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

for more please visit
Discussions (27) Opportunities (0) Events (0) Jobs (0)

A Year in the Life

Just a couple quick comments.

First, Max's notion of networkism may or may not be similar to the notion of "complexism" which I introduced as one of the writers in the collection "The Art of Artificial Evolution".

click here for book at

click here for free download of draft chapter

It's difficult to tell because, so far as I know, the Max's ideas are contained in a novel of some length, and require some time and effort to extract. Not that that is a bad thing in and of itself, but I wish there was something more like an essay presentation like my chapter above. (Not in terms of quality or ideas, just in terms of efficiency of communication).

So while the ideas seem vaguely related I can't really go beyond that in any detailed way. I suspect there are, in fact, some very significant differences beyond form.

For example, the tone of this discussion would lead me to believe Max's ideas are situated in a fairly politicized context. If so, and again I can't be sure, I think that is a mistake. One of the problems the contemporary postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive humanities culture is burdened with is an overarching tendency towards political reductionism. (This is well covered by Steven Hicks in Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault"

In my view what is likely to replace the dominant postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive school is a world-view anchored in projecting notions from complexity science into the problem space of the arts and humanities. Notions such as distribution, emergence, co-evolution, feedback, chaos, as well as uncertainty and incompleteness, may have political implications at the periphery, but are fundamentally orthogonal to any particular politics.

So from where I sit drawing complexity related ideas into a primarily politically driven discussion is a mistake. It plays into the same kind of political reductionism that postmodern/poststructural/deconstructive humanities culture does, and having made that wrong turn is sure to be off the path to the next paradigm.



There is an underlying assumption here that if patents were eliminated the problems they pose would go away without being replaced by new problems. I would argue that not only would new problems appear, they would be far worse than the old ones. Countries with weak intellectual property rights and enforcement tend to also be weak in terms of innovation and overall economy. Coincidence? I don't think so.

And yes large corporations use patents to their advantage. But so do individuals. If it were not for patents, innovation by individuals or small groups would be crushed by large's only the law, not good will, that keeps that from happening in the first place. It's those who are powerless relative to corporations who benefit the most from patents, because it is the small and weak innovators who need that kind of protection the most. A world without patents would yield an increase in corporate domination, not a decrease.

And I don't think it is at all bizarre that people are personally compensated for things that benefit everyone. That, in fact, is *exactly why* they are compensated. And the more people it benefits, the more it is sold, and the more they get compensated. That's a pretty good system because it encourages people to do things that other people appreciate.



I'm going to defend Ms. Dimon on this one. But first some clarifications...

So far as I know there is no way to legally protect a concept. You can trademark something used as a unique identifier, but not the concept behind the thing being identified. You can copyright a specific expression (the literal words used, or notes sung, or images presented) but you can't copyright the concept the expression points to. And you can patent a concrete process, but not the abstract concepts that contribute as background or theory.

There are also trade secrets. They also generally refer to processes as an alternative to patents. It's a way to claim a proprietary interest in a process without revealing that process to the public. The upside of that is that it is not time limited, so as long as you make a good faith effort to keep it secret you are protected from the theft of that process. The downside is that if someone can show they independently discovered what you've kept as a trade secret, they are free to use it immediately and the first inventor has no claim to royalties or the like.

So this isn't about concepts. If it's a patent it's about protecting a process.

Artists have had secrets about their techniques, their processes, for centuries. Generally they've protected those techniques essentially as trade secrets. If such processes met the appropriate tests they could, as a matter of law, be patented.

So the notion of patenting a process used to make art isn't so foreign when seen in this context. It's just an alternative to keeping a process secret.

In fact, the notion of patents is often defended on the basis of the general good it creates. It's a way for the inventor to profit from his or her labor without keeping the process forever hidden from society.

In the context of art, an artist who invents a unique process *could* keep it secret and let the process die with him/her. Isn't society better served by making the process public and available for general use after some finite interval? That is exactly what a patent allows.

And who is to say that this process doesn't have non-art applications? I don't know specifically what aspect Ms. Dimon is working on patenting. If it is already a technique in popular use, then any attempt to defend the patent can be defeated simply by showing prior use (AKA prior art).

But maybe behind the scenes Dimon has invented a new image compositing process that could just as easily be used in non-art imaging services or products. Or maybe it's an information retrieval technique that could just as easily be used to visualize stock market information or other commercial information.

But even if there is no other use for this process other than art, I would tend to agree with the intent behind patent law. That intent being that society is best served by both rewarding inventors AND making the invention public for eventual free and general use.


new book online

Dear Max,

thanks for the kind words. I wish I could respond to your Le Cafe, but given its book length it takes time to simply read let alone reflect on. Skimming it it certainly looks like we share a number of interests.

I do want to clarify something, however, in response to the above posts here. I don't view postmodernism or modernism as a mistake per se. Both were the right sets of ideas for their time. But it is now no longer the time for either.

Whatever is to come next will probably have to subsume both modernism and postmodernism. At first glance their directly contradictory world-views might seem to make such a thing impossible.

But I believe I have found such a way. That is what the chapter I linked to here is about.




new book online

I believe I know what *should* come after postmodernism. Here is a recently published chapter I wrote on this.