Language Without Code: Intentionally Unusable, Uncomputable, or Conceptual Programming Languages

  • Daniel Temkin Independent Artist, 609 Kappock St., #3E, Bronx, NY 10463 USA
Keywords: Esolangs, Programming Languages, Esoteric Programming Languages, Fluxus, Oulipo.

Abstract

The esoteric class of programming languages, commonly called esolangs, have long challenged the norms of programming practice and computational culture. Esolangs are a practice of hacker/hobbyists, who don’t primarily think of their work as art. Most esolangs are experiential works; we understand the languages by writing code in them. Through this action, the logic of the language becomes clear. However, a smaller subset of esolangs make their point not through actively writing code, but instead by simply contemplating their rules. We can think of these esolangs as conceptual rather than experiential. Some are designed in such a way that they don’t allow any code to be written for them at all. By stepping away from usability, the conceptual esolangs offer the most direct challenge to the definition of programming language, a commonly used term which is surprisingly unspecific, and usually understood through utility, despite the fact that programming languages predate digital computers. This paper delves into the conceptual esolangs and looks at their challenge to the idea of programming languages.

Author Biography

Daniel Temkin, Independent Artist, 609 Kappock St., #3E, Bronx, NY 10463 USA
Daniel Temkin makes images, programming languages, and interactive pieces that use the machine as a place of confrontation between logic and human thought. His esoteric.codes, 2014 recipient of the ArtsWriters.org grant, documents the history of programming languages as an art medium. He has published in journals such as Leonardo and World Picture Journal and has presented at conferences including xCoAx, SXSW, GLI.TC/H, SIGGRAPH, and Media Art Histories. He regularly performs readings from his Internet Directory project, a 37,000+ page loose-leaf book of all the .COM domains in alphabetical order; he received a commission from the Webby Awards to build an online version, a scroll of domains that takes two years to watch. He is expanding the esoteric.codes project as a 2017-18 member of NEW INC, the New Museum’s incubator. 

References

Aho, A. V, Lam, M. S., Sethi, R., & Ullman, J. D. (2006). Compilers: Principles, Techniques, and Tools.

Brainfuck - Esolang. (n.d.). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://esolangs.org/wiki/Brainfuck

Bratishenko, L. (2009). Technomasochism. Cabinet.

Churchill, A. (n.d.). Magic: the Gathering is Turing Complete. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://www.toothycat.net/~hologram/Turing/HowItWorks.html

Dourish, P. (2017). The Stuff of Bits. Cambridge: MIT Press.

https://doi.org/10.1145/3102113.3102115

Feeney, S. D. T. (2015). Interview with Scott Feeney. Retrieved September 25, 2017, from http://esoteric.codes/post/116998438745/interview-with-scott-feeney

Joke language list. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://esolangs.org/wiki/Joke_language_list

Kandar, S. (2013). Introduction to Automata Theory, Formal Languages and Computation. https://doi.org/10.1145/568438.568455

https://doi.org/10.1145/568438.568455

Keymaker. (2005). Unnecessary (another esoteric programming language). Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://yiap.nfshost.com/esoteric/unnecessary/unnecessary.html

Keymaker. (2011). Interview with Keymaker - esoteric.codes. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://esoteric.codes/post/84939008828/interview-with-keymaker

Lapoujade, D., Rajchman, J., & Jordan, J. D. (2017). Aberant Movements.

Lenguage - Esolang. (2014). Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://esolangs.org/wiki/Lenguage

Maciunas, G. (1966). Fluxfest Sale. Film Culture - Expanded Arts, (#43), 6–7.

Montfort, N. (2014). No Code: Null Programs, (December). Retrieved from http://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/87669

New Whitespace-Only Programming Language - Slashdot. (2003). Retrieved September 28, 2017, from https://slashdot.org/story/03/04/01/0332202/new-whitespace-only-programming-language

Olmstead, B.. (2014). Interview with Ben Olmstead - esoteric.codes. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://esoteric.codes/post/101675489813/interview-with-ben-olmstead

Ono, Y. (1964). Grapefruit.

Ostrovsky, I. (2009). Human heart is a Turing machine, research on XBox 360 shows. Wait, what? Retrieved September 18, 2017, from http://igoro.com/archive/human-heart-is-a-turing-machine-research-on-xbox-360-shows-wait-what/

Pressey, C. (2013). The Aesthetics of Esolangs. Retrieved September 25, 2017, from https://github.com/catseye/The-Dossier/blob/master/article/The Aesthetics of Esolangs.md

Raymond, E. S. (2015). Interview with Eric S. Raymond - esoteric.codes. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://esoteric.codes/post/130618094278/interview-with-eric-s-raymond

Scheffer, L. (2015). Programming in Malbolge. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from http://www.lscheffer.com/malbolge.shtml

Scott, M. L. (2006). Programming Language Pragmatics. Analysis (Vol. 20). https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-374514-9.00008-2

https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-374514-9.00008-2

Simonite, T. (2017). Microsoft's Nadella Wants to Help Coders Take a Quantum Leap | WIRED. (2017). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://www.wired.com/story/microsofts-nadella-wants-to-help-coders-take-a-quantum-leap/

Smith, A. (2007). C-INTERCAL 0.29 Revamped Instruction Manual. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://catb.org/esr/intercal/ick.htm

Stroustrup, B., & Park, F. (2000). Generalizing Overloading for C ++ 2000.

Temkin, D. (2013). Brainfuck. Media-N. Retrieved from http://median.s151960.gridserver.com/?page_id=947

Three Star Programmer - Esolang. (2015). Retrieved September 29, 2017, from https://esolangs.org/wiki/Three_Star_Programmer

Veldhuizen, T. L. (2003). C++ Templates are Turing Complete. URL Http://osl. Iu. edu/tveldhui/papers/2003/turing. Pdf. Unpublished Manuscript, 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1.1.14.3670

Weingartner, P. (2006). A First Guide to PostScript. Retrieved September 28, 2017, from http://www.tailrecursive.org/postscript/postscript.html

Whitespace Tutorial. (2004). Retrieved from http://compsoc.dur.ac.uk/whitespace/tutorial.php

You are Reading the Name of this Esolang - Esolang. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2017, from https://esolangs.org/wiki/You_are_Reading_the_Name_of_this_Esolang

Published
2017-12-22