December 13, 2009

Abstract Programming? Structured Music?

People sometimes claim that programming is an art (me, I am happier to regard it as a craft, notwithstanding the fact that one of computer science's greats is writing a book called The Art of Computer Programming). If the parallel were clearer then presumably we'd be able to do abstract programming (people do abstract visual art, right)? What the hell would that represent?

All of which is a rather feeble introduction to a few of my brother's abstract images. David has way more talent in the arts than I do (he's also a very talented musician). Since I find both his art and his music appealing, and since he is currently trying to make it more accessible, I wanted to find out whether his work generally appeals to geeks, or is it just my starry-eyed fraternity that makes me like his work?

Since this blog is mostly read by geek (when it's read at all ...) it seemed like a good place to ask the question. So, what's the answer? Comments, please.


Dougal said...

The following quotes are from|en&q=abstract

"An abstract idea or way of thinking is based on general ideas rather than on real things and events."

"When you talk or think about something in the abstract, you talk or think about it in a general way, rather than considering particular things or events."

"Abstract art makes use of shapes and patterns rather than showing people or things."

Now, it just just be me but don't these descriptions basically describe what a framework is? So perhaps frameworks are examples of "abstract programming". Perhaps even a language itself could be sometimes described as abstract?

Now in regards to the art, I'm a big fan of abstract art - its bery cool.

EOL (Eric O LEBIGOT) said...

Interesting question, about abstract programming. I would suggest that code that works but requires imagination and thoughts in order to be understood might qualify…

In any case, and to go to the main subject: I did listen to your brother's music, and I find it interesting enough to be wanting to hear more of it. It reminds me of Debussy, with a more contemporary feel; I feel that it's quite accessible. That's my feeling, as a geek, and a musician.

Barbara said...

Well, it appeals to me, but then I'm a big fan of mid-century abstract and surrealist art (your brother looks like he's influenced a lot by Joan Miro). I wonder if there's a correlation - and what, precisely, it is - between the geek brain and loving abstract work.

Actually, maybe it makes sense in this way - I think it's easy for the untrained eye to see abstract art as unstructured when compared to realist work. But in fact I think the abstract relies much more heavily on balance, the weight of color and tone and lines and other elements in the composition. Aaand abstract pieces are largely the products of artists' imaginations, as opposed to realist pieces that are at least interpretations of something real.

I'm making huge generalizations here, I know, but I guess my point is that the abstract might appeal to the geek brain because it is more complex. It demands more of the viewer, and is therefore more stimulating.

It's funny that this should come up - the intersection of mathematical formula and symphonic music has been a big theme for me this week. :) (SF Symphony did Anton Webern's Opus 21 last week - my first experience with such a challenging piece of music.)

Anonymous said...

When you think about abstract programming compared to abstract art, you have to think in terms of something that resembles actual construction, engineering. So abstract programming is like abstract sculpture or abstract architecture, it must still be a concrete, real object.

Rather abstract architecture/sculpture is regarded as abstract because it shape is unusual and asks you to think in a different way in order to appreciate it, so to me the equivalent of abstract art in programming are esoteric languages.

Posted anonymous because Google refuses to acknowledge my cookies, I'm the guy who believes in personal responsibility of soldiers so this probably will get deleted :(

David said...

Viewing the art seems to require a login...

computer programming said...

Programming is a form of music production and performance using electronic devices, often sequencers or computer programs, to generate music.