Jim Andrews
Since the beginning
Works in Victoria Canada

Jim Andrews does http://vispo.com . He is a poet-programmer and audio guy. His work explores the new media possibilities of poetry, and seeks to synthesize the poetical with other arts and media.
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a song is a machine made of air

some songs are machines.
moving parts unfold, visible
grow from nothing
up to the left in the air
glass architecture
rhythm and harmony gears
moving parts
blood gasoline
soul pump
joy emissions.
wet your finger
run it along the edges;
tinted spheres of air
tinted human touch.



Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Networkism: The Kingdom of God is Within You

personally, i don't know if there's a god. i see no reason to believe so. i
see no reason to believe not. i am agnostic. however, i see good reason not
to try to explain earthly matters by attributing them to god's actions or
will. that's no explanation at all. and i see no reason to believe that
stories from the bible have anything more than a poetic truth. the
overwhelming evidence, from fossils, from geological analysis, and from dna
analysis is that we arose from the simplest of life forms on this planet (or
some other).

that doesn't mean there is no god. but it does mean that the stories in the
bible about how humanity arose are mistaken and have, at most, a poetical
truth. they are to be understood figuratively, not literally.

poetical truth is very important to me.

currently i'm reading 'the blind watchmaker' by richard dawkins. in it, he
claims to explain how we can understand how very complex things such as
animal and human physiology can arise without a designer. this sort of
argument is important not only to matters biological but in art, concerning
generative art.

recently i visited europe for the first time. i visited a 600 year old
church in haarlem, near amsterdam. amazing. there was a 5000+ pipe organ; an
apprentice played it throughout our visit. also, the church had various
other artifacts in it that impressed one with the realization that the
church was very much an important local 'gallery'. the architecture. the
organ. the artifacts. everything in it was a testament to the destiny and
vision of the people buried under it. and their vision of god and humanity,
of the cosmic drama. and their ingenuity. their passion. their seeking of
answers. it was a tremendously uplifting experience.


ps: during the visit to the church, i was wearing a t-shirt with a big
picture of george w bush. above the picture was the word INTERNATIONAL and
below the picture was the word TERRORIST. as it happened, i chanced across
two usamerican couples in the church. the female of the first couple
approached me and said 'that's a very interesting t-shirt you have there.' i
told her i bought it from the usa. she asked me where.
internationalterrorist.com, i told her. ah, she said, that makes sense. i
can't see anyone taking the chance of selling it in their store, she said.
she and her husband were from seattle. she said 'you know, we look and we
listen, and we can hardly believe what we're hearing at home.'

the male of the second couple approached me some time later. he spoke with a
thick dutch english accent. he said 'i'm very disappointed to see you
wearing such a thing about my president. i voted for him twice and i'll do
it again.' i had to give my head a bit of a shake. this was the first person
i'd met who actually admitted to voting for george w. bush. and we were far
from the madding crowd. and i was a bit stoned on good amsterdam pot.
'actually, no you won't', i said. 'you can't. he can't run again.'

'it doesn't matter,' he said, 'i'll do it anyway.'

i had to laugh. whether through design or whatever, my laughter echoed
through the dutch church. i stopped. it sounded like me but not just me. it
wasn't him, though: he wasn't laughing.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-list@rhizome.org [mailto:owner-list@rhizome.org]On Behalf Of
> Max Herman
> Sent: September 15, 2007 9:06 AM
> To: list@rhizome.org
> Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Networkism: The Kingdom of God is Within You
> Networkism: The Kingdom of God is Within You
> Max Herman
> September 15, 2007
> Kingdom=network=polis=culture
> God


Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Technology, the Brain, Networkism, and Heroism

Rob's post was good, as usual, I thought, in various things, but especially
in stressing that what we see now and what we're going to see in the future,
concerning computer art and other activities involving computers, is that
they don't replace humans, usually, unless the activity is particularly
well-suited to what computers do well. Instead, we see people using
computers to help them do this or that. Or to do something in a very
different way that may shed new light on various things, such as Rob's
computer culinary connoisseur, which sounds like a lot of fun and
interesting also. Very humorous and possibly also enlightening on any number
of fronts.

> Excellent points Jim, all very relevant.
> I agree completely there are some things we have to do for ourselves. I
> think making art is one of these. I frequently think of this using the
> metaphor, as you state below, of eating. If you get someone or something
> else to eat for you, you haven't eaten.
> Also, if someone or something else makes a choice for you, you
> haven't made
> a choice. Making choices is required for learning, so to develop
> one must
> be free if within limits.

Again, the stress in your remarks is on computers replacing human action,
but I don't really think that's the most interesting or useful direction
people take it in art or business.

Though, you know, I'd personally like a money machine. You turn it on in the
morning and all it does all day is make money. And then you turn it off at
night. Maybe.

> As to a new intellectual era where we crack the brain's code, I remain
> skeptical. This would still not remove the tasks we have to work on
> ourselves to develop. There's a tough kernel of personal
> responsibility for
> aesthetic growth that no external machine or knowledge can take
> care of for
> us.


> I may be misinterpreting, but even if we discover the brain's code and/or
> invent a machine to create wisdom synthetically and dump a copy
> of into us,
> we still won't have become wise--we'll have been replaced.

Well, I don't think we'll see wisdom packaged anytime soon. Probably, like,

> Thus the issue is to do the work of wisdom and understanding,
> which people
> avoid because it's hard and scary, not because we lack the
> technical data of
> how to do it.

It's a learning process, isn't it, a process that one cannot see being
divorced from living and experience--learning from it.

