code{strata}: the beautiful execution of ctrl-c ctrl-v

Software execution, is intangible, invisible.

We have worked with a group of music scholars to embody the execution of software through sound and images. Our goal is to explore different forms of artistic expressions to mediate software execution to a public who uses software all day long but has never experienced its inner workings. We aim at mediating the stratified aspect of software execution: the fact that when a user triggers a digital action, this eventually triggers the execution of a function that triggers another function, that triggers another function, etc. These functions are organized in different strata that are assembled by teams of developers to build various software services. Some of the very ‘deep’ strata are about the fundamental functions that deal with the interactions with the hardware chips; they are used by a large number of developers. Meanwhile, the ‘upper’ strata implement functions that are closer to the users and more specific to one service.

Execution of ctrl-c ctrl-v. Columns represent the strata of code
execution, when rectangles are the functions (orange for
the application itself and blue for libraries).
Blue lines represent the way each function is calling
other functions.

Deep functions

code{strata} v1 conves a positive and tangible sound of software execution.

The idea behind this first piece is not to frighten by showing how complex software is, but to reveal the beauty of those great networks of organized code strata through a pure, spatial sound structure. Representing a computer system unit with a concrete block was a way for us to illustrate the opacity and the simplicity of high-level interfaces. A very strong contrast is made between what we may see, namely a fully closed and compact block, and what we can actually hear. One could consider this project as a zoom or a slow motion of what happens when a ‘copy and paste’ action is performed. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that this is not a realistic or exhaustive interpretation of data. Because as soon as there is interpretation, there are choices to be made. This project intends to convey a positive and tangible image of software execution. In that sense, this project aims at letting human users reclaim software complexity, as a genuine postdigital artistic installation [1].

Deep collaboration.

code{strata} v2 is a visual and sound tribute to the human effort invested in code strata

For this second piece, we use the same, deep tree of code execution of ctrl-c ctrl-v, and wish to insist on the human, collaborative aspect in the devlopment of each code strata. We also impose a design constraint: create a transportable artwork. That is why this project takes the form of a web application, brought up by an aesthetic so called plastic economy.

The code{strata} team

code{strata} does not differ from any serious software and musical piece. It is the result of an exciting collaboration and of lot of work, passion, art and technology. The band members include Justine Fortier, Nicolas Harrand, Oscar Luis Vera Perez, Denez Thomas and Bruno Bossis.

References

Beyond the work cited in this post, the work was deeply inspired by the works of I. Arms [4] and W. B. Paley [5].

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