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Collaborative Futures

There are a lot of places that I could start writing from after reading Collaborative Futures.  Non-human Collaboration is definitely something that I am interested in.  I was also interested in thinking more about how online collaboration challenges, subverts, or reinforces “obstacles of class, gender, cultural capital, place and acquaintance” (p.29) that can come into play when collaborating generally.  This is also something that came up in this earlier reading we did on the CUNY online BA.  But I will mainly focus on art in this post.

“What does it mean for a cultural work to “execute”? Where code executes, art expresses. Indeed, many forms of art depend on ambiguity, layered meanings, and contradiction. Code is a binary language, whereas the words used to write this book, even though they are in English, will be interpreted in various unpredictable ways. Looking at all of creativity through the lens of code is reductive” (p18).

This excerpt is talking about the limits of thinking of software as an art form and the threshold between execution and expression. Three pieces of art come to mind that play with this difference of software and art, but they are really more a discussion of the digital and art than software and but can also serve to talk about the execution/expression threshold.

 Kutiman’s ThruYou discussed in Collaborative Futures (p.49) brings forth the discussion of whether intention is necessary for collaboration. Works like this and Cory Arcangel’s Paganini’s 5th Caprice beg the question.  But going back to the earlier idea of non-human collaboration we would have to ditch the idea of intention because that belongs to human consciousness and to have non-human collaboration would likely have to be without any kind of pure intentionality.

The comparison between these two videos also raises interesting questions.  Kutiman brings in collaboration of music being played at the same time and Arcangel has the song played each note or so by another person — a kind of collaboration that could never happen in real life and relies on the digital speed that I’m guessing even the most attuned musicians might not be able to achieve.  Is Arcangel any less collaborative, and Kutiman any more?


But what about other works of art like (my girlfriend) Megan Bigelow’s RGB: You and Me that eliminate any appearance of collaboration in the overt display.  Maybe or maybe not collaborative, this work relies on the human digital input to the web of pictures tagged with searchable human emotions. What is on the site  now are just three emotions: joyousness, loneliness and happiness.  But the RGB averages of these three emotions reflect a kind of human-google-digital assemblage of affect associated with color, or maybe color generating affect that is unique to each feeling.

In lieu of trying to make and summarizing remarks, I’ll just hope that this will generate some discussion…

Posted in Motivations.

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