HOW DOES COMPUTATION RELATE TO YOUR INTERESTS?

My first reaction to this question is “I have no idea. That’s why I’m at ITP!”

Pictured above: me doing ICM homework.

But that’s not entirely true.

I know that computation affects almost every aspect of my life and I also know that I do not like not understanding what is going on. I am interested in learning computer programming for the simple reason that I like understanding how things work and I like having an impact on the world around me.

More specifically, I am interested in live art, critical theory, social justice, and how those things intersect. For most of my academic and professional life, I have inhabited in-between spaces: I have worked in-between theater and performance art; I have worked in-between environmental and social justice; I have worked in-between creative and administrative teams. I am looking for a critical vocabulary that can express what knowledge is gained from working in these spaces. I am also working on developing an artistic practice that can embody that knowledge. I think mastering some of the creative applications of computation will be a part of my path.

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I think a lot of Walter Benjamin and his essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” I am not a historian but it occurs to me that humanity never fully reconciled what mass media has done to us. I don’t meant that in a negative way––I just wonder how humanity has evolved since the advent of the moving image in the same way I wonder how we have changed since the advent of electricity. We are who we are because of the tools at our disposal and it is important to understand how and in what ways. Reading Benjamin I can’t help but roll my eyes at his alarmism in the same way I roll my eyes at people who decry how technology has taken over our lives. But he ain’t wrong and we’re in the late stage of the changes he is describing.

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Playing beer pong in college I would often have the same thought: isn’t it incredible the kind of mathematical calculations our brains make in the space of milliseconds?

I have similar thoughts when I’m dancing with a partner.

How could I possibly quantify my spatial awareness as well as the non-verbal communication that happens between dancers? And would I even want to? I imagine that this will be the hardest question I’ll answer during my ITP tenure: what is worth expressing through computation and what does doing so teach us about ourselves?

September 18, 2017