Abstract- Brian Reffin Smith

Hijack! How the Computer was Wasted for Art

To the person in the street, a computer is a machine for gaining access to the web. This is like using a Ferrari to deliver the milk. Computers are constantly mis-described, misunderstood, mystified, a fortiori in "computer art" which too often uses the aura of the technology to justify meretricious art. Real computer-based art is rather rare. The frontiers of contemporary art are seldom touched, let alone extended. The computer, in art, has been hijacked by the ever-changing latest thing (3-D, fractals, data-gloves, internet...)
Thomas Kuhn postulated science progressing by periods of "revolutionary science" or paradigm shifts, interspersing longer periods of "normal science". Computer art shows the opposite effect, where "normality" is constant so-called revolution, the Zeitgeist continuously changing, and all that is solid melts into air, again and again. Thus there is never time for thoughtful, well-conceived art to be made using computers. State-of-the-art technology merely produces miles of state-of-the-technology art.
Computers should be reclaimed for art, and their potential as revolutionary machines, representation processors rather than just information-processors, realised. From the 1960s onwards, the history of computer-based arts is one of neglected ideas, missed opportunities and a terrible waste of potential, accompanied by a lack of reasoned discourse, of critical language. This can and should be changed: it is not too late!