Karen Hanmer

Artists' Books & Installation

Gallery: Science & Technology

New Work History & Culture Sculptural & Movable Book Structure Modelse Toys & Games Science & Technology Place/Time Altered Bindings Civics Lessons Photo-Based Work Archive Thrifty Picks

Title: It is a living thing

It is a living thing

It is a living thing | 2002 | $2500 for set of 33 cards

Pigment inkjet prints

33 objects, 34 x 15" each (installation 112 x 220")

Quotes from interviews with software engineers exploring what they find beautiful or compelling about well-written software and the act of programming. Quotes accurately printed and “punched” on large replicas of computer punch cards.


Created for the 2002 exhibition BEAUT.E(CODE). Statement below:

I am a visual artist. My husband is a software engineer.

For years I have listened to his conversations with colleagues about hardware and software, what is good or pleasing and what is not and why, what they find new and exciting or classic and exciting. I am able to sense, but am unable to experience the excitement they feel.

I wanted to find a point of entry into this world, and find a way to convey their excitement to other non-technical people.

I gathered information by conducting group interviews with and sending questionnaires to computer professionals to explore aesthetic values in the art of computer programming and how they are similar to (or different from) aesthetic values in art. Or more plainly, “what excites these guys?”

Three elements are combined to create the pieces in this show: quotes from the interviews which I thought best or most colorfully expressed these aesthetic values, representations of artifacts I remember fondly from my college days working in the machine room of the university’s computer center circa 1980, and my simplistic understanding of the basic inner workings of a computer.