The process of preparing programs for a digital computer is especially attractive, not only because it can be economically and scientifically rewarding, but also because it can be an aesthetic experience much like composing poetry or music. Donald E. Knuth, The Art of Computer Programming
It seems to be necessary to invent/discover a new transdisciplinary co-operation between Creativity and Computability, Concept and Metaphor, Art and Science. This would open up a new interplay between creativity and computability surpassing its dichotomic obstacles.
We invite artists and researchers of these topics to take part to the Open_SourceThinking Project by the ThinkArt Lab Glasgow in co-operation with the Academy of Media Arts, Cologne to study the state of the art in post-classical computing of programming art.
Computers are traditionally designed to solve well-defined problems. This understanding of computer systems as tools for supporting repetitive and mechanical works was for a long time a satisfying paradigm in the domain of business and engineering. But meanwhile the computer has entered the realm of creative work. Software tools are ubiquitous and indispensable for all kinds of creative processes. We now begin to realise that creative work is not so much a question of solving well-defined problems.
But what sort of problems do artists solve? We think that the work of an artist or any other creative group is only vaguely connected with problem solving. Creative processes are not special cases of problem solving. Even in the fields of business and engineering there are wide areas which are at least "ill-defined problems". Therefore computer systems should be understood more as a medium of co-operation and co-creation in assisting creative work and not primarily as tools for solving problems in creative processes.
Is there any framework to surpass the philosophically relevant dichotomy of creativity as unstructured flashes of insights or applications of procedures of intuition for inspiration versus computation? What are the limits and the challenges of support systems for creativity? Are there possibilities for Creativity of Thinking and of thinking Art by inventing an Interface between Thinking and Art in/as ThinkArt?
Is it then necessary for artists to be creative? From a more philosophical point of view it turns out that it will become more the task of computer systems to be able to realize creative prozesses and to support artist with creative solutions. Not the artist has to be creativ, it´s the machine which will be creative. The self-understanding of artists has to be transformed to a new form of activity beyond creativity, innovation and problem solving. The role of the artist is then not primarily to create but rather to ´thematize´ a world which is already in existence assisted by creative machines.
The tools we use in creating computer art at the moment are to a great deal responsible for the quality of our aesthetic products. But even more important is the usually underestimated fact, that the basic concepts behind the tools guide our thinking, determine our perception and constrain our creativity. Computers today are generating objects which artists have to identify, to select and to evaluate as aesthetical objects. Tools for supporting creative work have to be adaptive to the needs of the user, emergent in functionality, and powerful in expressiveness.
Developments in Computer Science and Second-order Cybernetics shows us, that the new movements in Information Technology can be understood as a radical new structural cut between "subjectivity" and "objectivity". We propose that this structural view of the developments opens up a more relaxed understanding of cyberculture than it is defined by the paradigm of information processing.
It seems that the well known attributes of cyberculture like speed, omnipresence, virtuality, globalization, digitalism, complexity etc. are more the effects of a radical new structural cut in our self-definition than the cause or the organizational determinants of the historical formation of the information age. The new cut of computer revolution is purely "contextural" and is not well understood in terms of space, time, reality, identity and information and its deviants which concepts still belongs to the classical paradigm of modern science which itself is based on the first cut of cartesian philosophy and science.
Many domains which were believed to belong to the side of "subjectivity" now have moved to the side of "objectivity" by simultaneously changing the structure of objectivity and of subjectivity. This change in the epistemological cut transforms therefore the concepts of space, time and information and their logic too.
... since the Aristotelian epistemology required a clear cut distinction within subjectivity between subject as the carrier or producer of thoughts and the thoughts themselves, it was reasoned that the subject of cognizance could have rational thoughts without being a rational entity itself.
In order to integrate the concept of discontexturality into logic we have introduced the theory of ontological loci. Any classical system of logic or mathematics refers to a given ontological locus; it describes the contextural structure of such a locus more or less adequately. But its statements-valid for the locus in question-will be invalid for a different locus.
How can artists help to revolutionise the new technologies? And how can new technologies help to transform art and the self-understanding of the artist? Which new framework of logics and rationality do we need to formulate and to formalise this new form of thinking beyond classical dichotomies?
From the point of view of a polycontextural framework of logic questions about forms of interactivity, creativity and invention arise in a new light and will have to surpass the classical paradigm of information processing and computing (Shannon, Turing, First-order Cybernetics) being guided by the question "What«s after Digitalism?".
The Human-Machine-Interface today has at least two faces. One for the classical relationship between man and machine in the framework of the first cut, another one after the second cut. It«s the Janus face of the Human/Machine-Interface. One looking back to the history of mankind as the inventor and ruler of all sorts of machines, this is the attitude which governs the epoch from the archimedean to the cybernetic types of machines, the other face looks forward to a new future of humanity and its relationship to technology beyond cultural pessimism and computer euphoria.
As long as we only use technologies - as a toolbox for creativity - we believe in the simple cut between subjectivity and objectivity. Therefore human beings are just the users of computer systems and in the use of them they remain unchanged in their own structural definition. Therefore the anthropological structure of human beings like autonomy and identity doesn't change in being involved in using computer systems.
The Computer should Be a Tool . Computers have the capability to act as tools for us everyday folks, as knowledge amplifiers. This means they should help us with our everyday tasks, making it possible to do things we could not do before. Computers are tools, and should be treated as such; they are neither monsters nor savants, simply tools, in the same category as the printing press, the automobile, and the telephone.
