Although time's arrow implies a past that cannot be recovered, new historical modeling applied to older disciplinary locales can give fresh insight into this same past. Pierre Bourdieu has read the 19th century literary field as one of "cultural production", unlearning previously designated spaces of the sacred and profane of modern literature, a project that no doubt can be extended to the 18th Century. Similarly, the application of atomic theory to ontology and then to literature in Michel Serres' work is applicable to 18th century works of art fluctuating between different registers of knowledge, culture, and being. Together, these frameworks tell historians of culture about particular practices of agents with durable dispositions as well as dissipative structures.
It is useful, then, to assert that a characteristically contemporary conceptual apparatus can be used for an investigation of the past. Selon l'Histoire du Salon (According to the History of the Salon) is a collection of computer modeling artifacts with the 18th century French Art Salon as its subject matter. Selon l'Histoire is a representation which explores the possibilities of becoming a "model". Patterned on the endless rewriting of history leaving no facts set in stone, Selon will allow users to create many instances of the cultural history of the period 1747-1789. They will add and subtract—not so that the computer business logic might infer an alternate course of history necessarily, but so that history—by machine or human—is written again.
The French Salon is sometimes called the Salon Carré, carré being a French word for "square", referring to the arrangement of paintings of multiple artists in a grid, or of gridded walls of paintings and tightly knit foyers of portrait busts and sculpture. The grid, appearing here with an 18th Century flavor is continued by our systems. Additionally, the Salon Carré is a "renvoi" to symbolic processing machines—as a machine of gridded space commodifying images almost mechanically, even before mechanical reproduction of images. Its grid shifts the focus of ritual craftsmanship to the ritual of the market, "inventing" mechanical reproduction, or at least a dissipative-like autonomy of the cultural field. So enters the theory/practice of Serres and Bourdieu.
Time's arrow moves forward, as does the historian who follows him or herself in time and with his or her representation of past time, thereby implicating the techné of his or her time. Arguing not for reversibility, but diversity, Selon l'Histoire uses computer modeling presented as artifacts to show that Eighteenth century French life has its own imagery, as heterogeneous as that of the 21st, and often structurally homologous to contemporary imagery. The richness of historical artifacts allows an historian/artist with his gaze upon them to show how they differ and still how they are the same. In short, the 18th century salon has much to say on the architecture of computer software which does in fact partially repeat the 18th Century "Classical" episteme. Selon l'Histoire hopes to trace the implications of grids and encapsulation not only for commodification, but also for the destination of social practices within runtime processes in environments of code.