Special Issue "The Poetics of Computation"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 March 2016)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Burt Kimmelman

Department of Humanities, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights Newark, New Jersey 07102, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: modern and postmodern literature, medieval studies, communications technology and aesthetics and technology
Guest Editor
Dr. Philip Andrew Klobucar

Department of Humanities, New Jersey Institute of Technology, University Heights Newark, New Jersey 07102, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: social media, literature, electronic literature, computation, digital media

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Profound and dramatic changes in contemporary society's technological foundation, with its substrates of codes and digital processes, have created in many artists and critical thinkers increased sensitivity to the interdependency between what we might call technological “knowledge” and the values typically associated with humanism. At the same time, the problems of technological positivism, with its impulse toward a fully rationalized society that is geared towards efficiency and functionalism, continue to challenge humanists to engage critically the ongoing barrage of technical innovations affecting every discipline. This Special Issue of Humanities, in delving into these innovations, while remaining grounded in the fundamental insights that the field of technology studies provides, will explore how recent developments in digital media (including explorations in big data, artificial neural networks, and augmented reality tools) have been adapted and theorized by philosophers and artists to promote a variety of projects, so as to give rise to a new way of thinking about technology in general, and perhaps about creativity and thinking per se.

Linking such developments, the Special Issue will focus, in particular, upon the current appropriation of the term and concept of computation within arts and letters, in an effort not only to explore long established confluences between technology and humanist principles (keeping in mind historical notions of computation), but also to note how recent advances in coding have provided writers and artists with key insights into how linguistic structure may influence, and may even possibly determine, cognitive and emotional conditions in a work of art. To this end, the two terms, computation and poetics, will be considered in relation to one another in order to show how a “computational” approach to writing and the arts can support a wide range of language-oriented experiments in philosophy, literature, and digital media in general. In doing so, the issue may shed light on how the term and idea of computation need not preclude certain aspects of what philosophers typically refer to as the life-world, such as doubt, perplexity, and open-ended reasoning, and thus may reveal a more sophisticated symbiosis between what are thought of as natural processes and newly emerging technological processes that need not dissolve the humanities as a category of inquiry.

Prof. Dr. Burt Kimmelman
Dr. Philip Andrew Klobucar
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 350 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

References:

Berry, David M. The Philosophy of Software. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).

Bok, Christian. Pataphysics: The Poetics of an Imaginary Science. Evanston, IL Northwestern UP, 2001. Print.

Cayley, John and Daniel C. Howe. How It Is in Common Tongues (The Readers Project: Common Tongues). Providence: NLLF Press, 2012Ellul, Jacques. The Technological Society, trans. John Wilkinson. New York: Knopf, 1973. Print.

Feenberg, Andrew. Critical Theory of Technology. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991. Print.

Funkhouser. C.T. New Directions in Digital Poetry (International Texts in Critical Media). New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2012. Print.

Golumbia, David. The Cultural Logic of Computation. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2009. Print.

Hayles, N. Katherine. Electronic Literature: New Horizons for the Literary. Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008. Print.

------. My Mother was a Computer. Chicago: UP Chicago, 2005. Print.

------. Writing Machines (Mediaworks Pamphlets). Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002. Print.

Heidegger, Martin. "Question Concerning Technology." Question Concerning Technology and other Essays. Anne Arbor, MI: UP Michigan, 1977. Print.

Morris, Adalaide and Thomas Swiss (Ed.). New Media Poetics: Contexts, Technotexts, and Theories. Cambridge: MIT press, 2009. Print.

Stefans, Brian Kim. Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics. Berkeley: Atelos, 2003. Print.

Sterne, Jonathon. The Audible Past. Durham, VA: Duke UP, 2011. Print.

Keywords

  • Infoaesthetics
  • mediology
  • phenomenology
  • aesthetic theory
  • programming
  • networks
  • symbolic logic
  • computation, poetics

