nettime's knitting factory on Thu, 12 Feb 2004 14:15:45 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Re: Notes on Codework [4x]

Table of Contents:

   code and its double                                                             
     noemata <>                                                      

   Notes on codework [response from John Cayley / Alan Sondheim]                   
     Alan Sondheim <>                                              

   Re: [_arc.hive_] code and its double                                            
     Rick Bradley <>                                             

   Re: Notes on Codework                                                           
     noemata <>                                                      


Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 22:59:40 +0100
From: noemata <>
Subject: code and its double

code and its double, cont'd
- - notes on text and code from artaud's theater and sondheim's codework

the double - you'd have the release of text from text - text is no longer
text - text is text (not text) - textual helix code - like the theater is
theater and not scripted (not text).

power - in the sense that text is logos it has that immense power, being
at the locus. text as theater, as code, would have the potential of
releasing all the logos power, like the theater's release from text.

matter - since all is mattered, texted, coded, you'd have all those
monstruous things going on, ruptures and violence, beauty and intelligence
emerging from its release.

code as theater - artaud's theater's release from text is similar to the
theatrificating of text as code.

code and literature - literature is in the gravitational field of text,
while code is weight-free or anti-gravitating - of the void towards the

universal code - autonomy, automata, text, logos, code, instruction, data,
physicality, matter, sense, surface - since all is mattered there is no
context, it's blown to pieces, all you have is virii, dispersal of
meaning, logos as fire and electrical charge in the networks of
distributed contexts.

code as art - codework, artwork - since everything is code codework is at
the center of artwork, which is created by codework's plundering of
contexts - art derives from the workings of code - code derives from its

bombs and intelligence - the atomic bomb, from the time of artaud, a
violent theater without text - virii, intelligence, terror, theathrical
artifice of the code - the bomb is the blowing up of text, logos, the sun
as bomb - terror of code, information, the intelligence as monster.

reality - like artaud's theatricity and code's virtuality from their
release from text - the doubling towards the real, logos as fire.


Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 17:27:50 -0500 (EST)
From: Alan Sondheim <>
Subject: Notes on codework [response from John Cayley / Alan Sondheim]

On Wed, 11 Feb 2004, Rita Raley wrote:

> Those are great points, Alan, I am touched, and look forward to
> talking to you about this more. I get the clean/dirty distinction and
> accept that, despite my (un)conscious desire to de/inf(l)ect the
> categories and structures of so-called traditional/canonical literary
> practice, I do work with/against a notion of clean, functional
> literary and programmable-literary objects. (Not so sure about this,
> on reflection later, when you consider that I do a fair amount of
> *ucking around with generated transitional texts and make points
> about transcultural language issues. The work still 'looks' pretty
> clean tho.)
> >  > But why code as opposed to other (chiefly linguistic) matter - from
> >>  other registers of language or other practices of natural language
> >> use (other tongues)?
> >>
> >Because code is often substructure or protocol or generative. As
> >substructure, it underlies, for example, the very distribution of the
> >piece. As protocol, it may underlie the very typing or production of
> >the piece. As generative, it has produced or partially prodced the
> >piece.
> I think the question of why code? remains. You are just saying,
> because it's there. What you say is also true of the procedures, the
> 'dirty' structures in Joyce. (Btw, is Joyce dirty? generally
> speaking, in your sense - abject dysfunctional - I think it's a real
> question.) Total and global or other-tongue syntax is dysoperative at
> any time in the prodcuct ion and gen aspir ation to this piece, any
> event writing, cleaning, even. (Very easily accessible without
> recourse to code-code.)

No, I'm saying not because it's there (it's always there) but that it's
presence in one form or another in the work problematizes language,
structure, and body; it also questions production itself (producing or
programming code). It's a writing which in part litearlly in-forms itself;
as such it also problematizes translation since to some extent it
translates only into itself.

> I am asking, why these media for these projects? Is it because no
> matter how dirty and abject and dysfunctional you get with codework,
> you stay clean? When does any of this start to matter?

I don't think so at all, although on the surface of course. It's clean on
the surface because all ascii is clean, well-defined, as is the digital
domain, with its reliance on potential wells of code/noise itself. But in
terms of interpretation, the discomfiture and abjection can be strong. I'm
thinking for example of the pieces Kim McGlynn and I did using ytalk
(Perth to NY) a few years ago.

