The Interactive Paradigm – Journal, 09.21.16

Class Readings

Why would artists create work algorithmically?

“In the Logicians Voice” by David Berlinski

“The Serial Attitude” by Mel Bochner

“Music as a Gradual Process” by Steve Reich

“The Cut-up Method” of Brion Gysin by William S. Burroughs


What is Cybernetics?

“The Emergence of Control” by Kevin Kelly

Excerpt from God and Golum, Inc by Norbert Wiener

An Interview with Hans Haacke by Jeanne Siegel


What are generative systems?

“Metacreation” by Michael Whitelaw

“Cellular Automata and Art” by Brian P. Hoke


Link to Notes on the Readings


Class Overview

Fortunately, I did all the reading the first week. I also did the essay for this section on Sunday, November 18th. It is good that I did, since I was prepared for class. Sadly, I started to get sick on Wednesday. I had a hard time even staying upright during class, much less following the conversation. Fortunately (kinda) not everyone did the readings so class got cut short. It is probably for the best since I wasn’t really focused. I took a few notes, but they are not even worth transcribing. They don’t say much.


I have gone back and done some pretty extensive independent reading to try and make up for my lack of focus. I feel like I probably missed important material. Hopefully, the research will help me catch up.


Notes & Research


“In the Logicians Voice” by David Berlinski

About David Berlinski

“Is scientific atheism a frivolous exercise in intellectual contempt? Dead on.”


#272 Debate: Atheism Poisons Everything

Christopher Hitchens v. David Berlinski



“The Serial Attitude” by Mel Bochner

Edward Muybridge Biography


The Complete Works of Thomas Eakins


The Works of Jasper Johns


The Works of Alfred Jensen


Biography and Works of Larry Poon


The Judd Foundation by Donald Judd


Sol LeWitt at the Lisson Gallery


Milton Babbitt: Portrait of a Serial Composer

  • Culmination of the Great B-lineage? Bach, Beaton, Babbitt…
  • Jackson Mississippi
  • Violin
  • Mendelssohn Violin Concerto
  • No one knew what to make of his interest
  • first piece of music composition
  • didn’t master violin
  • took up clarinet
  • then saxophone
  • playing many kinds f music
  • early 20s, no records to speak of no radio
  • made your own music
  • made arrangements of everything, jazz, Dixieland etc
  • lots of writing and composition, pop songs, marches, etc
  • how did he change?
  • went up t Philadelphia
  • Uncle who gave him Sheinberg (sp) to play
  • brought back music from Paris
  • Honegger First Symphony
  • Huge score with lots of instrumentation and complexity
  • began serious writing
  • book: 2oth century music by Marion Bower
  • didn’t continue video


“Music as a Gradual Process” by Steve Reich

Who is John Cage?

Steve Reich, Electric Counterpoint (full)


I listened. I focused. I used headphones and I paid attention. I didn’t dislike it. I didn’t find it annoying or bothersome. I don’t think I felt anything. I am not sure I understand any message or ideas about it. I am not even sure if I am supposed to. It’s just music. Mildly disorganized? Well… no, not so much disorganized. It just doesn’t seem to have any particular beginning or end. It isn’t a story like a pop song. It’s just sound on some kind of path I can’t identify.


“The Cut-up Method” of Brion Gysin by William S. Burroughs

See Essay (Insert Link)


What is Cybernetics?

