Computation as Artistic Collaboration

Everything we are and everything we have is a gift and has to be given away in turn.

-Léon Bourgeois

Technologists are great problem solvers and team players. Under the vision of product managers and creative directors, they quickly translate user’s expectations into actionable items, and divide tasks based on each team member’s unique strength. They perfect their collaborations by reinventing new tools. They log individual’s code into Github and use software to “auto merge” individual versions and produce logs. Technologists collaborates so well that they seldom discuss or confront each other or their clients’ need, which raised a whole new level of questions in itself – how to channel different perceptions creatively into imaginative endeavors?

Artists are experts of turning dreams and voices into representations. An important part of art practice lie in the artists’ ability to generate cultural influence through his / her individual expression. The nature of this culture leadership is determined by the process of knowledge production and evaluation. Certain information needed to decipher conceptual value of art are either inaccessible, or too pricy to afford.  If the very nature of cultural expertise lies in information asymmetry, to what extend does “decoded and recoded experimental models” of individual imaginations (Wright, 2004, 535) help construct a collective vision of the future?

Collaboration is imaginatively cooperative making. A good collaboration model needs to incorporate some systematic level of language that allows for everyone to communicate easily and transparently. At the same time, it should also leave space for each individual to wander in a completely non-objective way, to render a childlike sense of self, to encounter and respond spontaneously, which naturally lead to confusion and even confrontation, in a way that sparks reflection and growth. Could it be possible that there exist a model that offers harmony without sacrifice individual’s honesty and voice?Five years ago, me and my husband started exploring the boundary between art and technology in our creative practices. We became interested in exploring the collaborate narrative aspect of computer coding languages, in a time where general usage of computer algorithms seems to be increasingly alienating, unimaginative, lack of transparency and diversity.  What would this model look like, as both a process and a representation?

Starting from last summer, the two of us started talking about how issues such as authorship and democracy could be reflected in a fun, honest, and systematic way. We both felt that in order to be honest with our co-creators, we need to make a conscious effort to retain our control of the overall vision. Trying to hide it was not the right thing to do. After all, we have been talking about this idea for five years before involving other participants. We also felt that it was important to collaborate with an organization that engages directly with the arts community, not art + technology, + social research, or plug something else. The space we want to enable is one that allows each participate to make honestly, as who they are, with what they aspire to, and perhaps even what confuses or frustrates them. If they think it’s important to put in a 3D model that glitches or breaks, then the procedural world and the overall frame work we make needs to accommodate that. Me and Yang both have have commercial industry experience. We reflected on the ingenuity in lots of software products we engage with, where designers are forced into preying on consumers’ weaknesses. Products that help them delay facing their own feelings by feeding off of feelings of others that are mistaken for their own. At the end, the feelings come out amplified, and we became monsters we don’t recognize. If anything, computation doesn’t hide or shield away, but rather help us feel safe to express our feelings and needs in ways that are real and honest.

After almost a year of planning and preparation, a group of participants and the organizers spent two fun and action packed days in Asia Art Archive’s lovely Brooklyn Heights office, learning fundamentals of video game development, and made a collective computational artwork along the way. At the end of the two days, the result was a film that generated its own plots in real time. A five minute screen recording was updated on







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s