Published Papers (10 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessFeature PaperEditorial Poetry’s Execution: Contemporary Writings on the Poetics of Computation
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 41; doi:10.3390/h6020041
Received: 27 April 2017 / Accepted: 8 June 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
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Abstract
Introduction to Special Issue "Poetics of Computation". This editorial is intended to serve as the introductory text to the entire issue. It attempts to tie several of the featured articles together thematically and critically together, while illustrating several common arguments that continue to
[...] Read more.
Introduction to Special Issue "Poetics of Computation". This editorial is intended to serve as the introductory text to the entire issue. It attempts to tie several of the featured articles together thematically and critically together, while illustrating several common arguments that continue to inform studies in language, coding and the literary arts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Code and Substrate: Reconceiving the Actual in Digital Art and Poetry
Humanities 2017, 6(3), 48; doi:10.3390/h6030048
Received: 12 December 2016 / Revised: 13 June 2017 / Accepted: 5 July 2017 / Published: 14 July 2017
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Abstract
The quality of digital poetry or art—not merely as contained within our aesthetic reaction to digitally expressive works but as well our intellectual grounding in them—suggests that the digital’s seemingly ephemeral character is an indication of its lack of an apparently material existence.
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The quality of digital poetry or art—not merely as contained within our aesthetic reaction to digitally expressive works but as well our intellectual grounding in them—suggests that the digital’s seemingly ephemeral character is an indication of its lack of an apparently material existence. While, aesthetically, the digital’s ephemerality lies in the very fact of the digitally artistic enterprise, the fact is that its material substrate is what makes the aesthetic pleasure we take in it possible. When we realize for ourselves the role played by this substrate, furthermore, a paradox looms up before us. The fact is that we both enjoy, and in some sense separately understand the artwork comprehensively and fully; we also allow ourselves to enter into an ongoing conversation about the nature of the physical world. This conversation is not insignificant for the world of art especially, inasmuch as art depends upon the actual materials of the world—even digital art—and, too, upon our physical engagement with the art. Digital poetry and art, whose dynamic demands the dissolution of the line that would otherwise distinguish one from the other, have brought the notion of embodiment to the fore of our considerations of them, and here is the charm, along with the paradoxical strength, of digital art and poetry: it is our physical participation in them that makes them fully come into being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Occupy the Emotional Stock Exchange, Resisting the Quantifying of Affection in Social Media
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 33; doi:10.3390/h6020033
Received: 16 January 2017 / Revised: 8 May 2017 / Accepted: 11 May 2017 / Published: 26 May 2017
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Abstract
By using a carnivalesque strategy, netprovs discussed in this article introduced a disruption innovation into the social advertising market, a new source of value: creative satire. By playing multiple characters or forcibly separating the real person from the avatar they revealed the myth
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By using a carnivalesque strategy, netprovs discussed in this article introduced a disruption innovation into the social advertising market, a new source of value: creative satire. By playing multiple characters or forcibly separating the real person from the avatar they revealed the myth of the consistent online identity. By encouraging users to look on the other side of the mirror they sought to increase awareness of the real “why” these tools exist. Users were introduced to skepticism of online affection and of projected affection in general. Most importantly they promoted an alternative value network: a culture of contentment and satisfaction — satisfaction in play, in creativity. They created a value network of inner rewards, redeemable in the moment, good forever, producing a real community in which players demonstrate with intentionality genuine attention and approval in the improv manner, by saying “yes, and,” by elaborating others’ fictional themes and moments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Programming’s Turn: Computation and Poetics
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 27; doi:10.3390/h6020027
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 12 April 2017 / Accepted: 26 April 2017 / Published: 5 May 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (200 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Digital media and culture scholars routinely distinguish code from any common cultural understanding of media in order to underscore its wholly unique function as an epistemological tool. Where media emphasizes a hermeneutical relationship to knowledge as a mode of interpretation based on its
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Digital media and culture scholars routinely distinguish code from any common cultural understanding of media in order to underscore its wholly unique function as an epistemological tool. Where media emphasizes a hermeneutical relationship to knowledge as a mode of interpretation based on its graphic or symbolic representation, the idea of code in many ways invokes a far more complex and dynamic sense of how we determine meaning using symbols or signs in language in terms of producing actual programmable events. In the digital universe, computation, in terms of pre-coded rules, patterns and procedures, continues to showcase all objects and events, along with various corresponding behaviours or viabilities. This paper looks first at a range of contemporary philosophers, like Don Ihde, Katherine Hayles, David Berry and Bruno Latour, in order to build a theoretical foundation for understanding some of the changes in epistemology brought by digital technology and computational reason. Philosophies of computation, I argue, inevitably strive to outline a