“The Emergence of Control” by Kevin Kelly


Book Summary: “Out of Control” Edited by Kevin Kelly

  • No fundamental difference between natural and artificial systems
  • calls it neo-biological civilization.
  • based on concept of parallel systems
  • large number of simple units connected with large number of other units
  • no central mechanism
  • each autonomous
  • process in parallel so non-linear causality
  • ants, bird flocks, etc
  • counterpart is serial system
  • ex of serial is Von Neumann computer architecture
  • most mechanics are serial systems
  • parallel systems are “distributed” swarms, hives, vivisystems
  • Personal Note: Slime mold?
  • Advantages over serial systems
  • damage to some units doesn’t damage whole
  • highly adaptable
  • neural networks
  • disadvantage
  • functioning is less transparent
  • also no central control, no direct control over specific units
  • parallel systems can be guided like a flock of sheep but not controlled
  • impossible to have direct control over all units
  • Kelly says not a disadvantage
  • not unguided
  • great adaptability
  • capable of finding new solutions to problems
  • control becomes an emergent characteristic of the parallel system
  • Kelly is a materialist.
  • life is a “non spiritual, mostly mathematical property”
  • can emerge from network arrangements
  • can be copied
  • Machines can and will live; natural systems can and will become more artificial.
  • evolution is a parallel process
  • no master plan
  • no top-down structure
  • evolution not exclusively biological
  • eventually multiformity of nature will also develop in artificial systems
  • According to Kelly, the first steps have already been taken —
  • ex: Tom Ray’s evolving computer programs (including the development of parasites), Danny Hillis’ evolution simulation on parallel computers
  • nature contains best solutions to complex problems
  • He quotes Danny Hillis, with whom he agrees: There are only two ways we know of to make extremely complicated things. One is by engineering, and the other is evolution. And of the two, evolution will take the more complex.
  • Structure artificial systems from bottom up. Then let them evolve
  • natural and artificial world no longer separate
  • neo-biological civilization.
  • consequence is the loss of control.
  • Personal Note: So much fearful sci-fi but I don’t agree with it
  • systems become increasingly independent
  • price we must pay!
  • that’s ok, we get cool new ideas and new systems etc etc etc
  • increased diversity
  • We are gods. But not traditional gods. We are capable of creating much, perhaps even our own successors
  • we shouldn’t try to control it!
  • not all Kelly’s claims supported by fact
  • questions about engineering v. evolution
  • . But, according to Kelly, we mustn’t attempt to maintain control over that which we create. We will have to learn to accept our new role.
  • vision is inspiring for those with a materialistic vision of the world


Ted Talk, Kevin Kelly: What Technology Wants


This tedtalk was great. It outlined a lot of the same thinking as the reading but added some philosophical implications. This is a lot of what I was trying to say in class when I said that technology was inevitable as well as my essay on morality. Technology is not bad. We can’t stop it. All we can do is simultaneously develop our moral and ethical standards so that we can think about how to use it, adapt it, help it grow and change to become something better. It also points out the idea that technology may very well desire that for itself. It desire success. It’s part of our ecosystem. It isn’t a force of destruction. It wants to grow and fit in the same as any biological system.

Also links back to last art talk. Genetic information is out there. The technology will exist. It is good that an artist is showing teh world teh ways it could be good or bad. We need to understand teh potential, to learn about it so that it can improve and be used well.

Technology is a bit like a child. It is born. It is here. It isnt going anywhere and we shouldn’t want it to. We should cherish it and teach it and guide it. We cant control it, but we can give it teh foundation it needs to be a positive force more than a negative.

