Abstract - Latent rhythm: Algorithmic performativity in media art and Islamic calligraphy

Algorithmic art forms are characterized by latent movement. If an algorithm is a statement of instructions that will bring about a new state, then many repetitive art forms can be said to be algorithmic. In computer media, as in Islamic art, image is a manifestation of algorithmic activity. However, that algorithm may remain inactive, and the image remain latent. As such computer media, like Islamic art, are characteristically performative, in that they selectively make manifest image, sound, and movement. Islamic art requires a time-based, contemplative, embodied and subjective reception. Similarly, cinema and new media contain latent rhythms that move at a speed independent of organic rhythm. Classical Islamic aesthetics proves strikingly apt in describing the aesthetic and epistemological effect of art forms whose characteristic state is latency. For example, Ibn al Haytham's 11th-century treatise on optics, which emphasized the subjectivity of perception, is newly relevant to contemporary understandings of perception as embodied and subjective; it describes the role of contemporary participants in activating computer media from their typically latent state.