edited by Olga Goriunova – Fun and Software: Exploring Pleasure, Paradox and Pain in Computing


Bloomsbury Academic, ISBN-13: 978-1623560942, English, 296 pages, 2014, USA

It’s interesting how temporary and highly focused exhibitions can materialise the research and curatorial ideas behind them into long standing books, in a way that crystallises their whole course. This is the case with “Fun and Software,” an exhibition that Olga Goriunova, editor of this anthology of texts co-curated with Annet Dekker in Bristol, Eindhoven and Dortmund in different places and with different settings. The concept of “fun and software” seems to originate from a particular scientific form of humour that was popular in the sixties. It was declined into different categories, including wit and formalism, and it purposely instigated metaphorical dysfunction, efficient deviations from originally intended functionality. Here the texts are re-reading the history of computing, interpreting an aesthetics of the human/machine relationship, but also concepts like in-computability and indeterminacy. It’s a unique book exploring fun in programming paradigms as well as philosopher’s jokes and media art, and the multiple linguistic levels are investigated through a quantity of different approaches connected or otherwise with computational qualities. The legacy of the software art movement is present as well as the subsequent software studies. Goriunova brilliantly compares products of software and fun to haiku, which, in a way, express a characteristic that software art fully integrates: the relationship between the simplicity/complexity dualism with the imaginary of daily utopia.


Funware: Introduction by Olga Goriunova and presentation by Matthew Fuller