Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Database as Cultural Dominant

"Computer assisted technologies have allowed us to look deeper into matter and out into space, to elicit or construct meaningful patterns, rhythms, cycles, correspondences, interrelationships and dependencies at all levels."

 "Computational systems have led us to an understanding of how the design and construction of our world could constitute an emergent process, replacing the old top-down approach with a bottom-up methodology. Nano science has been particularly suggestive in this, as well as other, even more challenging respects."

"Telematic systems have enabled is to distribute ourselves over multiple locations, to diversify our identity, to extend our reach over formidable distances with formidable speed."

"After the novel, and subsequently cinema privileged narrative as he key form of cultural expression of the modern age, the computer age introduces its correlate - database. Many new media objects do not tell stories; they don't have a beginning or end; in fact, they don't have any development, thematically, formally or otherwise which would organize their elements into a sequence. Instead, they are collections of individual items, where every item has the same significance as any other."

"The data stored in a database is organized for fast search and retrieval by a computer and therefore it is anything but a simple collection of items. Different types of databases - hierarchical, network, relational and object oriented - use different models to organize data."

"New media objects may or may not employ these highly structured database models; however, from the point of view of user's experience a large proportion of them are databases in a more basic sense. They appear as collections of items on which the user can perform various operations: view, navigate, search."

"Following art historian Ervin Panofsky's analysis of linear perspective as a 'symbolic form' of the modern age, we may even call the database a new symbolic form of a computer age..., a new way to structure our experience of ourselves and the world. Indeed, after the death of God (Nietzsche), the end of grand narratives of Enlightenment (Lyotard) and the arrival of the Web (Tim Berners-Lee), the world appears to us as an endless and unstructured collection of images, texts and other data records, it is only appropriate that we will be moved to model it as a database."

"The world is reduced to two kinds of software objects which are complementary to each other: data structures and algorithms. Any process or task is reduced to an algorithm, a final sequence of simple operations which a computer can execute to accomplish a given task. Any any object in the world - be it the population of a city, or the weather over the course of a century, a chair, a human brain - is modeled as a data structure, i.e. data organized in a particular way for efficient search and retrieval."

"Algorithms and data structures have a symbiotic relationship. The complex the data structure of a computer program, the simpler the algorithm needs to be, and vice versa. Together, data structures and algorithms are two halves of the ontology of the world according to a computer."


Texts by Roy Ascott's "Introduction", Engineering Nature: Art and Consciousness in the Post-Biological Era and Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media.

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