The digital always possesses this 'turn' of cleanliness - to the extent
that 0/1 permits no undesired noise and is infinitely reproducible - and
filth - to the extent that the media literally become dirty, outmoded,
useless, and no longer run. So there's eternity on one hand and tremendous
fragility on the other.

> >The
> >>  questions are more to do with: what are the properties and methods
> >> of  code as such, and how do (and how could) these contribute to
> >> language  art making? What are the specificities of code that will
> >> allow us to  derive textual objects with distinct characteristics? Or
> >> allow us to  extend the Class Text and/or better understand its
> >> underlying  abstract Class?
> >>
> >But whose questions, John? These are yours. When you say "more to do
> >with"
> >- this is your approach, not mine. When you cay "Class Text" again you're
> >operating with the notion of "clean code" ("specificities") which may well
> >not be the case. Look at Kenji's work or nn's writing.
> So yes, these are my questions, and I am messy-dirtily wedded to a
> relatively clean project, but I do think these questions may help me
> answer why such-and-such media for such-and-such project.
Of course I have no disagreement with you here.

I think the world is dirty, people are dirty, in the sense of Mary Douglas
or Kristeva (Powers of Horror); code in a formal sense is a defense
against that. So I'm interested in the interplay of world and code, which
is to say in that liminal area between consciousness and formal systems -
which takes into account desire, sexuality, stumbling about, etc. And I'm
fascinated by plasma, which at least on a theoretical level, can efface
all codes, not even leaving debris behind.

> >  > And because a very prominent feature of code is its operation, the
> >>  "program that produces a residue" focuses (for me anyway) critical
> >> attention. We are more familiar , in this context, with "carriers of
> >> meaning," however slippery and shifty. re(ad)Joyce! (I know you
> >> always already have.)
> >
> >Yes I have, but the carriers in this case are structured or dirty
> >structures - very different. You're coming at this through both
> >literature and a 'clean' notion of code (see above); I'm not. For
> >example, Perl poetry is operable, but the residue is pretty much
> >irrelevant - yet as far as I'm concerned that's a terrific use of code.
> >As is the figlet program. I don't distinguish - which is why my list in
> >the first place is highly inclusive, not exclusive.
> What could be cleaner than Perl poetry? The (vr-valentine) Card with
> a Perl Endearing.

Perl poetry is definitely clean and restrained - my point is that the
poetic content is secondary to its running. It's by necessity a tour de

I've never been sure why Joyce comes up in these discussions; it's hardly
code or hyper etc. etc. Surely there are other examples? There's always
the pseudo-14th-century writing of Chatterton, for example, which did have
roots in dictionaries, translations. And for strict coding, there's early
television (late 19th-century) with its scanning and spark-gap images...
> >  > Code runs and conceals itself. Code that runs generates text over
> >>  durations. Code that runs guarantees that language art cannot
> >> bracket  its time-based dimension. It plays and plays out precisely
> >> and  particularly in the 'Not to mention ..."
> >>
> >Code doesn't necessarily conceal itself. Code doesn't necessarily do
> >anything you say it does. I wouldn't use the phrase 'language art'
> >myself
> >- I think prions are also code, DNA is also code and code is not
> >necessarily language. I'd have to go back over my Eco for this.
> Materially, my point is that code does do exactly what I say. You
> cannot read the code that is running as it runs. It was not coded for
> you, it was coded for the system (for an alien or underlying
> culture). The code may display some manifestation of itself - some
> instantiation of its own archive - as it runs, but it cannot display
> the code structures that are running. This point has a bearing on the
> dirt question since, for me, it introduces a possible site for
> something like an unconscious in the otherwise hypertransparent arena
> of codework and I'm no where near as well read as you in the
> necessary literature but would be interested to know what you thought
> of 'Inner Workings'

I'll go to the URL... The running is always clean, even if there's a core
dump. One might say it runs as it runs. But not all codework has code in
it or is running; I wanted to make that point in the typology. The work
presented may well be the residue of running code, or as in Mez, something
else entirely, a diacritical structure imposed on 'english.'

I wouldn't say unconscious here, at least not necessarily, since the
unconscious is also the site of the repressed, i.e. the 'dirty,' and the
code runs clean and linear (more or less). (In that sense every program,
like every dream, is successful, no matter what; it does what it does.)

