As attention becomes a new form of capital in the networks of contest, art can function to turn attention from flowing within the channels of accumulation and competition, to focusing on them instead–to suss their mechanisms and effects. Art must remain a critical enterprise (and resist being a spectacularized one). If art employs the ubiquitous techniques of computation–as it will more and more–then it must do so self-consciously and critically, making visible the connection between the technical, social, political, and intellectual circumstances of its context.
I write and I write software. A strange and perhaps redundant doubling of an ancient practice and a particularly contemporary one. The pairing can be productive as it injects the literary into the technical and infects language with notions of instrumentality and control. It is at that fraught junction of the natural and the artificial that the politics of the moment is found. It is here that the distinctions become muddled and champions of each side are seen to be manipulating mere metaphors and models rather than anything which could be said to have a being in and of itself.
It is with that understanding as background that I want to assert that computers are not simply technical apparatuses which impact our lives as tools and media, that is as carriers of culture; computation, in fact, is culture, and can be analyzed and constructed just like language and image can be.