  • Weird bio intro with computer voice
  • most are involved in technology in some way
  • let’s look at it another way other than just one thing after another
  • tend to think of technology as anything invented after we were born
  • most is more than that
  • anything with an off and on switch?
  • something anyone can make? no one person can make?
  • ecosystem of technologies
  • super organism of technology
  • Technium – system of things all together
  • system, 2 things happen
  • whole thing behaves differently than parts
  • bee is different from bee hive
  • dissect bee never find behavior of hive
  • same with technology
  • wires not the same as iphone
  • interested in whole system
  • one thing we know is that they always exhibit emergent tendencies
  • they have biases
  • they have what I would call “Wants”
  • not intelligent, not conscious
  • “want” as in the way a plant wants light
  • what does technology want?
  • begin with plant
  • technium is an extension of same evolutionary forces that made us
  • so what does evolution want?
  • orthodoxy is that evolution doesn’t want anything
  • but minority view suggests that there is increasing complexity in the world
  • therefore evolution does want something
  • technology wants?
  • move to greater complexity
  • start simple so only one place to go
  • looking at leading edge doesn’t help
  • look at trailing edge
  • rarely happens that complex becomes simpler
  • generally things become more complex and more diverse m not simpler even when they have the chance
  • list long term trends in biology
  • increasing diversity, mutuality, mindfulness, specialty
  • origin of learning, adapt
  • increased evolvability
  • evolution itself is evolving
  • the ability to evolve is evolving
  • degrees of freedom
  • space in which early organism could evolve is small
  • sexual recombination makes it easier
  • evolvability has increased
  • that’s fine for evolution
  • but awareness about 50 years ago when discovered essence of life is in information, genetics
  • once understood it’s a lot of info
  • it’s the same as what machines do
  • computers
  • maybe equivalency?
  • sciences took Darwinian process and moved into computer system
  • experiments on ecoli
  • used it as computer
  • equivalency between living and the made
  • distinction not as great as we think it is
  • basically all information based
  • what does technology want?
  • in some ways it’s an extension of what evolution wants
  • again, want doesn’t mean intelligent
  • want that robot has
  • programmed to find its own power
  • so it roams around looking for an outlet and when it sees one it takes its tail and plugs itself in
  • stand between it and its plug
  • it really really wanted the electricity
  • wants like a grasshopper wants food
  • wants the same thing life wants
  • headed towards, biased towards increasing complexity diversity specialization, sentience, evolvability
  • increasing or amplifying the ways in which things change
  • evolution is evolving
  • we see increasing diversity
  • cells go from general to specialized
  • technology does same
  • camera, underwater, infrared underwater
  • we understand that technology has its own agenda
  • it wants more technology
  • power to serve itself
  • calculated that 3/4 of power we generate is used by machine snot us
  • car is moved, not us
  • a sense in which more and more of technium is machines talking to other machines
  • long term trend is that most inventions happen and are discovered simultaneously, independently by multitudes, more than one
  • everyone
  • light bulb discovered 20 times independently
  • there is no invention that stands alone
  • part of cluster, ecology of invention
  • once one is in place, the adjacent invention is almost inevitable
  • Personal Note: This is what I said in class about the inevitability of technology, which Nate disagreed with. Maybe I didn’t explain it well. Kevin Kelly pretty much summed it up. The evidence lies in the independent discover of inventions. Wiping it out is like wiping out life. It just can’t be done without something cataclysmic
  • long term tendency in technium is pattern in which computer chips become twice as fast and half as cheap every year’
  • been doing this in a straight line beginning in the 60s
  • that same kind of law occurs in other domains
  • bandwidth
  • growth of performance in hard disks
  • gene sequencing
  • happens independent of peoples beliefs
  • going to be governed by the physics and chemistry of matter
  • slope dependent on economic regimes
  • urge, tendency within technium itself
  • web was inevitable
  • that’s the genus of it
  • in terms of a class of things
  • species not so inevitable
  • same thing about we
  • web inevitable
  • what kind is not
  • transparent or open?
  • government or nonprofit?
  • one protocol or another?
  • matter hugely to us
  • human cloning is inevitable
  • we decide context and environment
  • computer driven autos are inevitable
  • we have a choice about infrastructure and politics around them
  • not whether they are going to be here
  • we have created our humanity
  • we are both created and creator
  • curator and curated
  • sometimes we are master sometimes slave
  • dichotomy will always exist
  • technology forever because we are dependent on it
  • external stomach – cooking outside, digesting things we couldn’t digest on our own. Changed everything. We are bodily dependent on it now
  • making us first technology
  • explosion of population after invention of language which allowed us to communicate to ourselves and others
  • gave us access to our own smartness
  • settled most watersheds at the rate of 1 mile per year, settled and occupied whole planet
  • fastest species take over’s
  • very few tools, we altered planet
  • eliminated 250 mega faunas extinct from hunter gathering
  • altered ecosystem
  • so from the very beginning we have planetary effect with technology
  • changed climate
  • climate change preceded industrial age
  • already a planetary scale
  • no dispute that most changes caused by technology
  • humanity is our greatest invention but we are not done yet!
  • we always have this tension
  • I would embrace technology but it has an environmental impact. There is no technology that doesn’t have a green version. It isn’t inherent to be anti-compatible with life
  • if it is an extension of life then it is inherently compatible
  • when we make computer chips they demand pure water, technology demands pure water
  • idea, bad idea we don’t say “think less’ We say do it better
  • same thing with bad technology ‘if it’s bad or stupid or harmful. solution is not less technology but to have better technology
  • trying to understand that what technology gives us in the long term is that it INCREASES CHOICES
  • adds freedom and diversity
  • technology is neutral? can be good or bad.
  • Just the fact that we have a new option is a tiny bit of good that is new, not neutral
  • it only takes a little difference to make progress
  • if we just use it 1% more to create than destroy then it is progress
  • what technology does give us is progress
  • it’s a cosmic force and while we are all involved in making this stuff
  • we are participating in something bigger
  • origins in big bang
  • self-organization runs through cosmos, through life, through technium
  • it is bring us on a long arc
  • we can participate when we use technology to increase choices, options and opportunities
  • technology allows each of us to find a tool to find or express our genius
  • imagine Jemmi Hendrix without amplifier shared his genius
  • what if he was born before? invention?
  • somewhere in the world is a genius waiting for us to invent our technology
  • just as past did for us
  • and so obligation to invent new tools for the future
  • I think that’s why technology is good
  • we are partaking in a long arc of something cosmic that is bringing us new choices and possibilities



