Abstracting Otherwise: in search for a Common Strategy for Arts and Computing

  • with Goda Klumbytė
  • ASAP Journal, John Hopkins University Press
  • (2020)

“Abstraction” in digital culture and in the arts is a contested term. As a technical concept in computing, it refers to the process of managing complexity through modeling and selective hiding or condensing of information and plays a key role in the development of software and computing architectures. In the arts, particularly in the West, abstraction is intertwined with histories of image-making, from the medium of photography to the movement of Impressionism and beyond, and it is often posited within a (false) binary of abstraction vs. representation. In the Western arts canon, abstraction after the invention of photography also tends to exclude certain artists that are marked as not artists, such as self-taught artists, women artists, craft artists, disabled artists, POC artists, and other others. In the digital culture, abstraction invokes the move away from matter and corporeality. Characteristic of the Western rationality, while also knitted into the understanding of the digital itself, it thus can be said to similarly reproduce the exclusion of those who were seen as too corporeal, too particular.