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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The question before us is whether digital art is just basically media art on a glorified media machine.

Of course it can be. That's mostly what people do. They write texts that could be published in books or create videos that don't require a computer or create sound files that could be records or images that could be on paper and so on. Fine. Fly at it.

Curt said "Here's what's dead -- the modernist myth of manifestos, revolutions, and radical ruptures from the past; the idea that the technology of the computer differs from the technology of the ball peen hammer in any capacity other than scale."

I think it's important for people trying to create art with computers to understand something about computers. At least if they are trying to create work that can reasonably be regarded as computer art.

Namely that computers are not simply glorified media machines different only in scale from non-programmable devices. What's at stake is the notion of what digital art can be. If you think computers are glorified typewriters or adding machines, then you'll happily create work that's basically traditional media.

And that's fine. Just don't tell me that it can't be something quite different from that. That's just wrong.




Or conversely -- there is no proof, and probably never will be, that computers are capable of all human thought processes. It's largely an academic, semantic argument hinging on one's understanding of anthropology. It has less to do with what computers are pragmatically capable of and more to do with how one defines what it is to be human."

Actually, Curt, it's a question of the nature of the mechanisms of thought. Not anthropology.

"Usually, the more one thinks "A.I." is possible/has happened/will happen, the weaker one's estimation of humans."

That's the sort of thing that was and sometimes still is said of Darwin's ideas. That they reflect a low estimation of humans. But it's obvious now that isn't so. We require no recourse to the bible to understand the biological history of life on earth. Neither do we require recourse to the bible or God to understand the mechanisms of memory and thought.

I don't think you've clarified what you mean by "scale". You squirt ink.




Here's what's dead -- the modernist myth of manifestos, revolutions, and radical ruptures from the past; the idea that the technology of the computer differs from the technology of the ball peen hammer in any capacity other than scale. "

Curt, the computer is *not* simply a glorified media machine. It is not simply a glorified typewriter or stereo or television or whatever.

Here is an example of why this is true.

There is no proof, and probably never will be, that there are thought processes of which humans are capable and computers are not. Which is to say that rather than simply being a glorified media machine, software is probably as flexible as thought itself.

Software can re-write its own code. Can learn. Can build a world view.

It's important that people who purport to think about digital art understand this. Because if you think that "the technology of the computer differs from the technology of the ball peen hammer" only in "scale", then what you think digital is and can be will be simply traditional art.




software, per se, is not patentable. you can't get a patent on code. it's
more subtle than that. it has to be. because one may write the same
functionality in different ways. it's the algorithms. not the code. not the
software. the algorithms define the process. the algorithms and the ideas as
embodied in the working code.

i don't agree that certain types of algorithms should not be patentable. i
think that there are good arguments that to deny certain types of algorithms
patentability is to unreasonably deny the similarity of their nature to
other types of patentable things which are accepted as being patentable.

if we're going to function in a capitalist system where you have to pay the
bills (personally i'd really like something else) then, rob, i don't see why
rights of ownership should not apply to things like algorithms when they
meet reasonable criteria.

your arguments have not so much been addressed to this issue as to the
advantages corporations have in exercising the ability to patent and the
ability to harm others by using patents as a weapon. of course you make good
points here. undeniably. so i agree that the system should be more open to
individuals getting patents, and corps should not be able to fuck around as
they do with patents.


> > there should be recourse to overturn patents when the
> "invention" should not
> > be patentable.
> There are entire classes of "inventions" that are patentable that
> simply should not be patentable. This means that every single
> "invention" of this class should not be patentable. To make such
> "inventions" patentable then allow some to be overturned is a category
> error. Software and Business Methods should not be patentable, the
> public harm this does outweighs any private benefit.
> - Rob.



> > patents are only a threat to dullards.
> That is untrue. Patent trolls are a threat to genuine innovators. And
> the patentability of mathematics and concepts in software patents and
> business method patents are a threat. This is true for both economic
> and social implementation of both novel and established ideas.

the patent systems, like any other system of ownership, is going to be
abused. that doesn't mean we should throw out the baby with the bath water.

the abuses it will suffer will involve patenting things that shouldn't be

i would think it's very hard to determine, in some cases, whether a
particular invention should be patentable.

there should be recourse to overturn patents when the "invention" should not
be patentable.

> > because they are quite particular. they're not general enough
> to be much of
> > a concern to inquiring, original minds.
> Patents are not particular, they are written in impenetrable legalese.
> If you saw your own original creation represented as a patent you
> wouldn't recognize it. I know, because I once had to help prepare a
> patent for something I had created.

i recognized the corel corporation's patent as concerning a particular
feature they named the 'image sprayer' in corelPaint, though that was
nowhere stated in the patent.

actually the language of *this* patent, at least, is by no means
impenetrable. it is totally understandable. readable. searchable. nothing
mysterious or frightening about it whatsoever.

as an aside, go to http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html and
search "poetry". it's very amusing. ray kurzweil has several poetry patents.
and i see that, for some reason, there is "poetry" in caskets. not sure if
this is an exquisite corpse or what.

i too have helped with patents. not of mine, but for the company i worked
for in seattle, a software company. the lawyers were specialists and very
bright. i was impressed.