Engineered Opacity and Illegible Interfaces in Ted Warnell's CODE STORY

Critical Writing
Public Domain
Record Status: 
Abstract (in English): 

Ted Warnell’s 2005 digital code portrait project CODE STORY generates its material from a play of interface design and operational opacity. Beginning with digital photos of various friends and fellow writers, Warnell opens these photos in a text editor, generating non-semantic UTF-8 encoded text via the editor’s misinterpretation of the data in the image file. Warnell shapes this error text into new concrete poetic forms, inserting the name of the portrait’s subject throughout the redesigned text, and uses it as the base for two different types of code portraits: the first a dynamic Web page scripted to produce new versions of a portrait with each successive refresh; and the second a static GIF image of the first used to advertise prints of the code portraits sold through the project website. In effect, the operations which generate the poetic interface are made visible as interface through their engineered failure. In a perfect world, a UTF-8 encoding operation would simply result in clear semantic text, carrying no trace of the process by which said text is generated.

Contents (Creative Works):

Work title Author
CODE STORY Ted Warnell
The permanent URL of this page: 
Record posted by: 
sondre rong davik