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[P]
Programming Is Not Art

By Jin Wicked in Op-Ed
Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:17:42 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

I believe creativity is a trait of human nature, and that nearly every person experiences it to some degree. As young children, we often colour with crayons or finger-paints, extending our creativity (to our parent's dismay) onto more exciting canvases such as walls and furniture. As children, the imagination knows no boundary, and despite today's fancy toys, a child is still just as likely to amuse himself with a simple set of blocks as an elaborate, beeping and blinking electronic contraption. However, at some point in our young lives, certain people abandon this kind of creativity and imagination while others attempt to hone and master it.


Adults who have set aside imagination to delve into the world of reality often find themselves regretful at some later point in their lives. In fact, a large market thrives on these very feelings. People who give up the pursuit of their own innate talents are still given the opportunity to be creative, in the form of sewing and craft kits, home improvement and decoration, models, paint-by-number, rubber stamping and stenciling, and myriad other projects which usually include vague to extremely detailed instructions to be followed. While I tend to find these projects to be good in the over-all scheme of things (certainly they provide something better to do than watching television, for example), I don't believe many people would go so far as to call a paint-by-number image of puppies or a plastic snap-together model art. Code, which can also sometimes be considered to follow explicit "instructions," can (in a limited sense) also be compared to these things. As well, many things such as advertisements and billboards contain a great measure of creativity, but we do not generally consider these art. While what is art is ultimately subjective and up to the viewer, I do think society accepts a general idea of what is defined as art. I now present you with the question: Do you consider your copy of Windows 2000 to be art?

In the past few years, computers have played an ever-increasing role in most people's lives. For some, however, they have nearly become life. I speak of the individuals who eat, breathe, and sleep code. These are the type who fight over Linux distros and purchase shirts from ThinkGeek and Copyleft so that they can be recognized by fellow coders in public. They are the type who publicly lament their [sometimes] inability to acquire dates. These are hard-core Slashdotters and [less-so] K5ers, who preach the gospel that code is art, and hold their art form in the highest esteem. I have been quietly observing you for a while now. I have read your rants, your articles, and your commentary. I have been intimately involved with a programmer for over a year, and also have many other friends in the field. I have finally had enough of your silly ideas, though.

My beloved geeks-boys, programming is not art.

I know you will not take this well (or likely lying down). "Code is art, just like mathematics," you will say. "Code is creative, just like art" is another popular retort. "Art is whatever you think art is," is perhaps one of the most common answers I have read. However, do not expect any museums to be hanging the Linux kernel framed in a gallery anytime soon, and I will tell you why.

Quite simply put, code is a means -- not an end. A good analogy would be to compare the elements of code to a tube of paint. As a painter, I need a medium to create my work in. The tube of paint, like an element of code, has a specific purpose. Code instructs a computer to perform some particular action(s); paint covers a surface to create a picture. Both are tools for creating a larger work. They also possess infinite possibility. Code can be combined in as many ways as brush strokes and colours to create individual works of art or function. Yet the brush strokes themselves have little value until they are combined towards this higher function. Similarly, the code itself is without value (in an artistic sense) unless its function, or product, can be considered art.

That being established, many of the products of code are pure utility -- the exact opposite of most objects of art, even functional art. A programmer often has some problem or need which has to be solved, and seeks to solve it in the most efficient and resource-conserving manner. Art, on the other hand, takes ordinary objects (or unordinary objects) and embellishes them in such a way that serves no purpose other than to be aesthetically enjoyable. In a community of people which seems to generally scorn things that exist only for aesthetic, non-essential reasons (witness the bellyaching over graphics-intensive websites), I find this contradiction of ideas to be especially amusing.

Often, in the case for code being considered art, it is compared to a mathematical equation or a piece of poetry. In many respects this may be closer to coding than the visual arts are, but I feel my point is just as valid. The beauty of poetry does not lie in the arrangement or choice of the words alone, but from the meaning we derive from the entire work taken as a whole. A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning. Structure alone cannot justify art, but it is necessary to the creation of art. In both instances, if the poem or equation (or code) was not created in a way that accomplished what it was meant to do, then it automatically cannot even be considered as art. (Even the most perverse "abstract" art possesses a basic compositional movement, which is the foundation of what makes a piece "whole" and not just random colours on a canvas.) However, just because it is well-structured, does not automatically default it to be art. Ultimately, the state of being "art" is judged by the final product that the medium produces.

Now, I have seen programs that when run, I would consider art. Sadly, the majority are not. They are creations meant to service business or general needs, with little to no consideration given to aesthetics (beyond practical "ease-of-use"). Useful? Yes. Cool? Maybe. Art? No. My significant other has created some beautifully fascinating visual programs, which unlike paintings, were capable of morphing and changing before my eyes. I could watch them for hours on end. Unlike "problem-solving" programming, however, these programs were created solely for the purpose of being enjoyed. He used code to implement an artistic vision -- not to satiate a practical need. And it is not the source that is art. It is the gorgeous, multi-coloured graphics that dance on my screen which could be considered art. We are both artists, but we work in different media. My medium is paint and pencils. His is code. He is an exception, however -- not the rule. I wish there were more people channeling such creative, unique energy into programming.

I understand very well why programmers might feel the need to believe that their work is art. When you spend the bulk of your time creating something, of course we need to feel that it has been worthwhile, and not simply wasted effort. The difference between my examples of paint-by-number and coding, is that the individuals assembling models or paint-by-numbers do not do this as a livelihood. They are under no delusions about their occupation or hobbies. On the other hand, there is a large group of programmers that have found themselves well-paid positions within corporations, doing nothing but writing code day-in and day-out. Many of them go home in the evening to do more of the same. I will be the first to admit the draining, worthless feeling that often comes with working for an impersonal corporation who often does not have any concern for your creative health. For a group of people often associated with a dislike for big business and government, it must be extremely difficult to work for an organization, which if it was not their employer, they would most likely despise. (Any Microsoft employees here?) Even as a hobby, it must be disappointing to humour the idea that perhaps the product of all your creative energy and effort is not art (but in fact, something quite plain and ordinary). It is a feeling similar to the sentiments of a long-suffering man, who can only deal with the constant blows of bad luck he is dealt by saying to himself, "There must be some greater purpose that I have endured this misery for." This is by no means a new idea; I would say it is nearly as old as mankind itself.

While code may not be art, it can be artistic. And the products of code can certainly be art. If you're feeling like you're not accomplishing much, then take the initiative to create something new, interesting, and original. Use code to do something no one has done before. Amaze me. Excite me. Make me want you. But please -- stop making claims that simply well-written code in itself is art. Us real artists are not impressed -- in fact, some of us are a smite miffed. And if you start showing up at coffee shops wearing berets, dark glasses, and a goatee, I'm going to start looking into a career change.

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Programming Is Not Art | 449 comments (434 topical, 15 editorial, 1 hidden)
Feh (1.67 / 34) (#1)
by regeya on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:40:29 PM EST

You bore me.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

To my surprise, (3.33 / 3) (#4)
by CaptainZornchugger on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:43:15 PM EST

4 people so far have voted something besides 'don't care'. So perhaps she's not boring everybody.


Look at that chord structure. There's sadness in that chord structure.
[ Parent ]
I don't vote "don't care" out of princip (2.00 / 1) (#39)
by tetsuo on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:13:38 AM EST

so nyah

[ Parent ]
To my surprise (2.00 / 1) (#92)
by regeya on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:24:08 AM EST

To my surprise, your observation doesn't change my view. I was merely expressing my opinion, which at last count 11 people have had the audacity to rate down.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

If I did change your view... (none / 0) (#94)
by CaptainZornchugger on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:03:03 AM EST

that would surprise me, because she sure as hell bored me.

Besides, you ought to show the proper respect for the discussion. You know that the question of what loosely defined terms fall into the category of other completely undefined terms is of the utmost importance, and we shouldn't take this lying down. Or, something.


Look at that chord structure. There's sadness in that chord structure.
[ Parent ]
No way (3.75 / 4) (#96)
by regeya on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:15:27 AM EST

I refuse to show proper respect for a story whose whole message is, "I'm an artist, you're not, don't even try to say what you do is art, because I say it's not, and if you do that really pisses me off." Why show respect to a childish rant?

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Forgive me, (5.00 / 1) (#98)
by CaptainZornchugger on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:20:44 AM EST

My sarcasm, as always, is far too subtle.


Look at that chord structure. There's sadness in that chord structure.
[ Parent ]
Forgive me too (2.00 / 2) (#99)
by regeya on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:33:11 AM EST

as I was pointing out my reasons for the sarcasm-challenged. You'd be amazed at how many people would probably have read your reply, said, "You know, that CaptainZornchugger is right," and go up and rate the parent down. Not that that should matter to me, but being rated down because my opinion isn't in the majority bothers me, for some reason. (And yes, I know, I was being a smartass in this case.)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

I may not be an "artist" (2.69 / 13) (#2)
by gridwerk on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:40:53 PM EST

But there have been times I have sure in the hell starved like one.

Programming is art. (3.78 / 19) (#6)
by Signal 11 on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:45:06 PM EST

A pile of clay resting on the ground is not art. A blank canvas is not art. The sand on the ocean is not art. But within each carries the potential to become art, in the hands of the expert. The clay can be sculpted. A canvas can have ink added to it to make a painting. The sand can be heated and turned into beautiful glass.

A computer, powered down, is not art. And neither is Microsoft Word, or any other tool you have. And code is a tool. It is raw material, binary code, unsculpted. But organized together and put in a cohesive form, entropy peeled back layer by layer to reveal the form beneath, it can most certainly produce great art. In the hands of one who knows how to wield it.

You simply lack the eye to see the art that great programmers produce. Because it is intangible, because you cannot see or hear it, you dismiss it.. but it is there. If you ask me, the act itself is an artistic gesture - for many in this community program knowing that their work brings no reward.

The next time you login, take a look around in this little netherworld of electrons and bits of data and ask yourself if you cannot find beauty in these human works.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

Sorry, siggy. (3.72 / 11) (#12)
by Inoshiro on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:16:33 PM EST

Well designed code, while nice and neat, is not art. It's merely a tool, a means to an end. Would you call a bridge art? How about an engine with a few thousand working parts? No, it's just another well engineered piece of technology.

You can, however, take such a thing and work it into a piece of art. Consider the art produced by some people recently which is partially composed of pieces of broken machines.

Consider: a string of numbers read off is not music. Give it a beat, add feedback, and maybe do some distortion.. then it is electronica!



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
"Sick of whining about comment ratings? So am (2.00 / 5) (#14)
by Signal 11 on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:31:07 PM EST

*whine* You 1'd me you bastard. How... how... ruuuude.

Anyway, art is whatever I feel is art. Have you seen some of the shit they stick around in city parks and around office complexes? Gimme a break.. code is beautiful by comparison.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]

Dude.. (2.33 / 3) (#20)
by Inoshiro on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:55:30 PM EST

It's what we in the biz call a stearing rating. Didn't you RTFM?

Be annoyed/bitchy if I go and rate as 1 every one of your N last comments (where N >= 5 or so).



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Steering ratings and showrate=1 (3.60 / 5) (#31)
by delmoi on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:26:07 PM EST

'Dude', this steering ratings stuff is sub-optimal. It might have made sense before you started showing who gave the ratings but now I think it's a bad idea. If you give someone a 1 rating, I'm going to assume that you thought the comment was worth a 1. I use the ratings as a way of saying ('me too') or ('good comment') without actually making a comment. And I routinely check to see who rated certain posts what. I suspect that many people do the same.

The comment rating system here is nice, but far from flawless, as you seem to think. (if it was, you wouldn't need to use steering ratings.)
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Engineering can't be art? (3.62 / 8) (#18)
by onyxruby on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:49:45 PM EST

One could easily consider a bridge a piece of art. A few examples off the top of my head would include San Francisco's Golden Gate, the London bridge, and the Sydney Harbour bridge. Art often is a natural byproduct of well designed engineering function. When Ferrari built the 360 Modena, they included a window dedicated for admiring the engine alone. From cars to planes, well designed engineering quite often naturally appeals to the eye, becoming art. While code is certainly a tool, there is no reason that a tool cannot be art.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

No. (3.28 / 7) (#22)
by Inoshiro on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:59:40 PM EST

Well engineeered things appeal to engineers. Well written code appeals to programmers. Everyone who works in a profession and takes it at least semi-serious tends to notice those of the profession who produce higher than average work, but that doesn't make it art.

Art, as Jin says, has no noticeable function beyond merely appealing to the senses. Does your music make breakfast for you? Do the posters on your walls make your income greater? No, but you would not want to live in a white room devoid of any noise save the humm of air circulation (although a film artist may include a similar look in a movie to make a point about something.

The "Golden Gate" is, like any piece of architecture, not beautiful because of the physics of it. It is beautiful because someone went along and added the artistic flair. The engineer merely linked the structure and the external bits to provide a concerete, useful form. It's no less of a job than the artist had, but it is not art.



--
[ イノシロ ]
[ Parent ]
Wide appeal? (4.00 / 4) (#28)
by delmoi on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:19:14 PM EST

Well engineeered things appeal to engineers. Well written code appeals to programmers. Everyone who works in a profession and takes it at least semi-serious tends to notice those of the profession who produce higher than average work, but that doesn't make it art.

Since when does art have to appeal to everyone to be art? Do you honestly think that the art of Jean Michel Basquiat could posibly be liked and appreciated by everyone? It's crap. yet he was a widely acclaimed artiest.

Art, as Jin says, has no noticeable function beyond merely appealing to the senses.

Since when? Is architecture art? Does architecture serve no noticable function beyond merely appealing to the senses?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
No way. (3.75 / 4) (#30)
by pete on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:24:38 PM EST

Well engineeered things appeal to engineers.
Everyone who's ever drooled over said Ferrari is an engineer? Nah. Something can definitely be purposeful and art as well.

--pete


[ Parent ]
strictly speaking (4.00 / 2) (#41)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:28:47 AM EST

That's design, not engineering. Design is as fickle as fashion (cars you admired as a kid can look like crates, now) and evokes a product's function. I.e., A ferrari looks fast. Art evokes timeless qualities which are not necessarily present in even the finest examples of design.

Of course there's no reason not to appreciate design as art any more than there is no reason to not appreciate illustration as art. It's just that both design and illustration are subordinate to their task, which is to promote an accompanying work or product, where art is created for its own sake.

If you have a reason for caring.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

arg (3.33 / 3) (#197)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:03:40 PM EST

Art evokes timeless qualities which are not necessarily present in even the finest examples of design.

Oh please, yet another person making an arbitrary and subjective qualifier onto the definition of art. Just because you say it doesn't make it true, you know. It seems like a lot of people around here don't seem to grasp that. Do you really think that Andy Warhol's stuff is 'timeless'? People thought Picasso was crap when he was alive, how does that make his work 'timeless'
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
arbitrary? arbitrary disagreement, maybe (none / 0) (#379)
by eLuddite on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:53:30 PM EST

It is timeless because it's meaning can never be exhausted. Two people never see art the same way, in the same day, in the same year, century, etc. Code does not share this property. Code is understood exactly the same way by everyone. Write some code. I will read it. I will understand what it does. This understanding will not differ from a computer's understanding. I will exhaust everything it has to teach me. I will then throw it away. Code is not art because code has an objective, mathematical reality that art does not have by definition.

Code is computation, pure and simple. I dont call paintings code, why do you call code art? One of us doesnt understand the fundamental difference between the two.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

If (4.33 / 3) (#43)
by Miniluv on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:37:05 AM EST

If the only two qualifications of art are to be useless and look pretty (to someone) then a great many people belong in museums.

As for looking for a purely humanly derived definition of art, I'd like someone with a little more experience than either Inoshiro or Jin_Wicked to decide what it is. Why? Because experience enhances perception, and language is all about perception. And yes, that disqualifies me as well.

Come on, tell me how to moderate. I DARE YOU!


[ Parent ]

uh, yeh... (4.25 / 4) (#70)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:27:26 AM EST

The "Golden Gate" is, like any piece of architecture, not beautiful because of the physics of it. It is beautiful because someone went along and added the artistic flair.

Could it be that they artiest and the engineer were the same person? I don't know specifically about the golden gate bridge, but in many cases they are the same person. There are many cases yet where the 'engineering' and the 'art' are inseparable in even the minds of the creators. Who are you to create arbitrary distinctions?

I find it a little insulting to assume that engineers are incapable of producing art themselves.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Maybe. (none / 0) (#301)
by ajf on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:24:09 AM EST

Well engineeered things appeal to engineers . Well written code appeals to programmers. Everyone who works in a profession and takes it at least semi-serious tends to notice those of the profession who produce higher than average work, but that doesn't make it art.

There seems to be a lot of art these days that only appeals to artists and art academics, so I don't find that a very strong argument.

Too often I've seen code that had a sort of elegance that wasn't merely functional, a function that could have been done another way but has been written in a way that not only appeals to a programmer's aesthetic sense, but makes it better, more readable code. I don't know a better word for it than art.



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
How is well-engineered not artistic? (4.00 / 3) (#123)
by tzanger on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:24:52 AM EST

Would you call a bridge art? How about an engine with a few thousand working parts? No, it's just another well engineered piece of technology.

I disagree. I've seen circuit designs which were very artistic. They used concepts in novel and/or intricate and unexpected ways. I've seen bridges which inspire artists to paint them because of some architectural design. Mechanical machines are built up from individual parts, most of which aren't artistic, but when assembled the design can be breathtaking.

Who says that because it's practical it can't be artistic? Isn't that the entire concept behind Ikea? :-)



[ Parent ]
entropy? (4.00 / 4) (#13)
by delmoi on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:24:29 PM EST

how, exactly, do you 'peel-back' entropy?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
honest questions (4.00 / 4) (#19)
by eLuddite on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:54:35 PM EST

Since you give no reasons for code as art, let me prompt you with a few questions.

What artistic statement does code make? Hang quicksort next to a painting or a poem and compare the artistic statements each one makes to you. Quicksort is certainly a clever algorithm but what aesthetic value, what emotions does it invoke?

What is the artistic difference between one implementation of quicksort and another? Is C. A. R. Hoare the only person allowed to claim quicksort as art? If so, wouldnt quicksort qualify more as a discovery than as an artistic statement?

Do you have any training or experience as a fine artist? A poet? Can you explain the difference between pushing pigment or words around and coding? Are you using the same faculties to create art as you use to write code? What are communicating through your poetry or your sculpture that you also communicate in your code? Remember that art is meant to be appreciated by humans, not machines. Is the appreciation of code how well it makes a machine hum? Is that art?

How will you translate the following

But organized together and put in a cohesive form, entropy peeled back layer by layer to reveal the form beneath, it can most certainly produce great art.

which sounds like an example of art, into actual code that someone would appreciate as art? Why isnt all code just a plodding example of data plus algorithms? I mean, how does one interpret data structures and algorithms artistically so that one can render an artistic rather than technical judgement in favor of one piece of software over another?

Computer scientists are scientists.
Coders are craftsmen instead of artists, maybe?

Are the comments art? If so, should they be considered part of the code?

There is a lot to admire in good code, but are you confusing that admiration with art?

I do think code can be art in the sense that you can create a program that makes an artistic statement, but no one does this is working code or in their capacity as programmers.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Hmm. (none / 0) (#169)
by pb on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:47:19 PM EST

First, I've written quicksort before, and my implementation was not the most elegant one, either. I've seen some pretty good implementations of quicksort, and some of them use an insertion sort too, for small numbers of items.

But to really appreciate it, you have to see it in action. I remember seeing a graphical sorting demo written in Turbo Pascal, from the book "Oh! Pascal!", and that was quite nice, because it defaulted to sorting a large number of elements, in graphics mode, with different colors.

I found a link to other algorithm animations as well, which might help people visualize these better.
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall
[ Parent ]

Oh No! (3.75 / 4) (#24)
by Devil Ducky on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:03:02 PM EST

I agreed with Siggy!

The world collappses beneath my feet.

Well I almost agreed with you, but that was a close one.

Lighten your mood, and then take a look around you. The sand on the beach is art, the stars in the sky twinkle in such a way they can be only art...

And as for whether a tool can be art; a painting is nothing more than a tool (a pretty useless one, but a tool nonetheless), the painting is only an item to hang on a wall to amuse and delight(?). While most people have taken the word art to be synonomous with this type of tool, it's not true. "Dog's Playing Poker" would not be considered by most to be art, but Michaelangelo's "Last Supper" is generally believed to be so. While I would not consider Word to be art, I do have a poster of the kernel source hanging on my wall.

Devil Ducky

Immune to the Forces of Duct Tape
Day trading at it's Funnest
[ Parent ]
the eye (none / 0) (#58)
by dr k on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:29:52 AM EST

A pile of clay resting on the ground is not art. A blank canvas is not art. The sand on the ocean is not art. But within each carries the potential to become art...

These are meaningless phrasess because they lack any context.

Art is not about objects, it is about the perception of objects. Or perception in general. If someone says "that lump of clay is art" and someone else sees that lump of clay as art, now you have a context for debating "is it art or not?" Fortunately this kind of thing doesn't happen all that often.

The context missing from this article is the object we are pointing at. There's just this murky concept of "code", and a generic programmer saying "I am an artist." Straw man.
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

if programming were art (4.54 / 22) (#9)
by eLuddite on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:53:02 PM EST

If programming were art - and i mean high art, then
  • Linus Pollack Torvalds: Throws code at the system, trying to see what works.
  • Donald Michelangelo Knuth: Has a grand, sweeping view of what the system should do, but each piece is done in such meticulous detail that it takes years to finish anything.
  • Shawn Picasso Fanning: Writes a system which works as a whole, but each piece of it is a warped view of reality.
  • Bjarne Seurat Stroustrup: When you step back from his system, you can see the overall pattern, but close up each piece is totally distinct from all of the others.

---
God hates human rights.

i am a heathen (2.66 / 3) (#11)
by eLuddite on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:55:47 PM EST

Make that Pollock and Michalangelo.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Art and C++ (none / 0) (#303)
by ajf on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:29:48 AM EST

I might have said Bjarne Serrano Stroustrup - his work has its defenders, but a lot of people find it distasteful or even offensive.



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
Two words (3.85 / 7) (#10)
by ksandstr on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 09:55:07 PM EST

Explain IOCCC.


--
A gentleman always has an IDE cable in his coat pocket.



One word (3.57 / 7) (#55)
by streetlawyer on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:18:24 AM EST

Masturbation.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
I expect better of you! (none / 0) (#408)
by anonymous cowerd on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 04:43:44 PM EST

All art is akin to masturbation. Art lacks practical function, puritans instinctively hate it, it only gives pleasure, the acutest pleasure is obviously enjoyed by the person performing it, and the lesser pleasure of outsiders has a slightly disreputable voyeuristic tinge to it.

Jeez, streetlawya, I'd think a smart guy like you would have thought this out, especially as you yourself are one of the most artistically-gifted blog posters I've ever read.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

the Earth's blue as an orange
[ Parent ]

I have no idea (none / 0) (#418)
by streetlawyer on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 04:39:21 AM EST

why you interpreted my comment as derogatory -- I've always thought that masturbation is as unfairly maligned as art is unfairly exalted. I'd far rather have a good wank than some mediocre art, and I suspect the same is true of others, if only they'd admit it.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
craftsmanship and art (4.25 / 12) (#16)
by spacejack on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:41:14 PM EST

I liked this article. But that's really what this article is about; separating art & craft. Interesting to see it applied to programming.

"Coding" itself, you are right, is a means to an end. But it is a means to an end in the same way that mixing colour on a palette is a means to the end of a painting. If you finish a painting, and you have wasted almost no paint, and your brushes are in as good condition as when you started, you might be proud of your efficiency. But the end product is divorced from this (even with software); provided the audience perceives something they like, it doesn't really matter how good your process was.

As creators however, we think about that process much more than the audience, and coders probably moreso than most artists. We often believe that good process results in good work. The interesting thing about code is that coders themselves can be an audience of each other's process. Does pure code then become art, but only to this audience? Sure, but it is a very elite form of art, with limited appeal. It is not art for the public, as artists (well, some artists) generally approach it.

Thanks. (2.40 / 5) (#36)
by Jin Wicked on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:39:52 PM EST

Thanks for actually reading it, and getting the point. Now I can go to bed happy.


This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.


[ Parent ]
but is it code? (5.00 / 1) (#128)
by hollowearth on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:46:12 AM EST

I agree with you that code is a medium, a craft rather than art. I think that your point could have been expressed better without devaluing 'not-art' with judgements based on your self image as a real artist such as:
Even as a hobby, it must be disappointing to humour the idea that perhaps the product of all your creative energy and effort is not art (but in fact, something quite plain and ordinary).
Art is not necesserily the highest form of Human Endeavor, but I do tend to appreciate it more when it shows elegance, some evidence of care, thought and craftsmanship. I think pretty much exactly the same about code.

[ Parent ]
It looks like it might be. (none / 0) (#235)
by Jin Wicked on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:31:56 PM EST

Perhaps, sometimes my sense of humour is a bit too subtle (I think) out of the context of my site, where it tends to be a little more obvious. Most of my best friends are programmers. (And none of them took that seriously.) I forget you have to put <sarcasm>, <kidding>, <cynical>, <hyperbole> and <joke> tags in all the writing on k5. I just keep forgetting my darned audience... :)


This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.


[ Parent ]
Subtexts... (4.00 / 1) (#353)
by inpHilltr8r on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:59:03 PM EST

...are extremely hard to convey in ascii.

Subtlety is often lost in the noise of the textual quantisation process.

Your friends know you, and have an internal model they can map your words onto.

We don't.

So I'd say you're guilty of forgetting your medium, rather than your audience.

...

(Speaking as someone who's humour has been misconstrued in far less serious forums than this one ;)

[ Parent ]
artists as geeks (4.33 / 3) (#46)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:09:54 AM EST

But the end product is divorced from this (even with software); provided the audience perceives something they like, it doesn't really matter how good your process was.

That is so true but you know what? There are art geeks who approach a painting with a magnifying glass so that they can divine the physical process; there are artists whose whole thing is to make a statement about their materials and the "language" (line, form, color, composition, etc) of art; there are painters who enter a trance at the smell of linseed oil and spirits, who groove on the different textures pigments can have (buttery, elastic, smooth, coarse, mineral, vegetable, etc) and who trip over different brush shapes and textures - their work, as art, reveals all that and is appreciated because of it.

Sounds almost geeky, doesnt it?

On a related note, people seem to reject abstract expressionism as art because it looks (is) an expression of pure "scientific" theory instead of naked cherubs and what not. These people are discriminating in art the way we discriminate between linguistics and poetry. I would have expected geeks to be fans of abstract expressionism but my experience is that they are not. Since they cannot seem to instinctively divine the artistry in ae, I am forced to conclude, without conviction since 'they' is really just the ones I know, that they arent artists. :-)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

My 2 cents (3.85 / 14) (#17)
by shoeboy on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 10:41:41 PM EST

I consider code to be every bit as artistic as toll painting, cross stitching or macrame.

Any comparison of code to high art is laughable. Where is the stirring of the soul, the insight into our shared humanity or the emotional power? Code is a craft which allows for artistry, which is plenty.

Where is the programmer equivalent of Cervantes? Of WH Auden? I could continue for hours in this vein, but you get my point.

And as for the person who mentioned the obfuscated C contest, I'd like to invite you to read Finnegan's Wake.

--Shoeboy
No more trolls!
here (2.50 / 2) (#26)
by delmoi on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:09:11 PM EST

Where is the programmer equivalent of Cervantes? Of WH Auden? I could continue for hours in this vein, but you get my point.

http://www.scene.org
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Is architecture art? (4.63 / 22) (#25)
by delmoi on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:04:35 PM EST

Painting a wall blue is probably not art. Painting a canvas is. I would never consider the work I do for, well, work, to be art. But I would consider my linear time prime number finder, to be art. If you are saying that not all code is art, then I would agree with you. If you are saying that no code is art, then you are simply wrong. (You seem to be of two minds about this, you first say that you have seen programs that are beautiful, and later you say that only their output was).

You claim:

"Art, on the other hand, takes ordinary objects (or unordinary objects) and embellishes them in such a way that serves no purpose other than to be aesthetically enjoyable."

That's the basis of your argument, and without it, your article looses a lot. But it isn't true.

Is architecture art? It has it's utility, doesn't it? Rarely are buildings built that serve no purpose other then to look pretty. By your definition, a useful building cannot be art, but most people consider architecture art. And a word is defined by its popular usage (much to the chagrin of the hacker != cracker people). Like anything in the world, the difference between what is art and what isn't is blurry; there are things that are definitely art, and things that are definitely not (In my eyes, though, the latter class is very small indeed). Is the apartment building you live in art? Is the auditorium in Sidney? Are both of them, are neither?

The parallel between programming and architecture run deep, really, both are the design of something, something usually useful, something that might be beautiful. I was reading the other day about an architect who didn't want to put visible structural support in a building, and ultimately decided to disguise them as stairs. It was an elegant solution to a problem, the kind a coder would be proud of.

Just as you can create art, create something beautiful in wood and steal and glass, you can create the same in C. Just as you can create something ugly and vapid and ultimately esthetically displeasing in either.

To say that there can be no beauty in code is to say only that you don't code enough yourself to see it. And what is art, really, other then an attempt to create something beautiful. I don't believe in the beauty inherent in the lack of utility, as you seem to, I believe that something useful can be beautiful. And if beauty was intended, then it's art.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Not everything beautiful is art. (3.12 / 8) (#33)
by Jin Wicked on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:33:01 PM EST

By program, I mean the output of the final thing -- what it actually does, not the source itself. I'm sorry, but the meaning or product of the thing can be art. Arguably, if I learn C or any other language, I am of two options -- I can create art with it, or I can not create art. MOST of the product of coding is NOT art. Secondly, nowhere did I say there is no beauty in code. Anything clean and well-done can be appreciated. I only said it's not art. Art is not always beautiful, and not everything beautiful is art. You can CALL it art, if it makes you happy, but I seriously doubt that it would ever be anything but a minority opinion.

Is architecture art? It has it's utility, doesn't it?

Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Most buildings aren't considered to be great art. I haven't seen too many people just randomly staring at buildings to admire them. (Aside from churches and other exceptionally elaborate/unusual buildings, which was kind of my point.) The gargoyles and other artistic elements in architecture and buildings usually don't serve any practical purpose, besides maybe disguising waterspouts, and pillars don't have to have elaborate designs and statues on them to be functional. The things that make functional objects art usually have little to do with the actual function. (Paintings on urns and water jugs, relief sculpture on buildings, decorative plates and cups, mirrors, the list goes on...) And the vast majority of buildings, like programs I imagine, are designed to be practical, efficient, not fall apart, and have a mimimum amount of [rather common] visual appeal. Beauty is everywhere. Art has to be created.


This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.


[ Parent ]
Art and Utility (4.50 / 12) (#44)
by zephiros on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:44:46 AM EST

The things that make functional objects art usually have little to do with the actual function. (Paintings on urns and water jugs, relief sculpture on buildings, decorative plates and cups, mirrors, the list goes on...)

A water jug holds a set amount of water. Paint it, and the amount of water it holds does not increase.

A piece of code accomplishes a set task. Write it in a particularly clever and elegant manner, and the functionality does not change.

The nature of programming requires that the exterior of our work be flat, grey, and functional.

So we build our gargoyles facing inwards.
 
Kuro5hin is full of mostly freaks and hostile lunatics - KTB
[ Parent ]

Then what is art? (4.66 / 6) (#69)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:14:29 AM EST

By program, I mean the output of the final thing -- what it actually does, not the source itself.

A program is not the same as it's output. A Program and it's code, however are simply two expressions of the same idea. One written to be read by humans, and another to be run by computers.

Arguably, if I learn C or any other language, I am of two options -- I can create art with it, or I can not create art. MOST of the product of coding is NOT art.

by the 'the product of coding' do you mean code? If so, I would certainly agree that most code is not art, But I wouldn't agree all of it isn't.

. I only said it's not art. Art is not always beautiful, and not everything beautiful is art. You can CALL it art, if it makes you happy, but I seriously doubt that it would ever be anything but a minority opinion.

Now, are you saying here that I can call anything beautiful art, or I can call code art and not have a majority of people agree with me. I think that if I were to claim that art was 'anything created by people with the intent of being beautiful,' I think that many people would agree with me. And I do think a lot of code would fit that definition.

Part of the problem here Is that we don't have an operative definition of art. You're definition of art seems to be something created for the soul purpose of 'being art' with no other internal motivations, That's a circular definition, but you seem to be saying that what is and is not art can be determined by an object not having any other qualities, that there is no apparent reason for its existence other then to be 'artistic'

My definition of art is much simpler, I think, I say art is anything that was created with esthetics as one of the goals. Maybe the secondary, maybe the primary. But as long as that is one of the design considerations, then I class it as art.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Haven't you realized (3.00 / 2) (#72)
by Miniluv on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:36:40 AM EST

She's saying art is something which people who deign call themselves art decree is art.

Essentially then, art is the soggy biscuit of the unemployed.

Come on, tell me how to moderate. I DARE YOU!


[ Parent ]

Marcel Duchamp (4.83 / 6) (#240)
by rusty on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:48:55 PM EST

She's repeating Marcel Duchamp's whole program, here, but without ever getting the point of it. He realized (and Dada in general was specifically designed to prove) that if art is what artists make, and artists are people who make art, then the whole thing's basically a semantic circle-jerk, and trying to define "what Art is" is a waste of time.

I've been very amused reading this whole thing and seeing Ms. Wicked repeatedly display her own illusions of superiority, as a "real" artist. Art's what you call art. It has no "real" definition. Get over it. :-)

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

I work in flame (3.00 / 1) (#242)
by Miniluv on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:53:34 PM EST

I'm a real flamer. I hereby decree all other flamers on K5 to be fake flamers. Flaming is what flamers do, and I flame, thus I'm a flamer, because what I do is flame.

Yes, read that word any way you please.

I loved that sandwich like it was a son


[ Parent ]

No (3.25 / 4) (#105)
by Khalad on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:50:13 AM EST

Your intentions of writing elegant, well-structured code do not at all transform it into art, no matter how well-written or aesthetically pleasing it is. Art is not that which is merely patterned and ordered, or that which is considered nice and beautiful. The programs I write in my spare time are of exceptional quality; I take my time, I design them very carefully, and I write the code as elegantly as I can.

But that's not art!

Real art means something; it's an expression of emotion or thought in a creative manner. Source code doesn't mean anything, it doesn't express anything. It's purely functional. And it doesn't matter how much you dress it up and fancify it and make it look nice, 'cause it's not ever become art that way.

I take a lot of pride in my code, and I do think what I write is beautiful, elegant, and should and would be appreciated by those who look at it. But I haven't tried to make it mean anything. The only meaning it has is its what it does, which is why I agree with Jin Wicked: a program is artistic if its function is artistic; the source code is not itself artistic, beautiful or not.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
"Real art means something?" (4.00 / 2) (#140)
by Vermifax on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:42:05 PM EST

"Real art means something"

Why, because you want it to? Or because you think it should? You might want it too, but some art doesn't mean anything. Other art has different meaning to different people.

So, you thinking programming doesn't 'mean anything'is a subjective viewpoint only valid to you and others who feel the same way as you. For the people who do see code as meaning something, your argument is invalid

"...it's an expression of emotion or thought in a creative manner.."

I have seen a lot of code that was 'an expression of thought in a creative manner'


- Welcome to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack.
[ Parent ]

Geek masturbation (3.33 / 3) (#162)
by Khalad on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:55:54 PM EST

All art means something—the rest is just decoration. Coding is not art; it has no social or human meaning, it makes no statement, it has no cultural value, it carries no message, it expresses no theme, it conveys no emotion, and it does not enlighten, illuminate, or provoke. It's just a bunch of structured commands a computer can read and process. Whether or not it is clever or elegant or creative has no bearing on whether it means anything.

Why must we rely on the crutch of artistic credibility to justify the value of programming? Must we really distort this overused three-letter word to justify our worth to the rest of the world? I don't want to do that. It's pathetic. I would never dare compare my code to Goya or Dostoyevsky or Gershwin, no way. I wouldn't compare any program ever written to them or their works. Programming is not art, mathematics is not art, and science is not art. They're in a whole other universe.

And FYI, my assertions are not invalidated because you disagree with me. It's okay, you don't know any better. The line between art and not is hazy indeed, but I'm certain that the source code to DOOM ain't on the fucking arty side.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
It isn't because I disagree with you... (4.33 / 3) (#174)
by Vermifax on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:27:11 PM EST

You state that art is art because it has meaning. It is entirely up to the observer whether something has meaning or not. You defined art as something that is subjective. You don't get to decide for everyone else whether something has meaning or not. Since you have defined art as something subjective you preclude yourself from claiming factually that all code is not art. You can only say you do not see it as art (maybe that's a given here)

We don't have to justify the value of programming by calling it art and in fact I don't know of any who are trying to justify its worth. I do, however, see people who would demean it by saying that there is no way possible that it could be art.

The line between what is art and not isn't hazy at all. People who say the line is hazy generally decide what is art and what isn't by what they like or don't like and what they believe is art. That's like my grandmother saying rock isn't music. People creating things using imagination, creativity and emotions IS art. To me art is not the end product viewed by the masses, but the creation of the product. I know quite a few musicians who feel the same way. We create art when we play without anyone present. Art doesn't have to have social meaning,art doesn't have to have cultural value. There are artists whose whole intent is to spread some social conscious message, but not all of us do. Whether socially conscious art with a meaning is of more worth than art for arts sake is another topic entirely.

Code is art in the same way that Song writers creating a score is art. The presentation doesn't come until later but both the code and the unperformed score are still art.


- Welcome to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack.
[ Parent ]

you're wrong (4.66 / 3) (#191)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:50:42 PM EST

All art means something--the rest is just decoration. Coding is not art; it has no social or human meaning, it makes no statement, it has no cultural value, it carries no message, it expresses no theme, it conveys no emotion, and it does not enlighten, illuminate, or provoke. It's just a bunch of structured commands a computer can read and process.

First of all, most computers cannot directly understand source code. The source code is understood by other programs. This may sound trivial, but it's an important distinction. But anyway, lets go over your points one by one.

has no social or human meaning
If your code doesn't mean anything to another programmer, you've failed as a programmer. If code has no meaning to you, then you aren't one.

it makes no statement
What's a statement? Don't programs like DeCSS make them? There are lots of programs that make computers do things that other people thought were impossible. Those programs make this simple statement that computers can do this, that it is possible.

it has no cultural value
Does napster have cultural value, does it change society? What about Linux, or Photoshop, or Word, or Netscape. There is a lot of software in the world that lets people do things that simply weren't possible before.

it conveys no emotion
It does to some people, it does to me. I've seen code that amazes me. Is that not an emotion?

and it does not enlighten, illuminate, or provoke.
It most certainly does, it lets you see how a problem was solved.

If you don't understand code, if you don't understand it really, then you won't see it as art. But to those who can see what code means, how it is far more then 'It's just a bunch of structured commands a computer can read and process' (a statement that is wrong in both directions, were talking about source code, not object code)
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Give up. (2.20 / 5) (#228)
by Jin Wicked on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:28:04 PM EST

I think the futility of trying to explain the difference between artistic "meaning" and the "meaning" of code is quite obvious here. For individuals whose life revolves around something very logical and structured, philisophical and emotional ideas seem to be somewhat neglected in many cases. While I still don't believe code is art (though I would readily declare exceptions if one was presented to me), for the very reasons I explained, it fascinates me that to so many people it is such an emotional issue. (Which of course ties in to the psychological need to feel your work is worthwhile.) If I didn't know the kind of debate that would go on, I wouldn't have bothered to write the article. (I was also curious how many people would agree with me, and how that line of agreement would distributed demographically between programmers and non-programmers. I think the reaction was fairly predictable...)

Honestly, it's not that big a deal. Programmers can continue to live in their own little shells (I think I just made a joke here, but I'm not sure) writing Perl poetry, and the rest of the world will continue to go along our merry way, hanging prints of VanGogh and Dali and Mucha on the wall.

I think I've gained some insight in reading the discussion here, though. I'm just not entirely sure how to put it into words yet. This will go a long way in understanding the mindset. And anyway, though he isn't very geeky (at least in the stereotypical sense), my boyfriend is a programmer and you can be certain I regard his work on par with my own, art or code or both. Nothing he has created (for himself) is any less important than anything I have done (for myself.) I don't consider illustrations or commercial-ish work I've done to be art, I don't even consider many of my high school pieces to be real art. Most of them were just exercises in technical skill, devoid of any particular meaning or content. They have some merit, but they aren't really very special. They don't have any personal or sentimental meaning, or any message...

I love geeks, and I love programmers, and nerds, and intellectuals, but I also like them to be well-rounded and have an appreciation for something other than code, or whatever their field of expertise happens to be. :)


This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.


[ Parent ]
pff (5.00 / 3) (#255)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:59:34 PM EST

I think the futility of trying to explain the difference between artistic "meaning" and the "meaning" of code is quite obvious here. For individuals whose life revolves around something very logical and structured, philosophical and emotional ideas seem to be somewhat neglected in many cases.

I think that's a terribly offensive statement, and rather groundless as well. You're basically saying that Programmers can't understand the difference in the meaning of code and the meaning of meaning of a work of art because they spend to much time thinking logically and can't appreciate emotional or philosophical ideas. Whatever. It's a statement not to far from "niggers are lazy because of inferior genes" Or "Jews are all greedy because they were not allowed to own farmland and went into banking". I mean, taking a whole class of people and slighting them due to some perceived, and ludicrous stereotype. I'm half black person, and I felt the same reading that, as I would have reading some psudo-philosophical justification for racism. You think maybe we can see the difference but since we actually understand code we can see that the differences are superficial and only really seem apparent if one doesn't fully understand code, or art, or both.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Give up? (none / 0) (#266)
by Khalad on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:10:25 AM EST

I think I'm getting so many angry, defensive reactions because my statements seem like a slight on programming. I mean no harm. I do not mean to demean programming. It's not art, but it's still a wonderful and valuable craft. I do it every day, and I'm proud of that. My enjoyment is not related to the artistic merit of creating a good program; I enjoy being creative and clever. That's more than enough for me. I have other, much more direct avenues for artistic expression than programming.

As I said in another post, I think trying to justify the value of programming by calling it art is sad and irrelevant. Its merits are outside the realm of art.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
justification (5.00 / 4) (#282)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:56:22 AM EST

As I said in another post, I think trying to justify the value of programming by calling it art is sad and irrelevant. Its merits are outside the realm of art.

Almost all of our society is based on programmed code, from the obvious (kuro5hin on your web browser) to the less so (the program that processed your student loans), code is everywhere it permeates our lives. It doesn't need justification

But that isn't the point. The point is that Jin Wicked claimed that it couldn't be art, which I find silly. What made me angry was her claims that What we created had no artistic merit, and that some how because we live such 'logical lives' we somehow lack the basic mental facilities to even comprehend her reasoning. What made me angry was that she, who can't see the beauty in code, has the audacity to decide it isn't art.

It's like a deaf person claming that music isn't art because notes on paper don't have any meaning.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
How could it be art then? (nt) (2.00 / 1) (#292)
by Khalad on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:02:42 AM EST

How could it be art then?

You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
It isn't all art (none / 0) (#364)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:37:51 PM EST

And it isn't all usefull.

Buildings also permiate our lives, does that mean that they can't possibly be art?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
What I'm asking (none / 0) (#390)
by Khalad on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 07:50:36 AM EST

I was asking how code can be art, since you think it can be. How it's possible. This is a sincere question, not a rhetorical device.

