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<nettime> RE: Notes on codework [3x]
nettime's knitting factory on Thu, 12 Feb 2004 14:01:59 +0100 (CET)


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<nettime> RE: Notes on codework [3x]




Table of Contents:

   Re: Codework impossibility of self-reference and decipherment.                  
     noemata <noemata {AT} kunst.no>                                                      

   RE: <nettime> Notes on codework [response from John Cayley]                     
     "Rita Raley" <raley {AT} english.ucsb.edu>                                           

   RE: <nettime> Notes on codework                                                 
     "Prem Chandavarkar" <prem {AT} cnt-semac.com>                                        



------------------------------

Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 09:53:04 +0100
From: noemata <noemata {AT} kunst.no>
Subject: Re: Codework impossibility of self-reference and decipherment.

10/02/2004 21:47:50, Alan Sondheim <sondheim {AT} PANIX.COM> wrote:

>Codework impossibility of self-reference and decipherment.

I've had basically two ideas how to approach code - 1) Code and its 
double, 2) Code as nothing - in short they would be like:

1) Code and its double refers to Antonin Artaud's 'Theater and its 
Double' and how that theory of 'theater' would fit onto a theory of 
'code'. There's some obvious similarities, like the doubling or two-
fold, which can be expressed in lots of way already done in this thread, 
which amounts to a kind of theater - the staging of itself, the 
performative, time, execution, as artifice, the intermingling of 
appearance and source and their inseperability. There's no transparency 
in this, more light render more shadow, more structure, there's no end 
to it, it cracks up and enter all cracks in a monstruous search for 
itself, or just a runaway process, and for its decoding which is 
ultimately impossible, and also would kill it. This refers to the 
impossibility of decoding.

2) Code as nothing is from the other end, it's already decoded. So, here 
the staging of the code is its failure, its impossibility. The code will 
succeed by killing itself in a performative demounting. The residue is 
its staging from nothing to nothing. It refers to the impossibility of 
self-reference.

These are just the frames, two schemes of codework's double and nothing,  
its monstruous and intelligent aspect, which amount to the same thing.






------------------------------

Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 08:03:48 -0800
From: "Rita Raley" <raley {AT} english.ucsb.edu>
Subject: RE: <nettime> Notes on codework [response from John Cayley]

Those are great points, Alan, I am touched, and look forward to 
talking to you about this more. I get the clean/dirty distinction and 
accept that, despite my (un)conscious desire to de/inf(l)ect the 
categories and structures of so-called traditional/canonical literary 
practice, I do work with/against a notion of clean, functional 
literary and programmable-literary objects. (Not so sure about this, 
on reflection later, when you consider that I do a fair amount of 
*ucking around with generated transitional texts and make points 
about transcultural language issues. The work still 'looks' pretty 
clean tho.)

>  > But why code as opposed to other (chiefly linguistic) matter - from
>>  other registers of language or other practices of natural language  
>> use (other tongues)?
>>
>Because code is often substructure or protocol or generative. As 
>substructure, it underlies, for example, the very distribution of the 
>piece. As protocol, it may underlie the very typing or production of 
>the piece. As generative, it has produced or partially prodced the 
>piece.

I think the question of why code? remains. You are just saying, 
because it's there. What you say is also true of the procedures, the 
'dirty' structures in Joyce. (Btw, is Joyce dirty? generally 
speaking, in your sense - abject dysfunctional - I think it's a real 
question.) Total and global or other-tongue syntax is dysoperative at 
any time in the prodcuct ion and gen aspir ation to this piece, any 
event writing, cleaning, even. (Very easily accessible without 
recourse to code-code.)

I am asking, why these media for these projects? Is it because no 
matter how dirty and abject and dysfunctional you get with codework, 
you stay clean? When does any of this start to matter?

>The
>>  questions are more to do with: what are the properties and methods 
>> of  code as such, and how do (and how could) these contribute to 
>> language  art making? What are the specificities of code that will 
>> allow us to  derive textual objects with distinct characteristics? Or 
>> allow us to  extend the Class Text and/or better understand its 
>> underlying  abstract Class?
>>
>But whose questions, John? These are yours. When you say "more to do 
>with"
>- this is your approach, not mine. When you cay "Class Text" again you're
>operating with the notion of "clean code" ("specificities") which may well
>not be the case. Look at Kenji's work or nn's writing.

So yes, these are my questions, and I am messy-dirtily wedded to a 
relatively clean project, but I do think these questions may help me 
answer why such-and-such media for such-and-such project.

>  > And because a very prominent feature of code is its operation, the
>>  "program that produces a residue" focuses (for me anyway) critical  
>> attention. We are more familiar , in this context, with "carriers of  
>> meaning," however slippery and shifty. re(ad)Joyce! (I know you  
>> always already have.)
>
>Yes I have, but the carriers in this case are structured or dirty 
>structures - very different. You're coming at this through both 
>literature and a 'clean' notion of code (see above); I'm not. For 
>example, Perl poetry is operable, but the residue is pretty much 
>irrelevant - yet as far as I'm concerned that's a terrific use of code. 
>As is the figlet program. I don't distinguish - which is why my list in 
>the first place is highly inclusive, not exclusive.

