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<eyebeam><blast> Emergent Constructions

Here is the entire paper - It seems relevant to a number of posts.

Emergent Constructions:
Re-embodied Intelligence Within Recombinant Poetic Networks

Computer-mediated networks present an artistic medium that heightens the
potential for an intermingling of the knowledge of the user with the
"Re-embodied intelligence" of an author or authors. We will consider
"networks" in an all inclusive manner, from the scale of a network of
poetic elements housed within a single computer, to that of the
distributed housing of the World Wide Web. Such computer-mediated
environments can potentially facilitate new forms of inter-authorship.
These environments enable the user to engage with the "artefacts" of the
consciousness of the author. Central to this interaction is an emergent
experience that is unique for each subsequent participant. Given that
computers can house "recombinant" digital elements of image, sound, and
text, how can the artist become an "author" of responsive, self
regulating systems that enable "intelligent" emergent poetic responses
to user interactivity via the encoding, mapping and modelling of
operative poetic elements? How can such an environment enhance or
trigger particular "states" of consciousness in the user? To what extent
can we "re-frame" aspects of the consciousness of the artist, via
specific modes of "translation" of operative poetic processes and poetic
elements of image, sound, and text, within functional computer-mediated

I am interested in interactive art works that exhibit "intelligent"
responsiveness to user input. In Thinking Machines, The Search for
Artificial Intelligence by Igor Aleksander and Piers Burnett, the
authors state:

"Rather than becoming embroiled in the controversies which surround the
nature of human intelligence, the practitioners of artificial
intelligence have generally chosen to define their goals in empirical or
operational terms rather than theoretical ones     ... The researcher
simply choses a task that seems to require intelligence (playing chess
say or recognising visual images) and tries to build a machine that can
accomplish it." (Aleksander, p13)

This definition becomes extended or blurred in terms of  responsive
"Intelligence" in a work of art. We must be careful to differentiate the
kind of "intelligence" exhibited by such an artistic apparatus, to that
examined through the Turing Test. Thus the value of the Turing test to
determine "intelligence" may be seen as relevant to particular contexts
but for the purposes of art content, may be completely irrelevant. An
artwork may explore any approach that the author (or authors) finds
appropriately "intelligent." Thus a system may appear to be
non-functional, silly, ironic, stupid, humorous, tragic, overtly sexual
etc.; any form that is appropriate to the individual's aesthetic. The
artist is not trying to "fool" someone into believing the machine is
thinking. The artist is attempting to "intelligently" translate
particular kinds of responses and/or behaviours into computer-based
environments, so that during interaction, the mind-set of the
programmer/artist, can be experienced by the user in the service of
experiential content.

My research explores computer-mediated, re-embodied "intelligence" in
the context of a new form of  poetic construction and navigation that I
call "Recombinant Poetics." Artworks which explore "Recombinant Poetics"
are characterised by the interaction of a user with a system of content
exploration which carries potential meaning constructed of language,
image and sound elements, within an authored technological environment.
The term "Recombinant Poetics" was created by the author in 1995.

Re-embodied intelligence can be defined as the translation of media
elements and/or processes into a symbolic language that enables those
elements and processes to become part of an operative computer-mediated

In seeking the origins of the concepts which have come to enable this
art practice, we can make a "genetic" analogy to the principles which
enabled the functioning of the Jacquard Loom. One can trace the
genealogy of the computer from the initial patterns of weaves
facilitated by this particular loom, to the fabric of contemporary
communication; images and texts comprised of pixels. Recombinant Poetic
works are embodied within systems which propagate the inter-authorship
of the programmer and artist, via symbolic logic. The result of this
endeavour is finally manifested on the outermost level of the system of
representation, as recombinant configurations of light and sound.
Modular visual and textual elements which are operative within this
technological system, have a punning function in relation to that
system; outwardly they communicate to the user artistic content, while
inwardly they perform as the functional connection to encoded symbolic

"A computer language is a notation for the unambiguous description of
computer programmes. such languages are synthetic in their vocabulary;
punctuation, grammar, syntax and semantics are precisely defined in the
context of a particular operating system. they suffer from an inability
to cope with autonomous expression - an essential attribute of an
organic language. The poetic of computers lies in the genius of
individual programmers to express the beauty of their thought using such
an inexorable medium."(Hamilton, 1997, p.309)