> Or am I misreading you? Do you think knowing how the brain codes
> info will
> make people wiser? That could very well be. I think such technological
> solutions to human misery are all to the good. But they're not
> the same as
> human solutions, which I think are more important in the long run. After
> all, once we knew the brain code we could just as easily use it
> for "killing
> and moronics" as for understanding, correct? Again back to
> Wiener, making
> choices, morall judgment, aesthetic freedom, aesthetic
> evolution--not merely
> technological evolution.

If we can understand the way the brain processes information and stores and
retrieves memories, that might not make us wiser--I associate wisdom with
strong moral judgement--but it will certainly help us improve our own
information processing and memory storage and retrieval. That doesn't mean
it'll make us wiser, though, because, as you point out, that's a matter of
strong moral judgement, which is not simply the result of fine, healthy
physiology. Though, of course, fine, healthy physiology in matters
concerning the brain surely would be a help.

There's a lot of fear associated with the notion that we now basically have
the tools to understand--even reproduce--the processes of thought. As much
fear there as surrounded Darwin's notions of evolution and natural selection
150 years ago (and even today, in some parts, as we know). But, just as we
now understand that *we are not diminished* by the ideas of evolution and
natural selection, so too, I believe, will cultures come to realize that the
idea that our brains are information processing systems will come to be seen
not as something threatening that will lead to our being replaced by
machines. Instead, we will arrive at a deeper appreciation of human brains,
minds, and thought processes.

> Or from my essay on Groote and the Preface for this year's conference:
> As Wordsworth states in the 'Preface,


Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Networkism and Heroism

> People need to be aware of the distinction between the product of a
> computer process being art and the process itself being art. Computers
> can be made to write poetry and paint pictures (ie. Aaron) but in such
> cases, the process that makes the computers write or paint is what
> carries artistic significance. This, I feel, is an important
> distinction that people tend to neglect at times.
> Pall

Yes, I agree.

You mean the process carries artistic significance, not the product? Why
does the product lack artistic significance?

In the literary realm, in 1984, or thereabouts, a book of poems was
published called The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed. This book (with
graphics) was purportedly written by RACTER (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racter ).

One could also buy the underlying software for, um, I think it was $500, at
the time. Various people did, and concluded that the book was not fully
written by the software. Because they couldn't get the software to produce
anything remotely as interesting as the poems in the book. A bit of a

It isn't clear to me this has been resolved, ie, did the software write it,
or did the process involve William Chamberlain and Thomas Etter in a more
direct manner than is appropriate to a claim that 'a computer wrote the

In any case, surely the process is what carries the artistic significance
here. Whether the computer wrote it or Chamberlain and Etter were (more or
less) directly involved.

But that is a bit too subtle too make headlines, isn't it.

Also, when one reads The Policeman's Beard is Half Constructed, it's more
intriguing to read it as though 'a computer wrote it'. What does that mean?
What is the character of the speaker? That's a big part of the erm focus of
the experience, drama of it.

As opposed to the focus being on the relation between human and software

Which is actually the more interesting issue, partly because it is hidden in
intrigue, partly because that's where the stronger juice is.



Re: RHIZOME_RAW: Networkism and Heroism

> Do you think computers can make art, or can help humans make better art?
> I'm skeptical of computers because of what Norbert Wiener said per
> http://www.geocities.com/genius-2000/Stahlman1.html

I was sitting beside Millie Niss during a presentation in Buffalo, years
ago, about computers and poetry. The presenter said something like
'Computers will be writing the poetry of the future.' Millie said to me
'Getting computers to write our poetry is like getting them to eat for us."

I thought that was more interesting than the presentation.

Ya, why would we want them to write the poetry?

I think computers are fascinating and extrordinarily useful to artists in
bazillions of ways. And I suppose they can be made to make art, too, but I
tend to look to art for a synthesis of passion and brains, song and vision,
primal and intellectual, intensity and engagement, experience and concept.
Come on blow my freakin mind. And I suppose it's possible that computers can
be made to do such things, eventually. Maybe. But, as Millie implied, there
doesn't seem to be much point in getting them to eat for us, getting them to
do or produce things that are really only relevant and meaningful when done
or produced by people.

Weizenbaum (who wrote ELIZA) argued, like Weiner, that there are certain
things we shouldn't try to get computers to do: things that require wisdom.
I don't suppose eating requires much wisdom--though eating well and in such
a way that it helps, not hurts, your body just might. And creating art might
not require much wisdom. But creating art that other people find rewarding
and inspiring just might. Computers can be made to do very many things. But
to get computers to do these things in a useful or satisfying way is
something else.

However, Max, we're on the cusp of quite a different era in intellectual
history. We're close to understanding how the brain codes information. That
will be as significant a discovery as DNA and Darwin's ideas. But coded. Not
necessarily in a language. Does there need to be conscious beings involved
in the formulation of a language? There almost certainly isn't in the codes
the brain uses to store information. What separates code from language?

This question is related to the question of whether computers can make art,
or make significant art.

In any case, the pursuit of these questions bring us to a deeper
understanding of our own natures, as well as that of code, language, art,
and maybe wisdom.


> Also, while I find computers very interesting and somewhat relevant I do
> think that to exaggerate their importance in human aesthetic evolution,
> their network properties notwithstanding, is a common type of Low
> Networkism
> which I call "Computerism."
> True or High Networkism (as an art-historical period) considers networks
> from the vantage point of human aesthetic evolution (art) first and
> foremost. Technology and computers are relevant to discussions
> of art only
> as they relate to art.
> This is just my view however, and I readily acknowledge it is by far the
> minority opinion.
> Max