And by the way, you rate me '1' in an argument with me? How lame. Rate me down because I write poorly, not because you disagree with me. I've been sincere and have tried to support my views well—my posts aren't worth '1's and '2's, regardless of how wrong I am.

Thou shalt not rate and participate. Or something.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
rating and particpating (none / 0) (#410)
by delmoi on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 05:35:04 PM EST

And by the way, you rate me '1' in an argument with me? How lame. Rate me down because I write poorly, not because you disagree with me. I've been sincere and have tried to support my views well--my posts aren't worth '1's and '2's, regardless of how wrong I am.

I rated you a 1 because of your completely infuriating answer, and honestly pointless comment. It was the only rating I have to any of your posts in this story.

You basically implied that everything I said in the last post meant that could couldn't be. What the hell does that have to do with it?

I'm sorry a one sentence post asking a question that I've already answered many, many times over does not deserve anything greater then a one.

Yeh, rating and commenting is lame, I guess. But I didn't feel like rehashing everything I had already said, so I rated. And I think My rating was appropriate. I mean, it's like you didn't read any of my other comments at all.


And finally, if you want to know why code can be art, it's because it can be beautiful, it can be created with an esthetic intent, and it is produced by man.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
I hope you read this. (none / 0) (#412)
by Khalad on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 09:13:34 PM EST

What I asked was how code can be art, not why. As in, give me examples. Be specific.

I rated you a 1 because of your completely infuriating answer, and honestly pointless comment. It was the only rating I have to any of your posts in this story.

If you understood my comment you would not think it pointless. And you don't rate somebody down for being infuriating; that's exactly why you should refrain from rating, since I was replying to you directly. Try to distinguish between the quality of my writing and how much you disagree with it. (I assure you I wrote well.)

I mean, it's like you didn't read any of my other comments at all.

You assume I'd be inexorably compelled to agree with you by the sheer fact that you meant what you said? Give me a break. Don't insult me and tell me I don't understand your posts when you don't understand mine.

I assume this conversation is over; the rest of the comments certainly are. So, a recap of the point I was trying to make: I distinguish between programs and the code that defines them. Programs can be and some certainly are quite artistic. That's obvious. I just don't believe source code can be considered artistic.

See you in some other thread. :-)


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
*sigh* (none / 0) (#420)
by delmoi on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 06:44:15 PM EST

You assume I'd be inexorably compelled to agree with you by the sheer fact that you meant what you said? Give me a break. Don't insult me and tell me I don't understand your posts when you don't understand mine.

What? this isn't about wether you agree with me or not, this is about you asking the question "How can it be art then?" Which is a question that I already answered!!!! Several times!!!!!

Suppose you got into a debate about, say, windows Vs Unix. And someone asked you why Unix was better then windows. And after 2 hours of debate, trying to explain why Unix was better, You started talking about how Operating Systems are good in general. And person asked "How can Unix be better then Windows then?" I mean, it dosn't matter if you agree with me or not, but what is the point in asking the same question that we started with all over again

The post you replied to had nothing to do with wether or not code and programming were art, only about how programming is usefull in general regardless of it's artistic value. And then you ask "how can it be art"? I mean, none of what I had just said had any baring on wether or not it was art.

Anyway, I went back and gave your post a 2, since you explained yourself. but this whole story was just starting to piss me off.

That's obvious. I just don't believe source code can be considered artistic.

Why not?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Don't reply. We have no common ground. (none / 0) (#423)
by Khalad on Tue May 01, 2001 at 02:25:40 AM EST

Delmoi: The point is that Jin Wicked claimed that it couldn't be art, which I find silly.

Khalad: How could it be art then?

(At least, that's how I intended it to be emphasized, but you can't add tags to the subject [and pasting the subject to the body was an afterthought]. And the message I hid stenographically was: "Be specific. Tell me what kind of constructs could be artistic. Describe source code to me that would be artistic. Don't be vague. Don't tell me it's smart or elegant or aesthetic. Yadda yadda yadda." See it now?)

By the way, why were you pissed? I'm the only one that agreed with the article; everybody else was on your side. Your recent poll confirms that. Lighten up—arguing with you isn't any fun.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Don't reply? (none / 0) (#431)
by fsh on Tue May 01, 2001 at 07:20:22 PM EST

You ask delmoi to lighten up at the same time you order 'Don't reply; we have no common ground'? The imperative tense is a bit harsh, and I must say I agreed with the assesments others presented about your tone. If you don't wish to carry on a conversation, then please just stop. From what I can tell, you've made a great many statements that could easily arouse ire in a number of different people. However, if you truly wish to carry this conversation forward, you're in luck, because I am a Stoic, and do anger easily at all. I am also not a programmer, but an artist. You are certainly not the only person to agree with Jin on this thread, and I've talked to as many people as I can. I do not care to change your mind, I simply seek a greater appreciation of your point of view.

As for your demand to show some artistic code, check the rest of this thread. There's been several examples; the Story of Mel was easy to follow even for a non-programmer like myself. My personal belief is that any form of communication lends itself to artistic output, and, since source code is a form of communication, it can be a form of art. Is a mosaic a form of art, for instance? Randomly sized bits of colored, broken tile, mortared together. When executed, when looked at as a whole, it is suddenly a work of art. How about a movie? While the reel itself might not be considered artistic, it is certainly an artistic medium. When executed, moved through a movie projector, it can become art. Code is the exact same thing, in my mind. Toy Story 1 & 2 were pretty close to artistic, certainly if you're a child, and were made entirely with computers. And just as the professional artist has to know how the brush strokes work, or the type of paint used, and just as the professional writer has to read and fully understand how Finnegan's Wake could have been written, so does the programmer have to understand the source code.

But the medium is only 30 years old. Give it a little time before you ask where the geniuses are. It took millenia of artistic evolution before Beethoven and Joyce were produced. Just give it a little time.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

How about, "Let's end this?" (none / 0) (#432)
by Khalad on Wed May 02, 2001 at 03:53:31 AM EST

I'll try not to be insulting or confrontational. Just +1 (Insightful). ;-)

At the root of this whole discussion are our personal definitions of "art." Or, at least, what we consider to be artistic, though our categories may not be well defined.

To me, art needs at least two things: it must be creative, and it must indirectly express an idea or feeling. For example, Crime and Punishment is undeniably creative. Its greatness lies in the extraordinary themes and ideas that permeate the story; Raskolnikov's story is only important insofar as we can learn from it. There is never any statement like, "Crime sucks" or "Punishment is redemption." That's juvenile. I can write like that! (In fact I just did.) Without going into more detail I hope you understand my point.

Code, on the other hand, fails to satisfy my second criterion. Code can be quite creative, but it doesn't express anything indirectly. Being challenged and inspired by good code does not give it artistic merit; that's good engineering, or good science. Earlier I was unclear about how the "meaning" of code is different from the "meaning" of a work of art. Now I can answer that. A piece of code's "meaning" is entirely explicit; if its functionality is its statement then its explication of that statement is in no way indirect.

Code has no meaning other than its function. Good design helps us understand this function—it does not add any extra meaning. Higher level meaning is still an expression of the same idea, which is "this is what this source code does."

The story of Mel shows cleverness and creativity at its finest. Yet I hesitate at calling his assembler code "art." It's clever, yes, and it's quite creative, yes, and it can inspire and enlighten many, yes, but these are not its goals, these are not its purpose. We can be enlightened and inspired by most anything. Essays can enlighten. Anything can inspire. Yet I would never call Kurt Godel's paper "On Formally Undecidable Propositions in Principia Mathematica and Related Systems" art, though it is both enlightening and inspiring. It is easily more significant in these regards than Mel's work. But in the end it is just an essay.

In a similar vein I do not consider programming to be artistic. This is not to say that programs, when run, cannot be artistic. To claim this would be ludicrous. It's just that the source code to the world's most artistic program could never be anything better than great engineering. And that's only derogatory if you consider engineering to be below art.

A better example than Mel's work to change my view would be Brian Westley's famous love letter. The reason I don't consider that art is that it too is merely clever. But even if the writing were more poetic, I would attribute the artisticness to the words and not the code. It's a fine line.

I never mean to diminish the value of programming by not calling it art. I don't think it's insulting to appreciate its merits as is, whether or not they are artistic. Doing artistic work is no better than any other kind of work; it's not better, and I don't think it's closer to the soul than is programming. It's all about taste.

Coding is a tool, and it can be used to create artistic works. Just as the syntax and lexicon of Finnegan's Wake is not artistic, neither is programming. Just as the rendering software for Toy Story was not artistic, neither is programming. The end results of these processes are where the art is; you need not be a professional writer, or a painter, or a programmer to appreciate a good book or painting or program.

Thank you for your post; I realized how poorly I've been communicating my ideas. Maybe I've done so better now? Or maybe I'm still just spewing bunk.

I hope the former.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Is Art Even Definable? (5.00 / 1) (#437)
by fsh on Thu May 03, 2001 at 06:12:12 PM EST

To me, art needs at least two things: it must be creative, and it must indirectly express an idea or feeling.
Then I agree with this definition. For instance, Newton's law F=ma expressed an incredible idea for its time, that the laws that govern the heavens are the *exact* same as the laws that govern the earth. For this reason, I say that Newton was an artist. Turing, as well, because he showed that machines could think like humans do. Both of these people had creative thoughts that indirectly expressed ideas and feelings far beyond the simple texts they provided. For this same reason, I believe you do Godel an injustice. The idea behind his mere essay, that there are certain problems, simply expressed, that are just flat out insoluble, is for me absolutely amazing. This means that even if the physicists ever do come up with a Grand Unified Theory, that it may not be solvable. This, for me, is a serious blow to the predestination philosophy.

My main point here is that it's really just about impossible to define art. Art means different things to different people, so one person's definition of art won't match with someone elses'.

It's just that the source code to the world's most artistic program could never be anything better than great engineering.
I personally don't feel that there is necessarily any difference between engineering and art. This viewpoint is decidely influenced by Robert Pirsig's masterpiece philosophical work 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance', which has been talked about a few times so far in different spots on this thread. One person put up a fantastic quote from that book, about how rotisserie assembly is just a long lost branch of sculpture. It is this dichotomy between engineering and art that I personally protest.
Just as the syntax and lexicon of Finnegan's Wake is not artistic, neither is programming.
Well, I disagree with this line of thought, but since art means different things for different people, that's ok. Just to let you know how I think, however, I say that anything done by humans can be art. I would say that the syntax and vocabulary of Finnegan's Wake are inextricably tied to the work as a whole - it's stream of consciousness. As far as the method of how he wrote it, well, Calligraphy can be an art, too. Most programmers don't make any differences between the source code and the final product; the two are considered the same, and thus if one is deemed art, then the other can be too. I agree with this, I don't see how it is viable to separate one from the other. Just as a brush stroke by itself might not be considered art, any individual brush stroke required to make the Mona Lisa I would say is art. Now, as I've said before, I don't think that 'art' is something innate in any object, it exists solely in the process of human perception (again, another idea influenced by Pirsig), so I would never say that a print out of source code is innately art. I can easily understand how a person who observes that source code could perceive it as art, however, and I disagree with anyone who says that such a thing can never be art under any circumstances. If you were to say that such a thing is not art for you, I would have no room to argue, but when you say that it is not, and cannot be, art, I must disagree.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

Or maybe it's your tone. (4.20 / 5) (#306)
by ajf on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:49:55 AM EST

Perhaps you're getting "angry, defensive reactions" because you said "It's okay, you don't know any better". It's funny how people react when you insult them.



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
meaningless? (3.00 / 2) (#189)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:34:20 PM EST

Real art means something; it's an expression of emotion or thought in a creative manner. Source code doesn't mean anything, it doesn't express anything. It's purely functional

If source code didn't mean anything, then it wouldn't do anything, now would it. The sum total of all the value of any source code is it's meaning. Its meaning to the machine, and to people who might want to read the code later. More then anything, the code to a computer program means you can solve this program in this way If your code doesn't convey that to both a person and a computer, then you have failed as a programmer
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Meaning (3.50 / 2) (#265)
by Khalad on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:02:47 AM EST

A program may be art; its source code is not. A source code's meaning is no more artistic than the meaning of the words in a telephone book, or the instructions for building a model submarine.

Artistic meaning is a subset of ordinary meaning; lots of things mean something, most things are not art. Good design and documentation convey loads of meaning, but they do not make source code art.

That's what I mean when I say source code is not art.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Define your terms (none / 0) (#280)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:50:30 AM EST

Artistic meaning is a subset of ordinary meaning

So, while code you agree that code means something, now you are now saying that it dosn't have Artistic meaning. Well, what, pray tell, is artistic meaning. something other then "the meaning that only art has" I hope.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Artistic meaning (3.50 / 2) (#291)
by Khalad on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:00:57 AM EST

Art examines personal issues, emotional issues, social issues, cultural issues, and does so creatively. It explores emotion and existence. A piece of source code neither examines nor explores any issues or ideas. It does not one thing a work of art does. Code may elicit emotions in you or others, but that is not its purpose; I can't think of a single piece of code I've ever seen or heard about that exists to stir the emotions of those who read it.

Some code is like some mathematics; logical, intelligent, and emotionally evocative, but as artistic as a KKK pamphlet. The ability to stir one's emotions is the province of many things unartistic. And that's programming's only claim to the title (and a very weak one, I might add).

Once again, I'll concur with Jin Wicked, even though it seems not the popular thing to do. If you think source code is art then your mindset is way too narrow, too logical—too geeky. Go explore some real art, read Crime and Punishment, examine El 3 de mayo de 1808 en Madrid, experience Rhapsody in Blue. Maybe I'm biasing the sample here by picking such exceptional examples of art, but I don't care. Call programming whatever you want, but at least go experience the rest of the artistic world. Goya's social message is infinitely more important and deliberate and expressive than DeCSS's ever could be.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Oh, please! (1.00 / 1) (#302)
by SnowDogAPB on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:27:57 AM EST

"Art examines personal issues, emotional issues, social issues, cultural issues, and does so creatively. It explores emotion and existence."

Come now. The meaning of art is in the beholder of it. One observer may find a blank canvas incredibly meaningful, while another may say "This is not art." The way that people argue over the artistic merit of modern art is a perfect example of this. Some people imbue a lot of meaning into a blob of color on a blank background. Others think the painter dropped his paint and conned the world into buying the after-effect.

If one is moved by experiencing something, I am ready to call that something art. If one exerts creative force upon something, I am ready to say that that person artfully completed his/her objective. I'm ready to say that whether that process was the creation of a perfectly symmetrical set of pickles on a Big Mac or a deeply moving novel about a young person's coming of age.

These people saying "This isn't art" and "that isn't art" make me ill. Who died and left you custodian of the definition of the word "art?" Let me decide how I feel. You talk about programmers living in their little "shells" (and patronizingly offer us a geeky pun, hoping we'll say "She's A-OK, she made a geek joke!), where you're living in the same kind of shell -- your little artsy shell. Afraid to explore what others may view as artistic, because it somehow doesn't fit what your professor told you was art.



[ Parent ]
Are you replying to the right person? (none / 0) (#334)
by Khalad on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:45:13 PM EST

I think you meant to reply to Jin Wicked, not me. I am a programmer, so don't patronize and belittle me on account of being too artsy. I most definitely am not artsy. I couldn't be if I tried; I find much modern "art" too repulsive even to appreciate.

Oh yeah, I'm also a guy.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Source Code not Art? (none / 0) (#307)
by ajf on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:50:56 AM EST

A program may be art; its source code is not.

I would have to disagree with that. A given chunk of source code need not have any qualities that could be considered artistic to have utility, but that does not mean that no source code can be artistic.

The haiku interpretation of decss, which I would never claim was great poetry, does have a cultural message, and it does enlighten, illuminate and provoke -- it's not about utility, it's about protesting against a law by drawing attention to an absurd loophole. And, if someone who understands C were to read it aloud and maybe write it down, they'd find it carries a message (the decryption algorithm).

(from your other message):

It's just a bunch of structured commands a computer can read and process.

What about a Perl script with its code arranged to look like a Christmas tree? That's certainly not part of the structure of commands the interpreter executes -- it's an embellishment which you can't write off as mere utility. (Not that I would compare it to great literature or painting, either...)



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
With this statement (5.00 / 3) (#190)
by Biff Cool on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:42:38 PM EST

Real art means something; it's an expression of emotion or thought in a creative manner. Source code doesn't mean anything, it doesn't express anything. It's purely functional. And it doesn't matter how much you dress it up and fancify it and make it look nice, 'cause it's not ever become art that way.

You have wiped both Frank Lloyd Wright and all of Dadaism out of the art world.  My Congratulations!

If you want code that isn't purely functional look at the IOCCC there you'll find code whose function is completely secondary to the way it was written.


My ass. It's code, with pictures of fish attached. Get over it. --trhurler


[ Parent ]
TLDR.LSP (5.00 / 1) (#411)
by anonymous cowerd on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:20:09 PM EST

One time, I was drunk and I was sitting in front of an open AutoCAD editor screen,, and on account of that I wrote a little AutoLISP program to draw a leader line with an arrowhead on it. Sounds functional, right? But my leader line program used a single text attribute - either the capital letter "I" or the capital letter "L," tortured by diddling the rotation angle, obliquing angle, and aspect ratio, to compose the straight lines leading to the arrowhead. Now dammit, you can't say that something as self-consciously screwed up as that was merely practical. It was, instead, my way of amusing myself with the downright perverted aesthetics of the code - as streetlawyer puts it, I was well and truly jerking off.

Now if, as all the respected authorities aver, this is art, then so was my TLDR.LSP. That's what I, the artist, say.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

the Earth's blue as an orange
[ Parent ]

Engineering as a whole (4.00 / 1) (#202)
by bored on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:29:24 PM EST

You forget a lot of engineering falls into the same category. Bridges, cars, etc often have aesthetic properties as well. Other than that you did a wonderful job of refuting his basic premise.

[ Parent ]
True (4.00 / 1) (#279)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:37:50 AM EST

But, most people don't think of art when they think of engineering. To me, any feild can be an art. I read an artical in wired the other day that made creating new kinds of steel seem pretty artistic. I chose arcitecture because many people do consider it an art.

Also, Jin Wicked is a woman.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
My take... (4.30 / 10) (#27)
by CrayDrygu on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:09:17 PM EST

(Warning: The thoughts I'm going to try to express here aren't fully formed in my head. I'm going to be doing a lot of thinking and re-thinking as I write, so I may not come out totally coherent. I'll gladly clarify anything if you ask.)

I think code as an artform is nothing like a painting, or sculpting, or poetry, which you're trying to compare it to (or rather, contrast it against). It's more like a performance art. Plucking a few strings on a guitar doesn't make great concert. Get three or four people, though, with a common beat, key, rhythm, etc...now you've got something.

When you finish a program (not that any program is ever truly finished), what you have left is like a book of the sheet music from that performance. It shows you what they played, and little bit about how they played it. But it's no substitute for going to the show, or for being on stage and playing it.

Just like no two guitarists will play the same song the same way, and no two painters will paint identical portraits, no two programmers will write the same program with the same approach and coding techniques.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that the code itself is not the artwork -- it's the writing of the code. Just like you can come up with a song, and write it out on paper, that sheet of paper is not the masterpiece.

It's just like sheet music, now that I think about it more. You can look at a sheet of music, and even if you can read it, it's not art unless you're sitting down and playing it. And of course, to someone who can't read music, there's no art hidden in there at all. Well, you can use a compiled program, and even if you're a programmer, that's not where the art is. The program isn't art unless you're sitting down and coding it. And to someone who's never written a line of code in thier life, well, they're not going to see it.

That's why any large-scale program truly amazes me. Not because the finished product is something to be in awe of -- in fact, in most cases, the finished product is pretty laughable. But when I think about all the effort that goes into writing a program like Windows NT, or the Linux kernel, or even Scoop, that's when I start to see the art shine through. Just like you can get a feel for a song from the sheet music, but it's not the same as hearing someone play it.

I hope that made sense to someone other than myself. And I realize I'm a little unclear about whether by "code" I'm talking about source code in a text file or a compiled binary. That's because it's not really clear in my mind, either. They're almost the same thing, really. The only difference is one is meant to be readable by you, and the other is meant to be readable by your operating system.

Thank you. (4.00 / 1) (#142)
by Skippy on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:53:30 PM EST

I'm at work and not even supposed to be reading this but I wanted to say this SOOOOO badly. You've expressed exactly my thoughts and saved me much time so you get a 5 :-)
# I am now finished talking out my ass about things that I am not qualified to discuss. #
[ Parent ]
You're welcome =) (none / 0) (#245)
by CrayDrygu on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:10:37 PM EST

Hey, cool...someone else did understand me =)

[ Parent ]
recipe for art (4.42 / 7) (#29)
by depsypher on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:22:30 PM EST

While code may not be art, it can be artistic. And the products of code can certainly be art.

I'm not sure I understand the distinction you make here. It's like saying the recipe for tiramisu is not art, but the pastry itself is. It seems to me that you can't have one without the other.

I think the problem with your hypothesis is that you see code as purely a medium, like paints are to a painter. But there are many other elements that art and code share. Some of these include technique, style, elegance, and innovation.

In any case, if code is considered to be artistic, then it would seem to follow that its creator is an artist. So, why deprive the programmer that title?



receipe vs the work of a chef (2.50 / 2) (#48)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:24:33 AM EST

There is no receipe for art. I can give you the palette, the brushes, and I can describe the scene in a connect the dot algorithmic fashion but you still wont manage to create art if you suck. Not only that, the fact that I am giving you the receipe means you arent expressing yourself artistically.

The subtlety and nuance an artist has for his medium - the ability to render a gesture or shape in exactly one perfect brush stroke loaded with just the right amount of paint in the perfect color - all this is entirely absent from programming. Programmers compare in their ability to to connect better and more dots together; their process is entirely algorithmic.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

I feel it is necessary to point out.. (1.87 / 8) (#32)
by qpt on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:29:37 PM EST

..that although code may or may not be art, Jin_Wicked clearly is art. Given that this is the case, we must further note that no code is as beautiful as Jin_Wicked. Thus, we may safely conclude that code is not art.

That is all.

Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.

Lovely... (3.00 / 3) (#34)
by Jin Wicked on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:35:41 PM EST

I am not sure if I should be annoyed with you or not. I guess that's better than someone below who called me a man.


This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.


[ Parent ]
I think... (none / 0) (#59)
by Elendale on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:30:39 AM EST

If you only get called a man after this (and i think it was more a "default" than an insult), you'll be lucky. Something this flamable around here is rare.

Which means, +1 FP, of course.

-Elendale (large rants about how society kills creativity omitted and how, with a bit of extrapolation this argument could be used to kill art entirely omitted)
---

When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


[ Parent ]
*cough* (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:43:43 AM EST

can you kiss more ass?

She isn't going to go out with you, just give up already!
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
programming can be art... (4.00 / 6) (#35)
by poltroon on Tue Apr 24, 2001 at 11:38:42 PM EST

I certainly think some programs can be considered art, if they evoke some sort of an unexpected or resonant response. I consider the kind of code I write to be a craft (not art), in the sense that a spec can be written out and executed, like construction of a building. Of course it doesn't always work quite like that; there's a certain amount of floundering along the way or changing of design, but the objective is usually clear, and it doesn't involve any of my thoughts or feelings about being human.

Not all imagery or written matter is art either, obviously. The intention and process is important. When I draw stuff, I never quite know what I'm going for or how I'll get there until something kind of clicks. I can see that happening with programming too, though not the kind of programming companies usually pay people for... Similarly, some of the imagery or art assets that companies pay people to generate doesn't speak to me as art, because it's not personal or subtle or provocative.

It's in the eye of the beholder (4.70 / 10) (#38)
by cthugha on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:11:54 AM EST

I think you and I look at code from different points of view, with the result that one of us sees a tool and the other sees art.

You look at a program and see the end result; what the program does, not any aspect of its construction. You look at a spreadsheet and see "Wow, a spreadsheet", and completely fail to get excited. That's not surprising, it's understandable, even someone as boring as me fails to see anything exciting in accounting.

But I look at that spreadsheet differently. I don't see what it does but what it is (the code, not the function). If I see a particularly efficient and elegant algorithm which satisfies my sense of what an algorithm should be (my sense of algorithmic aesthetics) and derive pleasure from it, why should that not be art?

As you pointed out, "A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning." Where is the difference with most contemporary art? Doesn't contemporary art exist to convey some sort of meaning, even if it is largely user-generated? And does not most art require a certain level of knowledge and training to be fully appreciated (or even appreciated at all)?



Have you thought about this much? (4.81 / 32) (#40)
by elenchos on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:28:20 AM EST

Saying "programming is not art" is like saying "photography is not art," in reference to some photographs for a toothpaste ad. Photography can be called art, in reference to a Robert Mapplethorpe, for example. Sometimes it is not, when the purpose is so utiltarian that no artistic merit is left.

Holding up MS Windows and saying "This is not art, therefore programming is not art" is like holding up a Norman Rockwell painting and saying "painting is not art, because Rockwell paintings are not art." Which raises all sorts of problems, because there are actually some people who think Rockwell paintings have artistic merit, just as you could find someone who appreciates a Microsoft product on that level. Some people have taste, some do not. That is a different issue.

So before you even go on about whether or not any code at all can be art, you need to explain what you mean by art to begin with. Otherwise you have nothing but some hollow and meaningless opinion.

I would begin by trying to figure out what to do with this:

    A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning.
You might be able to use this belief to support the idea that an algorithm in of itself is not art (although that would need some support of its own), but code is not just an algorithm. Code can be beautiful because of how it is written. There are a virtually infinte number of ways to write any algorithm. Some are better than others for reasons that go beyond the requirements of good engineering. Once you look at two pieces of code that execute the same algorithm in the same way, yet prefer one to the other because of how you feel about it, because of what it means to you, then we're talking art, ladies and gentlemen.

If all you want to do is claim that the useful code that most programmers work on from day to day to pay the bills is not art, few would dispute it, any more than they would dispute that a house painter is not an artist. But if that is all you want to say, why bother?

I would suggest this definition: art is what artists do. Some programmers are artists, not just tradesmen, and so their programs are indeed art. The fact that few can appreciate it makes no difference.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


have you? (3.25 / 4) (#49)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:52:31 AM EST

Once you look at two pieces of code that execute the same algorithm in the same way, yet prefer one to the other because of how you feel about it, because of what it means to you, then we're talking art, ladies and gentlemen.

How do you feel about a particular implementation of an algorithm? When you make that choice between two algorithms, how are you discriminating between them? Is one better laid out than the other on paper - concision, indentation, language, etc? Or is it because one makes better use of the machine?

You make decisions about 100s of things every day and their vast majority is unrelated to art. I prefer golden retrievers to dobermen. Is one dog better, artistically, because of my preference?

I'm just trying to elicit what guides your choice in coded algorithms. I need to do that before you can convince me that code is art.

Some programmers are artists, not just tradesmen, and so their programs are indeed art.

Why is it not more accurate to describe their programs as better examples of engineering. If they're doing engineering, as it surely seems they are, isnt it somewhat arbitrary to describe them as artists?

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

That depends on you. (4.33 / 3) (#54)
by elenchos on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:14:55 AM EST

If you care about a program only for what it does and how well, then you are restricting yourself to engineering critera, or so it would seem. But if you make decisions about what is good code and what you like about it based on more than that, you're on the road to talking about art. Also, considering the dismal state of the "software engineering" field and its poor resemblance to any real engineering discipline, I would say that most decisions about what is "good code" are aesthetic decisions. For example, does anyone really agree on what it means to "make better use of the machine?" Preferring cloudy days to sunny days is also an aesthetic decision, but no art goes into making the weather, it just happens. So we have aesthetics and we have the hand of a person creating it. What else are you looking for?

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

yes, art is subjective in a way that code isnt (3.83 / 6) (#60)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:09:30 AM EST

I would say that most decisions about what is "good code" are aesthetic decisions.

Are you referring to elegance? I think elegance would be programming's claim for art if there were one. The trouble with elegance in programming is that it is either judged according to engineering principles (how effective its usage of the machine is) or it's judged according to cleverness.

IMO all engineering rationale can be dismissed as just that, engineering. Not art.

As for the cleverness angle, judging 2 algorithms according to their elegance is exactly the same as judging 2 proofs of a mathematical theorem. One of them is going to be more concise, more understandable, will draw from a narrower subset of mathematics, etc.

Here's where it gets problematic: we can all recognize a superior proof because the language and logic of mathematics demands its recognition. A thousand page computer generated proof of the 4 color theorem is not compelling. Fermat's last theorem was proven in a mathematics that does not resemble the way the problem was expressed; everyone understands the problem, practically no one understands the solution. Neither of these proofs are elegant solutions.

Art, on the other hand, can universally be understood without any rules for describing its own quality. Unlike theorems, comparing art is purely subjective. You can break all its "rules" and still create a masterpiece.

It's not a science.

Now let's pretend someone comes up with an elegant proof for one of these theorems. Is that someone a better artist? Was their insight a discovery or was it a creation? Art isnt discovered. Was the proof accidental in the sense that it was occasioned by pursuing a different branch of mathematics than the original proof? Better art doesnt exist in oils than it does in pencils.

For example, does anyone really agree on what it means to "make better use of the machine?"

Better use of time (execution speed) and space (ram), I would imagine.

What else are you looking for?

The message has to be human, for one. Each artwork has to express a unique meaning, two (quicksort is quicksort and you cant identify a programmer from a quicksort the way you can identify an artist from his work.) It shouldnt be divined according to reason, three.

In short, naively, it should be felt.

(Of course this is as much nonsense as anything else on this page but there you have it.)

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

abstraction? (3.50 / 2) (#68)
by poltroon on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:59:08 AM EST

Some art is purely concerned with aesthetics, or the sublime. It's sort of blatantly, entirely meaningless. Op Art is one example (imo). I could see code potentially being the medium for a similar effect.

[ Parent ]
ah, what isnt op art? (3.50 / 2) (#78)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:55:59 AM EST

Legal code that compiles is never meaningless the way working programmers write it but I suppose if they are determined to be whimsical in the IOCCC sense it would be op art.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

"Engineering." (4.00 / 4) (#256)
by elenchos on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:02:54 AM EST

If "better use of time (execution speed) and space (ram)" were even close to being sufficient critera for what is a good program, perhaps "software engineering" would not be an oxymoron, and there would be as much agreement among these "engineers" as there is among civil engineers as to what constitutes a safe building or among aerospace engineers as to what is a stable aircraft. But look at the state of the art: each passing day brings more varied solutions to the same problems, with little hope of selecting the "best" solution. There are hundreds of programming languages to choose from, and the number is constantly multiplying. The recent article on C++ factionalism shows how little solid empirical ground these "engineers" stand on. If this were about objective reality, a few experiments and tests could settle the issue, and there would be one good programming language in the "real world," and a few experimental ones in the universities. And then you have the multitude of methodologies, with no better criteria for choosing between them than for choosing between different musical genres. Intractable problems like the "software crisis" add further evidence.

So what is a good program? Well, code should be correct, whatever that means. Hopefully your specification isn't too ambigious. Then there are very subjective issues like mantainability and portability, which can be at odds with objective goals like saving RAM or CPU cycles. Will new people be able to understand it when the ones who wrote it are gone? If you pick a hot fashionable new language, you might attract smart young coders who want to play with cool toys, but a boring old language will fit better with your existing code. Does that sound like an engineering decsion? This is just off the top of my head. Imagine how long an exhaustive list would be. What happens if someone writes a some code that other programmers simply like for its own sake, even if it fails to meet any objective or subjective test for being good code? It has to be called art, since it can't be called anything else (except perhaps a "crock" if you aren't an afficiando of the piece).

A person who can pick a safe path through that quagmire of ambiguity is not an engineer operating on sound principles. That person is an artist, or maybe a mystic, going more on instinct than anything else, even if statistics and benchmarks are used to rationalize the decisions post hoc.

Your other criteria might be useful for describing what type of art you enjoy, but to use rules like "expresses a unique meaning" or "has a human message" to separate all art from non-art excludes way to much. Does a techno beat have a human message? Can you identify the artist? Maybe you see certain categories of non-representational, or even mechanistic art as lacking merit, but if you won't call them art, what are they? Saying that art shouldn't be divined according to reason would certainly come as a shock to centuries of classicists, who at least have thought that their orderly landscape gardens and precise waltzes were the very soul of reason.

So step back and realize that art is an extremely broad topic and a bewildering variety of things fall under any definition of art that will stand up. If you want to hang on to the criteria you listed (and hopefully you feel strongly about them, as I do about my criteria) use them to define "good art." That will get you much farther.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

the criteria for art is that it is not objective (none / 0) (#373)
by eLuddite on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:08:10 PM EST

Describing the intricacies of software engineering does not make it art. If I wanted to I could have described the intricacies of creating an oil painting that neither yellows (significantly) nor cracks. So what? C and Pascal are tools the way acrylics and oils are; some of the points you raise sound like fodder for management and they relate to code the way a choice for northern light relates to studio architecture. Your audience and mine do not care one whit either way. It's nice that you get hung up on the trivia of your craft but it doesnt make it art.

At the end of the day your code is an example of computation that solves a specific problem. Once you understand how that problem is solved, the code is solved, its meaning is plumbed, its lessons are over. Everyone that looks at this code sees the exact same thing. Why? Because code is either correct or it is incorrect. There is nothing subjective about code. The best you can do is camoflage its meaning behind syntax. So what? I simply rewrite it until it becomes clear. Do that with art.

So step back and realize that art is an extremely broad topic and a bewildering variety of things fall under any definition of art that will stand up.

I know art and I know code and code is not art. You dont see artists going around claiming their work is computation, do you? They are two entirely different things.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

Not intricacies: ambiguities and phantoms. (none / 0) (#380)
by elenchos on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:06:32 AM EST

The things I described are not simple objective questions. They are intractable problems that no one has found a way to solve systematically. This is why it is so difficult to train good programmers, and so difficult to plan and execute a non-trivial software project according to a known budget and schedule. Hollywood movies come in on time and under budget more often than software projects.

And none of these "engineers" can agree what to do about it. Why doesn't one of them just show all the others the proof that his method is right and end the disagreement? After all, "Everyone that looks at this code sees the exact same thing." Right? I don't think they see the same thing at all. If they did you might be on to something. If code could simply be proven to be correct or incorrect, then there wouldn't be all this disagreement, would there?

And we do, in fact, see many artists claiming that their work is computation. That is what the whole classical genus of art is all about. Perfect proportions, ideal, even Platonic, forms represented according to rules of symmetry and order, observing unity and balance in all things. This is the aesthetic of Plato and Aristotle that runs all the way through the Western tradition and forms the one of the principle poles of our dual consciousness, opposite the Romantic, or Dionsyian tradition.

Naturally, a Romantic artist would claim that True Art cannot be quantified, measured, or ordered according to objective criteria. Not unlike my criticism about the hubris of those who think software can be written according to rules and orderly systems.

But when you look clearly at Classical and Romantic art, you see that both are right and neither is better nor can either be called True Art. They are the two sides of the same coin. That creating software shares this dual nature is perhaps the best reason to believe that it is also art. Or more accurately: has the potential to be a medium of art, even if most of what we see is merely the the painting equivalent of whitewashing a fence.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

i guess we will never agree (none / 0) (#383)
by eLuddite on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 01:51:11 AM EST

The things I described are not simple objective questions. They are intractable problems that no one has found a way to solve systematically.

My whole life is an intricate maneuver of plodding indecision from the moment I must decide between Raisin Bran and Corn Flakes till I drift into erotic reverie. My life is not systematic, soluble, or art. Similiarly, no one has found a way to systematically describe much less solve economics.

And we do, in fact, see many artists claiming that their work is computation. That is what the whole classical genus of art is all about. Perfect proportions, ideal, even Platonic, forms represented according to rules of symmetry and order, observing unity and balance in all things. This is the aesthetic of Plato and Aristotle that runs all the way through the Western tradition and forms the one of the principle poles of our dual consciousness, opposite the Romantic, or Dionsyian tradition.

No classic work of art has ever been computed. Not one. You are describing a theory of art criticism, not an object of art. Striving for an ideal of classical beauty is what produces classical art and that art is not amenable to algorithm. If it were, it would be possible to create it on an assembly line. Plato et al were philosophers, not artists, and they were pursuing a theory of beauty, not creating art. The fact that we analyze art in order to understand it means that it is "written" in a subjective language that cannot describe itself. Code describes itself completely, objectively, or it is not code.

Not unlike my criticism about the hubris of those who think software can be written according to rules and orderly systems.

Walking cannot be described according to an orderly system of rules, either. I am not interested in how you code, necessarily, I am interested in the code itself. No one will unearth some cobol two hundred years from now and call it art. They will call it an artifact of computing.

But when you look clearly at Classical and Romantic art, you see that both are right and neither is better nor can either be called True Art. They are the two sides of the same coin.

They are both examples of art.

That creating software shares this dual nature is perhaps the best reason to believe that it is also art.

There is no dual nature. Art differs from other art and from itself according to the audience. Code does not. Again, you are confusing an analysis of art with the art itself. Reams of interpretive text have been written about Michelangelo's work. "foobar()" has exactly one interpretation. "Procedure foobar;" also has exactly one interpretation, the same as foobar()'s, despite being written in a different genre.

Or more accurately: has the potential to be a medium of art.

Never. Code will forever be an example of rigorous formalism or it will not be executable by a machine. Writing code requires creativity, yes. So does any science. So does football which has a greater claim to art by virtue of its performance.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

engineering not art? (none / 0) (#372)
by roju on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:51:16 PM EST

How do you reconile your views with the beautiful houses and landscapes that many consider "art". The house is designed on engineering principals, but _expressed_ in such a way that it becomes art. Have you ever seen a beautiful piece of antique furniture? To the craftsman who made it, it was art. Art in that case is the attention to details, the instinct that guided the creater into putting a particular trim or bevel or attach two pieces of wood using just a cut out. Just like these are expressions of art, so can programming be considered art. Not all furniture is art, not all civil eng. is art, not all architecture is art (however, ever seen the Museam of Natural History in Hull, Canada?). In my opinion, many of the real computer artists are the hackers from back in the day (way before my time). Writing self-modifying code because only 10k of RAM are available, etc...

[ Parent ]
read your own post (none / 0) (#375)
by eLuddite on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:20:10 PM EST

The house is designed on engineering principals, but _expressed_ in such a way that it becomes art.

Think about you wrote.

When did anyone say art materials are not subject to physics and chemistry? Engineers who create horses are called sculptures. Engineers who design houses are called architects. I never see the same horse and house you do. We both see the same code because its meaning is not subject to interpretation.

Why is it so difficult for people to admit that art and code differ fundamentally, to the core.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

You are correct. (1.76 / 13) (#42)
by daystar on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:35:46 AM EST

Programming is a useful skill. Programmers are valuable people.

The vast majority of artists are useless whiners who couldn't make a living under under any circumstances. It's funny when they commit suicide.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.

ha ha, good one (2.66 / 6) (#51)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:05:25 AM EST

Programmers are valuable people. The vast majority of artists are useless whiners who couldn't make a living under under any circumstances.

Yeah, but they get chicks and you get nintendo.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

But at least you never see... (4.20 / 5) (#57)
by elenchos on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:24:58 AM EST

...programmers whining. Do you?

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

I have seen some whining (3.00 / 2) (#239)
by mami on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:47:05 PM EST

when they had to change from their favorite editor...let's say from vi to emacs... :-)

sorry couldn't resist

[ Parent ]
I'll bear that in mind (3.00 / 6) (#73)
by Miniluv on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:39:38 AM EST

The next time I fuck my wife.

Come on, tell me how to moderate. I DARE YOU!


[ Parent ]
and if she's not too busy that next time, (3.33 / 3) (#80)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:06:42 AM EST

Ask her to explain plurals while you're working that programmer mojo.

Come on, tell me how to take myself more seriously. I DARE YOU!

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

So will I. (4.20 / 5) (#88)
by streetlawyer on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:27:07 AM EST



--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
hahahaha (2.50 / 2) (#185)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:26:25 PM EST

Damn, if only there was a 6 rating on this thing....
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
The funny part (3.66 / 3) (#232)
by Miniluv on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:07:13 PM EST

Is that you failed to imply that you're fucking my wife, so this really only comes across as a "me too!".

Come on, tell me how to moderate. I DARE YOU!


[ Parent ]
implications (4.00 / 1) (#276)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:26:59 AM EST

Is that you failed to imply that you're fucking my wife, so this really only comes across as a "me too!".

No, he implied it all right.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Uhm (2.00 / 1) (#289)
by Miniluv on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:28:25 AM EST

No, not really. He implied that he'd bear in mind the same thing I was. There's a stretch possible to imply he'd bear it in mind in the same fashion I will, but it really didn't come across as he failed to specify a target for his fucking.

A comment like, "I'll do the same next time I see her" would've been far more effective.

I loved that sandwich like it was a son


[ Parent ]

Implications (3.00 / 1) (#363)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:33:11 PM EST

An implication is the opposite of an explicit statement. He didn't say, "I'll think about that the next time I'm fucking your wife as well", but then it wouldn't have been an implication. We are talking about language here, not math.

You said "I'll think about that the next time I'm fucking my wife". And he replied "So will I". His "So will" states that he will be doing the same thing that you are going to do.

So, he might be saying one of several things, namely.
1) "I'll think about it to" or
2)"I'll think about it while I'm fucking my wife to" or
3)"I'll think about it while I'm fucking your wife to"

1 and 3 are the most likely, since while you said "my wife" you meant the wife of Miniluv of those two statements, only one is a joke. Ambiguity isn't always a bad thing. If he had said "I'll think about it to the next time I see her" or simply "I also fuck your wife" it would have a lot less power as a statement, because the way he stated it actually required thought to understand.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Perhaps (2.00 / 1) (#370)
by Miniluv on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:32:42 PM EST

You're just really eager to defend streetlawyer? His implication was, in my opinion, weak. Had he done it well I would've laughed, as it was I just sorta snickered.

Leftist Laugh Riot


[ Parent ]
That wasn't what I meant (1.33 / 3) (#391)
by streetlawyer on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 10:21:23 AM EST

I meant that I would think about fucking your wife, while fucking your daughter. Or something.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
seriously... (3.00 / 1) (#241)
by mami on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:52:03 PM EST

I am too new to many things, but unfortunately I clicked once on your link above, and I seriously regret having done so. I still get a vomiting attack one week after having just started to read the first two or three paragraphs of it. What do you get out of linking to that story ? I don't get it and neither do I get your comment's rating.

[ Parent ]
hey, nice assumption... (1.33 / 9) (#95)
by daystar on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:07:26 AM EST

Do black people get watermelon, while chinese people get flied rice?

I get what I want.

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.
[ Parent ]

stop whining     (NT) (3.00 / 1) (#377)
by eLuddite on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:29:30 PM EST

static char *programmer = "I said no text! No art, either.";

/*
 * now this is art
 */

while (programmer != 0) {
     confuse_art();
     inflate_ego();
}

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

why it's made (4.66 / 15) (#45)
by Puchitao on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:52:48 AM EST

The main difference between art and craft is the reason they're made. Art is made to be looked at, or listened to, or touched; it's meant to be appreciated, or meant to shock. Craft, on the other hand, is meant to perform a function. This doesn't mean that craft is somehow "less" than art; it's just different.

Sometimes things are made for many reasons, and it's kinda tough in some cases to distinguish. Paintings are pretty clearly art; they don't serve much other purpose other than to hide a nasty wall stain. Nice silverware, no matter how ornate, is still primarily for carrying food to the mouth; impressing dinner guests is only a secondary side-effect.

