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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  March 2014

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING March 2014

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Subject:

Re: Performativity of Code - Alex's cyclic time

From:

Rachel Beth Egenhoefer <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Rachel Beth Egenhoefer <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 11 Mar 2014 15:36:31 -0700

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Hi All, 

I'm going to attempt to pick up on a few different comments here… 

Re: Knitting, Slippages, Handmade… If we were all given the same pattern (or code) to knit, they would all be different.  We can of course control for things like type of yarn, needle size, color, etc.  But given the handmade nature of it, there are the human factors of mood and attention that alter the end result.  On any given day one might knit tighter or looser, drop stitches dozing off, etc.  My tensions and styles will be unique to me.  These are things that are much harder to control.  (This is also one of the reasons I think it is absurd that items produced from commercial knitting patterns are copyrighted.)  Yes machines make "mistakes" and have "slippages" and "imperfections", but I do believe the actual human body ("human element" I think Kate called it) can not be replicated by machine.  Paul refers to "emergent poetics of error" but I might change that to "discovery".  In this way the body performs.  (Which is not to say that machines don't also perform)

On the idea of "behavior" vs "process", a recent article about NetFlix comes to mind from the Huffington Post - "How to Get the Most out of Netflix" basically gives you some tips on how to "train" the Netflix algorithm that suggests movies for you.   
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/13/how-to-get-the-most-out-of-netflix_n_4777149.html

Sara Diamond brought up "How we engage with the very process of formation of identities and practices".  And Stephanie brings up the idea of "re-programming the body to serve the needs of production as reflected in digital game culture."  I think these ideas are related to the idea of training an algorithm or engaging a behavior as we think about how we form/ program/ train our own identities, our online identities, and then our algorithmic identities.  

About physical bodies (and knitting) I've always been fascinated by ergonomic devices and why/how we wear these things in order to interact with machines, but the machines don't do anything to make themselves "safer" for us.  Some humorous pieces that show this:
http://rachelbeth.net/portfolio/cakes.html
http://rachelbeth.net/portfolio/sweater.html

Paul and xtine have mentioned how we as artists assign roles of "viewer", "user", etc.  In a lot of interactive works I think it's interesting how they become both interactive and performative.  They need to be interactive to be activated/ performed, but they are viewed by more than the person doing the interaction.  Assigning roles also seems related to how we train and form these identities and interactions.  

Not sure if others see the connections here, but these ideas seem to weave together for me.  

