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Themesicon: navigation pathGenerative Toolsicon: navigation pathComputer Art
Forkbomb (McLean, Alex), 2001

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of generative contribution is evident from their conceptual viewpoints, and illustrates other modes of use.

1. Alex McLean: «Forkbomb»

«The ENTER key has acquired power that corresponds better to the meaning of the word in poetry, that is: ‹to make›−than all of the poetry and literature in history.» Friedrich A. Kittler [56] The «Forkbomb,» which Alex McLean wrote in 2001 using the Perl [57] scripting language, is essentially a thirteen-line program that found its way into the art community through transmedial.02, where it won a prize. [58] In describing the function and action of the script, a certain radical quality is apparent, coupled with the claim that this piece of software is art: in the end, it is nothing other than an uncontrolled system halt. Through mechanisms that will be described here, the code gradually paralyzes the system on which the interpreter [59] applies the script. This occurs through a so-called ‹process› that branches out more and more and launches an avalanche of identical processes, and continues on until—depending upon the capabilities of the computer—the system resources are exhausted


and a system halt results. At that point, an output is produced as a bit pattern of zeros and ones. On the homepage of transmediale, we can read the following: «The pattern in which these data are presented can be said, in one sense, to represent the algorithm of the code, and, in another way, to represent the operating system in which the code is running. The result is an artistic expression of a system under stress.» [60] —see the microanalysis of «Forkbomb.» In general, the script initializes a cascade of loops which, although they follow a programmed logic, use the inherent logic of the system itself in a way that it was not intended to be used. When the program is started, a succession of zeros and/or ones can be seen on the standard output device, which nowadays is usually a monitor screen. From this, the part that the ‹while› statement has already executed can be recognized. [61] The computer gradually becomes paralyzed. As this happens, the output changes. [62] The software can also be interpreted as being a random generator. [63] Here however, it does not fulfill the function that it had in the work of Nees, for example. In any case, the program can also be understood as displaying the finite

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