Architecture is in the middle: most buildings are pretty much only for living and working in, and are often eyesores. On the other hand, some buildings are meant more to be looked at than used; Crysler could have built any old tall skyscraper, but they wanted something that would stick in peoples minds. The Flatiron building was a little of both--it was an excellent design for an awkward piece of land, and it was meant to be pretty to look at, to attract business to the neighborhood.

That said, most code, like most architecture, is craft. Code usually isn't written so that others can appreciate its elegance and cleanness... and if this is the main reason you code, you're in the wrong field. Code is written to acheive a goal, and if it's aesthetically pleasing to a fellow coder, all the better: it's hopefully that much easier to read, debug, and maintain. Even the IOCCC, the great bastion of Code for Code's Sake, asks for obfuscated programs that do something, and aren't just an ascii smiley face. (But, that said, I would still classify IOCCC submissions as art... they'll run, but they're written to be looked at.)

Programmers are the great artisans of our time, IMO; while mass production has sadly lessened the demand for beautifully hand-crafted consumer goods, they can't yet mass-produce all the code that's needed. But for some reason being a master craftsman isn't good enough. No... everyone has to be an "artist", despite the fact that the artist/artisan dichotomy is a fairly modern development. My guess is 'cuz saying you're an "artist" cuts a little more influence with cute non-programmer members of one's preferred gender. But that's just my suspicion...

I'll proudly call myself a craftsman (not a master, maybe still an apprentice or journeyman). I'd rather take as my inspiration the millennia of artisans who made things both beautiful and useful, than with the modern navel-gazers whose works (non-functional, and increasingly less beautiful) hang in our museums.

Perhaps we can do *snappy fun* with you everytime! -- Orz
Subjective (4.42 / 7) (#47)
by decaf_dude on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:16:17 AM EST

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. Line between art and garbage is fine.

Enough clichés, I strongly disagree with the author or the article. I believe that code can be as utilitarian or as artistic as you want. Heck, even the utilitarian piece can be considered an art from someone's angle. I think the author badly needs to visit modern art galeries. When Picaso first painted his master pieces, they certainly weren't considered art. Boy, do I wish my grandpa picked up a few of his paintings then :)

I believe you can make art out of anything, and I don't mean that in a bad way. Recently some students were given a task to sculpt "dogs" out of scrap metal. Trust me, some of the pieces I've seen were pure shite, but some were truly magnificent. They all used same materials, they all used similar techniques. Some produced art, some just welded bits of scrap metal together.

Some programmers are artists, some do it 'coz it pays well. Which one are you?

--
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=89158&cid=7713039


what on earth are you talking about? (3.00 / 4) (#53)
by streetlawyer on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:11:13 AM EST

When Picaso first painted his master pieces, they certainly weren't considered art

Of course they fucking were. They got bad reviews, but that's not the same thing by a long chalk.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

oh, come on now (3.00 / 1) (#107)
by Puchitao on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:00:10 AM EST

I think the author badly needs to visit modern art galeries.
Come on, now; this is as bad (or worse) as the author's "us real artists" nonsense. (And as a side note, being in a museum has nothing to do with being art; there's plenty of things in museums that are simply the artistic version of trolls: empty works designed to get cheap attention.)

Perhaps if you had more thoroughly read Marx, or at least a smattering of Knuth, you'd know better...

Perhaps we can do *snappy fun* with you everytime! -- Orz
[ Parent ]
Food is not art. (4.46 / 15) (#52)
by Mr. Excitement on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:08:49 AM EST

Quite simply put, code is a means -- not an end. A good analogy would be to compare the elements of code to a tube of paint. As a painter, I need a medium to create my work in. The tube of paint, like an element of code, has a specific purpose.

Food is not art. It exists to be eaten, simply a means, serving only the base, mundane function of keeping an atavistic crew of simpering, carnivorous apes alive for another day.

Idols are not art. Such graven images were merely created to serve the single utilitarian function of avoiding the wrath of Zeus, Thor, Agni, Perun, Tenger, Taranis, Viracocha, Yog-Sothoth, et al., and have been effectively replaced in modern times with the invention of the lightning rod.

Gothic gargoyles are not art. They exist only because in less enlightened times, architects failed to appreciate the sheer elegance of the lead pipe.

High art is not art. It exists solely for the highly useful (and therefore wholly anartisic) purpose of keeping self-styled intellectuals and insipid tourists cooped up inside stuffy, mildewy art museums, where they are far less likely to harm themselves or others.

In short, if it's not stuck on my fridge with a magnet, it is not art!

Bearing that in mind, I have just affixed a hard copy of my magnum opus, hello.c, to my Sears-Kenmore brand e-lectric-ukal refrigemahrator, with a sheet magnet advertising a local pizza delivery service. Thus have I refuted your argument, and, though it add insult to injury, I must remind you that space on my refrigerator is quite limited, rendering it highly unlikely that anything you create will ever be art.

1 141900 Mr. Excitement-Bar-Hum-Mal-Cha died in The Gnomish Mines on level 10 [max 12]. Killed by a bolt of lightning - [129]

food (2.66 / 3) (#85)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:18:42 AM EST

Food is not art. It exists to be eaten, simply a means, serving only the base, mundane function of keeping an atavistic crew of simpering, carnivorous apes alive for another day.

Then why do many cooks care so much to prepare and arrange food so that it "looks right on the plate"?

--em
[ Parent ]

I think he's being sarcastic (3.50 / 4) (#87)
by streetlawyer on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:25:38 AM EST

... and am quite prepared to admit that the very best programmers often rise to the heights of art which we normally only associate with cake decorators and tattooists.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
Mathematics, The Never Ending Story (4.44 / 9) (#56)
by fsh on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:24:48 AM EST

A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning.
I would actually say that both sides of your statement mean the same thing. It takes a truely creative genius to write down something that says exactly what they want it to *and* is consistent with all other mathematical thought. No more is math simply 'X is equal to Y times Z' than art is simply 'red paint here, cobalt here'. The beauty of a mathematical equation lies in the mind of the perceiver, just as it is in art. A fairly simple mathematic equation can represent something that the human mind simply can't comprehend fully, without recourse to mathematics (topology and multidimensional spaces, for instance). For some people this is simply silly, for some a very deep statement on the human ideal of three dimensionality. The Moebius Strip (and its big brother, the Klein Bottle), for me, is an *incredible* piece of art. Art and Mathematics even intertwine in many places; Salvador Dali's Christus Hypercubus is an excellent example.

Mathematics is remarkably similar to Art. Since we, humanity, created it, it has been constantly getting better and better, as more and more people have added to it. Particular individuals invent entirely new branches or genres of the subject, and the world, fired by this creative spark, immediately follows the course as far as it can be taken. Eventually, another creative genius comes along to start a new revolution. None of these revolutions invalidates the previous works, but they are all added to humanity.

Art has certainly been around much longer than mathematics, science, or programming, and thus has a much greater base of influence, but I truly don't see much difference in any of these at all. Art started with a charcoal stick on a rock wall, and quickly grew as people discovered dyes and materials, and then along came Picasso and Pollack. Math started with 1+1, 0 was 'added' later, and eventually sprouted the calculus and Riemann Tensors. So too will programming grow as a form of human creativity from the base of binary on up through assembly, basic, C, and Perl. Art simply has a larger set of materials with which to draw, but the explosion in programming languages will hopefully fix this problem in the near future. Watching the 'art' of programming in its infancy, it is obvious that in many cases, the programmer seems to be scratching a charcoal stick on the future of what is possible. Only time will tell. As Pirsig said in his ideas on Quality, there's something in the way we perceive that lets us know the difference between good and bad, useful and useless. It is this innate idea of Quality we all possess that allows us to tell the good art or programming from the bad art or programming.

As for the statement that most programmers are hacks, well, most actresses are waitresses and most artists are starving. Do I consider Windows 2000 to be a work of art? To the same extent that I consider the pyramids to be a work of art, absolutely. I consider them more as a marvel of human ingenuity, to consolidate the work of many many humans into one product. This I find amazing. I prefer the voluntary labour of the people who crafted Linux; I think it's sad that the profits from Windows go to upper management rather than the laborer, but that's a whole different ball of wax.

As for the difference between well written code whatever it produces, I agree that there might not be much difference on the surface. However, to the non-artist, there is also not much difference between the original and a print. For the non-artist, the one who doesn't appreciate the details, the very fine specifics such as the media or type of paint used don't matter. The fact of originality or reprint also don't matter; the emotion is still conveyed fairly strongly. The same goes for the non-programmer. Not knowing how to program in Perl, I could care less if the source is less than four lines. To the artist and to the programmer, to the initiated, these differences are immense.


-fsh

a few words (3.28 / 7) (#61)
by dr k on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:10:47 AM EST

As an artist who works with code (among other things), I've done some thinking about this issue. Since the article deftly avoids defining art, I'll give it a try:

Art is something that is created to change the way the audience perceives the world.

This sounds good, because propaganda is something that tries to change your opinions, and most people should easily agree that propaganda is art.

So, art is not about the process of creating these things. And art has no restrictions about what tools may be used in its creation.

Art benefits from reinforcement - the more frequently you see something that changes your perceptions, the more willing you are to categorize those things together. Art works well when it is a genre.

Most code fails to be art because it isn't designed to change your perception. It is, rather, designed to let you balance you checkbook, or program your VCR, or act out teenage boy fantasies. While software falls into genres, the programming behind it doesn't stratify into interesting categories.

Here's where I'll get into trouble:

The one place I can think of where code does change our perceptions is in the realm of security - when code is used to expose the vulnerability of our automated systems. In other words, hacking is art. Because the purpose of hacking is to make visible all those tiny things we've been overlooking.


Destroy all trusted users!

Art? (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:26:41 AM EST

Art is something that is created to change the way the audience perceives the world

Please, that's one of the most self-agrandizing statement I've ever heard. Do you think Grant Wood was trying to change the way people precived the world? Whatever. Art, as a word, means many different things to many different people. Artists, in general, try to do one of two things. Either cause an emotional in their viewers, make them think, etc. Or simply be esthetically pleasing
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
don't waste my time (2.50 / 2) (#65)
by dr k on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:44:32 AM EST

Were you confused by the use of the term "audience"? For people who like Grant Wood, he provides them with an aesthetic, which is, it so happens, a means of perceiving beauty.

The statement is no more self-agrandizing [sic] than "Lawyers are people who help us understand law", or "Programmers are people who create sophisticated tools out of simple elements." I'll take a guess that you think art is a rather useless occupation, but surrealism appeals to you.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

he has a point (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:34:02 AM EST

In that your definition is somewhat political with respect to art challenging its audience. I see no reason why audiences cant uncover their world through art without changing the way they perceive it. Anyway, language issues.

Your definition is good but it admits art as an occurence of natural phenomena and, assuming non sensory perceptions of the world, it fails to restrict science and math. You have to relax your restriction against process to get around this. I dont necessarily mean process as in technique, I mean as in cannot just happen.

And hackers do not become artists by exposing vulnerabilities in written code. At best the audience has turned them into agitprop performers, to their surprise and beyond their intent. Shit happens, not art.

---
God hates human rights.
[ Parent ]

art and shit (2.50 / 2) (#82)
by dr k on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:24:29 AM EST

Artists tend to make art to show other people how the artist sees the world. Now when science turns into politics, scientists often act like artists to get their ideas accepted.

Of course the definition is political - art requires other people. Changing perceptions is not the same as challenging, it can be as simple as making people realize that they are looking at something in a certain way. If everyone did this on their own, we wouldn't need much art.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Art doesn't require other people (5.00 / 3) (#141)
by Vermifax on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:46:47 PM EST

Some artists only create for themselves. Just because they are only creating forthemselves doesn't mean it isn't art. They just have an audience of one.


- Welcome to the Federation Starship SS Buttcrack.
[ Parent ]

artists (none / 0) (#386)
by dr k on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:17:30 AM EST

Some artists only create for themselves.

People who say they are artists but only create for themselves are in danger of someone calling their bluff. When someone finally "sees" the art they are talking about, the "artist" becomes an artist [insert puff of smoke].

If someone says they are an artist, why would they do such a thing if not to tempt fate?
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Programming Languages (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by moshez on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:39:52 AM EST

By this defintion, designing and implementing a programming language *is* are, since it certainly changes your world view -- if the language is any good. Nobody can claim to have written in Perl, Python or Haskell and not changed the way he views programming.

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
language design as art (3.00 / 2) (#79)
by dr k on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:05:10 AM EST

By this defintion, designing and implementing a programming language *is* [art]

Fine by me. But it also happens that this kind of art tends to develop new tools, new technologies, and we like to call that kind of thing "science".

Now, who wants to define "science"?
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Science is Something Else Entirely ;-) (4.50 / 2) (#81)
by moshez on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:20:14 AM EST

Science is the use of inductive and deductive logic to discover facts about the world. While certainly programming languages are useful for that, they are more akin to the university buildings -- completely necessary for science, but completely unrelated to science.

[T]he k5 troll HOWTO has been updated ... This update is dedicated to moshez, and other bitter anti-trolls.
[ Parent ]
Does art need an audience? (4.00 / 1) (#236)
by novajerk on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:34:43 PM EST

I agree with you in that the article does indeed lack a definition of art. I would not even attempt to define art, as any answer would prove insufficent.

Art is something that is created to change the way the audience perceives the world.

Why must art have an audience? If I create a painting and not show it to anyone, does that mean it's not art? Is it only art if someone looks at it? How many people must experience it to make it art? What if I paint not to change perceptions, but just because I enjoy it, is it art? What if despite my intentions, my art does change perceptions?

[ Parent ]
art for yourself (4.00 / 1) (#251)
by dr k on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:45:22 PM EST

If you make something, and no one every sees it, not even yourself, then you'll have to ask Schrodinger what it is. If you make it for yourself, then you are your own audience. That's a pretty masturbatory thing to do, but I won't say it isn't art.

What if despite my intentions, my art does change perceptions?

Then you are naive.


Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Not all artists intend. (none / 0) (#261)
by novajerk on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:17:31 AM EST

I think you missed my point. Not all artists intend for their work to change perceptions. In fact alot of artists are clueless as to why they create. Art does not require the artist to have an end in mind.

Maybe I'm naive, but at least answer my question. Is it art? By the way the Schrodinger comment is funny.

[ Parent ]
belated reply (none / 0) (#385)
by dr k on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:10:56 AM EST

There is too much noise on this line...

Yes, I think anything that is art has an audience. It has to be a human endeavor of some kind, even if the artist has no idea what the point is. That is why a lot of people fall into the "art is whatever you say it is" trap - the value of an object as art often falls out of sync with the creator's intention. Notice I say "creator" - an artist tries to have a little better notion of what may happen to an object, because they are actively trying to make art. But how much so depends on the artist.
Destroy all trusted users!
[ Parent ]

Audience (none / 0) (#304)
by strumco on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:29:57 AM EST

If you make something, and no one every sees it, not even yourself, then you'll have to ask Schrodinger what it is.
There's a (British) artist called Andy Goldsmith who goes off into the countryside and re-arranges stones, twigs, leaves etc. into something else. Often he will photograph the result, but that's more of a proof of work - the work itself is out there in the countryside, not seen by anyone (except by accident).

However, I do think you're right - there has to be an audience. In Goldsmith's case, the "audience" is composed of people who know what he does, whose perception of the world is changed by the knowledge that in some glade somewhere, a vole is running across a work of art.

DC
http://www.strum.co.uk
[ Parent ]

Self-proclaimed art is not art (4.55 / 9) (#62)
by Delirium on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:12:38 AM EST

Does it really need to be pointed out that using the phrase "us real artists" does not magically turn the author of the phrase into a real artist?

This entire article looks to be more of an "I'm a real artist and you're not" piece.

I'd further note that "showing up at coffee shops wearing berets, dark glasses, and a goatee" does not make one an artist either. Surely a lot of self-proclaimed artists do so, but this does not make them artists any more than wearing a cape and dying one's hair black makes one a goth.

In short, I'd appreciate a bit less egotism and a bit more substance. I do not know if you are an artist or not, and frankly I do not care; it is irrelevant in the context of this article. Please spend a bit more time explaining what exactly art is, and by that definition why code is or isn't art. For example, is cooking art? I would say no, for the same reasons code is not art. Food may be beautifully presented, but it is still in essense merely sustenance. Et cetera and so on for other sorts of "art."

--AIM: Delirium4u. Or read my diary.


Two things (4.50 / 4) (#75)
by Miniluv on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:42:04 AM EST

One, it is highly relevant as to whether the author is an artist or not. If she is not then this piece is complete and utter mental masturbation and ought to be treated as the digital equivalent of a dirty tissue. That is to say disposed of properly.

Two, defining art is a relative impossibility. Dictionaries can offer advice, but ultimately a word that conveys such an abstract concept is purely contextual, and thus universal definitions do not exist. The author could rectify this situation by stipulating a concise, non-circular definition of art before delving into the heart of the discussion, but that'd make too damn much sense.

Come on, tell me how to moderate. I DARE YOU!


[ Parent ]

definitions (3.66 / 3) (#77)
by Delirium on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:54:04 AM EST

Well, I think a familiarity with art is necessary, but I don't think one actually needs to be an artist (i.e. a creator of art) to be knowledgeable about art.

As for the definition, I agree, but to say "Programming is not Art" requires at the least a definition of what sorts of things aren't art (not necessarily a complete one, but a description of at least one class of things that are not art, a justification for why these things aren't art, and an explanation of why programming is in this class of things). As it is it's just a "programming is not art because programmers are not real artists like I, a real artist, am," which doesn't do much in the way of actually convincing me of anything.

--AIM: Delirium4u. Or read my diary.


[ Parent ]

Well what the hell is art? (2.83 / 6) (#67)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:52:13 AM EST

It seems, to me, that if we are going to have a discussion about whether or not code is or is not art, we first have to define what art is. It seems like we all have different ideas.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
Incredible... And you are absolutely right. (3.33 / 3) (#76)
by slaytanic killer on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:49:47 AM EST

I was actually thinking about this subject this morning on a train.

I found myself replying to a small demon by saying that it has always taken centuries for anything to be accepted as art. Usually the pictures and sounds begin as communication and perhaps propaganda.

But I saw a glimmer of someone who one day says "This is Art" and while people who only heard about him (or her, irrelevant) deride him as funny, those who meet him find that he is extremely serious and concentrated on chasing whatever elusive beauty there is in code.

We will see. After all, words on a screen are not the only manifestation of code.

It isn't that simple... (4.57 / 7) (#86)
by B'Trey on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:58:23 AM EST

Is painting art? If you're talking about Elvis on a velvet background, no. If you're talking about "Starry Night", certainly. Is writing art? If you're referring to this post, no. If you're referring to "Hamlet", most definitely. My house isn't a work of art. Some of those designed by Frank Lloyd Wright are. Judging the artistic merits of a particular piece of software says nothing about whether code can be artistic. Is the Windows source code art? No, although there may be subsections that qualify as artistic, just as a house may have artistic moulding without the whole thing qualifying as art. Code is, at it's essence, a form of writing. And writing, including code, can be art, even if the vast majority of it falls short.

Oh man (2.75 / 4) (#90)
by el_guapo on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:47:14 AM EST

"Hackers don't break into computers damnit!!!!" Sorry, define "hacker" - then define "art". Get the point??
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
If art is subjective, who are you to say what is (3.20 / 5) (#91)
by hjones on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:13:27 AM EST

or isn't art? And how exactly can programming be artistic but not art? I'm sorry, but none of this makes very much sense to me.
"Nietzsche is dead, but given the way of men, there may still be caves for thousands of years in which his shadow will be shown. And we -- we small-minded weaklings, we still have to vanquish his shadow too." - The Antinietzsche
Please explain yourself. (4.28 / 7) (#93)
by regeya on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:34:36 AM EST

Us real artists are not impressed -- in fact, some of us are a smite miffed. And if you start showing up at coffee shops wearing berets, dark glasses, and a goatee, I'm going to start looking into a career change.

So, tell me, what are your qualifications? What degrees do you hold? What professional organizations do you belong to? Wait, according to one definition I'm familiar with, one can be a professional only if one belongs to a legally-recognized, self-governing body. Hm, guess neither of us are professionals. You've taken the semi-rhetorical question, What is art? and said, "Hey, I'm a real artist, I know what art is, and what you do isn't.

And are you suggesting that, to be a real artist, one has to behave in a certain manner? Will I have to start going to Rocky Horror Picture Show festivals? *shudder* Will I have to give up my "truckstop-style" coffee for gourmet coffee? Do I have to give up being an unashamed nerd? Will my art have to consist of sketches that look more like liner art done by Pushead? Do I have to like Slipknot? *shudder again* Do I have to eat certain foods? What? What does it take to be a "real artist"? Must I remind you that many people look at the work of Picasso and say, "That isn't art"?

Ah, screw it; I've seen code that has a certain, dare I say it, to the trained eye has a certain beauty that borders on artistry. If you don't recognize the artistic beauty, then may I suggest that you learn to appreciate it.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]

tools of art (2.00 / 1) (#97)
by unstable on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:16:50 AM EST

Quite simply put, code is a means -- not an end. A good analogy would be to compare the elements of code to a tube of paint. As a painter, I need a medium to create my work in. The tube of paint, like an element of code, has a specific purpose. Code instructs a computer to perform some particular action(s); paint covers a surface to create a picture. Both are tools for creating a larger work. They also possess infinite possibility. Code can be combined in as many ways as brush strokes and colours to create individual works of art or function. Yet the brush strokes themselves have little value until they are combined towards this higher function. Similarly, the code itself is without value (in an artistic sense) unless its function, or product, can be considered art.



Have you ever watched a skilled machinist at work... have you ever watched sports player "work"?... this to me is art.

You say that code is a tool.... but arent the notes of a symphony just a "tool" also? The notes and sounds of the instriments are, to me, art.

You seem to belive that "art" is defined by the finish project, something to look at, something to hear, something tangable.

Im telling you that art is also the DOING of something, yes most code is done to just get something done.... but if you take in acount illistrations for buisness purposes (ie graphs, cad drawings, etc) then can the same be said of pictures?

you said that code is just a tool... like the paint in a tube... but isnt the Mona Lisa just a bunch of paint laid out in a interesting way?.. then why not a finished program?.

tell me this story is not an example of art. Mel is/was an artist in the truest sense of the word.

art can be anything that you put feeling, personality, and life behind.

I know many coders that put "life" into their code. they dont just do it to get something to work. to them its not a bunch of 1s and 0s... its part of them, its their creation, its their life. your saying that something like that doesnt qualify?

work, play, doesnt matter... you dont need a lump of clay or a canvas to be an artist, you just need a level of emotion that is above and beyond what is required to get the job done. Look for this in everday life... you will be suprised how much "art" there is out there that is not in a museum or gallery.







Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

I think you miss titled your piece. (4.00 / 2) (#100)
by Faulty Dreamer on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:34:27 AM EST

Granted, you do have a valid point, but you make it a little "over-the-top".

I think there is one overwhelming sentiment that the article expresses that could have been said better in a much more concise way. Let me try:
Code is not art just because it exists, any more than music is art the moment it is laid out on the page. Only some code is truly art, just like only some music is art. The stuff you hear on the radio isn't art, the stuff you hear in that music club that holds thirty people coming from the stage of old-time blues players is art. The paint on your house isn't art, the paintings done by the person in his room, probably never seen by anyone but family, is art. Windows 2000 isn't art, the obscure program that works so well and is so elegant, and shows true beauty is art.

So, is that about right? Art is not judged by the artist, it is judged by those that witness the work of the artist, or the one that considers themself the artist.

I would also like to point out that model building can also be art. I have seen some truly amazing models when built and painted that can only be described as art. Art is something that is appreciated for its beauty, or its power to move you, or stir some emotion in you. Not every program, or song, or painting, or model, is capable of that, the one's that are should be considered art.

--------
Faulty Dreams - Barking at the moon 24/7...

If you think I'm an asshole, it's only because you haven't realized what a fucking idiot I am. - Faulty Dreamer

Programming is an Art (4.00 / 3) (#101)
by acestus on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:34:34 AM EST

'Programming is not Art' is an odd statement, to begin with. It's like saying 'carpentry is not art.' Well, I'm not sure people really mean to argue that either is art. However, they are arts; they are crafts which can be used to produce things of beauty or things of utility. I can go into my basement and build an endtable which is merel functional, or I can build one which is a functional piece of art. (Well, truth be told, I cannot, but I hope you will take the point.)

Programmers who write elegantly are creating the same sort of art as Euclid. ("Euclid Alone Saw Beauty Pure", Edna St Vincent-Milay) It doesn't necessarily say something directly about the human condition, but it shows us a type of graceful level of movement and relationships to which we are often oblivious. I don't think programmers want to go to coffeehouses and act effete; they have their own rituals. To say, though, that a programmer's work has no great possibility for creating beautiful, elegant things, though, is both insulting and close-minded.

Acestus
This is not an exit.

Art (2.50 / 2) (#102)
by finkployd on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:40:29 AM EST

Everyone has their own valid, personal defination of what they consider to be art. Trying to classify items or even concepts based on some arbitrary criteria is futile. So go enjoy whatever you consider to be art, and let others do the same. It is all subjective.

And yes, I consider my spelling errors to be art. :)

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
I agree (2.50 / 2) (#103)
by theboz on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:46:00 AM EST

It's no more an art than making a recipe for cake. Now, you can add your own touches to it and decorate it with art, but it's still cooking at the bottom line.

With programming, sure, you can put pretty graphics and music if it's something that can use them, but for the most part programming can't be art. The purpose of art is to evoke emotions that regular people can get something out of. This isn't the best definition but I'm too sleepy to explain it more clearly at this moment.

When you see a gigantic statue of a strong man holding a torch defiantly against the sky, you know that it was inspired by revolution or symbolizes freedom. When you hear a slow song with words describing the passion a man feels for his woman, then you know it's a love song. These are things anyone can recognize, and feel the emotions that the artist meant to be felt from the song and statue. Basically art is a way of expressing emotion. Programming is a way of expressing expressions (a bad joke.) When you see i++; you don't know what the programmer was feeling at the time. even within the comments you normally don't see much emotion. Programming, while a skill, is definitely not art.

Stuff.

How much programming have you done? (none / 0) (#104)
by marlowe on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:48:57 AM EST

Trust me, serious programming entaails a lot more than following a recipe.

And by the way, Visual Basic doesn't count as real programming.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Some... (2.00 / 1) (#109)
by theboz on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:03:50 AM EST

I've even done cobol before. :o)

And I didn't mean it was the same as following a recipe...I should have been more clear. Programming is like making a recipe, not following one. However, most of the work-related programming I have done and do is comparable to following a recipe and adding a little something here or there because most programming projects I know of I wind up modifying code that was made by a consultant. That's harder than making something from scratch, in my opinion...anyways...I also think that programming is much, much more difficult than making a recipe for a cake, but that they are similar in many ways.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

So does making a recipe qualify as art? (3.50 / 2) (#136)
by marlowe on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:15:16 PM EST

Here's a hint: if writing programs were a science, we'd have written a program to do it.

Another hint: compilers.

And one final hint: compilers need source code to act upon.




-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Cooking is art, too (4.00 / 1) (#113)
by hardburn on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:38:12 AM EST

It's no more an art than making a recipe for cake. Now, you can add your own touches to it and decorate it with art, but it's still cooking at the bottom line.

I would agree that people who just follow a recipe are not artists, even with a few extras put in here and there. That doesn't mean that cooking can't be art; a meal made by a master chef certainly constitutes art.

Now programmers often use algarithims (a recipe) for creating a program, but most algarithims are only good for doing one thing and must be combined with others to get a working program (creating an entire meal from recipies, essentialy). No, that is not art.

BUT the people who created an algarithm, especialy a particularly elegant one, are artists. People who code that algarithm for the first time are also artists. It is also art when you extend an algarithm to work with things beyond it's original intenet (especialy in a very elegant way). See also, Unix Philosophy.


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


[ Parent ]
Real Art and Real Artists? (3.25 / 4) (#106)
by blair on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:55:12 AM EST

But please -- stop making claims that simply well-written code in itself is art. Us real artists are not impressed -- in fact, some of us are a smite miffed. And if you start showing up at coffee shops wearing berets, dark glasses, and a goatee, I'm going to start looking into a career change.

So, what constitutes being a real artist? And for that matter, what constitutes real art? Is it the mindset of the artist? Is the art produced? Is it the meaning within the art? If so, the meaning as determined by whom? By the artist? By the art critic? Or by any casual viewer?

So, what's art? You state:

Art, on the other hand, takes ordinary objects (or unordinary objects) and embellishes them in such a way that serves no purpose other than to be aesthetically enjoyable.

Of course, this is a rather narrow view of what constitutes art and there are now and have been in the past many artists who would disagree with your statement as to what constitutes art.



You're obviously not a programmer (4.25 / 8) (#108)
by hardburn on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:03:20 AM EST

You're obviously not a programmer.

A programmer can express in precise detail an idea to another programmer. Take this piece of perl, for example:

$live{'free'}|die

This is a relitively simple example, and may even be understandable by non-programmers. The $live is a hash-type variable meaning that it has many diffrent elements that can be accsessed by a keyword (in this case, 'free'). (It would have been more acurate to call it "%live" in the last sentance, since we're talking about all the elements in the hash). If the value at that position is not true, then the program will stop execution. (The '|' means "or", BTW).

I may also point you to the 4k intro page, which describes a challenge to make a program that fits in 4,096 bytes (4k) of memory. This is extremely small, as most programs have a tough time getting in under 100k. To get under 4k, you have to use assembly, which is a language that is very close to how the computer thinks internaly. Most of these programs either don't have much practical use or their functionality is duplicated and exceeded elsewhere, but thats not the point. Looking over the constructs the programmer used to shrink off every last byte in a program is awesome.

That was a nice retorical technique of using analogy to back up your argument. Allow me to use it against you. There are statements in programming that mean nothing when taken seperately: An 'if' (do something if this is true), a 'while' (do something over and over as long as this is true), a 'for' (do something so many times), and so on. Each of these is like the formless paint in a tube. They mean nothing when an intelligence is not there to put them together. You can only get something useful when their put together in special ways.

Just because the code will generaly never be understood except by another programmer doesn't mean it's not art. It just means that it's a very exclusive art.

BTW--I work a system administrator, not a programmer. I write Free Software outside my job, but you won't be able to use your "big corperation" argument against me. I would imagine that the majority of people argueing that code is art write Free Software, too (although many do write closed source in their day jobs).


----
while($story = K5::Story->new()) { $story->vote(-1) if($story->section() == $POLITICS); }


What is art? (3.00 / 2) (#111)
by communista on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:22:55 AM EST

Art, by definition is:

"1 : skill acquired by experience, study, or observation

This comes from Merriam Webster's Dictionary. Now if that definition can't go in several tangents (including code)...I don't know what can. This is a definition, yours is an opinion. Both are quite valid in many respects. But I tend to agree with the above definition more.

I voted 0 on this one, simply because I commend you for bringing forward such a contraversial opinion, but I think it's a rather 'I'm an artist...I KNOW what art is' opinion. You lose brownie points for that. Still glad it got posted, as I'm sure this will bring interesting commentary. Your intention, right?
/me fucks shit up!!!!
Dictionaries ARE opinions (none / 0) (#208)
by misterluke on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:00:09 PM EST

Merriam Webster doesn't know anything about art that Jin Wicked, or even you, or even possibly I do. I even think dictionaries might be art.

[ Parent ]
Thank you for stating the obvious. (none / 0) (#217)
by communista on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:06:59 PM EST

That's all I have to say.
/me fucks shit up!!!!
[ Parent ]
No problem. (none / 0) (#219)
by misterluke on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:47:09 PM EST

Why did you make a distinction between a dictionary definition and an ordinary, run of the mill opinion?

[ Parent ]
Thank you (4.20 / 20) (#112)
by Nezumi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:33:03 AM EST

Jin Wicked, you have brightened my day. This is the funniest thing I've read in days, and it's just a damn shame this wasn't submitted to the Humour section. It would have been sure to hit FP in minutes.

I was right there, laughing along with you, as you asserted that code didn't fit your definition of art, all the while refusing to define what your definition was beyond a single vauge sentence. So right away you (and I, by extension) were laughing at the fools who didn't realize it was impossible to argue with you now because you could change the ground rules at will. Hell, your deliberate omission of the concept that defining "art" is ultimately subjective, and that "art" is a concept that changes depending on the observer, well it's a laugh riot!

The basic point of the article is every bit as hilarious. The idea that code cannot be art, and holding up poor analogies to painting, mathematics, etc. as evidence, is sheer comedy. I just hope nobody notices the obvious and points out that the proper analogy would be language, for all literature is based on a rule-based system of linguistic "code". But even with that danger, the laughs keep piling up.

Finally, I must compliment you on your final assertion that you, yourself, are a "real artist". My sides are going to hurt for hours.



I bet... (3.33 / 6) (#114)
by harb on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:39:52 AM EST

You're one of those people I see with the "Efficiency is Death" bumper stickers, right?

bda.

Art (as you know it) is not art. (4.16 / 6) (#115)
by Vainamoinen on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:48:02 AM EST

Art is seen as an expression of the right brain by most who would call themselves artists. They consider art as a natural expression of the right brain, a creative process reserved for those who have the 'gift'. I think the main impetus behind the logic of this story is a almost knee-jerk defensive reaction to the 'insinuation' by those who consider their [insert left brained activity here] an art.

There is too, the counterside, those who percieve anything not strictly logical a waste of time, a waste of thought. This is, in my opinion, an equally fraudulent concept. This mental division between right and left brain is not natural - it is an artifact of a civilizatoin where survival was of prime import, and the primarily right brained among humanity were outcast - supposedly serving no useful purpose. This story, I believe, is part of the tail end of the counter-reaction, self-justification against the masses.

My point? In the end my opinion is only mine, (To the dismay of many trolls) and its related to neither of the above extremes. I do believe there is a happy balance, to draw upon Jin's use of form and function - a point of reinforcement, where they complement each other. If life has taught anyone anything I hope that it starts with the realization that 1+1 does not equal 2.

Synergy.


**** Windows has detected a mouse movement. Please restart your computer so changes can take effect ****
Poetry (3.66 / 3) (#116)
by BigZaphod on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:52:00 AM EST

You say that poetry is art where code is not. You also mention that simply because code has structure does not mean it is art.

So what's your take on things like haiku? It's certainly poetry and most would consider it art. And yet it has to follow very strict rules/structure to be correct. In my mind, code is like that. It follows a structure, but you are free to express anything you want within that framework.

As an aside, I spent last night trying to teach some newbie programmers how to do preventative debugging. These are cases where the code is perfectly correct, compiles fine, and even executes without a problem for *most* situations. Stuff like declaring an array of, say, 100 elements and then dumping the contents of a file into that array. It may seem ok and it will likely work, but what happens if the file has 101 elements in it? Now you're trying to load data off the end of the array and bad things can happen. From my experience last night, it has only reenforced the idea that writting truely good, clean, elegant code is an art and not everyone can do it.

I'm not going to say all code is art. That would be silly. I suspect there is some artistic code in my copy of Windows 2000, but as a whole I don't think it really fits into that category. But, as you said, things like billboards are usually creative and artistic but not necessary art and I think the same rules apply to code.

"We're all patients, there are no doctors, our meds ran out a long time ago and nobody loves us." - skyknight
Thoughts... (4.00 / 4) (#117)
by tailchaser on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:01:10 AM EST

Unrefined thoughts off the top of my head. Apologies if I ramble.

My beloved geeks-boys, programming is not art.
No, and neither is painting, sculpting, or writing. Programming is an act of creation, the same way that painting is merely an act of creation and holds no signifigance in and of itself. The difference, as I see it, is this: An object created via painting can be seen by anyone without an outside influence, whereas an object created via programming can (generally) only be viewed through a lens of interpretation.

That is to say, anyone can go into a gallery and look at a painting. They see exactly what the creator produced, and are able to find meaning in the product. Most people, however, cannot look at code - they only see the program that the code produces. They are unable to find meaning in the code, and therefore dismiss it as purely functional, because they cannot see the code. I make no presentation of myself as a marvelous programmer, and in fact, my only coding history has been as an admin for a text MUD - but there have been occasions where I've been looking through the code for, say, a monster's behaviour, and find myself thinking, "Wow...that's really beautifully done." If I have the capacity to view, understand, and draw my own interpretations from raw code, then how is it not art?

Here's a reversal for you: compare a program with a blank paint-by-numbers. I know, it may sound silly, but bear with me, OK? => A programmer looking at code can have a mental image of how the code will end up fitting together, and what the finished product will look like, and the programmer might gain an appreciation for the creativity and effort that went into producing said code. That same programmer looking at a blank paint-by-numbers would - probably - scoff, laugh, or dismiss it altogether; after all, it's not art! Such an attitude would be totally unfair to the painting, obviously, as art is generally only appreciated as a finished product - so how is comparing an end-product of code to a painting any more fair to the code?

Please let me know if I'm making any sense... ;p

-tc

Re: Thoughts... (4.00 / 1) (#157)
by bluesninja on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:45:07 PM EST

Agree 100%. Just wanted to make a clarification.

That is to say, anyone can go into a gallery and look at a painting. They see exactly what the creator produced, and are able to find meaning in the product. Most people, however, cannot look at code - they only see the program that the code produces.

I suspect that there is actually no difference here. Not everyone can go into an art gallery, look at a Picasso, and immediately grok exactly what the painting means, or symbolizes, or evokes, or whatever. Smart people spend alot of time looking at art and developing the ability to analyze and interpret works of Art (in the traditional sense).

Sure, anyone can look at a Picasso and physically see what an artist sees, and can even have a completely unique and legitimate reaction to that painting. But "getting" art is a learned, trained skill, just like looking at and understanding code is. Anyone can look at a printout of the Linux kernel and see what Linus Torvalds sees when he looks at it, but Linus "gets" the aesthetics of it. He understands why it's elegant and beautiful, and can discriminate between beautiful and ugly code.

I'm not sure if this contradicts what you said, or if I'm misinterpreting your statement. Just wanted to add this for consideration.

[ Parent ]

Zactly (none / 0) (#178)
by tailchaser on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:44:50 PM EST

No, you weren't misinterpreting; you put it better than I did. => A painter might enjoy a painting more for artistic value while a coder might dismiss it as, "just a picture," in the same way that a coder might appreciate a program more for artistic value than a painter would.

-tc

[ Parent ]

Art (Garfunkle, Carney, et al.) (3.50 / 4) (#118)
by inert_mass on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:01:52 AM EST

Art. Not art, but ART. That is what you are trying to define. You claim to be a painter, yet you obviously don't know anything about the Modernist movement or Dadaism. They tried to make the process of art become Art.
Art is what you make of it. It is creativity. It is in the eye of the beholder. Just because you don't think programming is Art, that doesn't provide you with justification for criticizing programmers as not artists. Because you don't understand the medium, you don't get to deride it.
Nor do you have any moral high ground just because you are a painter. At one point, photographers were not considered artists. Now, tell Ansel Adams that he isn't an artist, and see if it gets you a fat lip.
Is a chair Art? It has purpose other than sitting, yet, there are many chairs that are considered Art. Simply because there is a practical use for something, does not automatically discount it from the world of Art.
You have things to learn, and you had best do it quick. Limited thinking like this, that tries to categorize the world in one way that you like, won't work. You miss out on a lot of things, because, even though they are right in front of your face, you can't see them.

------------------------
"This is the end..."
</i_m>
Win2k Art? No. Scribbling with crayons Art? No. (3.33 / 3) (#119)
by Another Scott on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:03:35 AM EST

Thought provoking article, but I think you mix too many concepts in your argument.

I disagree that childrens' imagination knows no boundary and that finger-painting and crayons shows that children have greater creativity and imaginations than adults. For some, this may be the case. It wasn't for me.

As you say, art is subjective. But scribbling isn't art. Welding isn't art. Bashing rocks with hammers and chisels isn't art. Messing around with a keyboard and mouse isn't art. Hammering planks together isn't art. As others here have said, art is something different. I would say that art is usually regarded as a (skilled) presentation of an object or music or visual entity for the consideration of an audience. It doesn't have to be purely representational. Some may argue with the "skilled" qualifier, but I think it's usually appropriate.

As such, programming can certainly be regarded as art, IMHO. Someone who comes up with a new application for a mathematical construct can be regarded as doing art. Someone who makes an elegant hack to solve a problem quickly and efficiently can be regarded as doing art.

Just as much as a skilled shipbuilder makes an elegant bow for a sailboat is an artist in fitting planks together, so too a skilled programmer can use standard parts assembled creatively and skillfully to be artistic in his/her work.

And I don't think that works have to be regarded as a whole to decide whether art is involved, or that they have to be solely for the enjoyment of the audience.

In short, I think you wrote an interesting piece but I disagree with your thesis and conclusions.

Cheers,
Scott.

Art is... (3.50 / 2) (#144)
by pallex on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:01:05 PM EST

"art is usually regarded as a (skilled) presentation of an object or music or visual entity for the consideration of an audience."

Well, i`d like to agree with you! That is the traditional view, and most, if not all, of the people we regard as artists have studied their craft for years, and been very good at it.

But i`m not sure if you`ve been to any galleries or exhibitions recently, certainly in England. Check out the Tate modern, or the Tate, or the Serpentine, or any other purveyors of modern art. Its awful! I`ve been to all of the above, on several occasions. Its not a waste of time. You may be disturbed the first time, as you wander and wonder at the useless shit on display (unmade beds, piles of junk, stacks of bricks, a dead shark). Especially video art! Expect to see looped film of people arguing; naked men jumping up and down; what looks like childrens television. And the artists concerned are so serious, discussing their sharks and bricks without a trace of irony!

After a while i went back to them, and continue to do so, but for a different reason! They`re fun! Examining the bollocks which is held up as `state of the Art` is a laugh, as long as you dont take any of it seriously, and dont let it depress you. (Observing other visitors is equally good fun - find a particularly bad piece of crap and hang around watching the luvvies lap it up! "Oh, i think it works on several levels". "Oh, yes, i can see about 3 levels in that". "Just 3? I can see 7". "I`ve got 12!".)

Good art is still being made, but its divorced from the Art World, in the same way that music has almost nothing in common with the music industry.

I know everyone has a right to an opionion blah blah blah. But i`d put good money that this disposable art, from around the time of Warhol, to the current crop-o-shite like Wearing,Emin and Hirst, will be just a footnote to any serious discussion of art in the 20th/21st century.

You know in some films, a guy falls for a dumb blonde type, and she gets a job cos he fancies her, or she saved his life, rather than `cos shes a good,trained secretary or whatever. But she does the job fine, with no training - shes a natural!

You couldnt do that with computers. Or electronics. Or carpentry, painting, teaching. Not music either, unless you`re talking just about singing, and even then you need training to develop a full range. (well, unless you want to sound like some whiney indie-kid or something). When i look at art, one of the things that i think about is whether someone has put any effort into it. Is it a good example of the sort of thing that it is (if that makes sense!), given that so little is completely original? Have they looked around and learned from similar people in that field/genre?

It seems to me the answer is no, and that a large number of these artists are like the live-saving `dumb blondes`. They`re just there, either from having gone to the right college, or having slept with the right person - whatever; they are there! At an "art" gallery near you!

Isn`t the current art world a little like music was, just before punk came along and pulled the chain?

"Art is entertainment" - Frank Zappa.


