Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art Home


Document first page thumbnail
  • ICAA Record ID
    Barragán, Hernando, 1974-
    Software : ¿arte? / Hernando Barragán
    Hipercubo/ok /: arte, ciencia y tecnología en contextos próximos. --- Bogotá, Colombia : Comité de investigaciones de la facultad de Artes y Humanidades, Facultad de ingeniería, Universidad de los Andes, 2002
    p. 188- [195] : ill.
    Book/pamphlet article – Essays
    Hernando Barragán. "Software: ¿arte?" In Hipercubo/ok/: arte, ciencia y tecnología en contextos próximos, 188- 195. Bogotá, Colombia: Comité de Investigaciones de la Facultad de Artes y Humanidades, Facultad de Ingeniería, Universidad de los Andes, 2002.
    algorithms; art; computer art

This text, “Software: ¿Arte?” [Software: Art?] is part of the book Hipercubo/ok/: arte, ciencia y tecnología en contextos próximos [Hypercube/ok/: Art, Science, and Technology in Neighboring Contexts] that was produced by Andrés Burbano and Hernando Barragán in 2002. The book is a collection of essays written by several authors about contemporary art in Colombia. This one discusses the use of software and computer code as a form of artistic expression, keeping in mind its artificial nature. Based on its recent use by Colombian artists and its connection to net art and computer art, Barragán is curious about the relationship potential of computer code (a preexisting language used by the programmer to communicate with the machine) and algorithms (procedures that lead to a result) at two distinct levels, whether distributed on the Internet (World Wide Web) or embedded in software programs. He sees the former as an “interactive environment in real time,” and the latter as a “high-level alphabet” that can take on new meanings as a variety of discrete elements connect or overlap. Barragán discusses the role of this artificial language, the medium in which it is used, and its digital expression via an interface in terms of the aesthetic possibilities of the work as viewed within a contemporary creative context.    


In the introduction to the book Hipercubo/ok/: arte, ciencia y tecnología en contextos próximos [Hypercube/ok/: Art, Science, and Technology in Neighboring Contexts], Andrés Burbano (b. 1973) explains his attempt to produce a “synopsis” of contemporary and pioneer artistic practices that focus on the problems involved in using knowledge and management of technology in Latin America. The goal was to provide greater access to information and democratize its use as a platform for understanding the current status of art in Colombia. This book is one of the few local attempts to analyze the new media. 


Hernando Barragán (b. 1974) is a unique figure in Colombian art circles. A systems engineer, artist, and teacher, he is interested in the relationship between contemporary art and new technology. This essay is important because it reveals the author’s interest in “digital matters” that he analyzes from a contemporary perspective based on the same code and algorithms used in computer programming.


It is interesting to note the connection that Barragán makes in his essay between computer code?which he sees as a “high-level alphabet” that is capable of constant communication that in turn generates new modes of expression?and the new digital, automatic, and computerized media. He manages this without losing sight of his historical links to video art. In Barragán’s view, computer code (the basis of programming) is endowed with possibilities in terms of both aesthetics and form; this suggests, without a doubt, the potential for new interdisciplinary objectives that are closely related to an exploration of artistic environments. 

Jorge Luis Vaca Forero
Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia
Courtesy of Hernando Barragán, Bogotá, Colombia