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Poetic Software

Software has taken command of our daily life. It is omnipresent and most of our Western society would come to a halt without it. At the same time software has become so ordinary, that it is often overlooked. Software is taken for granted while it is increasingly entangled in our life and continuously adopts new tasks. Our computers seem to become smarter through new kinds of algorithms. This leads to new challenges in understanding software – not only from a scientific point of view but also from a cultural, political and social perspective. Software has also found its way into the art and vice versa, but there are still gaps in the relation between the two. I assume that the interaction between software and art can be productive and helpful for the research in both of the disciplines. The question that I am asking is: How can artistic methods be used to elicit critical reflection on software as a cultural object beyond the interface? The current perception and use of software are significant parts of this research, especially in contrast to the original culture around software, that included hacking and that required every artist to write their own software. This publication explores the multiple layers of software with a particular focus on the assumptions and imaginations that arise around and through software. I consider poetic as a reference to the emotional, subtle and artistic expression that software can have. This work is not about considering the code of software as poems or as literature. It points to the non-neutral and imaginative character that software already has and that can be used for further artistic engagement. It also embraces the potential non-functional attributes of software and acknowledges the metaphors that software uses. It reflects on the different layers of interpretation and execution that software can have and leaves the result open for interpretation. Poetic software provides the possibility to create new artistic software, that is beyond the interface and beyond the expected mode of operation or depiction of software. Poetic software does not need to function but comes with an inherent call for statements about issues of software.