Funware Conference Programme

Published on November 16th, 2010

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Symposium exploring the issue of fun and the potential of the humour in software art.

27 November, 10:00 – 15:30


Baltan Laboratories
Torenallee 45, SWA Building, 8th floor
5617 BA Eindhoven
The Netherlands

Contrary to the belief that software is a very serious issue, a battlefield of big business interest and freedom fighters, and a field guided by rationality and formalisation, it is actually an area of practice and thinking that often advances through random acts, absurd use, jokes and curiosity.

International speakers argued that art, and in particular software art, plays a crucial role in the production of the world, undermining the seeming solidity of the infrastructural backbone of our society and opening it up for intervention and reinvention. The conference also explored the issue of fun and the potential of the humour in software art. What is humour after all? Is it in fact an artistic and critical attitude to reality?


10:00 Olga Goriunova, Introduction, ‘Fun and Software’

10.20 Matthew Fuller, ‘Always One Bit More, Computing and the Experience of Ambiguity’

10.50 Michael Murtaugh, ‘Do Repeat Yourself’

11.20-11.50 coffee break

11.50 Simon Yuill, ‘Bend Sinister: Détournement and Normative Effect in Notational Production’

12.20 Wilfried Hou Je Bek, ‘Software Is Fun & Programmers Are Clowns‘

12.50-14.00 Lunch

14.00 Wendy Chun and Andrew Lison, ‘So Fun It’s Not…’

14.30 Andrew Goffey, ‘A Little Play, a Little Humour: Escaping From the Unreasonable Exactness of Algorithms’

15.00-16.00 Drinks, Baltan Laboratories

18.00-18.30 Funware exhibition tour


Wendy Chun

Wendy Chun is Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She has studied both Systems Design Engineering and English Literature, which she combines and mutates in her current work on digital media. She is author of Control and Freedom: Power and Paranoia in the Age of Fiber Optics (MIT, 2006), Programmed Visions: Software and Memory (forthcoming MIT 2010), and she is currently working on a monograph entitled Imagined Networks. Most generally, her scholarly work investigates the relationship between cultural formations and technological artifacts, between theoretical concepts in the humanistic and technological disciplines, and between popular perceptions of technology and technological protocols. Situated mainly in the field of new media studies, her larger projects have been driven by questions such as: What is the impact of control technologies on mass media? What made the Internet, a communications network that had existed for years, a “new” or “exceptional” medium in the mid-1990s? How does the concept of “memory” cut across computational, biological and humanistic fields?

Matthew Fuller

Matthew Fuller is David Gee Reader in Digital Media at the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London. He is the author of various books, including Media Ecologies: Materialist Energies in Art and Technoculture (MIT Press, 2005) and Behind the Blip: Essays on the Culture of Software (Autonomedia, 2003) and the forthcoming Elephant & Castle.  With Usman Haque, he is co-author of Urban Versioning System v1.0 and with Andrew Goffey, co-author of the forthcoming Evil Media. Editor of Software Studies, a lexicon (MIT Press, 2008), and co-editor of the new Software Studies series from MIT Press. Fuller is also involved in a number of projects in art, media and software, among others with: I/O/D, Mongrel, Mediashed and

Andrew Goffey

Andrew Goffey is Senior Lecturer in Media, Culture and Communications at Middlesex University. He writes about issues crossing the domains of philosophy, science and culture. He is the co-author (with Matthew Fuller) of Evil Media (forthcoming) and is currently working on a monograph on the politics of software. He has published essays on a range of topics, including immunology and sophistry, and has also translated work by Eric Alliez, Barbara Cassin and Isabelle Stengers.

Olga Goriunova

Olga Goriunova is a Senior Lecturer in Media Practice at London Metropolitan University, where she is Programme Leader for the BA “Digital Media” in the Department of Applied Social Sciences. She has been involved in the field of software art, organizing a series of festivals, conferences and online projects that profoundly contributed to the shaping of the field.  Dr. Goriunova has edited four volumes on software art and cultures related to the repository and Readme Festivals, such as Software art plays (ROSIZO, Moscow, 2002), Readme Reader. About Software Art (NIFCA Publication 25, Helsinki, 2003), Readme Edition 2004. Software Art and Cultures (University of Aarhus, Aarhus, 2004), Readme 100 Temporary Software Art Factory (Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund, 2006).  She is an author of Art Platforms and Cultural Production on the Internet (Routledge, 2011) and the curator of Funware exhibition (Arnolfini, Bristol, UK September-November 2010; MU and Baltan, Eindhoven, The Netherlands, November 2010–January 2011 and Hartware MedienKunstVerein, spring 2011).