One can see the seeds of re-embodied intelligence within the Jacquard
loom, which has been described as exhibiting "the selective powers of
the human brain and the dexterity of living fingers." (BLUM, p. 41) The
person who encodes the punch card, "re-embodies" an aesthetic
conception, into a language which the analogue machine can read. In the
book, The Loom Has A Brain, the author states:

"This intricate process actually starts when an artist draws a sketch.
When finished, it must look like the pattern will appear in the
cloth...it is transferred by a draftsman to a ruled sheet similar to
those used by engineers to show curves and graphs. Each tiny block or
square sheet represents a tiny section of the fabric to he woven....With
the design blocked out on the ruled sheet directly in front of him, the
card-cutter works his way through the bewildering network of lines,
paths of color-a perfect maze of passages and tracks, punching holes in
the oblong cards. Each of these holes controls eight threads in a weave
arrangement over the passing shuttle. Each has a meaning as to weave
effects and color selection, and these all have to be translated so that
the loom understands them." (BLUM, p.44)

This description shows one early relevant example of the translation of
aesthetic practice to a machine-mediated process. We can extrapolate
this idea in terms of contemporary computer-art practice making a direct
analogy to the punch cards functioning as "conceptual machines" within
the analogue mechanism of the loom, to the software/hardware paradigm in
computers, where the code functions as a vehicle of the translated
aesthetic conceptions of the artist. The computer enables not only the
production of an image, but of entire artistic processes - the writing
of a poem; the construction of a virtual world, the navigation of a
poetic environment etc. Once a chosen "intelligent" process has been
translated, the machine can perform "intelligent" functions in the
manner of the author, producing unique new works of art in conjunction
with the interaction of a user. Thus the machine functions as an
extension of the author's sensibility, presenting a environment for the
another mode of inter-authorship, via user interaction.

We can look at the computer code in Recombinant Poetic works, in terms
of a series of layers, on a number of levels. We start at the bottom,
with assembly language. We then have various other logical layers which
now enable the construction of an upper or outer layer of code that
floats on the surface of the system, presented via images, sound, and
text. A graphical user interface can potentially function in a
non-hierarchical and non-linear manner in relation to the presentation
of artistic content... Such code may also embody paradox, nonsense, play
etc., any quality of aesthetic phenomena. I am examining computers as
being expressive vehicles, housing and enabling the exploration of
operative poetic elements via this series of interdependent levels of
responsive "code" authoring. In terms of the connectivity of computers
and the potentials of distributed interactiviy, such processes may
function on various levels from the local to the international. The
network of poetic elements can be housed on a single computer, or be
distributed via numerous machines which are networked.

In terms of user interactivity with computer-mediated artworks, we are
moving in the direction of computers functioning as "sensing" and
"responding" devices. Such systems were envisioned by the founders of
AI. Alan Turing speaks of "input" and "output" organs in his Turing's
ACE Report of 1946 (Turing, 1986), suggesting notions of sensing in the
discussion of an Automatic Computing Engine. Turing also projected the
possibility of computers playing chess in that particular paper (an
intelligent, rule based, combinational process).

The goal is to have the computer function as a mediated extension of
focused perception both in terms of "sensing" and "responding." The
output of the system is not known in advance by the author but is an
emergent product of the interaction of the user with particular
"recombinant" elements and processes authored into the system, as well
as through construction and navigation processes which have also been
translated and encoded, enabling inter-authorship.

Computer-mediated environments facilitate "States" of authorship. In
computer-mediated interactive artwork, a user can intermingle with the
operative elements of the system and interact with them via authored
feedback mechanisms. The user can enter into a conceptual "dialogue"
"artefacts of thought" that the initial author has encoded in the
These media artefacts and processes enable the exploration of particular
states of consciousness which are triggered within the experiential

In tracing the genealogy of ideas related to Recombinant Poetics, the
"notes" of Ada Lovelace prove central. Her work with Charles Babbage's
Analytical Engine in the 1800's explored the manifestation of symbolic
logic via the encoding of punched cards, a direct outgrowth from the
Jacquard loom. The punched cards of the Analytical Engine function as a
"translation" and encoding of symbolic language, and can function as a
conceptual machine within a "physical" one. This is again analogous to
hardware/software paradigm. "We may say most aptly that the Analytical
Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves
and leaves." (BABBAGE, 1961 p245)

In her "Notes by The Translator" written to clarify the work "Sketch Of
Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage by L. F. Menabrea," Ada
Augusta, Countess of Lovelace, made some very enlightened remarks.