[ Parent ]
One of my favorites is at the Tate. (none / 0) (#159)
by Another Scott on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:48:37 PM EST

Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

John Singer-Sargent was a master. His portraits can be so startling - e.g. intricate, photographic detail on a hand coupled with amazingly fast impressionistic brushstrokes....

I agree with much of what you said about "modern" art though. Nice rant. :-)

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

I`ll check him out! (none / 0) (#290)
by pallex on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:56:03 AM EST

Sounds a little like Gerhard Richter, whos work i recently saw at the Arken in Denmark - sharing the place with a Munch exhibition - awesome!

[ Parent ]
Corrected Link. (none / 0) (#323)
by Another Scott on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:24:13 AM EST

Sorry about the mangled HTML. Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose

Cheers,
Scott.

[ Parent ]

Art, shmart, fart! (4.00 / 5) (#120)
by jabber on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:06:00 AM EST

Programs are not art, but there is an art to programming. Code is not poetry, but it can be made beautifully elegant by those skilled in the art. There is an aspect of the artistic to anything and everything that is done with care and skill.

A line worker in a Ford assembly plant, who runs a spray gun past a thousand fenders each day is a skilled worker. If after work, s/he goes home and carefully, skillfully restores a car, then they become an artist.

Art is not about the creation of an artifact. Most code is an artifact, and as you say, a means of achieving a goal. Code is a tool, in most cases. This is not to say that a tool can not in itself be a Work of Art. Art, as I define it, is anything requiring skill, done or created with the primary purpose of expressing a feeling, opinion or emotion other than the desire to be paid for one's effort at the time. Doing something for the money is not art, skillful or otherwise.

There is of course the exception to the above in the case of a person named Art. Anything Art does is, by definition, a Work of Art. ;P

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

Yes! 100% Correct. (2.69 / 13) (#121)
by Kiss the Blade on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:19:38 AM EST

This article is absolutley correct. What is amazing to me is not what it says, but that there was a need for it to be written at all. It is utterly mind numbingly obvious that code is not Art.

In order for something to be Art, it must have some sort of message, hopefully about the human condition or some such. It is well known, however, that code does not even qualify as a form of speech under the law. Freedom of Speech laws do not apply to code. This is because code has no message. It is but a formulistic set of procedures that achieve some aim. What it produces may be considered Art, the emergent properties of the code, in the same way that a Cathedral rising from dusty blueprints can be considered Art whilst the blueprints are not.

Why do certain types of people get drawn to programming at all? Doubtless for a certain type of personality it is very interesting and rewarding, but I think that those people get drawn to programming precisely because it has no message and says nothing about the human condition. 'Geeks' in other words, who want to shield off the world of society and indeterminable people and their works. They want to ensconce themselves in a mechanistic, predictable and safe world. They find this in programming. These same people who claim that code is not Art are drawn towards it for the very same reason that it cannot be art in the first place!

Until someone can show me a piece of code that will make me weep, laugh, feel jealous or rant or rave - anything, in other words, but boredom, I will not be convinced. Code is not about the human condition, the emotions, a message or anything that is integral and necessary for Art.

It seems pretty obvious to me, so why the desire to make it something it is not and can never be? I can only guess it is the result of that old bugbear of the programmer type, the inferiority complex. Coders have felt inferior to Artists and other people in the Humanities for a long time, and not without good reason. It is about time that the programming community was celebrating its assets in a realistic fashion, rather than claiming to be something they are not.

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.

-7, Hypocrite. (none / 0) (#139)
by Kupek on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:41:13 PM EST

"KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction."

There's no contradiction except for the rest of your post, anyway. But I digress, I shall now focus on the topic:

Since art is defined differently by most, here's the dictionary(.com) definition:
art (ärt) n.
Human effort to imitate, supplement, alter, or counteract the work of nature.
This definition can be clearly seen in real life. Programs can imitate nature (MANY games), supplement it (some games, simulations), or counteract it (destructive premises, many games). It doesn't take an extreme interpretative definition here in order to make code fit this definition of art.
The conscious production or arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or other elements in a manner that affects the sense of beauty, specifically the production of the beautiful in a graphic or plastic medium.
Ok, so this implies something tangible. However, one might find beauty in a DeCSS T-Shirt, or the emphatic reading of that code. The expression behind this makes it art. Code itself can be written to appear as patterns or pictures; the duality of these programs' creative nature is definitely a thing of beauty.
The study of these activities.
[blinks eyes]
The product of these activities; human works of beauty considered as a group.
Simple. Code is a product of these activities.
High quality of conception or execution, as found in works of beauty; aesthetic value.
Code is important in conception (what thing of beauty am I creating?) and execution (how will it work?/what does it do?). Many programmers can look at another person's code and see that it's a thing of beauty, judging by these aspects. The fact that, to a person who does not understand code, they can't appreciate that value, does not mean a thing. Jackson Pollack's "paintings" are considered art, while a carefully contrived block of code cannot be? Give me a break.
A field or category of art, such as music, ballet, or literature.
Bzzt. I lose on this one. It's not a field of art, in that technical kind of definitions. Maybe literature, or the recited DeCSS could be "music." I won't push that point.
A nonscientific branch of learning; one of the liberal arts.
This definition is unfair. First of all, there are people who see science and nature being the same thing. The first definition relates to nature; this one relates to a lack of science. To many people, for example, those who can pair Creationism and Evolutionism, or Divine Creation and the Big Bang, science and nature are tools or aspects of one another.
A system of principles and methods employed in the performance of a set of activities: the art of building.
Methods! If building is an art, so is composing code. Why? Well, if art isn't a if { } else { } construct, it's not a brick. Those are both constructive tools. However, you put those bricks together, and you get the Taj Mahal. Or you put your code blocks together, and you get MD5 encryption.
A trade or craft that applies such a system of principles and methods: the art of the lexicographer.
See previous.
Skill that is attained by study, practice, or observation: the art of the baker; the blacksmith's art.
This definition is nearly all-encompassing. The only skills that aren't attained these ways are possibly suckling your mother's breast as an infant and screaming when in pain, and those aren't the pinnacle skills that we search for in our most beauteous specimens of humanity.
Skill arising from the exercise of intuitive faculties: "Self-criticism is an art not many are qualified to practice" (Joyce Carol Oates).
Ok, this is a usage definition. We use the word that way. But, while code itself is very logical, I know I code often with an intuitive leap to surpass obstacles. It reminds me of the five matchsticks figure: -|||-

Anyway, there is no contradiction between artist and programmer. If beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and art is judged by its beauty, then neither KTB nor the author of the article can say their view weighs more heavily than yours or mine.

-k.


#include <wittyQuote.h>
[ Parent ]
*ahem* (5.00 / 2) (#147)
by fluffy grue on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:06:34 PM EST

I'm not quite sure how to break this to you, except...

Well, KTB is well-known at Geekizoid. That should tell you something.

I don't think he'd be quite so crass or obvious to do the "YHBT. YHL. HAND." thing though.
--
"Is not a quine" is not a quine.
I have a master's degree in science!

[ Hug Your Trikuare ]
[ Parent ]

baaaaaa (1.66 / 3) (#164)
by cp on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:01:45 PM EST

Not only did you bite, but you rang the leper's bell of [slash|kuro]bots: you appealed to the authority of dictionary.com.

[ Parent ]
great (none / 0) (#402)
by delmoi on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:45:05 AM EST

I got my trusted user status back, and now I can give this post the zero it deserves.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Oh My (none / 0) (#414)
by Kiss the Blade on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 12:06:02 PM EST

You must feel so big and manly. I cower in fear and anguish as the number next to my post shrinks by a small increment.

Get a life, will you?

KTB:Lover, Poet, Artiste, Aesthete, Programmer.
There is no contradiction.
[ Parent ]

dotdotdot (none / 0) (#422)
by delmoi on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 06:56:10 PM EST

p33r m3
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Childish and wrong (none / 0) (#415)
by cp on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 12:13:19 PM EST

Was it spam? No. Was it a vicious personal attack? No. Therefore, go change your rating to "1" as is your prerogative without being inconsistent with the trusted-user guidelines.

[ Parent ]
vicious? no personal attack? maybe (none / 0) (#421)
by delmoi on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 06:55:49 PM EST

Well, you did call the poster a [kuro|slash]bot. Somewhat insulting. Maybe not vicious. But that, combined with the fact that the post served no purpose other then to insult the poster for using dictionary.com (to define terms that the artical submitter hadn't even botherd to), gave your post no value to the discussion at hand.

Was it spam? I don't know. But anyway, my zero wasn't going to hide the post anyway, so it really dosn't matter.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Where do You See Beauty? (3.50 / 2) (#168)
by craser on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:13:05 PM EST

[...]but I think that those people get drawn to programming precisely because it has no message and says nothing about the human condition. 'Geeks' in other words, who want to shield off the world of society and indeterminable people and their works. They want to ensconce themselves in a mechanistic, predictable and safe world.
It's no secret that many geeks like to code. And I agree that there is some escapism involved in coding. But I think you've missed a central motivation of programmers, and of engineers, carpenters, mathematicians, or anyone with a technical occupation or hobby. It has to do with where you see beauty.

Richard Feynman saw beauty in physics, Einstein in mathematics. Several of my co-workers hear God's own voice in the thrum of a Harley Davidson engine. The whole Art vs. Not Art debate is really beside the point, and useful only to those interested in determining what belongs in their gallery. As humans, we're all going to see God in different places. I see beauty in just about everything, including code, and let the critics worry about whether or not it's Art.

What I'm trying to say is that drawing a line between Art and Not-Art is academic at best, and elitist at worst. What's far more interesting, and far more meaningful, is the seeking out of what you find fun, beautiful, or meaningful.

[ Parent ]

The law can suck it (4.00 / 1) (#183)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:10:15 PM EST

that code does not even qualify as a form of speech under the law. Freedom of Speech laws do not apply to code. This is because code has no message.

First of all, it depends what judge you have. Code printed in a book has been upheld by as speech under law (Applied Cryptography could be exported on paper, but not on disk)

And secondly it doesn't fucking matter what the law says. In Nazi Germany, the laws said that Jews were not people. It didn't change reality, though.

This also bugged me: In order for something to be Art, it must have some sort of message, hopefully about the human condition or some such.

What is it with you people that you think you can just make up arbitrary definitions for whatever you want? "hopefully about the human condition" indeed Please, code carries the message you can solve this problem in this way, at least, if you can understand the code.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
well said! (3.50 / 4) (#122)
by Epicurus on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:24:30 AM EST

Very well put, Jin. While I'm a programmer, and have witten quite a few programs simply for 'artistic' purposes (things that show pretty images, etc. like you mentioned), and have written programs in which the source could be concidered poetry (on purpose, btw), I certainly would not say that the majority of my coding is art or produces art. I also think you're right on as to why people think their code is art -- they don't want it to be just code. Those people, I think, are in the wrong line of work. If you don't get enjoyment from simply writing an app to help somebody do something, whatever it may be, then you don't truly enjoy programming (as a job)...

So what? (3.75 / 4) (#124)
by khallow on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:27:36 AM EST

I'm not interested in stories that claim to know what "art" is (a requirement of these stories tend to be a degree of hubris on the part of the participants). However, I get the impression that you are fundamentally claiming that art is at its core intentionally useless. IMHO, the converse is true. The best art is that which is beautiful and useful. Utility is a core requirement of good art. Before I get lambasted, may I point out that most art (IMHO again) is very useful.

One of the most interesting programs I saw was a small perl script that recursively called the sort function on a list with the pair comparison function being alternately constants +1 and -1 (which were supposed to tell the sort that a comparison of the pair in question was greater than or less than). The end result was that it printed out all permutations of the original list. AFAIK, it's not on line and I don't really know perl well enough to replicate it. This was art to me.

Engineering in general is on the whole unappreciated as an artistic form. But I find a well designed and daring bridge to be as beautiful as a fine painting. The Hoover dam is a beautiful work of art. And so programming can be a work of art. Perhaps you need to study the art form a little more to appreciate it.


Stating the obvious since 1969.

We'll spare you the pain (2.50 / 2) (#125)
by khallow on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:35:44 AM EST

Just had to comment on the final paragraph (excellent close BTW!).

While code may not be art, it can be artistic. And the products of code can certainly be art. If you're feeling like you're not accomplishing much, then take the initiative to create something new, interesting, and original. Use code to do something no one has done before. Amaze me. Excite me. Make me want you. But please -- stop making claims that simply well-written code in itself is art. Us real artists are not impressed -- in fact, some of us are a smite miffed. And if you start showing up at coffee shops wearing berets, dark glasses, and a goatee, I'm going to start looking into a career change.

No kidding, I know programmers at the beret-dark glasses-goatee-coffee shop level of pretense. You are doomed. May I suggest accounting for your new career? :-P


Stating the obvious since 1969.

Hell, it's nothing new (none / 0) (#155)
by Nezumi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:34:04 PM EST

I know people who have been at that level of pretense for almost 20 years. Jin, you should never have gotten into this art scam. You were doomed from the start.



[ Parent ]
Sculpture (3.33 / 6) (#126)
by caine on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:37:48 AM EST

A coder is just like some stonecutters. With just a raw block of stone they can "see" the finished sculpture in it. In the same way a good coder can see the program. And as the artist chisels out his vision, the coder writes down his.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

--

TROLL (2.62 / 16) (#127)
by Alhazred on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:41:16 AM EST

All I want to know is how did this big nasty goober of a troll get on the front page?
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
I'll tell you why. (3.50 / 2) (#131)
by OriginalGTT on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:55:12 AM EST

People on K5 are so "troll-aware" that they bite no matter what the topic. They all think they are so good at spotting trolls, that they go right on responding even if they call it a troll. Once you have the response, you have the discussion, and then the story gets posted.

In other words, people are dumb, they always fall for trolls, and K5 is no better, they just think they are.

---
I'm NOT on your level. Stay there, and I will stay up here where morals are high, and the air is sweet
--Psychologist
[ Parent ]

This is a good troll (5.00 / 3) (#148)
by KnightStalker on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:12:03 PM EST

Look at all the great comments it's provoked. What, exactly, is a troll? Is it:

...a deliberately provocative post intended to spark discussion and make people think about why they say what they say? (helpful?)

...a deliberately provocative post intended to make people angry or confused? (malicious?)

...a totally irrelevant post about Natalie Portman, hot grits, or how the moon is a liberal myth? (surreal?)

...a post containing absolutely nothing interesting, just intended to take up space? (spam?)

...a link to goatse.cx? (spam?)

All of these have been called trolls. This story falls in the first category, and it's not *bad*. Lots of trhurler's posts fall in the second category, but most of them aren't *bad*. Are they trolls? What's a troll? I think it's just a word you apply to anything that doesn't make you feel all warm and squishy.

[ Parent ]

Well, it certainly was a LENGTHY Troll! (none / 0) (#367)
by Alhazred on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:04:19 PM EST

Now I know some girls that really appreciate length, but then there are others that like a little more meat on the old argument...

Yes I am being randomly vulgar for no particularly good reason except it suits my fancy at the moment. Probably similar to the reasoning of the orginal author.

I guess what I'm saying is I'd be happy to have a really serious discussion about art and the philosophy of art, but then not too many people would probably stay awake through the 1st three posts. Plus though Kuro5hin's posters are generally pretty sharp, most of them are not Ontologists!
That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
[ Parent ]
Or to put it another way (2.33 / 3) (#151)
by streetlawyer on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:25:16 PM EST

In the words of the Troll Anthem:
You can't beat the trolls
You can't beat the trolls
Ee aye addio
You can't beat the trolls
nesting of tags intentionally fucked up because I seem to remember it chokes Netscape

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]
thank god (none / 0) (#160)
by OriginalGTT on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:50:17 PM EST

I have a my super duper browser. It handled it fine.

P.S. I want to have your children.

---
I'm NOT on your level. Stay there, and I will stay up here where morals are high, and the air is sweet
--Psychologist
[ Parent ]

Well, you see.... (none / 0) (#382)
by ucblockhead on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:36:26 AM EST

This story made it to the front page because most of those moderating submissions found it an interesting and insightful thing to read, even if they didn't agree with it.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Thoughts (4.50 / 8) (#129)
by RangerBob on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:50:20 AM EST

You know, I think that you're getting some things messed up in the long rant here. I have yet to see a coder who would claim that their code was in the same class as many of the world's great works. None of them would claim that it should be hung on walls and admired. Calm down and don't get certain parts of clothing in a wad. You're taking things way out of context.

What coders imply is that there's a certain skill to writing a good program. It's implying that there's a certain creative process in expressing what they want to do. "The art of war" doesn't mean to imply that war is an artistic work, for example. Look the word art up in a dictionary sometime. One of the definitions of art is "skill acquired by experience, study, or observation". This is what people mean when they say things like there's an art to coding. They're saying that there's a skill to doing it. There's a certain skill to doing a lot of things today. But just saying it doesn't imply comparison with Da Vinci. You're grasping on this one.

And on another note, your points could be made much better without the arrogance. In my opinion, most of the things that artists today call art are total crap. I've seen people who do nothing more than throw buckets of paint at a canvas and proclaim that they're the greatest living artist. I hate to tell a lot of you this, but most artists today wouldn't be worthy enough to wash the feet of the greats from the Renaissance. Yeah, this is my opinion on what art is, but as you said, art is also based on the eye of the beholder.

I've seen code framed and hanging on a wall. (5.00 / 2) (#134)
by marlowe on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:01:46 PM EST

Or a picture of same, at any rate. It was in a Microsoft ad, circa 1990. The funny thing is, the code wasn't really all that well written. I found a number of stylistic errors, including a complete lack of comments, and failure to bounds check.


-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Meta Art (3.66 / 6) (#130)
by jude on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:53:20 AM EST

You're clever, Jin Wicked, to have so deftly tossed a monkey wrench into the logic machine. The sound it makes, sometimes brash and loud, sometimes low and whining---now that's art! Well done.

Knuth... (4.62 / 8) (#132)
by pmk on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:57:58 AM EST

...agonized in print over the title of The Art of Computer Programming and I would recommend that you go re-read the first few pages of Volume I. (I assume that you own a copy, since you know enough about programming to hold an opinion about it.)



"Art" as in craft (4.78 / 28) (#133)
by ucblockhead on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:00:51 PM EST

I'm surprised no one has brought up Knuth, because he talks about this very issue in the intro to The Art of Computer Programming, where he talks about the title of the books.

He is using the word "art" in the original sense of the word as in "the process of creating an artifact". This is the sense of the word that I think most programmers really mean when they say that programming is an art. And they are right.

The word changed its sense somewhat in the industrial revolution as craftsmen were pushed to the wayside and manufacturing took over. But because every attempt to change programming into an assembly-line process has failed utterly, programming really is an "art" in the sense that cabinetry is an "art". It is an art because each piece of software is made individually, by "hand", and because you can often tell the maker from the product.

Programmers are not "artists". They don't create "art". They are "craftsmen" and they create "artifacts". But while an artist is quite correct in saying that a computer program is not a piece of art in the sense that a painting is, there is still an esthetic sense to it, in the same way that a cabinet made by a guy in the backwoods is made to look beautiful even though its prime purpose is to hold clothes. That's the difference between a craftsman and an artist. An artist makes beauty for its own sake. A craftsman tries to accomplish a goal in a beautiful manner.

So really, the story is right, programming is not art. But programming is a art.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Damn. (3.00 / 2) (#172)
by Mr. Piccolo on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:00:07 PM EST

That's exactly what I was thinking, that programming is an art like cabinet making is an art, but programming is not art itself.

Too bad I ddn't read this far before posting... :-(

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


[ Parent ]
ugh (1.63 / 11) (#135)
by Lelon on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:13:27 PM EST

how did an article like this get to the front page? What is this? like reason #437 not to visit kuro5shin.org?


----
This sig is a work in progress.
It's Funny... (4.70 / 20) (#137)
by ichimunki on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:16:57 PM EST

that you should mention that no galleries will be displaying the Linux kernel. I have a printout of same hanging on one of my walls-- sure it's a cheap poster that Red Hat distributed with their annual report, but nonetheless, it hangs there in all its glory-- just like the other art in my house. As for the rest of the art in my house, I've made most of it. Once or twice I've even sold some art that I've made. I have a bachelor's degree in Fine Art and feel qualified by my constant attendance at galleries and persistent participation in art-making to judge what is and is not art.

Frankly, I'm not interested in ill-mannered rebukes of people who love to code and who consider fine code an art. It certainly strikes me as unnecessary. Far more offensive to me, than coders who dare to call good code art, are actual artists who dare to call their "art" art. I mean, Jackson Pollock, about whom there was recently a film, is unknown except as the guy who poured paint on a big canvas on the floor. Rothko is known only for his large amorphous color shapes. Motherwell's claim to fame seems to be his relentless series of black and white circles. Mondrian gets into art history books for making grids with colored blocks. Warhol is famous for making oddly colored lithographs of press photos and paintings of consumer goods. The "art" world eats this stuff up, and an artist has the temerity to insult coders who want to think of themselves as creative beings? Please.

The only problem with code as art is the fact that unless one understands Perl, or C, or BASIC, one probably won't understand what is so impressive about the code. This isn't so different from all the self-referential, for-the-art-world art that gets made. Art that is totally opaque unless one understands the reference to some other piece of art. I think coders who call code art are mostly just expressing the fact that they see fine engineering as a beautiful thing. Beauty, as the saying goes, is in the eye of the beholder.

Programming is a craft (4.20 / 5) (#138)
by guinsu on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:30:41 PM EST

Programming is a craft, similar to carpentry.

Quite simply put, code is a means -- not an end.

This is not entirely correct. If I were a carpenter I could make a table (with a definite function purpose), however it could be beautifully crafted and be a a thing of beauty in and of itself, even though it was biult for the purpose of fulilling a particular function. Therefore I believe that programming should (or the most part) be considered a craft, creating things to solve definite problems or fill certain roles but also having beauty and astetics (sp?) on its own.

Exactly. Therefore it -can- be art, ne? (5.00 / 1) (#176)
by jet_silver on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:32:15 PM EST

Okay. Analogy. Stonecutting and architecture are both crafts. The Sagrada Familia is art. The James K. Jones Building, though built of stone, is emphatically not art.

So there is a lot of craft out there, and some art. As craft, following your example, I would offer XyWrite. As art I would offer The Proxomitron.

And that's it, unless your argument is that of Kurt Schwitters: "what an artist shits is art" - and that you have to climb up on the James K. Jones Building and holler "I AM AN ARTIST" before your code is art.
"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling
[ Parent ]

Sometimes it is art (none / 0) (#182)
by guinsu on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:59:15 PM EST

I guess my argument is that pretty much all of it can be described as craft (except the utter crap, but that is the rarity) and some of it can be art. Just like with architecture, carpentry and other such crafts, there are examples of each that are truly works of art, but not everything is art.

[ Parent ]
Sorry, Jin. (4.57 / 14) (#143)
by pb on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 12:53:38 PM EST

I've been programming too long to believe this one; maybe that's the problem. :)

I agree that "a copy of Windows 2000" is not art, unless you go in for some really abstract art. But some code can definitely be considered art, and it's all a matter of taste.

Here is an example of what I'd consider to be an 'art gallery'. Some people wouldn't, mind you, but it's all a matter of taste. Maybe they don't go for the modern art, or the abstract expressionism. :)

And, for those who think art has to do with pictures instead of beauty, I provide these four IOCCC examples of code-as-art, here.

Also, if we're talking about the product of a program as opposed to its actual internal structure, numerous examples of art can be found in the demoscene, most notably (again, IMHO) Future Crew's Second Reality Demo. :)

Another problem with this is that some artists nowadays use programs like PhotoShop or 3D Studio Max or Bryce to create art. How much of that art isn't art by virtue of its programming? That is to say, the artist didn't paint that lens flare, a computer did it for him! As it was the output of a program, can it be art?

That is the argument that makes me think you meant to simply talk about source code here, or perhaps even object code, since source code can have a lot of human-readable beauty before tokenization that gets stripped out in the process. However, just because the layman can't appreciate even that by staring at a program listing doesn't mean it's not art. That's a feature that many programs share with many works of 'art' these days.

Also, not all programs are art. Most of them suck! But some of them are very cool. I'd say the same for most 'works of art'. And the process isn't too different, either, once the artist is comfortable with the tools of the trade.

In High School, I drew a Sierpinski triangle with a koch curve outline (with sierpinski triangles for each triangle in the koch curve), cut it out of acetate, and printed it on a t-shirt.

I could have generated that same image more accurately with a computer, and used a photographic process to put it onto a silk screen, (since my mother is a screenprinter :) and the image would be roughly identical. The only differences are that the programming involves less repitition and tedium, and cuts out some sources of human error with respect to accuracy. And that's why I started programming in the first place. :)

Also, the fact that my picture was simply a composition of fractals calls into question another point of yours: that of mathematics as art. Generating pictures like this is a lot simpler because there are simple algorithms involved. So we have a thin line here: was M.C. Escher an artist? Just for the pictures, or for the tiling as well? What about Benoit B. Mandelbrot? Rudy Rucker? Penrose?

My take on this is that both computers and mathematics are tools that people can use. And people can be creative and artistic. Therefore, if people want to, they can express this equivalently through math or programming as well as through music or art. Many of these are fundamentally linked anyhow, like music and math (logarithms, sine waves...), or geometry and art (symmetry, tiling...)

Expressing one as the other may be hard, and doing the equivalent task in another medium may be hard, (as Sidney Lanier did with poetry and music) but still basically possible, to an extent. Also, there can be very dischordant and ugly pieces of code, formulae, music, OR art; that's the fault of the artist, not the medium.

And, again, it's all a matter of perception; art needs an audience. If you don't think ANY programming is art, then so be it. I hope that in the future, you see better programs to represent us. I happen to think that a lot of pictures I see aren't art, and a few probably are; the same goes for programs. And of course, I know what I like. Many people probably wouldn't get H.R. Geiger ("that's not art, that's sick!") but other people are huge fans. :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Programming is not art, but does it matter? (4.50 / 8) (#145)
by Robert Hutchinson on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:02:42 PM EST

The question in the subject came to mind after reading 50 different definitions of "art". If anyone cares, my personal definition of art: that which was created by a person or persons, with the intent to surpass utility. If I knock over an empty Coke can, it's not art. If I intentionally knock over an empty Coke can (with no useful purpose served), it is art. Of course, this is where quite a few people will scream "THAT'S not art!!!" My reply is that it is very poor, lazy, and boring art, but that art need not be beautiful or meaningful to be art.

Using this definition, I cannot consider programming as a whole to be art. The intent of the programmer is almost always simply utility. Of course, there can certainly be programming-related artwork, but that is far from making programming itself into an artform. I can dance my way into the kitchen to get another Coke, but that doesn't make perambulation or soft-drink-retrieving art.

However, I disagree with those who feel that denying programming to be art is some sort of slight against programmers, because art is not the end-all, be-all of aesthetics. Nature is beautiful. Mathematics is beautiful. Utility is not art, but efficient utility is beautiful. Sure, Jackson Pollock was being more creative than the third-grade class doing multiplication problems, but I know which I find to be more aesthetic, more pleasing.

And it ain't the paint.

Robert Hutchinson
No bomb-throwing required.

Art is... (4.33 / 3) (#146)
by threshold on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:05:11 PM EST

From Websters 21st Century Dictionary...
ârt, n. 1. activity of creating things that arouse the emotions though one or more senses. 2. things so created. 3. skill or profession. 4. cunning.
Well it seems like code and programming in general falls into the definetion of art.

Now as for the Windows 2000 question? What do you think is more beautiful, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which fell apart, or the Golden Gate bridge which is beautiful and works perfectly.



Open Source, Open Standards, Open Minds
Questions (4.50 / 6) (#149)
by dennis on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:17:54 PM EST

A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning.

So is this math equation art?

If not, why not? Suppose the equation has no known useful purpose? Suppose the mathematician has just given you the equation because he finds it beautiful?

Is the creation of beauty for its own sake, art? If not, what is it?

Now take two programmers. One "paints by numbers"--he uses known algorithms and slams out code, and that's all he can do. The other solves the same problem, but with algorithms specific to the problem, of such elegance that other programmers who see the code are amazed by its brilliance. They find it beautiful, in the same way the mathematician finds the equation beautiful. Is it art?

Suppose both versions have the same performance. The only difference is that the paint-by-numbers version is 1000 lines of code, and the "artistic" version is 50 lines of code. Or suppose they even have the same number of lines, but one version strikes programmers as a confusing mess, and the other is brilliantly clear. Same function. Just a different way of communicating to other programmers. Is it art yet?

Bottom line, programmers who strive for art write better code than programmers who don't. But to understand why it's art, you pretty much have to be a programmer, mathematician, or scientist. Personally I don't understand why certain kinds of abstract painting are considered art (and neither does Tom Wolfe), so I guess we're all even.

An example of a beautiful equation (3.00 / 1) (#173)
by NoNeckJoe on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:15:41 PM EST

e^(pi * i) + 1 = 0

I won't sink to the level of describing why this is beautiful. Look at it. Think about it.

Now ask yourself, is this art?

[ Parent ]

Math is odd (3.00 / 3) (#175)
by dennis on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:27:30 PM EST

Actually math is kind of an odd case. It's a beautiful equation...but in a sense nobody invented it. We just discovered it. It's beautiful in the same way a sunset is beautiful--not as a piece of art that we made, but as a part of nature that we simply appreciate.

But computer code is certainly something that we made, even if it has the same sort of beauty as math.

[ Parent ]

What about literate programming? (4.50 / 2) (#150)
by pfaffben on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:24:03 PM EST

Do you consider a work of literature to be art? Then how about a literate program, which is source code and an essay or book explaining it integrated into a single work. If literature is art then a literate program is as well.

Programming not an art? I beg to differ! (4.00 / 1) (#152)
by cable on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:30:36 PM EST

How else can you tell the difference between buggy code verses stable code?

Take your average Code Monkey, he/she writes out code as fast as he/she can, with memory leaks, no comments or documentation, spaghetti code, more bugs than an "Ant Farm", and performance issues. Then take your Code Artist, who takes his/her time and writes tight, compact code, full of comments and documentaion, runs at optimized speed, few bugs if any, and is very very stable.

The problem is that most companies want the "Code Monkey" because they have deadlines. The PHBs want code written as fast as they can draw up what the UI should look like in Visio or Paintshop. Every part of the program should be finished in 15 minutes, or else. The program should not take more than a week to create, no matter how complex the features are, and how many pages of code need to be written. So therefore developers get a bad name when "Code Monkeys" make up about 80% of the developers out there working for big corporations.
-------------------------

------------------
Only you, can help prevent Neb Rage!

That's called engineering. (4.00 / 1) (#165)
by Khalad on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:05:11 PM EST

A field the software industry could really learn a lot from.


You remind me why I still, deep in my bitter crusty broken heart, love K5. —rusty


[ Parent ]
Whatever (2.00 / 2) (#153)
by elektrogott on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:31:47 PM EST

I do not consider Programming as art. But I consider Informatics (being british here) as art.

Perl Poetry (4.60 / 5) (#154)
by RadiantMatrix on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:33:29 PM EST

I have long felt that programming is an art form -- not just the code itself, but also the end result. Perhaps the most perfect example of this is the [in]famous Perl Poetry Contest.

I think it would be hard to say that poetry isn't art - so code-poetry, at least, must be also.

But that aside -- code is, in many ways, like poetry. Expressing an idea is easy - expressing it elgantly takes an artistic soul. Similarly, just programming doesn't make you an artist -- but reading code that is beautifully written evokes emotion: and isn't that what art is supposed to do?

--
never put off until tomorrow what can be done the day after.
Express Yourself



I think your problem (4.66 / 3) (#156)
by weirdling on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:38:23 PM EST

Is a total failure to understand the code itself. Code isn't art unless it makes sense. To most people, what I do is write complex gibberish. They don't even understand that that gibberish is nothing more than a list of commands a machine will execute. With art, as I'm sure you know, the more esoteric it gets, the harder it is to explain to the average person. Now, imagine a world where the art is totally incomprehensible to the average person, and you see why people don't think programming is art.
However, I, myself, have written several programs that have absolutely no real use other than to be aesthetic. One is known as a quine, in which the code generates the source listing for the program. This is a lot more difficult than it sounds, and many clever solutions exist. That it does something is no distraction; art resembles life. Truly random art is worthless; it doesn't communicate anything. In most pure art, the artist is communicating a feeling, and he does so through shared experiences. In programming a quine, I have a set of rules to observe, and I follow them. However, the end result of both is a purely aesthetical, useless thing that exists merely because it was entertaining to create.
Now, take Linux or Beos. Neither was created for profit. Both have since seen profit, but initially, they were created simply to see if it could be done. The free software guys call what they do art because they do it for the fun of it. I am a commercial programmer. What I do is omitted by most people from being called art because I get paid for it and have specific requirements, but you can still see my imprint, just like the commercial artist upstairs who does all of our web page graphics, who *is* an artist.
That being said, I am also a musician and a poet. I was a professional musician in college, and I am a published poet, making me have a minor distinction from most people who call themselves artists. I program because it pays more, but I get the same feeling of satisfaction in creation when I write a particularly elegant solution that I get when I write a poem I like or render a virtuoso performance. Now, how, again, does it differ?

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
BeOS (none / 0) (#158)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:45:11 PM EST

BeOS was always intended to be profitable, I think you mean BSD
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
BeOS was initially free (none / 0) (#167)
by weirdling on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:12:41 PM EST

It was a long time ago, but the idea of making money off of it came when they got popular. I have, somewhere, a free copy of BeOS that came in a Mac magazine.
Yes, BSD is now free, but it wasn't always so. BSD used to be carefully controlled, as well, iirc.
Incidentally, Be, inc., is sincerely considering open-sourcing BeOS, something it never was...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Nope, nope (4.00 / 1) (#180)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:57:14 PM EST

BeOS was initially created to run on BeBoxes. When it became clear that the BeBox Biz wasn't going to work out, they started giving away previews on the Mac. Their main objective was to get Apple to buy the company, and so they were trying to sow the seeds of popularity in the Mac community.

Anyway, BeOS was created by and for a commercial corporation, by paid programmers. It may have been given away for free, but there has always been a commercial intent.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
It's not for you! (4.10 / 10) (#161)
by dennis on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:51:50 PM EST

Since you're not a programmer, you have never actually seen or understood the art that you claim is not art. Takes a certain amount of chutzpah, imo. Sorta like a blind musician claiming that a painting is not art, because you can't dance to it.

Now, if you get your programmer friends to teach you a little programming, and you write some programs of your own, and you get them to show you some code that they consider art, and why...then maybe you can argue your point with a little credibility. Either way, us programmers don't much care if you "real artists" are impressed or not. As Eddie Murphy said to white people who don't like rap: "It's not for you!"

That doesn't quite work. (none / 0) (#184)
by JazzManJim on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:20:46 PM EST

So what you're saying, in a nutshell is, if you haven't done it, or can't do it, you can't judge it?

Nonsense.

I'm a musician, not a visual artist. I can't paint for beans, but I can tell you what paintings I consider art, and what I consider flinging shite on walls. I'm not a particularly skilled baseball player, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that Rafael Palmiero has one of the prettiest baseball swings I've ever seen and that the now-retired Geronimo Berroa had one of the nastiest swings I've ever seen (hell, he once swung at a pitch that was *behind* him!).

Just because I, or anyone else, lacks a skill to do something, or lacks the skill to do it at a particular level, it doesn't follow that we can't use critical means to determine whether it qualifies in our thinking as art or not. I happen to believe that Jin is an excellent judge of art, considering that I've been to her Web site, seen what she's produced, read her bona fides, and can vouch that, though she's not a programmer, she's seen enough, and had enough experience that she knows whereof she speaks.

I do wonder, though, if you would have used the same argument if she had maintained that code was art? After all, if she's not a programmer, how can she determine what is or is not art, as regards code? Or music? Or sculpture? Or anything else she can't do well?

-Jimmie
-Jimmie
"Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God...I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America."
(Osama bin Laden - 10 Jan 1999)
[ Parent ]
Not at all (none / 0) (#186)
by dennis on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:28:56 PM EST

So what you're saying, in a nutshell is, if you haven't done it, or can't do it, you can't judge it?

Not at all. I'm saying that if you've never seen it, you can't judge it. The argument here is whether sourcecode is art, and if you're not a programmer, you've never read sourcecode. You don't know the language. I don't have to be a writer to judge literature--but I do at least have to read it!

[ Parent ]

Ah...I think I see now. (none / 0) (#187)
by JazzManJim on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:33:09 PM EST

Okay...I see from where you're coming. But, she's alreaydsaid that she's seen code, and knows enough to be able to tell garbage code from efficient code.

Or should she take each program on a case-by-case basis? If so, that's drawing an awfully fine line.

-Jimmie
-Jimmie
"Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be rewarded for it by God...I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of the so-called superpower that is America."
(Osama bin Laden - 10 Jan 1999)
[ Parent ]
Really? (none / 0) (#200)
by dennis on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:13:20 PM EST

I just re-read the article and looked up all her comments, and I can't see where she said she can read sourcecode. Where did you pick that up? All I saw is her descriptions of working programs, from a user's standpoint, and a statement "if I were to learn C or some other language..."

Incidentally I would certainly concede that most sourcecode is not art, just as most architecture is not art...though some is.

[ Parent ]

Have you read any good Japanese novels lately? (3.00 / 1) (#220)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:00:43 PM EST

I don't know Japanese, I couldn't tell by looking at a book written in the language if it was art or not. But that dosn't mean it isn't.

If you can't understand Code, then obviously it dosn't seem like art, it seems like giberish. Just like Kanji on paper does if you don't know how to read it.

Does that mean that Japanese novels are not art?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Art Or Not (3.00 / 3) (#163)
by Manish on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 01:56:04 PM EST

Art Or Not, if I love programming, I'll do it. Does it really matter if programming is an art? or it isn't? btw, just to say....those who "understand" what beautiful programming brilliance is, consider programming much much more than an art.
Manish.
Oh, cool... (4.00 / 11) (#166)
by trhurler on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:10:35 PM EST

We have someone who is basically a nonprogrammer(you may know some PHP or perl or something, but you're no programmer,) telling us what programs are and aren't. I'm not complaining that you're not Linus Torvalds; I'm complaining that, insofar as I can tell(several comments you make bear this out,) you're not even Bill Gates, who as we all know, is a lousy programmer:)

First of all, I'll point out that while code follows rules, so does every single art form there is. A very young child's scribblings or haphazard arrangements of blocks are not "art," however much his parents might like to think so. Even the most abstract crap in the art world follows rules.

Second, for some people, code is NOT a means. Yes, there really are people who write programs because they enjoy writing programs, and/or because they enjoy letting other people use and/or come to understand them.

Third, code is not a paint by numbers set. If it was, you could hire five year olds to program. If you don't believe that a program can be a primarily creative endeavor, then you obviously do not have the experience to have any business opening your yap on this topic; many programs are NOT primarily creative endeavors, but a program can be.

My conclusion is that you're half right. Not all code could ever qualify as art - but not all drawings do, either. Not every pattern of words set down on paper is a poem - but this does not mean that no verse is a poem.

All you "real artists" can get stuffed if you don't like this fact. Frankly, most of what "real artists" have produced in the last 150 years is only art by the standards of morons anyway; abstract painters and minimalist composers and so on can all suck my left nut, because not one of them has ever done anything worthwhile. "Art" that requires a four year degree to even distinguish from random scribblings is no such thing; this is mere pomp and ego fluffing on the part of people who don't actually have to work for a living.

As for the coffee shops and the berets, you're lucky you don't live elsewhere; in many places, that happens. Those people are really irritating. All us real coffee lovers know that the proper attire for a coffee shop is whatever the hell you're wearing, and the reason to go is to drink coffee and play chess, dammit! (By the way, some of the finest art ever consists in very well executed chess sets. The rules are exacting, if the set is to be playable - just as the rules of constructing a symphony are quite exacting, if it is to be a symphony - but there is still an unending variety of playable chess sets. Unfortunately, there is an even greater variety of useless showpieces that nobody in his right mind would ever use for a real game; the creators of these are the Phillip Glass counterparts of the chess set world:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Chess? (4.00 / 1) (#179)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:53:28 PM EST

us real coffee lovers know that the proper attire for a coffee shop is whatever the hell you're wearing, and the reason to go is to drink coffee and play chess, dammit!

I'm sorry the reason to go to a coffie shop is to play Go, which is far cooler then <span tone='derision'>chess</span>
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Go (none / 0) (#204)
by trhurler on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:38:48 PM EST

I'm not going to slight the game itself, but I will slight most if not all of its US players. They all pick it up because they heard it is harder than chess, even though none of them can play chess competently and few if any of them would ever be any good at it. In other words, they're in it purely for the snob appeal. Screw that. I came to play dammit. (And personally, I find go less interesting, either to play or to watch, although this is only relevant if you're me:) It is more complex when analyzed from a brute force perspective, but I'm not sure this actually makes it more difficult for humans to play; we don't use brute force approaches, because we're incapable of it, and the complexity of positional/strategic chess seems higher to me than similar measures of any other game I've yet seen - especially go, where a given pattern one place on the board isn't much different from that pattern anywhere else, transpositions don't much make a difference, and the pieces lack variety. Go puts all its complexity eggs in one basket, and that means positional analysis only has to consider one variable. I think this makes it easier to master, if not easier on beginners.)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
You're almost there. (none / 0) (#195)
by elenchos on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:02:36 PM EST

But your definition of art is only slightly less narrow than his, because you want to reject whole categories of art on either grounds of personal taste, or because they are too obscure to comprehend. It is no good if it takes a four year degree to apprecaite. But then doesn't it take a substantial education to appreciate the artistry of good code? Isn't that exactly what you criticize the author for? You might want to try to reconcile these two different beliefs.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

A difference (none / 0) (#206)
by trhurler on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:43:51 PM EST

C code 100 years from now will still be art if and only if it is today. On the other hand, the sort of education you need to understand most modern art is primarily historical: the artist did this because of that other art trend and these events in the history of his country and this dogma he was trying to break away from and so on. In other words, modern art is all about itself, rather than anything else. It is a field that exists solely to perpetuate itself; it has no outside source of value or validation. The same cannot be said of, say, the works of Renaissance masters, which generally can captivate even people who don't understand their history and background. Programs are harder to understand, but no harder than a literary work written in a language you just don't know. The literary work is still art if it would have been in your language, and maybe if it wouldn't have been. This is a different kind of obscurity entirely.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
I don't know how you can... (5.00 / 2) (#213)
by elenchos on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:54:29 PM EST

...get very far with Rembrandt without knowing anything about the Hebrew Bible, nor the history of the interplay of religion and art up to that point, nor the relationship between the way the mercantile Dutch thought about themselves and their new wealth and self-esteem in relation to the above. If you want to just look at "The Jewish Bride" and say "hey! Nice painting" there is nothing wrong with that, but you are seriously missing the point if you have no idea who Sarah was or why those people in the painting are dressed like that. I could go on ad infinitum. It is patently absurd to claim that only modern art depends on history to be understood.

It is equally absurd to say that modern art only has value in reference to itself, but none of that makes any difference. All of that could still be true, and it wouldn't alter the fact that code can still be art, as you said, even if it requires enormous education to appreciate, just as you claim is the case with modern art. But it demands more than merely understanding the language: hordes of students can read code after one semester, but that doesn't mean they can recognize good code to save their lives, let alone appreciate the rare code that might be called "art."

