[PD] Code Art

Mathieu Bouchard matju at sympatico.ca
Sat Dec 6 10:54:19 CET 2003

On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, B. Bogart wrote:

> Is code the next art, or the next material?

Yes. :-]

> I think the argument that the material is what is most important in
> art has had its time.

That is the survival meme of conceptual art?

On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, Pall Thayer wrote:

> You can't argue against the fact that the material has a very large
> impact on the outcome of a work of art. But no, code is not art. No
> more so than paint or canvas.

What is considered art has changed tremendously along the years, and the
purposes of art have changed accordingly. Furthermore, what is considered
art is contextual to who you do ask. The "average folk", for example, is
unlikely to care walking into any gallery, and usually will prefer
15th-19th century painting to most of what has been done by (academic)
artists in the 20th century. Then there are a bunch of "lesser" artists
that are unappreciated by the "real" artists, yet sell a lot.

In the light of this, it seems clear to me that in the context of the
open-source programmers' community, (some) code may be art, though nearly
all other communities won't understand it and may not call it art.

> [code] is a new material with very new properties.


On Wed, 3 Dec 2003, thewade wrote:

> Code has been around for years in the form of stories, or manual
> tasks, for example knitting.

I wouldn't call a story "code". However a recipe, a method for knitting or
weaving, many things in the engineering corpus, any routine we set
ourselves, etc, those may be considered algorithms.

It's a pity that "computer science" is called like that when it could be
called "computing science". Computing in general is something that can
happen anywhere. Plants grow following algorithms.

Anecdote: Computer used to be a job, a noun for a person who compute. Then
that job was the first cut by the advent of mechanical and electrical

> I could intrepret material as medium:  then code is just the nex fad,
> like capris pants or push-up bras... I think its more than that.

Depends how large a category of medium you do consider. I mean, 16 mm film
came to pass, but cinema still exists and is stronger than ever. The
smaller categories are usually quite disposable as long as there is a
sufficiently suitable replacement. The bigger categories are literally
kinds of art with their own profoundly defining characteristics and an
associated culture and language.

> I just think code is more than material. Its a sturcture and sometimes 
> a simple mind. But then again I like to think of us as more than the
> material which comprises us...

If humans are only made of matter, then the _miracle_ of life is that
_mere_ matter is, in certain conditions, capable of selforganising to the
point that it can reproduce its own pattern, acquire information from its
environment, process that information, remember, affect its environment in
extremely complex ways, and reflect upon its own thoughts and existence,
just like the lump of matter I am now ;-)

Mathieu Bouchard                       http://artengine.ca/matju

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