Machine Aesthetics: Artists' Workshop

Artists workshop about the use of machines in art, and about a potential aesthetics of the machinic. With Knowbotic Research (D), Daniela Plewe (D), Pit Schultz (D), and other artists.

Machine Aesthetics: Artists' Workshop

Machine Aesthetics: Christian Hübler (Knowbotic Research)

Jun 1997
14:00 to 18:00
location: V2_, Eendrachtsstraat 10, Rotterdam.

Artists workshop about the use of machines in art, and about a potential aesthetics of the machinic. 


Money Machines. Abstract of the presentation by Pit Schultz 

The concept of the machine which Deleuze and Guattari have formulated in their critique of capitalism has been burried many times. It has even appropriated by free-market rhetorics like of those of Manual DeLanda.

The internet as a classical "desiring machine" produces money out of a desire for what is called a "huge potential". The collective logic of the expected technological and economic growth is normally bound to a narrative about a non-subjective, quasi-natural entity identified with "technique". Alternatively, the paradigm of technological growth is associated with a complex machinery which includes all known sectors of production under a program of inbuilt vital forces. This notion frequently implies an evolutionary finalism, as well as a pathetic vocabulary around a machinic-algorithmic auto-genesis as the "will of the machine".

This decentered, non-personal will gets projected onto economic markets. Or it appears in descriptions of human society as though they were cybernetic systems which have an immanent will - a conception which departs from the concept of the human will and subject.

After the progressive goals of poststructuralism, such theories get appropriated by the "enemy capitalism". The neo-vitalist aesthetification of economy, art and technology under the metaphors of life leads to a complex problematic of "Bio-Power", risking to legitimize for example the disempowerment of democracy through multinational financial capital and its interest in naturalising its "property".

Technique is not at all only an anonmyous force of devine beauty, driving modernity forward. It is a social process based on mutual decisions, little fights and silly interests.


Ultima Ratio - Draft for Software and Interactive Installation. Abstract of the presentation by Daniela Plewe

Aesthetic experience is often the experience of contradictions. It is a dilemma, a paradox or some other form of ambivalence that many pieces of art present us. From narratives we all know of the hero in some aporetic situation, making his tragic choice.

Within logics a contradiction is called an inconsistency. It can be any incompatible information. We call it a dilemma when premisses have only negative implications. In classical logics contradictions are strictly avoided, a system would colapse if it included an inconsistency. But in the logics implemented in the Artificial Intelligence research inconsistencies are tolerated. The ambivalences of a choice can now be translated into a pro and a contra argument for the two alternatives.

Ultima Ratio is a program that relies on a formalism to represent ambivalences in the form of argumentation. Some basic features of human decision making are implemented, such as: don't believe in a statement if there is evidence to the contrary, don't rely on premisses which are defeated, etc. This methodological canon works on a database which contains logical representations of all sorts of conflicts (mostly dramaturgical conflicts) and which can be extended by the audience.

We gain a rough model of the literary knowledge, but in a machine-adequate way. The logical engine of Ultima Ratio generates branches through the knowledge-space and draws its conclusions whenever possible. By drawing a conclusion it reduces the complexity of the total information. Should Hamlet kill Claudius in the third scene? Should Rick support his rival in "Casablanca", or shouldn't he?

The system not only logically reconstructs the alternatives with their pros and cons, but also creates new protagonists, which traverse the various settings - always making the right choices.These characters can be influenced by the audience. Users can change their beliefs (by adding new rules or exceptions or new conflicts in a formal input language) and send them back to the war of convictions.

A computer program may be the place to let reasoning run wild, let it follow all the cascades of doubt. In the human case the dynamics of argument and counterargument can either lead to a refinement of knowledge (prudence) or to mere despair (paralysis). Free from any obligations to act in the real world this program investigates the realm of ambivalences and contradictions, thereby providing at least some conditions for the aesthetic experience.


IO_Dencies: Questioning the Urban. Abstract of the presentation by Knowbotic Research

The development of cities are unpredictable. Urban processes cannot be planned or constructed. 'Tendencies' is a project by Knowbotic Research, developed in cooperation with architects and urban planners, which transposes urban questions from the real, physical space into a virtual, experimental field in the electronical data networks. In the course of 1997, Knowbotic Research cooperate with the information engineers of the Kunsthochschule für Medien Köln and the engineers of the Canon Artlab Tokyo in creating an information environment which allows connective construction processes on the internet.

In the first phase of the project, three concrete architectural projects are selcted which are in a planning phase in the socalled mega-cities (Tokyo, Sao Paolo and Berlin). They are transformed into electronic fields of development and agency, in order to open them up to collaborative actions in the virtual space of the data networks. The aim is to bring together the visions of architects, concrete solutions suggested by urban planners, and the individual, user oriented interests of the city inhabitants in a space where each of these have equal rights. In specially designed fields of event in the data networks, relations will be opened up which are normally only accessible to specialists. KR+cF investigates, whether and how the urban characteristics are enhanced, transformed or extinguished in the tension between local and global activities, and in how far the extension of urban areas into the electronic space may allow for other qualities of the urban.

The choice of the cities Tokyo, Sao Paolo and Berlin is supposed to confront different cultural environments which imply special interrelations between traditional ways of building, economic and political conditions, and electronic communication structures. The specific selection of city quarters ensures that areas like Bras in Sao Paolo will also be included in the urban process, which otherwise do not have the possibility of access to such advanced media technologies. The relation to the concrete city environment is maintained a) by working with local architects and urban planners who deal with the problems and challenges of the selected quarters, and b) by relocating the virtualised urban situation back into the real space in an exhibition phase.

The gradual transformation of the different urban architectural projects in the data space extends these urban processes into collective, experimental fields which can be investigated independent from the aspects of material realisation and temporal and economic factors. KR+cF will make it possible to experience this transcoded urban field with its supposed mechanisms and effects, mainly in the form of dynamic movements. The project aims to generate active connections between urban reality and the new, connective forms of interaction which are developing in the data space. It strives for new ways of constructing public spaces which can realise the creative local potential that is so widely distributed in the computer networks.

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