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Lecture 8

CS351 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Software Art, False Consciousness

Communication Studies
Course Code
Jeff Heydon

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Lecture 8
Software Art
-The function of software art, as Manovich argues, parallels Marxist ideology critique. The veil
of ideology is torn asunder by grasping the relations between the action of individual actors
and the system as a whole
-Software enables this critique by representing it at a scale- in a microworld- that we can make
sense of
-It is truly remarkable that software- designed to obfuscate the machine and create a virtual
one and based on buried commands- has lead to the overwhelming notion of computation as
transparent. This notion of transparency has less to do with actual technological operations
than the “microworld” established by computation
Ideology Machines
-In a formal sense computers understood as comprising software and hardware are ideology
-They fulfill almost every formal definition of ideology we have, from ideology as false
consciousness to Louis Althussers definition of ideology as a “representation” of the
imaginary relations of individuals to their real conditions of existence
-Software produces users. Without OS there would be no access to hardware; without OS no
actions, no practises, and thus no users. Each OS, through its advertisements, interpellates a
“user” calls it and offers it a name or image with which to identify.
-So Mac users “think different” and identify with Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein. Linux
users are open source power geeks, etc.
-Violence in gaming
-Users know very well that their folders and desktops are not really folders and desktops, but
they treat them as if they were- by referring to them as folders and desktops
-This logic is, according to Slavoj Ziezek, is crucial to ideology. He argues that ideology
persists in ones actions rather than in ones beliefs
-The illusion of ideology exists not at the level of knowledge but at the level of doing: this
illusion is maintained through the imaginary meaning of the law, screens the fact that
authority is without truth- that one obeys the law to the extent that is uncomprehendable
-Is this not computation?
-Software and ideology fit each other perfectly because both try to map the material effects of
the immaterial through visible cues. Through this process the immaterial emerges as a
commodity, as something in its own right
-What is software if not the very effort of making something explicit, of making something
intangible visible, while at the same time rendering the visible (such as the machine) invisible
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