> Code takes literal time to run and as such it takes time to produce a
> readable display not to mention that it can defer reading, withhold
> it, structure and cultivate the time of reading. And yes I accept
> with no qualification that
> >All art is time-based
> but all art is read within institutions, and literary, even poetic
> (for-bog's-sake) institutions currently operate with a dominant
> notion of writing as deferral, as atemporal (to an extrapordinary
> degree) for critical purposes. For me, writing in networked and
> programmable media challenges this in a direct and very clear/n way.
> Although, hopefully, things will get messy.

Here I agree with you; one thing about institutions, however - I think
codework (and the name tends towards inclusivity as I said somewhere) at
least so far has avoided such; if anything, for example on Poetics, it's
somewhat of a gadfly or irritant - it refuses to go away, refuses to
acknowledge that it's _not_ poetry or for that matter that it _is_ poetry
- - in a sense it's got the same sort of empathetic relation to language
one might find in the Upanishads...

> >I feel a real difference between us is that I am writing from the
> >position of dirty code, world-code, which may or may not operate, and
> >that may or may not be the point. For example one piece I did involved
> >reversing all the < and > on a specially written webpage. The result is
> >chaotic, dys- functional in many ways, amazingly functional in others.
> >At West Virginia, I re-morphed/mapped motion capiture sensors,
> >transforming the body into a signal or searchlight system (see my
> > at ). And so forth.
> >
> >It seems to me you're interested primarily in clean and generating
> >concealed code - I have no problem with that. But I do feel you dismiss
> >(even the word 'pseudo-code' is dismissive) everything else that's
> >going on; since you're an editor and critic in the field, it's
> >problematic for me.
> I do want to be clear that I'm not, in any of this, trying to work
> out some way to dismiss any of what you do. I've got no problem and
> great respect for your performances and interventions. If I've used
> 'pseudo-code' it's not meant to be dismissive, simply to signal that
> the code in question would not operate.

A sample of morse code doesn't operate either. It's readable, and the
code-forms, for example, Mez' are readable as well.

Pseudo implies a relationship to truth - i.e. a 'pseudo-intellectual' as
opposed to a 'real intellectual.' It's a questionable term, I think,
although I'm not sure what else might be used - something like quasi-code,
or vary-code.

> If I have any genuine critical - as in valorising - point to make it
> is in relation to work that is presented as more or less as composed
> writing in whatever media that simply incorporates code elements.
> Such writing gets no credit for doing this per se. To be interesting
> it would have to do more: e.g. get down and dirty; try to be as
> clever and interesting and involved as Joyce; or, even better, show
> us something about the properties and methods of code and/or
> language, more than the simple fact that you can kludge them together
> in the same word, sentence, paragraph, world.

Well here's the heart of the matter. I don't think the people I respect
(this is a strange term here) do such kludging - that's what I was
reacting against. I don't think I do, or Mez, or solipsis, or noemata, or
nn, or jodi, or yourself for that matter. And much of this work isn't text
based at all - Kenji and nn and myself have all done cdroms related to our
other work, I've done video, some people have used flash. I think of
codework as multimedia. But kludging would be, at least to me, fairly
boring (although kludging within the same world is interesting). >

> >(I want to point out also btw - in relation to the Cybertext book -
> >that Jim R's work is quite clean, but he's not the only practitioner; I
> >was doing codework in 71 and later wrote a number of programs in 76-78.
> >Some of these are now in the internet text. And I was _late_ -
> >Fernbach- Florsheim was doing things in the 60s with computers/code.
> >Etc. etc.)
> Hey, we wasn't trying to do a hard-core history of programmatology in
> the Cybertext Yearbook and I do know that even you were late.
> Rosenberg deserves the priority he deserves, as we all do.
> I feel a bit of an interloper here - not a nettime or anylist
> subscriber - so sorry to take up space and time in this forum. I'm
> afraid that normally the way I live (zen hermit up big-ass mountain)
> doesn't let me into such exchanges. Forgive me if I logoff now, with
> many thanks to Alan for his ever-incisive dirty (I mean that in his
> good way) words.
Hardly an interloper!