I think the problem is that you confuse your concept of "good art" with "art." I never said it had to be good to be art; that is a whole other issue. If you want to say that nothing in the last 150 years is "good art" you may say so, but if you say it is not art at all, then your definition of art is headed for serious trouble. I get the feeling that you have limited yourself to only the classical type of art, and reject anything that has romantic roots, as in your belief that the fact that the Ramones didn't know how to play was a relavent criticism. If code can be art, it would probably be classical, being so rule-based, and so perhaps would be less wedded to the its context and less susceptible to having ancient programmers point to it many years from now and defend it with "you had to be there man." But given how unpredictable and un-engineering-like most real programming is, I would hesitate to predict very much.

Leaving all that aside, I don't think the great art of computer code has been written yet. The medium is still too new, and too few people of global genius have worked enough with it. But no medium produces masterpieces only a few decades into its existence.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill. --Marcus Aurelius, Med. ii.


[ Parent ]

Nitpick (none / 0) (#325)
by trhurler on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:48:23 AM EST

Actually, most CS grads can't read code to save their lives, because they've never been taught to do so. They can write it, albeit poorly, but most of them only learn to read code(if they learn at all,) when forced to by employment. This is one of the major failings of CS today. Various people thought I was some sort of deity in college merely because I was able to read code with some reasonable proficiency. Now, as it happens, I am some sort of deity, but how were they to know?:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
ahem (4.33 / 3) (#227)
by cybin on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:18:23 PM EST

so are you saying that the following composers wrote nothing worthwhile?
  • Camille Saint-Saens 1835-1921
  • Edvard Greig 1843-1907
  • Antonin Dvorak 1841-1904
  • Giacomo Puccini 1858-1924
  • Gabriel Faure 1845-1924
  • Gustav Mahler 1860-1911
  • Claude Debussy 1862-1918
  • Richard Strauss 1864-1949
  • Maurice Ravel 1875-1937
  • Sergei Prokofiev 1891-1953
  • Sergei Rachmaninov 1873-1943
  • Bela Bartok 1881-1945
  • Gustav Holst 1874-1934
  • George Gershwin 1898-1937
  • Samuel Barber 1910-1981
all of them wrote worthwhile music in the last 150 years... and i am leaving out many other names like Stravinsky, Berg, Honnegar, Poulenc, and my own personal hero Darius Milhaud, as well as Villa-Lobos, Weill, Shostakovich, Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, Benjamin Britten, etc. all of whom wrote extremely beautiful music and all of whom were real artists in the most high sense of the word.

don't talk about the history of the arts unless you know what happened in the last century.

I don't like minimalism either, but if you understand trends in music history you can understand why minimalism came and went in the time that it did. if you're looking for a beautiful piece of music composed in the last 20 years try Henryk Gorecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.

[ Parent ]
more great artists (4.00 / 3) (#229)
by lotus on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:40:41 PM EST

In addition to the above mentioned composers, let us not forget some of the other great American composers all within the last 100 years:
  • Duke Ellington
  • Billy Strayhorn
  • Charles Mingus
  • Thelonious Monk
  • Dave Brubeck
  • Sonny Rollins
and the list goes on...

If anyone can be qualified as an artist, these individuals certainly can.

[ Parent ]
Asking the wrong question (3.00 / 4) (#170)
by Mr. Piccolo on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:53:21 PM EST

So, you're asking whether programming is art, correct? And your answer is no.

Well, I agree with you. However, it's not for any of the reasons you think it is.

The fact is that programming is not art, because it makes no sense to ask whether programming is art in the first place. In order for something to be art, it first must be an entity of some sort, whether physical like paintings or sculpture, or intellectual like music or literature.

The probalem is that programming is not an entity in and of itself, but is a process. So, trivially, programming is not art for the exact same reason that brick wall construction is not art.

Therefore, the correct question to ask is this: Is programming AN art?

The BBC would like to apologise for the following comment.


Tarot (4.00 / 1) (#171)
by Nezumi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 02:56:07 PM EST

I can't believe I didn't think of this earlier.

If you look at a tarot deck, for instance the Tarot of the Cat People or similar, it is hard to deny that it is a work of art. Beautiful images, meaningful imagery and symbology intended to encompass the entirety of the human condition. It certainly fulfils, to me and no doubt to many others, the essence of what art is.

So what has this to do with code?

Simply put, they are similar entities. Code is created, sometimes artistically, to create a tool or set of tools. Perhaps the code creates a word processor. Perhaps it creates a Mandelbrot plotter. Perhaps Windows 2000. And sometimes that code is art.

In the same way a Tarot is a tool or set of tools. Tarot is a tool for self-exploration, and to the more credible, divination. I personally use Tarot as a meditation tool, and occasionally as a focus to get a clearer picture of some aspect of my life. Either way, it is a tool, made up of created elements (i.e. the cards themselves). Obviously the percentage of decks with artistically created elements is higher than that of programs with artistically created code, but the Tarot has been around somewhat longer. One would assume when coding has been around that long, it'll have some mystique of its own.

So to say that code is not art because it is a tool is foolish. To do so would be to say that all things that are composed in similar ways, like Tarot, are not art. And that's just plain not true.



Pretension, or self-deprecation? (2.62 / 8) (#177)
by inpHilltr8r on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:36:41 PM EST

"Art, on the other hand, takes ordinary objects (or unordinary objects) and embellishes them in such a way that serves no purpose other than to be aesthetically enjoyable."

I can't believe you have such a shallow/narrow definition of art.

"Us real artists"

Stoppit your killing me.

I mean, am I supposed to take your posturing seriously? Or just on it's aesthetic values?



Nothing that already hasn't been said (3.00 / 1) (#181)
by whytek on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 03:57:19 PM EST

I personally believe that the purpose of art is to convey an experience or emotion to its audience. I suppose this comes from my acceptance of the aesthetic definition of art. I feel an artist's main goal should be to relate to his or her audience a mental state that they would otherwise not experience. A reader should feel the turmoil of the characters contained in the story. A listener should have the notes resonate inside of him or her. A painting should impart its imbued emotion to the viewer.

As far as code goes, I don't view a solution to a difficult problem as art, even if it is expressed in an elegant and creative manner. That doesn't mean that code can't be a medium for art. Many of the programs in the demo scene that I have seen would certainly qualify. I simply don't view the creative process of programming enough to turn code into art. I also don't think the frustration experienced by a user trying to use a particular feature (say, inserting different page numbers into Microsoft Word), is sufficient to call it art.

Nonetheless, one the key's of this world is to learn to accept differing opinions. If somebody views code as an art form and he or she strives for what he or she considers to be the best solution; good for him or her, he or she is probably a better programmer for it.



program =~ vehicle (2.00 / 1) (#188)
by tforce76 on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:33:43 PM EST

a program is like any vehicle.

there's lots of different vehicles: cars, trucks, bulldozers, motorcycles, armored personnel carriers. the vehicle, provided the operator knows how to use it, can get you to where you want to go, or perform the work you want done.

but, there are thousands of different vehicles, all different shapes and sizes, built differently for different purposes, with varying degrees of complexity.

now, when an enthusiast looks under the hood, she or he can appreciate the artistry and the engineering. she or he, through careful analysis, can discover how the vehicle works.

it's the exact same thing with code and a programmer. and i think any programmer would feel that her or his program is a work of art, in the same way that an automotive engineer would be proud of her or his creation.

oddly enough (5.00 / 1) (#193)
by b0r3d on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:59:19 PM EST

There does happen to be a Porsche in the MOMA (Musuem of Modern Art, NYC). So somebody apparently thinks craftmanship can equal art in today's postmodern world. They're not automatically correlated, but they can be.

[ Parent ]
As an aspiring mathematician (4.25 / 4) (#192)
by dcodea on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:51:08 PM EST

I must take issue with this:

A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning.
This is not true at all. The very definition of an elegant theorem(we do define these things) is one that proves something that no shorter theorem could prove. How it is written is very relevant.

Who Dares Wins

Remember the demos? (3.66 / 3) (#194)
by Surial on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 04:59:55 PM EST

Remember those demos, Assembly, The Party, intros, hornet, Future Crew, Matrix, etcetera?

That is clearly coding as an artform.

coding sometimes IS art, but sometimes it's not. It depends a little on the purpose of the code and the way it attempts to fulfill a need.

I wouldn't consider Win2k art. It just some improvement (if it is at that) of a thing which has been around for quite a while. It's 100% function. (well, it's trying to be :-P).

However, all demos are art, and the code behind them, usually is too. It is very hard to get those things to run at decent speeds on the hardware back in the days (486 material, no video cards of note), and the tricks performed, in the code alone, is imo art.

Especially if you yourself are a programmer versed in Assembly, you can appreciate the difficulty of a certain effect the moment you see it on-screen. You can even start musing later on as to how it was done. I find that very similar to looking at art and enjoying it right away while being capable of thinking about it in new ways later when you aren't seeing it anymore.
In fact, those demos have a lot more going for them; aside from being pretty to watch, like a painting, they have the added dimension of the code. I myself know Assembler quite well, so I can appreciate demos on both levels. I would consider either level art.

Without that code element, there would be something missing from the work. I see a parallel with a painting which has been painted entirely with a foot. The fact that it was created by painting with the foot instead of the hand, adds to the aesthetic part of the work.


This happends too in some programs, not just demos. Some things are just very hard to code right. That kind of code certainly has a lot of art characteristics. I'd prefer calling it art than not calling it art, though it's a bit of a blurry line.

Hey! (none / 0) (#214)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:56:42 PM EST

Remember those demos

They're still doing that stuff, you know. Unforunetly scene.org blows as general purpose library the way hornet.org was.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Confussed... (none / 0) (#299)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:23:49 AM EST

However, all demos are art, and the code behind them, usually is too. It is very hard to get those things to run at decent speeds on the hardware back in the days (486 material, no video cards of note), and the tricks performed, in the code alone, is imo art

That is like saying that Picasso's paintings are art as well as the brushes, tubes of paint and blank canvases in his studio.

If a programmer makes something with an artistic purpose then code is the mean to express something artisitic, it becomes the tool of a new kind of artist.

Some bored guy's obfuscated code formatted in a funny shape is not art, is a toy with a nice presentation that 99% of human beens will not care about.

Art is communication, art is not selfishness and isolation. Art that is only seem as such by the creator is of no value, because each one of us then can call art whatever each of us want. Art that does not communicate is an aberration. Most code comunicates nothing, if you format it in a clever way you are painting, and if the code produces something artistic then the art is in the result, not in the code.

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Oh, God, I can't take this!!! (3.00 / 4) (#196)
by ShrimpX on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:03:17 PM EST

I can't believe that you are trying to impose your mere views, opinions upon us. I don't care what you think art is. Another thing is that real artists would not dare call themselves _real_ artists--at least in this contest. You also contradict yourself when you say that when you run a beautiful program you consider it art. Well, there you go. Not _all_ code is good art. Some (a lot) of it is bad art. But then again, so is most visual art. You've boud yourself by a false definition of what art is. It looks to me that your definition of art is purely visual. Your brain cannot cope with multiple levels of abstraction. How can I make you want "me" (my code) when you have no clue about the intricacies of computational theory and the wizardry that is required to play with the heaviest programming methods in creating this piece of art? If programming was not art, then there would only be ONE operating system--since without artistic creativity we cannot revolutionize what is already there--only one method of solving a certain problem, etc. Can't you see? You're not making any sense! Anyway I hope that this helps you broaden your mind. Art is everywhere. It's everything. Art doesn;t involve a museum wall. And if you are so bound by that kind of thinking, thing of a Linux conference as your museum. There is Linux code all over the walls in there. So get your stuff together, because according to your theory, art must be perfect art (whatever that is), and less then perfect art is not art. Blah!

My opinion (4.66 / 12) (#198)
by naasking on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:07:02 PM EST

I understand very well why programmers might feel the need to believe that their work is art... The difference between my examples of paint-by-number and coding, is that the individuals assembling models or paint-by-numbers do not do this as a livelihood. They are under no delusions about their occupation or hobbies.... Even as a hobby, it must be disappointing to humour the idea that perhaps the product of all your creative energy and effort is not art (but in fact, something quite plain and ordinary).

Oooo! Inflamatory statements! I must say that this paragraph pissed me off, but I'll just leave it at that, and explain a few things to you.

I'm usually not very impressed by art. I've been all over the world. I've been to the Louvre in Paris, art galleries all over Europe, musical performances, etc. For the most part, paintings don't impress me. In fact, they impress me as much as you seemed to be impressed by programming. The paintings are very skillfull(I draw and sketch myself, so I know how skillfull the paintings are) just as you seem to think programming requires skill, but paintings do not feel artful to me mainly because they elicit no feelings from me at all(most of them anyway). But let me tell you, I bet it sure felt beautiful to it's creator, and he'd be damned if he would say it's anything but art.

So let me explain to you why programming is art. What is a painting of a landscape? It's a static representation of an image and associated feelings of the painter(simplification in the interest of time and space). It means something to it's creator, it's fashioner. He crafted something that he saw and felt completely out of his own mind. And it was beautiful to him.

Now let me tell you what I see and feel when I run my finished, perfect code for the first time. I see ideas in motion. I see past, present and future come together. The hours and days spent in contemplation and furious concentration flash through my mind. The beauty and simplicity of solutions that made me want to laugh with joy, and caused me to smile at my cleverness for days. I see my flawless program and I know that it would run perfectly, forever if I let it. As I watch it running, I see an evolving, dynamic system of potentially incredible complexity and prone to chaos, tamed by my hand. I see information flowing back and forth and coming alive with purpose, driven by my act of creation, and it's beautiful. I swear I'll be damned if I'll let you say that what I feel when I create such a masterpiece of a program isn't a feeling of artful creation.

I am very artistic(in your sense): I draw and sketch, I carve wood, I compose music, I build things, I write poems and stories. But nothing ever makes me feel half as fulfilled and creative as completing a beautiful program like I've just described.

A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning.

Well there you go. I went through all this trouble to explain why programming is beautiful and full of artistry when you understood it all along! Allow me to substitute: "Code isn't beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning." You obviously don't appreciate the meaning inherent in code and programming, so let me ask you: what do you say to someone to convince them that your paint on paper is art, if they think it's only useful to wipe the floor?

If you're feeling like you're not accomplishing much, then take the initiative to create something new, interesting, and original. Use code to do something no one has done before. Amaze me. Excite me. Make me want you.

You've just convinced me you're not an artist, because if you were, you would have never said that. What you just described is marketing. Is that what art is to you? Marketing? Be on the cutting edge? Entice and dazzle the attendees to your show, your viewers? Is that what drives you?

Art is not created for others, it's done for the creator alone, because if you don't get to do what you most want to do in life, you might as well be dead(how is that for an artistic license?). Do you try and impress me with your art? Do you create solely to inspire me? Is that the purpose of your art?

I didn't think so. I don't program for you, and I never will. You had the right idea in the paragraph I quoted above: "conveys brilliance to those who understand it's meaning", ie. not to those who don't. If you don't understand then please move along to the next exhibit.

But please -- stop making claims that simply well-written code in itself is art.

I don't make claims that code itself is art. But what comes of it and the ideas it embodies and sets in motion is art.

And if you start showing up at coffee shops wearing berets, dark glasses, and a goatee, I'm going to start looking into a career change.

Anyone trying that hard to make you believe they have some artistic talent, is usually the person most lacking in one. Believe me, you won't find me anywhere near a coffee shop, wearing anything like that getup... unless it's Halloween. ;-) (not baiting, berets and goatees just aren't my style)


Hmmm... (none / 0) (#218)
by ghjm on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:13:20 PM EST

Now let me tell you what I see and feel when I run my finished, perfect code for the first time [...]

The first time you run your code, it's perfect? Wow. Interested in a job?

[ Parent ]

hehehe... (none / 0) (#233)
by naasking on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:14:56 PM EST

The first time you run your code, it's perfect? Wow. Interested in a job?

Wouldn't that be nice? ;-) No, if you rearrange the sentence it actually says: "the first time I run my finished, perfect code", which means I've perfected, polished and finished it. So no, I'm not the perfect programmer, but hey, I'm always interested in a job. ;-) Hey wait! Come back!


[ Parent ]
Some code *is* art... (3.80 / 5) (#199)
by tla on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:13:18 PM EST

From the beginning of the article: "I don't believe many people would go so far as to call a paint-by-number image of puppies or a plastic snap-together model art. Code, which can also sometimes be considered to follow explicit "instructions," can (in a limited sense) also be compared to these things" But what if you get to choose which colours to paint the blanks in a paint by pictures picture (this is more akin to programming). Now, following your metaphor as I see it, the grid of holes to paint is your programming language, your canvas, and you fill in the gaps to make your program or your picture. So, with an appropriate language, you can get any set of shapes, any picture you like. It should now become clear that from this perspective programming *could be* art. But not all code is artistic. I'd agree, the compiled copy of Windows 2000 I'm currently using is not art. But I'm sure that, at least according to my value system, some of the source code used to produce my copy of Win2k is very artistic. You seem to have missed the point - for programming to be art doesn't necessarily mean the program is art. It could be that the source code is art. An algorithm used is art. The way the parts of it fit together is art. It could be any number of things. It's probably time for a definition of art. I've heard people say that anything that makes even one person think, to look at (their) life any differently, is art. Some software certainly qualifies as art here. Then there's the individual's view of art; something may be art to me but just a cow someone's chopped in half to you. If you think no programs are art by these standards, visit www.ojuice.net (Orange Juice, a demo-scene website), download the top couple of demos for your system, run them and see if you change your mind. Your code as a tube of paint argument... sure, a single CPU instruction is comparable to a bit of paint. But PROGRAMMERS DON'T CREATE INSTRUCTIONS. What we do is combine them into programs, like a painter combines brush-strokes into a painting to capture what it is he or she wants to create. "Similarly, the code itself is without value ... unless its function, or product, can be considered art." You misunderstand the term. The code IS the product. It is not a brush-stroke, it is a collection of brush-strokes on a canvas. Alternatively, a single spot of paint can sometimes be considered art, if the artwork was created in some original way. Until you see something truly amazing being done with code - with the simple unartistic instructions being made to do something truly original and inventive - you will probably not understand this. But, read the Story of Mel (a Real Programmer), and maybe you can see how some of the things that he coded in his time could be considered by some as art. If programs which create art are art in themselves (and I'm certain that they must be, as they're just another medium for an artist's creativity), then it's quite simple to show that some programs are inherently art. "In a community of people which seems to generally scorn things that exist only for aesthetic, non-essential reasons (witness the bellyaching over graphics-intensive websites), I find this contradiction of ideas to be especially amusing" Again, you've missed the point. In the context you're discussing, artistic code is code that is especially elegant and/or clever, solving problems in extremely efficient and original ways. There is no contradiction in that. This kind of functional art is art *through* function. "... the products of code can certainly be art" - finally something we agree on. But I think my concluding point has got to be that while not all (perhaps very little) code is art, some code is. I don't consider myself an artist, but I do know when I've written a good piece of code, when I've written an elegant piece of code, and when I've written code that I'd consider art. Or code that I'd consider produces art. Either way, I'm still the artist, and as the code is my only production, surely it must be the art itself. So, maybe you don't see how my code is art. I don't see how a soiled bed is art. I don't see how a particularly life-like representation of an object is art. It may be beautiful, but it's the ideas, not the image itself which is art. That is all.
if(cCurr == '/' && cNext == '*')
    for( cCurr = pInStream->Read(), cNext = pInStream->Read();
        cCurr != '*' || cNext != '/';
        cCurr = cNext, cNext = pInStream->Read() );
What is considered art changes (3.00 / 2) (#201)
by drx on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:14:53 PM EST

Linus Torvalds wins Prix Ars Electronica

Sorry for people that just can see colors.

Mindless Quote Propagation (4.40 / 5) (#203)
by mbiggs on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:35:28 PM EST

"'The divorce of art from technology is completely unnatural. It's just that it's gone on so long you have to be an archeologist to find out where the two separated. Rotisserie assembly is actually a long-lost branch of sculpture, so divorced from its roots by centuries of intellectual wrong turns that just to associate the two sounds ludicrous.'"

-Robert Pirsig in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Quality (none / 0) (#221)
by fsh on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:11:44 PM EST

Exactly. Some code has good Quality, some has bad Quality. Some paintings have good Quality, some paintings have bad Quality. Art is an abstract concept that exists only in terms of the act of perception in the human mind, just like Quality.

In other words, Pirsig Rocks.

Great quote, by the way. I remember I had to put the book down and just think for a while when I got to this point.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

How about the DeCSS gallery? (4.20 / 5) (#205)
by dennis on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:40:33 PM EST

What about the DeCSS gallery? Here, various forms of sourcecode are displayed for DeCSS, which has been ruled illegal. The point of the code is not so you can watch movies--for that you only need the original version. Here we have DeCSS in 7 lines of perl, and 434 bytes of C. We have sourcecode in formats that can't even be run by a machine (gifs, tshirts, etc.) The point of all this is social commentary and protest. Is it art? If not, why not?

from a tired old fogey. (4.50 / 8) (#207)
by Dogun on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:51:35 PM EST

Stop kidding yourself. Some code is art, some is not. Leave it at that. You'll save yourself time and you'll save yourself face; people will show you demos which will blow your mind; presentations of code brought to life and things that will make you wonder how a human mind could have spawned such insanity. Music... is a silly little ditty that I compose off the top of my head while walking down the street and hum for a few minutes, then forget, art? How about Mozart? Drawings... I draw a comic strip on the spur of the moment, not terribly well done, but it's a child of my imagination. Is it art? How about the Mona Lisa? Words... I write a letter to my girlfriend, and I express things in ways that may not be grammitcally correct, but they feel right... poetic, almost. Art? How about Shakespeare? Or better yet, Catullus? Too many media out there with too many distinctions to make. Grow up, and realize the futility of making distinctions on the whole, concentrate on the individual level if you want to be a critic. And listen to Zelazny in Lord of Light. It's what's behind the words that matter, not the words. "Code is not art"? What do you mean by art? By some definitions, probably not. But does it embody all those things which we associate with art, yes, it does.

Imagination does have bounds... (1.66 / 3) (#209)
by VErgun on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:01:59 PM EST

The article stated: "As children, the imagination knows no boundary". This is incorrect.

Imagination is similar to reason in that it is a product of our sensory knowledge and experiences. However, it should be noted that the imagination is a much more abstract application.
In other words, the imagination has bounds because human beings have bounds.

Verdi Ergun
sim@neo.rr.com
----------------- -Verdi Erel Ergun
Fine - for you, it's not art. (4.25 / 4) (#210)
by misterluke on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:33:50 PM EST

For me, I don't give a shit. There is beauty in code, there is creativity in the design process of a software system, there are software systems designed solely to evoke an emotional response among a certain audience ( anyone here played Resident Evil in the dark? Works better than most horror movies ).

If art is anything at all, then it's everywhere. If you see art somewhere, then enjoy it, and if you see me enjoying something based on whatever nebulous definition of artistic merit I happen to be using at the time, then for fuck's sake leave me alone.

Disclosure - as well as writing code for a living and occasionally for fun, I also play death metal. Lots of people don't think that's art either.

I don't like death metal... (none / 0) (#212)
by hollowpaul on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:37:22 PM EST

...but I accept that it's your art. Good comment: to the point- summed up a lot of what people have been trying to say here. Paul.

[ Parent ]
Here's a new one... (3.33 / 3) (#211)
by pos on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:34:28 PM EST

If code really is art... then it is a particular kind of art that only dabbles in the intellectual realm. For example, impressionism evokes emotions, Abstract art requires intellectual treatment from the viewer.

I think an important thing to notice about the so-called movement to lift utilitarian code into the realm of art is what it says about (post?)-post-modern art. Emotion is not the most highly regarded of concepts in this time. Brains. Smarts. Einstein Kids. (So You Want To Raise a SUPERKID? declares this months issue of Time!) To hell with affect, emotion and lucid mushy feelings! You have to think about this art! In fact... you have to *study* it just to appreciate it. I mean why would I want to communicate an emotion? You would just flame me and trample all over my weakness right? Showing emotion is a weakness right?

I guess it keeps away the critics ;) I just wonder what High Art will look like in 20-40 years. Technology will be represented there, but probably not the way the geeks think it will. And don't worry about your local Starbucks. (or cafe if you still have one in your town) The geek gallery and hangout place is safely tucked away in cyberspace where geeks young and old can be understood by each other.

And don't forget:

The pendulum will swing.

-pos


The truth is more important than the facts.
-Frank Lloyd Wright
an act of creation (4.77 / 22) (#215)
by acronos on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:02:50 PM EST

I fell in love with programming when I was 11 or so years old. I started making programs that placed swirling colors on the computer screen. I loved watching the actions of my creation. I have written many programs that you would probably consider art. It is what started me programming. This was good, beautiful, and inspiring, but let me tell you about the program that I consider art.

Several years back I spent 3 years of my life writeing a networking protocal for a control system of machines. On the day I got my first working product I cried. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It was alive. Every number on the screen had meaning and was flashing and responding to the other machines in the network. The code was unbelievably hard to write. I have written full real time kernel operating systems and they were no where near as difficult.

After I sat there staring at it for a while, I jumped up and ran another office. I begged the person to come and see what I had created. They agreed and followed me to my computer. I pointed at the screen. They could see the tears on my face. They said "what's wrong?" I said "nothing, can't you see it." They said "see what?" I said "that.." They said "I see numbers flashing along the screen" And I was devestated. Like looking at a protocal analyser without understanding what the numbers mean. All you see is a bunch of numbers.

What I saw was life. I saw a machine that was talking. True, it was not talking like you and me and it had a much simpler vocabulary and smaller view of the world. But it was alive.

No graphic I ever put on the screen will ever compare to my networking protocal! And this is something you will never understand unless you have experienced it.

I doubt you would call this art. I don't care whether you call it art or not. It is just a matter of semantics. It depends on how you define the word. But I have never experienced a wall painting that brought up half the emotions in me that even my swirling colors did, much less my networking protocal.

I write music that I love. Music I can show to someone else and they will understand. If being able to show it to someone else is what makes it art, then I agree with you that programming does not qualify except to other programmers. But music is shallow and one dimentional compared to programming.

I am sorry that you can never experience the joy that I do in programming. But I am in no way inferior to you because of it.

You should go into writing (4.00 / 1) (#249)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:20:45 PM EST

Really. You did an excellent job of converging the power and beauty inherent in (some) programming.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
means to an end! (3.00 / 5) (#216)
by chadmill on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:05:56 PM EST

> Amaze me. Excite me. Make me want you.

Do you mean like an art exhibit is intended to do? But the painting is just a means to that end. Sure, tubes of paint are a means to make a painting, and the 'end' depends on the goal.

In coding, one _does_ scratch an itch, and that is an end, in the sense of the goal being to fix a problem.

In painting, one _does_ scratch an itch in the sense of the goal being (I suppose) to amaze and excite.

Since I don't understand sculpturing in the same way you don't understand coding, I may fire off an essay describing how all those statue-mongers aren't really making art.

Maybe I'll post it on an "art" forum, because trolling seems to be chic, these days.

Code is ESOTERIC art (3.33 / 3) (#222)
by mvsgeek on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:29:09 PM EST

I don't really feel like delving into the semantics of the term "art". In fact, I recently got into the very same debate with a friend who happens to be studying marketing and calls THAT art (another can of worms).
In order to appreciate code as "art" you must be well versed in coding and coding culture, you must have seen perl or C poetry (and marvel at the fact that it runs/compiles), seen and run an othello program whose source code LOOKS like an othello board, viewed and appreciated the difficulty in creating a self-printing anagram of a program (can you really say that has any "utility" at all ?).
If code were purely functional, there would be only one way to address a problem, and all programmers would be alike, none more skillful than the last.
I work hard on making my code look good and act perfectly, for my techniques, and ways of thinking to be clear - or obfuscated, depending on my mood that day - to whomever else will take a gander at it and appreciate it. I don't expect to impress anyone like you with it, only those who have the capacity to understand WHY it is art to me (and quite possibly them too) - it's just like watching a David Lynch movie : Not for the uninitiated ...
- mvsgeek
Marketing (none / 0) (#248)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:17:15 PM EST

I'd say that Marketing is a lot like a performance art. It's just that most marketing people don't have a lick of artistic sensibility.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Read this: (4.83 / 6) (#223)
by robotic on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:38:24 PM EST

I'd advise everyone to read this book if you are at all connected with engineering or programming:

Machine Beauty, Elegance and the Heart of Technology
by David Gelernter.

ISBN 0-465-04316

Also, the statement that "if you can't put the source code up on the wall of a museum, it isn't art." is silly.

You don't see musical scores on museum walls, do you? Yet I'm sure you would consider Mozart's sonatas to be art.

-robotic
Sig: Maybe someday...

And What About... (1.50 / 2) (#230)
by greyrat on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:56:06 PM EST

...that awesome set of Kumos I just had mounted. God! So elegant, so finely crafted, yeah; tire manufacturing is an art!
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
actually...i think this guy(?) here has a point... (4.00 / 3) (#259)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:13:40 AM EST

music is written in steps, in it's own language, and can be compiled into a) more types of music(.mid's i think...amongst other things...) and b) actual sound, not to mention other languages such as whatever(i use this): E4D4E4E4E4D4E4E4E4D4G4B4E4E4E4D4E4E4E4D4E4E4E4D4E4G4B4 or whatever...the point is... it is art. however...it is the *beautiful* music which is passed down...not the complex. while beauty can become *more beautiful* the more complex it gets...not all complex music is beautiful...which ties into what he is saying but good point
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
[ Parent ]
You would be suprised. (4.50 / 2) (#315)
by Hillgiant on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:01:29 AM EST

In response to your "You don't see musical scores on museum walls, do you?" comment.

You would be suprised what some of the hard core composer geeks can get up too. Some write peices such that they sound the same forwards and backwards, or even when turned upside down! Facinating that they can take this purely auditory medium and create a visual oddity.

On the other hand: Bach's Cello-Suiten makes very dull reading without a cello in your hands, just as DeCSS is rather uninsteresting without a DVD player. But, the quality of the performance of Bach depends on the quality of the musician. The quality of the DVD decryption is independent of the script kiddie's m4d 5|<!11z. I think that this is where the sheet music/computer code metaphore breaks down. The art of the composition is magnified when performed. The art of the programmer is lost when the program compiles. It may work beatifully (and that is not a bad thing), but the user will have no idea how elegant and beatiful the algorithm is. If it works the way the user wants, (s)he does not care if it is some obfuscated, two-bit, unmaintainible hack or if it is perfectly documented and does thing that the language it was written was never supposed to do. Programming is not art because (ideally) the average user never sees it. In my mind art must be appreciated by someone other than the artist's peers to be art.


-----
"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
[ Parent ]

The Story of Mel (4.00 / 4) (#224)
by kraant on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:52:00 PM EST

I can't believe no-one's linked to this yet so for your reading enjoyment.... The Story of Mel, a Real Programmer
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
comments (2.50 / 2) (#225)
by cybin on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:04:35 PM EST

i've had this argument before, and i still maintain that code is not art because not everyone understands it. good art is universally recognizable and communicative. programming a piece of software, no matter how interesting the algorithm, does not even approach being communicative. as a musician i'm appalled that some programmer can feel so egotistical about his CRAFT (which is what programming is) as to say that it is in the same ballpark as a piece of music.

does anybody still teach FORTRAN in school? no. do we still learn about beethoven? yes. that is the difference. art is never obsolete or inefficient. art does not have to be "compiled" for it to be understood, and i know some will argue with me on that point, maybe the brain "compiles" what it perceives, but that is simple BS. a machine is not a person. anyone who says otherwise is missing the sublime nature of human perception.

Source and Sheet Music (none / 0) (#237)
by fsh on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:41:14 PM EST

No more than the sheet music for Beethoven makes any sense to me does Perl source code make any sense to me. Both require an educated mind to appreciate. Beethoven sounds great, however, just as the best programs can do great things. The idea behind both is the same, but Beethoven himself drew on generations of other musicians, while programming is an art in its infancy. While Fortran is not taught anymore, neither is the Greek Lyre. The lessons learned from either are ingrained into all future works, however.

As for how much people understand, it all depends on your point of view. I love classical music, but I know people who can't stand it. Just as I know people who love Perl, and others who can't stand it. I agree that all Programming isn't Art, but I also say that all Music isn't Art. If all art were universal, then no one would have different tastes in art and music, and there would be no need for classes such as Music Appreciation, where they essentially delve into the history of music to develop appreciation for certain genres. My parents can't stand heavy metal music, some of my friends can't stand country music. As you say, beauty lies in human perception. You certainly may not think that code is art, but there are people who will say that they don't think your music is art, as well.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

Perl eh, (none / 0) (#247)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:14:30 PM EST

I love classical music, but I know people who can't stand it. Just as I know people who love Perl, and others who can't stand it.

Shockingly, I know people who love Visual Basic!
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
sheet music (none / 0) (#258)
by cybin on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:11:16 AM EST

sheet music is not music. music exists in time. in order for it to be understood it must be heard, not seen, though some can read the page and hear it in their heads... like our godlike department chairman... sheet music is meaningless and must be realized by a performer, regardless of the style.

there may be those who say my music isn't art, but those same people would probably agree that music is an art, regardless of taste. this whole thing is very subjective, but i'm not changing my mind! :)

what about associations -- people associate music with periods in their life. can a snippet of code remind you of the first time you ever kissed your first girl?

[ Parent ]
Music & The Temporal Lobe (none / 0) (#331)
by fsh on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:36:08 PM EST

sheet music is not music. music exists in time.
Well, that's exactly what I was trying to say. Just as Sheet Music is not Music, Code is not Programming. For either to be considered artistic, there must be some sort of order, some sort of identity, something that can be considered artistic; this is something only the human mind can provide. Thus, it is not the representation of the music or program that has any bearing on the conversation, but rather the idea that these representations embody.

It is true that music is, for many people, an integral part of life. However, for people with temporal lobe dysfunctions, music makes up absolutely no part of their life. Such a person cannot understand music. Thus, the temporal lobe could be seen as a 'music compiler'. For more info on this subject, check out 'The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat', by neurobiologist Oliver Sacks.

what about associations -- people associate music with periods in their life. can a snippet of code remind you of the first time you ever kissed your first girl?
Well, music had nothing to do with that instance for me; I associate my first (and last) kiss with darkness and 'Hide And Go Seek'. I imagine it would be very difficult for someone to be coding while kissing, so such a situation may never arise. However, the temporal lobe is very closely related to the memory complex. So yes, for many people, music is directly related to memory.

I see absolutely no reason to say that art must evoke emotions. Art can also evoke ideas, or lead the viewer down a certain intellectual path; this is typically true of the more 'complex' types of art, where the viewer is generally more amazed at the power of the author than emoted; many types of literature fall into this category, for instance.

this whole thing is very subjective, but i'm not changing my mind! :)
Of course not. I do not argue to change others' minds, but merely to clarify my own thoughts. I fully respect anyone's decision to have their own opinions. However, I also assume that anyone posting on a public board such as this wants discussion, so when I see an opinion that differs from my own significantly, I jump right in.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

Uh, no.... (none / 0) (#246)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:12:08 PM EST

i still maintain that code is not art because not everyone understands it

Could you understand a novel written in Japanese? In Swahili?

good art is universally recognizable and communicative.

You said good art, not all art if that's your yardstick for quality, then fine. but if you actually meant 'all' and not 'good' then I'd like to see some backup of that statement. Blind people don't appreciate paintings and deaf people don't appreciate music. Are they nether art?

as a musician I'm appalled that some programmer can feel so egotistical about his CRAFT (which is what programming is) as to say that it is in the same ballpark as a piece of music.

I'm sorry you feel so appalled you arrogant prick. Does a deaf painter have the right to be appalled by your considering your music art, and putting it in the same class as his paintings?

does anybody still teach FORTRAN in school? no. do we still learn about Beethoven? yes.

What does this have to do with anything? Are you saying literature can't possibly be an art because languages die? FORTRAN may no longer taught, but the ideas and concepts used in creating FORTRAN compilers most certainly still is. And besides, any competent programmer could pick up a FORTRAN book and learn enough to read the code (assuming it was well commented) in a few hours.

. art does not have to be "compiled" for it to be understood, and i know some will argue with me on that point, maybe the brain "compiles" what it perceives, but that is simple BS.

No, no one is going to argue that your brain 'complies' anything, because it would be totally pointless. The only thing you've proven with that statement is that you have no fucking clue how programming works. The compiled form of a program is far, far, more difficult to understand by humans. For the most part humans don't read or look at object code, only source code (and if we are going to look at object code, we would probably run it through another phase, decompilation, or disassembly first). No, I won't say that your brain compiles anything to understand it. And it doesn't compile source code either.

perhaps you should learn something about the art and science of computers before bashing it.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
check this out (none / 0) (#257)
by cybin on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:06:32 AM EST

hey man, dig this. i got a research grant for it. i chose not to be a computer science major because computers are stupid.

[ Parent ]
hahaha (none / 0) (#336)
by dmc on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:13:50 PM EST

Well that's ok, I chose computers over french horn because I wanted money.

[ Parent ]
Computers are stupid (none / 0) (#362)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:17:48 PM EST

Computer hardware has zero intelegence. Software can be relitively smart (most isn't). I got into computer sciance because I wanted to make computers brilliant
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Who says art has to be be universally communicativ (none / 0) (#254)
by novajerk on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:55:58 PM EST

good art is universally recognizable and communicative

I don't think anything is "universally recognizable and communicative." Some concepts and images that are instantly recognizable to a European may be completely misunderstood by someone from the Congo. For example, to an American, the bald eagle represents freedom. To others it is just a bird. Also, in Judeo-Christianity a dove with an olive tree leaf symbolizes peace. A Hindu, unless familar with the Bible, is unlikely to understand this. These symbols are highly communicative to some audiences. The same holds true in art. Many would consider Warhol's Campbells soup cans art. Certainly, the images are recognizable to Americans, many of whom regard Warhol's work as garbage, and not art. My point is: just because some people don't understand or like a particular piece of art, does not mean it is not art. Taking my point further, if only a few people find a piece "communicative" does that preclude it from being art. Many pieces of art are only aprecciated by other artists, yet it is still art. If only a handful of people find a piece communicative, is it not art?

Your last argument regarding obsolesence got me thinking. Beethoven, as well as many other composers and artist have stood the test of time. However, time has not been so kind to many other artists, who have been long forgotten. So you are incorrect; while some art lasts, some art does become "obsolete." (Aside: The comparison of fortran and Beethoven is lame. The fact that cave painting is no longer fashionable does not obsolete art. Likewise fortran's demise does not obsolete computer science.)

Also, some art does have to be compiled, like film and recorded music which require machines.

[ Parent ]
Some code is never obsolete (none / 0) (#324)
by PurpleBob on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:36:24 AM EST

There is some music that people are unlikely to study now, because it was composed for musical instruments that are no longer played. That's a good comparison with FORTRAN code. And the art of programming is a fledgeling one.

Consider Gregorian chant music. Then, music was only used as a tool (for praising God, by the monks) and the music was nothing spectacular. Some parallel fourths going up and down was a perfectly acceptable chant. However, there is the occasional Gregorian chant which was good enough to survive until today (O Come O Come Emmanuel, for example). And, like programming is now used by geeks, it was only used by a specialized group (monks).

FORTRAN code can be compared to Gregorian chant, and I'd say C, C++, and Java code would be the madrigals and such that came after it. With high-level languages like Perl and Python we're just starting to use the harpsichord. Yet if you've ever read the story of "Ned, the Real Programmer", whether he existed or not, his code can still be appreciated even though for functional purposes it is entirely obsolete.

Good art, in whatever form, will survive.

[ Parent ]
an interesting comparison... (none / 0) (#328)
by cybin on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:56:00 PM EST

but i don't agree... there is nothing to suggest that the history of music is an evolution. no one era's music is any better or more evolved than any other, it's just a matter of aesthetics. could monks have written atonal music? sure, they were just obeying the aesthetic of their time when they composed the chants.

also, many music that was written for instruments in the middle ages is in fact studied, sometimes it is performed on modern instruments. likewise with bach, i heard a sax player do a movement from the cello suites. is this "porting"? no, i don't think so... it's just keeping the sense of historisticiy alive.

[ Parent ]
The process (3.50 / 2) (#226)
by krokodil on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:12:38 PM EST

Author concludes that programming is not an art based on result. I agree that most programs are not an objects or art, but process of their creation is certainly creative and very similar to painting or writing fiction.

For everyone calling me a TROLL... (3.60 / 10) (#231)
by Jin Wicked on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 09:59:52 PM EST

I don't want to hear you whining the next time you complain about all the articles on k5 being boring and repetitive with nothing new to discuss. I actually stated my opinion and put it up for scrutiny in the hopes that maybe you'll think about it and talk about something interesting instead of rehashing school shootings for the umpteenth time or going through another "I'm a geek and I can't get a date," self-pity sessions. And if you think code IS art, then ponder WHY you think that. I really want to know. You should have good reasons for what you believe, no matter what that belief is. If you have a good reason, I can respect it. Deal is -- I've seen alot of programmers saying "code is art," but up until now I'd never seen any good reasons why I should believe that. In fact, I have alot of reasons why my brain says it isn't.

I spent several hours on this article. And it was written to be featured on my homepage; I just posted it here as an afterthought. I took the time to run it through a spell-check and edited it heavily. It's sincere sentiment expressed in (what I hope to be) a provocative and entertaining way. If you disagree, then just say so, but if you want to just dismiss my opinions as being some sort of troll, then I won't bother ever submitting anything else I write and just keep my essays on my website. On one hand you complain about the general poor quality of submissions, on the other you want to sling names at anyone who you perceive as trying to get your goat. (And k5 does way too much of this in general, IMO.) I appreciate that you didn't vote it into oblivion for disagreeing, but that you actually told me why you disagree.

At least some of you got excited and passionate about something on this site for once. I'd say that's better than the majority of the less-than-thought-provoking stuff that gets stuffed in the queue here. I don't care about being thanked or even marginally appreciated, but I don't like being passed off as some kind of troll. My opinions are my own and any minimal amount of investigation about me easily demonstrates that. You don't have to like me, but I am genuine.

Next time I'll just ignore the queues full of rehashed /. articles, MLP, and school violence discussions. I guess that's what you can't get enough of?

I want to thank everyone else who actually took the time to take what I think seriously. I have really enjoyed reading the responses, because they are points of view I have not seen before.


This post was probably not written by the real Jin Wicked. Please see user "butter pie" for Jin's actual posts.


trolltalitarian (4.00 / 1) (#243)
by delmoi on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:58:45 PM EST

Well, it was certainly thought provoking, and it made me mad. But the kind of mad where I wanted to prove you wrong, not just disparage you. Really, it just comes down to an opinion. An opinion I hoped I could change. If anything I'd really like to see a follow-up sometime answering all the challenges to your thesis presented here.

And yeh, the people calling you a troll are pretty lame. There seems to be a certain group of people who believe so strongly that They Are Right that the only way a statement disagreeing with them could ever arise is through disingenuity. Hell, people called me a Troll on Slashdot by daring to claim that DVDs could not be copied without breaking the cryptography, even though that statement was factually correct.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Hmmm (none / 0) (#300)
by spiralx on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:25:03 AM EST

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but weren't you responsible for a spate of Chinese First Posts on /. at one point?

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Spate? (none / 0) (#360)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:12:45 PM EST

I did like 3 of them!
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Damn straight (4.00 / 1) (#244)
by cafeman on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:10:28 PM EST

I agree with your reasons for posting entirely. Without debate, we go nowhere. You article has generated quite a bit of debate, making it worthwhile in my books. I'd like to see more essays like this on Kuro5hin, just because they generate discussion. Ignore the fools who flame without thinking.

