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 original 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. among other things, 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? pshaw) 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:
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 quite welcome to point out characteristics of art that programming does not display. i encourage you to do so, and i wish you the best of luck, but i think any attempts to do so will fail.
- 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?
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, biologists, 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, interesting ways, and do really fascinating things... and i think some of the people working in traditionally artistic fields interpret our (yes, i acknowledge the us/them polarization there; i use it for rhetorical effect) power as a threat to their tribe's 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 ("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"). 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 more interesting, beautiful place. kapeesh?
[ps - i reposted this as a slightly modified version of the original, which can be found here. you might call it bad form to repost; if so, i apologize and promise to preform the appropriate penance. regardless, i got tired of seeing a simple semantic error cause so much havoc, and decided to repost. now ya know.]
sayke, v2.3.1 /* i am the middle finger of the invisible hand */