What could be cleaner than Perl poetry? The (vr-valentine) Card with 
a Perl Endearing.

>  > Code runs and conceals itself. Code that runs generates text over
>>  durations. Code that runs guarantees that language art cannot 
>> bracket  its time-based dimension. It plays and plays out precisely 
>> and  particularly in the 'Not to mention ..."
>>
>Code doesn't necessarily conceal itself. Code doesn't necessarily do 
>anything you say it does. I wouldn't use the phrase 'language art' 
>myself
>- I think prions are also code, DNA is also code and code is not
>necessarily language. I'd have to go back over my Eco for this.

Materially, my point is that code does do exactly what I say. You 
cannot read the code that is running as it runs. It was not coded for 
you, it was coded for the system (for an alien or underlying 
culture). The code may display some manifestation of itself - some 
instantiation of its own archive - as it runs, but it cannot display 
the code structures that are running. This point has a bearing on the 
dirt question since, for me, it introduces a possible site for 
something like an unconscious in the otherwise hypertransparent arena 
of codework and net.art. I'm no where near as well read as you in the 
necessary literature but would be interested to know what you thought 
of 'Inner Workings' http://www.dichtung-digital.de/2003/3-cayley.htm

Code takes literal time to run and as such it takes time to produce a 
readable display not to mention that it can defer reading, withhold 
it, structure and cultivate the time of reading. And yes I accept 
with no qualification that

>All art is time-based

but all art is read within institutions, and literary, even poetic 
(for-bog's-sake) institutions currently operate with a dominant 
notion of writing as deferral, as atemporal (to an extrapordinary 
degree) for critical purposes. For me, writing in networked and 
programmable media challenges this in a direct and very clear/n way. 
Although, hopefully, things will get messy.

>I feel a real difference between us is that I am writing from the 
>position of dirty code, world-code, which may or may not operate, and 
>that may or may not be the point. For example one piece I did involved 
>reversing all the < and > on a specially written webpage. The result is 
>chaotic, dys- functional in many ways, amazingly functional in others. 
>At West Virginia, I re-morphed/mapped motion capiture sensors, 
>transforming the body into a signal or searchlight system (see my 
>heap.mov at http://www.asondheim.org ). And so forth.
>
>It seems to me you're interested primarily in clean and generating 
>concealed code - I have no problem with that. But I do feel you dismiss 
>(even the word 'pseudo-code' is dismissive) everything else that's 
>going on; since you're an editor and critic in the field, it's 
>problematic for me.

I do want to be clear that I'm not, in any of this, trying to work 
out some way to dismiss any of what you do. I've got no problem and 
great respect for your performances and interventions. If I've used 
'pseudo-code' it's not meant to be dismissive, simply to signal that 
the code in question would not operate.

If I have any genuine critical - as in valorising - point to make it 
is in relation to work that is presented as more or less as composed 
writing in whatever media that simply incorporates code elements. 
Such writing gets no credit for doing this per se. To be interesting 
it would have to do more: e.g. get down and dirty; try to be as 
clever and interesting and involved as Joyce; or, even better, show 
us something about the properties and methods of code and/or 
language, more than the simple fact that you can kludge them together 
in the same word, sentence, paragraph, world.

>(I want to point out also btw - in relation to the Cybertext book - 
>that Jim R's work is quite clean, but he's not the only practitioner; I 
>was doing codework in 71 and later wrote a number of programs in 76-78. 
>Some of these are now in the internet text. And I was _late_ - 
>Fernbach- Florsheim was doing things in the 60s with computers/code. 
>Etc. etc.)

Hey, we wasn't trying to do a hard-core history of programmatology in 
the Cybertext Yearbook and I do know that even you were late. 
Rosenberg deserves the priority he deserves, as we all do.

I feel a bit of an interloper here - not a nettime or anylist 
subscriber - so sorry to take up space and time in this forum. I'm 
afraid that normally the way I live (zen hermit up big-ass mountain) 
doesn't let me into such exchanges. Forgive me if I logoff now, with 
many thanks to Alan for his ever-incisive dirty (I mean that in his 
good way) words.

John [via Rita]

- -----Original Message-----
From: Alan Sondheim [mailto:sondheim {AT} panix.com] 
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2004 8:54 PM
To: Rita Raley
Cc: nettime-l {AT} bbs.thing.net
Subject: Re: <nettime> Notes on codework [response from John Cayley]


On Tue, 10 Feb 2004, Rita Raley wrote:

> That is a great way to put it. That when so-called natural language
> is, for example, 'mezangelled,' then "the interiorities of more or
> less traditional semantic words" are "broken." The code that breaks
> into the words is not necessarily itself broken. (Although let's face
> it, if it doesn't get recontextualized pronto, it ain't going to
> compile.)
>
> But why code as opposed to other (chiefly linguistic) matter - from
> other registers of language or other practices of natural language
> use (other tongues)?
>
Because code is often substructure or protocol or generative. As
substructure, it underlies, for example, the very distribution of the
piece. As protocol, it may underlie the very typing or production of the
piece. As generative, it has produced or partially prodced the piece.