On a side note, if a troll generates intelligent discussion and is honestly what the person believes, is it still a troll? Especially if it's thought through, has logical arguements and makes some good points? Think about that, all you K5ers who automatically brand everything that doesn't toe the supposed 'geek line' a troll.


--------------------
"No Silicon heaven? But where would all the calculators go?"


[ Parent ]
Troll? (5.00 / 3) (#253)
by fsh on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:54:22 PM EST

From the Jargon Dictionary:To utter a posting on Usenet designed to attract predictable responses or flames; or, the post itself. So, you are technically a troll by this definition; titling your article 'Programming is Not Art' will obviously attract predictable responses from people who don't think that way. Of course, anyone who posts anything on this site expecting a rational discussion is also a Troll, by this definition. The label of Troll has nothing to do with your veracity either, it just basically means that you provoke discussion, chiefly, I think, because of the opiniated nature of the title. So by this definition, a Troll is not an ugly little creature sitting under the bridge waiting for hapless passers-by, but actually an important, integral part of a community such as this, necessary for the spark of conversation. I've always enjoyed imagining a little Troll under the bridge logo on the front page; it just makes me smile.

Now, there are certainly bad Trolls, who fit the following definition:An individual who chronically trolls in sense 1....Trolls are recognizable by the fact that the have no real interest in learning about the topic at hand - they simply want to utter flame bait. Like the ugly creatures they are named after, they exhibit no redeeming characteristics, and as such, they are recognized as a lower form of life on the net, as in, "Oh, ignore him, he's just a troll" or "Don't feed the Troll."

I think the simple fact that this was voted onto the front page so quickly obviously shows that the great majority of voters on this site found this incredibly interesting and thought provoking. There are always a few malcontents, however, and it is typically they who fall under the second definition. I, personally, am having a blast with this discussion. So please do not let the teasing and the minority opinion sway you. I'd rather read and discuss 20 articles of this caliber than another meta-moderation article anyday.


-fsh
[ Parent ]

What did you expect? (4.50 / 4) (#281)
by mystic on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:52:55 AM EST

Jin, what exactly did you expect? You set forward an "inflamatory" point of view in your article. Some people were pissed. Some people called you names (I should say you are lucky to have escaped with "troll", seeing what all other names people can call. I am not saying they are right though.)

And now you say you will stop posting in K5 because of this? Hm... that is not a very healthy sign. Tomorrow people will call you names at work and you will resign? When you post articles on your site, people will feedback(email, bbs) that you are an X_Y_Z, you will stop writing?

[ Parent ]
Well.... (4.50 / 2) (#286)
by kraant on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:48:39 AM EST

Realy what did you expect with an inflammatory phrase like "us real artists". What does that mean anyway?

  • That you're a professional artist with published works?
  • That you're a graphic designer with pretentions?
  • That you're part of the "beautiful people" scene?

It's pretty equivalent to going up to a bunch of musicians and calling them "mere technicians" not artists like "us real artists"

Anyway as other people have pointed out coding seems to touch the same nerves as music does.

A hunch isn't realy enough to justify a position tho. So I'll expand. Music can and quite often is commissioned for specific purposes. You can make passable music by sheer effort and by having an education in the field but to truly reach the sublime you need to write it in a fit of.... I don't know. The closest I can describe is the feeling you get when you're tripping but without the mind bending.

One minute you're sitting there wondering how the hell you're going to do it. Then 3 days later you have perfection in front of it and you're wondering how the hell you did it.

It's a feeling of awareness. As if you're creation is an extention of you. You understand it in a way that is normaly reserved for the self.

Now I have a feeling that if you've never felt this way about something you've made you aren't an artist no matter what arts degree you've done or what relevance your work has to the artistic discourse.

Aside: Function is not a reason to dismiss art unless you want to dismiss the Bauhaus movement.


--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
I think (4.00 / 3) (#288)
by aphrael on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:16:03 AM EST

there are some interesting points in the article, and I would have voted it up if i'd seen it in the queue.

But the paint-by-numbers analogy is way off, for this reason: when you do paint-by-numbers, someone has drawn out the picture for you and told you, paint this color here, paint that color there. The final form is already determined by someone else, and you're just following directions in assembling it.

Programming is nothing like that. Sure, there's a lot of talk about component methodologies and making programs out of off-the-shelf building blocks ... but almost nobody actually *does* it. Most programming is done by sitting and looking at a problem and figuring out for yourself how to solve it; it may be done by copying some code from here and there, but how you integrate it is almost never predetermined, and half the time or more you're looking out in a black hole where you have no clue what's going on, and the stuff you're working with isn't documented (or the documentation is flat out wrong), and you just have to look at it and figure it out on your own.

Paint-by-numbers, in fact, strikes me as completely missing the nature of programming. There is nobody to hold your hand in most programming problems.

[ Parent ]

VB (none / 0) (#409)
by anonymous cowerd on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 05:01:21 PM EST

Paint-by-numbers, in fact, strikes me as completely missing the nature of programming.

Well obviously you have never used Microsoft Visual Basic to create via drag-n-drop a dialog box!

And yes I know VB is ugly and tacky and distasteful and all, and it makes your brain hurt like a boil to choke down learning yet another BASIC, and MS is truly Satan's own coven, but sometimes art doesn't matter and you don't want an elegant dialog box, you just need a particular dialog box in a hurry.

Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

the Earth's blue as an orange
[ Parent ]

Poor Jin (4.60 / 5) (#308)
by Nezumi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:13:26 AM EST

Nobody will feel sorry for her, so she has to do it herself.

Really, you got off a lot lighter than you should have expected. Posting an article with an obviously inflammatory title, incomplete definitions of the terms you were using and generally presented with an air of "I know art better than you", whether that was your intent or not, in most places would have earned you a lot stronger insults than "troll".

But what you received, even from a lot of those who called you a troll, were +1 FP votes galore (including mine) and a lot of arguments based on content. Troll or not, your article was a success. To stand there and feel sorry for yourself now, whining about how you were treated badly for trying to add some content to a site filled with articles beneath your contempt, is considerably worse than any trolling you may have done.

So suck it up. Your article, even though it did fall within the definition of "troll", went over with flying colours. Getting in a huff and threatening to stop posting because a few people were honest and told you they thought you were a troll is nothing better than self-pity for the sake of gaining attention.



[ Parent ]
You can be sincere and still be a troll (4.00 / 4) (#309)
by 0xdeadbeef on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:17:12 AM EST

I called you a troll because your entire argument consists of nothing more than a strawman for you to tear down.

It's yet another "my group identity is better than your group identity" circle jerk, a technique others on k5 have got down to a science. Your's is so good because it isn't intentional; you really are offended by these alleged computer geeks who call their work "art". Get over yourself, you're no different than they are.

(I mean, really. You're quick to dish out the stereotypes, so do you really think any of us care what some gothy art chick has to say about programming?)

Rather than rehash this stupid semantic argument over the definition of "art", I'll lead you to someone who uses code (code itself, not simply tools for manipulating sound and images) to create astounding works of art: Ken Perlin. There are many others, but I can't remember names right now.

[ Parent ]

hey, hey - don't get upset (none / 0) (#329)
by mami on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:05:26 PM EST

Are you really upset about the reaction ? Why ? You did a good service in posting your article. I am sure you knew that it's a touchy issue for many of the people, who want to be artists before they are programmers. For the rest, the real programmer, your article can't be a threat, nor an insult, because I think they wouldn't care less and they know that not everybody is capable of reading and comprehending code.

Do you believe that if someone had said to Bach that he is not an artist, he would have cared ? I am pretty sure he just would have gone on with composing as any programmer would go on working on his code.

There are always thousands of artists, but only a handful, who will be acknowledged by the majority of people who look at their creations. If it's programming you will not find a lot of people who *can see* the art, because you need to be able to read and comprehend the code.

I was even wondering, if this is one of the reasons OSS is so much loved by the programmer. It is a fact, that there is not only the urge to get peer review for the obvious reasons (like building high quality and safe software), but also to find eyes to look at their creation and hopefully someone to recognize their artistic skills in their code.

I think therefore it is very necessary for the programmer to open his source code. Just imagine Bach would have composed his music under the condition noone would ever be able to hear it ? Just because you (and me) are not capable of recognizing the art in an algorithm, doesn't mean that it might not be there.

BTW, I think it's absolutely irrelevant, if someone thinks you are a troll or not. You say what you have to say independent from the motives someone has, to incite and trigger you to say what you have to say. Just ignore their motives as well.

[ Parent ]
"Troll" (3.00 / 1) (#381)
by ucblockhead on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 12:19:53 AM EST

People scream "troll" when you challenge beliefs that are ill-considered because it is easier just to shout down scary thoughts than consider them. Thinking about why you believe what you believe is very hard work.

But it is important. This is why we need people to challenge our beliefs even if, in the end, we decide we were right in the first place.

So when a story like this about a view contrary to the geek groupthink comes up, well written, well thought up, it is perfect front-page fodder.

People bitch about the lack of quality stories here, and wonder why. Well, a very good part of it is that people don't want to pour their heart and soul out only to be accused of "trolling". No one wants that. I don't want that. So, sure, it is a lot easier to post some ten minute piece of crap to the story queue.

So I hope you aren't too discouraged. Remember, just because a few people bitch and moan doesn't mean that this is what "the community" thinks. Remember, you got the votes to put the story on the front page. That means that "the community" thinks it belongs there. The whiners are just a minority pissed off at being outvoted.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Thanks (4.40 / 5) (#234)
by skim123 on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 10:23:53 PM EST

A nice written essay, I enjoyed it immensely. I was wondering what your views were on poetry. Is that an art form? I'm assuming you'll say, Yes, so, in poetry, where lies the art? The structure? The use of language in a creative way? The message the poem gets across? I'd wager you'd agree that all of these factors constitute a poem's artistic worth.

Comapre that, now, to a beautifully written piece of code. For example, I find the following code fragment to be aethesitcally pleasing to view (yes, a simple example, but still... taken from here):

int getbit(char *set, int number)
{
   set += number / 8;
   return (*set & (1 << (number % 8))) != 0;
}

I enjoy looking it at for aesthetic reasons; I enjoy the form of the language and how it is used here. I also enjoy its meaning, that not only does it look "neat," but I can create something useful from it.

Now, you (and most others here) may not think the code looks "interesting" on an aesthetic level, but I do. I know many people don't find EE Cummings's poetry to be aesthetically pleasing, but that doesn't mean it's not art, correct? Therefore, would you agree that code written in an elegant way, beautifully displaying the power of a language and having a functional relevance and purpose can mean everyday coding can be artistic?

(Of course if you are coding for a living, you don't want to take the time or energy to be artistic with your code at work, rather you want to get a functional chunk of code out in as little time as possible... but artistic code, itself, is possible... yes, the end application can be artistic too, but the code itself can also be artistic, as I think (hope) you'll agree.

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.


in the same vane (3.00 / 3) (#274)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:59:40 AM EST

I always liked this function:

strcpy(char* a, char* b){
   while((b++)* = (a++)*);
}
I think that's how it works, anyway.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Close... (none / 0) (#387)
by DJBongHit on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 04:37:56 AM EST

strcpy takes the destination pointer first, not the source pointer. And you had the asterisk after the pointer, rather than before. And let's not forget about the fact that you used the evil GNU-style of indentation. Parentheses should line up vertically. :P Anyway, this is probably what you wanted:

strcpy (char * a, char * b)
{
  while (*(a++) = *(b++));
}

I love C (and nitpicking :)

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

[ Parent ]
Code is not art. (2.50 / 2) (#298)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:02:59 AM EST

Is the service manual of your washing machine art?

Is the recipe for a cheesecake art?

Code is not even understood by different programmers (otherwise it will be all so easy to maintain software), so how it comes that something utilitarian in nature, that does not convey a message in which any fellow human can hint at some self expression, can have an artisitic message? Even if I don't understand it or appreciate it, a Kabuki piece, a gamelang piece, some abstract sculpture, or some crazy poetry tell me that there is some human expression wanting to convey a message at an artistic level.

A piece of code tells me of somebody, perhaps very apt in its craft, that is trying to solve a problem. Code that does not compile is useless, and if you arrange it in a nice way then you are painting.

Code that works shows that somebody is apt in its craft, specially if very clever tricks are used to make things work, but I will never claim that my electrician is an artist because he arranged the wiring of my house very neatly. The same applies to the geek.

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

You're missing part of the process (4.00 / 1) (#320)
by fragnabbit on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:52:43 AM EST

Is the service manual of your washing machine art?

Is the recipe for a cheesecake art?

No, I agree those are not art. But...

Is the washing machine art? Is the cheesecake art? Maybe so. They are useful, yes, but their design and aesthetics may be pleasing in and of themselves. So, the design manual may not be art, the service manual may not be art, the bolts and metal used to make the washing machine aren't art, but the end product may very well be.

I agree that the code itself is not art, but the design of a system or the elegance of an algoritm may be. They are both extremely creative endeavors. Lots of people with no creativity can write code, but some of the folks out there are creating new and intersting and very elegant systems and algorithms. I would argue that these are art.

Is music art? Yes, I'd say so. But as mentioned in earlier posts, when you write it down, you use normal language and codes to convey the idea. That language and code isn't art, the written music isn't the art, but the music itself is. Systems and algoritms are the same. The code used to convey the message (to the computer or other coders) isn't the art, it's the design of elegant systems and algorithms that the code implements which is the art form. Just my .02.

[ Parent ]

The Birth of a New Art Form (2.00 / 3) (#250)
by fsh on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:25:15 PM EST

That's what I think computers and programming are. I've seen some posts where programs are compared to the masterworks of literature, art, and music. I would like to submit that All of these fields have been running for millenia. Computers and Programming are brand new, they represent a completely new way to think, founded in part on the legacy of the Greeks, rational thought, and even more on the sciences and mathematical fields.

I personally feel that a more apt description would be to compare computer programming to the earliest cave drawings, the first panpipes or drums, the first instances of human speech. The part that amazes me so is the speed at which this new art form grows. One incredible example mentioned below is the demo scene.

At this moment in the infancy of programming, the programmer is still limited in many ways by the computer itself, just as in the earliest days of art, dyes and pigments were very difficult to come by. The methods are still being hashed out, the ways to best express what the author tries to do, just as perspective in art came about suddenly several hundreds of years ago. Mathematics was a great boon to the musician, because with the math they were able to design brand new instruments from scratch, and know exactly where to put the holes or frets.

But all of these things have incredibly mundane uses, just as programming does. The first drums were used as communications devices in the deep forests, art was useful first in terms of mapping and planning strategies for the hunt. So the main work now for the programmers is to come up with the best methods of expression, and thus, the explosion of programming languages. Who is the greater artist, the best saxaphone player of all time, the person who wrote the best saxaphone song of all time, or the man who invented the saxaphone? I say nnone are better, I say they all require each other, and that all are incredible artists.

So I agree with the original post. Programming is not art, just as drawing is not art, and playing music is not art. It takes a creative genius to produce art, and, since the field of programming is still so new, we haven't seen very many of those yet. To judge the field based on the early indications, however, I think is premature.


-fsh

Expression (3.25 / 4) (#252)
by Kragma on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 11:48:35 PM EST

Just to contribute to some topic drift:

An often forgotten fact in the debate over code as speech is the reality that you can't copyright what isn't an "expression". So basically it has to have some artistic value to have a copyright.

So the example of Win2k...it has to be an expression to have a copyright. Otherwise it's just a tool, which can't have a copyright but can be patented. So now code as art/speech is also entanged in the debate over software patents.

Personally I think all code is an expression, but only some of it is really art. Even something utilitarian is an expression in some sense. And I'd rather have software copyrights than software patents.

Thus I refute you! (4.75 / 16) (#260)
by inti on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:16:07 AM EST

first, an absolutely amazing and totally useless bit of code...
#!/usr/bin/perl
			use strict;
                     $_='$_=tue($=+(two
                 ($;)>>(two($;)>>2+2))){tue
               (too(two(tue($=+(two($;)>>(two
             ($;)>>2+2))))+(two($;)>>2+2))){tue
           (too(two(tue($=+(two($;)>>(two($;)>>2+
          2))))+(two($;)>>2+2))-2){tue(too(two(tue
         ($=+(two($;)>>(two($;)>>2+2)))))){tue(too(
        too(two($;)>>(two($;)  >>2+2)))){tue(too($=+
       +(two($;)>>2+2))){tue    ((two($;)<<2)-2){tue
      ((two($;)<<2)-(two($;     )>>2+2)){tue(too(two(
      tue($=+(two($;)>>(two     ($;)>>2+2)))))){{tue
                               (too($=+(two($;)>>2)+
                              (two($;)>>2+2))){{tue
                            (too($=+(two($;)>>2)-
                           2)){{{tue(too($=+(two
                         ($;)>>(two($;)>>2+2))
                        -2)){tue(too(too(two(
                       $;)>>(two($;)>>2+2)))
                      ){tue(too(too(too(too
                     (two($;)>>(two($;)>>2
                   +2)))))){{tue(too($=+
                  (two($;)>>2)-2))}tue(
                 too($=+(two($;)>>(two
                ($;)>>2+2))-2)){tue((
              two($;)<<2)-((two($;)
             >>2>>2)<<2))}tue(too(
            too(two($;)>>(two($;)
           >>2+2))))}}tue(too($=
         +(two($;)>>2)+(two($;)>>2+2)))}}tue(too($=+(
        two($;)>>2+2)))}}tue(too((two($;)<<(two($;)>>
       2>>2))+(two($;)>>2)))}}}tue((two($;)<<2)-((two
      ($;)>>2>>2)<<2)-(two($;)>>2>>2))}}}tue(too($=+(
      two($;)>>2)-2))}}}tue(too($=+(two($;)>>(two($;)
      >>2+2))-2))}}}tue(too(too(two($;)>>(two($;)>>2+
      2)))+(two($;)>>(two($;)>>2+2))-2);';y;{};..;sd;
      s;two;ord;g;s;too;hex;g;s;tue;chr;g;eval;print;
I think that is definitely art.

That being said, you are of course right that very little code can be considered art of any kind. Programming is not art by default, Neither is painting. Think of house painters. But can a house painter be an artist?

Aye, there's the rub, because sometime they can be! Thus what is and is not art cannot be retermined one and for all time by silly pronouncements - like yours - that programmin either is or is not art. It may or may nor be, depending on the viewer, the context, the code and the coder. So why waste time worrying about it?


Claim your namespace.
Support the OpenNIC

crap! (none / 0) (#264)
by inti on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:34:39 AM EST

I hit "post" instead of "preview". Sorry for the typos. If anyone reads this far down...


Claim your namespace.
Support the OpenNIC

[ Parent ]

hrm (none / 0) (#273)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:54:18 AM EST

k5, by default, puts newer posts at the top of the page, not at the bottom.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Right. Duh. (none / 0) (#284)
by inti on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:08:14 AM EST

I set my prefs to 'oldest first' so long ago that I had forgotten. Thanks for the heads up.


Claim your namespace.
Support the OpenNIC

[ Parent ]

Art? Not in 100% years. (3.00 / 2) (#297)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:46:20 AM EST

Is a nice toy, that is all.

Delude yourselves as much as you want, for something to be art there should be more than fomratting obfuscated code. The final result is lame, the guy is clever, so what?

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Well, how about Escher? (none / 0) (#338)
by inti on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:33:59 PM EST

Is the work of Escher art? It consists basically entirely in Escher playing clever games with perspective and perception. In other words, entirely technical, from the point of view of 2 dimensional representation. But art, nevertheless.

That is basically the same thing as this little program. What is the difference exactly?

And no way does art have to be visual. Some poetry clearly qualifies. And some poetry qualifies as art simply because of its technical virtuosity, quite apart from its 'message'. So on those grounds also this little program would be art.

I admit, the final result of the program could be better. But what work of art is perfect and beyond criticism?

Basically, tell me why it is not art, rather than simply asserting that it is not.


Claim your namespace.
Support the OpenNIC

[ Parent ]

Esher was painting. (4.00 / 1) (#388)
by Tezcatlipoca on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 06:07:43 AM EST

Esher was painitng. Look, one can hung the paintings in the wall.

A piece of code, obfuscated, formatted to look as a nice thing, is obviously trying to convey 2 things:

1.- This code works, in spite of the obfuscation and the formatting.

2.- I am trying to be artistic, because I passed a bunch of working code through a fromatter to make it look nice.

Is that art? Not in my book.

But why not?:

For code to be code it needs to work, and that is the point of it and what makes the big difference, for music to be music, or poetry to be poetry, utilitarian aspects beyond aesthetic ones, don't matter. A piece of code that does not work is wortheless. You can still format it nice, but that is called painting or sculpting.

For coding to become an art several things need to happen:

-The code have to be meaningful by itself, which by its own nature it will never be.

-Most people have to be familiar enough with code to ve appreciative of it as a form of expression of human emotions or states of mind. How code does this is beyond me, and as far as I have seen, beyond the coders tehmselves

My impression is that people is confusing crafts or technical ability with Art and think that the elation one feels for a work well done gives them the right to call themselves artists. I think they are wrong, that in 200 years we will still listen to Mozart, Stravinsky and perhaps even the Beattles, we will keep watching Citizen Kane, reading Shakespeare or Cervantes, marveling at Picasso, and visiting the Louvre by droves to see all those Greek and Roman sculptures. Will we sit in front of our computers (or whatever is equivalent) to be elated in front of a piece of Perl code? I think you all know the answer to that one.

All IMVHO of course.

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Counter points: (4.33 / 3) (#322)
by Hillgiant on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:17:51 AM EST

  • Is the program the art or the medium?
  • Does the work change if you accidentally leave out a closing bracket?
  • A semicolon?
  • Would anyone notice the change without running the script?
  • Does it lose it's artistic value if it does not compile?
  • If so, why?
  • If not, why not?
I do not pretend to know the answers, but I feel they are valid questions.

-----
"It is impossible to say what I mean." -johnny
[ Parent ]

whoa... (none / 0) (#340)
by inti on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:36:07 PM EST

Good questions. I'll have to think about them for a while...


Claim your namespace.
Support the OpenNIC

[ Parent ]

*clap* *clap* *hoping this *is* posted first* (1.66 / 3) (#262)
by Prophet themusicgod1 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:22:34 AM EST

brave you are...coming onto a computer programmer's site and knowing full well they tend to be a little 'wacky'(for lack of a better word. guys it's a compliment from me!)...saying thier life is spent chasing a not-art(mabye thier meaning of life?)...you've asserted to me the final proof of stability and general productiveness on this website: you have shown me that even those despised by the general cliques of popularity here(coders) are not fullly in controll of the content...and thus: intelligence will *THRIVE* here(as i've noticed with the dozens of pages in response...ai that's alot of reading to do when i have like a 15 page story due to morrow afternoon...)...i consider you brave...and your statement well worth making
well done and keep it up!

however...as i've stated over there...music is an art...no one will dispute this...and yet...it can be written in notes...a language, a code if you will...and this language can be converted into many others...all which can be read as *music*(EEBG or 15,15,12,20 or whatever the case may be...). however i do believe that the people below me said it in many better words than i...buti just thought i'd post saying how much that statement made my day :)
"I suspect the best way to deal with procrastination is to put off the procrastination itself until later. I've been meaning to try this, but haven't gotten around to it yet."swr
whatever (4.00 / 1) (#271)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:52:26 AM EST

I was genuinly angered by jin_wicked's artical. I voted it +1 front page. Most people here have a little more maturity then to vote something down because they dissagree with it, assuming it was well written. It isn't about 'control'
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
The Point. (4.20 / 5) (#263)
by OzJuggler on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:24:30 AM EST

Firstly, since Wicked Jin seems to be a full-time artist, I do not automatically expect it (her,him,whatever) to be able to come up with a minimal, complete and well-structured logical argument for anything.

It seems my nasty predjudice was confirmed...

    Even as a hobby, it must be disappointing to humour the idea that perhaps the product of all your creative energy and effort is not art (but in fact, something quite plain and ordinary).
If you're trying to say that anything that isn't art must be quite plain and boring, then you're even more predjudiced than I am! Thanks a lot.

Wicked Jin also gets the process (programming) confused with one of the intermediate byproducts (code, programs) quite a lot during her little rant. I'd have more respect for the argument if she didn't sprinkle absent-minded red herrings all through it.

Programming is a generic activity of producing a series of instructions that will achieve some logical condition. Art is anything that transmits a subset of all possible physical signals such that the signal illicts some sort of subjective emotive response. The first is a well-defined activity and the second is essentially an object. An activity cannot be an object, so the question as written is nonsense.

But back to the question: Is programming art?
Well, speaking as an analyst/programmer, and speaking as someone who started down the dark path of programming at the age of 10 when I typed BEEP into GW-BASIC and pressed ENTER and the computer BEEPed at me, and also speaking as someone who finds satisfaction in making elegant designs, succint code and watching excellent PC demos, I have to say this:

    I HAVE NEVER CONSIDERED CODE TO BE ART.
I do however believe that the activity of designing complex software is an artform, since there are tradeoffs to be made and the resulting design diagram can give visual clues as to how "nice" the design is. The less lines and circles, the better it probably is. If a programmer is writing a program just for themselves, then they will be doing some design before or during the coding and the creative leaps required for that may add to the illusion that the code is art.
Strictly speaking, I'd say that programming is not art either.

THE POINT:

  • Code isn't art, it's a series of instructions, nothing more. Anyone who says any piece of source code is art is not just a geek, they are a NERD (which is much worse).
  • Design during programming is a thought process that can't be appreciated by anyone else. This stops it from being generally accepted as art.
  • Just because you can't understand the code or relate to the programming process doesn't mean that no-one is allowed (or able) to derive satisfaction from either of them. This is in contrast to your predjudices against us geeks.
  • If you are an artist, then shouldn't you know better than to reject any candidate for art? If Programming is not Art, then all the worse for Art.
Kuro5hin is excellent. Everytime I look here there is an article that gets my blood boiling!

- OzJuggler.
"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.

YAY! (4.33 / 3) (#270)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:48:53 AM EST

Code isn't art, it's a series of instructions, nothing more. Anyone who says any piece of source code is art is not just a geek; they are a NERD (which is much worse).

Yay! Lets all make idiotic semantic arguments about completely undefined and subjective terminology without defining it! It will be so much fun!

I know people who consider 'nerd' to be a lesser insult then 'geek', btw.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
uh...OKAYYYYyyyy (none / 0) (#403)
by OzJuggler on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 03:48:21 AM EST

Firstly, I am somewhat saddened that out of my entire post, the only tiny little part of it that you thought was worth responding to was my sideshot about "geek" vs "nerd". I was hoping someone might reply about the 80% of my post that was related to the QUESTION.
But hey, any reply is better than no reply, mostly.

Secondly, your wild panic-stricken hand-waving insane ranting held no value for me.

Lastly, I think that if you look at how the connotative meaning of "geek" has subtly changed over the years, and also note how geeks themselves use the word "geek", I am sure you will notice that "geek" is not used as an insult any more. Whereas, "nerd" is still definitely an insult. The word "geek" is now practially equivalent to "scientist" or "technical specialist" - it's more of a simple statement of occupation, even if it does sometimes get some contempt and ridicule thrown in with it. The two words mean quite different things.
I think a nerd is someone who is completely socially inept, someone who doesn't know when hold back from talking about their specialist subject. An incredibly unbalanced person. A geek is just a specialist in a technical field, whether by employment or by hobby.

You might like to compare "geek" with "nigger" - since that is another word that is acceptable (or so I've heard) amongst people who belong to the same group, but is offensive when used by someone who is not a member of that group.

-OzJuggler.
"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.
[ Parent ]

right..... (none / 0) (#407)
by delmoi on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 02:08:44 PM EST

Secondly, your wild panic-stricken hand-waving insane ranting held no value for me.

Nor did some of your more baseless clams do anything for me... other then annoy me, of course. Anyway, I don't think nerd is much of an insult, either. At least your statement "not a geek but a nerd" held absolutely zero meaning to me, as I consider both words on equal levels. And as I've said, I do know people who consider the word 'geek' more of an insult then 'nerd', although he might not hold the same opinion today (this was, I think, three years ago).

Anyway, your whole basic premise was that anyone who considered art is not a Geek but a Nerd, meaning from your above post that they have no social skills and are unbalanced. My, you must have amazing psycho-analytical skills in order to determine which people are 'unbalanced' based soly on their opinion of the definition of art.

The reason I commented was that I found your post indicative of the over all lack of baseness that has permeated this argument. No where in Jin's rant did she even bother to explicitly state what art was (her writing, apparently, is as bad as her artwork, see her website). Not only that, but many people, such as your self seem to have no problem coming up with completely random definitions of 'art' to suit there arguments Most of these definitions are to narrow to even include generally accepted forms of art. The utility free requirement rules out architecture, for example, and yours

Art is anything that transmits a subset of all possible physical signals such that the signal illicts some sort of subjective emotive response. The first is a well-defined activity and the second is essentially an object. An activity cannot be an object, so the question as written is nonsense.

Rules out dance, since dance is not an object

Code isn't art, it's a series of instructions, nothing more.

All this tells me is that you're a shitty coder. A painting is just a series strokes. A song is just a series of notes; a story is a series of words. And a dance is just a sries of steps. Of course that last one doesn't matter to you, since you don't think actions can be art. Art isn't defined by it's components, but by its finished whole.

I think that code can be beautiful. I think that it can be art (a long with almost anything produced by human minds). If you think that makes me 'psychological unbalanced' then fine, please enjoy your bigoted little world.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
art, insanity and pollution (none / 0) (#434)
by OzJuggler on Wed May 02, 2001 at 08:59:43 AM EST

Nor did some of your more baseless clams do anything for me...
I base my claims on what I have observed, and what I think follows logically and optimally from what I have learned. I do not make baseless claims. I always have a justification for any written communication that I make. Whether my basis is known to you, familiar to you, or acceptable to you, is an entirely different matter, and that is one for you to decide. Thank you.

Anyway, I don't think nerd is much of an insult, either. At least your statement "not a geek but a nerd" held absolutely zero meaning to me, as I consider both words on equal levels.
As you (nearly) admit, perhaps neither of us is "right", but it's just a difference of semantics. We have identified a cultural difference. Perhaps the Jargon File or the New Hacker's Dictionary should be notified of this.
Any remaining banter about "geek" vs "nerd" should be ignored.

The reason I commented was that I found your post indicative of the over all lack of baseness that has permeated this argument. No where in Jin's rant did she even bother to explicitly state what art was (her writing, apparently, is as bad as her artwork, see her website). Not only that, but many people, such as your self seem to have no problem coming up with completely random definitions of 'art' to suit there arguments
Did that really surprise you? :-)
Seriously, what is art? Ya gotta admit that it's a deeply tricky question.

Most of these definitions are to narrow to even include generally accepted forms of art. The utility free requirement rules out architecture, for example, and yours :
    Art is anything that transmits a subset of all possible physical signals such that the signal illicts some sort of subjective emotive response. The first is a well-defined activity and the second is essentially an object. An activity cannot be an object, so the question as written is nonsense.
Rules out dance, since dance is not an object
No it certainly does not! You've not interpreted my meaning as I intended it. I think I was pretty clear. The sentence that begins "Art is..." was my definition of art. It quite clearly included dance, which is something that transmits a signal illicting an emotional response. Where I said 'The first is an activity, the second is essentially an object' I was paraphrasing myself, and it was a comparitive sentence - I did not intend for it to add to my definitions.
Code isn't art, it's a series of instructions, nothing more.
All this tells me is that you're a shitty coder.
Gee, I HOPE you have a BASIS for that CLAIM! ];->
Of course that last one doesn't matter to you, since you don't think actions can be art.
Not true. See explanation above.
Art isn't defined by it's components, but by its finished whole.
Yes. I never said anything to the contrary.
I think that code can be beautiful.
Are you sure it is the code that you find beautiful? Please take some time to be very careful about that. Are you sure it is not the design or the algorithm that you find beautiful. If you're still really sure that you find code beautiful then...
I think that it can be art (a long with almost anything produced by human minds).
Including forks, pollution and BSE? We made all those.
If you think that makes me 'psychological unbalanced' then fine,
You might even agree with me if you realised the extent of what you are saying.
I've rexamined my definition of art, and I have to say that it is WRONG. You got that? My definition is WRONG. It is incomplete and carelessly made.
However, far from being "too narrow" as you say, my definition is actually too broad and allows too much to be called art.

You're right about your most important point... until everyone can agree on exactly what art is, there's no way of knowing if code is in or out.

That's the end of this thread for me. Thanks. It's been fun.

-OzJuggler
"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.
[ Parent ]

robotics (4.60 / 5) (#267)
by mami on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:13:00 AM EST

I am certainly not an artist and certainly not a programmer - so the least person who should comment, but I'll do nevertheless.

I honestly disagree with the author. I have followed a long thread of this discussion way back in 1997 on clpm. People tried to capture the creative process in programming and made analogies over and over to poetry, writing, architecture, painting and sculpture.

Though I am not able to recognize the beauty, elegance and art in a piece of code (because I can't read it), I am able to feel through the process of creating that code to a point where it becomes a piece of art for the programmer. There is beauty and art in the shortest mathematical proof among all proofs available. But you have to understand the math to see the art in that proof. I am sure there is a lot of beauty in an algorithm, especially if I think about the sentence I read somewhere that a program is finished when you can't take away any more snippets of code from it without destroying its purpose. (or something similar) I think that is the same with any great sculpture.

May be here one should remember that there are thousands of sculptors and just one Michelangelo, one Picasso. Just because someone paints and wants to be an artist, doesn't mean other people see in him and his creations a great artist. But during the creative process, I think, you engage in being an artist.

To me the best analogy of writing a large program is that of composing music, especially, if I even think of open source code development by a group of developers, I think of a group of people playing and composing jazz. (I know I am dreamer...)

It's not the resulting product of the code (like the wonderful, morphing images on the screen) what becomes art, it is the code itself. You can say, if you compose music and write it down on paper, it is not yet art, because someone has to play the notes to hear the result and only the result is art, the notes only the means to produce the music.

I don't quite understand that analogy. For example if you compare the tube of paint to code and only the strokes and colors with the paint produce a picture worth a being called art, I would say, the tube of paint compares to a byte, and the way you put the bytes together makes the picture. Coding is the process of "choosing the colors, making the strokes with the "bytes" to produce a "picture" with a meaning and a purpose.

But here is an example which might help you to see why code and art is really close and intertwined, even providing the evidence for your claim that code has to have meaning and appeal to aesthetics in order to qualify as art.

I have a young niece who is an artist and somehow her school in France offered her a year as an exchange student in Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute. I visited her and looked into the lab where the geeks at CMU build their robots. She doesn't code really, but works on a robot, which has no other function that being a piece of art.

It's a robotic chello, which can can play and tune itself, powered by code. It was quite a wonderful experience for me to see that beautiful chello with some mechanical metal arms enabled by code to play itself amongst all other robots they build in the labs (I think for NASA even, great stuff they do over there even in undergrad programs).

To my niece this chello has a LOT of meaning, it expressed things she has thought about for years (like a chello which can revive itself, tune itself, play itself - she is three-time hodgkin's disease surviver - if that rings a bell) etc. The code guiding this chello produces music, the robot looks wonderful, what the code does has meaning. Now, I have no idea how "artful" the code is, which runs that robot chello, but to me it is a piece of art by itself in this piece of art overall.

People said here that design in secondary to function, I don't believe that. If a piece of furniture, a machine, a robot does it function in a manner that nothing can be further simplified to achieve the function it is supposed to have, then automatically the design is aesthetically appealing and the resulting design an art product. At least that's what I believe.

Hey, don't get all miffed up about those "stinky" coders. You know the Mathematician Leibnitz. A french man wrote about him nothing but how awfully the smelled. Like all real artists they don't choose to create, they "have" to create, if it's code, music, sculpture, who cares, they all create and most of the time do nothing else, even not taking a shower when they should. :-)

code is for computers - art is for people (3.75 / 4) (#268)
by J Wa on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:29:26 AM EST

I feel that the main difference between code and art is the assignment of meaning to a work. Art by its nature, is designed to evoke feeling as we assign meaning to it. The problem with code is that, in reality, code is written for a machine to assign meaning to - and the machine always assigns the same meaning to the code as will all other machines of its type. What makes art special (in my opinion) is that it is not formualic - 100 people can see a painting or play, listen to a piece of music, or read a poem or book and each arrive at a different meaning for the work. Code only ever has one meaning, and this, I believe, results in it not being art.

Uh (2.00 / 1) (#269)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:42:44 AM EST

What about the meaning it has for diffrent people who read the code? Sure, if they read it right they should get the same idea of how it works, but that dosn't mean it will have the same meaning for all of us.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
errors (none / 0) (#283)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:01:51 AM EST

Art is not entirely fault tolerant. If I were to try to make a painting and didn't buy any paint, or canvas, or if all my brush strokes missed the canvas, I would never have a painting.

If tried to design a building, and it fell down...

Sure, it's much more difficult to write a error-free program, but it dosn't mean other forms of are are completly imune to failure.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Actualy (none / 0) (#287)
by kraant on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:05:27 AM EST

Source code is written for people. If we were writing it for computers we'd be using a magnet to encode the bits onto the media.
--
"kraant, open source guru" -- tumeric
Never In Our Names...
[ Parent ]
Eh, not always (none / 0) (#332)
by ColPanic on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:01:57 PM EST

I wrote this piece of code for people

main(i){putchar((1397178701>>(i/2+(i==3))*8)+(i/2==2)*7*(i-3))^83&&main(++i);}

Sure, it can be run by a computer, but it is mainly intended to be read by people. And to confuse them :-)

[ Parent ]

Your code (none / 0) (#357)
by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:02:36 PM EST

It better not erase my fucking hard drive :P
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Utilities Can Be Art (4.66 / 6) (#275)
by fiznarp on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:21:55 AM EST

I don't see why objects of utility cannot also be pieces of art. I look at a large suspension bridge and think of it both as an object of beauty and something that serves a very useful purpose.

It is next to impossible to create something without leaving a mark of your own personality on it. Art is all about self-expression.

This is the same way I view a well written block of code.



You can't generalize about all programming... (2.66 / 3) (#277)
by richie123 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:29:18 AM EST

Programming is a large canvas with room for many different kinds of expression. To say all software is not art is akin to saying all painters are artist (including house painters).

Are video games art? I would say so.
Is a disk defragmenter art? hmm, no can't say that it is.

Software is a form of expression that is capable of many things, sometimes purely utilitarian, sometimes entertaining, and sometimes a pure work of creativity.

Beautiful code can be an end in itself. (3.50 / 2) (#278)
by a life in hell on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:36:40 AM EST

Your mistake, my friend, is that your opinion is based on code being a means, not an end. This is often true, but sometimes false.

I sometimes write code on a commodore 64. Why? Because it inspires me. The code on that machine inspires me. Inspiration is the key to all art.

My code is not good art. I am not asserting this. I am a bad coder, especially in c64 space ;)

But I have seen code on that machine that has had a deep effect on me. Some of the code by masters like crossbow/crest, graham/oxyron, etc, etc (sorry to other kick ass c64 coders, they're just who came to mind off hand :P)

Any self respecting coder who watches a c64 doing this shit, looks at how it works in a debugger, and doesn't sit wide eye'd in awe, should probably consider a different carrear ;)

(I should also, but that's another story :P)

And then, there is Ray. Ray is a guy that I work with. He has this style of code, and this massive system that he has built up.

No question. It is a work of art. If you see this code, you would agree with me. Even non-coders, when shown this, can see it. It is unique. It is beautiful. It is a masterpiece.

I have a basis for comparison. I also write <a href=http://artists.traxinspace.com/ALifeInHell>music. When I see code like this, or write it myself, I feel the same way as when I hear or write a good piece of music. (I only did 1 good released piece, journey through the wasteland, but that's neither here nor there.)

If I feel the same, in my mind it is the same. Just because you can't see it, doesn't make it so in my world. It just makes you a philistine.

If you write programs at all, it is clear to me that you are a "programmer", not a "coder", as the definitions go around dspa ;). No coder would have ever written what you wrote.

QED.

- From Jaymz with Love



I know another "artist" (3.33 / 3) (#296)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:38:35 AM EST

It is Bob, the handy guy that paints walls. He does it very well, the colors are always perfect, the combinations he suggests are always beautiful.

Inmortality awaits him.

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

ANGRY DENIAL! (3.28 / 7) (#285)
by plastik55 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:35:32 AM EST

Angry denial repeated.

Explanation of holes in author's theory.

Supporting counterexample.

Second suporting counterexample.

Thinly veiled insult at author.

So, if I were to write a poorly supported monograph declaring that techno is not music, would you post that on the front page too?
w00t!

ANGRY COUNTER-DENIAL! (4.33 / 3) (#342)
by Denor on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 04:20:23 PM EST

Angry counter-denial repeated, with earlier angry denial blockquoted above in italics.

Explanation of holes in parent's argument which don't support the author's argument, but which are nice for commentor's pet theory.

Admission that first counterexample is valid, so post sounds reasonable.

Refutation of second counterexample.

Counter-counterexample.

Bad metaphor.

Slightly less thinly veiled insult at author of previous comment (depending on thread length, substitute 'blatant name calling').

Serves 3-10 replies.


-Denor


[ Parent ]
What is art? (4.00 / 3) (#293)
by DJBongHit on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:13:11 AM EST

I think your article, and the first 50 or so comments that I've read through so far, have missed the point of what art is supposed to be. Art isn't in the eye of the beholder. Art is in the eye of the creator. If your creation means something to you, then you're creating art. It doesn't matter that 99% of the people on the planet can't make heads or tails of your work - you don't create art for them, you create it for yourself.

~DJBongHit

--
GNU GPL: Free as in herpes.

RE: What is art? (none / 0) (#311)
by shrub34 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:41:25 AM EST

I believe this is the most acure statement I've read yet in this discussion.

I do believe that good code that I write is art. Not all my code is art.

Just as some OS I consider artistic not in the common sense of looking good but in lay out of file system or just the process of installing.

----------
It's good to see the BSD community forking and execing so many child processes.

  • Comment about editor of Daemon News not attending BSDcon 2000



  • [ Parent ]
    Efficiency (2.75 / 4) (#294)
    by VErgun on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:24:15 AM EST

    Many people have been making claims that music (a subjective creation) is art, so programming (an objective creation) should also be considered art.

    The point is, programming is not a function of the subjective mind. The end is certainly subjective, but the means (code) is almost always objective. The programming code is either good code (efficient), or badly written. Of course you can have varying degrees of good code, but in the end, the program with the least errors and smoothest run is the champion.

    If one considers efficiency in code to be art, then they are denying the very premise of art. Art is the recognition of a subjective work. It's not art if you score well on a multiple choice test, but it is art if you write a masterwork that lands you personal recognition for your senior thesis.

    Some may argue that art is completely relative, that what is art to someone may not be art to someone else. I would argue that this is exclusive to subjective works. You and I may both look at junk assembled in a unique way and have mixed opinions about it; however, we would have the same judgement of that multiple choice test.

    So back to the original claim: "Many people have been making claims that music (a subjective creation) is art, so programming (an objective creation) should also be considered art." If one compared a finished music product to a finished program, then they could perhaps both be considered art; but, one should never compare a finished song to the actual programming code which assembles the program. It's like comparing apples and oranges (or multiple choice tests and writing samples).
    ----------------- -Verdi Erel Ergun
    Crafty (3.66 / 3) (#295)
    by strumco on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:28:37 AM EST

    The only disagreement I would have with this art(icle) is its implication that if an activity can claim to be Art, it is therefore, per se, better than an activity which is a craft.

