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society of algorithm   texts  

for a society of algorithm by the society of algorithm

mxHz/akihiro kubota     print
1. for a society of algorithm by the society of algorithm

Like stated in the original pamphlet by the society of algorithm in 2002,
we criticized and are criticizing a scientific, social and mostly
cultural-artistic blindness for the achievements of more than half a
century of socio-technological developments. In a way it created a
discrepancy in which the history of cybernetics, information science,
computer science is so differently represented than history of culture by
postmodernism, culture studies, etc... The outcome of that is that it
actualizes a growing misunderstanding between cultural, social and exact
sciences. It also distorts multidisciplinarity in a number of areas
including the arts.

So let's face it, and it may come as a shock to people organizing and
selected for Documenta 2007, that big advances in culture are not
primordinarely made by recombinatory issues and the arts by themselves
(was almost saying 'only' but actually meant 'mostly'). It is interesting
to see how new media critics and writers get fooled by it altogether. For
instance, in the well-received 'language of new media' by lev manovich,
there is no mentioning whatsoever of new synthesis techniques. This is
totally conform to the sad late postmodernist sublimation of the
recombinatory. Composition becomes the remixing of existing pieces in
which the outcomes are unimagined even by their creators. But of course
this utopia is never to be reached since the essential innovations in the
development of creative tools like computers, networks and consecutively
all synthesis are left out.

So, the society of algorithm wants to refocus on this very important issue
in the analysis, synthesis and evaluation of newer forms of art. One way
to correct this incomplete vision is to go back to a historical
understanding of the development of the tools we are using in the
postmillenium era. So we are looking back on the development of deeper
insights into the formalisation of wat is happening in the social and
biological environment and its constantly changing nature in order to
understand the unraveling of a set of artistic tools that provide
different ways of creating and experiencing the creative domain. One of
the areas that is certainly underdeveloped because of this 'blind spot' in
art criticism is communication technology and its impact on a whole
society for a century starting with telephony, and booming with a
diversity of individual participations in quite different network
topologies and protocols. What is interesting are not the silly commercial
inventions, like personal mobile phones or DVD's, but the abstract
algorithms that lie at the heart and the possible new creative uses they
seem to imply for the artist.

The other question is, when we look at the building up of these new
analytical and synthetical tools: what algorithms can we use 'off the
shelve' (after all these years) for a better realization of our creative
output (yes! for a better art!), and what is relevant in that sense (and
not in the pre-millenium era). So we started out, one step at the time, by
looking into:
- connected performances: codecs, protocols, collaborative techniques...
- abstractions like matrix feedback applied to synaesthetic outcomes
- generators, interpolators and modifiers, ...
- alife and cellular automatons, selforganisation, ...

At the algorithm workshop, we started from sharing sample patches based on the matrix feedback and cellular automaton algorithms. They can generate audio and visual expressions dynamically and simultaneously from the common matrix data. At the end of the workshop, a connected/shared matrix performance was held by the 6 machines of the participants. During the performance, each performer was generating sound (6ch sound!) with exchanging/processing matrix data over the ethernet. It was also a kind of minimum simulation of 'the society of algorithm'.

And this is only the starting point. Every new setup, every new
performance has the intention to go further into trying to divert the
involvement of participants and audience from the former conventional
aesthetics and its dead end tools into a new aesthetics and a new view on
the world. Forward!

2. the society of algorithm "translocal mutations" pamphlet
[tokyo-rotterdam-nagoya 2002]

The belief that art and culture are essentioally social phenomena, has provided a range of practices that were essentially fostered by former post-modernism. Within that over-attention for the creation of a situated art, sometimes the historical avant-garde was forgotten to accommodate for the more traditional oriented western-american-european obsession for narrativity and figurative audio and visual works.

models for art and creativity

The effects of more than 50 years of computer programming are readily to be found in all common creative tools we are using - from image editors to software synthesizers. This leads to the assumption that an important feature in global communication and culture is essentially a techno-scientific one. Not only the pairing of models found in computer programming and systems.
Engineering with an artistic sensibility and affective point-of-view, is leading to a new phenomenon, a techno-aesthetic model. It can only become as such, when there is also a communicative protocol available, as an essential part of that model. The algorithm becomes the driver for any expression.

across backgrounds and cultures

There are a number of ways to deal with different cultures, but apart from looking for differences and parallels, a common experimentation and the joint generation of new forms and artifacts in the genetical and linguistic sense, seems to us a more appealing direction. With mutual influences and visions the emergence of new form and content is possible.

making a jump into another century

Nowadays we see a renewed interest in abstract artforms, supported by a younger generation of artists unspoiled by a formal training in the traditional artistic disciplines, making unknown references to earlier radical pioneers of electronic art.
On top of that, the outcome of the popularisation of electronic music and the proliferation of global networks added a kind of new attitude towards collaboration: audiovisual, experimental, dynamic, distributed, materialistic, algorithmic and .. totally digitalismic.

Let's draw a line on a picture and make it move!
The use of small portable computers is deliberate.

[tokyo-brussels-bratislava 2005]




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