Philip Galanter
Since the beginning
Works in United States of America

generative artist using installation, video, audio, and print

also faculty member at Texas A&M

also writer exploring complexity theory, art theory

also curator for generative, robotic, complexity, and tech art

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Regarding Conceptual and Aesthetic Implications of Code in Computer-based Art

Others have tried to argue that, in at least some pieces, the code *is* the art. I'm not sure if you are also trying to make that point. Personally I've found that thinking about computer art in that way is not terribly helpful. But if one really wanted to make a go of it, it seems to me they would first have to explain what they mean by "art." Yes...the dreaded (although not by me) "what is art?" question.

Some might say code is to computer art as a script is to a play. I don't think it even goes that far. The tone and meaning of a script is approximately the same as the play. Computer code is nothing like what the audience will experience when they view the piece. Code tells the *computer* what to do and it doesn't directly communicate with the *audience* at all.

I suppose one could pin paper printouts of a computer program on the wall and claim that it is a work of art. And perhaps it would be. But that's pretty much a one trick pony. And it's not the same at all as claiming that in a digitally driven installation (for example) the art isn't the images and sounds and interactions delivered, but rather the art is actually the unseen code.

Another way a computer program could be art would be if the intended audience was computers. But so far there is no evidence that computers have any first-person sense of experience. I have to think that Art is wasted on the dead or unconscious.



This isn't the same as there being no difference other than scale between a ball peen hammer and a computer. The example above would be a case of using hammers as *parts* to construct a computer. And a part shouldn't be confused for the whole.

Put another way, if this point of view is acceptable, then *everything* is a computer...a rock, a gun, a snowflake, a sugar molecule, a baseball bat, etc. And if everything is a computer, the term computer has become much less useful. And, seriously, this is really not what people mean when they say "computer."



Lots of bold claims, very little evidence,

the idea that the technology of the computer differs from the technology of the ball peen hammer in any capacity other than scale.

A ball peen hammer cannot store information, assist with its retrieval, or combine sets of information in a deterministic manner.

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".

The leap from sentence 1 to sentence 2 is breathtaking.

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

A computer can learn in the sense that a Garmin Nuvi can give directions. A computer can build a world view in the sense that a printing press can create propaganda. What there is no evidence of, however, is that a computer can have a sense of vision.

But the horizons of digital art are not simply determined by the capacity of machines to think. Thinking is but an example of the capabilities of machines, albeit a totally impressive one.

The question of machines thinking isn't so interesting. It's mostly about creating an agreed upon definition of intelligence. That's where the dispute is.

The more interesting question is about machines feeling. i.e. what is the difference between a machine that has a first person experience of qualia and one that does not?



The great battle of Art is the struggle against conformity"

The vast majority of art across the world forms a sort of social glue, and a cultural memory system which provides continuity from generation to generation.

If I had to identify one, I'd say the great battle of Art is the struggle against meaninglessness.




as long as you spell my name correctly...