    Coding isn't an art - if it were, hardly any programs would work, no-one could agree about what they were meant to do, and we couldn't afford them anyway.

    Good coding might lay claim to being a craft - a less substantial version of furniture-making - and it's none the worse for that label. Some of the most beautiful objects on the planet are pieces of furniture, turned out by un-named craftsmen, for whom the greatest praise was "Hey, it works, can you make another one for my brother?"

    DC
    http://www.strum.co.uk

    Redmond Refuge for the Arts... (none / 0) (#401)
    by cybeara on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 01:59:28 AM EST

    Coding isn't an art - if it were, hardly any programs would work, no-one could agree about what they were meant to do, and we couldn't afford them anyway.
    My god! Microsoft is an artists' colony!

    [ Parent ]
    Beautiful equations... (4.25 / 4) (#305)
    by antra on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:49:06 AM EST

    I only have one point to comment on, because the rest of the article is keen and I want to reply, but have limited time here at work :)

    A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning.

    And to a ten year old non-math genius, said equation is a bunch of gibberish. Hell, to most of the people on this planet it's nonsense. Key phrase "...to those who appreciate its' meaning." But I've seen equations that are so complex, so perfect in their strangeness, that I've spent the next hour or more trying to delve into the mind of the person who created it, thinking "How in the world did you come up with this? God give you a little hint here and there?"

    I'm not a heavy programmer, but mathematics have been around forever...programming, as such, has not. Mathematical constructs are a means to an end -- understanding as well as function, depending on your job function I suppose. Code is also a means to an end -- accomplishing a goal and in that process finding new ways of doing things. I can see that code might be art, but not to everyone. Look at the court ruling against 2600 on the basis that code is functional only and therefore not protected by the first amendment. I disagree with that, and not just because of the art issue. But that's for another topic :)

    I am, however much not a serious coder, "into" astronomy, when at one point I was almost an astrophysicist. My lord...the way the cosmos is arranged is so perfect it's enough to make you cry. That's art. I don't know who created it, or why, or if they even care, but our universe lends itself the expression of self we call art. It IS art! From quarks (and associated subparticles yet to be discovered) to galactic superclusters (and other larger structures that we can't see yet), everything fits together in absolute perfection. We, as living beings, are proof of that. Tell me that isn't enough to inspire just the tiniest bit of awe.

    Hmm. And I had a point in here somewhere. I'm not sure what it was, but I've still gotten my views, if not a solid debatable point, across =)

    Programming Is not Art? (none / 0) (#378)
    by DGallagher on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:37:34 PM EST

    You are truly missing out on one of the true great aspects of what makes great art great. It is the means that beautifies the end result, the technique, the environment and feeling that drove the inspiration. The final product is just static if it has no history or emotion or path traveled well. A programmer blends his code like paint. He evokes emotion and experience. The computer is no more than a paintbrush, language a technique, and we are in the middle of a renaissance. I am truly sorry you cannot see that you are missing a big part of the picture, this may be one of the most creative times in the history of the world.

    [ Parent ]
    Uh...what? (none / 0) (#419)
    by antra on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 11:21:27 AM EST

    I was actually arguing against the original author of the article, stating that just because something /is/ a means to an end doesn't mean that it isn't beautiful or artistic. Mathematics, astronomy, physics, any of the "hard" sciences, including programming...they're all amazingly complex and beautiful, but just because you don't understand it doesn't mean you can dismiss it as unartistic.

    [ Parent ]
    Esthetics isn't that simple (4.85 / 14) (#310)
    by gclef on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:31:12 AM EST

    I have one request to make of all of you: Read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Huge sections of that book are dedicated to the philosophic ideas of Romantic ("artistic") vs Classical ("engineering") beauty. Classical beauty does exist, despite any claims to the contrary from the Romantics. Whether it is "art" or not depends a great deal on your definition of "art," which leads us into Esthetics.

    On that subject, I believe that your definition of art is very limited, and would not last long under real scrutiny. Your definition leaves out photography (it doesn't change or embellish anything to make it more beautiful), most of the "found art" movement (they're just taking everyday objects and making people see the beauty of them), music (they're not taking any objects and embellishing them, just creating something ephemeral)....I could go on, but you get the point.

    Defining "art" is a difficult thing. Is the Campbell's Soup can of Warhol "art"? He didn't modify the can at all. Just put it on a pedestal. When viewed in an art gallery, however, you look at it differenly, which was part of (or even all of) the point. Is a motorcycle "art"? How about a pig? I think you need to have a much broader definition of art than you presented here to allow for some of these things.

    My point in all this is that you have successfully stated that code is not art by defining art in such a way as to exclude it. However, you have also excluded a great number of things which clearly are art. The problem you're going to have in expanding the definition to include those others is that the avant garde art movements will push that definition until it *does* include code. I don't think you're going to succeed at this effort.

    Example of code as a art - Duff's Device (3.00 / 2) (#312)
    by Ground0 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:57:17 AM EST

    This code, named Duff's Device (after the creator Tom Duff), really works and trust me its quite a work of art:

    send(to, from, count) register short *to, *from; register count; { register n=(count+7)/8; switch(count%8){ case 0: do{ *to = *from++; case 7: *to = *from++; case 6: *to = *from++; case 5: *to = *from++; case 4: *to = *from++; case 3: *to = *from++; case 2: *to = *from++; case 1: *to = *from++; }while(--n>0); } }

    Noooo!!! (none / 0) (#400)
    by Potatoswatter on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 12:31:30 AM EST

    First of all, that's not Duff's device. Second, Duff's device is as much art as a simple English pun - it's just a play on words. It's a clever (and sometimes useful) way to arrange C's loop keywords, but it has no creative value on its own. You could declare that C is beautiful, and so has artistic value in itself, but that's a different story.

    Duff's Device consists of a loop nested in a switch, such as:

    switch(whereToStart) {
    bool stop;
    case 0:
    do {
    stop = Foo(1);
    case 1:
    stop |= Bar(2);
    } while(!stop);
    }

    myQuotient = myDividend/*myDivisorPtr; For multiple languages in the same function, see Upper/Mute in my diary! */;
    [ Parent ]
    Art != Visual (4.60 / 5) (#313)
    by JonesBoy on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:00:36 AM EST

    WOAH! I think you lost something here.
    >some beautifully fascinating visual programs .... He used code to implement an artistic vision
    Are you telling me that your S.O.'s program is art because it is purely visual!?! Perhaps you work with art in a visual form, but that is not the rule. Take a look at archetecture. From flying butresses to deconstructionist, a purely utilitarian structure may be jazzed up and called art. Even in painings, it is not necessarily the image, but the strokes and appliation of paint which separates the amateur from the professional. Many lithographs fail to communicate the message presented by a true paining. (hence museums)

    Lines of code are not programmers paint. Data structures and algorithms are. The art is in the way one attacks a problem, and implements a unique solution. A linked list is not art. A P4 optimized FFT routine with overlapping selfmodifying, cache-thrash minimized assembly routines can be. The problem is, you can't see it. You are unfamiliar with the creativity involved within creating such a monster, the mastery of tools involved. It is similar to the artwork of architecture and form. To the uninitiated, the sculpture David is just some naked guy standing. The mona lisa is just a portrait. That stratovarious violin is just an insturment. It is only when you look at the abnormal mastery, technique, application, and expression (yes, I mean in code too!) that one can really value a piece.

    >Now, I have seen programs that when run, I would consider art. Sadly, the majority are not.
    I can say the same thing about photographs. Keep in mind, not all code is art. The occassional jem gets produced during fits of creativity and motivation. I am sure even Ansel Adams took a couple of portraits for cash, but that does not detract from his finer work.

    >Amaze me. Excite me. Make me want you.
    No. This is like telling a poet to use more words because you don't understand him. Like it or leave it, your choice.

    >And if you start showing up at coffee shops wearing berets, dark glasses, and a goatee, I'm going to start looking into a career change.
    Ahhh. I see your motivation for writing this now. You hold your silly stereotype sacred. Are you an artist because of your image or your work!? BTW, we programmers are more tolerant. We won't be offended if you wear hiking boots, jeans and a stained t-shirt in our server room. Just don't spill your cafe latte on the server.

    BTW. neat web page.

    Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
    This is a closed minded article (4.66 / 3) (#314)
    by Nelson on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:00:49 AM EST

    First, the premise is simply a huge generalization. Don't get me wrong, it has inspired discussion and even provoked me to throw my 2 cents in after 300 other posts but it's a generalization. It generalizes what art is, how and why art is percieved by others, who they are and then what "code" does in the first place.

    The most offensive part would be the suggestion that "code artists" are a bunch of geeky slashdoter dateless types, wearing nerd t-shirts. I recognize the stereotypes exist for a reason but if that's the level this discussion is going to start at then there really isn't any reason to finish it. That would be akin to saying any author worth anything was a drug addict and or an alchoholic, it's not relevant to the topic and is only stated to taint the way people see others.

    The subject of art is a difficult one and always has been, art to one man is blaspheme or pornography to another. The only truth I know in the debate about what art is is that whenever somebody says something is not art or cannot be art they are almost always wrong, if not now they will be in time. With code, at least from my perspective, it's functional art. I see it the same way they see that Range Rover or some of the bicycles in the Louvre. Why are there bikes and a car in the Louvre? Because they are examples of somebody building something with purpose and going above and beyond that. A bicycle frame is a simple concept, there are known geometries that are good, there are known materials that are strong and light enough, it's a mechanical thing that can be mass produced cheaply; it's also a craft that many artisans (and I own a Pinarello Prince, hand crafted by an artisted, trust me) still do by hand and pay attention to the details and put extra effort in to make the product more beautiful, more enjoyable, more functional. Double butted pipes are easy to make and weld and cheap to get, yet some bike builders still use lugs why? Because they look nice, they feel nice, they make the bike special. There is something beautiful about the placements of cable stays on a Pinarello, not just functional but aesthetically pleasing as well and it's extra work for the Pinarello people and the mechanics who build the bike. Capping dropouts instead of just having the exposed ends of a pipe actually adds weigth and serves no aerodynamic purpose but they do it. The details are what make it art. Compare a range rover to a Toyota Landcruiser, they are both fine autos and fine 4 by 4s, the details behind the design of the rover make it a much more enjoyable vehicle to drive, it just feels nicer, they did things they didn't have to to make it nicer. I only diverge to bikes and cars because they have been seen by many as art already, find a dealer and look at Italian bikes(Pegoretti, Colnago, or Pinarello are excellent for this) if you have any doubt.

    Code is the same way. You can make it work and call it done. You can also put the extra effort in to it. This deals with perception. Some people really like small, tight, hard-to-read code; stuff that wins the obfuscated (fill in the blank) contest. To them that is art. Personally, I live for the simple and concise, when a piece of work is well thought out, beautifully documented, clean wihtout a lot of cruft, easy to read and follow, it does it's job and no more or less. You don't have to see it as art, but it can be seen that way.

    Really elegant classes and libraries can be art, I've used libraries where the authors pretty much knew in advance exactly how I was going to want to use it before hand, that's beauty in action. I've also used APIs where every possible case was thought of and they were a headache to use because you needed to spend 3 months getting up to speed to do something simple. It's about balance. Again, you don't have to see it but if you really care about your craft and do it for more than just a pay check then you almost have to see the beauty in it and some call the creation of beauty "art."

    Then there is yet another way to see it. When I look at some paintings or sculpture, I'm less drawn to the content or the expression than I am to the tireless effort that went in to it. The Mona Lisa is a good example, it took nearly 6 years to paint it. Da Vinci spent countless hours working on her hair, it's also a functional piece of art because it's a portrait yet it is still art. I don't particularly care who she was or what it was for either, I admire that obsessivness, that attention, to spend years painting something until it was "done." I don't think she is telling the world anything, it doesn't touch my heart, but I do think that when you see it you are looking at one of the most masterful paintings by one of the greatest painters of all time and it is art. The same thing can apply to code. There is something to be said about building that embedded system or that huge system and spending the time, working things through, finding a way to make it work in 32K or RAM or run for hundreds of hours straight. It may not be pretty but it's masterful, it's a master doing what a master does and a lot of people see that as "art."

    Coding I would even go on to say is a high art because it's seldom seen by others. It's not done for the buck or for fame. Usually only a handful will ever see it and even fewer will understand the effort, very little selling out among these artists. You aren't going to find a lot of schools that teach it this way and you're going to find even fewer jobs where they want you to spend the extra time polishing stuff. They do it for themselves. I'm not saying you have to see it that way, I'm comfortable with myself and you're not going to hurt me or my feelings that way but you might be happier if you looked at life with a more open mind to things like that. I have friends who landscape, they employ migrant laborers from Mexico, these guys do the hardest work in the heat of the summer and make little money doing it and in Mexico it is considered a very respectable occupation because they are artists and make the Earth beautiful. I didn't used to think that, I thought they were hard workers doing a job Americans wouldn't do, but the truth is a lot of them are proud and honored to do it, they are artists. It's a different way of looking at things and it's not because the person doing it needs to feel like she is creative, it's when others can see that creativity and see that it goes beyond function that makes it art.

    Art is not just means and end (4.66 / 3) (#317)
    by WWWWolf on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:11:03 AM EST

    It's interesting that his topic was just brought up when I needed to defend the similiar arguments in newsgroups.

    (Disclaimer: I'm a programmer and I also draw. I'm also a Sunday philosopher. =)

    Do I consider a copy of Win2K to be art? Yes. What sort of art? I have previously called this "Egoistic, functionalistic, colossalistic and capitalistic".

    Egoistic in sense that modern programs need all attention they can get (Microsoft Sez "We Have The Biggest Baddest Computers, You NEED Those Too"), Functionalistic in sense that they do what you ask but aren't too innovative (Microsoft, as usual, would have different sense of what "innovative" means in this context), Colossalistic in the sense that modern programs need insane amounts of space, and Capitalistic in sense that it was only made to bring profit to Microsoft, they didn't make it in slightest for altruistic purposes. (I don't consider capitalism to be an entirely bad idea, but if the only reason why people make art is that they would need to make money out of it is questionable.)

    Personally, I believe all products of human creativity can be considered art, regardless of "motives" or "quality" of the creations.

    You make a valid point of code being means and not an end. However... the means must exist for the end to exist. Someone needed to produce that tube of paint! Someone needed to design the tube, someone needed to make the machine that produced the tube!

    Art is a chain. There was the first Creator (for me that would be God, for some others it'd be something weirder or less easily explainable) that created one means, which in turn lead to creation of other means.

    Where does that tube of paint come from? The Creator created us this world with the aluminium ore (from which the tube was produced) and the various oils and substances (from which the paint was produced). Is the Nature "art"? Many people wouldn't use the word to describe it, but people often amaze the beauty of the nature and the utter complexity and subtlety of our universe.

    Okay, suppose you have now a paint tube, brushes and other things - you have produced a work of art using the paint. In other words, you have a piece of artwork. An "end", as you said. But the story of the artwork will not end when it's finished. Products of visual arts ends up hanging in galleries and the galleries make postcards with pictures of famous paintings; Pictures of the artwork end up in art books, get scanned to the online art galleries, and sooner or later some young artist will probably even copy the artwork themselves when practising - or get inspiration out of this same artwork for another artwork!

    When does it "end"? When does it end?

    Then, take Linux. Linux was incepted on Minix, and then people started maintaining Linux on Linux. Linux became self-contained: Older version of Linux became the means of producing a newer version of Linux, which in turn will become a means for producing another version of Linux. Someone fashioned the tool; Then someone used the tool to fashion a better tool, and the better tool to fashion even better tools. And a lot of creativity went on design of the better tool when using the old tool.

    Art is a chain or cycle, not simply "means" and "end".

    Then, another point: When it's code and when it's art? Which is more of "art", the process or the product? What's the difference?

    I have a a picture of myself out there. (It was clearly inspired by another work of art by another artist...) If you're interested on hearing the details on how I made the picture, take a look at my story.

    I took the picture as an example because it has code. The code is used as a part of work of visual art. I wanted to use this as a simple illustration. Code can be used to produce the stuff you call art. Does the word Script-FU mean anything to you? You write code. Code creates image. What about PoV-Ray? You write code. Code creates image.

    This will nicely illustrates the following concept: Art is not just the end result, it's also the process as whole.

    When people often speak of "art", they refer to pretty pictures - or, in general, the product of the art. They don't think of the intent. The reason why people don't understand the modern art is that they don't think the process enough. They don't think why the artist thought the work of art should exist, and how they made the work of art.

    I guess this is the same reason why you don't think programming is art. You just ask "okay, so, what it can do?" ... just like some others may look at some world-famous painting and say "cool."

    To expand/elaborate on Edison's famous quote about invention, I'd say 1% of the fun is in the end result. The remaining is in the process of creation.

    -- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


    nothing "is" anything else! i reject the (3.66 / 6) (#318)
    by sayke on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:23:50 AM EST

    cease this semantic foot-shooting! stop the verb "to be"'s unholy reign of confusion! this entire debate (and others of it's ilk) stems from a simple, incredibly convienient, delusion: that something can "be" something else. this is elegantly detailed in this paper, which introduces something called "e-prime". e-prime can be described as "english without the verb 'to be'". i try to use it whenever i remember to do so ;)

    i think that by rephrasing jin wicked's question without the verb "to be", we can greatly simplify matters. let's give this a shot: "programming has little in common with what i call art"... or, maybe, "programming displays few of the traits that i associate with art"... doesn't that sound clearer now? by phrasing it that way, it becomes clear that jin wicked calls some things "art" if they display certain traits, and if they don't, she calls them something else. this undoes the dangerious "monopoly on truth" spirit of asserted definition, by putting the question back where it belongs: in reference to jin wicked.

    so, we gotta figure out what characterizes what jin wicked calls "art", and see if programming displays those characteristics. well, let's see here: creativity (and what characterizes that? feh) looks like once such trait, as does, well, uselessness (non-utility; non-functionality; un-necessity, whatever). aesthetic beauty looks like another. it also seems that jin wicked would calls things art if they were created for no express purpose; as ends unto themselves; i'll file that under "uselessness". it looks like she draws a line between artistic vision and practical need, and implies a binary opposition between them. eep! that made me damn suspicious right there, but let's not deal with that right now.

    well, alright, so far so good. we've got some characteristics; let's see if programming displays em:

    • creativity: does anyone here seriously say that programming does not require creativity (however you use the term)? if you say that, lemme know how you use the term in your response... i doubt it will resemble the common usage very much.
    • uselessness: all i have to do for this one is point to the obfuscated c contest... not to mention that "i intend this work to aesthetically please it's perceivers!" sounds like a "use" to me. i don't see how something intended to be beautiful can be called "useless". sheesh. not only that, but people design art to convince, persuade, piss off, disgrace, and do all kinds of other things, so this criteria sounds like bunk to me.
    • aesthetic beauty: again, i can point to the obfuscated c contest, quines, the 5k contest, or the python language in general ;)... so you may not "get it" when you look at these; do you "get" dada? you sure? how could you tell? what a morass... and, more to the point, would you "get" umberto eco's (or james joyce's, or $AUTHOR's) works if you didn't speak any of the languages they were written in?
    well shit, it looks like programming displays the same characteristics as what jin calls "art" does. that doesn't bode well for her point. however, i may very well have missed some. you're welcome to point out characteristics of art that programming does not display. i wish you the best of luck, but i think any attempts to do so will fail.

    see, i think of works of art as programs, programmed by artists, and run on people. sure, they are written in all kinds of languages, to be parsed and compiled with all kinds of exotic things, like pianos, computers, people's voices, paint, paper, canvas, and large rocks, but their real target platform is PeopleOS. when run (aka percieved), they are intended to trigger a certain kind of output (aka audience response) from that which they run on. extensive debugging is often needed, but next to impossible due to the nature of some languages (like sculpting). some of the languages are horribly documented, but quite a few have good tutorials. some of the programs made with these languages are only designed to be run on their creators; perceived by nobody else. some of them are designed to be run on as many people as possible. they vary widely.

    hah! my discipline subsumes and contains yours! take that, elitist bastards! ;)

    i think many people working in traditionally artistic fields feel challanged and usurped by the power that coders, physicists, mathematicians, and other magi now wield. not only can we make beautiful things, we can make beautiful things that go (!), and some of them go in really odd ways, and do really interesting things! i think they interpret our (yes, i acknowledge the us/them polarization there; it's for rhetorical effect) power as a threat to their monopoly on the creation of beauty, and are shaking in their boots.

    or maybe that's just my counter to jin's misguided little attempt at psychoanalysis. heh. regardless, i don't think it's useful to rant about how various things are or are not programming, or are or are not art. i would greatly prefer you to get out and make/do cool shit, and in general h4x0r the world into a better place. kapeesh? =)


    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */

    OT: regeya - was that a revenge rating? (3.00 / 2) (#339)
    by sayke on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:34:20 PM EST

    i saw that you gave my above comment a 1, so i hunted around a bit and came across a comment in which you described how you were avenging your low-voted comments by arbitrarily doing unto others what had been done to you...

    why? perhaps i should rephrase: why the fuck? is this a temporary thing, or do you plan to continue doing this? if so, are you going to write a script to do it for you? am i going to have to write a counterscript?

    that would suck. i don't think i care enough to write a counterscript, although i might if i'm really bored... regardless, that would well and truly suck, and i appeal to both our long term best interests by asking you to not do that.


    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
    [ Parent ]

    Hehehe. (none / 0) (#368)
    by DavidTC on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:11:34 PM EST

    I find it interesting how you wrote that entire thing in e-prime. I agree, it seems like using e-prime results in much more logical conversations and debates. When people use e-prime, you tend to start taking issue with their 'opinions', instead of their 'facts', even thought both of them are the same thing, just phrased differently. People hopefully take less offense. ;)

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]
    thanks for noticing =) (none / 0) (#404)
    by sayke on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:06:25 AM EST

    i agree completely, and wish people would use e-prime more often. man... who knows how much bad shit in general would be avoided if more people regularly used e-prime. i'm thinking about writing a k5 article extolling it's virtues; should i?


    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
    [ Parent ]

    Why not? (none / 0) (#436)
    by DavidTC on Wed May 02, 2001 at 02:28:58 PM EST

    It sounds like a good idea.

    -David T. C.
    Yes, my email address is real.
    [ Parent ]
    So jin is correct then. (none / 0) (#371)
    by smokedjam on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:49:48 PM EST

    Programming is not art!

    Programming and the result rank differently then art, while you can put effort into the task of programming for art's sake, users value programming mostly on utility of the result. Folks value art differently tho, programming may bring reactions from people, but most programming is done for economic value, even if its done in the artistic realms, ie., its more economic (or even possible) for some art to be done in the digital realm. The making or performing of art is still a profession in itself, so in that sense, Jin is correct. Artists have much more freedom in their job, as they're not ultimately valued for utility. If artists envy programmers, then here is one programmer who envies artists. I produce art as a hobby. However, if I could work in the field of art, most likely, I'd still program as a hobby just not for screaming lusers ;-)

    [ Parent ]

    errr... what? (none / 0) (#405)
    by sayke on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:30:35 AM EST

    did you actually read my comment? as far as i can tell, you don't actually respond to any of my points...

    in it, i explained how the entire question becomes nonsensical and chimeric thanks to the verb "to be", and i declared that if we want to figure this out, we need to rephrase the question without the verb "to be" and work from there. i did that by defining some things characteristic of what jin wicked calls "art", and seeing if programming shares those traits. it turns out that it does.

    i challanged those who disagree with me to list some characteristics common to art, that are not common to programming. you didn't do that, man. you just asserted "programming is not art!!(@$#(*#@$" and then described how because of it's "utility", and do artistic things for totally other reasons.

    i covered the "utility" bit, in characteristic 2 ("uselessness") of my "nothing is anything else" post. see, if i value something for it's beauty, then it's beauty makes it useful to me. beauty becomes a "utility" (a characteristic of something that i value) just like clairity, reliability, and simplicity.

    do we understand each other at all? =/


    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
    [ Parent ]

    because (none / 0) (#435)
    by smokedjam on Wed May 02, 2001 at 11:17:36 AM EST

    On a very basic level, you can say something is something or something is not something. If you reject the notion that something is something else, then you either accept the notion that that same something is _not_ something else, or you simply discount the post on grammar. Since I'm not as picky as you about grammar, I was able to successfully build an interpretation of jins post. I thought it sounded a bit snobbish (I wonder what inspired the post to begin with?), but then after reading your post I was inspired to think about what folks meant when they used the 'to be' construct, and it seems they really are saying something, they are basically classifying things according to attributes that they then argue for. Next step is to recognise where you and jin truly differ. Jin has a tighter classifying system based on weight of the _primary_ attribute (value). If I accept her classification system (which has validity on, say, a tax return for instance), I have to accept her argument. You argued for a different classification scheme, but yours had less utility, at least in comparison to jin's. If I was a personel director, and used your classification system, I'd get fired :-)

    So maybe its just personal preferences.

    [ Parent ]

    errrrrrr... d00d. =) (none / 0) (#440)
    by sayke on Fri May 04, 2001 at 05:19:15 PM EST

    On a very basic level, you can say something is something or something is not something.

    yes, you can. you can say "squares are circular" and "terrorism is art" all you want. that just begs the question, though: why should you? would you call it useful to do so?

    If you reject the notion that something is something else, then you either accept the notion that that same something is _not_ something else, or you simply discount the post on grammar.

    no. :P

    discounting something "on grammer" would be to object to it's syntax, and i'm taking issue with the verb's semantics. i'm saying that the verb "to be" raises type mismatch errors all over the place, man... it's like adding 3 + foo, where foo is a character string, in c. it doesn't work. it breaks things. the compiler (me) sees it as nonsensical.

    i say that, in order for a use of the verb "to be" to not raise a type mismatch error, both arguments to it must be identical. for example, i don't think the phrase "green is green" raises a type mismatch error. but doesn't that look redundent? why say "green is green"? i mean, ok, green is green... errr, so? that proves nothing, and just adds noise to otherwise useful ranting.

    so either way, i don't like it. on the one hand, it confuses the issue, and on the other, it asserts something redundently. freakin useless. throw it out the window, i say! =)

    Since I'm not as picky as you about grammar, I was able to successfully build an interpretation of jins post.

    well, yea, i was able to interpret it too, but i also rephrased it in a less obfuscated way, in my "nothing is anything else" post. oddly enough, i think it lost all of it's rhetorical power when i did so. that indicates that it derived it's rhetorical power from it's obfuscation.

    I thought it sounded a bit snobbish (I wonder what inspired the post to begin with?), but then after reading your post I was inspired to think about what folks meant when they used the 'to be' construct, and it seems they really are saying something, they are basically classifying things according to attributes that they then argue for.

    why don't they just classify things according to what they see as their attributes, and then argue for em, then? why resort to "to be"?

    often, people use "to be" to assert a definition, while implicitly declaring that their's is the One True Definition. to quote a learned scholar (teehee): by phrasing it that way (without "to be"), it becomes clear that jin wicked calls some things "art" if they display certain traits, and if they don't, she calls them something else. this undoes the dangerious "monopoly on truth" spirit of asserted definition, by putting the question back where it belongs: in reference to jin wicked.

    Next step is to recognise where you and jin truly differ. Jin has a tighter classifying system based on weight of the _primary_ attribute (value).

    value? value to whom? as measured in units of what? errrr... i value my parakeet. i would probably pay $20-30US in ransom for it, if it came down to it. does my parakeet fit jin's definition of art, then? i seriously am confused by the "value" characteristic of art. not to mention that i didn't notice it in jin's writing.

    If I accept her classification system (which has validity on, say, a tax return for instance), I have to accept her argument. You argued for a different classification scheme, but yours had less utility, at least in comparison to jin's. If I was a personel director, and used your classification system, I'd get fired :-)

    hehe... hrrrrrm. i've said it before, and i'll say it again: what characteristics must something display for you to call it "art"? how is "value" one of those characteristics? people value all kinds of things, including code. i don't think jin would dispute that, so that would make code fit jin's definition of art, which she said it didn't, so...

    So maybe its just personal preferences.

    you may personally prefer fortran, and i may personally prefer python, but that doesn't mean that the usefulness of one cannot be emprically assessed as greater then the other, for a given problem domain. in short, there may "be no accounting for taste", but some tastes can safely be said to work better then others, for some things. kapeesh? =)


    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
    [ Parent ]

    didn' t realise (none / 0) (#424)
    by pyat on Tue May 01, 2001 at 10:37:55 AM EST

    sorry about (unwittingly) repeating
    stuff you had said yourself (in far more detail and depth). Shows (me) how hard it is to have a genuinely original thought.
    m

    [ Parent ]
    it's all good, man (none / 0) (#441)
    by sayke on Fri May 04, 2001 at 05:21:29 PM EST

    great minds think alike, or something =)


    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
    [ Parent ]

    An Act of Creativity (4.00 / 6) (#319)
    by ChaoticCoyote on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:51:57 AM EST

    In the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art's "modern" collection, there hangs a very large canvas painted a rather nice shade of blue. The canvas is an irregular quadrilateral, very slightly out-of-form from a true rectangle. It is called "Blue Panel."

    Is it "art"?

    I don't think so, and neither does my wife, a professional artist. Yet the panel hangs in a major museum, so someone must disagree with our opinion.

    Perhaps the art of "Blue Panel" is in selling it as art to the museum? ;)

    I bring up "Blue Panel" to illustrate a significant, if cliched point: Art is in the eye of the beholder.

    As a programmer, I begin with nothing. Through design, invention, and refinement, I create something entirely new from the void. How does this differ from science, engineering, or, yes -- even art?

    My editor is a blank canvas; my keyboard is an instrument, my programming tools my palette.

    A well-design and -written piece of code is a beautiful creation in my eyes. I suspect most people -- especially non-programmers -- will disagree with me. And that's fine, in the same vein as my disagreement with those who think "Blue Panel" is a piece of art.

    To each their own.


    --
    Scott Robert Ladd
    Master of Complexity, Destroyer of Order and Chaos
    http://www.coyotegulch.com


    Poorly written and lacks insight (3.42 / 7) (#321)
    by DrPengo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:04:30 AM EST

    I first read this article thinking it was an opinion piece on copyright law. They go on about "art" a lot in copyright law. And it seemed rather curious to consider code to be uncopyrightable. (i.e. not art by law)

    I didn't know why she was going on about code not being art for a few paragraphs so I skipped down to the conclusion. It seems that she just doesn't want coders to think of themselves as pretentious artists. There is no fear of that. They will only become pretentious nerds and geeks.

    Anyway, my point of writing this comment is, as many others have pointed out, that the author fails to define "art" and as there are so many definitions, it's quite a worthless article. And it is impossible to argue against it without defining some terminology (what is art?). And I'm not going to through every definition of art that appears in the dictionary and explain why code can be seen as art in each sense.

    Also it is quite aparent that the author has never programmed. I have programmer friends who look at art and say "I could have done that." and dismiss it as art as merely the persuit of making money from rich people. It's a stupid argument, but you reverse it (artist looking at code) and you end up with a post on kuro5hin.

    Here's my rant on why she's wrong anyway: You need to see the complexities and nuances of programming that make it an art -- not the end results which, if they work correctly, should hide all of those (often very creative and artistic) details.

    (Dr)Pengo.

    I hope your art is better than your arguments (4.20 / 5) (#326)
    by magullo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:23:49 PM EST

    Trying to define art at this stage in history is a tad tricky, but the author has very little clue about even mainstream art theory.

    One clear giveaway:

    "Yet the brush strokes themselves have little value until they are combined towards this higher function."

    This is downright false. Let me assure you that what every art expert, and actually just about everybody (mostly at an unconscious level), looks for is technique. If you think brush strokes by themselves are meaningless you have obviously not paid any attention to the individual brush strokes of great artists. True, we are talking about real geniuses here, but you'd be surprised to realize how many details of the most famous paintings are actually done in 2-3 incredibly skillful strokes. That is what separates great painters from wannabes. That is what separates falsifications from the real work.

    This, BTW, applies also to abstract art. Jasper Jones' famous American Flag also works at a close level: it's not simply paint on canvas, there is a collage behind sustaining it all.

    Here is another weird concept:

    "many things such as advertisements and billboards contain a great measure of creativity, but we do not generally consider these art"

    Advertisements and billboards have been potential art objects at least since ~ 100 years ago, when Henri Toulousse-Lautrec did some ads for various Parisian cabarets. Another example, the old Osborne "bull" roadside signs in Spain. Originally an commerical gimmick, today protected under a special heritage law because "of their high artistic value". And what about industrial or graphic design? Is Phillipe Stark not an artist? Is the Memphis design collection not art? You call yourself an artist and yet do not consider certain mediums artworthy? True artists recognize the "playful" nature of doing art, true artists see the beaty in the most random objects and bizarre mediums.

    "These programs were created solely for the purpose of being enjoyed. He used code to implement an artistic vision -- not to satiate a practical need. And it is not the source that is art. It is the gorgeous, multi-coloured graphics that dance on my screen which could be considered art"

    Well, then, so is Quake.

    ---

    To me (and I've been around artists since I was a baby), art is using media to convey messages via the emotions and the mind. And then you have better and worse art. You also have art that you like and know it's not that good and you have art that you despise yet know is "academically" correct

    And quite frankly, to me computer programming is not art, it's an experimental science. Close, but not enough.

    PS: What does "Ultimately, the state of being 'art' is judged by the final product that the medium produces" exactly mean? "Final product" is the most unartistic concept ever (see Michelangelo and onwards for further details)

    lab coat (4.00 / 1) (#354)
    by inpHilltr8r on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:22:17 PM EST

    > computer programming is not art, it's an experimental science.

    Only when you don't know what you're doing...;)


    [ Parent ]
    art is a skill. (3.00 / 2) (#327)
    by picasso on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 12:53:09 PM EST

    art is a skill. many people are artistic. fewer are creating art. even so called artists that have been studying all there lives may not be creating art. when you see a work of art you will know it. it will stop you in your tracks. it will consume you. it will possess you. you will not have to ask or contemplate.

    There's a series of books... (4.00 / 4) (#330)
    by darthaggie on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:27:04 PM EST

    My beloved geeks-boys, programming is not art.

    Well, the folks doing perl haiku might disagree with that, as might those who write perl in a poetic manner, as might Donald Knuth...

    You can call it what you like, but when I code something in a creative or clever manner, I'm gonna call it art.

    I am BOFH. Resistance is futile. Your network will be assimilated.

    Not Art? (4.33 / 6) (#333)
    by scross on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:22:37 PM EST

    I have to disagree most seriously. You metaphor that compares Windows 2000 to Art is quite interesting, but woefully underexplored.

    Most art forms appeal to one or more of three levels of human experience: Emotional, Intelectual, and/or Spiritual. Let's consider the Finale of Bethoven's Ninth Symphony. The main melody, sung by a large chorus, screams happiness. The recap of themes from the first three movements in the forth movement or the moving triplets against the main theme appeals to the intelect, and the lyrics of Ode to Joy, a poem about one man Joy in the knowledge of God is spiritual.

    Of the three, I feel the intelectual is the truest apprecation. It is the one that glimpses into the mind of the creator. Sheet music is virtually incomprehensible to non-musicians. It is a series of instructions to a musician how to make the sounds required to play a melody.

    As a child, one of the first songs I played was Ode to Joy. As a child, I could play the sequence notes that are Ode to Joy, but lacked the musical understanding to use intonation, phasing and expression - that which changes a sequence notes into music.

    A computer compiler is almost the reverse of a musician. Source code is capable of tremendous expresiveness. The compiler is dumbs-down the program to the point that even something as stupid as a CPU can handle it. Like the simplified version of Ode to Joy, a computer executes code like a child plays Ode to Joy.

    Is Windows 2000 art? I'll probably never know because I've never see it the way the artists (programmers) see it, as source code.

    Back when I wrote some programs for Windows 3.1, they didn't have MFC or Visual Studio. I saw that the designers of the original Windows created an API that was quite object oriented using a non-object oriented language: Pascal - then later C. I remember the thrill I got when I saw it. So clean, so simple, so elegant. Especially compared to what Macintosh and Motif where doing at the time.

    Sheet music like computer programs can be utilitarian. I can keep my piano bench from wobbling by putting me begining piano book under one leg. That doesn't mean it's not art.


    Cheers, Sarah

    Win32! Elegant!?!?!?!?! WTF?!?!?!? (3.00 / 2) (#356)
    by delmoi on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:36:08 PM EST

    Back when I wrote some programs for Windows 3.1, they didn't have MFC or Visual Studio. I saw that the designers of the original Windows created an API that was quite object oriented using a non-object oriented language: Pascal - then later C. I remember the thrill I got when I saw it. So clean, so simple, so elegant.

    < Are you seriously talking about the pure win32 API!?!?! I can't think of a more unmitigated chucnk of crap I've ever worked with !!!!

    The win32 API makes coding C seem like a cross between visual basic and assembly! It's physicaly painful! Why the FUCK do I need to fill out 5 fucking datastructures to get a bitmap

    If you want to see good OO in a non-OO language check out the PGP API. What they did was pretty amazing. The win32 (I guess you were working with the win16 api, which is very similar) is pure shit!
    --
    "'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
    [ Parent ]
    Win16 actually (none / 0) (#369)
    by scross on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:13:48 PM EST

    Actually, that's Win16. Remember, this was ten years ago. C++ was a novelty, Mac OS was full of brute force programming and Motif was out there too.

    Sure life is much better now. But, you could actually inherit one of the standard windows controls, say edit, and augment it with your own functionality or call the super class.

    They didn't call it object oriented being procedureal and callback. The original MFC classes were little more than a thunking layer.


    Cheers, Sarah
    [ Parent ]

    You're Confusing two seperate ideas... (4.76 / 13) (#335)
    by AndyL on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:09:39 PM EST

    ...And you've completely missed the middle ground between them.

    You seem to switch haphazardly between two completely different things. The code it-self and the end result of the code. They are not the same at all and shouldn't be discussed that way.
    You seem to have no idea that there's a rather large middle ground that you're not seeing at all.

    The Finished Product

    "Now, I have seen programs that when run, I would consider art."
    You can not and should not expect every single piece done within a medium to be 'art' in any useful sense of the word. Outside of perhaps academics, the vast majority of everything is utilitarian. This includes fields that are generally thought of as 'artistic'. Especially the graphic arts, but also the music and writing. 'Elevator Music' and Corporate logos are not automaticly art just because they come from those disciplines. "A [designer or musician] often has some problem or need which has to be solved, and seeks to solve it in the most efficient and resource-conserving manner." There's nothing wrong with that. In fact it's perfectly reasonable. Not all finished programs are 'art' many of them don't even attempt to be artistic. That's the way it goes. But that mere fact doesn't mean that all music is utility!

    The Code Itself

    A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning.
    This isn't true. Simply conveying brilliance isn't art. Or even particularly interesting. Many day-to-day things we take for granted took lots of brilliance to create but they're just utility like the rest of it.

    The art of a mathematical or logical proof comes from the elegance of the proof. Someone has found an elegant and/or interesting way of doing something that isn't obvious to his peers. It surprises and stimulates them to see the way that he did it. Other proofs(the majority?) are dull and formulaic and when people see them their only thought is "Oh, I'm glad someone figured that out. That could be useful and I don't feel like working it out myself."(or "Why did he bother with that?") This can apply very much to some code. (not the majority, but some.)

    The Missing Middle Ground

    Similarly, the code itself is without value (in an artistic sense) unless its function, or product, can be considered art.
    Of course the individual instructions are not art. No one would claim that they are. They are provided to us in manuals and text-books just like your paint-tubes are provided. But There's a major area between a finished product and the single screen full of code you see on a programer's screen.

    There is a very large amount of complexity that must be handled even in relatively simple projects. Algorithms must be designed such that they are useful and readable to both man and machine. Order must be brought to chaos. This is where the suprising, elegant and thought-provoking solutions and patterns come in.
    Of course most code is not suprising, elegant or thought-provoking, if it's lucky it might be readable but that is the nature of the universe.
    Any work, artistic or not, can contain artistic components or even sub-components. Artistic handwriting could be used to fill out an 1040EZ.

    However, do not expect any museums to be hanging the Linux kernel framed in a gallery anytime soon, and I will tell you why.
    In a similar vein, Do not expect your paintings to be played on the radio anytime soon, I shouldn't have to tell you why.

    -Andy



    Jin Wicked (2.50 / 6) (#337)
    by Ender Ryan on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:23:10 PM EST

    Jin Wicked, I've had enough of your silly ranting, you're not a true artist. Your "art" does not create an emotional response in _ME_ at all, therefore it is not art. If I ever see you in a coffee shop wearing shirts from think geek I'm going to change professions.

    God this is the stupidest article I've ever read here at Kuro5hin, except for maybe some that were posted by Signal 11. Who the hell is this Jin Wicked? Why the hell does she care what some of us consider to be art?

    Art is completely subjective anyway. If someone creates something with the intention of creating art, then it _IS_ art to at least one person. I've see plenty of famous works of art that just provoked absolutely no emotional response from me, does that mean it's not art? NO, it means it's not art to _ME_. I've also seen code that was so creative, it was just a joy to look at, and to me was a great work of art.

    Who the hell does Jin Wicked think she is to tell us that the art we create isn't art? How extremely arrogant. I will now sink to her level and say, "Jin Wicked, cram it!" ; )


    -
    Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

    We are Kuro5hin!


    jin and art (2.33 / 3) (#343)
    by smokedjam on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:22:04 PM EST

    I looked at Jin's art, and it was somewhat appealling, sort of like the picture of those dogs playing poker, or a velvet rendering of Elvis, just not quite as significant art-wise, again tho, thats a subjective opinion. I like my art hard, jagged, or if you're going for beauty, it better be a beauty to an extent to wound me and make me question my shallow, pathetic existance. Jin's just seemed to be 'scribble on my notebook during math class' calibur. So theres strike number one against her post, she, in her own words, and with her own publically available gallery of cutesy highschoollish ripoffs of 60's era cartoons and 90's anime, failed to "Amaze me" or "Excite me." She built no credentials for her own post, and yet still proceeded to offer:
    • "Us real artists are not impressed"
    What is up here? Where do I pick up one of these "real artist" certificates?

    Really, I was personally embarrassed for poor Jin. I've laid some bombs on usenet and other forums before, but Jin has cheerfully accepted the label of airhead bimbette, and did it in front of God and WWW, with all the subtlety and self awareness of a nuclear powered Homer Simpson. (Now thats art!)

    Anyways, that brings up another question, is anyone going to mirror this event? How long do threads/posts stay alive here? Could this one be flagged as 'special'? Hall of fame event? I know I'm saving her post, and would like to archive her wonderful art to compliment it, Jin, I hope this is ok, I'll only show it to a few (thousand) close friends!

    Hopefully you aren't doing an emergency web page evacuation even as we speak. I've been there, gosh knows I am as unkillfileable as /dev/random, but then again, I've never laid an egg that approached the scale of _this_ significant achievement. I mean, really, I feel that the time space continuum has been altered to a slight degree, well maybe not that bad, maybe your dissertation just crashed a few routers, but still, please don't play with matches, this brain fart was too big to dissipate in under 72 hours at least, etc, etc, anyways, I wish you a timely recovery, and hope that you accept that we all make typos occasionally (well, maybe not typos _this_ big hehe).

    [ Parent ]

    Art is a reflection of nature (2.50 / 2) (#341)
    by odd_raisin on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 03:41:05 PM EST

    This might have already been said ( It's hard to read 300+ posts :), but it's said that art's purpose is to hold the mirror up to nature.