post-human culture and way of thinking about the world. Although the theoretical weaving of coding with human life follows in part from many earlier modern philosophical discussions on the role language plays in our thinking and sense of selfhood, we can see in computation a very specific reconceptualization of reasoning itself, producing, in turn, a host of new intellectual conflicts concerning human agency and our cognitive faculties. The paper then moves to explore two cultural examples of these conflicts, looking first at the practice of “live coding,” a unique, performative event where programmers demonstrate coding before a live audience. Whether on a physical stage in front of an actual audience or simply on screen as a live telecast, such performances combine with coding the distinct habits of gesture and voice in an improvised narrative. One single such show by live coder Sean Colombo is presented here in an exemplary reading of this relatively new media genre. A second, equally significant exploration of similar social and cultural conflicts associated with computation’s expansion into everyday living can be seen in the work of the digital literary artist, Ian Hatcher. Ian Hatcher’s consistently disturbing video enhanced performances evoke both the structure and overall ambience of a live coding event where he enacts the role of the coder/performer in a process of perpetual conflict with the text appearing on screen. While for many, the live coder can be heralded as a kind of exemplary humanist figure in computation, as these performances show, the more material, writerly aspects of coding must inevitably succumb to the cultural logic of the code’s literal execution to produce a distinctly post-humanist approach to writing and art. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
Open AccessFeature PaperArticle A Case Study of I’ll Be Fine
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 25; doi:10.3390/h6020025
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 4 April 2017 / Accepted: 17 April 2017 / Published: 26 April 2017
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Abstract
This case study of I’ll Be Fine describes my creation of a passively interactive, “playable” movie for networked screens, and outlines reasons why this story is an instance of a new genre of storytelling that might be called “playable narrative”. Although the piece
[...] Read more.
This case study of I’ll Be Fine describes my creation of a passively interactive, “playable” movie for networked screens, and outlines reasons why this story is an instance of a new genre of storytelling that might be called “playable narrative”. Although the piece is interactive, and while it seems to satisfy certain features of the activity of play, I’ll Be Fine does not offer opportunities for strategy, competition, or closure, and does not proceed towards goals or outcomes, but seeks to construct meaning cinematically, proceeding sequentially across planes or layers, and using a spatial design much like the cinematic compositional scheme of background, middle ground, and foreground. While a general model for the spatial construction of playable movies is outside the scope of this writing, the following description of my design concepts are meant to delineate certain aspects of working with spatiality and playability while constructing an interactive story. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle Troubadours & Troublemakers: Stirring the Network in Transmission & Anti-Transmission
Humanities 2017, 6(2), 21; doi:10.3390/h6020021
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 4 April 2017 / Accepted: 4 April 2017 / Published: 10 April 2017
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Abstract
With reference to concepts developed in Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics, our objective is to locate trouble (and “trouble”) in and around song, while attending to media forms, transmission processes, and embodied figures that carry trouble through song. These figures include trouble singer,
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With reference to concepts developed in Trouble Songs: A Musicological Poetics, our objective is to locate trouble (and “trouble”) in and around song, while attending to media forms, transmission processes, and embodied figures that carry trouble through song. These figures include trouble singer, troubadour and DJ, where the latter combines the roles of media curator, Mixmaster and MC. An exploration of and through these interrelated figures serves to elaborate a theory of transmission and anti-transmission of trouble. In all cases we are concerned with the technology of trouble, as well as modes and techniques for its transmission. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessArticle “How to Pronounce Meme.” Three YouTube Channels
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 10; doi:10.3390/h6010010
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 7 March 2017 / Accepted: 15 March 2017 / Published: 21 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (195 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Internet anomalies produce data and images beyond any authorship or source. They seem to compute and display the depths and potentials of the net “as such.” Explanations and theories surround and attempt to account for anomalies, from ARGs to NSA recruiting tools. Examining
[...] Read more.
Internet anomalies produce data and images beyond any authorship or source. They seem to compute and display the depths and potentials of the net “as such.” Explanations and theories surround and attempt to account for anomalies, from ARGs to NSA recruiting tools. Examining three such anomalous YouTube channels, this essay does not propose a solution but rather maintains the anomalous as the constituent aesthetic and community of the net. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
Open AccessArticle The New Commodity: Technicity and Poetic Form
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 9; doi:10.3390/h6010009
Received: 17 November 2016 / Revised: 3 March 2017 / Accepted: 10 March 2017 / Published: 18 March 2017
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Abstract
One of the key strands of early thinking by the Language Poets, notably Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews and Steve McCaffery, was that the poem—particularly the mainstream, American lyric in thrall to the Imagist tradition—should be understood as partaking in the commodity system, either
[...] Read more.
