs are the gods
    reminders that, you're code may be perfect but the platforms, OSs and
    even the hardware are all fallible.

    So programmed as in systematic, predetermined, closed and unchangeable
    does not really work with art that is created with software
    applications with the express purpose of the artwork. Hence my use of
    artware. Etymologically speaking, it makes sense.

    / l i z a sabater
    =============================
    http://culturekitchen.com
    http://liza.typepad.com
  • Francis Hwang | Mon Oct 6th 2003 6:37 p.m.
    Antoine Schmitt wrote:

    > Wittgenstein seems to have struck again : isn't it all a matter of
    > agreeing on the words.
    > There is no doubt that there is a large group of artistic productions
    > out there that use "programs" as their main material. A subset of
    > these have "software" as their main subject.
    > Wouldn't everybody be pleased by naming the first group "programmed
    > art" and the second "software art"? This is the position that I have
    > taken recently in my talks. I use this terminology because "program"
    > is a more generic word, and "software" tends to mean "commercial
    > software product", which gives it a "cultural" orientation.

    Not that we need one more semantic nit to pick, but I have to take issue with this characterization. I can't ever remember a discussion in which "software" was considered to have commercial overtones. I find myself typing the phrase "open source software" quite a bit these days.

    F.
  • Antoine Schmitt | Tue Oct 7th 2003 6:27 a.m.
    Hello Pall,

    :::::::::4/10/03::::22:35 +0000::::Pall Thayer:::::::::
    >I like 'programmed art'. It addresses the process without addressing the
    >content which is exactly what I was trying to say the whole time. Thanks
    >Antoine, if you don't mind, I'll use that from now on.

    No problem of course, Pall, I dont think that I invented it, it came
    up in some discussion within the Transitoire Observable group
    (http://transitoireobs.free.fr/) which deals with programmed art.

    >
    >Just for fun:
    >OK, so on one hand we have 'software art' and on the other we have
    >'programmed art'. Would the practitioners of these then be 'software
    >artists' and 'programmed artists'?

    Personnaly, I've been calling myself an 'artist programmer' since
    1999. And I see more and more people calling themselves like this.
    Maybe someday, when programming is not automatically linked to the
    industry, we can just say 'programmer', like we say 'painter'...

    Cheers,
    --

    ++ as
  • Antoine Schmitt | Tue Oct 7th 2003 8:42 a.m.
    Dear Andreas,

    :::::::::5/10/03::::16:24 +0200::::Andreas Broeckmann:::::::::
    >i completely agree that not all artworks that are somehow based on
    >programming should deal with software - that would be a
    >late-modernist position which would be easy to argue, but of course
    >it excludes a lot of worthwhile work, so i am not interested in such
    >a limitation. i cannot remember making such a claim, the only thing
    >i wanted to say was that 'software art' *should*.
    >
    >what you, antoine, are suggesting is what i have also tried to
    >argue: call 'software art' the artistic engagement with the social,
    >cultural and aesthetic meaning of programming and software.

    Ok :-) So I guess that was the root of your argument with Pall, and
    that I struck right : Pall was talking, like me, about all 'art that
    is programmed' and you where talking about 'art that is programmed
    and that talks about software', and both of you called it "software
    art". That's why he, then me, reacted to the *should* word. I guess
    that we all agree now at least on 'software art' (I must have been an
    international crisis negociator in a former life...:)

    >
    >where i am in doubt is regarding your term 'programmed art' - i
    >don't think that this is much different from conceptual art, and i
    >would argue that artworks that simply use software programmes as one
    >of their materials, balloons, projections, sounds, etc., as other
    >materials, they should be discussed in the context where they engage
    >their artistic material most strongly - as sound art, interactive
    >art, dance performance, etc. i'm not sure what kind of work you
    >would refer to as 'programmed art' that would not sit more
    >comfortably under one of the already existing art categories.

