Seven Points for a Computer Critical Computer Art

Seven things to keep in mind for a genuine art-rebuke to computing’s overreach — without ignoring the infernal machines entirely.

Historically situated

Computers like to pretend they are free from history. They are not and let’s remind them of this fact.

Every step we take builds on the what went before and what went before is often oppressive; to be willfully critical, we must be purposeful about what we build on.

Quests for eternal novelty only suit capitalists.

Never perfect

Perfection is a Procrustean bed and the core of the digital sickness.

Ideas of perfect knowledge, perfect legibility, perfect understanding, and perfect reproducibility animate the surveillant machine.

To make perfection the goal is to weight the metrics for the machine, to prefer computers over people.

0..1 not 0||1

The range opposes the binary.

The violence of machine learning / artificial intelligence methods is their insistence that we can be identified, sorted and classified. This or that. This is the logic of the binary.

The range pushes against the reduction of people to probabilities, souls to categories. The range looks for space

Mind-to-mind, over-air communication

Build with the computer. Distribute with the computer. Communicate outside the web and off the screen.

Methods for this include: references to nostalgic aesthetics, immersive encounters, repetition, and accumulation.

Refigure computer-aided communication as something that can still require a physical presence, even if that presence is not confined to the aura of a single object.

Abstraction and imagination

Honor your audiences stories not by trying to overwrite them, but rather by eliciting them.

Traffic in the hard-to-analyze.

Use color, texture, shape and light to meet on the astral plane.

Aesthetics over concept

Sixty years of asserting that the idea is more important than the execution have brought us empty and complicit art, where the concept is used to paper over questionable choices.

Art over Tech

Ignore the database. Let the computer forget.