Week 4 – David Wieser

I’m sure the first thing everyone will blog about is the GFP bunny and its relevence to art. I suppose I will say my piece. While it is cool that the bunny is green, it is art only in the general sense. Much like my carpet could be construed as art or a fence could be considered art, so could the GFP bunny. However, the GFP bunny is merely the product of calculated design. Paintings are made in the most meticulous of methods. As a result, computer code could also be called art, even though many programming algorithms are reused. Plus, if you ask an average person if a glowing bunny is considered art, they’d likely respond, “Well, I guess so, but I hadn’t thought of that before.” If you ask another average person if the Mona Lisa is art, they’ll say “yes”. Enough about the GFP bunny. Green bunnies aren’t that cool. If anything, it’s kind of creepy that it’s frickin’ green. I found the difference engine to be quite interesting. Professor Vesna didn’t go over it in too much detail in class, so I looked it up further on the home of all information, Wikipedia. The explanation it had of the math the difference engine used eluded me a bit, but I understand that it was able to model polynomials almost two hundred years ago. The idea of a calculator so long ago is amazing to me. As a computer science major, I am greatly interested in high technology. I’ve been following the evolution of computers since I was a little kid, so I have a bit of a timeline in my head of how computers go. The metallic steampunk design of the difference engine is intriguing. It almost looks newer and more reliable than the old vacuum tube computers. It really is amazing how technology brought purely mechanical calculators into the form of ridiculously fast computers. Almost makes me want to go build a difference engine just for my own interest.

On considering the biotechnology-as-art concept, I thought further about the idea that code is art. If so, could a physics engine be considered art? It isn’t even tangible, yet it could model things in some theoretically artistic way. It’s easy to call models or textures art, since they are basically the computer analogy of paintings and sculptures. Code and concepts, however, are another story. A more-palatable extension of this would be philosophy as art. Are thoughts art? The definition of art is, in short, “aesthetically pleasing”, and I suppose that philosophy does not apply directly to any of the senses. Of course, I’m a computer science major discussing art, so perhaps I am wrong. If everything is art, why would art even be a word?

I found the idea of generative music thoroughly intriguing. The idea that an algorithm can constantly generate new music is excellent. If you had a program like that and you could define some parameters that the music would fall under and then somehow allowed users to choose which generated creation they liked, you would never have to buy new music. At least, I wouldn’t. Lyrics would likely be far more difficult to emulate with a computer program, but since I listen to industrial anyway, it would work excellently. I find it doubly interesting that the idea of generative music is being used in the highly-anticipated upcoming computer game, Spore. Spore is by the same people who did Simcity and The Sims, so you can expect it to be some sort of constructive game. However, its scale dwarfs anything anyone has ever done before. Essentially, you design a creature from the cell stage through the societal stage. Genetics play an important factor, so the generative music idea would be nothing short of PERFECT for this sort of production.

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