But first we should be able to answer the question of J. Frazer proposed from the viewpoint of Second-order Cybernetics: "Can computers be 'just a tool'?" (in: mutual use of cybernetics and science, Amsterdam 1991)
The question 'Are computers just a tool?" or can they be? raises the general question of can any tool be neutral? I believe most of the issues are centred on the innocent sounding cliche "the computer is just a tool". A psychological trait in the naive, usually reserved for human authority has been transferred in an antropomorphic manner to the computer. But that just implies that it can be no more than a tool and this I believe also to be very dangerous. Tool is equally loaded because the word is taken to imply that it is under the control of the user and working for and in sympathy with the user.
After ten years of experiences at the Academy of Media Art, Cologne we learned that there is no chance for artists than to be trained in programming and to be able of questioning the fundamental concepts of programming (languages, models of computation, logics) and the constructions of interfaces. Not only new ways of teaching computer science and programming have to be developed but also new types of systems, which are open-ended and semantically emergent have to be considered.
Taking this fact serious means that artists should not only be trained in using tools but should learn to design and program their own computing environments in a creative manner, i.e. to develop their own systems. This activity of personal programming and constructing interfaces by artists - which are different from those of innovative engineers - has to be supported and guided by a new framework of conceptual orientation.
Our method of concept mining (in contrast to data mining) produced an interesting list of developments in post-classical computing in the field of Beyond Computation . It´s all about surpassing the limits of algorithms and Turing Machines. The heroes of classical computing and their work is now history and has to be studied by historians and media archaeologists. What we need are new horizons of computing in the open framework of the second cut.
Systems which are capable of self-reflection are able to examine their own internal processing mechanisms. They can use this capability to explain their behaviour, and modify their processing methods to improve performance. Such systems must have some form of Meta-Knowledge available, and in addition, they must actively apply the Meta-Knowledge to some task.
Thus, the appearance of second order cybernetics is the appearance of a new dimension -- reflexion. However, this dimension was developed differently in the Soviet Union and the West. In the Soviet Union, the idea of reflexion was combined with the idea of structure; as a result, reflexive analysis appeared. In the West, the idea of reflexion was combined with the idea of computation; as a result, calculations with self-reference appeared. Vladimir A. Lefebvre 1986
Real-world computer systems involve extraordinarily complex issues of identity. Often, objects that for some purposes are best treated as unitary, single, or "one", are for other purposes better distinguished, treated as several. The aim of the Computational Ontology project is to focus on identity as a technical problem in its own right, and to develop a calculus of generalized object identity, one in which identity -- the question of whether two entities are the same or different -- is taken to be a dynamic and contextual matter of perspective, rather than a static or permanent fact about intrinsic structure. Brian Cantwell Smith
The digital abstraction is not a statement about how things are; it is merely a way of viewing them. A combinational circuit may be analyzed in terms of boolean logic, but it is voltage, are not a collection of ones and zeros. (...) At best, the digital abstraction tells us that the combinational circuit is amenable to analysis in term of ones and zeros; but it does not change the reality of what is there. Andrea Lynn Stein
Logical fiberings prove to be particulary suitable for modeling communication and interaction between co-operating agents, due to the possibility to switch between a local/global point of view which is typical for this framework. Jochen Pfalzgraf
Algorithms and Turing machines (TM) have been the dominant model of computation during the first 50 years of computer science, playing a central role in establishing the discipline and providing a deep foundation for theoretical computer science. We claim that TMs are too weak to express interaction of object-oriented and distributed systems, and propose interaction machines as a stronger model that better captures computational behavior for finite interactive computing agents. Moreover, changes in technology from mainframes and procedure-oriented programming to networks and object-oriented programming are naturally expressed by the extension of models of computation from algorithms to interaction. Peter Wegner
Ideas of self-reference (and its self-modification), and their application to cognition have a much longer history, however. (...) The cognitive and philosophical significance of such issues was first raised by the so-called BCL school, whose members and associates included W. McCulloch, W.R. Ashby, G. Günther, L. Löfgren, H. von Foerster, and H. Maturana. George Kampis
eXtreme Programming as a heterarchical and chiastic mode of inter/trans-personal programming is a real challenge for artists programming art work. Pair programming and collective ownership goes much beyond classical teamwork. It involves a new understanding of the identity and subjectivity of artists and programmers in their mutual work. It displays well the intimate relationship between creation, control and implementation as a semiotical process beyond personal psychologies.
Some important features: XP teams focus on validation of the software at all times. Programmers develop software by writing tests first, then software that fulfils the requirements reflected in the tests.
Pair Programming . XP programmers write all production code in pairs, two programmers working together at one machine. Pair programming has been shown by many experiments to produce better software at similar or lower cost than programmers working alone.
The Unified Modeling Language (UML) is the industry-standard language for specifying, visualizing, constructing, and documenting the artefacts of software systems. Using UML, programmers and application architects can make a blueprint of a project, which, in turn, makes the actual software development process easier.
Mostly computer art projects are much too complex and too ambitious to be realised in the context of the usual art funding. UML can help to design a conceptual model of the project. It could be reasonable to accept this UML modelling as a first realisation of the concept of/as the art work.
Interactive Programming as organizing an interactive community of objects goes far beyond the traditional concept of programming in the sense of inventing algorithms for solving well-defined problems.
Design & Realisation:
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