Anyone who visited Decode: Digital Design Sensations at the Victoria and Albert museum was greeted with a multitude of disparate art objects (from painting by body movement to woven mirrors that offered projected silhouettes) promising to codify media art’s principles: essentially, one defined by digitally enabled interaction. This interaction principle is repeatedly heralded as the innovation for many media art objects; however, often many of the media art objects at Decode and other “new media” shows feel like a one trick pony, whereby a certain action allows for a set responses–the object’s response, unlike the human audience, is dependent upon a feedback loop defined by it’s creator.
We Make Money Not Art points us to a different type of interaction autonomy for media art objects at El proceso como paradigma – Process Becomes Paradigm. Focusing on the Marloes de Valk and Aymeric Mansoux’s Hello Process!, an ordinary printer machine (perhaps circa the late 1980s) allows for minute pieces of code to interact with each other, consume one another and birth other pieces of code, creating a veritable ecology of interactions:
In this file, each block can be occupied by a small piece of code. Every piece of code has its own strategy. Some try to conquer as many blocks as possible, others simply target one specific piece of code or an unsuspecting neighbour. When the process is set in motion, all blocks are executed one after the other. This results in a battle between the file’s inhabitants. After forty iterations, a fresh file is created with a new combination of code.
Each piece of code has a special ID. This ID is sent to the printer every time the block is loaded in which the code is residing. Each printed line represents the result of one battle cycle. 128 small graphical representations of code are printed. This process repeats 40 times, creating a map of abstract patterns depicting the changes that took place.
A key distinction with this piece is that interaction, here, is limited to within the machine. Presence is generated by numerous sheets of paper that make the human audience a witness as opposed to genesis of interaction. With this type of process, the machine moves closer to its own autonomy, which questions whether it may have its own sense of self or own subjectivity? Moreover, how does its own ecology reconfigure the dynamics between the man/machine paradigm?