Rachel Beth 
 




On Mar 9, 2014, at 7:46 AM, Jack Stenner <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Behavior instead of process. Yes! This enables a more fluid thinking about the possibilities. It also bridges the discussion between Curt and Barbara. The thing that happens in the world as a result of the confluence of human and nonhuman “intertwingling” (thank you TN) may or may not be what was intended. Often the most meaningful experiences arise when intention is thwarted. For me, I am less interested in human or nonhuman, but in those poles as a continuum: hybridity.
> 
> When we talk about “code” I think it’s too easy to fall into the trap of imagining it only as a set of procedures; a process encoded in the form of a language. Code is quickly becoming less static in this sense (not that any language could ever be static). Even if the code is object-oriented and encapsulates the concept of behaviors, we think of it as compiled and never truly able to adapt to the dynamics/vagaries of the “real” world. If we think of code as performative in the sense of “behavior” it allows us to consider learning and transformation (as Jon suggested). This brings me back to the concept of the post-structural database. It’s not to simply embody a Derridean linguistic model, it’s to take those insights into meaning making to create a “realtime” action/response system that allows software to be dynamic, simultaneously human/nonhuman, and to learn/respond in not necessarily deterministic ways. Maybe Google is already there, but I’m suspicious of its determinism.
> 
> I think of this as a method for programming in terms of cyclic time! Beautiful. Exciting conversations…need to get to work!
> 
> Jack
> 
> On Mar 9, 2014, at 8:14 AM, Jon Ippolito <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>> A better word than "process" to describe these works might be "behavior," because it suggests an action that can be learned, transformed, and passed on. In our book _Re-collection_, due out later this year, Richard Rinehart and I examine how replicating behaviors, rather than files on a hard drive, may be the best way to preserve many software-based artworks.
> 
> 
> 
> 
> On Mar 8, 2014, at 7:00 PM, Curt Cloninger <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
>> Thanks Barbara,
>> 
>> I am with you regarding the agency of physical materials. Yes, knitting is a collaboration between the live human knitter, the history of knitting as a cultural practice, the climate temperatures of the world that would lead humans to develop a historical "code" of knitting, the materiality of sheep, grass, wool, spinning tech, etc.
>> 
>> But I am also positing that "language" is itself a force in the material world. So I don't solely identify Derrida with "the linguistic turn" any more than I see him excluded by (or overcome by) "the affective turn." From the perspective I am trying to forward, knitting patterns (code) are not solely a "human" thing, nor solely a "semiotic" thing. Knitting code arises in the world at the confluence of immanent historical forces (global temperature, human skin, human hands, sheep, grain, grazing propertly laws, the materiality of wool, the technology of spinning wheels and looms, the technology of writing and speaking, the culture of knitting circles and quilting bees) and feeds back into the world to further affect future forces.
>> 
>> Language is an affective immanent force. Humans are "natural" material (with an uber-funky and unique agency way unlike wool, but not apart from wool in the world). Derrida (+ Austin, Bakhtin, but *not* Searle!) and Deleuze (+ Whitehead, Bergson, Massumi, Elizabeth Grosz) meet in a holy kiss (or something much more illicit and entangled).
>> 
>> Best,
>> Curt
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On Mar 8, 2014, at 5:53 PM, Barbara Lattanzi wrote:
>> 
>>> Hi Curt.
>>> 
>>> 
>>> On Mar 8, 2014, at 3:10 PM, Curt Cloninger <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> 
>>>> Barbara, you ask, "Can we coders translate this to say that there is a fundamental connection among computation, the performativity of code, and historical temporality (not just clock-time!)?"
>>>> 
>>>> How would you define "computation" above? (I'm not being snarky. I'm actually curious.) I uderstand what you mean by history (like biological evolution) vs. computation (like an emergent artificial life system).
>>> 
>>> 
>>> No, I do not see one thing "versus" another....history is not opposite computation.
>>> 
>>>> But when the performativity of code is set against (or even beside) something else called "computation," i'm wondering what remains that may properly be called "computation?" I would say the two are so fundamentally connected as to be (at least immanently) inextricable.
>>> 
>>> Excuse me for not being clear.  In the discussion of performativity of code, I feel there is an over-reliance on language. 
>>> 
>>> For me, this confuses the discussion which then tends to rely on the concept of performativity to prop up such formulations as "humanizing data" or prop up projects of "deconstruction" centered on language, or dependence on linguistic terms such as "slippage".
>>> 
>>> So, I am suggesting (based on a very different set of references) that computation is not limited to human intention and performativity is not solely dependent on human language (as important as language obviously is).  
>>> 
>>> I am trying to make room for consideration of the nonhuman.  That is, the nonhuman that computes, that performs a solution to a problem through an organization of matter and energy.  
>>> 
>>> Rachel, earlier on, says..."In the handmade we see slippages all the time, arguable one of the defining characteristics of something that is handmade."
>>> 
>>> My response to this is simply her description doesn't go far enough in representing what is going on with the process of knitting.  Performativity of code uses a formal set of instructions to simulate the ability of matter to express its capacities.  
>>> 
>>> If we apply that concept to knitting a hat, what happens?  We see that a bundle of threads, in partnership with the know-how of the craftperson, are able to cohere as a knot, solving a problem of unequal tensions that give rise to the hat itself.
>>> 
>>> Rachel's notion of slippage only goes so far as a shorthand for something much more exciting...a knitted hat (as an example) takes shape as a combinatory procedure, part human, part nonhuman.
>>> 
>>> Barbara

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