Digital and Cultural Genetics

Our Virtual Mirror

There are useful similarities we can draw between our minds and the computer. One interesting connection described in the diagram above is how we relate to the world through language and society and how the computer relates to the virtual world through programming and operating systems.

The edifice of vocation is a paradigm we use to successfully interface with society. This paradigm has been generated through history in the evolution of language. In a corresponding way the computer uses specific applications to interface with the user and the virtual environment. It was generated by the evolution of programming language. Over-simplifying this in analogy could be like saying the application AutoCAD is the vocation Architect, Excel is Businessman, Photoshop is Artist, Word is Author…etc.

The level under these vocational roles is the culture that allows them to work. The equivalence here would be seeing a certain culture as a certain type of user interface. Under this we have the operating system and machine language that supports the user interface, and respectively the philosophy and semantic rigor that support our own cultural and societal interface.


As our diagram above left suggests, this process is constantly evolving through time. Things once dreamed in previous technology become devices used to imagine newer things that are actualized in subsequent time periods.

When the perceived visceral acts and their virtual counterparts meet in time, their modes are reversed. The visceral becomes virtual, in that our waking reality systems are used to model a new virtual level. The virtual becomes visceral, in that the thing that was dreamt and fictional becomes a tangible part of our waking reality.

Breaking Barriers

How is this model related to the creative process? By comparing the way humans interact on a vocational level and how applications interact with each other we can see that the computer breaks down many of the barriers that exist between idea and its realization on the physical level. If one has a vision for an environmental design for example, the computer allows one to jump between many applications to study ideas and to get them across. If this same process was going on solely in the visceral world using older analog technologies, more practical barriers would exist between the idea, its representation and ultimately its actualization. By interacting with the world on this level, we also take part in its evolution.

Albert Vass

This is a redeveloped version of an article that first appeared at under “digital arts“.