Algorithmic culture and the ontology of media art

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)31A_Invited conference paper (refereed items)

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Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2016


TitleDigital Media Summit Forum
LocationNanjing University of the Arts
Period4 - 6 December 2016


The future of media art depends on its relation to science and technology. A crucial aspect of is the rise of algorithmic technologies. These technologies affect the ontology of the image. Digital images are essentially computational in nature. They are subject to computational manipulation. This computational aspect determines what they fundamentally are. The social organization of digital labor, however, veils or hides the ontology of these technologies.
By “ontological veiling” I mean a situation where the essential nature of the medium is systematically concealed, under pressure from pervasive economic and cultural forces. The mathematical nature of digital technologies is systematically obfuscated in the contemporary world. The rise of two crucial ideologies, user interface design and direct manipulation, have cemented this ontological veiling.

Digital image technologies appear to augment our capacity for doing things. Software packages are designed to be easy to use, without any knowledge of the mathematical procedures that underpin them. As a result, the artist who uses software believes that she knows how to manipulate digital images, but this belief is illusory. This ignorance masquerading as knowledge is one of the fundamental ideologies of our time.

I argue that one of the main tasks of contemporary art is the critical interrogation of algorithmic culture. More specifically, we must conceive of the image not only as a visible object but also as a quantitative or computational artifact. This requires a substantial reconfiguration of the methods of artistic production and the direction of artistic education.

Research Area(s)

  • digital media studies

Bibliographic Note

Organized by: Nanjing University of the Arts (China), Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands), Taipei University of the Arts (Taiwan).

Citation Format(s)

Algorithmic culture and the ontology of media art. / RODRIGUEZ, Hector.

2016. Digital Media Summit Forum, Nanjing, China.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)31A_Invited conference paper (refereed items)