    To me, programming is doing exactly that. The reason I love programming so much is because it forces me to truly understand the problem I am trying to solve. For me programming is a way to describe thought. In this way it is beautiful and art.

    A better analogy than the one you offer ( code = paint ( I would have said the language = paint and code = painting ) ) would be coding is like words. We arrange words in such a way as to call them art ( poetry ). The same is true for coding.

    READ ME: Raisin = Little Bitch (1.00 / 13) (#347)
    by VErgun on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:20:32 PM EST

    Odd Raisin, your mother is so fat that when I tried to calculate her volume using integration, my TI-89 said "overflow".

    While my previous statement may not actually be fact, your point being a complete and utter piece of shit is.

    Art's purpose is not to hold the mirror up to nature, if that were the case, where does abstract and surreal art come from? Not to mention every single piece that deals with rational or illusory ideas and not tangible "natural" objects. Next time, evaluate art as a whole, not purely off a Thomas Kinkaid painting you saw at the dollar store.

    "To me, programming is doing exactly that". If it wasn't for your blatant disregard of the first amendment (the Bill of Rights is only applicable to human beings, not protozoa), I would say that your opinion is horrible. But, considering you had no legitimate right to even state your opinion in the first place, I will simply ignore you, relax, and call you a moron. Moron.

    The entire point of coding for coding alone is to be efficient. Your analogy is beyond horrible, it's a debacle (which doesn't come as a surprise because judging from your points, you also are a debacle). The literal code is similar to words. Each words has a specific meaning like each command in programming. When you put these words or commands together, they have no meaning besides efficiency (similar to avoiding purple prose in writing). However, when you read the code (running the program) and the words, the meaning is subjectively revealed.

    Shame on you, go pick your nose and get off this discussion forum; that is unless you have something else to contribute besides the unenjoyable boogers I have already seen.

    Next time you decide to climb out of your piece of shit hellhole of a life and try to write some garbage to impress the "academia" of kuro5hin, visit this website and be reminded that you are making the online community feel similar to the tortured souls you see in the pan. You are the woman, completely unaware of reality and the suffering you are condemning us to: http://www.allyourbase.net/pictures/index.php/favs/large/anidoughboy.gif


    ----------------- -Verdi Erel Ergun
    [
    Parent ]
    Is Windows 2000 art? (2.16 / 6) (#344)
    by inpHilltr8r on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:15:11 PM EST

    No, and neither is it's box cover.

    Let's declare a moratorium... (1.75 / 4) (#345)
    by Brains Akimbo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:16:14 PM EST

    ... and not call anything "art" for the next 100 years.

    After that period our grandchildren will be able to pick apart the real art from the capuccino-addled posturing.

    You are not a real artist (1.80 / 5) (#346)
    by Brains Akimbo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:17:20 PM EST

    I am.

    I am superior to you in so many ways that I can't begin to count them.

    All in good fun :-)

    Towards a working definition of art (1.80 / 10) (#348)
    by Brains Akimbo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:21:34 PM EST

    How about this:

    The action or effect of pedantic schmucks in black turtlenecks.

    Well, some of them wear tuxedos, but you get the general idea.

    Yes, that is a great definition, if (1.00 / 13) (#349)
    by VErgun on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:26:15 PM EST

    That would have been a great definition if it hadn't come from a pedantic schmuck in a black turtleneck.

    Quit trying to make us laugh, you unintelligent yenta. Oh, by the way, I would have given your comment a "2" had it not been for the fact that it is a complete and utter piece of SHIT.
    ----------------- -Verdi Erel Ergun
    [ Parent ]
    Are you trolling at me ??? (1.00 / 8) (#365)
    by Brains Akimbo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:38:35 PM EST

    Spamming is not tolerated here. Any comment may be deleted by a site admin, and all spammers will be deleted. This is fair warning. If you don't know what spamming is, then you're probably not about to do it, so don't worry. But you can read the definition in The Jargon File if you were wondering (particularly number 2). :-)

    [ Parent ]
    You are a moron. (1.00 / 18) (#374)
    by VErgun on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:11:16 PM EST

    Not only was that totally incoherent, but your smile face at the end makes me wonder about your sexuality.

    Next time when you are more unadroit, consider an occupation as a garbage collector. Atleast that way, you will have a lot of your kuro5hin postings to look at.
    ----------------- -Verdi Erel Ergun
    [ Parent ]
    What a moron. (1.21 / 14) (#389)
    by VErgun on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 06:17:57 AM EST

    That was most likely the most incoherent reply that any reader has ever read.

    Please do all of the readers a favor and heed my suggestion - become a garbage collector. That way, you will have a job that reflects your abilities and a nice collection of your kuro5hin posts.
    ----------------- -Verdi Erel Ergun
    [ Parent ]
    process, object, entire, text, reveals, yourself (4.25 / 4) (#350)
    by inpHilltr8r on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:43:08 PM EST

    if code is as paint then coding is as painting
    then if coding isn't art then neither is painting

    if the object resulting from the process of painting may be considered art
    then so may the object resulting from the process of coding

    to some the process of painting may be considered art, but not many
    as some may consider the process of coding as art, but again few

    but this is not a popularity contest

    and there are no correct answers

    dunk that in your coffee

    and loosen your beret

    ...

    Phil Wilkins: Graphics Programmer, Musician, Writer

    Wow (1.09 / 11) (#351)
    by Kyle_the_Dragoon on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:44:07 PM EST

    I hope all these idiots look back in a week or so and say "What the fuck was i doing???"
    I thought K5 was free from the gay ass groupthink that pollutes certain other sites like slashdot. Half these comments must say the same damn thing! I'm the last person who is going to applaud the slashdot moderation system, but where's my "-1, redundant" moderation option? Not that I would have time. So Jin is wrong- though its debatable, keep in mind I side with the "code is art" group. Everyone here has been wrong before, haven't you? I suggest that everyone should read the FAQ before continuing please.

    I've said it before, and i'll say it again: Read the freaking FAQ!
    Take it easy (none / 0) (#355)
    by Brains Akimbo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 07:27:55 PM EST

    I could cite several paragraphs of the FAQ that render your comment void.

    [ Parent ]

    Heh (none / 0) (#361)
    by Elendale on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:15:42 PM EST

    I don't think you're the one he's complaining about though. This whole story seems to be (sorry Jin) the perfect troll. Unfortunately, he's right that a lot of people should be looking back in a weeks time and asking themselves what kind of drugs they were on. I also have a feeling that the parent was a mini-troll itself- but its probably me just looking at the subtleties.

    -Elendale
    ---

    When free speech is outlawed, only criminals will complain.


    [ Parent ]
    That's a good idea (none / 0) (#359)
    by Brains Akimbo on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:11:00 PM EST

    I will too begin:

    • sending self-righteous, authoritarian, haughty comments telling people to read some (possibly nonexistent) FAQ,
    • rating every post "1"

    Then again, life is probably too short to lose time on such childishness.

    [ Parent ]

    You are 100% Right, and 100% Wrong !! (3.00 / 1) (#352)
    by Komodo321 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 06:51:59 PM EST

    Coding is like writing - it can be art, or it can be tripe. Programming is like building something - it can be mechanistic and devoid of spirit, or the result can be inspiring. Interface design always involves aesthetics, unless it doesn't; if not, the results are pathetic. So you are right - programming is not an art, atleast for most people.

    you have an odd definition of art (4.00 / 2) (#358)
    by coffee17 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 08:07:10 PM EST

    And one that I'm frankly glad that I don't share. Art is whatever makes you gaze in an appreciate awe. It could be some morphing display for you (something which I find grows uninteresting quickly if I'm in a drug-free state of consciousness), or to me it might be a block of the most beautiful code ever written (IMHO). Saying that only the finished product of code is art, and that the structure itself cannot be art seems a lot to me like Guiliani(sp?) saying that something can't be art because it has a bit of dung on the virgin mary. Art is art to whomever can appreciate it, with no absolutes of what is and isn't art.

    ermm.... (none / 0) (#426)
    by cybin on Tue May 01, 2001 at 11:30:07 AM EST

    that code you linked is interesting, but appears to me to be meaningless. yes, it compiles, but it doesn't do anything when you run it. it might look nice but to me it's just some elevated form of masturbation... i think a lot of people are missing the distinction between artistic works and things that are interesting and/or mentally stimulating.

    [ Parent ]
    what *is* the distinction? (none / 0) (#428)
    by coffee17 on Tue May 01, 2001 at 02:31:11 PM EST

    Ok, first if you look at the code, if you have the right background, it looks like a representation of a half adder in digitial logic... bit fiddiling. then, if you read the code, you realize that it is adding two numbers passed in by... you guessed it, bit manipulation. then if you actually run it with two numeric argument it will print out the sum. I.E. the beauty is that the code is self-documenting, the image one gets from looking at the code describes what it does.

    i think a lot of people are missing the distinction between artistic works and things that are interesting and/or mentally stimulating.

    Ok, I'll bite. Why do you think this is not art, other than that you don't/didn't understand it (you said it doesn't do anything when run, which shows that you couldn't have read it. 'gcc heathbar.c ; ./a.out 1274 523' prints the sum 1797) ... take a look at the artists's description at http://www.ioccc.org/1995/heathbar.hint ... hopefully after reading all of that you will see that this bit of code is expressing the authors' sense of humor. Art is an expression from an artist. Art, in my definition, is not just pretty pictures; it can include books, music, performance, and yes, code. And as I said in the previous comment, if one's definition of art only includes pretty pictures, that seems pretty sad to me.

    [ Parent ]

    distinction (none / 0) (#429)
    by cybin on Tue May 01, 2001 at 03:55:35 PM EST

    hrm. i apologize for not knowing what a half-adder is, but that is precisely my point. what IS the point of making the code look like that if the common observer can't determine what it is? i realize this argument is very polarized, and i think a lot of people assume that just because i don't think code is art that i'm not a coder (which i am). i understand that the code is interesting in that it is self-documenting (once it was explained).

    it seems to me that this program is playing on an artistic notion that form is related to function, for example, in traditional settings of the Mass (i.e. Beethoven's Missa Solemnis) the Kyrie movement gets divided into three parts, because that is the structure of the text. with this program, i see how the process of writing it required a lot of creativity and intuition as well as specific knowledge of the language of C itself.... but playing on artistic notions does not make it art.

    for me, again, this has to do with communication -- art is communicative, and this program only succeeds, in its completed form (compiled form) in printing out numbers. the original form (and thus the function) is lost. in the end it is no different than a calculator. art, on the other hand, is a combination of both the process and the outcome -- i.e. the painter paints but his work is not art unless someone else sees it. they may see it differently than he does, but the viewer understands that there was a process involved in its construction that had to do with transcribing an image from the artist's mind onto the canvas. it may have shapes/structures (like code does) but so does everything. people build things that make sense.

    i'm rambling a bit... but, being a musician i understand musical structures in the sense that they are meaningless by themselves. they must be together, and the way the composer puts them together creates something of a gestalt -- the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, and in the end it is trancendant of the mere waveforms. that is my definition of art, and i simply don't see the entire process of programming to be at all transcendant of anything. it's amazing these things actually turn on, yes... but that is a feat of engineering, not a feat of expression by a person motivated to do so.

    [ Parent ]
    art (1.00 / 1) (#433)
    by fragnabbit on Wed May 02, 2001 at 08:56:31 AM EST

    hrm. i apologize for not knowing what a half-adder is, but that is precisely my point. what IS the point of making the code look like that if the common observer can't determine what it is?

    uhm.. art!

    [ Parent ]

    Try a dictionary before posting (4.25 / 8) (#366)
    by Rainy on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:03:32 PM EST

    art
    n 1: the products of human creativity; works of art collectively
    [syn: {fine art}]
    2: the creation of beautiful or significant things; "he was a
    patron of art" [syn: {artistic creation}, {artistic
    production}]
    3: the superior ability that is attained by study and practice
    and observation; "he had mastered the art of a great
    craftsman" [syn: {artistry}, {prowess}, {superior skill}]
    4: photographs or other visual representations in a printed
    publication [syn: {artwork}, {graphics}, {nontextual
    matter}]

    creativity
    n : the ability to create [syn: {creativeness}]
    [ant: {uncreativeness}]

    #1,#2,#3 match perfectly.

    Most arguments are bound to end up in semantics after long and
    furious discussion; this one *starts* out with semantics, and
    so long and/or furious discussion is unnecessary.

    Do invest in a dictionary.
    --
    Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
    OT (1.62 / 8) (#376)
    by VErgun on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:21:28 PM EST

    I am testing out my signature, but since I will be a nice guy, here is my contribution: This article sucks. Justification you ask? Read my signature.
    ----------------- -Verdi Erel Ergun
    Coding not art? (2.33 / 3) (#384)
    by linus nielsen on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:27:03 AM EST

    This is by far the most elaborate troll I have ever encountered!!!

    The Kinds of the Art of Programming (4.50 / 2) (#392)
    by exa on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 11:54:43 AM EST

    I remember myself working till dawn, coding an incredibly difficult zoomer rotator code on my Amiga several years ago. It was a challenging effect, I recall, some tight code and smart optimizations were in order.[*] Yet, the aim was creating a work of art. When it first ran, I saw the unique rainbow like pattern in motion; which I'd arranged to show that it ran in true color. It was beautiful. Even now describing it gives me a unique pleasure.

    While showing it to a good friend of mine recently, I would be shocked if a painter came through the door yelling that programming is not art.

    As a matter of fact, in the demo scene we were constantly delighted by the aesthetic value of what we created if not by the technical excellence. We combined code, graphics, and music for an audio-visual show on the computer, and I do not suppose much similarity to utilities of everyday computing. Demo competitions have been big events. Showing your code was a thing to take pride in and an exciting channel of communication with other people. [+]

    However, like video-art, what we did was a niche of high-tech art. Which is I believe strong in number and well respected in many circles. Unfortunate for the author of the article claiming the contrary. There is an abundance of such computer art.
    The demos are art, with no dispute. Nevertheless, what we are doing in the demos was using the computer to create an artwork similar to more traditional forms. For those who are unfamiliar, the end result was very much like the beginning titles of a motion picture, only longer. In fact, I guess the newer motion pictures feature titles which are more and more like demos. :)

    However, as I grew more experienced in the code I realized something else. The importance of the code came from the fact that it was a functional entity. We wrote things that could produce and provide. Perhaps, with enough effort we could even imitate cognitive processes. That's when I started learning about AI during my comp.sci. undergraduate study. Then I learnt that coding was a more social phenomenon than I thought; hence I followed the free software movement.

    Writing a compiler would be a higher form of art than writing a graphics boasting demo for me. Designing a language, giving it meaning and realizing it with a well written code has been the driving force of my studies for quite a long time. That kind of an achievement would be my masterpiece. The ultimate mold of my programmer spirit. In that expression I reckon logical aesthetics rather than visual aesthetics. The beauty of code comes not from what it seems, but what it is.

    If you would like me to expand on this idea, please give me a hint :)

    [*] When I think about the zoomer-rotator code now I think it's a good piece. The optimizations it required had to be hand coded. You could not, and can not now, write a program as efficient in C. Or assume that you cannot. I think those optimizations were implemented only in FORTRAN compilers, and the kind of code that ran on bare metal would be admissible only in Assembly. Like Real Programmers do :P And it looked cute, especially for the machine it ran on.
    [+] I remember MS (that's a handle, not the big evil corporation) hug me vigorously when he saw the 96-face glenz that I'd made.
    __
    exa a.k.a Eray Ozkural
    There is no perfect circle.

    Re: The Kinds of the Art of Programming (none / 0) (#398)
    by afreeman on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:22:12 PM EST

    I agree with all the points you mention - I don't suppose we'll ever see a demo scene like the Amiga's again - for one thing there's too much good work for talented programmer nowadays :-)

    I keep my Amiga safely stored, along with racks of old demo disks I acquired when I was in my early teens from small mail order companies (again, I think of how things have changed now the Internet is readily available).

    For a teen Amiga addict, the latest megademo was the highest art-form. You are quite right, they combined visuals and sound in a way only CGI movie titles do nowadays.

    I've had no compunction about binning much of my old Amiga application software, even games (apart from 'Shadow of The Beast', of course, which would quickly end the discussion on whether computer games can be considered an art form or not!!!), but I couldn't bear to throw my favorite demos out!!

    Many more of us will be familiar with this phenomenon when agonizing over whether to throw out our favorite LPs or not! In fact, that in itself is an intuitive notion of what can really be considered pure art - something which if of no practical value, but which we feel a strong emotional bond with.

    Nostalga for that bygone era aside, I would like to expand on another point you made.

    You have emphasized that with experience a good programmer experiences a transition from appreciating the beauty of what his code produces, to the beauty of the encoding itself.

    There is a precise analogy here with physics. One develops a thoery in physics by assembling a model of the world and encoding it in mathematical terms.

    You use your model to make predictions. You put in real world parameters, and see how closely the outputs of your model resembles the behaviour of the real world.

    This is how every day physics works anyway. However, if you could ask Einstein or Feynmann how they developed General Relativity and Quantum Electrodynamics (IMHO, the two most beautiful mainstream physical theories), they will not respond that it was driven by the pragmatic requirements of the real word; rather that it was driven by their own sense of aesthetics.

    Theoretical physicists use their aesthetic sense constantly to guide them. The most beautiful theories - and also artistic techniques - are in essence simple and elegent, and yet seemingly unbounded in the complexity they can generate. Fractals are a well-known example which blur the line between equation and art.

    Software engineers do exactly the same thing. They develop models which will create a certain desired output (a physicists 'desired output' is the real world, of course).

    Of course, computer models may start out pleasingly elegant, but eventually the inconsistency of customer requirements eventually turns the initially elegant model into a wheezing mass of cruft. This is where physicists have the advnatage - mother nature is always consistent and never changes here mind!!

    However, I personally made the transition from mathematics and physics to software engineering, because of my love of crafting such elegent models. Its not a decision I have come to regret.
    "Men forget, but never forgive. Women forgive, but never forget."
    [ Parent ]
    It's art Jin... (4.80 / 5) (#393)
    by starling on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 01:44:16 PM EST

    ... but not as you know it.

    art is software (4.50 / 2) (#394)
    by pyat on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:17:37 PM EST

    Art only exists in so far as it interacts with people (viewers). Similarly, software only exists in so far as it interacts with computers (real or theoretical). The value of both is generally judged on effect of the work on the receiver (viewer/computer).
    We might say a piece of art was very profound if it elicited emotional reactions we did not believe possible from its medium. Similarly, software is most startling when it makes a computer do things we did not know it could do.

    Seems to me that art is software, but since art came first (i believe), it seems fairer and more generous to say software is art. Six of one, half dozen of the other.
    m

    hey, give credit where it's due ;) (none / 0) (#406)
    by sayke on Sat Apr 28, 2001 at 06:55:36 AM EST

    to me!!!(*@#(@#$(

    but semi-seriously, are you just recycling what i wrote here? if so, please, like, attribute your sources, and stuff. it's only ethical.

    if not, cool, we both came up with it =)


    sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */
    [ Parent ]

    Spoken like a true non-programmer (4.14 / 7) (#395)
    by scorbett on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 03:20:17 PM EST

    I wish I had seen this article back when it was still in the queue so I could have voted it down as the troll that it is, but sadly, I missed it. Normally I don't respond to trolls, but I just can't resist (and judging by the sheer number of comments already posted, I'm not alone).

    A good analogy would be to compare the elements of code to a tube of paint. As a painter, I need a medium to create my work in. The tube of paint, like an element of code, has a specific purpose.
    You're revealing your ignorance here - this is a terrible analogy. Programming is more than just assembling premade elements of code into a working system. It requires thought, imagination, and creativity. It's interesting that you spend paragraph after paragraph stating that code is not art, yet you fail to clearly state anywhere just exactly what your definition of "art" is. Obviously you aren't using the dictionary definition.
    I understand very well why programmers might feel the need to believe that their work is art. When you spend the bulk of your time creating something, of course we need to feel that it has been worthwhile, and not simply wasted effort.
    You've switched gears from ignorance to arrogance. You're saying that if something isn't art, it's a "wasted effort"? You're saying that nothing is "worthwhile" unless it passes your narrow (and, apparently, private) definition of art? Your style of writing does denote a certain amount of intelligence, but comments like this one that reveal your deep-seated arrogance only serve to make you appear narrow minded.
    But please -- stop making claims that simply well-written code in itself is art. Us real artists are not impressed -- in fact, some of us are a smite miffed.
    You've completed your gamut of hostility by progressing from ignorance to arrogance to pretentiousness. Once again, you appear to be holding everyone else to an invisible set of standards that you do not reveal. What, exactly, is a "real artist"? Are we supposed to bow down in awe now that we know you are a "real artist" and the rest of us are poor, unimaginative slobs who just don't understand "real art"? You seem to be trying to hide your own insecurity behind a veil of contempt. Consider therapy, or at least take the chip off your shoulder.

    My last piece of advice to you would be to buy a dictionary and look up some of the words you used, since it's clear that your internal definitions are different than the rest of the world's. I would also advise you to try programming for yourself, but I don't think you'd make a very good programmer. In addition to requiring creativity and imagination (which you do possess), it also requires logic and rational thought, which, sadly, are not your strong points.



    The problem with drawing the line (4.66 / 3) (#396)
    by Kellnerin on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 05:07:58 PM EST

    So we have two colossal bins, one labelled Art and the other, Not Art. And we have someone (labelled Jin Wicked) sorting things into the bins. Artifacts get tossed into the bins in great bucketfuls. Paintings, Poems, Elegant Mathematics go into Art. Code, Craft Kits, Plastic Models go in the other one. Under one sign (that of Art) is written "creative, unique, meaningful" while the inscription on Not Art's plaque reads "quite plain and ordinary".

    Well, someone has poked a stick into the hornet's nest and everyone is starting to buzz. I have a few reasons for adding to the cacophony. First I'll take issue with the buckets, as so many have done. It is not only not easy, but utterly impossible to pass judgement on an entire field or medium. Even those who have argued the case for programming as art have not gone as far as to claim that the entire Code bucket be dumped into the Art bin. A good many have tried to throw certain Paintings into the Not Art side.

    All this is fine. With the subtleties of each work (rather than its medium) taken into consideration, and taking the above subtexts on the bins as tongue-in-cheek, I still have problems with the arguments beginning from "Art is X, thus Programming is (not) Art." It's not just that I reject the individual definitions (that Art has a message, that it is beautiful, that it is useless, that it is decorative, that it is found in a museum and so on) -- though in large part I do -- it's that I reject the bins. Sure, art exists and I'm not denying that, but I do deny that these neat categories of Art and Not Art belong anywhere but inside an individual's head. Everyone here is free to sort the objects they encounter into either of these categories, but please don't imply that I ought to agree. For my part, I tend to err on the side of "OK, let's call it art, but I don't find it particularly good" but it doesn't really matter to me if the objects in your personal Art bin have much in common with mine. If the word "art" has meaning, it's a personal meaning, so any appeals to a definition, dictionary or otherwise, will leave me unconvinced.

    --And is her power all in her club sandwich--

    Art Is Dead Anyway, So What? (3.00 / 1) (#397)
    by Gantar on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 06:58:42 PM EST

    In the sense art critics and philosophers understand the term, most of the examples mentioned here and in the article would not be considered art. Art is the expression of complex ideas of social, personal, cultural or philosophical relevance by artistic means. For some reason todays art pretty much does suck. Science has yet to explain this phenomenon, but it is an acknowledged fact.

    For the software/code side of this discussion: Coding is craftsmanship and only snobs consider good craftsmanship inferior to good art. If someone says my code is not art, I agree. How can a computer program express complex ideas of social, personal, cultural or philosophical relevance by artistic means? I can't understand why so many people here seem to go berserk when reading their code is not art. Of course it isn't. A piece of code is an artefact, right, it is fun to create, right, it might even express ideas -- it is, however, not art. Creating artefacts that don't qualify for art is nothing to be ashamed of. Most things (like bottle caps, hamburgers, MS Windows) don't even qualify as good craftsmanship. Since art is dead, and most contemporary art just sucks I would take more of an offense if someone stated that my code is art ("cubistic" code, "atonal" code, "post-modern" code, "abstract expressionistic" code, anyone)?



    It's a meaningless statement, because... (3.50 / 2) (#399)
    by tchaika on Fri Apr 27, 2001 at 08:52:34 PM EST

    Demos (see http://www.hornet.org) are programming-as-art.

    Business logic is not.

    Games are somewhere inbetween.

    Your statement is too general. One could say that programming on company time should not be art. But that is like saying we should have no great works of architecture, only utilitarian buildings. Granted, superfluous 'beautiful' code can be a waste of time and money, but one must attempt to advance the human condition in some small way through one's work.

    The key is not to do it if the customer doesn't know about it or want to pay for it.

    my 2 cents (3.50 / 2) (#413)
    by luethke on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 02:45:32 AM EST

    wow, soo many posts, I guess I will restate somethings (only read the 50 or so on the top). Addressing the idea that code is not art by saying that win2000 is not art (as much as I dislike it) who's to say it won't be considered art in the future. Most people consider architecture to be art, writing code can be like architecture. Do you consider the mats people paint for movies to be art (it is nothing more than a means, not an end)? That is very utilitarian and may be doing nothing besides trying to copy a real scene exactly. As to being hung in an art museum do you consider the pathenon to be art? it typically will not be hung in a museum, nor will it's plans be hung. You also seem to equate getting paid to making it not art (now i suppose that may come because since you claim to be an artists have looked for a job and seen the huge job oppertunities out there (if you can bitch at me I will back) ).

    I can also understand very well an artist trying to make programmers feel bad. The jobs are few and far between and typically don't pay well unless you are lucky. There are many more people capable of being an artists. Even in a small technical shool that I attended the art classes - including the upper level classes - neede the audotorium to have the required seats, the typicall cs/math/engeneering class was around 25, less than half the size of the art classes. The class size is even worse in a large liberal arts university.
    Even as a hobby, it must be disappointing to humour the idea that perhaps the product of all your creative energy and effort is not art that was probably one of the most humorous statements in the whole article. <sarcasm> my whole life has been wasted. After spending my time creating software that will be used to help thousands of people (I work on high performance software at a national lab) I have just realized the impact I could have made to society if I had been a painter. Instead of helping to further the human genome project, ease the use of clusters for medical research, create a visualization of a hand to help medical research I would have been soooo much better off if I had simply glued some ping pong balls to a box in a row and called it a pea pod (one of the actuall peices of "art" shown locally, I don't remember what it was supposed to symbolize)</sarcasm> even if coding is not an art i am still fullfilled. I have never, and will never want to be an artists (in fact I have felt a sense of irritation at most - not all - artists I have meet).

    finally do I think coding is an art? it can be, but isn't neccasarily. To use an example of what you consider art take the pea pod example above, or one of my more favorite ones to decry. At $10000 (yes ten thousand) dollars a pop this woman will load a fully automatic paint ball gun with somewhere around 100-200 random color paint balls. Then she stands 15 feet away and shoots the canvas. For this work I have seen her on discover channel (a show on the history of art) and another cable channel. They then interviewed several art critics (who knew how the painting was made) and they proceded to "analyze" the painting "see how the colors blend? it is an allegory for man's search for commentmen" or some such jaz - I felt like screaming at the tv "a fucking 6 month old rat could do that retards" (retards being someone who is defined as having thier full mental capacity but acting like a mentally challenged person, it is not a term for mentally challenged as they have no choice in the matter). Code is not the same art as say the cistene chapel (don't know how to spell that) but is much more art than the stupid paint ball woman. I for one take attitudes such as yours as jealosy (sp?) about either our salaries or intellegence and need to have some rationalization about why you are better and we all REALLY want to be like you and are unhappy.

    It CAN be art but often is not (4.00 / 2) (#416)
    by baptiste on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 12:15:47 PM EST

    To me, Art is Art regardless of the medium. Whether its oils or ASCII, you can have junk paintings and beautiful code

    And from an artist's perspective, when you finish a masterpiece, regardless what it is, painting or a new system, its wonderful to step back and admire your work - a job well done.

    As we all can relate - we've written junk code to just get the job done and we've written masterful code that is a thing of beauty. --
    Top Substitutions For 'Under God' In The Pledge Of Allegiance

    ignorant twit (3.00 / 2) (#417)
    by no carrier on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 12:38:31 AM EST

    "you cannot perceive beauty but with a serene mind."

    h. d. thoreau

    just because YOU can't see the beauty in something does not mean it's not beautiful to me. there are plenty of examples hanging in museums that i find no beauty in, does this mean they are not art? no, it simply means i have a differnt view of beauty. now, if you want to start a debate over which programming language offers the most freedom of expression your in the right place, but if you insist on starting a philosophical debate over something that is defined differently by each individual, well, i guess this is as good as place as any as well. welcome to the crowd, hope your feelings aren't hurt easily.

    I stab people.
    Anybody got a dictionary? (none / 0) (#425)
    by fragnabbit on Tue May 01, 2001 at 11:27:07 AM EST

    From Websters:

    art 1. human ability to make things; creativity of man as distinguished from the world of nature 2. skill; craftsmanship 3. any specific skill or its application etc. etc.

    Looks to me like people (at least the folks that speak the English language) have agreed that any creative endeavor made by humans can be considered art.

    move along...

    Indeed. (none / 0) (#427)
    by EBx on Tue May 01, 2001 at 01:04:24 PM EST

    You took the words right out of my mouth.

    My dictionary however states:
    "art /a:t/ n [U] the expression of human creative talent; esp in a visual form.

    Why? Because someone has to keep the karma whores in line.

    [ Parent ]

    Painting is not art (none / 0) (#430)
    by hellorob on Tue May 01, 2001 at 07:15:41 PM EST

    Building is not art Programming is not art Cooking is not art

    Any creative process is not art of itself.

    However, with inspiration & creativity, any materials can be used to create art.
    The medium is never the message

    Beauty, function, asthetics, are not rules that must apply to art, nor is the opposite true

    Compare Bauhaus, dada, and the French impressionists.


    Its better to be silent and thought a fool... (none / 0) (#438)
    by geekoid on Fri May 04, 2001 at 03:04:54 PM EST

    Just because your banging a programmer and have 'programmer friends' does not mean you know damn thing about the programming process. From your article I doubt you know anything about the process of making art as well.
    This would be like my sleeping with a sculptor, then proclaiming to the sculpting community what sculpting is and isn't.
    A beautiful math equation is not beautiful because of how it is written, but because of the brilliance that it conveys to those who appreciate its meaning.
    how is this differnt then programming?
    Ultimately, the state of being "art" is judged by the final product that the medium produces.
    Not always, in many mediums the creative process is also art. A movie or theatricle production contains many different art forms that all CONTRIBUTE to the final product.
    If in programming there was only one way to do a particular task, you might of had a point, but there are many ways to do the same thing, and that is where the artistry come in.
    If a blind man is in a gallery, does that mean there is no art?

    are you for real... (none / 0) (#439)
    by areyouquasimodo on Fri May 04, 2001 at 04:15:06 PM EST

    Your arguments are weak, invalid and full of assumptions. Oh, but I forgot REAL artists don't have to take logic in college.

    Old Argument (none / 0) (#442)
    by PhoenixSEC on Fri May 04, 2001 at 06:29:21 PM EST

    I believe this is a very old argument.

    Art as defined by artists usually includes their form as the highest (if not only) form worthy to be considered art. In reality, this is no different from any other argument which creates an arbitrary classification for some group of things (e.g., I'm not just a human, I'm a 18 year old caucassian female (which, for reference, I'm not =)).

    While touring Italy recently, I happened through several musems. Surprisingly few items struck me as 'art' (which I happen to define as something that illicits emotion from me), however upon my return home someone had solved a problem in my code (fine.. bug, but who changes the platform for a product after launch and while the project lead is out of the country?). It was elegant, clean, and well.. beautiful.

    Don't take me wrong, I don't think that all programming is art, but then again, who does? I certainly don't consider myself a painter because I used fingerpaints in kintergarden. But I guess nowadays anyone who clicks through a wizard in VB is considered a programmer (which is fine, as long as you differentiate somehow between a 'programmer' and a 'computer scientist' - much the same way there's an apprentist and a master).

    From the use of your language, I gather that you are one of the 'artists' who are 'miffed.' Why do you consider yourself an artist? Because someone else told you that was an appropriate term for you? Or is it something that you feel... more of an attitude. Painting a wall (read: solid white in my kitchen) does not constitute a work of art, yet it is essintially the same as what you do; I take paint (out of a bucket, not a tube =) and apply it to a surface.. usually with a brush no less.

    In other words, accept the fact that painting is not the only art form out there (and yes, that photography is art too - since I get the feeling that you would argue that as well ; ) and perhaps you would be more comfortable in what you do (read: not so miffed).

    Peace, love, and beautiful code,
       PhoenixSEC

    terrible argument (none / 0) (#443)
    by hamoe on Sun May 06, 2001 at 01:28:49 PM EST

    The entire article is based on the 'fact' that the only kind of art is painting, and that because of that, you must use it as an analogy to analyze whether anything else is art. Kick that argument and the entire article is based on nothing, but I'll bet everyone here knew that anyways...

    Sorry my comment is so late, but (none / 0) (#444)
    by vfvthunter on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:00:34 PM EST

    I've been away for a while. You use the argument that code is not art because code is usually written to be useful. But this also applies to your painting. Sure, some people such as yourself paint for aesthetic beauty, and this is art to be sure. But the majority of people (millions, in fact) use paint as a utility: paint covers their houses. I doubt that anyone would believe you if you told them that house painting was an art. But painting is an art, its just just the chosen few for whom is actually is an art.

    Similarly we have code. I submit to you that some code does have aesthetic beauty, but you admit this in your writing. I find it ironic however, that an artiste such as yourself would limit the definition of "aesthetic beauty" to only a graphical format. Code is an abstraction of intellect; it takes many layers of abstraction in order to get a thought in some coder's head to execute properly on a finite-precision digital machine. While this abstraction may or may not produce an output that has aesthetic beauty in the graphical sense, it certainly is capable of producing an output that is aesthetically beautiful in the intellctual sense.

    I am a biomedical engineer; I use code to run simulations of physical phenomena. Thus, at the lowest level, I use little tiny pieces of silicon, currents, and voltages in order to describe the world around me. You happen to use paint to achieve your description.

    Now I know what your next argument is going to be: that I am an engineer, and my "description" of the world is nothing more than a set of scientific facts. But what is art? What does your art say? Your art is "aesthetically pleasing" (to some people anyway). This is a big way of saying that it is nice to look at.

    And what of my scientific results? Aren't fractals aesthetically pleasing? Are they disqualified as being art simply because they can be described mathematically (intellectually)? You should really take an engineering or mathematics course sometime. There's nothing like reading a book for 2 hours just to understand one equation. But once you understand it, and you see what the equation describes, how succinctly and tersely it says what it says, I think you will find that mathematical equations are aesthetically pleasing as well.

    It is somewhat hilarous that an artist cannot understand this; for you of all people should understand that art is not limited to canvas; music is certainly considered an art, and music is nothing more than oscillations of air pressure. With this in mind, it is easy to see how code can be and in fact is art. In the words of Robert Pirsig:

    The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer of the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower.

    Lastly, I leave you with the definition of art from Webster's (www.dict.org):

    The employment of means to accomplish some desired end; the adaptation of things in the natural world to the use of life; the application of knowledge or power to practical purposes.

    I submit that the above definition can be applied directly to computer code. Using silicon chips and a computer language to do anything can be described as the adaptation of things to the use of life. 'Nuff said.

    heh-heh (none / 0) (#445)
    by Humbaba on Mon May 07, 2001 at 05:47:05 PM EST

    Looks like you've really rubbed some people's rhubarb the wrong way, Jin. This is an interesting question. I think it's fair to say that art can't exist in a vacuum, that is, if a plague rose up and killed every last soul on earth, would the Mona Lisa still be art? I guess that what I'm saying is that without an audience to see or touch or experience (possibly understand?) a work of art, that work of art becomes just another object - stuff. Who then fills the audience for a piece of code that, for the sake of argument, we will call art? I suppose the audience has to consist of programmers, engineers, scientists - you get the idea. Within that crowd, you probably could hear cheers of "brilliant!", "elegant!", "ingenious!", maybe even "art!", but would the rest of the world care? It's possible that this piece of code does something really fantastic - it might help send people to the moon, it might help unravel the human genome, it might even help to create things of "beauty". I'm sure people would care about that, and have the highest respect for the skill, creativity and effort required to create the code. But the code itself, when you get to the basics, is a set of instructions for a machine - don't get me wrong, the architecture for a computing system (not only software, don't forget the hardware) can be incredibly complex and oftentimes quite elegant, but if it requires an advanced engineering degree to appreciate that fact then there must be many "programmer artists" feeling under-appreciated. Come to think of it, though, some of this past century's art apparently requires advanced degrees to appreciate as well. When I see sculpture by michelangelo or hear Beethoven, my soul rises up. If I read code that is brilliantly conceived - I am impressed, maybe amazed, but I don't feel a profound sense of awe. I'm surprised by many of the comments you've elicited - so energetic! Who knew engineers were so sensitive about their "art"? I happen to be an engineer, but I never confuse my utilitarian work (no matter how clever, creative or elegant) with art.

    Call me a phillistine engineer, but... (none / 0) (#446)
    by MattGWU on Tue May 08, 2001 at 07:54:59 AM EST

    ....whoever said art was worthwhile?

    I understand very well why programmers might feel the need to believe that their work is art. When you spend the bulk of your time creating something, of course we need to feel that it has been worthwhile, and not simply wasted effort.

    Sure it looks nice and brightens the walls (since we're talking painting here), and if you look really close and cross your eyes and pull back slowly, you see floating teddybears and demons who tell you to do bad things and such, but it doesn't DO anything.

    I guess it depends on which side of the campus you're on here (art building, engineering building), but I'm here busting my hump in computer engineering /*busting so hard I might have to admit defeat and 'back off' to mere computer science*/ so that when I get out of school, I'll have a job. Sure, it's finals week, and I'm wondering "blast it all....why am I here kicking my ass day in and day out and blowing my transcript all to hell with electronics, math, and programming when I can be sitting on my butt, playing Counterstrike [more], and occasionally painting pretty pictures, thinking nice thoughts, and not having to plan sleep two days in advance?". Then I remember, "oh yeah...someday I'd like to have a job that doesn't involve deep frying things in a silly hat".

    My main problems with the article are not the code == art question, but the way in which is it presented, and the arguments that are made. You seem to operate under the assumption that the vast majority of programmers consider their code art. This is patently false. I'll be the first to say that my code is not artistic, and is not written in the delusion that it is so. I try to be neat, efficient, and employ clever little tricks when I can, but that's about it.

    "Business code" is not art. I would hardly classify most "business" code as even being "good quality". The programmers might want to produce at least nice code, but managers will never allow it...it just takes too long. Time is money.

    I also have to take issue with your use of something being "worthwhile", "waste of effort", and so forth. This, again, depends on your side of the issue. Take the college campus again. My engineer friends and I have a rather low opinion of the liberal-art segment of the school population (though they comprise the largest segment). Afterall...they just read old books, invent buzzwords, think about how the color blue makes them feel, and string pretty words together while we're designing circuits, writing programs, performing physics experiements, and other things that we consider much more active, worthwhile, meaningful, and a better preparation for enterance into the real world. What does an english major do, exactly (And say a silent prayer for the souls of all the proto-managers and other droids)

    And what's all this about wasted effort? A program *does* something. It accomplishes a predefined goal. When you are done, the goal has been met and the problem solved. Seems like a good use of time and effort to me. Maybe I'm not looking at worth as might an artist, but just try and tell Bill Gates that code is worthless!

    Finally, coding can be just as satisfying and fulfilling as painting. Scenario: It's 3:45 am. Your own little pet project. } ^x^c (end brace, exit editor...jed, obviously). Code done, compile time. *enter*. Watch the code compile. Urging it on. Pleading with the compiler. Why is it taking so long...come on, hurry up. Prompt? What's wrong...Why is it back at the prompt? Wait a tick.........it compiled. YES....I am KING . All is good and right with the world. I don't doubt that finishing a painting is great, but there's nothing like the elation of the clean build. God gave you the bits, and you made them dance! When I first started in on this article, I envisioned another "We need to write better code, people...they did it back in the 60's, and we can do it now" sort of thing. It's been said, it's still very true, but it wasnt' as interesting as an article written by a liberal-art attacking the engineers. All in all, it's good to hear from the other team occasionally. Oh and by the by, I'll post a link to my predominantly landscape and abstract photo gallery, once I get a scanner driver written. Just wish I could find the URL to the code that produced the 42 byte (I think it's 42...it's the absolute smallest an a.out can get) but functional binary that was posted when slashdot ran a similar article. Now THAT was a bit of artistry.



    If you were foolish enough to go to college and major in one of the soft arts, such as journalism, English literature or music, you might have a bit of a shock comming. At best, thouse majors are excellent preparation for jobs that involve removing wine corks and condoms from the swimming pools of people who studied computer science. And even that is seasonal work.--Scott Adams, because it's sort of relevant

    values of b will give rise to dom! (The real .sig)

    Training Is Required To Appreciate Some Art (none / 0) (#447)
    by Shalom on Tue May 08, 2001 at 08:29:53 PM EST

    A programmer often has some problem or need which has to be solved, and seeks to solve it in the most efficient and resource-conserving manner. Art, on the other hand, takes ordinary objects (or unordinary objects) and embellishes them in such a way that serves no purpose other than to be aesthetically enjoyable.

    The definition of art you provide is a decent definition of universal art. Art that can be enjoyed by most people without special training or understanding. I'll grant you that that exists.

    But code, like mathematics or even architecture, has a special beauty of its own. You can feel it when a programmer has stumbled or sliced his way into the one perfect solution to a problem. That elegance resonates in the programmer's soul, and at least I don't know why. It's a gateway to the mystical.

    Efficiency doesn't make my heart swell. I don't lift my eyes heavenward when I see someone conserving more resources. Even elegance is sometimes humdrum. But there is a wondrous, perfect quality in certain code, certain solutions, where I know--this is it, this is one of the holy grails scattered about this land, a reflection of the Creator or of the great Emptiness, depending on your point of view.

    Unfortunately most people don't understand code well enough to read it, let alone zen out on its deeper mysteries. So it's not universal art.

    Come to think of it, even art art isn't universal, in the sense that neither I nor many of the people I have met understand or care for certain types of art. Who the hell came up with those silly paintings of circles, lines and triangles? Splotches of paint thrown against a canvas? Nonetheless, those who are deeply trained in art criticism seem to feel something for these paintings. I submit that it is because they understand something the rest of us don't, down in their soul. Perhaps it is elegance, or mystery. It's a tap to the mystical, again, that only the trained eye can see.

    Nonetheless, most of the people I've met appreciate something about the beauty of a Bouguereaux when they see it.

    In the end, if we have to take your definition of art, I'd throw out ten gallons of art for 6 ounces of beauty any day.



    It's really this simple: (4.50 / 2) (#448)
    by chrisc on Mon May 14, 2001 at 04:18:12 PM EST

    "Every craftsman who can do more than what he was trained to do is an artist; this is because he develops a degree of 'perfection' that surpasses the level of the acquired skills." F A Porsche

    I can't believe this got posted (1.00 / 1) (#449)
    by tiger cub on Thu Nov 14, 2002 at 08:42:14 PM EST

    What a load of utter shit.

    .tiger cub.
    "Man is more courageous,
    pugnacious, and energetic than woman,
    and has a more inventive genius."
    Programming Is Not Art | 449 comments (434 topical, 15 editorial, 1 hidden)
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