|Software as (the real) digital art. This is along the lines of something I was trying to say at last weeks YAT meeting. But I really disagree with the quote from Jon Ippolito, curator of the Guggenheim Museum: "software art shouldn't be too functional, but should help viewers see the world in a new way via original code." Shouldn't be too functional? That's what I don't get about the art world.
"Shouldn't be too functional" is an inept phrase; what he means is "shouldn't be just design." We still make a distinction in the arts--music, film, writing--between art that exists as stand-alone work and art that works in conjunction with some other activity. A sonata is autonomous; a commercial jingle isn't. The software writers in the Wired article are trying to make autonomous works. Whether group-video-composites and the like are actually good art is another subject entirely.
That been around a long time, that art is supposed to be non functional. I use it as a cue and try to only make art that is functional, even cross functional.
That's not really true. Your objects and photos have a history of functionality but you're repurposing them as stand-alone works. Whereas when a software writer says "the code for this [fill in the blank] program should be declared a work of art," he or she is usually just looking for extra validation, above and beyond a job well done.
I read "shouldn't be too functional" as "should be just design." But I'm admittedly not very up on this sort of thing. Aren't design and function almost opposties? (Like 'form' and 'function'.)
Design is form that makes function possible. While that "form" can be contemplated as art, it didn't come into being solely to make art, but to make something that works in a certain way. Ippolito sounds like he's expressing a preference for "pure form," which is a restrictive, dated concept.
I'll try to be more specific. If you, Jim, were to declare that digitalmediatree was a work of art, I'd critique it on two levels. First, is your software design good; does it allow the users to interact in an efficient way, etc? Secondly, is the weblog-cum-chatroom (and the stuff that emerges from it) interesting as art?
If digitalmediatree were a work of art, I'd have to say it's a hybrid. Some of what emerges on the pages is art (photos, narratives, dialogues) and some of it's just mechanics and logistics--where do we meet for drinks? etc. Ippolito, I think, would want it to be all one thing or the other; if it was all mechanics, it would be "too functional" and therefore not art. But I think he would accept the concept of a chatroom or multiple weblogs as art.
I, on the other hand, am less interested in that kind of touchy-feely definition of art; I'm more interested in the work that comes out of the process than the process itself.