Conceptual Framework for the Intersection of Software and Art

Conceptual Framework for the Intersection of Software and Art

Salah Uddin Ahmed (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway), Letizia Jaccheri (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway), Guttorm Sindre (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway) and Anna Trifonova (Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-352-4.ch002


The interaction between art and technology, especially computing technology, is an increasing trend in the recent years. The context of this intersection is growing in numbers, size and aspects, each year. The number of artists participating in multimedia software or game development projects is continuously increasing and so is the number of software engineers participating in art projects like interactive art installations. As this intersection of art and technology grows, it involves people from different disciplines with varying interests creating a milieu of interdisciplinary collaborations. In this context at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, we explore the intersection of software and art to understand different entities that are involved in the intersection. This is done by literature review and inspired by our previous experiences from participation in art projects. The objective is to conceptualize the framework of the intersection between software and art and develop a knowledge base at this interdisciplinary domain.
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Art finds expression in numerous products in society, where the development of products is complex, competitive, global and intercultural in scope. The literature is full with examples of artists applying mathematics, technology, and computing e.g. genetic art, algorithmic art, artificial intelligence to the creation of art. With the rapid development of technology, software is being used in almost every sector of life. The interconnection between art and computer science has a long history that dates back to the early sixties (1970) and it has interested many artists, researchers, art critics and theorists in the recent years. As the intersection is drawing attention of people from a diverse background and growing in size and scope, it is beneficiary for people interested in software and art to know each other’s background and interests well. In a multidisciplinary collaboration, the success depends on how well the different actors in the project collaborate and understand each other. Both researchers and artists report problems regarding collaboration in multidisciplinary projects involving technologists and artists (Meyer, Staples, Minneman, Naimark, & Glassner, 1998). Thus understanding each other’s interests and background knowledge is important for having a smooth collaboration and successful cooperation with all actors during an interdisciplinary project. The objective of this chapter is to provide a basic understanding of the interdisciplinary domain of software and art through a literature review. We describe the intersection through a conceptual framework which is represented by the different entities that we have encountered in our literature review as part of SArt project at the intersection of software and art. The framework is described by several entities such as who, why, where, what which stand, respectively, short for who are the people involved, why the people are interested to the intersection, where the intersection takes place, what tools and software are used in this intersection of software and art.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Art Projects: In the context of this chapter, with the word art projects we mean Art projects that use technology for the development of the final product which is usually an artwork. These projects include at least one artist and a number of technologists. In context of this chapter, technologists are software engineers. But in general, besides the software engineers there can be many other technologists such as sound engineers, electrical engineers and so on. Often art projects are multidisciplinary projects which involve many people including the sponsors and public administration, researchers and so on.

Artwork Support Tools: Software used to realize a certain artwork by implementing the core functionalities of the artwork. This software can be commercial off the shelf (COTS) software or open source software or even customized software that is developed only to realize a particular art project. By artwork support tools we mean the whole application that works behind the artwork.

Installation Art: Merriam Webster defines Installation as “a work of art that usually consists of multiple components often in mixed media and that is exhibited in a usually large space in an arrangement specified by the artist”. In wikipedia we find following definition of Installation Art: “Installation art uses sculptural materials and other media to modify the way we experience a particular space. Installation art is not necessarily confined to gallery spaces and can be any material intervention in everyday public or private spaces. Installation art incorporates almost any media to create an experience in a particular environment. Materials used in contemporary installation art range from everyday and natural materials to new media such as video, sound, performance, computers and the internet. Some installations are site-specific in that they are designed to only exist in the space for which they were created.”

Conceptual Framework: Conceptual framework can be described in many ways: (1) a set of coherent ideas or concepts organized in a manner that makes them easy to communicate to others. Or (2) an organized way of thinking about how and why a project takes place, and about how we understand its activities or (3) An overview of ideas and practices that shape the way work is done in a project. Wikipedia defines it as “A conceptual framework is used in research to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to a system analysis project. The framework is built from a set of concepts linked to a planned or existing system of methods, behaviours, functions, relationships, and objects.”

Computer Art: Wikipedia defines Computer art as any art in which computers played a role in production or display of the artwork. Such art can be an image, sound, animation, video, CD-ROM, videogame, web site, algorithm, performance or gallery installation. Often computer art is used in general to refer to artworks that were impossible to create before the invention of computer.

Software Engineering: According to IEEE Standard Glossary of Software Engineering Terminology, Software engineering (SE) is the application of a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software. According to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge, the discipline of software engineering encompasses knowledge, tools, and methods for defining software requirements, and performing software design, computer programming, user interface design, software testing, and software maintenance tasks. It also draws on knowledge from fields such as computer science, computer engineering, management, mathematics, project management, quality management, software ergonomics, and systems engineering. In industry software engineers can have several specialized roles such as analysts, architects, developers, testers (according to Wikipedia). In context of this chapter, we call all people who are involved in the development of software for art projects as software engineers irrespective of their specialization.

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