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Themesicon: navigation pathGenerative Toolsicon: navigation pathSoftware Art

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symbols that are as short as possible, that are, thanks to grammar, gifted with the tremendous ability to reproduce themselves ad infinitum: Semi-Thue groups, Markov chains, Backus-Naur forms, and so on. That and only that distinguishes such modern alphabets from the one we know, the one which can analyse our languages and that has given us Homer’s epics, but that cannot set up a technical world like computer code can today." [28] Florian Cramer, Ulrike Gabriel, and John F. Simon Jr. also have a particular interest in the algorithms–"the actual code that produces what is then seen, heard, and felt." [29] For them, perhaps the most fascinating aspect of computer technology is that code–whether contained in a text file or a binary number–is machine executable: "an innocuous piece of writing can upset, reprogram , [or] crash the system." [30] In terms of its 'coded performativity', [31] program code also has direct, political consequences on the virtual space that we are increasingly occupying: Here, "code is law." [32]

Program Code as Performative Text

Ultimately, the computer is not an 'image medium', as it is often described, but essentially a 'text medium', to


which all sorts of audio-visual output devices can be connected. [33] Multimedia, dynamic interfaces are generated from (programmed) texts. Therefore, it is not enough to talk in terms of the "surface effects of software"–that is, dynamic data presentation through the staging of information and animation–of a "performative turn in graphical user interfaces," [34] because this view is too attached to the assumed performativity of those surfaces. Rather, when considering software art and net art projects (and indeed software in general), one should be aware that they are based on two forms of text: a phenotext and a genotext. The surface effects of phenotext, for example, moving texts, are generated and controlled by other texts—by effective texts lying under the surface, by program code, or by source texts. Program code distinguishes itself in that saying and doing come together inside it. Code is an illocutionary speech act (see below) capable of action, and not a description or representation of something, but something that affects, sets into motion, and moves" [35] In this context, Friedrich Kittler refers to the ambiguous term 'command line', a hybrid that today has been almost

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