Agency and Algorithms

Hanns Holger Rutz



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. 


Algorithms; Agency; Process; Differential Reproduction.

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Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts
Revista de Ciência e Tecnologia das Artes
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