summary I - notes

## 02.01.2020

meeting with alexandre gefen

3 pathways: 1. artistic properties of code? elegance, simplicity, density (it is beautiful for something), double-coding 2. aestheticizing of code (beautiful in itself, with clarity, symmetry, harmony) 3. staging of code

literature can be seen as two things: - diction - fiction

code is a fiction of the world, but how can the diction of code be beautiful?

TODO: - look up the criteria for judging code that appear in something like the linux kernel - what artistic metaphors can we apply to code (e.g. author, reader, reception, style)

III - broad questions

we can make a parallel between enunciation (bakhtine) and programming langauges (python, js, etc.), in that programming languages are themselves a sort of materiality

code is the only language that is executable -> find what are the formal/aesthetic features that surround (i.e. precede and follow from) this executability… i.e. the syntax and grammar of executability

camille paloque berges focuses on the mode of production of these works (the network), and i would like to focus on the mode of representation of these works (the computation)

the rhetorical uses of programming languages (code is more and more identified, less and less obfuscated, so there is room for closer examination)

what kind of linearity does code have? how does it requalify our understanding of linearity?

the differences between code and computation? gap between execution and expression (or the other way around)?

definition of software??

use of mental models


summary of contributions: - source code poetry is always acknowledged, as the creativity in software, but strongly limited to perl and C - useful concepts (double coding) - esoteric languages a little less - human and machine are mutually influenced, in speech and thought - separation between “art programming” and “regular programming” as sharing different sets of aesthetics - - could “art programming” be a gateway towards opening up the definition of literature - - paying attention to “art programming” allows to pay attention to programming in general

which aspect of this literature do i feel closest to?


mostly literature

katherine hayles - 3 worldviews [literature, cybernetics], includes code within a world-making system of its own, in relation with speech and writing. it is the worldview of computation (to be developed). code works in specific ways (and she develops it through 9 points that aren’t unlike hamlet on the holodeck), and therefore should be taken into account when examining texts. the closest that she gets to is something following the specificity of object-oriented programming (see also: galloway).

contribution: the close analysis of code as a means of literary expression, and explanation of how it stands differently than speech and writing in saussure and derrida’s conceptions, and the contribution to code as a literary and narrative event. she also touches upon some interesting ideas of materiality, which is making me think that one could see specific programming languages as a material

maurice black - the art of code [literature, computer science] initiates the idea of a cross between programming and literature, and assesses that programming is closer to modernism than postmodernism (which i agree to some extent)

alan sondheim - codework [art, literature], an introduction and a typology of codeworks as the interplay between machine and human languages.

contributions: speech integrates code to make it more machine-like, but how does code integrate speech/writing to make it more human-like? and not just in terms of EFFICIENCY

mostly cultural studies

florian cramer - words made flesh [art history, cultural studies]: he puts the accent on pre-existing practices when it comes to literary text, by linking objects and texts today to practices and approaches from before. he integrates source code into a bigger structure, a gradient of all formal systems from binary/assembly to english and hebrew. source code in 50s->10s programming languages is only a small subset of this.

contribution: brings in a typology of the poetics of formally executable code, as well as the construction of a philosophico-epistemological framework. (i.e. how people who came before tried to think about how and why of formal systems)

geoff cox alex mclean - speaking code [political science, engineering, art], explains how programming is a political act by looking at it through the lens of the speech-act, the pronounciation, and therefore the subjective, local, temporary moment of happening of the software. they invoke political philosophers (marx, arendt) to show how software lives in a bigger political ecosystem that (1) cannot be ignored and (2) can be quite effectively addressed.

contribution: approaches code through the deliberate frame of the voice and speech, and therefore integrate cultural/postmodern/almost-feminist approach to the code. they also actually write code snippets to demonstrate their points.

mostly software studies, platform studies

various artists - 10PRNT(CHR(220.5+RND(1)))GOTO10 [software studies], a close analysis of each part of the code (semantic and conceptual, both).

contribution: a style exercise of how close-reading of source code could/should look like.

camille paloque berges - poetique des codes [sociology, literature]: good overview of what was done 10 years ago. particular interest in the social aspect of those practices (network effect, relationship to modes of communication (usenet, bbs) or production (FOSS, GNU)). she does summon de certeau and foucault.

contribution: brings in the mode of existence of the programmers in how they are intertwined with their tools/media and how they try to appropriate them in a similar way that de certeau said. codeworks are a creole language which are however making code appear on the surface but source code submits to human code, which results into an assimilation, and not a fusion.

adrian mckenzie - cutting code [science and technology studies] a thorough analysis of the socio-economical structures in which code is created, acted and received, with several layers (from kernel to large infrastructure and speculative prototypes). however, for a book that talks about code, there are very few lines of actual code. he develops an ontology and says that every programming language is already an ontology (a software ecosystem is a patterning of social relations)

contribution: description of the socio-economical conditions in which software is produced

II - constitution of the corpus

regarding the corpus: - question about the limitation on corpus: source code poems vs. esolangs vs. everything

IV - next steps

what should i read next? things i know: programming language textbooks, and other things like marxist lit crit

gerard genette annette vee - coding literacy