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Poetic machine. A study in poeticizing electronics.

Project: PhD-project

  • Galle, Jerry (PhD student)
  • Vercruysse, Jan (Promotor HoGent)
  • Vandenabeele, Bart, Universiteit Gent, Belgium (Promotor University)
Starting point of this research project is the issue of the (im)possibility of making art through computers. As a computer is being directed by entirely logical processes, we are also faced with the question whether it is possible to produce works of art in an entirely logical way. When an artist starts programming in the process of making art, he immediately encounters the rigid and absolute qualities of the computer. Here, unlike in other, more traditional disciplines, the material with which the artist has set out to work, does not respond, thus not adding anything to what the artist himself is doing. Both a computer’s speed and numerical accuracy, and the availability of mathematical and physical systems (such as randomness or chaos theory), seem to make up for the lack of intuition, doubt or absurdity. This condition, in conjunction with the fact that in media arts the creative process is being shifted from subject to computer, occasions a paradoxical situation. As it is the software which is actually ‘making’ the work, decisions ordinarily being made prior to the creative process, are now in fact made during and after the generation of the oeuvre. This intervention disrupts the classic chronology of the creative process and makes the position of both artist and creation rather ambiguous. Moreover, it is now up to the computer to make creative decisions; although, paradoxically, it is unable to produce art, due to its logical structure. In this context of ambivalence, the Poetic Machine constitutes a physical simulation of doubt. The machine is made up of the two agents of the binary system, i.e. 0 and 1. Two cubes, driven by motors in their continuous movement of approach and retreat, represent hesitation. Doubt functions as a means to breach the rigid logic of the digital machine; there is a constant hesitation between 0 and 1, no and yes, black and white. The time required to execute this doubt in terms of software is not concurrent with time outside of the computer.