Aesthetic Informational Systems: Towards an Ontology of Computer-Generated Aesthetic Artefacts

Rodrigo Hernández Ramírez’s PhD thesis, Aesthetic Informational Systems: Towards an Ontology of Computer-Generated Aesthetic Artefacts, which I had the pleasure of co-supervising, is now available online!

Computer-generated aesthetic artefacts and the technology employed to create them have brought serious challenges for art scholarship. How should they be understood, described and categorised in relation to non-computational artworks, and how current technological developments are affecting aesthetic practices and our understanding of art in the Information Age are two of the most pressing questions in this field. To address them, this dissertation proposes a scientifically-informed conceptual inquiry and historical account of the relation between computational technology and art. The analysis here presented is based on insights provided by contemporary philosophy of technology and philosophy of information. These styles of analysis give access to a broader understanding of information and communication technologies (and computational technology in particular) that mitigates some of the epistemic shortcomings of media studies and critical theory. This dissertation shows computers are the ultimate modelling machines; tools that allow us design, represent, interact with, and objectify entities and experiences that need not exist in concrete (Modern or “Newtonian”) reality, but merely as . It shows computational aesthetic objects may be better described as simulations: as dynamic, persistent, technically mediated renderings of a source system at different levels of abstraction (granularities). But also that they may also be regarded and analysed as complex informational systems: as patterns, programs, or interfaces which, upon being interpreted, not merely convey but generate new factual information. Ultimately, this dissertation shows that regarding computational technology and computational aesthetic objects as systems illuminates their complexities and shows why monolithic and overarching characterisations of either of them are unlikely to provide valuable knowledge in the long run. While only explicit on certain sections, the underlying argument advanced by this dissertation is that art scholars should care to develop a more robust computational literacy, as well as to question certain (Romantic) prejudices concerning the relationship between art, science, and technology.

Keywords: Aesthetic Informational Systems; Computer-generated Aesthetic Artefacts; Method of LoAs; Philosophy of Information; Philosophy of Technology.