Enriching Connections Between Creativity + Technology

Auckland Programme Leader (Information Technology) Dr. Roman Mitch is an artist, full-stack developer, and educator with a long-standing involvement in the arts and culture sector in Aotearoa. His interdisciplinary research interests focus on the relationships between conceptual art and the computational from a Māori perspective.

There’s a lot of focus today on algorithms. People say “oh, the Google algorithm is X or the TikTok algorithm is Y”, as if the algorithm is one thing that lives in one place. But algorithms live across different machines and different sections of code, are continuously updated and have just as much to do with business logic, and just as much to do with the society and the laws that companies are subject to, or that they can get around.

I recommend that we take a creative view of technology, which is also a critical view of how we reflect on and how we use technology. When I teach industry skills, as an artist, I don’t assume that a student will become a specific job title. Did you know there used to be a job called a ‘computer’? Information society moves fast, and we must be more adaptive. It’s important to adopt a reflective approach to contemporary technologies.

Today HTML and JavaScript structure the visual field of view in much the same way that roads and streets structure the view of physical landscapes. Creative practice is about structuring and de-structuring the contemporary visual landscape in a meaningful way.

To follow with that example, these digital canvas paintings are made in the HTML canvas element. With this I’m treating the browser like an open workspace or painting canvas. That body of work is of the internet in a way, but it’s not dependent upon the networked or platformed aspect of it. It’s a more subtle, speculative interpretation of what that technology is and what that technology can do.

It’s fair to say that the work that interests me most is within the conceptual tradition. I’m interested in the expressivity within contemporary software development practices and the meaning within an exploration of the relationships between te āo Māori and software.

Sometimes we say that software is about creating beautiful runtime structures. This could be described as an electric real-time generative expression of conceptual art. This means a set of codes producing outputs as they’re interpreted, but which are not necessarily predictable in advance. Every time there is some non-linearity you get something that’s new. They have a transformative māuri.

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