    That's a very good question :)
    The difference between programmed art and conceptual art is indeed
    tricky. Some programmed artworks are actually more conceptual than
    anything else (especially in the 'software art' field..) : they are
    not meant to be physically experienced in reality. The 'program'
    concept (langage to action) is indeed so strong that it is very
    tempting to play with it. (Personnaly, I find that most of these
    artworks are quite weak and feel more like first year computer
    science student amusements - for me, conceptual art is the first
    pitfall of programmed art, the second being technological fascination
    - but well some are very good too). But more importantly, there are
    many non conceptual programmed artworks : no need to know what is
    behind, just experience it, physically, here and now.
    And there are many non-interactive programmed artworks, and non-sound
    programmed artworks, etc.. But you're right, it must be very
    difficult to find an programmed artwork that does not fall under one
    of the categories : image, sound, interactive, net, conceptual,
    performance, installation. The 'program' material is indeed quite
    malleable.
    But in many of these programmed artworks, the image, sound, baloon,
    net, etc.. aspect is just the context of the work : the program is
    what the spectator is confronted to (through image, sound, etc..).
    The program is the 'main' material. Some examples among the most
    known around here: the early works of Jodi, some of the works of Mark
    Napier, of Golan Levin, of Christa Sommerer and Laurent Mignonneau,
    all of mia, etc.. and for the ancestors : Myron Krueger, Nicolas
    Schoffer, Roman Verotsko, Normal T. White, Edmond Couchot & Michel
    Bret, Peter Vogel, etc... and for the least known : myself, the
    people of Transitoire Observable (http://transitoireobs.free.fr/),
    many of those listed in the gratin (http://www.gratin.org/), etc...

    So in short, I believe that the program is such a rich and
    fundamentaly different material (program = action) that it will
    become a media in its own right, with its artistic langage(s),
    trends, subfields, etc.., and that it will be as ubiquitous as
    written text as a creation material. It is just starting.

    Then does it deserve a festival category already, I dont know...

    Best thoughts,
    --

    ++ as
  • Antoine Schmitt | Tue Oct 7th 2003 8:48 a.m.
    :::::::::6/10/03::::17:37 -0400::::Francis Hwang:::::::::
    >Not that we need one more semantic nit to pick, but I have to take
    >issue with this characterization. I can't ever remember a discussion
    >in which "software" was considered to have commercial overtones. I
    >find myself typing the phrase "open source software" quite a bit
    >these days.

    Yes, this is exactely my point : when typing "open source software ",
    you take the counter-position of "commercial software", so you place
    yourself in the cultural and economic realm...
    There are many artworks where nobody cares if the underlying software
    is open source, free, self-made or commercial. This is not the
    subject of the artwork. For these artworks, my point is to wonder if
    the "software art" name is well suited...

    --

    ++ as
  • metaphorz | Tue Oct 7th 2003 11:14 a.m.
    Antoine Schmitt wrote:

    >
    > Hello Shirley, Andreas, Pall and all,
    >
    > Wittgenstein seems to have struck again : isn't it all a matter of
    > agreeing on the words.
    > There is no doubt that there is a large group of artistic productions
    > out there that use "programs" as their main material. A subset of
    > these have "software" as their main subject.
    > Wouldn't everybody be pleased by naming the first group "programmed
    > art" and the second "software art"? This is the position that I have
    > taken recently in my talks. I use this terminology because "program"
    > is a more generic word, and "software" tends to mean "commercial
    > software product", which gives it a "cultural" orientation.
    >

    I would like to get a conversation going on what is meant by
    "software as the subject." I envision a "representation" of
    a formal construct used in computing. For example,
    let's take a program structure. If we represent the program
    control and data flow, with aesthetics of some variety or style
    in mind, or with an artistic approach, then this is what I
    mean by "software as the subject." This agrees with the common
    understanding of "X as subject" -- it means that X is represented
    by artistic means and methods.

    I think what is interesting is that such representation can be
    usable or non-usable to someone "doing computing." The range
    of possibilities gives the artist considerable leeway.

    Aesthetic Computing can be thought of as covering a fairly wide
    range between "software art" and "art software" (software as
    the subject), however, there is always a reflection on
    computing (broader than "software"), whether that
    reflection is usable or not. I confess to having my own
    interests dictated by the usable variety, but that is just
    me.
  • Lewis LaCook | Tue Oct 7th 2003 11:16 a.m.
    eloquent reply to this question---and sensitive as well--

    as a lover of both software and programmed art, i agree with you whole-heartedly---nothing discourages me more than what i often percieve as the shortsightedness of art that talks more about art than the world--though i do appreciated these works--

    as alan sondheim said to me once: there are no "shoulds" in art--and i share your assertion that "Talking about the cultural and economic footprint of software indeed
    seems to me a very important subject these days. But more important
    for me is the fact that a new artistic material is born, and it is
    very specific and radically different from its predecessors : indeed,
    a program means action. This is an unprecedented fact in art history
    and makes it a very exciting material to work with"...for me as well it's more exciting that we have new material and therefore new perspectives to work with--leave the cultural and economic theorizing to those who write essays (and your own thoughts on the matter, lying in bed at night away from the screen---which is to say: yes, these issues are important, but make the art first...)

