Towards an Ontology of Computational Technologies as Tools for Aesthetic Creation

  • Rodrigo Hernández-Ramírez Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Keywords: Aesthetics, Computational Technology, Media, Modelling, Ontology, Philosophy of Information, Post-phenomenology

Abstract

Computational technologies have significantly expanded the horizons of aesthetic creation; nonetheless, their wider ontological status as tools remains poorly understood. This limitation hinders our ability to assess their true impact on aesthetic practices and limits our means to establish the relationship between computer generated artefacts and previous forms of ‘media’. This paper argues that understanding and categorising the things computational technologies are able to do as aesthetic tools also requires understanding what type of tools they are. Following recent insights from philosophy of information and post-phenomenology, this paper begins by showing computational technologies are no ordinary mediators, but truly ‘multi-stable’ appliances which are leading us to reformulate our very notions of reality and self-understanding. While delivering a fully-fledged ontological model falls outside of its scope, this paper nonetheless suggests that within aesthetic contexts, computational devices may be initially described as information modelling appliances. This characterisation offers an alternative to their increasingly less adequate portrayal as ‘media’.

Author Biography

Rodrigo Hernández-Ramírez, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Lisbon, Portugal
Rodrigo Hernández-Ramírez (Mexico City, 1982) is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Fine Arts at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. He is a member of the Centre for Research and Studies in Fine Arts (CIEBA) at the same institution. His research interests include photography, new media, videogames, software studies and philosophy of technology. His current research focuses on the ontological nature of computational technology and its impact on aesthetic practices, as seen through the lens of philosophy of information.

References

Bogost, I. (2012). Alien phenomenology, or what it’s like to be a thing (E-book). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.5749/minnesota/9780816678976.001.0001

Bolter, J. D., & Grusin, R. (2000). Remediation. understanding new media (First paperback). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. The Atlantic. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/

Dyson, F. (1997). Imagined worlds. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Floridi, L. (2004). Information. In L. Floridi (Ed.), Philosophy of computing and information (First, Vol. 14, pp. 40–61). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.

Floridi, L. (2009a). Information technology. In J. K. B. Olsen, S. A. Pedersen, & V. F. Hendricks (Eds.), A companion to the philosophy of technology (pp. 227–231). Massachusetts; Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781444310795.ch41

Floridi, L. (2009b). Philosophy bites. Oxford. Retrieved from http://philosophybites.com/2009/06/luciano-floridi-on-the-fourth-revolution.html

Floridi, L. (2010). Information a very short introduction. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/actrade/9780199551378.001.0001

Floridi, L. (2013). Technology’s in-betweeness. Philosophy & Technology, 26(2), 111–115. http://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-013-0106-y

Frank, A. (2013, March 12). Big data is the steam engine of our times. Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/03/12/174028759/big-data-is-the-steam-engine-of-our-time

Fuller, M. (2008). Introduction, the stuff of software. In M. Fuller (Ed.), Software studies: A lexicon. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/9780262062749.003.0001

Gibson, J. J. (1986). The ecological approach to visual perception. New York: Psychology Press.

Granés, C. (2011). El puño invisible: Arte, revolución y un siglo de cambios culturales. Madrid: Taurus.

Gualeni, S. (2014). Augmented ontologies or how to philosophize with a digital hammer. Philosophy & Technology, 27(2), 177–199. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13347-013-0123-x

Kay, A., & Goldberg, A. (2003). Personal dynamic media. In N. Wardrip-Fruin & N. Montfort (Eds.), The new media reader (pp. 392–404). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Kelly, K. (1998). The third culture. Science, 279(5353), 992–993. http://doi.org/10.1126/science.279.5353.992

Kelly, K. (2010). What technology wants (E-book). New York: Viking.

Kittler, F. A. (1999). Gramophone, film, typewriter. (T. Lenoir & H. U. Gumbrecht, Eds., G. Winthrop-Young & M. Wutz, Trans.). California: Stanford University Press.

Latour, B. (1993). We have never been modern. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Lopes, D. M. (2010). A philosophy of computer art. London; New York: Routledge.

Manovich, L. (2013). Software takes command. (F. J. Ricardo, Ed.) (First). New York: Bloomsbury.

Mateas, M. (2005). Procedural literacy: Educating the new media practitioner. On the Horizon, 13(Special Issue. Future of Games, Simulations and Interactive Media in Learning Contexts).

McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding media: The extensions of man. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Mitcham, C. (2004). Philosophy of information technology. In L. Floridi (Ed.), Philosophy of computing and information (p. 327— 336). Oxford, England: Blackwell Publishing. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9780470757017.ch25

Negroponte, N. (1998). Beyond digital. Wired. Retrieved from http://web.media.mit.edu/~nicholas/Wired/WIRED6-12.html

Poli, R. (2010). Ontology: The categorical stance. In R. Poli & J. Seibt (Eds.), Theory and applications of ontology: Philosophical perspectives (Vol. 1, pp. 1–22). Dordrecht; London: Springer. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-8845-1_1

Selinger, E. (2014). Confronting the moral dimensions of technology through mediation theory. Philosophy & Technology, 27(2), 287–313. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13347-011-0054-3

Smith, B. (2004). Ontology. In L. Floridi (Ed.), Philosophy of computing and information (First, Vol. 14, pp. 155–166). Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

Snow, C. (2000). The two cultures (E-book). England: Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing).

Turing, A. (2004). On computable numbers, with an application to the entscheidungsproblem. In B. J. Copeland (Ed.), The essential Turing: Seminal writings in computing, logic, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and artificial life: Plus the secrets of enigma (pp. 58–90). Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Verbeek, P.-P. (2005). What things do: Philosophical reflections on technology, agency, and design. (R. P. Crease, Trans.). Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

Wilson, S. (2002). Information arts: Intersections of art, science, and technology. (R. F. Malina, Ed.). Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Published
2015-11-30