With ever rising increase number of Software Engineers in our country also in the decline of IT services it may get lost that the heart of it all Programming is not only a tool to make computer do stuff that takes out manual labor.A lot of debate has happened if programming can be called art or just a craft, but with the internet and the new breed of aesthetic programmers we now sure have enough to prove my argument.
“Gravity’s Rainbow” is a famous novel by Thomas Pynchon regarded by many scholars as the greatest American novel published after the end of the second world war, his main character is interrogated, under the influence of what commonly came to know as the Truth Serum. The writing takes a turn into several dream like take on language.In one a telegram from Wisconsin launches the main character into an obsessive meditation on the possible construction of a six word sequence -“You never did. – Kenosha Kid”. As more and more examples are presented each with more different punctuations we become aware of a key post modern truth , that words can point toward reality but can never get there. They always mean different things in different context.But how many different contexts are there? well Pynchon only shows seven.
Enter a man named Darius Kazemi he makes what he likes to call “Weird Internet Stuff”.Last Year he made a twitter bot he did what the writer Thomas Pynchon could never do. It automatically generates a different combination of the “You never did. – Kenosha Kid” sequence every two hours. As of this post the account has tweeted almost 10000 times.
And with the number of permutation and combination it can continue for years without exihausting everyone. Go there , read a few. The effect of Pynchon’s language experiment is compounded , updated . The truth it wants to communicate is received in a new way.
As several pundits argue Art should make you feel something, does not that give you a new way to look at language ? The dictionary says art is “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power”.
Nowhere anyone ever argues that the medium or tools are important in deciding what is to be considered and what is to be not. Kazemi’s twitter bots are not made with pen , paper, brushes or canvas they are made with algorithm , with code. Which looks something like this
It might not be that beautiful as a skeleton but I would argue so are not the brushes use to paint. The panting or in this case the result is the art. Let’s look at another project. This bot produces an output like this.
What this next set of statements or rules does , is to pull from public records of Texas Department of Criminal Justice , last of statements of Death row inmates , any sentence that contains the word love. Now this art piece is not out to make an overtly political statement on capital punishment , but like all good art this project organises elements in the world around it to help an audience see and feel in a new way. The difference is the world Kazemi is commenting on is not the physical world, not really. It’s the digital world the world of the internet. And much of the digital art is focused on itself , the visible and more importantly the invisible aspects of the network that’s all consuming.
“Computation is now everywhere, it is layered over everything and we are living inside that computer as well.”- James Bridal , Critic on digital arts.
He recently started an project called Ranbow Planes , a project that started when he noticed some odd artifacts from Google earth, planes with rainbow after images.
“It’s a glitch. But like all true glitches it’s not just a mistake.It’s an opportunity to look through into the underlying systems of that produce this image.”,He says.
In this case it shows us that the satellite composing this images are not using cameras, but are collecting data from a broad swath of electromagnetic spectrum. They record red, green and blue separately when they record this data images and often within this images you find this artifacts which are produced by fast moving objects. Bridal’s digital art wants to help us see ,the way technology sees us , like how hugely powerful systems have moved slowly slipped into our lives without much protest.
This systems are not like us. We see with our senses , they see with data.We think with minds, they think with algorithms. Art like these show us that our increasing dependence on sophisticated technology comes at the cost of substituting our values and morals for that of a machine.
So may be the value of the art made by programming is in the ability to help us see the world from a digital point of view, just as a novel can help us see an language or an image that can help us see reality or as an song that can make us think about emotional intelligence.