    bliss
    l

    Antoine Schmitt <as@gratin.org> wrote:

    To view this entire thread, click here:
    http://rhizome.org/thread.rhiz?thread531&text 519#20519

    + + +

    Hello Shirley, Andreas, Pall and all,

    Wittgenstein seems to have struck again : isn't it all a matter of
    agreeing on the words.
    There is no doubt that there is a large group of artistic productions
    out there that use "programs" as their main material. A subset of
    these have "software" as their main subject.
    Wouldn't everybody be pleased by naming the first group "programmed
    art" and the second "software art"? This is the position that I have
    taken recently in my talks. I use this terminology because "program"
    is a more generic word, and "software" tends to mean "commercial
    software product", which gives it a "cultural" orientation.

    Then, whether the "software art" category of transmediale should
    accept "programmed art" in general is a decision of the transmediale
    people and jury (this is what we had done when I was member of the
    jury in 2002).

    Stating that all artworks having programs as their main material
    *should* talk about software, as Andreas seems to imply, seems to be
    a bit slippery. As Pall says, who are we to say what artworks should
    talk about ? Do all "interactive art" artworks talk about
    interactivity ? Do all "video art" artworks talk about video ? And
    I'd like to quote Philip Galanter (taken from a eu-gene discussion
    last year) : "In medieval times painting was about God. With the
    Enlightenment painting was about man. In Modern times painting was
    about paint. And now in Postmodern times painting is about painting."
    I thought that postmodern times where behind us now, and in anycase
    shouldn't we wait before stating what programmed art talks about. All
    this is just starting.

    Talking about the cultural and economic footprint of software indeed
    seems to me a very important subject these days. But more important
    for me is the fact that a new artistic material is born, and it is
    very specific and radically different from its predecessors : indeed,
    a program means action. This is an unprecedented fact in art history
    and makes it a very exciting material to work with. If artworks using
    a certain material should concentrate on the specificites of this
    material, as Andreas says and with which I can agree, I believe that
    this specificity (program = action) is what programmed artworks
    should concentrate on. Note that this is not *different* from the
    "cultural" subject, it actually includes it, as "software art" mostly
    talks about control, which is a kind of action.

    So, "programmed art" ?
    --

    ++ as

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  • Jim Andrews | Wed Oct 8th 2003 7:46 a.m.
    > Wittgenstein seems to have struck again : isn't it all a matter of
    > agreeing on the words.
    > There is no doubt that there is a large group of artistic productions
    > out there that use "programs" as their main material. A subset of
    > these have "software" as their main subject.
    > Wouldn't everybody be pleased by naming the first group "programmed
    > art" and the second "software art"? This is the position that I have
    > taken recently in my talks. I use this terminology because "program"
    > is a more generic word, and "software" tends to mean "commercial
    > software product", which gives it a "cultural" orientation.
    >
    > Then, whether the "software art" category of transmediale should
    > accept "programmed art" in general is a decision of the transmediale
    > people and jury (this is what we had done when I was member of the
    > jury in 2002).

    It's often the case with other types of works of art that an indirect
    subject of the work is the art (of poetry or writing or programming or
    whatever). Indirect but often quite strongly, moving in parallel and other
    directions with the more prominent subjects.

    It can be argued that this makes for more interesting art than when the
    subject is overtly focussed on the art and its material. Who cares about
    even the juicy topics one can discuss concerning software but, mainly,
    programmers and the cognoscenti? I'm one myself, but for art to be rich with
    experience, best to bring it home through many dimensions of experience.

    Poets live the development of poetics. It's on their mind continually. It's
    how they live and make sense of their lives, in relation to the art. Art
    life art life art life life.

    Even if it's not, an experienced poet can read a poem and imagine how the
    poem is about poetry/poetics. Because poetics is always in relation to life.
    The poem is always in relation to some poetics. I tend to favor poems that
    speak interestingly to poetry. Indirectly, directly, whatever.

