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Knowledge, knowing and being: An investigation of software art as a vehicle for the exploration of emerging concepts in language and cognition

Hart, W 2008 , 'Knowledge, knowing and being: An investigation of software art as a vehicle for the exploration of emerging concepts in language and cognition', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The development of the computer has had a major impact on almost all aspects of
knowledge and culture: it has had a profound impact on our understanding of
complexity and intelligence; it is a mirror made from what we thought we knew about
ourselves, often defining us by revealing what we are not.
Artists have been exploring the computer as a medium for over forty years, yet for
most of that time art constructed through the medium of programming, has oscillated
between formalism and techno-utopianism. The practise of software art is based in
formal language: the manipulation of symbols and logic. The expression of interior
thought in a distinctive form is often confounded in this medium.
This project considers the metaphorical representation of cognitive process (the codes
of knowledge, the processes of knowing, and the states of being) in the mirror of
computation and in the light of insights and theories about language and cognition
that have emerged from our interaction with the universal machine. An open-ended
methodology for software poiesis has been developed through making the works that
form this thesis.
The thesis consists of four works, constructed from software and manifested on flat
panel displays as temporal images. The Conditions for Ambient Cognition has four parts:
Faith in Reason, Ontological Drift, Dialectic Seepage, and Transcendental Jitters. The four
parts follow processes of cognition and being; perception, sensation, communication,
action. The second work, Stories about You, is a meditation on the construction of
personal and social consciousness; Communal Sense considers the communication of
knowledge and development of understanding. The fourth work, The Transient
Taxonomies of Art, is an examination of the concept of an ecology of ideas.
The significant outcomes of this project demonstrate the application of the
methodological process, and contribute towards the development of a fluid, expressive
and unrestricted form of practice in software art. This methodology is independent of
a particular set of software, but does suggest a process for the evaluation of software
tools and environments so that it can continue to be applied as software develops. A
related aspect is the consideration and selection of the material qualities of software,
algorithms and numerical function, that can be used to enhance the work and give it a distinctive quality. The concept of open-endedness that has emerged from the
considerations of the materials of software art is crucial to resolving the confusion
between algorithmic behaviour and novelty in software art.
This research has shown that with a greater understanding of the nature of
complexity, and the semantics of expression through formal language, the medium can
develop into a mature and distinctive form. Potentially, software art can exert a
wider influence on our understanding of ourselves, our coexistence with the computer,
its future application and development.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Hart, W
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