“Position Statement” presented by Nake


Session Title:

  • Kunstliche Kunst: Art and Aesthetics in Times of the Artificial

Presentation Title:

  • Position Statement



  • Panel Statement

    Panel: Kunstliche Kunst

    Artificial art (Kunstliche Kunst) was the self-contradictory term coined in Stuttgart in 1965 in order to distinguish art with the computer from that without. The artificial has since then tremendously gained in strength, and reality sometimes gets replaced by virtuality. It may be worth the attempt to consider art and aesthetics under this aspect.

    1. Information aesthetics was the heroic attempt in the sixties by Max Bense and Abraham A. Moles and the disciples to use the mathematical concept of information as the guiding principle for an analysis of aesthetic processes, both analytic and generative. Although, on a very general level, some exciting insight into the nature of aesthetic processes could be gained, the attempt failed miserably. Nothing really remained that would nowadays arouse any interest for other than historical reasons.
    2. The failure of information aesthetics is due to its most fascinating starting point: the radical idea of an aesthetics of the object. All subjectivism was to be banned from aesthetics: Measure instead of value judgement, number instead of feeling, mathematics instead of psychology. An aesthetics of the object was supposed to produce methods of measuring the object such that a feature vector of quantitative and descriptive factors would replace the aesthetic object. It appears obvious, in retrospect, that this approach was bound to cripple once the notion of an information independent of the perceiver crippled. Not many are left now who still believe in such a concept. An aesthetics of the object is hard pressed when asked for the difference between aesthetics and physics of the object.
    3. Information aesthetics contained one assumption whose importance has increased and has become the central idea of a different approach to aesthetics. That assumption is the notion of the aesthetic object, or the work of art, as a sign. “Sign” here refers to the fundamental concept of semiotics, as, e.g., in Peircean semiotics. A semiotically grounded aesthetics not only opens to the discourse of postmodernism, it also links parts of aesthetics to informatics, which, in this view, turns out to be a technical semiotics.
    4. Any formalistic approach to aesthetics is, of course, only capable of addressing the lower levels of aesthetics. In particular, if computers are to play a role in the game, whether analytically or generatively, only computable aspects of aesthetics can be addressed.
    5. Treating any real process by computer pre-supposes three reductionistic steps: a semiotic transformation of things to signs, a syntactic transformation of signs to representations, and an algorithmic transformation of representions to computable structures. On the other hand, this very process of reductions opens up the field of aesthetic semiosis for new algorithmic works, and thus for new aesthetic experience. The field of algorithmic semioses is still to be explored aesthetically, both on the analytical and generative levels. An aesthetics of algorithmic semiosis is more likely to produce interesting results for sequences of objects than for individual objects. It’s genuine realm is the small difference more than the grand gesture.

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