Pall Thayer
Since the beginning
Works in Greenwich, Connecticut United States of America

Pall Thayer is an artist.
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The Microcode Primer, a guide for non-coders towards a conceptual appreciation of code

I've published a short text to help non-coders along in developing a conceptual appreciation of programming code in coded artwork. It uses Microcodes ( ) as examples.

Also accessible from the Microcodes website.

Oh, and it's supposed to have some sort of free license on it. I forgot to add it and probably won't get around to it until sometime tomorrow as it's very late.



Prod your university into the 21st century

Rhizome editors, if you're paying attention, this really should be published to the front page.


commodify yr consumption

First off... Holy crap, we are having a dialogue about art in the rhizome discussion forum! "
Yeah, crazy. Although this moderation crap is really annoying and I don't get rhizome posts in the mail anymore. I guess it's the last step in eradicating the "community" that rhizome once was.

First off, I just want to point out that, like you say in the essay, Curt, I'm not suggesting a qualitative difference between "deep" netart and "surface" netart. Just a difference. But like Eric says, the issues of subjectivity in these two different practices makes them very different and I think one of the primary differences has to do with subjectivity. I'll admit that for a long time I fooled myself into thinking that my own work was about avoiding subjectivity entirely but I came to my senses and stopped trying to make that claim. However, as I mentioned in a talk I gave at the Pace Digital Gallery, the issue of subjectivity is still quite important. The fact that I can't fully predict the outcome is key to the work. But of course, there will always be a number of elements in each piece that depend on subjective choices that I make and that's what makes the work "my" work. So I came up with the term "diluted subjectivity" which I think describes it rather well.

I don't quite remember who said it but (I'm paraphrasing) "The choice to avoid subjectivity is subjective in itself." (aha... it was H. Gene Blocker)

If anyone has actually succeeded in making a totally non-subjective work of art, we probably wouldn't even know about it because, due to its lack of the artist's "hand", we wouldn't know how or why to regard it and therefore probably wouldn't regard it at all.

But I would say that the issue of subjectivity as it relates to "surf clubs" is a valid issue to pursue because this practice does represent a sort of return to subjectivity after the automated mash-ups that have been a bit of a trend.

"artists caught up in process" I don't think it's quite that simple. Some of the more strictly generative work could perhaps be said to be about the process but I think most of the coded work that gets some attention is about the process within distinct contexts that define the concept. And this is why I think such people should be showing their code as well as the results because often those contexts are most clearly described at the code level (but I'm veering away from the discussion at hand).


commodify yr consumption

Hi Curt. A lot of really interesting points that you discuss. There is one thing I feel is missing and for me it's something that really stands out. In the section on "Deep Net Art and Surface Net Art" you talk about the differences between coded and hand-picked material. The issue that is missing and that I find very important is that of subjectivity. The result of an automated script that pulls material from the net and mixes it up is less affected by the artist's subjectivity than the practice of surfing the web and subjectively choosing material. This has a huge affect on the underlying concepts as well as the artist's agency. You do mention subjectivity in other sections but only as the subjectivity of the surfer, not the lack of subjectivity of code. With an automated script that pulls material from a particular source, the artist doesn't fully know what the result will be until she sees it. Also, the script will happily select material that the artist may not have anticipated at that source.

I don't think we could say that the artist who creates a computer program that goes out and collects data is a "consumer". The computer program isn't a "consumer" either. Although it could be said to consume (in a sense), it does so with complete disregard.

Also, when you begin questioning "production" when we do so within the confines of a system built by others, things get a bit shaky. This relates to the discussions that used to pop up here about Flash and creative ownership. Are the people making stuff with Flash actually artists making stuff or are they simply interacting with Flash as an interactive work of art in itself? But where do you stop? If we say that Final Cut Pro has too much of an effect on our creativity, that what's produced within the confines of that environment becomes as much a product of Final Cut Pro as it is a product of the artist then wouldn't we have to say the same thing about the camera that was used to shoot the original video? The video becomes the product of the Sony Handycam. After that the video becomes a product of the digitizer, the video is the product of the lens and so on and so on. Where do we stop declaring the existence of a "meta-producer"?

best r.
Pall Thayer