[-empyre-] form and content

hi jaka,

sorry, i seem to be having some problems with sound and video concerning typescape.2, jaka--not
getting any. i did visit it a couple of times previously and the experience was quite different.
all i experienced this time was a green screen into which i typed and that filled in a
form...very different from last time...but my machine is kind of whacked out at the moment,

in response to your post about the role of programming in typescape.2, i want to make a point
about one of the roles of programming in digital art more generally. i want to suggest that
programming, in works in which it is important, often is important in thinking about the form of
the work.

i find that in my own work, often how it proceeds is, first, some long time in writing the code
and creating the accompanying graphical interface that supports the interactive operations on
the content. this process is quite long, and throughout it, i'm thinking of possible content for
the piece, and am also thinking about the efficacy of letting the player/reader/wreader supply
part or all of the content, as well as providing content myself. for instance, arteroids at
http://vispo.com/arteroids lets the wreader write their own texts using Word for Weirdos (in
'play mode') or they can 'play' the texts that it defaults to. This is related to the sort of
work you do also.

Word for Weirdos defines a 'literary form'; you write five texts, and there are various
relations between these texts, and these five texts form 'one text', the text you play with when
you play the game itself.

Some other work I've done, in the Stir Fry Texts at http://vispo.com/StirFryTexts (apologies,
requires IE for the PC), is similar to arteroids in the relation between the programming/form
and content. There are various stir fry texts, but they all use the same programming engine
(done in DHTML that keys on the innerHTML method (so the content could be text or image or
whatever other media types can be referred to in HTML)). This project has enjoyed some
successful collaboration with various people including Pauline Masurel and Brian Lennon, both of
whom wrote texts especially for the stir fry form, and did so in very different ways. The collab
with Brian is on ubu.com as well as his and my site, and the collab with Pauline was featured in
rhizome digest and has gone over pretty well.

We see this sort of somewhat separable relation between the programming/form and content in
other types of digital works in which the content is perhaps only partially (or sometimes not at
all) provided and through some sort of collaboration (either with the wreader or, as in the stir
frys, with other artists), the content is realized.

the canadian media artist david rokeby has written about the notion that 'interface is content',
ie, the form does have certain things to 'say', apart from whatever the content says.

one of the roles of programming, then, is to create new forms of art. as simon pointed out,
computers are machines that can be *any* machine.

software such as Word or Director or Photoshop etc, supply almost none of the content, whereas
programmed works of art generally play on the relation between the (usually partially) supplied
content and the form, ie, they play on the relation between the tool and the work of art; that
is, as it were, part of the 'content'.

for viewers to 'read' this part of the 'content' is apparently unusual. But it's present in
thoughtfully formed/programmed work, ie, it encourages reflection about the relation between
form and content, or programming and poetry...of course, being artists, we are interested not
only in the form but the content also.


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