[ISEA2010] Paper: Gabriel Menotti – Computation as Dynamic Topography: The Coordination of Algorithms, Apparatus and Architectures in the Production of Digital Images


The tradition that assimilates computer code to text is not completely appropriate for the analysis of audiovisual works based on digital media. It forces theory to take a detour through the field of linguistics, hiding the fact that – as physical phenomena – computation has more to do with architecture than with writing. This paper proposes the spatial dispositif as a concurrent paradigm for the evaluation of computational processes in the production of technical images. That, computational algorithms would share fundamental qualities with the cinematographic apparatus and the installation of art in a gallery.

The similarities between computation and the organization of objects can be traced back to the pre-historic origins of calculus. Men first kept track of quantities using proxies such as their fingers (digits) or small stones (calculus). This sort of calculation had no abstract dimension and it did not produce a directly ‘greadable’ outcome: the herdsman separated one pebble for each head of cattle that entered the cowshed; the ensuing pile of rocks did not represent a numerical value, but it could be used as a comparative mechanism to find if any animal was missing. Thus, both to count and to understand its results depended on the same activity of processing discrete objects in closed territories.

  • Gabriel Menotti (UK) is a Ph.D. Candidate on the Media and Communications departments of PUC-SP and Goldsmiths University of London. He works as an independent media curator and producer, interested in different forms of cinema, cultural circuits and grassroots activity.

Full text (PDF) p.  494-496