The Algorithmic Revolution | i |
title: The Algorithmic Revolution

The Algorithmic Revolution (original German title: Die algorithmische Revolution) was a far-sighted retrospective show at Zentrum für Kunst und Medien (ZKM; Center for Art and Media) at Karsruhe (Germany). It was on display from 31 October 2004 and ended, after several extensions, on 31 January 2008.

The show’s subtitle was “On the History of Interactive Art” even though many of the exhibits were not interactive at all. Algorithms are at the heart of anything we do with the aid of computers whatever the application may be, whatever the mode of usage may be. This is so because computers are machines to evaluate computable functions. They are really never doing anything but exactly this. However, the interactive use of computers is hiding the computational aspect of all work done on and by computers. A good deal of the outrageous success of the Algorithmic Revolution, therefore, is that this revolution is hiding its essential achievements.

The Algorithmic Revolution began, perhaps, in the late 1950s when computers gradually started to spread in terms of numbers and of applications. It is the revolution that centers on machinizing mental labor. To machinize something is to transfer it (in part) onto a suitable machine. A special form of machinization is mechanization. It was the form of transforming human labor into machinic labor during the industrial revolution.

The Algorithmic Revolution was (and still is) a revolution that not many noticed, but that was of utmost and irrevocable success. Success to whose advantage, is another question.

The exhibition at ZKM concentrated on artistic forms and events of the Algorithmic Revolution. Right after entering the exhibition rooms, one of the few still existing Zuse Z22 computers, still functioning, surprised the visitor.

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