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Subject: [CAS] 43 Dodgy Statements on Computer Art – Brian Reffin Smith
Date: Thu, 15 Apr 2010 08:20:40 +1000
From: Paul Brown <p...@paul-brown.com>
To: c...@jiscmail.ac.uk
Reply-To: Computer Arts Society <c...@jiscmail.ac.uk>, Paul Brown

43 Dodgy Statements on Computer Art – Brian Reffin Smith

1. The sadness of most art is that it does not know its future. The
sadness of computer art is that it does not know its past.

2. Constraint is liberty; reduce to the maximum.

3. If it looks just like, you know, ‘art’…it probably isn't.

4. Using state-of-the-art technology merely produces
state-of-the-technology art.

5. Those who use computers to make art need to understand art as well as

6. Most participative art is deeply authoritarian.

7. The computer is best characterised not as an information processor but
as a general-purpose representation processor.

8. Marshall McLuhan, at least as filtered through his sound-bites, was
often wrong. The medium is not the message, which is more often determined
socially and psychologically by the recipient.

9. If your system costs 10 000 € and mine 30 000 €, it does not follow
that my art is thrice as good as yours.

10. In an ideal world, New Media institutions would employ at least one
non-technological artist.

11. Are you pushing the frontiers of computational representation, or of
contemporary art? Confusion rarely leads to success.

12. 99% of computer art is meretricious nonsense. But then 99% of
everything is meretricious nonsense.

13. Self-imposed formal requirements are not inhibitive of expression.

14. Post Modernism has never said that everything is of equal value, just
that the contexts in which we identify or attribute value should be open to

15. You know your amazing new computer art, rich in metaphors and
analogies? It's been done. Years ago. Without a computer.

16. We lose dimensions and scale. The computer in art is immediate and
almost always, however "global", local. Just as no well-found art school
would be complete without computers, so every such institution should have
a telescope and a microscope, connected to the computer or not.

17. Making computer art too dangerous to sponsor would be a good way to

18. Just as everyone has a novel inside them, many believe they have an
artwork. The purpose of a good art school is to seek out these people and
stop them.

19. Using a computer merely to access the web is like using a Bugatti
Veyron to deliver the papers.

20. Many people think that graphic design is art. Art is undertaken for
art-like reasons, graphic design for graphic design-like reasons. There may
of course be overlap. There should never be confusion.

21. Making the (arts) information revolution consists not only in enabling
the control of the means of computer art production by art workers, but
also in being kind, non-gouging and relatively honest. Without the latter,
one may doubt commitment to the former.

22. The best interactive art always makes you look at the participants.

23. There is only one thing worse than studying art for the budding
computer artist, and that is to study computers. Or vice versa.

24. Art is not craft.

25. What would be pretentious or nonsensical if one said it oneself does
not become more worthy when spoken by a computer-generated avatar.

26. Seen in the light of Guy Debord's "The Society of the Spectacle",
computer art is very spectacular indeed.

27. Beware of computer art as farce repeating itself as history.

28. There is no "normal" computer art, in the Kuhnian sense. It is in
constant revolution, hence constantly evading scrutiny.

29. When the first solitary Metro station was built in Paris, where could
people travel to? They just admired the station.

30. Bugs are good; as with fireflies, the fertile ones shed light.

31. The Prix Pierre Gutzman, 100 000 Francs, was offered by the Institut
de France in 1906 to the first person who could establish contact with
extra-terrestrials; except with Martians, which would be too easy.

32. ‘All that is solid floats into air’ is not a celebration of
virtuality, but Marx 'n' Engels' prediction for late capitalism.

33. A half developed Polaroid photo is different to half a digital photo.
A half-finished pen-plotter drawing is different to a half-finished inkjet

34. When art processes happen near-instantaneously, doing art becomes
synonymous with correction and selection, later with celebration; rarely
with creativity.

35. Art is visual philosophy. But computer art is not visual computer

36. Revolutionary modes of interaction between humans and normative
structures do not a revolution make.

37. 'i', the imaginary square root of minus 1, is to the real numbers as
the computer is — or should be — to art.

38. The purpose of the computer in art is to render it difficult and
problematic, not easy.

39. We do not admire Picasso's Guernica or Goya's The Third of May 1808
solely because of the techniques used, yet we are often invited to admire
computer art for just that reason. Art that is deliberately content-free is
one thing. Art that is accidentally, lumpenly content-free is another.

40. Computer artist: the unemployable producing the unsaleable for the

41. Of course computers and other devices will never fully understand
flowing, allusive conversation. But they won't care.

42. Many of the ‘objects’ of computer art are instances, illustrations, of
some less tangible, invisible process. But it may be that the waveform
should remain uncollapsed, the artwork staying undecideable, problematic,
unobjectified. Lucy R. Lippard described the ‘dematerialization of the art
object’ nearly 40 years ago.

43. Never throw away any computer or peripheral equipment that is more
than 15 years old. You may well come to need it.

Paul Brown - based in OZ April to November 2010
mailto:p...@paul-brown.com == http://www.paul-brown.com
OZ Landline +61 (0)7 3391 0094 == USA fax +1 309 216 9900
OZ Mobile +61 (0)419 72 74 85 == Skype paul-g-brown
Visiting Professor - Sussex University
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