No. 201

Vocable Code (13082018)

By : Winnie Soon

Entrant’s location : Denmark



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.

What did you create?

This specific version of Vocable Code is a live coding platform, which means that users can modify the code on the left and immediately see the result on the right pane. This is especially useful for teaching STEAM related workshops/courses, as the interface is clearly showed the poetry on the left side and audiences can read and speak together; On the other hand the code can be modified to understand the functions and syntaxes. Additionally, the concept of Vocable is to consider source code as text such that reading and coding becomes a piece of performative writing. Moreover, I have collected voices from different people around the world so that one can constantly hear voices about the notion of queerness.

Why did you make it?

1) To think about what is feminist software and queer computing 2) Go beyond normative coding and consider code as poetic text, exploring programming beyond computer science ways of working and focus. 3) To use this version for teaching purpose especially to those without any coding experience 4) Provide an intuitive approach to read and write code without downloading any additional software but just to use a web browser with immediate feedback

How did you make it?

Technically, the core element of Vocable Code is p5.js, an open source programming language created for artists and designers. For the hosting of all voice files, they are in wav form and all the statements are stored in a JSON file. The live coding framework is based on JavaScript as well. Conceptually, the organization of the piece is structured around the style of constrained writing, both in terms of setting instructions for voices’ donation and writing the source code. Vocable Code is highly inspired by The Feminist Software Foundations, especially the implementation logics of C+=, which is a feminist programming language written by and for feminists. Below it shows the constrains that have been implemented in coding Vocable Code. Do not use binary ‘0’ or ‘1′ Do not use either a single ‘X’ or ‘Y’ Do not use a single operator of ‘>’ or ‘<’ Mindful of all the variable, array and function’s naming Consider decimals in order to think about what's number No binary true and false

Your entry’s specification

It is really flexible and it depends on the screen. But would be good to have a screen, a computer (with a browser and internet connection), a mouse and a keyboard.