A good interjection, although preaching is far from my preferred modality. I
I don't think credentials are a prerequisite to discussion, especially when
working across disciplines. In such a context everyone is, at some point, a
Winograd (and Flores) did distinguish between formal and natural languages,
and as well they did. Some less nuanced arguments have not made that
Language can, within a semiotic apprehension, be considered as discrete,
both in terms of how signs interact with one another and in terms of their
internal structure. These are not disparate levels but intrinsic to one
another. It is difficult to consider the sign without recognising its
tripartite structure. It is not binary, but it is nevertheless discrete.
On 22/03/2011 20:52, "Johannes Goebel" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Dear Simon and all,
> Even though I usually raise my musicians voice in this forum - for now I
> would like to raise the preachers voice:
> You wrote " language is itself a discrete system". I would very much like to
> simply disagree (without opening up the whole can of words and postioning
> this as a preachers' voice). This maybe rooted in me misunderstanding the
> term "discrete" as you may use it. Certainly in their written form, letters
> and words are made up of discrete elements - but that may not give any clue
> to what language is.
> As you mentioned Terry Winograd, in his book with Fernando Flores,
> Understanding Computers and Cognition: A New Foundation for Design, he made
> the case - if I remember correctly from back then - that natural languages
> could never be made to coincide/be congruent with formal languages because
> the use of words implies "contracts" which are established between those
> using the words - and contracts can change at any point in time in a rather
> in-discrete manner. And he relates heavily to Heidegger who I think might
> imply rather drastically an opposite to language as a discrete system . I
> always thought that this book actually documented a turning point in
> Winograd's research about natural languages.
> But I am writing about something I don't have any academic credentials in.
> So it might need to be taken with a grain of salt or sugar.
> On 3/22/11 4:29 PM, "Simon Biggs" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Great post Andy.
>> Nice to think you consider me well educated - but like you, I am an
>> autodidact. I left school at 16 to go surfing and never went back. I don't
>> think that formal education is necessarily the best way to learn, even
>> though I've worked in Universities, on and off, for many years. The most
>> important thing about universities is that they are relatively safe places
>> where you can experiment and take risks that would be difficult in the world
>> of industry or commerce. For students it is a short-lived opportunity of
>> perhaps only a few years. For those who work in universities it is great to
>> sustain that sense of play and adventure - although there is a lot of crap
>> on the downside too.
>> The question as to whether it is important if something is digital or
>> analogue depends on a number of factors. For my own practice it is an
>> important issue. Medium specificity is important in my practice, especially
>> the role of code and the semi-autonomous character of the works that I make.
>> They are not stable objects or artefacts in the sense that many artworks
>> are. They manifest as temporary instances of events that function in the
>> performative. Their purpose is to be part of other events and to transform
>> and/or reveal something in that mix. This could be done with analogue media
>> but given that nearly all computers are digital it's unlikely. My father is
>> a first generation computer scientist and he worked for two decades or more
>> with analogue computers. His area was real-time mathematical modelling of
>> rockets and until the 70's digital systems were not fast enough to do that
>> work. Since the 70's he has worked with digital systems though as they are
>> more controllable and flexible.
>> However, there is more to the digital than computers. If, as Alan and I
>> discussed, the digital is a subset of the discrete and language is itself a
>> discrete system then either discrete systems are a subset of language or
>> language a sub-set of the discrete. I would suggest the latter. The question
>> then arises whether digital systems are within the set of languages or an
>> overlapping set. I would suggest the former. Terry Winograd proposed that
>> computers are writing machines - simple, nothing else, machines that are
>> writing. Not machines for writing (although they can be used for that) but
>> machines that are writing. Hayles also has some nice thoughts on this topic.
>> If you are an artist who is interested in writing as well as automation (and
>> all the subsequent questions around agency and representation) then the
>> digital (or otherwise) status of the medium becomes critically important. It
>> is part of the conceptual architecture of the work, part of its ontology.
>> However, not all artists who use computers are interested in this stuff.
>> On 22/03/2011 13:39, "andy gracie" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> Hi all
>>> A few more random-ish thoughts on this subject.
>>> As much as I'm enjoying reading the thoughts of people much more
>>> educated than I am, like Sean, Simon, Ele... just about everybody in
>>> fact; deep down I'm still questioning the need to search for
>>> definitions of analogue and digital, as well as many other terms that
>>> are used to refer to certain kinds of cultural activity, creativity
>>> or 'art'. Is it just a convenience, so we can say łthats what that
>>> is˛ and łthats what this is˛? Or do we really need to pin it down for
>>> other reasons? Obviously in the harsh world of day to day survival we
>>> need to be able to communicate the difference between bread and
>>> molten rock clearly and with precision, but in the world of the arts,
>>> culture and society i'm still not convinced its so necessary. The
>>> very term 'new media art' is obviously referring to works that are
>>> now using media developed in the last century, so beyond being a
>>> handy peg to hang things on its basically meaningless. I feel that
>>> trying to pin down what kind of media or form of expression an artist
>>> is using mainly serves to direct us away from what the work actually
>>> is... what it represents, what it means, etc etc. Unfortunately,
>>> being a not very educated, autodidactic, non-acedemic i'm struggling
>>> for juicy quotes to back this idea up. Obviously its no ground-
>>> breaker though.
>>> I think an idea which has been emerging is that its actually very
>>> difficult to seperate the two, and that the two may in fact be a one.
>>> Maybe unless an artist is specifically using their work to dicuss
>>> dichotomies between analogue and digital process (and again, someone
>>> would need to help me come up with examples of such work), then we
>>> should accept that there is a 'third thing' formed by the use of
>>> combined media and processes and enjoy the work on more important
>>> As has been mentioned, our way of perceiving, interacting with and
>>> enjoying art is pretty much analogue anyway. My computer uses digital
>>> processes but it is an analogue thing. I can't touch or get direct
>>> physical feedback from what's happening inside it, I can't get my
>>> fingers in there and manipulate the processes as they happen. The
>>> purely digital is seperate from us, inaccessible and alien. Maybe
>>> people like Stelarc and Kevin Warwick are closer to dissolving this
>>> barrier, but most of us need some kind of haptic and therefore
>>> analogue - feedback to perceive what is happening digitally.
>>> Finally, I was reading this morning that progress is being made with
>>> quantum computing with the development of the RezQu architecture
>>> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12811199. There have
>>> already been some beautiful references to the strange continuities
>>> and wackiness that happens once we approach the quantum level, and
>>> I'm certainly looking forward to the discussions on 'Analogue/Digital/
>>> Quantum' art that we will be having in a decade or two's time...
>>> ||||<web>|||||::: hostprods dot net
>>> ||||<blog>|||||::: hostdev dot wordpress dot com
>> Simon Biggs
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