Sunday, May 3, 2009

[Yasmin_discussions] Oral Traditions and the Digital Arts

Hi Yasminers

Some great ideas spinning around here.

Thanks to Sandeep Bhagwati for a long and thoughtful posting - with so
many good thoughts that could take us so many places.

The two realities as applied to the notation of software is especially
intriguing, as for so long we have been questioning the problem of
cultural assumptions embedded into software. This even harks back to
that debate that periodically pops up -- are artists who use software
rather than writing code really responsible for their own art.

For visual artists (I do not know as much about music) the software
manuals are often seen as a point of departure, a set of instructions
that need personalized "workarounds". An example of this was the
early Photoshop, written with the assumption that artists work in
strict traditions, so all of the instructions and even the tools were
developed for perfecting direct Photography. Since Paint programs
were already on the market (Pixel-Paint, Studio 8) it did not take
long for artists to transfer techniques from one software to another,
"painting" with Photoshop and manipulating photographs with Pixel-
Paint, but it took years for the companies to catch on that this was
being done. When Adobe did catch on, they simply drove every one else
out of the market, and some of the good ideas that came from the
competitors were lost.

Attempts to codify without allowing for a kind of "oral" tradition -
the personal deviation, at least in the case of software, have not
worked. The code is there, underlying everything, and cannot be
ignored, but creative thinkers always find a way to personalize, if
they want to. And my own position (as not so good programmer) is that
turning every one into a programmer is not the solution, as certainly
the power of the off-the-shelve tools cannot be matched building from
the ground up.

This brings to Avi's post with the link to his "naming" video.
Some might argue that notation is what visual art is all about,
although I would disagree. The same might be said for music, even
when it is always "non-representational. What is the difference
between notation and calling to mind various associations with the
collective memory?


Cynthia Beth Rubin

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