Monday, August 25, 2008

The Artist, the Apple and Ada.

Aside

As we were in Porlock I decide to call in at the excellent Visitor Centre to collect the certificate for completing the Coleridge Way. It was closed but there was a notice saying the artist in residence was working in the garden. There we found a tall man under a tree eating an apple. Perhaps he was a performance artist but no, he explained in excellent English (he was German) he was eating the apple as it had fallen from the tree. What he was really doing was painting numbers on the apples.

Naturally – being nosey – I asked him why - and he kindly gave me an explanation which became more and more complicated and just when my eyes were beginning to glaze over he mentioned Byron’s daughter when I literally pricked up my ears. Probably most of you, when he mentioned Sadie Plant, ‘Zeros and Ones’, and Babbage would have thought ‘Ah yes – of course!’ I had to resort to Google.

Byron’s daughter was Ada Lovelace (yes I know you have all heard of Linda but it’s a different family)

‘She was buried next to the father she never knew at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in Hucknall, Nottingham. Over one hundred years after her death, in 1953, Lovelace's notes on Babbage's Analytical Engine were republished after being forgotten. The engine has now been recognized as an early model for a computer and Lovelace's notes as a description of a computer and software.[14]

The computer language Ada, created by the U.S. Defense Department, was named after Lovelace.'

Sadie Plant has something to do with the Apple but this is where I get a bit lost although I believe she championed Ada. Below is what she said in an interview with Rosie X

‘The word cyberfeminism I started using quite independently of any other use I'd come across. I'd never seen the word used before. This is one of the reasons I was delighted when I came across the work of VNS Matrix here in Australia. Cyberfeminism to me implies an alliance is being developed between women/machinery and the new technology that women are using. It seemed to me a lot of women really love this type of technology and because of the "toys for boys" complex it was curious that they did. I thought women should be encouraged to go with their desire. To start with I simply used the word "cyberfeminism" to indicate an alliance. A connection. Then I started research on the history of feminism and the history of technology. It occurred to me a long standing relationship was evident between information technology and women's liberation. You can almost map them onto each other in the whole history of modernity. Just as machines get more intelligent so do women get more liberated. (link to history of this particular lie industrial revolution, witchcraft, loss of "women's knowledge")

So there you have it. I love that Byron’s daughter wrote the first computer programme. Sadly I lost the bit of paper with the artist’s name but he is on the left of the photo below.

17 comments:

Mei Del said...

another new thing learnt on past imperfect!

PI said...

Mei: the blind leading the blind?

R. Sherman said...

As someone once said:

"There are only 10 types of people in the world: Those who understand binary and those who don't."

Cheers.

PI said...

Randall: it's all bits crumbs and nibbles to me. I was kinda relyin' on you.

problemchildbride said...

Wow, Pat - that's extraordinary. What a great story linking all these great people and minds.

The things you can come across in the English countryside while out for a ramble!

PI said...

Sam: MTL exlained it to me whilst he stopped making me a coffee (funny how men can only do one thing at a time) and as I was desperate for a drink, having been painting, I simulated understanding. I mean what has it to do with the price of coal? But I'm still pleased about Ada.

Eryl Shields said...

Such a great story, thanks Pat. I once read a book by Sadie Plant, I'm sure it was about the Situationists but could be wrong, she has a very readable style for an academic.

PI said...

Thanks Eryl! I was afraid it would bore everybody stiff.
BTW I'm enjoying Chesil Beach at bed-time. Three quarters through 'Midnight's 'children ' I've consigned him to the loo. Not gripping enough for night time.

Eryl Shields said...

Oh I'm glad you're enjoying it, I must re-read it, he's a very clever writer who I feel I could learn something from.

PI said...

Eryl: I think he's learning too. This doesn't seem so long winded as he can be.

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Well, my dear, you lost me completely! LOL! I don't have a clue as to who any of these people are except Byron...if it is the same 'Byron' I think it is...! It muddles my mind I'm afraid, Pat. Maybe I am too much of a 'simpleton' to understand what this is all about....Sorry, my dear.

PI said...

Naomi: you are quite right; it is the Lord Byron whose daughter Eva apparently, incredibly, made the first computer programme. Don't bother about the rest; no-one seems to really understand it. There are some things - like electricity - that we just have to take on trust. And it writing numbers on apples commemorates Eva - so be it.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Well ain't that just strange.

rashbre said...

Hmm, Thanks for the pointer to this post. I know the Ada Lovelace/Byron/Babbage connection and the link to bernoulli number sequences, which was her posited program for the Babbage machine.

The thing is, 174 (the binary is the same value) isn't a bernoulli number so I don't see that connection. It is sphenic, though, which means its the product of three primes, but I don't think that would be a convincing link.

So I'll join the mystified on this one. Still thinking, though.

rashbre said...

Oh - and I like the Greenaway-esque reference in the post title...Sort of fits with the Cook etc. and Drowning in Numbers...

PI said...

Hoss: yup!

Rashbre: well spotted!

PI said...

Rashbre : re your earlier comment which came late: wow - I think I can safely say that you are the LEAST mystified of us all.