Super-Abstract Software

There is a risk, however, in aestheticising computation, which should be obvious given the historical lessons that tie Futurist enthusiasm for a machine aesthetic to Fascist politics.  It is far too easy to slip from what appears to be a critical exploration of the aesthetic possibilities of computation to the capitulation to, if not a celebration of, the mechanisms of domination practiced by global capital: the massive and rapid transfer and manipulation of data as capital and capital as data by digital means.  In the end, the risk is unavoidable since a reflection on software is crucial exactly to the degree it serves as a tool for domination.  Software must have its politics, its aesthetics, its poetics, and its criticism.

If there is a chance that software will contribute significantly to a new politically relevant aesthetics, it lies in the way software shows us a way out of order, in and through order.  It engages the tensions between possibility and constraint.  Software gives us not objects, but instances – occasions for experience.  We see our own embeddedness in networks of abstraction, structuration, and system making, and in seeing, find ways of inhabiting this situation of constraint as if it were possibility.  Software can create systems of production that present us with the generation of endless variation within programmatic limitations.  When freed from its intrumentalist telos, it is possible for software to exist solely on its own terms: it stages its own abstraction and serves nothing save its own play, display, and critique, that of abstraction itself.  If it is possible for software to exist solely on its own terms then it may become Super Abstract.

Via: “Super-Abstract: Software Art and a Redefinition of Abstraction” by Brad Borevitz (from read_me: Software Art & Cultures, page 298)

… Also a Digital Object

From “Digitality and Objects” by Matthew Fuller (italics mine):

In a recent interview Michel Serres suggests that a typical contemporary development is a drive experienced in science to aim towards an understanding of the specificity of an object.  Earthquake-causing tectonic faultlines or individual livers are rendered, by various methods and by the peculiar capacity for differentiation typical of digital analysis, as something with individual qualities and traits rather than generalised or diagrammatic instantiations of a ‘type’.  Every scanned liver, every library book in a database, every phone, person or every mapped asteroid is also a digital object.

Via: “Read_Me: Software Arts & Cultures”, 2004, pg 27.