Wilfried Hou Je Bek

Wilfried Hou Je Bek uses algorithms to design psycho-geographic walks through cities and other areas. The geographic and psychological output is visualized with the help of simple software. Wilfried is a ‘culture hacker’ who develops generative psychogeography. Inspired by concepts of drift (dérive) from Romanticism and, later, the Situationists around Guy Debord, Wilfried uses algorithmic routes to explore a city in non-intuitive ways. Houkebek organizes dérives, where people walk through a city by taking computer code as a guideline, using the body as a means to perform software. Recent commissions include work for the city of Dordrecht, Psy Geo Conflux (New York), the PixelACHEfestival (Helsinki), RAM5 (Riga), Urban Festival (Zagreb), Urban Drift (Berlin), Impakt (Utrecht), Stedelijk Museem (Amsterdam), V2_ (Rotterdam). In 2004 he won the Transmediale software art prize for .walk, a futuristic project for open space that transforms cities into computers.

Andrew Lison

Andrew Lison is an Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellow in Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. His work is situated around the intersection of technology, aesthetics, and politics, with an emphasis on digital media, popular music and subcultures, and avant-garde cinema. His articles include, “Postmodern Protest? Minimal Techno and Multitude.” Forthcoming in Timothy S. Brown and Lorena Anton, eds., Between the Avant Garde and the Everyday: Subversive Politics in Europe 1958-2008. Series on Social Protest and Cultures of Dissent in the 20th Century (2010, Berghahn Books). He is currently co-editing a collected volume with Timothy S. Brown entitled “Sounds and Visions: Music, Counterculture and the Global 1968″.

Adrian Mackenzie

Adrian Mackenzie is interested in the lives of data, especially in databases but also in data analysis, modelling and ‘analytics.’ At the moment, he is focusing on data as a way of thinking about ‘BioIT convergences’ across biological engineering, DNA synthesis and sequencing, clinical and research databases and visualization technologies. He’s looking at changes in the work, productivity and situation of life scientists, and on the transformations in technique, knowledge and products associated with bio-IT related developments. The wider stakes here includes the nature of promise, design, value, speculation, subjectivity and imagination in knowledge economies. He has written many articles and books among others: Transductions: Bodies and Machines at Speed (London: Continuum, 2002), Cutting Code: Software and Sociality (New York: Peter Lang, 2006), and Wirelessness: Radical Network Empiricism (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2010).

Michael Murtaugh

Michael Murtaugh is instructor for the technical course of the Networked Media Master of the Piet Zwart Institute in Rotterdam. He completed his undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1994). And was part of the Interactive Cinema group, led by Glorianna Davenport at the MIT Media Lab where he received his masters degree (1996). His media lab research focused on designing systems that guide viewers through collections of inter-related material. Applied to a specific story’s content, these “storytelling systems” act as “editors in software,” making sequencing decisions on the fly based on viewer preferences or activity. In addition to teaching, Murtaugh writes occasionally on the topic of software and he is also a member of the Brussels collective Constant.

Simon Yuill

Simon Yuill is an artist and programmer based in Glasgow, Scotland. His work explores aspects of social process and formation in projects, which draw on a variety of approaches ranging from those of Free Open Source Software and hacker culture, to public workshops and discussion events. He has written on aspects of Free Software, ‘notational production’ and cultural praxis and has contributed to publications such as Software Studies (MIT Press, 2008), the FLOSS and Art Reader (GOTO10 and Folly, 2008) and MUTE magazine. He is project director of Spring_Alpha (2004) and Social Versioning System (SVS) projects. He has helped setup and run a number of hacklab and free media labs in Scotland including the Chateau Institute of Technology (ChIT) and Electron Club, as well as the Glasgow branch of OpenLab. His current projects are focused around relationships between land, law and social structures.

Curator: Olga Goriunova
Supported by: VSBfonds, SNS Reaal, London Metropolitan University & STRP Festival

In addition the international touring exhibition Funware is on view in MU from 12 November till 16 January.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

T O    T O P