The Grids of Computational Art Production

GRID 2020 Abstracts

The Grids of Computational Art Production, or:
On a Convergence of Artist, Instrument Maker, and Fabricator

Frank Bauer
Elsa-Neumann PhD Fellow, Institute for Architecture and Urban Planning, Berlin University of the Arts

Session III: The Grid – Artistic Impressions
TMonday, November 23, 2020 | 13:30-14:30 (Duet B)

My proposal discusses the convergence of three disciplinary grids and their corresponding ontologies: the making of artistic intent (A), the making of instruments (B) and the making of the physical artwork (C). Drawing on participatory observations on the Resonator series by German-Kurdish artist Nevin Aladag, it inquires the gridded conditioning of CAD/CAM driven art production workflows from their material, operational and authorial basis. Conceptually, my inquiry firstly builds upon a notion of disciplinary grids as cultural constructs which are both constitutive and ontologically powerful. Their interlaying, secondly, follows a cultural technique perspective on designing as an inherently cross-disciplinary “Verfahren des Überschreitens” (Hauser, 2013). Thirdly, analysing these interferences from within their experimental systems employs logics where „scientific objects and the technical conditions of their production are inextricably interconnected“ (Rheinberger, 1997) in an interwoven process: By its very definition, any making of artistic intent (A) represents the most ephemeral of these grids. While interest in the “exteriorities of designing” (Wittmann, 2018) has recently been renewed, their logics and laws defy easy categorisations. Specifically, I will foreground the importance of drawing and notational construction in that respect, “because construction eliminates all that which is not truly relevant for the purpose of realization” (Voorhoeve, 2011).

This informs the making of instruments (B) by craftsmen, whose work employs and advances acoustic qualities, material qualities and traditional methods (Fig. A). Building upon a growing interest in the productive (Bushart & Haug, 2018) and craft (Gerber, 2017) entanglements of arts, this discloses the particular practices of instrument makers between contemporary CAD routines and their material and craft probation. With respect to the computational making of objects (C), Friedrich Kittler early-on remarked how “we must stop conceiving of algorithms as tools, and of computer-aided design as mere auxiliaries” (Kittler, 2012 [1994]), claiming their formative influence (Fig. B). This will finally delineate the digital ontologies (Panagiotis, 2017) inherently linking software environments and production logics and renew an attention for the onto-graphic mediations from idea to material, which have always sidelined the history of building as the making of projections, as it were (Evans, 1997). My following discussion will approach gridded fabrications through the media philosophical concept of operative ontologies to suggest “how manifold ontological operations of making also result in various forms of being” (Engell & Siegert, 2017). This will reveal how an interlaying of human (drawing, interpreting, executing) and non-human (storaging, converting, interpolating) actions constitutes artistic intent (Siegert, 2017). At the same time, it raises the question how computational art production constitutes an ontological divide along the conscious convergence of artistic, instrumental and fabrication constraints. Whereas common positivist claims on the so-called digital revolution of arts (Lynn, 2013) and architecture (Carpo, 2011) prevail, I suggests to understand the grid as the authorial category. While CAD/CAM involves in-creasingly disparate processes (Rheinberger, Krauthausen & Nasim, 2010), collaborators may rather consciously "embrace a complex conglomerate of many surprising agencies" (Latour & Yaneva, 2008). This will reveal how distributed authorial networks (Latour, 2011) and an abandonment of disciplinary customs in favour of problem-specific and individual solutions, at the transgression from Werk- to Denkzeug (Schmitz & Groninger, 2014), may instigate complex and innovational design solutions.



Cf. Siegert, B. (2003), „(Nicht) Am Ort : zum Raster als Kulturtechnik“. In Thesis 3, 93-95.

Hauser, S. (2013), „Verfahren des Überschreitens“, in: S. Ammon/E. M. Froschauer (eds.) Wissenschaft Entwerfen. München: Fink, 376.

Rheinberger, H.-J. (1997), Toward a History of Epistemic Things. Synthesizing Proteins in the Test Tube. Stanford: SUP, 2.

Wittmann, B. (2018), “Denk- Und Werkzeuge. Ein Entwurf”. In Idem (ed.), Werkzeuge Des Entwerfens, Zurich: Diaphanes, p. 13.

Voorhoeve, J. (2011), “Technische Zeichenmanöver. Verfahren der Konstruktion”. In Idem (ed.), Welten schaffen. Zeichnen und Schreiben als Verfahren der Konstruktion, Zurich: Diaphanes, 8–9.

Cf. M. Bushart and H. Haug (2018), “Spurensuche/Spurenlese. Zur Sichtbarkeit von Arbeit Im Werk”. In Idem (ed.), Spur Der Arbeit, Köln/Weimar/Wien: Böhlau, 7–24.

Cf. Gerber, M. (2017), “Einleitung”. In M. Gerber and D. Fugellie (ed.), Das Wissen Der Arbeit Und Das Wissen Der Künste. München: Fink, 9.

Kittler, F. (2012 [1994]) “Stuttgarter Rede über Architektur”, in Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kul-turforschung 1, 100.

Panagiotis, M. (2017), “Design Signals. The Role of Software Architecture and Paradigms in Design Thinking and Practice”. In Architectural Design 2 (243), 110. Cf. also 108-115.

Cf. Evans, R. (1997), “Translations from Drawing to Building”. In Translations from Drawing to Building and Other Essays, AA Documents 2 (London: Architectural Association, 1997), 154–57.

Engell, L./Siegert, B. (2017), “Editorial”. In Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung 8(2), 6.

Cf. Siegert, B. (2017), "Öffnen, Schließen, Zerstreuen, Verdichten. Die operativen Ontologien der Kulturtechnik", in Zeitschrift für Medien- und Kulturforschung 8(2), 95-113.

Cf. Lynn, G. (2013). Everybody´s An Architect These Days. In Labaco, R. T. (ed.), Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital. London/New York: Black Dog, 17.

Cf. Carpo, M. (2011), The Alphabet and the Algorithm, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 15–20.

Cf. Rheinberger, H.-J-/Krauthausen, K./Nasim, O. W. (2010), “Papierpraktiken im Labor”. In Idem (ed.), Notieren, Skizzieren : Schreiben und Zeichnen als Verfahren des Entwurfs. Zurich/Berlin: diaphanes, 146 fn. 16.

Latour, B./Yaneva, A. (2008), “‘Give Me a Gun and I Will Make All Buildings Move’. An ANT’s View of Architecture”. In U. Staub (ed.), Explorations in Architecture: Teaching, Design, Research, Basel: BfK, 86.

Cf. Latour, B. (2011), “Why Do Architects Read Latour? An Interview with Bruno Latour,” Perspecta 44, 64–69.

Cf. T. H. Schmitz/H. Groninger (2014), „Über projektives Denken und Machen“. In Idem (ed.), Werkzeug – Denkzeug. Manuelle Intelligenz und Transmedialität kreativer Prozesse, Bielefeld: transcript, 19-21.