Tuesday, February 12, 2008

familiarity and unlimitation

When Manovich considers “remix culture,” he considers the sample verses the whole of the text. “[W]e still need art. We still want to say something about the world we live in and our lives in it… We need to accept that for others our work will just be a set of samples, or maybe just one sample” (page 210). Everyone possesses this need to create art, and now that the tool is available, everyone can––easily––and does. And in this “remix culture,” they do so by borrowing that which has already been created. From Manovich’s perspective, this is intertwined with our desire to personalize having become possible by using the computer as our tool. Every image, film clip, song––in short any text in any medium––we can personalize, make our own, by using the computer as a tool. Thus the computer becomes the enabler of this innate human desire to make art.

The flawlessness of the freedom and the uber-human nature of this relationship with the computer are called into question by Pold’s discussion of the interface as a mediator between the tool itself––the hardware––and our impression of what reactions our actions have. In his discussion of functional realism, he explains that Auto-Illustrator shows that “functionality is dressed up as a mere tool in ordinary software… [and] points out that mainstream software is limited in its potential for creativity because it has to stay within the range of the tool metaphor” (section 32). (The interface itself is fairly inhibitive––because it must be intuitive, it cannot break with traditions and form new ways of interacting with the machine (ie: the file folder icons)).

This idea raises the question that the way in which we use the computer as a multimedia tool actually limits the possibilities of the computer. This is not the only way we are limiting ourself by traditional definitions––Wark describes the limits we place on writing by considering it “text.” Bush suggested a new language to improve communication with machines. But a fear of becoming less human, losing touch with our non-virtual roots, seems to be a major impediment. I, personally, felt very uncomfortable with the idea of a new mechanic language, and Auto-Illustrator makes me uncomfortable as well. But perhaps in order to take full advantage of the computer we need to embrace the idea that it is not just a tool for the manipulation of familiar, material media, but its own medium that and not necessarily a mere tool for our use.

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