Words Made Flesh. Code, Culture, Imagination

Words Made Flesh

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Further contributors

by Florian Cramer

[editor: Matthew Fuller]


Published as an electronic typoscript by Piet Zwart Institute in 2005. The PDF is now available on archive.org and Monoskop.

Written in 2004 as part of a research fellowship in WdKA’s/Piet Zwart Institute’s lectoraat Media Design Research.

Executable code existed centuries before the invention of the computer in magic, Kabbalah, musical composition and experimental poetry. These practices are often neglected as a historical pretext of contemporary software culture and electronic arts. Above all, they link computations to a vast speculative imagination that encompasses art, language, technology, philosophy and religion. These speculations in turn inscribe themselves into the technology. Since even the most simple formalism requires symbols with which it can be expressed, and symbols have cultural connotations, any code is loaded with meaning. This booklet writes a small cultural history of imaginative computation, reconstructing both the obsessive persistence and contradictory mutations of the phantasm that symbols turn physical, and words are made flesh.