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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2014

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2014

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Subject:

Re: March Discussion Begins: The Performativity of Code

From:

Stephanie Rothenberg <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Stephanie Rothenberg <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 7 Mar 2014 14:31:20 -0600

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text/plain

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Hi All,

Sorry to enter the conversation late. I've been on the road but lurking.
And thank you Victoria for the invitation to participate.

In terms of introducing myself and my thoughts on the performativity of
code, I'm going to start from where Xtine left off on pre-web examples and
delve into a bit of history.

As my work has primarily focused on digital labor, I'd like to bring up the
early time-motion studies of the body, specifically research conducted by
the Gilbreths in partnership with Taylor and Ford in developing the modern
assembly line. In thinking about code and programming the body, I have
always been fascinated by the Gilbreth's "Therbligs" (yes even efficiency
experts have a witty sense of humor). Therbligs were a set of 18 basic
human motions required for operating a machine that streamlined movement of
the body, eliminating any unnecessary "wasted" movement.

These included terms such as hold, search, grasp, etc with each being
identified by an icon. To better understand how the Gilbreth's related the
body to a machine, here's an example where Frank Gilbreth makes an analogy
to shaving:

Suppose a man goes into a bathroom to shave. We'll assume that his face is
all lathered and that he is ready to pick up his razor. He knows where the
razor is, but first he must locate it with his eye. That is "search", the
first Therblig. His eye finds it and comes to rest - that's "find", the
second Therblig. Third comes "select", the process of sliding the razor
prior to the fourth Therblig, "grasp." Fifth is "transport loaded,"
bringing the razor up to his face, and sixth is "position," getting the
razor set on his face. There are eleven other Therbligs - the last one is
"think"!

Charlie Chaplin brilliantly articulated this through his jerky but elegant
body movements in "Modern Times."

Returning to the contemporary, I've been interested in this re-programming
of the body to serve the needs of production as reflected in digital game
culture. We see this in early arcade game narratives such as Tapper or more
recent ones such as Cooking Mama or Farmville that draw analogies between
low paid entry level or domestic labor and gaming.

I've been particularly fond of early motion tracking games such as Eyetoy,
that create a relationship of physical labor for virtual gain. Some of
their game narratives include window washing, fast food waitstaff and cooks
that require the player to actively engage with the screen to score points.

In 2008 I created an online motion detection game called "School of
Perpetual Training" that recontextualized classic arcade games to
narratives of sweatshop labor in the global computer video game industry.
http://www.pan-o-matic.com/projects/school-of-perpetual-training-2007-2009

In a more recent work, called "Laborers of Love (LOL)," a collaboration
with artist Jeff Crouse, your sexual fantasy is totally mediated through
the distributed and performative labor of outsourced, anonymous Mechanical
Turk workers who construct it by mining related content on the Internet
which is further processed through custom code.
http://www.pan-o-matic.com/projects/laborers-of-love

I'm also very interested in the design of algorithmic code based on human
emotion to affect the performance of market indexes. Tero Karppi who is
finishing up his PhD at University of Turku, Finland has started doing
research around this relationship between algorithmic trading and social
media. I'm curious as to thoughts on this aspect of performance and code?

cheers,
Stephanie



On Thu, Mar 6, 2014 at 11:21 PM, Paul Catanese <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> I like where you're going w/this Xtine --- its always been interesting to
> me that artists get to make decisions about what value systems they want
> to engage with when they work with code - because of the interdisciplinary
> nature of practice in this arena, artists working with code have (perhaps
> too many!) choices in this regard. One territory to navigate are models
> for reception such as "viewer", "audience", "reader", "listener",
> "participant", "user", etc. ---  some of these are more or less familiar
> within the context of the performing arts, cinema, literature, visual art,
> media/electronic arts, design, etc. However, I point them out because
> these models/terms are useful boundary objects.
>
> When Kate talks about syntax errors being generously / gracefully parsed
> by the dancers, there is embodiment of the strict/loose interpreter - a
> performed slippage between value systems - that seems like a space for an
> emergent poetics of error to me.
>
> Also, pizza sounds good.
>
> -paul
>
>
>
> On 3/6/14 10:00 PM, "Xtine" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
> >Hi all, from standing in a long line with my iPhone...
> >
> >As I've been reading the list I've been thinking about the performative
> >role that the system (browser, for instance or whatever plays out the
> >code) occupies and then the interpretive role that the viewer/user
> >embodies. In Kate's contribution below, humans are both the "system" and
> >viewer/audience. It seems so much "smarter" than a machine/human
> >experience.
> >
> >Hmm. Don't know where I was going with this, but somehow I wanted to
> >segue into a poetics of error--a potential for poetic moments that are
> >similar to the utterance.
> >
> >Now...it's my turn to order pizza (dinner!).
> >
> >xtine
> >
> >> On Mar 6, 2014, at 2:35 AM, Kate Sicchio <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> >>
> >> I wanted to pick up on Victoria's question around bodies and
> >>performativity as well as comment on something Rachel mentioned. I
> >>actually don't think the body is always the one giving the code life per
> >>se (although in my Hacking Choreography example it is) but the human
> >>element is what is interesting to me.
> >>
> >> Rachel said
> >> ' In the handmade we see slippages all the time, arguable one of the
> >>defining characteristics of something that is handmade and not machine
> >>produced. '
> >>
> >> In the performance in January I made a typo, and spelt 'quality' as
> >>'quailty'. The audience commented on this moment the most. And all but
> >>one really enjoyed this moment. Some thought it was intentional (it was
> >>not). Even though I had made this syntax error, the dancers did not
> >>stop. They understood the command and had no problem reading and
> >>executing the command. This simple moment really demonstrated the
> >>difference between coding people and coding machines.
> >>
> >> The next version of my pseudo-code is going to be real code - machine
> >>readable. This means I can explore this difference more between what the
> >>machine will read and execute and what the human will. But I am also
> >>unsure if I actually want to make dances with the machine readable
> >>version. I think I will miss the slippage. I think this also relates to
> >>GH's 'huamnizing' of the data space.
> >>
> >> Kate
> >>
> >>
> >>> On 5 Mar 2014, at 20:35, gh hovagimyan wrote:
> >>>
> >>>> On Mar 5, 2014, at 11:47 AM, Sarah Thompson wrote:
> >>>>
> >>>> My question is do we need a framing structure for psychological
> >>>>safety?
> >>>> So that we know what is and isn't us, what is symbolic and what is
> >>>>real
> >>>> because if we suffer momentarily from Virilio's picnolepsy then it
> >>>>might
> >>>> be disturbing mentally?
> >>> Interesting reference. I had to look it up. It seems that Virilio
> >>>thinks we blank out and don't see/feel/hear/sense
> >>> what we are looking at.  I kinda liken this to a monkey reaching for
> >>>the photo of a banana rather than the real fruit.
> >>>
> >>>> What does it mean 'to humanize the data space'? Do you mean to make
> >>>> symbolic code fool us into losing our sense of self-space etc? Or to
> >>>>reveal
> >>>> what the symbolic data space is really made of
> >>> By Humanize I mean that we control the how and why and method to
> >>>access the data.
>



-- 
Stephanie Rothenberg
Associate Professor
Department of Visual Studies, SUNY Buffalo
[log in to unmask]
-----
www.stephanierothenberg.com

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