Since November I’ve used the Rootbeans game as a mental model through which to explore how artists are using technology to examine the part it plays in issues that affect everyone. It’s led me to questions around power and programming. For me the the questions now are:
How can programming languages be evolved to take into account an emotional dimension? How can they evolve from a bedrock of logical, and rational specification that lacks emotional infrastructure, and is constrained by deeply meshed economic and cultural circumstances?
I’ve been discussing and playing the Rootbeans game with a lot of people. Some discussions are about time, others about of what Open Source art can be in the context of collaborative work that generates a physical product. The Rootbeans game maps occupy an ambiguous space. Aesthetics, value, ownership, authorship are need to be examined.
I’ve been involved with 5 networks that have connected across each other. The MA, Lighthouse, The Open Rights Group, Digihub Art and Chat, and Aptivate. I’m reflecting on how interactions have cross-fertilised new projects, how the networks play together – differing views, histories and cultures flowed around and connect to each other with mutual understanding of the complexity and boundaries that they are restrained by. I can see how my own choices have been influenced by those around me and have been playing this change with curiosity and anxiety. Interpersonal relationships are affected by changes in mental models – playing life’s game by different rules implies that some habitual cultural rules are displaced by new ones, causing perceptible ripples.
The original plan of creating an online random rules generator for the game was pushed into the next module on networked cultures. After a inspiring 2 day workshop learning Processing with Matt Pearson I found that the dream of learning to program had jumped one step closer and I have tried to use the challenge of creating the bean game in Processing as a goal. This is slow progress but I had definitely pushed into the realm of exquisitely uncomfortable and loving it. Processing offers me a chance to play with technology and explore aesthetics along with change – to create dynamic works which connect to real data about things that matter, and that change their expressive forms as often as I discover that what matters most to people is different for everyone and some things are important to most people: family, love, friends, sex and beer (apparently).
Because of the accessibility of processing to me as a visual learner, I find that I am engaging with processing as a drawing/sculptural medium more than as an analytical data tool. I’m relishing the aesthetic beauty of the processing output, the ability to create infinite generated variations of colour, line and position in space. My frustration lies with the problem of how to learn a ‘language’ when no one talks it. I am interested in finding out how a group of people can learn together in a kind of conversational coding practice in the way that you might have conversational french lessons.