Berlin, Transmediales, 8 février 2001
The question is why ? Why to use a computer to produce something which seems easier to produce without it ?
My first answer is « because we don't have the choice » : the principles of the aesthetics which founds art are always changing, because art depends at the same time on the consciousness of subjectivity, on the relations to the objectivity and on the use of the techniques ; and, because on all these points the world has changed, the principles of art have also to do it.
And the question is in fact these of Naum Gabo in 1920 : « How nowadays can art contribute to the history of man ?». So, I agree, with Mario Costa saying that the historical dimension of our beginning era will less and less be that of art, but more and more that of what he calls the « technological sublime ». That means that art is nowadays more than ever related to the techniques and that the relations between the producer and the consumer of art have changed.
I don't have time enough to develop all the consequences of this opinion in details so I will only open, among others, nine personal tracks supported by the consequences of the computer use in literature, specially by the writing of the text by the computer itself, what I call « text generation »...
1. A generated text is a paradoxical object because it is a text which can disappear as soon as it has been written : when you read such a text, you are reading something that you can read never more ; you read another text which is similar to the first one and, but at the same time, a different one : the sensible data of the product are just a way to access to something else which is not the product but behind that product. And this plays with your capacity of anticipation, with the surprise, the memory, the flow of time, the chaos and the finite and the infinite...
2.What is important in such a situation is not the product itself but the process which leads to the product. In other terms, the perception is not solicited to perceive an aesthetical object but, at the same time, the intentional background of the form and the possibilities of manifestation of that background. In such a way, the object of art, the product itself is quite transparent and what is perceived is really what is behind it...
3.Such an object of art is not significant by its form but by the model which makes possible such or such other forms.
4.It is why the aesthetic experience is no more based on the experience but on the experimentation. The question is less that of the contemplation than that of the disappointment produced by the object itself because what is perceived is the possibility of an infinity of almost similar objects - or situations. Not a similar but a quasi similar one, that is the needs of flows of objects to enter into their similarities and their dissimilarities. And this movement has no reason to cease provoking something like an addiction : the form itself disappears behind the flow of forms. And what is important is where leads such a perceptive flow.
5.Behind such or such generated text what imports is the mental and quasi physical sensation of the working modes of such or such language and, at the same time, the relations between a man and all the possibilities of the languages implied. The aesthetic experience goes from something like a relation to the « inner soul » to an « outer look », putting a new distance between the percept and its perception
6.In that way, there is always something of a show in a generated text because what is perceived is more the movement, the way upon which the text moves, the way upon which the language moves, than the text itself, it is the show of an acting language.
7.Also this show is not really the show of what is shown « here and now », but of the potentialities of all the other shows themselves ; so it has no other reason to end than that of the decision of the reader himself.
8.The reader is then implied as an active part of the object of art, he is a component of the art apparatus : he can always decides if he want or not put end to the experimentation and this decision is important because it means that the relation established with such or such reader will never be established with no other reader. Each of them indeed have created their own behaviours in front of such object of art. A discussion on such an aesthetic experience, for instance, can no more be on the object itself but on the processes that make this object possible. I like to call that the « chameleon spirit » : the artistic perception leaves the ground of the perceptive symbols to reach this of something like an « cognitive essence ». The appearances are less important than the concepts of these appearances. The object of art is multispatial, multitemporal, ubiquitous, it is an idea of manifestation of art.
9.It is why there is now a stronger relation between art and science, not because the art today uses more technical tools but because the aesthetic of the artistic creation is based upon principles similar to the principles of science : to find a model behind the infinite appearances of its manifestation. The artist creates methods to create worlds and his aesthetic has no to be evaluated on such or such manifestation of these worlds but more on these methods themselves : to participate to a manifestation of art is now to be placed in front of an infinity of choices and to have to understand theses manifestations by acting on them.