Michael Century on Sun, 28 May 2000 21:00:48 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> OFSS01..thread on artists' tools

 On 27 May 2000, Benjamin Geer wrote:

>Perhaps someday someone will make the perfect computer system for artists,
>which lets them do everything they want with a minimum of technical
>knowledge.  Until then, artists will have to live with the fact that
>computers are general-purpose tools, like airplanes, and that one must
>learn to use them as such.

I'd like to look inside this claim, which is hard to understand
without some understanding what a "perfect" system could possibly mean.

Much discussion on this thread has made clear how rewarding the
steep learning curve for so-called general purpose tools can be.
That is, enabling the development of personal expressive control,
generation of new variations, extending the existing scope of
the 'language' or 'grammar' from which one starts.  Fine.

The next interesting question, though, is where and how to define
the performance boundaries of a tool set, the particular sub-devices,
strategems, routines, etc., which are 'punctualized' and made
reproducible using a reduced set of instructions (I take the term
in quotes from the way actor-network theoriests (eg. Callon) talk
about innovation).

I think tha tinstrumental virtuosity in music performance can be a helpful
way to think about this.  This is a very old, and perhaps tired analogy,
but nonetheless, consider:  A violinist playing an Amati violin is unaware
of the 'magic' in Amati's craft, or at least, need not have much awareness
of this
craft in order to perform on the instrument with skill.  Application
software can in principle (but rarely does) start from this  level
of refinement.  Why not?

Michael Century

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