Algorithms are at the core of the computational logic. Formalism and axiomatics have also determined how the shortest algorithmic set or program deploys the most elegant form. This equivalence between axiomatics and beauty however hides a profound ontological ground based on order, rationality and cognition. However, this paper suggests that the pervasion of ubiquitous media and in particular of software agencies (from page ranking software to software for urban design) point to the formation of a new computational aesthetics defined by prehending algorithms. The paper will argue that this new mode of prehension defies the ontological ground of order and cognition revealing that randomness (or non-compressible data) is at the core of computation.
The paper will draw on Alfred N. Whitehead’s notion of actual objects and Gregory Chaitin’s theory of the uncomputable to suggest that algorithms need to be understood in terms of ecology of prehensions. This understanding implies a notion of computational aesthetics defined by the chaotic architecture of data hosted by our programming culture.
Luciana Parisi is a Senior Lecturer in Interactive Media at the Centre for Cultural Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is author of Abstract Sex. Philosophy, Bio-Technology and the Mutations of Desire (London/New York 2004) and a progressive thinker in the emerging field of mediaecology and technoecology. Her research looks at the asymmetric relationship between science and philosophy, aesthetics and culture, technology and politics to investigate potential conditions for ontological and epistemological change. Her work on cybernetics and information theories, evolutionary theories, genetic coding and viral transmission has informed her analysis of culture and politics, the critique of capitalism, power and control. She has published articles about the relation between cybernetic machines, memory and perception in the context of a non-phenomenological critique of computational media and in relation to emerging strategies of branding and marketing. Her interest in interactive media has also led her research to engage more closely with computation, cognition, and algorithmic aesthetics. She is currently writing on architectural modeling and completing a monograph: Contagious Architecture. Computation, Aesthetics and the Control of Space (MIT Press, forthcoming).