Agency and Algorithms

  • Hanns Holger Rutz Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM) University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, Austria
Keywords: Algorithms, Agency, Process, Differential Reproduction.


Although the concept of algorithms has been established a long time ago, their current topicality indicates a shift in the discourse. Classical definitions based on logic seem to be inadequate to describe their aesthetic capabilities. New approaches stress their involvement in material practices as well as their incompleteness. Algorithmic aesthetics can no longer be tied to the static analysis of programs, but must take into account the dynamic and experimental nature of coding practices. It is suggested that the aesthetic objects thus produced articulate something that could be called algorithmicity or the space of algorithmic agency. This is the space or the medium – following Luhmann’s form/medium distinction – where human and machine undergo mutual incursions. In the resulting coupled “extimate” writing process, human initiative and algorithmic speculation cannot be clearly divided out any longer. An observation is attempted of defining aspects of such a medium by drawing a trajectory across a number of sound pieces. The operation of exchange between form and medium I call reconfiguration and it is indicated by this trajectory. 

Author Biography

Hanns Holger Rutz, Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM) University of Music and Performing Arts, Graz, Austria
Hanns Holger Rutz (*1977 in Germany) is a sound artist, composer, performer, researcher and software developer in electronic art. He studied computer music and audio engineering at the Electronic Studio of the TU Berlin, and from 2004–2009 worked at the Studio for electroacoustic Music (SeaM) Weimar. In 2014, he completed a PhD at the Interdisciplinary Centre for Computer Music Research (ICCMR) in Plymouth (UK). His artistic work, mainly comprised of sound and intermedia installation, live improvisation and electroacoustic composition, has been internationally exhibited, performed and awarded. In his works, the development and research on software and algorithms plays an important role. The central theme in the recent works is the materiality of writing processes. He currently holds a position as post-doc researcher at the Institute of Electronic Music and Acoustics (IEM), Graz.


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