ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Strange ontologies in digital culture

By Mitchell Whitelaw, Mark Guglielmetti, Troy Innocent
SPECIAL ISSUE: Media Arts and Games, [Vol. 7, No. 1]

DOI: 10.1145/1486508.1486512

The concept of a “strange ontology” is articulated via the intersection of philosophical and computational definitions of ontology. Within digital media, each simulated world requires both; an ontology, to define its existence as data; and a subject, the player or user, who engages with the simulation. Glitches or interventions in these simulations create ontologies that are inconsistent with our lived experience, rendering them “strange.” We draw upon a range of works to illustrate this concept, including game art, social networking software, Guglielmetti's “Laboratories of though” and generative art. This article aims to define this concept and outlines a terrain for further investigation.

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