The html-movement-library is a web-based repository of short movie clips
and image files by different performers who
use html tags such as <HEAD>, <BODY>,<TABLE>, as a starting point for generating movement. The idea of the library is
to develop an expandable movement alphabet of the html language. The goal of the html-movement-library is to provide
different materials for visualizing the architectures and language-structures of websites in many different forms. The library
is indexed like the html "alphabet", in the order of html tags.
The library is viewable and accessible for submission via the web.
I am currently developing two new projects, html_butoh, and Website Impersonations: The Ten Most Visited, which
examine the way information is structured on the Web and the possibilities of visualizing this information in different and
new ways. Both of these projects use hypertext mark-up language (html), the language of the World Wide Web, as a tool
for choreography. Computer language is transferred into "real life" transactions and reused back online. My projects are
"enacting" websites by translating their html into movement and dance, using the html-movement-library.
>> The "inner" structures of Websites: html and movement
Html is hierarchically structured by elements, also called "tags"; a Web browser interprets these tags and displays the
corresponding Web page. I am using this tag structure of Web pages as choreographic instruction. In both projects, the
movements of the performer(s) are based on the functionality of html tags, taking the "meaning" they serve in a Web
browser, and translating them into physical expression. Html-tag-performances are collected in the html-movement-
html_butoh is a web-based automated process pulling in the hypertext mark-up language of the
"global top 500" Websites and using it as the structural layout for its visual composition. The piece
consists of a grid of movies, each movie representing a tag in the current html structure. The movies
are pulled from the movie library and displayed on the fly. Blending html with butoh comes from the
approach taken in the Japanese dance called butoh, where the dancer "becomes" an image
through dance; I found an intriguing parallel in how the Web browser scans through an html document
to display it, and so in html_butoh, the performer "becomes" an html tag through movement.
Website Impersonations: The Ten Most Visited, is a live performance series which visualizes ten
different popular Websites in the form of humanoid characters enacting their Website. The performances
include a real-time Web feed, which is the pulled-in hypertext mark-up language from each site, used for
each Web-character's choreography performed "on the fly." I the first show in this series,
"www.howstuffworks.com", I am playing the Web-creature awaiting the current html structure, which is
displayed in the form of graphics depicting a movement I am assigned to perform.
For several years now I have been working with visualizations of grammatical structures of the Web's data representations.
I have been working with the idea of translating html into movement in previous work, most recently in Website
Impersonations: The Amazons (.at versus .com). For this piece I used my own ideas of "movable" html.
Background, ideas, and directions of how to perform an html tag
thought further in the next piece, I developed the idea of an html-movement-library, for collecting other than my own performance ideas,
and to provide future "Website characters"
with a larger repertoire for movements, so they not only use my own interpretations, but other people's as well. Thus I
started inviting colleagues and friends to add to this repertoire (*). I set-up a stage, and a camera, and gave them an
"explanation" of each tag I wanted them to perform. Many of the participants so far had not had much knowledge about
html - and it is NOT a prerequisite to perform it! So I wanted to make it easier for them and therefore I read them the
html tag specifications from the "World Wide Web Consortium's" Website (www.w3.org).
The W3C recommendations
are a guide for explaining html tags and their functionalities. In my practice I was using these recommendations as
directions for movement. The section "Global structure of an html document"
turned out to be the perfect tutorial for
explaining their task to the invited performers. Here is what it says about the <BODY> tag:
"The body of a document contains the document's content. The content may
be presented by a user agent in a variety of ways. For example, for visual
browsers, you can think of the body as a canvas where the content appears:
text, images, colors, graphics, etc..."
Thinking "of the body as a canvas where content appears," certainly adds visuals in everyone's mind and helps with
starting an idea for movements while leaving enough freedom to improvise. Like the assignment for the browser to
interpret html in a visual way, a performer eventually becomes a shell for performing html movements. Taking the
"W3C" recommendations as a dictionary for the choreography turned out to be quite helpful and added an extra
foundation to the movement alphabet.
(*) In November 2005, I invited several of my "movement" colleagues & friends from "BodyWeather:NY" and other performance artists to experiment
with me on developing movements for html. Then in December 2005 I was invited to participate in a research lab at "TanzQuartier Wien (TQW)" in the Museum Quarter in Vienna. The
lab was called "No body on this line"
. I gave my fellow participants the task to produce html performances and send me the raw video material. With the launch of the html-movement-library online on January 15, 2007,
the library became an open and public vessel for world wide submission of video clips.
>> The "outer" structures of Websites: Indexing Information
Another point I am addressing in both pieces is to look at the way information is structured on the Web. My choice of
which websites to perform is inspired by how websites are indexed on the Web. I address this aspect by looking at how
web-crawlers and search-engines are listing websites based on their popularity. This raises the question of what popularity
on the Web actually stands for, and how it is measured. Is it increasingly influenced by the growing commercialization,
and longings for control and ownership? If so, is there a possibility to keep the Web open, democratic and in the people¹s
hands? These questions are tied to an ongoing process just by the nature of the Web itself; it is constantly growing: in size
and access rate, usage and participation.
Thus I am juxtaposing the "impersonal" component such as the architectures and structures of the web, with the
"personal" such as creating a personality online, or developing your own website. Or, as in my work with creating an
impersonation of a website and inventing one owns' movement interpretation of html. Another way to address the
"personal", or the power of the individual as a force in keeping the Web an open and democratic place for exchange, is
my call for participation. I am asking people to submit their html-movement interpretations to the library. Eventually
every submitter can see her/himself "perform" the Web with her/his own movements. It seems that the influence and
input of the "individual" can make eventually a change in the overall structure of the Web.