One of the key strands of early thinking by the Language Poets, notably Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews and Steve McCaffery, was that the poem—particularly the mainstream, American lyric in thrall to the Imagist tradition—should be understood as partaking in the commodity system, either in its capacity of presenting the world itself as consumable or as a commodity itself. Strategies to retool the poem included an exaggerated de-naturalization of language (akin to Brecht’s Verfremdung Effekt), the permanent deferral of epiphany as “pay off” (i.e., writing as ongoing phenomenological investigation), and, most extremely, the poem as engaged in a “general” as opposed to a “closed” economy—as pure expenditure, linguistic waste, in George Bataille’s sense. These practices, however, while they might have, in theory, “de-commodified” the poem (the evidence weighs against it, but it’s quite impossible to prove), have nonetheless confirmed the centrality of the early notion by William Carlos Williams that a poem is a “machine,” an autonomous producer of meanings, and to that extent an object. The French philosopher Gilbert Simondon argues in his theory of technicity that something human lies at the heart of the technical object and that its technical essence, like any player in the Darwinian evolution, has its own evolutionary journey through time. In Bernard Stiegler’s succinct formulation, “[a]s a ‘process of exteriorization,’ technics is the pursuit of life by means other than life.” This confluence of ideas suggests a possibility: that the technical elements of poems—what might have formerly been understood as stylistic tics, characteristic methods, visual and prosodic features—are themselves engaged in a quest for “life,” and that poems are in fact always already objects, existing outside of the system of commodities if only by virtue of obtaining an ontological status both: (1) irreducible to an over-determined system of exchanges (an unreachable “essence” in Graham Harman’s “object-oriented ontology”), and (2) autonomous from the life, actions and intentions of the poem him/herself. To that degree, the focus of early Language poetry on configuring the poem against the system of commodities overstepped its reach by attempting to “de-objectify” the poem, to dissolve it among systems of relation. Poems are less human to the degree that they are not proxies for the poet him/herself or total subjects to the “social,” but more human to the degree that they contain—as a steam engine, a diode or a Swiss watch—a technical essence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
Open AccessArticle Reconfiguration: Symbolic Image and Language Art
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 8; doi:10.3390/h6010008
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 28 February 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 11 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1595 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
‘Reconfiguration: Symbolic Image and Language Art’ proposes an analytic and theoretical framework for computational aesthetic practices in terms of ‘reconfiguration’ and its derivatives, ‘reconfigurationism’ and ‘reconfigurationist’. Digitization of the media of aesthetic practices has rendered these practices subject to software architectures derived from
[...] Read more.
‘Reconfiguration: Symbolic Image and Language Art’ proposes an analytic and theoretical framework for computational aesthetic practices in terms of ‘reconfiguration’ and its derivatives, ‘reconfigurationism’ and ‘reconfigurationist’. Digitization of the media of aesthetic practices has rendered these practices subject to software architectures derived from computational applications that, for the most part, have had little regard for aesthetics as such. The ‘images’ of contemporary aesthetic practices are often ‘symbolic images’ in the terms of the essay. They are co-produced by networked computation and digitized—symbolized—representations of media, all within new formations of (‘Big’) software architectures that are, typically, beyond the artists’ generative, poetic control. Aesthetic practice is configured by software and digitalization. To bring art and aesthetics back into a generative relation with this potentially constrictive not to say totalizing situation, artists must reconfigure. This is an intervention that computation traditionally and productively allows, even in the era of Big Software. Reconfigurationism is demonstrated, specifically, in the field of language art and is also proposed as a poetics, characteristic of a wide range of contemporary aesthetic practice in all media where computation is at play. ‘Reconfiguration’ and ‘reconfigurationism’ distinguishes itself from theories of a ‘New Aesthetic’ and pretends a more insightful and critically generative analysis. The essay’s ‘symbolic image’ bears a relation to Vilém Flusser’s ‘technical image’ but has a clearer relation both to language and to computation, since Flusser’s term is overweening with regard to (the end of the history of) language and overdetermined by its links to apparatus as opposed to the generalized abstractions of computation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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Open AccessArticle IBM Poetry: Exploring Restriction in Computer Poems
Humanities 2017, 6(1), 7; doi:10.3390/h6010007
Received: 17 October 2016 / Revised: 28 February 2017 / Accepted: 28 February 2017 / Published: 8 March 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2047 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the 1960s, many years prior to the advent of personal computers and mainstream cultural accessibility to them, Emmett Williams devised a method that he felt reflected the expressive potential of algorithmic processes within a printed page’s confines. Williams’ “IBM” method serves as
[...] Read more.
In the 1960s, many years prior to the advent of personal computers and mainstream cultural accessibility to them, Emmett Williams devised a method that he felt reflected the expressive potential of algorithmic processes within a printed page’s confines. Williams’ “IBM” method serves as a “muse’s assistant,” in which a user-contrived vocabulary is employed to construct poems in which letters of words in one line are used to create subsequent lines. This article introduces the imposed conditions of Williams’ invention, comparing and placing them within a range of digital writings that appear during subsequent decades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Poetics of Computation)
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