“The term ‘choreography has gone viral. In the last five years it has suddenly mobilized as a general referent for any structuring movement, not necessarily the movement of human beings. Choreography can stipulate both the kinds of actions performed and their sequence or progression. (…) Sometimes designating minute aspects of movement, or alternatively, sketching out the broad contours of action within which variation might occur, choreography constitutes a plan or score according to which movement unfolds. Building choreograph space and people’s movement throughout them. (…) Web services choreograph interfaces; and even existence is choreographed. Choreography, then would seem to apply to the structuring of movement in highly diverse diverse occasion, yet always where some kind of order or desired to regulate that movement.“ (Rosenthal et al, 2010)

on Choreographic - Code

In both graphic design and choreography, formal constructed languages, notation systems created to communicate ideas in the form of instructions. Both design scripts and dance scores are the result of a composition process [1], that contains the decisions on the definition of space and time constrains, in which a series of actions may unfold. In design, scripts are written with programming languages and executable by the computer, and can be used to create information displays on screens or actions in a web browser. Similarly choreographic scores define the rules and conditions for certain actions, the main difference being that this will be executed by humans (bodies). It is then a set of prescribed motions for either a single or a group of performers to follow.

Design and choreography both rely on compositional decisions on how to organize and distribute elements in space, how these elements relate to each other and to the whole. How this spatial decision inherently set a specific rhythm and flow to the outcome, which is then perceived in the moment in which is accessed/performed. Composition is then an ensemble of spatio-temporal choices.There are numerous approaches or "compositional techniques" to communicate ideas and concepts, in the glossary I will use as a starting point the choreographic approach from post modern dancers.

The construction of a new vocabulary in design taken from a choreographic perspective was a liberating process from a priori assumptions. Following Keersmaeker “The lack of one single asset, one logocentric system of dance-writing equivalent to western musical notation, is more an advantage than a misfortune, paving the way for singularity”, choreographing design is looking at the reinvention of two systems into one hybrid form. Counteracting the singularity of formal languages and conventions in both fields and towards “a babelization of idiosyncratic instructions” (Van Imschoot, 2005:.4). In the context of this piece, the constructed vocabulary is not a delimitable property, but instead an expanding one that follows and grows together with the dynamics of composition. Therefore it is presented the development of a new vocabulary, in which there is an expansion on the notion and definition of choreography as much as of design.

A dual syntax.

“In every sphere of human action, grammar is the establishment of limits defining a space of communication.” (Cox and McLean. 2012)

For this piece I created a specific grammar or vocabulary that links choreographic concepts with coding functions. The new vocabulary brings a new meaning and produces a new imaginary around the act of coding. And since in the performance I am also coding live, it allows for a more clear articulation between choreographic concept in the written code and its expression the web interface.
simultaneously as a way to develop my own design language which derives from choreographic concepts. Esoteric programming languages, also called esolang, are used when writing software, integrating a new grammar to the existing one. Although an esolang doesn’t have a proper functionality, it is used in combination with other programming languages to explore alternative ways of composing and writing code. Another advantage of esolang, is the fact that it allows for a minimalistic set of instructions based on key terms, in these case relating to the predefined choreographic parameters from the design composition.
In the ”WebPage Act I,II,III” the esolang is then the combination of choreographic concepts with programming languages, mostly web-based, such as javascript. In my code every javascript function is aims to translate a choreographic concept, which can only be visible in the browser in moment of the performance.

The live performance setting.

The performance starts with a blank webpage, followed by the opening of the web console. The screen is now divided in two stages: the ‘frontstage’, the interface a user normally acesses and the ‘backstage’ or the web console in which programming languages can be ran. In the web console the I am calling, juxtaposing and manipulating different functions from a glossary of code, while simultaneously displaying the varied outcomes of graphic elements in the screen. These functions are named after choreographic concepts, which are assigned to specific web design actions. While the computer interprets the code, the readers/ audience will be interpreting and start wondering about the relationship between the “choreographic vocabulary” of the code and its immediate outcome.
The screen becomes an open stage, providing the audience the access to the methodology and the tools used during the performance. The performative aspect of the act of coding is a way to make more transparent the process of composition and to enhance the nuances and transient caracter of coding.
The idea of a performance became relevant as a way to expose the compositional process that is being researched, making the relations between the abstractness of code and its manifestation in the web interface more clearly visible. The live setting became a way to both reflect on the methods and share them with a broader and more heterogeneous readership / audience. The liveness of the work, guides the audience through its creation, and helps them follow the steps both at a technical and conceptual level, meaning that the way the piece unfolds reflects the conditions of its creation: not by looking at an object but by being part of an event. This way, allowing the audience to enter an engagement with the making of the compositions while exposing and articulating the multiple dimensions of the code.

The flexibility of code allows for a combination of possibilities, not only for the live performance setting, but also for the use of the code itself, by other designers. Just like in any choreography that can be re-interpreted, re-created and adapted. The code serves as a generative tool for new possible outcomes in the creation of graphics for interfaces and a way of playing with the choreographic logic.

The source code [2] for the project ‘WebPage I,II,III’ will be available on github and in the form of a glossary which further explains the more conceptual dimension [3].

This condition leads to a more participatory approach to design thinking and use of tools. The circulation and exchange of code involves an already existing infrastructure of communication and networking that might as well serve as a channel to transmit meanings: “A piece of code is a chance for people to talk to each other” (Fuller, 2006). In the future I would be interested in exploring further questions of participation and shared construction of design compositions, which follows the traditions of coding collaborative practices. Together with the possibility of distribution and hence re-interpretation and of re-appropriation of choreographic compositions, and its multifaceted results. The notion of ‘choreographing design’ as a technical as much as sociable and cultural material could be expanded both at the level of graphic design as well at the one of choreography.

[1] The term composition, ‘componere’, means 'putting together' (Louppe, 2010) and can apply to any work of art, from music to writing to photography, resulting from the arrangement or placement of visual elements in space. I understand composition as a tool for both making and thinking, not as a neutral process, but instead an important moment to define one’s intent while creating a new piece.

[2] The documentation is delivered in an open ended format, following the Free/Libre Open Source (Floss) models/ philosophies.

[3] As also explained by Simon Yuill “Of all the artforms supported and enabled through FLOSS, 'livecoding' has emerged as the one which most directly embodies the key principles of FLOSS production in the creation and experience of the work itself. In livecoding the artwork is expressed in software code that is written and re-written live during its performance. Many livecoding artists write their own software tools to support this way of working.” (Yuill, 2008).