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George Lewis, University of California, San Diego

Secret Love Between Interactivity & Improvisation

; 6 Minutes; Video

Computer programs, like any texts, are not "objective" or "universal"; interactions with these systems inevitably reveal characteristics of the culture that produced them. Prevailing discourses in the field tend to erase this cultural embeddedness. In particular, narratives surrounding computer-based cultural production, such as interactivity, virtual reality and new media, consistently describe processes and practices that strongly resemble improvisation, yet the word "improvisation" itself rarely appears.

Asking why this obvious connection is so consistently overlooked, this talk will analyze a particular set of metaphors that mediate contemporary discourses and historical accounts surrounding interactivity, improvisation, art, music and computers, along lines suggested by contemporary critical race theory. Also proposed are avenues for future theorizing in the production of new forms of computer-based art and music.