glide along

March 27, 2007 – new look-and-feel

Filed under: Arts,Computer Stuff,Thoughts — ricardo @ 8:34 pm

It is very hard to explain to someone who knows nothing about software development how much of an artist you have to be to create good programs. People tend to believe that programming it is purely technical and that creativity, aesthetic, individual talent and inspiration are not nearly as important as the syntax needed to produce the running code.

Well, I believe it is actually quite the opposite. Art-ware.

Note: I am NOT just talking about creating pretty websites and neat interfaces, but also about the running code… yes, the code that users don’t even see.

Because of the indefinable nature of “art”, it is usually easy to just say that something “is art” or “is not art” based on prejudice, lack of information or plain ignorance. I know absolutely nothing about painting, for instance, but I do speculate about the artistic value of pictures I see. Nonetheless, I accept that there is a lot art made from painting.

Software languages, as much as paint, clay and stone are not art by themselves, they are the means through which the artist expresses himself. The thing with software is that it is also meant to do something, to work in a certain way, and that gives the wrong impression on how it is created. A code artist would keep in mind that the software should transcend its technical requirements, breaching into a world of imagination, migrating from a state of computer science towards the much less sufocating condition of computer art.

Software can be much more than a technique, and art might have other concerns besides “being artistic”. Music and movies can be entertaining and still be art, architecture can be functional and still be art, programs can be efficient and still be art.

All that being said, I’d like to tell you a little bit about our new look-and-feel at We wanted to create a browsable interface that would give the website an interesting look and also make it practical, self-adapting to new content and CPU-friendly.

Our site is running on Apache and is presented using HTML and CSS. The frameworks provided by both these technologies are rare art in a world of dirty, unreliable, hard-code and thanks to them we (Bob and I) could create exactly what we wanted.

It is a little self-promoting to say so, but I think it really kicks ass! Check it out.

March 10, 2007

Visual dictatorship

Filed under: Arts,Thoughts — ricardo @ 5:36 pm

Let go your mouse, get your hands away from the keyboard, lean back and take a moment for yourself. Contemplate. Look around and truly observe your surroundings with all your senses. Do it now, take your time.

For practical reasons, we learn to think of ourselves as immersed in a greater world, that surrounds us completely. From cradle to grave, we foster a very unique understanding of reality, a personal model to describe the laws and limitations of the world, but it takes some effort to realize that such model is not truly assembled from purely perceived data, but from cognitive interpretation of such sensory input.

The distinction between a perceived and an interpreted reality is very important: although one can argue that the perceived signals (information captured by our senses from reality, such as light and sound) might have aspects that do not depend in any way on the perceiving agent (us) and, thus, may be entirely determined by the nature of the observed entity (the object emitting the light, or the sound or whatever), the same could not be said about the interpretation of such information. That being said, it becomes clear that the world in which we “see” ourselves is NOT external to us, it is personal, it is intimate.

Natural selection made us very dependent on our vision, and the physiological structures related to both perceiving and interpreting light are very powerful in our species. We rely on sight to make a model of the world and when we think of something, we create a mental image of it, and I am not talking only about concrete objects, but about abstract concepts as well.

For instance, think of an angry person (or a happy family or, well, anything you want) and try to decompose the thought in facets created from each one of your senses. As I said before, thoughts transcend the sensitive boundaries by being the result of interpretation and cognition, but still it is easy to associate a certain aspect of the abstract model with the data that was used to create it. From this exercise you might realize that the visual contribution to our personal weltanschauung is greater than that of any other sense.

For an elaborate drawing, rich in details, it is natural to choose a delicate pen, however this visual dictatorship has had deep implications in the development of language, culture and art. In paying more attention to the remaining senses, new opportunities emerge and a richer life with interesting sensations and experiences is made available.

Also, aesthetic values are sustained by visual foundations, leaving sound and its counterparts as yet unexplored technological and artistic vehicles, despite the existence of music.

In which direction can these vehicles take us?

How far can they go?

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