> The point is not to valorise or downgrade
> (aesthetically/socially/politically) some text because it addresses
> or incorporates code, or subgrade it because the constituent code is
> broken or operative. Brokenness need not ally with value in any neat
> way. [See Sandy Baldwin in the current Cybertext Yearbook].

Here is the issue; your 'addressing' or 'incorporating' (btw I've read
Baldwin and was just down in Morgantown) implies a separation which for me
- - like the activities in the _chora_ are both problematized and
inseparable.

As far as brokenness is concerned, I am working out of Winograd and Flores
(re: Heidegger) here.

The
> questions are more to do with: what are the properties and methods of
> code as such, and how do (and how could) these contribute to language
> art making? What are the specificities of code that will allow us to
> derive textual objects with distinct characteristics? Or allow us to
> extend the Class Text and/or better understand its underlying
> abstract Class?
>
But whose questions, John? These are yours. When you say "more to do with"
- - this is your approach, not mine. When you cay "Class Text" again you're
operating with the notion of "clean code" ("specificities") which may well
not be the case. Look at Kenji's work or nn's writing.

(I want to point out also btw - in relation to the Cybertext book - that
Jim R's work is quite clean, but he's not the only practitioner; I was
doing codework in 71 and later wrote a number of programs in 76-78. Some
of these are now in the internet text. And I was _late_ - Fernbach-
Florsheim was doing things in the 60s with computers/code. Etc. etc.)

> And because a very prominent feature of code is its operation, the
> "program that produces a residue" focuses (for me anyway) critical
> attention. We are more familiar , in this context, with "carriers of
> meaning," however slippery and shifty. re(ad)Joyce! (I know you
> always already have.)

Yes I have, but the carriers in this case are structured or dirty
structures - very different. You're coming at this through both literature
and a 'clean' notion of code (see above); I'm not. For example, Perl
poetry is operable, but the residue is pretty much irrelevant - yet as far
as I'm concerned that's a terrific use of code. As is the figlet program.
I don't distinguish - which is why my list in the first place is highly
inclusive, not exclusive.
>
> Code runs and conceals itself. Code that runs generates text over
> durations. Code that runs guarantees that language art cannot bracket
> its time-based dimension. It plays and plays out precisely and
> particularly in the 'Not to mention ..."
>
Code doesn't necessarily conceal itself. Code doesn't necessarily do
anything you say it does. I wouldn't use the phrase 'language art' myself
- - I think prions are also code, DNA is also code and code is not
necessarily language. I'd have to go back over my Eco for this.

All art is time-based btw. Some of the codework I do takes advantage of
lag (in email or quicktime .mov), and some doesn't and some appears
instantaneous ...

I feel a real difference between us is that I am writing from the position
of dirty code, world-code, which may or may not operate, and that may or
may not be the point. For example one piece I did involved reversing all
the < and > on a specially written webpage. The result is chaotic, dys-
functional in many ways, amazingly functional in others. At West Virginia,
I re-morphed/mapped motion capiture sensors, transforming the body into a
signal or searchlight system (see my heap.mov at http://www.asondheim.org
). And so forth.

It seems to me you're interested primarily in clean and generating
concealed code - I have no problem with that. But I do feel you dismiss
(even the word 'pseudo-code' is dismissive) everything else that's going
on; since you're an editor and critic in the field, it's problematic for
me.

- - Alan

> >12 Not to mention all those aleatoric texts, stochastic or chaotic texts
> >or imagery, multi-media codeworks, generative works, generative works fed
> >into themselves (resonance-work), specialized editors which refuse the
> >WYSIWYG...
>
> John (Cayley)
>

http://www.asondheim.org/ http://www.asondheim.org/portal/.nikuko
http://www.anu.edu.au/english/internet_txt
Trace projects http://trace.ntu.ac.uk/writers/sondheim/index.htm
finger sondheim {AT} panix.com


------------------------------

Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2004 18:03:05 +0530
From: "Prem Chandavarkar" <prem {AT} cnt-semac.com>
Subject: RE: <nettime> Notes on codework

>
> what is code in the first place ? - obviously it can either be a PROGRAM
> which PRODUCES a residue - or it can be a CARRIER of meaning. this depends
> on the semiotic encodings as well as the PERFORMATIVITIES at work. a code
> may or may perform - in the sense that it may or may not create a result
> that one might characterize ontologically and/or epistemologically as AN
> OTHER.
>

Do look up Lawrence Lessig's essay "The Law of the Horse: What Cyberlaw
might Teach"
http://www.swiss.ai.mit.edu/classes/6.805/articles/lessig-horse.pdf

The argument is expanded in his book "Code and Other Laws in Cyberspace"

The concept of code as spatial structure in cyberspace (performing what
architecture does in physical space) would be an interesting addition to the
possibilities you have mentioned.


------------------------------

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