"The Analytical Engine is an embodying of the science of operations,
constructed with particular reference to abstract number as the subject
those operations... Again, it [The Analytical Engine emphasis the
might act upon other things beside number were objects found whose
fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract
of operations, and which should be also susceptible of adaptions to the
action of the operating notation and mechanism of the engine. Supposing
instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the
of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such
and adaptions, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces
music of any degree of complexity or extent... It may be desirable to
explain, that by the word operation, we mean any process which alters
relation of two or more things, be this relation of what kind it may.
is the most general definition and would include all subjects in the
universe." ([Lovelace as found in ]Babbage, 1961, p.249)

In this note we see a number of foci related to the salient
of both Recombinant Poetics and Re-embodied intelligence; that of the
ability to perform multiple operations upon chosen abstract entities as
well as the potential of those entities to be aesthetic in nature, i.e.
that the machine might act upon and compose and perform "music." Also
relevant to Recombinant Poetics is the pun. Lovelace chose the word
"Translator" in her title, which in this instance could referer to her
being the literal language translator of text by L. F. Menabrea, a
"translator" of thought into readable code as in the analytical engine,
the translator of Babbage's ideas about the Analytical Engine into an
understandable as well as extended form.

>From the perspective of the present, also relevant to these areas of
research is the potential of the computer to enable "Generative" music
coined by Brian Eno.) Also related is the notion of modular
music structures: "Recombinant" music as coined by Seaman. This music is
based on sonic variables and parameters entered into the system, as well
operative processes which act upon those variables producing various
output. Such a system is activated and experienced via the interaction
the user.

Ada continues:

"In abstract mathematics, of course operations alter those particular
relations which are involved in the considerations of number and space,
the results of operations are those particular results which correspond
the nature of the subjects of operation. but the science of operations,
derived from mathematics more especially, is a science of itself, and
its own abstract truth and value; just as logic has its own peculiar
and value, independently of the subjects to which we may apply its
reasonings and processes.  Those who are accustomed to some of the more
modern views of the above subject, will know that a few fundamental
relations being true, certain other combinations of relations must of
necessity follow; combinations unlimited in variety and extent if the
deductions from the primary relations be carried on far enough."
as found in ]Babbage, 1961, p.249)

These ideas are cental to the functioning of Recombinant Poetic works.
enlightened note was published in 1842 almost 100 years before Turing
pick up on its potential ramifications.

ALEKSANDER, I and BURNETT, P. Thinking Machines - The Search for
Intelligence, Alfred A. Knopf (New York, 1987),  pp13 and 108

BABBAGE, C. (1864) Passages From The Life of A Philosopher. Longman,
Roberts, & Green

Joan Baum
BAUM, J. (1986) The Calculating Passion of Ada Byron, Hamden,
Archon Books, p.1

Herman Blum
BLUM, H. (1970) The Loom Has A Brain. Littleton, New Hampshire: Courier
Printing Co. Fifth Printing, pp.41-42, p.44

Deleuze  & Guattari (1987) A Thousand Plateaus. Minneapolis: University
Minnesota Press p.21

Richard Hamilton and Eche Bonk
HAMILTON, R. & BONK, E. (1997) The Typosophic Texture in
Das Burch Zur Documenta X. Cantz p. 309

KROKER, A. and Weinstein, M. (1994) Data Trash : The Theory of the
Class. New York: St. Martins Press p.28

LANDOW, G. (1992) HYPERTEXT: The Convergence of Contemporary Critical
Theory and Technology. Baltimore and London: John Hopkins University
PP.17 AND 18

LOVELACE, A. (1842) Notes By The Translator (of Sketch of the Analytical
Engine by L. F. Menabrea) Biblioteque Universelle de Geneve, October,
No. 82

MITCHELL, W. (1995) City of Bits. Cambridge:  Massachusetts Institute of
Technology Press

PARKER, S, editor in chief (1989) McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific
Technical Terms. Boston:  Kluwer Boston.

Turing, A. (1986) Volume 10 in The Charles Babbage Institute Reprint
for The History Of Computing: A. M. Turing's ACE Report of 1946 and
papers. Cambridge:  MIT Press p.36
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