[Humanist] 26.67 aesthetic computing

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Wed Jun 6 23:06:33 CEST 2012

                  Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 26, No. 67.
            Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 07 Jun 2012 07:04:20 +1000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: aesthetic computing

Some here may know of a movement known as aesthetic computing, begun by 
Paul Fishwick and others at the University of Florida, launched at a 
conference in Dagstuhl, Germany, in July 2002, and now discussed in an 
edited volume, Aesthetic Computing (MIT Press, 2006) as well as in 
numerous other places, including Fishwick's site, "The Content is in the 
Machine", http://www.cise.ufl.edu/~fishwick/aescomputing/. The following 
is quoted from his introduction to the book:

> Aesthetic computing is the application of aesthetics to computing.
> The goal of aesthetic computing is to affect areas within computing,
> which for our purposes, will be defined broadly as the area of
> computer science. With respect to aesthetics, this goal also includes
> the idea that the application of aesthetics to computing and
> mathematics, the formal foundations for computing, can extend beyond
> classic concepts such as symmetry and invariance to encompass the
> wide range of aesthetic definitions and categories normally
> associated with making art.

It will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with computing in the 
arts that the journal Leonardo and its executive editor Roger Malina are 
deeply involved.

What seems to me especially significant about this movement for the 
digital humanities is the reversal of the usual tendency to think of 
computing as an external impacting force coming down on the disciplines 
of the humanities to which the disciplines then respond. And this is 
much more than formulating interesting problems for computer scientists 
to solve so that people in the arts can get on with their work. This, it 
seems to me, is a partial realisation of the much overlooked fact that, 
as Michael Mahoney used to insist, Turing's gift is a scheme for the 
devising of indefinitely many computings, limited only by the human 
imagination (which of course has no limits).

So what about the other disciplines with which we are concerned? How 
about a *literary* computing in Fishwick's sense? Or, to bring back a
discarded term, how about a *humanities* computing?



Willard McCarty, FRAI / Professor of Humanities Computing & Director of
the Doctoral Programme, Department of Digital Humanities, King's College
London; Professor, School of Computing, Engineering and Mathematics,
University of Western Sydney; Editor, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
(www.isr-journal.org); Editor, Humanist
(www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/); www.mccarty.org.uk/

More information about the Humanist mailing list