    My point? Just like poetry, unless written by those who don't care about the
    art (in which case it's usually dross), is usually very keenly about poetry,
    so too will what can appear to be "programmed art" have its deep and abiding
    concern with software.

    ja
    http://vispo.com
  • Michael Szpakowski | Wed Oct 8th 2003 10:58 a.m.
    Hi Jim
    < My point? Just like poetry, unless written by those
    who don't care about the
    art (in which case it's usually dross), is usually
    very keenly about poetry,
    so too will what can appear to be "programmed art"
    have its deep and abiding
    concern with software.>
    Is this not simply another way of saying there is
    always a formal dimension to a work of art and that
    naturally anyone 'in the trade' will have a
    preoccupation with, and maybe undertake a more
    immediate scrutiny of, both form and mechanics.
    So that for those actively involved in making art a
    work appears more to be "about" formal qualities than
    it does even for the informed viewer who is not also a
    practitioner.
    This has been true since the birth of any sort of
    human artistic endeavour and will remain true.
    Does it hold any general lessons for what we should be
    making?
    I remain to be convinced.
    The key question over a specific example of
    "programmed art" or any other sort of art is "is it
    any good", and whilst part of the answer to that is
    "is it well constructed" and "is it formally
    satisfying?" actually there are a whole series of
    other dimensions that are as/more important.
    I was looking at some late Degas in the UK national
    gallery the other day & I was struck by the withdrawal
    from finish - bits of the canvas left bare, no glaze.
    Similarly reading a biography of the poet John
    Berryman, it describes his struggle to 'disrupt' the
    regular pattern of versification he initially
    established in the 'Dream Songs'.
    I can't help feeling that in both these cases the
    artists were reaching beyond both form and technique
    to something else, or perhaps more accurately, as I'm
    not trying to suggest anything mystical at work,
    subsuming both form and technique *within* the
    affective qualities of their art.
    I absolutely think that it's not possible to rule out
    in advance that any medium is capable of being used to
    create worthwhile art, but what I reject even more is
    the notion that any medium somehow yields a 'special
    case'- I wonder if it wouldn't be more fruitful to
    examine concrete examples of successful or
    unsuccessful practice in some detail rather than
    discussing generalised taxonomical considerations.
    When Mark River recently posted semi tongue in cheek
    'can we just call it art now?' or words to that effect
    I felt he was spot on.
    best
    michael

    --- Jim Andrews <jim@vispo.com> wrote:
    >
    > > Wittgenstein seems to have struck again : isn't it
    > all a matter of
    > > agreeing on the words.
    > > There is no doubt that there is a large group of
    > artistic productions
    > > out there that use "programs" as their main
    > material. A subset of
    > > these have "software" as their main subject.
    > > Wouldn't everybody be pleased by naming the first
    > group "programmed
    > > art" and the second "software art"? This is the
    > position that I have
    > > taken recently in my talks. I use this terminology
    > because "program"
    > > is a more generic word, and "software" tends to
    > mean "commercial
    > > software product", which gives it a "cultural"
    > orientation.
    > >
    > > Then, whether the "software art" category of
    > transmediale should
    > > accept "programmed art" in general is a decision
    > of the transmediale
    > > people and jury (this is what we had done when I
    > was member of the
    > > jury in 2002).
    >
    > It's often the case with other types of works of art
    > that an indirect
    > subject of the work is the art (of poetry or writing
    > or programming or
    > whatever). Indirect but often quite strongly, moving
    > in parallel and other
    > directions with the more prominent subjects.
    >
    > It can be argued that this makes for more
    > interesting art than when the
    > subject is overtly focussed on the art and its
    > material. Who cares about
    > even the juicy topics one can discuss concerning
    > software but, mainly,
    > programmers and the cognoscenti? I'm one myself, but
    > for art to be rich with
    > experience, best to bring it home through many
    > dimensions of experience.
    >
    > Poets live the development of poetics. It's on their
    > mind continually. It's
    > how they live and make sense of their lives, in
    > relation to the art. Art
    > life art life art life life.
    >
    > Even if it's not, an experienced poet can read a
    > poem and imagine how the
    > poem is about poetry/poetics. Because poetics is
    > always in relation to life.
    > The poem is always in relation to some poetics. I
    > tend to favor poems that
    > speak interestingly to poetry. Indirectly, directly,
    > whatever.
    >
    > My point? Just like poetry, unless written by those
    > who don't care about the
    > art (in which case it's usually dross), is usually
    > very keenly about poetry,
    > so too will what can appear to be "programmed art"
    > have its deep and abiding
    > concern with software.
    >
    > ja
    > http://vispo.com
    >
    >
    >
    > + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
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  • Jim Andrews | Wed Oct 8th 2003 9:46 p.m.
    > Hi Jim
    > < My point? Just like poetry, unless written by those
    > who don't care about the
    > art (in which case it's usually dross), is usually
    > very keenly about poetry,
    > so too will what can appear to be "programmed art"
    > have its deep and abiding
    > concern with software.>