and thank you as well John - I think the discuss helps me tremendously
(and others, if this arrives on nettime) - it's long overdue at my end -

yours Alan

> John [via Rita]
Trace projects


Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2004 18:45:21 -0500
From: Rick Bradley <>
Subject: Re: [_arc.hive_] code and its double

 c o d e a s a r t - c o d e w o r k , a r t w o r k - g o i n g o n , 
 r u p t u r e s a n d v i o l e n c e , d i s p e r s a l o f 
 m e a n i n g , l o g o s a s c i r c u m s t a n c e s i n w h i c h h e 
 h a d o n c e c o d e - a u t o n o m y , a u t o m a t a , t e x t , 
 l o n g e r t e x t - t e x t i s t e x t ( n o t b o m b s a n d 
 i n t e l l i g e n c e - t h e a n t i c i p a t i o n . b l o o d 
 a g a i n w a s b l o o d . b l o o d . P o i n t i n g t o t h e f o e 
 p a s s p o r t s t i l l a f o r t n i g h t p a s s a g e - c o d e 
 d e r i v e s f r o m i t s d o u b l i n g . b o m b - t e r r o r o f 
 c o d e , t e x t , w h i l e c o d e i s w e i g h t - f r e e h a v e 
 a l l t h o s e m o n s t r u o u s t h i n g s i s n o 
 l o n g e r t e x t - t e x t i s t e x t T h o u g h t h e y 
 s e x : [ 8 ] T h o u g h t h e y o r a n t i - g r a v i t a t i n g - o f 
 t h e v o i d m a t t e r e d , t e x t e d , c o d e d , y o u ' d



 k n o w i t , a n d a r e s m e a r e d w i t h i t . t h e s e n s e 
  t h a t t e x t i s l o g o s i t t h e r a p e . b l o o d . 
   P o i n t i n g t o f o r m e r f o e h a d d o n e . s e x : [ 8 ] 
    r e a l i t y i t w a s t h e r e a l l t h e t i m e , s e x : [ 8
     a n t i c i p a t i o n . b l o o d t e x t f r o m t e x t - 
      t e x t i s n o s u r g i n g t o h i s h e a d . d i s c o v e r
      y . 
       p h y s i c a l i t y , m a t t e r , s e n s e , p l u n d e r i
       n g o f 
        c o n t e x t s - a r t

- --    MUPRN: 714
                       |  wouldn't have all of
   random email haiku  |  its benefits if it were
                       |  regulated more.


Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2004 05:04:04 +0100
From: noemata <>
Subject: Re: Notes on Codework

10/02/2004 05:15:33, Alan Sondheim <sondheim@PANIX.COM> wrote:

the ioted knowts of cowork
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>A few netos on cedworok
for an ucnpmoig
>atlk -
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code taht is borekn -
but the irrotneiieits of
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snaitmec wrlods -
smmeees as well (in oethr
>dowrs, dootnistris of

the text etc is broken into

3 Texts which in part
present the programs or
controls that have created
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example a text which might
include k:1 banner as part
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>laspee note it is not the banner.
code taht is borekn - ->dabble
but the irrotneiieits of >
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snaitmec wrlods - modified in their -
smmeees as well (in oethr lewov elpmaxe rof -
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wldrm-ikagon). .cte ,rt ,des ,perg ,kwa
 gnisu snoitamrof
the text etc is broken into ,snoitutitsbus>
cows gniksfor example vowel
 >substitutions, formations
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t he f ir st p ni deifidom, ylraelc era
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i o u s ly it sed, tr, etc.
c an ei the r be a cowed, masking of test
PR OG R AM >which >
P R OD UC E S a >5 Texts which present a
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i t c a operations - texts which
n b e a CAR R >appear to require
I E R of reconstitution or
meaning. th is depen ds recuperation
> on t h e semio ti - these may or may not be
c enco d ings >accompanied by their
a s we l l as _history of
t h e PE R F OR transformations._
MA T IV I T IES at wor Subject: Feb 12 04
k. a code >ma Subject: Feb 12 04
y o r m ay Subject: Feb 12 04
perf o r m - in the Subject: Feb 12 04
sen se tha t i Subject: Feb 12 04
t ma y or m ay n Subject: Feb 12 04
ot cre ate a I'm unmoved
result >that o ne m double cowd reflection
ig ht c h ara cte >
r ize o n tol ogica >6 Likewise texts which are
lly and/or e p iste incapable of such
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s A N >OTHER. >recuperation.
code is double-natured shadow workd.ubwsUUlFoDE
>again - think >again - gpOUofwpyll8A
think >
>justmfy under stand, >7 Texts with content
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drpimpler >example texts with content
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the examplesTexts with
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as >example interspersed
a as a _mapping_ withother ext) in order 88
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double to expand or
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375626a65637469766974792c0d >11 Traditional texts,
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 see below


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