Vocable Code

Title: Vocable Code

Year of production: 2017-

Medium: Installation / Online web

:: Description ::

See the installation version here

See the web version here

Vocable Code is both a work of “software art” (software as artwork, not software to make an artwork) and a “codework” (where the source code and critical writing operate together) produced to embody “queer code”, examining the notion of queerness in computer coding through the interplay of different human and nonhuman voices. Collective statements and voices complete the phrase “Queer is…” and together make a computational and poetic composition. Through running Vocable Code on a browser, the texts and voices are repeated and disrupted by mathematical chaos, creating a dynamic audio-visual literature and exploring the performativity of code, subjectivity and language. Behind but next to the executed web interface of Vocable Code (13082018), the code itself is deliberately written as a codework, a mix of a computer programming language and human language, exploring the material and linguistic tensions of writing and reading within the context of (non)binary poetry and computer programming.

Vocable Code was first released in Nov, 2017 as part of the Feminist Coding Workshop organised by !=null. Conceptually, the artwork was, in part, inspired by Geoff Cox’s book titled Speaking Code: Coding as Aesthetic and Political Expression. In the early 2018, Winnie Soon has collaborated with Geoff Cox to produce a lecture-performance on Vocable Code as part of the International Conference on Artistic Research: Artistic Research Will Eat Itself, where both the source code and concepts were read aloud to exemplify the speech-like qualities of a computer program. Vocable Code (13082018) expands with the web version and the book in collaboration with Anders Visti from ‡ DobbeltDagger.

:: Voices’ contributor ::

Polly Poon, Søren Pold, Magda Tyzlik Carver, Sarah Schorr, Elyzabeth Holford, Gabriel Pereira, Annette Markham, Anna Brynskov, Geoff Cox, Lone Koefoed Hansen, Sabrina Recoules, Tobias Stenberg Christensen, Sall Lam Toro, Anders Visti, Google Algorithm, AhTong, Melissa Palermo, Winnie Soon

:: More about the background ::

With the initial aim of having ‘Vocable code’ in the context of a feminist coding workshop, it is designed to be simple and legible enough for code reading that incorporates basic coding concepts, such as functions, conditions, textual effects, data import, etc to facilitate code learning and discussion in a workshop setting. The workshop was first conducted in 2017 at Aarhus, which was called “Feminist Coding in p5.js | Can Software be Feminist?”, and it was primarily for women, queers, LGBT and non-binaries who were interested in learning and discussing programming. The workshop addressed computer code as a language that is designed for both human and machine reading. While participants would base on the artwork ‘Vocable Code’ to learn basic coding concepts, they would also explore code as expressive and aesthetic materials, such as computer code as poetic text that is performative and executable. Through thinking and discussing about code and (non)binary logics, participants would incorporate textual materials, visual effects and audio elements/recording voices to produce their own algorithmic vocable code (in the form of both software and webpages) that addresses the border theme of feminism.

More about the workshop and the source code can be found here

:: Video Documentation ::

More details: https://github.com/siusoon/VocableCode

:: Exhibition/Performance/Publication ::

  • 2019, Public Library Prize for Electronic Literature (shortlisted), Roskilde Library, Denmark
  • 2019,18th Media Art Biennale WRO, Poland
  • 2019, Processing Community Day @ Aarhus
  • 2018, Vocable Code (13082018), published by ‡ DobbeltDagger (with Geoff Cox)
  • 2018, Electronic Literature Festival, Montreal, Canada
  • 2018, MAI: Feminism and Visual Culture, Online  Journal (forthcoming)
  • 2018, Wilful Technologies rapid publication (forthcoming)
  • 2018, International Conference on Artistic Research, University of Plymouth, UK (with Geoff Cox)

: Review / Feedback / Press/ Publication ::

  • “Vocable Code was really cool. The queering of operations was innovative, and the reading of the script added a surprising intimacy.” – Kathi Inman Berens, Assistant Professor at Portland State University

:: Technical & Production ::

The script is mainly written by p5js. It requires internet network and speaker on.

:: Credit ::

This work and its’ ongoing conceptual thinking are inspired by Geoff Cox, Magda Tyzlik Carver, Ian Hatcher and The Feminist Software Foundations.