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id ga9908
authors Senagala, Mahesh
year 1999
title Artistic Process, Cybernetics of Self and the Epistemology of Digital Technology
source International Conference on Generative Art
summary From the viewpoint of Batesonian cybernetics, ‘conscious purpose’ and artistic process are distinct ends of a spectrum of the functioning of self. Artistic activities— by which I mean art, poetry, play, design, etc.— involve processes that are beneath the stratum of consciousness. By definition, consciousness is selective awareness and is linear in execution and limited in its capability to synthesize complex parameters. As Heidegger pointed out, technology is a special form of knowledge (episteme). A machine is a manifestation of such a knowledge. A machine is a result of conscious purpose and is normally task-driven to accomplish a specific purpose(s). The questions this paper raises are to do with the connections between conscious purpose, artistic process and digital technology. One of the central questions of the paper is "if artistic process requires an abandonment or relinquishment of conscious purpose at the time of the generation of the work of art, and if the artistic process is a result of vast number of ‘unconscious’ forces and impulses, then could we say that the computer would ever be able to ‘generate’ or ‘create’ a work of art?" In what capacity and what role would the computer be a part of the generative process of art? Would a computer be able to ‘generate’ and ‘know’ a work of art, which, according to Bateson, requires the abandonment of conscious purpose? The ultimate goal of the paper is to unearth and examine the potential of the computers to be a part of the generative process of what Bateson has called "total self as a cybernetic model". On another plane of discourse, Deleuze and Guattari have added a critical dimension to the discourse of cybernetics and models of human mind and the global computer networks. Their notion of ‘rhizome’ has its roots in Batesonian cybernetics and the cybernetic couplings between the ‘complex systems’ such as human mind, biological and computational systems. Deleuze and Guattari call such systems as human brain and the neural networks as rhizomatic. Given the fact that the computer is the first known cybernetic machine to lay claims to artificial intelligence, the aforementioned questions become even more significant. The paper will explore how, cybernetically, the computer could be ‘coupled’ with ‘self’ and the artistic process — the ultimate expression of human condition. These philosophical and artistic explorations will take place through a series of generative artistic projects (See the figure below for an example) that aim at understanding the couplings and ‘ecology’ of digital technology and the cybernetics of self.
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