Variability machines at Glasgow Software Art symposium

Pocos Blue medRichard Rinehart, co-author with Still Water’s Jon Ippolito of the forthcoming MIT book New Media and Social Memory, presents conclusions from the book at the POCOS/HATII symposium on Software Art in Glasgow on 11 October.

Rinehart’s presentation is called “Artworks as Variability Machines.” If software can run on any universal Turing machine, Rinehart asks, than in what sense can a work of software art depend on particular hardware for its preservation?

If we return to the roots of new media, to the first modern theories of computation developed by Alan Turing and his contemporaries, we may discover that what we need for the preservation of new media art turns out to have been built into technology from the very beginning: variability. However, artworks operate at levels other than their technological substrata. New media may be variable, but are new media artworks? In this presentation, Rinehart argues that some art is better served if it is considered media-independent, but not that the artwork should be considered apart from media altogether. Here, Rinehart will consider the exact relationship between an artwork and its medium and the impact of that consideration on preservation.

The conference is part of a series called the Preservation of Complex Objects Symposia (POCOS) [Link]

Software art is an active and growing genre of artistic development that has attracted significant interest from both the art world and cultural institutions. Software artworks have been commissioned and displayed in major museums across the globe, therefore emphasising on the need to curate, manage and preserve such material. Preservation of software-based art presents challenges in many fronts, including complex interdependencies between objects; time-based and interactive properties; and diversity in the technologies and practices used for development….

The symposium is organised by the Humanities Advanced Technology & Information Institute (HATII) based at the University of Glasgow.

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