Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...

Subject: Re: On illegal software in an academic assignment ...
From: Richard Wentk (
Date: Sun Nov 13 2005 - 21:33:09 EST

At 22:14 13/11/2005, you wrote:

>If you want to get into the new hi-tech culture you literally have to "buy
>into it" (in more than financial terms as well) and continue to invest as
>you ride the wave of novelty. At least with programming languages one has
>the added power of evolving one's own tools and techniques (until the
>hardware dies). The bad faith that occurs is with people objecting to
>their "burned" state, yet not taking the appropriate moral action in
>opposition to the culture that produces their discomfort. One response is
>to simply turn away from technology and the culture of control that drives
>much of its evolution. This delightfully radical response makes a
>powerful statement of alternative, embodied culture that needs, in my
>humble opinion, to be kept alive.

That's a very worthwhile point, I think. Digital media tools often seem to
be about *possession* rather than mastery or even expression.

It's perhaps sometimes worth stopping to ask who or what is doing the

>Programming languages/compilers are much more temporally robust than the
>products they generate. The process of upgrading a compiler for a new
>version of the operating system is often just the inclusion of a set of
>free library files. While Pd is, on the surface, less evolved than
>MaxMSP/Jitter.... there's nothing stopping anyone from getting under the
>hood and compiling the extensions that will make it just as powerful.

This I have more of a problem with. Firstly, I don't think programming is
inherently creative in an artistic sense. Programmers do, but very few
programmers are also creative artists, and the ones who are sure there's no
difference are least likely of all to understand what the difference is.
Secondly, even when you produce a tool that produces (apparently) high
quality work there's still likely to be something arms-length about the
result. At worst it'll be a click-bang art machine. At best anything
computer-based is always going to lack the direct visceral and personal
experience of speaker-less music. (With the possible exception of huge
multi-kW speaker installations, which can be alienating in a different way.)

>Ultimately, it seems unreasonable to me that people should expect all of
>this to come for free. Nikola Tesla worked on this for years to no
>avail!!! ;-) The strategy is not to join the pirates but to beat them at
>their own game. There are good people out there providing the means to
>create your own alternative to the emergent info-culture.

But I'm thinking more and more that the emergent info culture is the problem.

You can spend ten years trying to master the piano, and at the end of it
you may be able to play a bit. You can spend ten years trying to master
digital media, and at the end of it you'll have produced some work that
will, for technical or aesthetic reasons, or possibly both, almost
certainly be more disposable than a good piano performance.

I think it's much harder to produce interesting thoughtful work when the
tools that are being used are created by a culture that worships
faddishness and the cult of the perpetual upgrade cycle - whether it's
driven by Microsoft or the penguin.

Edit - I see you've already posting something similar. Oh well...


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