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Runtime Art: Software, Art, Aesthetics

Broeckmann, Andreas

I. Software as Art

For a long time, computer software has been understood as a purely functional element of digital technology. Only since the late 1990s, it has come under the scrutiny of media theoretical and cultural research. After the age of garage-based computer bricoleurs, followed by the massive distribution of personal computers that came with standard proprietary software but without the necessary media competency, the last years have been characterised by a growing 'do it yourself' culture where programmers cooperate internationally on writing free software, and where musicians, visual artists, literary critics and architects are increasingly acquiring programming know-how.

At the same time, we see the rise of a generation of media critics who are equally familiar with the Internet's technology, standards and politics, and with the marketing and techno-politics of computer hard- and software. The debates of these media critics show that software is a medium and a cultural artefact that is being design in a specific way which carries a particular socio-cultural meaning. In analogy to the cultural analysis of technology as it has emerged from social historiography over the past decades, we can observe the exploration of a technical medium being investigated with regard to the social and economic conditions of its development and application.




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