Thank you to Victoria for setting this in motion. I'm responding just now
to her request for projects that demonstrate the theme. Like others, I have
more than one that reach out to different aspects of the intersection
between performance and code.
First, the Mechanical Olympics <http://mechanicalolympics.org/> is a
crowdsoured version of the Olympic Games in which Mechanical Turk workers
are paid to perform Olympic events. So that seems sort of obvious--the
Turkers are performers, the instructions they receive via mturk.com guide
their performance, viewers who vote on Gold Medalists complete the
performance of this alternative version of the Games by voting, and so on.
Let's Go Crazy <http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC8F47F3AD251E99C> is
a series of remixed videos mostly made by my students in response to the
controversial Let's Go Crazy #1 video posted by Stephanie Lenz in the
United States. The original video sparked a trip to court for Ms. Lenz
(represented by the EFF) and Universal Music Group (Prince's publisher). In
summary, the case represents the challenge for user-generated content
creators (for example, remix artists) who should be able to rely on fair
use rights but instead have to worry about unwarranted take-down notices.
Here, I think the students are performing according to a set of rules that
Ms. Lenz set in place in her original video (in as much as their remixes
strive to transform the original video, they are also following her
"code"--be it aesthetically, technically, linguistically, and on). Of
course, they are also Communications students, so in a different way, they
are performing for my gradebook, too.
Finally, a project in which the performativity of code may be slightly less
obvious (maybe not so much to readers on this list) is On The
a hybrid literary-new media "scroll" project designed for the browser.
While reading Jack Kerouac's On The Road for the fourth or fifth time a few
summers ago, I replaced every instance of the word "road" with "web" (in
pen because I still read on paper) to see how the narrative would change if
Jack was on the web instead of the road. I scanned and uploaded every page
of the book to recreate the text for the browser as a continuous scroll (a
visual connection to the original manuscript which was typed on taped
together, consecutive pieces of paper, resulting in one very long scroll).
I linked each instance of the word "web" to the next one, so a reader/user
could jump through the text to see how more than 150 instances of "road"
would read as "web" in the text. Then...I wanted to enter the project for
consideration in the book Code Poems (in which it did end up being
printed), so I "translated" my own project into one that fit the
specifications--mainly including a .5 kb limitation. The original project
included a ton of performance: by myself as a reader, myself as a designer,
myself as a programmer; by the browser; and then by the reader...and the
translated half-k project was yet another location for performance. What is
translation if not a performance in which you attempt to map A to B,
knowing that "B" isn't really "B"?
I've really enjoyed this month with all of you. Admittedly, I've been doing
more reading than writing here, and I appreciate those of you who
contributed regularly. Thank you for that.