    > Is this not simply another way of saying there is
    > always a formal dimension to a work of art and that
    > naturally anyone 'in the trade' will have a
    > preoccupation with, and maybe undertake a more
    > immediate scrutiny of, both form and mechanics.
    > So that for those actively involved in making art a
    > work appears more to be "about" formal qualities than
    > it does even for the informed viewer who is not also a
    > practitioner.
    > This has been true since the birth of any sort of
    > human artistic endeavour and will remain true.
    > Does it hold any general lessons for what we should be
    > making?
    > I remain to be convinced.

    Hi Michael,

    I posted earlier that I don't think there are 'shoulds'. The 'shoulds'
    usually refer to a relatively well-defined subset of approaches or
    situations, and in those approaches or situations, 'shoulds' sometimes make
    sense, but taken out of context, they don't. Also, people tend to want to
    say that their 'shoulds' are more widely relevant than they are.

    > The key question over a specific example of
    > "programmed art" or any other sort of art is "is it
    > any good", and whilst part of the answer to that is
    > "is it well constructed" and "is it formally
    > satisfying?" actually there are a whole series of
    > other dimensions that are as/more important.

    yes, i agree.

    > I was looking at some late Degas in the UK national
    > gallery the other day & I was struck by the withdrawal
    > from finish - bits of the canvas left bare, no glaze.
    > Similarly reading a biography of the poet John
    > Berryman, it describes his struggle to 'disrupt' the
    > regular pattern of versification he initially
    > established in the 'Dream Songs'.
    > I can't help feeling that in both these cases the
    > artists were reaching beyond both form and technique
    > to something else, or perhaps more accurately, as I'm
    > not trying to suggest anything mystical at work,
    > subsuming both form and technique *within* the
    > affective qualities of their art.

    yes, technique is endless.

    > I absolutely think that it's not possible to rule out
    > in advance that any medium is capable of being used to
    > create worthwhile art, but what I reject even more is
    > the notion that any medium somehow yields a 'special
    > case'- I wonder if it wouldn't be more fruitful to
    > examine concrete examples of successful or
    > unsuccessful practice in some detail rather than
    > discussing generalised taxonomical considerations.

    yes it seems that criticism that's primarily taxonomical often has more of
    an exclusionary agenda than seeking deep insight into the art.

    looking at the elements of art can lead to provisional taxonomies, but the
    motivation is to examine the elements/properties. Types/taxonomies are based
    on properties. But what are the properties? Usually a taxonomy priveleges
    some small group of elements without looking very closely at the larger
    range of elements/properties or their crossovers among 'types'.

    'software art' has a buzz about it so every arty tom dick and jane wants to
    claim their stuff is software art. all i can say is patent your algorithms.
    then without any working code, you too can sue for $500 million.

    i share antoine's/andreas's preference for software art that has something
    to say about the software environment, and is far more than competant
    concerning programming, is actually creative in the programming, not drag
    and drop copy/paste code that has 'duh' written all over it. but this takes
    years of practice, and this is *my preference*, not a critical absolute. and
    there are exceptions. the thing with any medium or tool is that it will jump
    all over you and assert its own presence more strongly than whatever you
    wanted to present unless you deal with it wisely and knowlegeably.

    the distinction between 'software art' and 'programmed art' seems alright to
    distinguish between work that isn't particularly creative or edgy in its use
    of software and work that is. But what does that mean? Does it mean that the
    creative, edgy stuff deals explicitly with ideas of software? Well, like I
    said in my last post, usually that's true at some level, it seems to me, but
    that level isn't always explicit. And it can mean other things too.

    You mentioned Berryman, Michael. I remember one line of Berryman, something
    like, 'Let's be honest, friends, life is boring.'

