Paul Chan reflects on his experiences as an artist working in and out of domains of technology, from truetype fonts and pirated software to datasets and machine-learning frameworks. He recounts periods of his artistic life when he abandoned technologies as instruments of production. And he offers an idiosyncratic account of a lineage of artists and writers he admires who used and abused technology in aspects of their work—including Agnès Varda, Chris Marker, the Left Bank Group in 1960s, Yvonne Rainer, Theodor Adorno and the Radio Research Project; the bio-cybernetic work of free-jazz musician, programmer, and artist Milford Graves; the pioneering sound work of Maryanne Amacher; and the writer Claudia La Rocco—and how their dynamic and at times contentious relationship with technology proved vital to their understanding of what art under the influence of historical and social progress looks like.

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Author notes

*Written on the occasion of the 2023 University of Washington in Seattle Fall Public Lecture Series at the Seattle Town Hall, November 8, 2023. I want to thank Franklin Gilliam, Philip Ording, and Claudia La Rocco for their comments and insights.