How To Do Things With Keys

On november, 20th I will speak in Brno (Czech Republic) on the „MEDIA PERFORMANCE 4 / GESTURE“ workshop about the „Gesture of Assembly Programming“ and Flusser’s concept of programming, computers and gestures.


How To Do Things With Keys
Programming (Assembly) as a (Kind of) Gesture

Is programming a practice of writing? Or is it rather a craft? Vilém Flusser did not mention coding as a special gesture in his book but there are several sentences about the role and the effect of computer usage for the arts, writing (text) and thinking. I want to set programming computer with formal languages between Flusser’s gestures of „making“ (Machen) and „writing“ (Schreiben) – especially programming in assembly, since these machine orientated languages „do things“ directly in the sense of John L. Austin: They switch together elements of the hardware; they make the electrical signals flow a distinct way through the circuits; and beyond all that their syntax and semantic stand for a theoretical model for the computer itself (Turing completeness). So the coder at the keyboard becomes much more than only a writer/autor of code. He applies a theoretical to a real machine. In my lecture I will show the effects of the „gesture of programming“ from the computer’s subface in detail: how it effects its circuits and how the programming forces the „universal Turing machine“ to become a „special purpose machine“ – only by using words from a special alphabet – the programming opcodes. On the other hand there will be the question how the hands of the programmer can become programming devices (perhaps by losing their „dialectical position“ for eacht oterh). I will ask if there is a gap in Flusser’s theory between making and writing and if that could be filled with theories of computer studies and pragmatics.

1. Introduction: Flusser, Computers, and programming
2. Programming between Flusser’s gestures „making“ and „writing“
3. Is a computer program just another kind of text type?
3.1 Formal languages in theoretical computer science
3.2 Paradigms of programming languages and programming
4. Is programming assembly just „making“?
4.1 The instruction set of a (micro) processor as a pre-post-structural dictionary
4.2 Programming as a perlucotionary (speech) act
5. Derrida’s critique on Searle and formal languages
6. People programming computers programming people

Über Stefan Höltgen

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