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Themesicon: navigation pathAesthetics of the Digitalicon: navigation pathAesthetic Paradigms

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production processes which in turn directly or indirectly influence the mode in which the work is received. The question of ‹who› is the author of the work leads inevitably to an expanded notion of the author. Various theoreticians , among them Douglas Hofstadter, speak of a ‹meta-author› as the author of the author of the result. In Cohen’s case the program «Aaron» is the author of the result; the program can therefore be described as the author of the generated works, and Cohen, who created «Aaron,» as the meta-author. According to Hofstadter, the human being deserves credit for having invented the program, but not for having brought forth those ideas developed by the program. [23]

A similar development is discernible likewise in interactive works in which the active participation of the interactor is a constitutive element in the actual process of generating the work. In such a case the interactor could become a ‹co-author› (depending on the specific degree of participation permitted or offered by the work), while the artist would be transformed into a ‹meta-author.› It would be erroneous, however, to interpret these categories


hierarchically or to attach to them different degrees of significance; it is important to view them as complementary components of the work.

The examples and considerations discussed above lead to a fundamental finding: contemporary art based on digital media and tools not only constantly questions its own status, but also queries the role of the artist, the position of the recipient in regard to the work of art, the function of the work, the function of the machine, and—very importantly—the relationship obtaining among artist, work, and recipient. The frequency with which these questions arise, along with the diversity of perspectives possible and angles adopted, makes clear the futility of attempts—such as those by exponents of information or cybernetic aesthetics—to draw up universal definitions and/or rigid and homogeneous models for the ‹entirety› of contemporary art production, because the art triggers the continuous renewal and reformulation of these concepts and relationships.