Through reading Caroline Sanders "In Defense of Useful Art", I discovered that technology in modern times are often times tied with arts and design. Useful art could also be related with society and people who live in it. Artists help creating art that promotes a certain feeling or designing some thing that motivates certain actions and ideologies. I see that arts and design are not simply limited to visual or aesthetic aspects, they could also contribute to our intellectual and spiritual practices in society and community.
In Defense of Useful Art by Caroline Sanders provided a lot of useful information regarding art as a medium. Defining technology based art as a way to spread awareness (The black lives matter protests), and provide and immediate temporary solution to a situation. (the wage calculator). This article states that because of this art can be practical and I would tend to agree. Much of the design world is based around the look and feel of practical items. The medium we experience the world in feeds back to the development of culture.
Tech art during social justice movements, as mentioned in the Caroline Sinders article, reminds me of the loads and loads of beautifully, aesthetically designed info graphics being passed around Instagram after George Floyd's death. In a way, it reminded me of what I had already known—white people using technology, in this case design, in an illustration of white guilt. As artists, they were pretending to fix the situation they were instead continuing to perpetuate, like taking away work and protest efforts from BIPOC designers and other contributors.
My favorite part about the Everest Pimpkin reading is all of the explanations to the terminology of computer interfaces. It didn't explain it to me as much as it reminded me that they existed, that my browser window is actually literally a window into which I view information, and tabs are like the files of the window's cabinet. Maybe I find this so interesting because my brain often forgets to associate computers as something made by humans, I start to believe they named themselves that, or that they've always existed in this way before computers were even around.
Alison Parrish makes a great point about the relationship between generated writing and human writing. "Here we have two practices—automatic writing and language generated with machine learning—that seem to share very few formal similarities or material preconditions. Yet in Sutela’s work (and that of many other artists), it’s evident that the two practices are often related and intertwined. Is it possible to account for this?" This question is so interesting to me because of how surprising it is to see the outcome of machine/code generate writing. The randomness to it that doesn't even seem random at the end, and almost mirrors the randomness of language evolution at times. It's a great way of describing how machines simulate the patterns of humans accidentally, maybe as a direct effect to humans trying to simulate the machine.
In the article "In Defense of Useful Art", Caroline Sinders strongly expressed her Defense and understanding of Useful Art. After reading this article, I have some new thoughts about what "useful art" is. In the past, I used to think of useful art as the design of practical tools, but Caroline Sinders' article showed me that useful art can also be the design of research related to the practical problems that change people's lives. I realized that design is not only about aesthetic challenges, but also about understanding the intersections of human communities.
This article resonated a lot as I feel like form vs function is something that designers have mixed opinions on. Usefulness to me has a large scale, and I believe most designs aim to solve problems, not create them. I like that Caroline takes an approach of systemic injustice, which is important to acknowledge in the art space. Being able to create art already puts designers in a position of privilege, and it’s important to see through different lenses.
Caroline Sanders discusses the intersection of technology and design to confront social issues. Sanders talks about their open source wage calculator project called Technically Responsible Knowledge where users are able to calculate charges per task and whether or not that reaches a living wage. Sanders uses carefully considered UI and UX to be clear and understandable by the user. Sanders clearly states “Design can help visualize or highlight parts of systemic injustice, but design must unpack and confront it’s role in contributing to injustice in technology. However, it’s imperative we view design as a tool, the same way we view code and programming as tools. Much like how programmers use code or programming languages as a means to create change, I leverage design in a similar way, and use it to create the same kind of space of usefulness to explore problem solving.” I believe technological design can be an excellent and accessible tool for addressing/ commenting/ aiding in social issues.
Caroline Sanders presents interesting connections between art and design as boundaries continue to blur between art and technology. Technologists are increasingly exploring artistic ideas and artists are dabbling in technology to support their practices. Sanders describes various ways in which art can create 'useful' conversations around developing technology. I think the idea that art can be used as a tool to critique and examine technology is very intriguing because today we often find that technology is both restricted to a certain group of people or progressing without any checks to it. I think reading this article made me re-examine how we celebrate advances in technology without considering that it may also have adverse implications.
“In defense of useful Art", the title itself is a really strong statement. And what's useful, and how to define the standard of "useful", Caroline says that "The ‘solutions’ the artists provide are not meant to create an end to all other potential solutions but serve to offer rather, temporary or open-source fixes for gaps inequity and violence created by society and are poetic witnesses of those gaps." I think it is answering my questions. Useful is really broad, not just serve for functionality, it can serve for social justice, research, and so on. I also get many inspirations from the works she mentioned in the article. For example, "The secret life of an Amazon user", such a simple form but exposes the invisible impacts behind our ordinary online shopping and surfing behaviors. And the TRK project helps show how underpriced data labeling or data training tasks are, which is a way to defend the useful design and the workers living wage in Washington state.