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A conversation: Algorithmn and Aesthetics

My initial proposal for this presentation began with AI, Ethics, Skeptism, and speculative realism of which as been narrowed down to a conversation around Object Orientated Aesthetics.

produced by: Robert Hillson


Admmision Final. Robert Hillson


My initial proposal for this presentation began with AI, Ethics, Skeptism, and speculative realism of which as been narrowed down to understanding how Object Oriented Aesthetics may enable a new way of understanding.

I inclined towards this subject after reading, Tarleton Gillespie, and the "Algorithm.",he describes how Algorithm has possibly become a figure of speech, a synecdoche.


“Algorithm” may in fact serve as an abbreviation for the sociotechnical assemblage that includes algorithm, model, target goal, data, training data, application, hardware — and connect it all to a broader social endeavor.” (1)


Importantly, the people and the processes involved become abstracted.

One of the problems in trying to grasp the best way to understand the Algorthmn is to first decide on or at least experiment with the different philosophical viewpoints in which it can be relayed. In the paper Governing Algorithms: A Provocation Piece, Solon Barocas et al (2014) intergates and sifts through many of these problems.

One of which is a reference to Ian Bogost, he contends a different way of percieving experience and with it knowledge, but not only by human experience,

‘OOO contends that nothing has special status, but that everything exists equally--plumbers, cotton, bonobos, DVD players, and sandstone, for example. (2)

What is broadly called Object Orientated Ontology or OOO for short is a contast to correlationism. It is a fundamental way of thinking about everything, it


‘rejects the privileging of human existence over the existence of nonhuman objects’ (3), instead objects exist independently of human perception.

Concept and background research

In correlationism the athropocentric self translates the other  in terms of which only itself can understand, this would be a loose example of what Levi R. Bryant states in his definition of correlationism, ‘…that mind does not merely reflect reality, but rather actively structures reality’(4) a reference to Immanuel Kant and the object that conforms to the mind. So a cup is so because of the idea I already have about it, (a.. pri-ori).




And so back to the algorthmn,


Before usage, ‘we’ do no define the noun Algorthmn nor do, ‘we’ place its physical existence, both are assumed too complex. And so the Black Box metaphor conveniently allows the magic to flow while giving the proverbial ‘we’, free rein on meaning.

Alternativley, like navigating dense, sometimes obsfucated and rarely straightforward theoretical texts, the definition of Algorthmn protudes, points and shadows, like a terrain of sharp moutain tops whereby the echoed streams of meaning twist and turn as it navigates down stream into a flowing river of moving context,




In my field report I have asked 5 people what Algorthmn means to them. In the foreground are photographic images taken by myself. These have been processed using an Algorthmn which checks each pixel for a it’s colour value (R,G,B)  and then changes it dependent on a simple boolean statement.

 I originally took these photos for signs of human activity, and now they contrast nicely with the non-human asepect. The two ideas, human activity and inanimate forms are contrasted in a way to help see the difference. Perhaps even the other side of what cannot yet be understood.





The question and answer method has show how elusive the meaning of the word Algorthmn is, and that any revolutionary democritsation of knowlegde, in the sense of a, ‘far-reaching and drastic change in ideas and methods, require a paradgim shift in how we actually think.


Charlie Gere is Professor of Media Theory and History at Lancaster University, in his article Stanza's object-oriented aesthetics he writes favourbly on this subject by stating, ‘a new way of thinking about the world, one that does not reduce it to what is available to human consciousness.’(5)

 In this it can be consluded that the human consciousness is a limiting a factor in thought.

Emergent City: From Complexity to the City of Bits’ is an artwork by Stanza, ‘Its very refusal of easy understanding is a profound reflection on the world itself, and the degree to which it is available to us.’ writes Prof Gere. (5)

Object Oriented Ontology mirrors the complexity of the Post Human World. 

Future development

In modernity, structuralism gave the signifier and the signified; the theoritical word ‘house’ refers to the physical object ‘house’ while post modernist, Roland Barthes alluded to the idea that the text of a novel should no longer have a privliaged authorship over interpretation.

 And so both signifier and author have lost their privilages leading to the post human paradigm shift towards a democritisation of both the subject and object whereby meaning is initself held, suspended or alluded to from all objects.

Or as Ian Bogost would simply explain, imagine knowledge dervied by, “the perception and experience of other beings [including computers] remains outside our grasp, yet available to speculation thanks to evidence that emanates from their withdrawn cores like radiation around the event horizon of a black hole’. (6)

Additionally in a blog hosted by Ian Bogost, one commentator offers the idea that the emphasis on all objects will detract from what should be most important, human sufferring, ‘How can you just stare at toasters while childeren are starving in Africa?’

In response to this he offers the idea that the anthropocentric thinker whilst giving all objects equal concern may at the same time extinquish their ego-centric self interest to one that is unhindered by any scope of thought.

If the creation of the complex world can be mirrored into a form presented as Art I wonder if the same mirroring process can enlighten our experience of that same world into a pragmatic experience and at the same time simmer some of the detractors that calmly call out the idea as a form of nihlism.






(2)’ OOO being short for Object Orientated Ontology.

(3)          Dobres, Marcia-Anne. Technology and Culture 45, no. 1 (2004): 232-34. Accessed December 7, 2020.


(4) dictionary/#:~:text=Meillassoux%20argues%20that%20correlationism%20has,rather%20than%20mind%20to%20objects.















(13)        Jay Clayton, Eric Rothstein, Influence and Intertextuality in Literary History, University of Wisconsin Press, 1991, p. 156.