WEB-ARTOMAT is a system for the automated production of art. Select an object, apply certain methods to it, combine it with another object, place it in an appropriate space, and your unique work is ready!
In our era, there are evermore products, both material and virtual, that are created entirely or to a large extent through automated processes. Art is the last bastion where one-off, unique products are made. What’s more, they are linked to the myth of the individual “internal world of the artist.” Nevertheless, if we closely observe the processes that have been underway in art in recent decades, we can see that behind the apparent variety in the works that are appearing lies a fairly limited selection of algorithms employed in their creation:
- taking something small and powerfully magnifying it;
- taking a single object and multiplying it;
- taking a large object and turning it upside down;
- building a recognizable object from paradoxical materials, or covering it in a strange pattern or colour
- recombination - deconstruction with subsequent “inappropriate” assembly.
- taking two or more objects from different, unconnected contexts and combining them
The initial intention of creating an overlapping, inexact, funny, and inspiring taxonomy can be traced through the current categories, which cover a wide range of approaches from projects that create critical allowances for modes of writing and textual cultures that are constructed and maintained through word-processing software in the text manipulation category to that of browser art that critically engages with the genre of browser software as a mechanism that constrains and limits the network to windows that appear in a browser window. Alternative browsers explore the meaning of network connections, datasets sourced and held, and introduce ‘perspectivalism’ in relation to the Internet. Art games create game worlds of symbolic, expressive, and political order radically different from those in domination, inheriting from hacker and artisanship scenes, whereas the projects of system dysfunctionality and digital aesthetics r&d often deal with the aesthetics of error as a genuine computer aesthetics (and as a core function of the computer, to error) and with low-tech, based on the creative use of limiting, obsolete, free, or low-cost algorithms and hardware. Such projects poke at the boundaries of digital material to force it to exhibit its structures, processes, languages, and metaphors that are often obscured by desires to normalize, imitate, update, make ‘seductive,’ or make digital technology disappear. Hardware transformation projects (initially hardware deformation projects) either produce damage or a demand for redesign; and bots and agents projects list pieces of software that, like normal bots, crawl the Web to gather information or perform other tasks but, unlike them, harness discarded data, reveal hidden links and link clusters, and take on imaginative roles. Artistic tool projects work towards providing new software models for expression, production, and collaboration; they are sometimes made in spite of mainstream interface models, drawing on the heritage of early hobbyist software. Data transformation projects add to it by creating tools and aesthetic patterns that work for and by transforming the data they handle, i.e. rendering an audial image a visual one, merging words with images, and revealing connections among algorithms, databases, search engines, and so on. Generative art, algorithmic appreciation and code art projects (with the sarcastic category bouncing balls as a certain kind of interactive art ultimately left out) work with the ‘beauty’ of code and aesthetics of its execution (Classicist Vomit was one of the proposed names for it), sometimes inheriting ideas and practice from the traditions of programmers’ folklore.
Some categories overtly question or invite sabotage of the political, social, or economic orders as inscribed through dominating families of software: political and activist software lists useful activist software and projects that undermine some of the operations of global capitalist society and neoliberal ideology, particularly as they are embodied in software; existing software manipulations projects present clever hacks or misuse of software; and social software works towards providing environments for social interactions, often nonnormatively framed, or more widely assays the development of software as a social praxis.
Runme.org’s taxonomy is not a ‘proper’ classification. In the initial taxonomy, as well as in its subsequent revisions, phenomena of different levels neighbour each other. Here, the rhetoric of works or their formal methods were put side by side to comments on systems of curatorship (text about software art and game deconstruction, crack/patch and best festival jury); self-reference and irony (competition for suggesting categories), reflection on the features of repositories and their use and abuse (manipulating voting), aesthetic charge (software as culture), software characteristics (hard to use software), sensibilities (minimal code, beautiful crash of the system), software type/genre (demo category, viruses, best artistic re-packaging of existing tools), art history perspective (Jodi plagiarism) were all intermixed.
[…] The term ‘minor art’ is drawn from Kafka, Toward a Minor Literature by Deleuze and Guattari. They speak of Kafka, writing in German for the Jews of Prague during a period of the Austro-Hungarian empire, in terms of his belonging to a ‘linguistic Third World zone,’ and I wonder what it means for today’s state of the world. What are the deterritorialized languages of today that hybrid minorities, professional gypsies, and amateur nomads are speaking online, in dialects accented by technology? What becomes their expression, their empowerment, their castle? Given the background established by Kafka and the range of political urgencies, pain, and radical multiplicity of networked minor fields of expression, my proposition is to look into folklore and its humor.
Within the organizational aesthetics of the ecologies of artistic practices, networks, media objects, figures, and performances, software is assigned not only agency but also an eventlike potential for transforming the movement of aesthetic, social, and political morphogenesis. Many of the regularities in such processes are linked to or associated with software. Such association may be direct, in the manner of particular capabilities of systems and programs, or in coded algorithms and control languages and the functions derived from them, whether as interface, database, loop, or otherwise. These can be seen as new agents and concepts to be assigned roles in the production of power, value, and sensibility. To say this is both to say too much and too little. It is certainly possible to wrongly assign software the energy of a genetic code and to miss the subjectifications, new aesthetic powers, social models, and ways of living that are enforced and saturated by software.
Software is code and algorithm, vernacular language, something that is compiled and run. But it is also sets of relationships, functions, usages, concepts, that are coded while still leaving us, by and large, indifferent to how in particular it is done. Such a statement might seem blasphemous, but a lot of code appears simply as ready-to-use objects. And a lot of software, when it is at work, leaps into domains, concepts, and problems that are as much reliant on software as on the functioning of other spheres, whether aesthetic, cognitive, or political.
As Adrian Mackenzie puts it, within software-saturated domains, not everything results from code but everything ‘boils down to code.’ Such code is not a training behavior, a DNA. Code is formal, but it does not mean that any formally describable relationship is coded or is code itself. Rather, software can be seen as a possibility, a ‘means of mutation’ whereby alteration can be worked at every level, including code - where code can be seen as a process that is buggy, undergoing a process of becoming, intertwined with other emergences.
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