This intervention explores how software encodes intersecting systems of oppression. We graffiti excerpts from prominent software onto the computer science and engineering buildings at UC Berkeley. We photograph the juxtaposition of digital and physical constructions to explore how software reproduces gendered, sexual, racial, national, and class hierarchies.
Our studies asked us to see computer science as an objective discipline, programming as a technical task, and software as a neutral artifact. To wield this gaze, we had to discard our bodies and become mechanical eyes. From this position, we could see people only as disembodied users, objects, or nodes, insulated from their identities. We wrote software into a vacuum.
But we wanted to write software back into the world. We wanted to tear it from the vacuum and leave it vulnerable. We wanted to situate software inside the physical environment our bodies navigate every day. This demanded a new way of seeing, one that embraced subjectivities and exposed our role as actors. We had to hack the mechanical eye, turning it to our world, to ourselves, to itself.
The essay’s title is the name of an error-handling class (exception) in Microsoft’s .NET Framework; according to the official documentation, “The exception that is thrown when a method is invoked which attempts to construct a culture that is not available on the machine.”
Pine, Z.V., Kazuo, R. (2015) CultureNotFoundException. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No.8. doi:10.7264/N3057D60
This article has been openly peer reviewed at Ada Review.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.