    But art isn't.

    Well, life ain't so bad, but, um, you gotta do the dishes. Yet even the
    dishes can be enjoyable given the alternative or enough bubbles.

    Back to the virtual dishes.

    ja
  • Amy Alexander | Mon Oct 13th 2003 1:25 a.m.
    Just one quick comment to insert: There are many distinctions, but some commonalities too: I find that software art is art by people who don't like to use software.

    ---
    andreas wrote:

    > i completely agree that not all artworks that are somehow based on
    > programming should deal with software - that would be a
    > late-modernist position which would be easy to argue, but of course
    > it excludes a lot of worthwhile work, so i am not interested in such
    > a limitation. i cannot remember making such a claim, the only thing i
    > wanted to say was that 'software art' *should*.
    >
    > what you, antoine, are suggesting is what i have also tried to argue:
    > call 'software art' the artistic engagement with the social, cultural
    > and aesthetic meaning of programming and software.
    >
    > where i am in doubt is regarding your term 'programmed art' - i don't
    > think that this is much different from conceptual art, and i would
    > argue that artworks that simply use software programmes as one of
    > their materials, balloons, projections, sounds, etc., as other
    > materials, they should be discussed in the context where they engage
    > their artistic material most strongly - as sound art, interactive
    > art, dance performance, etc. i'm not sure what kind of work you would
    > refer to as 'programmed art' that would not sit more comfortably
    > under one of the already existing art categories.
    >
  • Eduardo Navas | Mon Oct 13th 2003 1:46 a.m.
    Just a follow up to both Amy and Andreas,

    Software Art like any other label that has been placed on a form of artistic
    production is a slippery medium. I see a lot of purist statements flying
    back and forth between the arguments for the last few weeks, as if software
    art can actually be defined within a metal cage. The truth is it can not,
    just like painting and sculpture and installation, video art, performance,
    etc., get blurry when artists start to push the envelope. Much software art
    crosses over to hacker art, or video game art, or net art, or heck even the
    more established areas I prementioned (did anyone see the exhibition by my
    buddy Eddo Stern at postmasters?). All of these labels should be thought of
    as starting points. I see a cornered position coming very soon...

    best,

    Eduardo Navas

    > Just one quick comment to insert: There are many distinctions, but some
    commonalities too: I find that software art is art by people who don't like
    to use software.
    >
    > ---
    > andreas wrote:
    >
    >
    > > i completely agree that not all artworks that are somehow based on
    > > programming should deal with software - that would be a
    > > late-modernist position which would be easy to argue, but of course
    > > it excludes a lot of worthwhile work, so i am not interested in such
    > > a limitation. i cannot remember making such a claim, the only thing i
    > > wanted to say was that 'software art' *should*.
    > >
    > > what you, antoine, are suggesting is what i have also tried to argue:
    > > call 'software art' the artistic engagement with the social, cultural
    > > and aesthetic meaning of programming and software.
    > >
    > > where i am in doubt is regarding your term 'programmed art' - i don't
    > > think that this is much different from conceptual art, and i would
    > > argue that artworks that simply use software programmes as one of
    > > their materials, balloons, projections, sounds, etc., as other
    > > materials, they should be discussed in the context where they engage
    > > their artistic material most strongly - as sound art, interactive
    > > art, dance performance, etc. i'm not sure what kind of work you would
    > > refer to as 'programmed art' that would not sit more comfortably
    > > under one of the already existing art categories.
    > >
    >
    > + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
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    >
  • Wade McDaniel | Mon Oct 13th 2003 12:32 p.m.
    This might be just an argument, and perhaps not based in reason, but doesnt a flower describe itself, but also some aspect of all flowers as well? Is not our opinion of something formed by what we witness of it and others like it? Why do our pencils have to be sharpend to so fine a point?

    I would hope that my work in code does not get pigeonholed before one views it, simply because of the method of it's implementation.

    > Do all "interactive art" artworks talk about
    > interactivity ? Do all "video art" artworks talk about video ? And
    > I'd like to quote Philip Galanter (taken from a eu-gene discussion
    > last year) : "In medieval times painting was about God. With the
    > Enlightenment painting was about man. In Modern times painting was
    > about paint. And now in Postmodern times painting is about painting."
    > I thought that postmodern times where behind us now, and in anycase
    > shouldn't we wait before stating what programmed art talks about?
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