Artificial Aesthetics reviewed by Neural

Neural issue 55 / Autumn 2016 has published a review of Artificial Aesthetics.

Over the years, Miguel Carvalhais has developed a consistent practice producing music compositions, graphic design, live audiovisual performances and sound art installations. Furthermore, this practice is accompanied by academic work teaching and publishing. Artificial Aesthetics manifests all of the aforementioned work in a single, coherent articulation around the fulcrum of his research: the aesthetic qualities of programmable media. The autonomous quality of programmable media emerges as a key factor in Artificial Aesthetics and the author goes through an attentive historical analysis of the processual systems for its creation, from the recombination of elements to various degrees of artificial intelligence. Here Carvalhais is developing an analytical model for the analysis of procedural systems. This is arguably a new methodology, but one with the concrete potential to become a standard. One of the most valuable aspects of this book is how every single chapter includes relevant content emerging across specific visual, audio and textual artworks, all of which are drawn together in a coherent presentation. The “artificiality” of processes is constantly referred to when the author qualifies elements with or without acknowledgeable human qualities. As Carvalhais brilliantly defines it, we are still in the historical phase of “computational incunabula”, already with a substantial history behind us. This book can potentially become a classic, but it already looks it could become an essential reference for digital art and culture in the future.

Regarding Value in Digital Serendipitous Interactions

The Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts vol. 8, number 2, has just been published. This issue includes a paper by Ricardo Melo and myself, “Regarding Value in Digital Serendipitous Interactions”.

Digital technologies have become our privileged method of interacting with information. With their ubiquity, and focus on personalisation, optimisation and functionality, chance and accidental interactions in the Digital Medium are being replaced with filtered, predictable and known ones, limiting the scope of possible user experiences.

In order to promote the design of richer experiences that go beyond the functionally-driven paradigm, we propose that digital systems be designed in order to favour serendipity. Through a literature-based analysis of serendipity, we explore the distinct meanings of value that are possible with serendipitous systems, offering examples of the current state of the art, observing the methods used to do so, and proposing a possible typology, while highlighting unexplored fields, experiences and interactions.

Special Issue of the Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts: xCoAx 2016

The Journal of Science and Technology of the Arts, published by the Portuguese Catholic University in Porto, has just released its special issue with a selected set of extended papers from the xCoAx 2016 conference. The issue includes works from Agustina Andreoletti and Alice Rzezonka; Rodrigo Hernández-Ramírez; Romi Mikulinsky and Yanai Toister; Anna Daudrich; Catarina Lee and Luísa Ribas; Pedro Cardoso; and Hanns Holger Rutz. It’s open access at

Defamiliarisation towards Divergency

The xCoAx 2016 proceedings have just been published, including a paper by Ricardo Melo and myself.

Digital interactive systems have systematically been designed in order to cater to the user’s desires, through user-friendly and user-centred design methodologies, privileging pleasurable and effective experiences. While this may be necessary and a worthy pursuit in many cases, it led to the rise of convergent systems focusing mainly on efficiency, productivity, and optimisation not only in those areas of our lives that require this mindset but to all areas regardless, relegating the interactor to the role a client experiencing a product, while limiting the creative and exploratory potential of the digital medium. In order to introduce divergency, we propose the concept of defamiliarisation as a method to reduce the predictability of interactions with digital technology, and suggest possible methods to accomplish it in interactive systems.