Excerpt from God and Gollum, Inc by Norbert Wiener


Why is it Important to Understand Norbert Wiener’s Work Today? Professor Iven Mareels

  • because innovative
  • interdisciplinary
  • engineering and bio worked together
  • human body and animal world to understand hwo to actually use control and command
  • trying to learn from it to do better engineering
  • critically important topic

general description of cybernetics, useful overview


The Greatest Computer Programmer was it’s First

Clip from Larger Documentary



The Von Newmann Architecture


An Interview with Hans Haacke by Jeanne Siegel

Overview of Hans Haacke


Hans Haacke in 1986


Hans Haacke, Blue Sail 1964-65

What are generative systems?

“Metacreation” by Michael Whitelaw

Rodney Brooks, Robotocist

Humanoid Robotics Group


Rodney Brooks and Robotics


  • A robot is a machine
  • that senses the world
  • then it computes
  • acts in the world
  • building with 3 levels of control
  • primitive with motors and sensors
  • skills with basic skills
  • behaviors like finding dirt going through a mountain path
  • we are mechanism, machine
  • we should be able to build machine out of other stuff that are just as alive as we are
  • make robots that are safe to interact with
  • going to be important
  • we are not there yet
  • making progress


Rodney Brooks on the Singularity and Robots

This is a long video but I watched the first part of it

  • Singularity summit
  • singularity the technological construction of a smarter than human intelligence
  • is it risky or good? what can we predict?
  • gives example of consequences of hot air balloon, not what we expected, fear, spirituality etc
  • at the time things are happening we understand the world as it is but it’s hard to understand the world as it will be
  • skeptical about the worries about artificial general intelligence
  • skeptical about the promises
  • I don’t think it’s ever as good or bad as we expect or fear
  • Hollywood asks these questions
  • accept or fear?
  • Einstein was a scientist not a technologist
  • The best way to predict the future is to invent it
  • Arthur C Clarke said that people overestimate technology in the short term but underestimate it in the long term
  • we think through Hollywood but Hollywood is very specific about it
  • He likes the movie Bicentennial Man
  • ..
  • reading paper newspaper when he has fully functional android
  • Hollywood takes the world as it is and adds one thing
  • Movie AI is the worst!
  • AI adds emotion, that’s it
  • When general artificial intelligence appears, the world is going to be different
  • it isn’t today’s world!
  • it will have grown with the technology
  • WHEN not if, I believe when
  • underestimating the long term
  • Star Trek Rocks
  • .. look at 60s version, dated technology
  • Arthur C Clarke did pretty well, least dating science fiction
  • I think the future needs robotics
  • population is getting older (data presented)
  • ration of young to old will get skewed
  • who will provide services?
  • robots!
  • .. this is very interesting but not as much on topic as I would like, listen later!


Works of William Latham

Works of Karl Sims

Game of Life

About Van Goethe

Paul Klee

Russian Avant-garde Gallery

About Nicolas Schoffer

Art of James Seawright

“Orbits” by James Seawright


“Twins” by James Seawright


James Seawright Interactive Light and Sound Installations

The House that Jack Built

About Systems Art

Define: negentropic

2 Define: negentropic

Entropy is a rough measure of randomness and disorder, or the absence of pattern in the structuring of a system. Negative entropy, or negentropy, roughly refers to the degree of order or organization within a closed system.

What is (Schrödinger’s) Negentropy?


“Cellular Automata and Art” by Brian P. Hoke

Links to Cellular Automata

Works of Bernard Dunston

Works of Camille Pissaro