For Operating Systems, a formation of four international women computer artists and dancers is being initiated (see biography in attachment). Those artists had already collaborate remotely for an other piece by Anne Goldenberg (Diaphanous Algorithmics, PixelLibre, Montréal, 2012). This new piece will be a unique live gathering, bringing together a code poet, an electronic sound artist and two dancers, for a strong poetical and political inverstingation of the relationships between humans and computer operating systems.
The follow-up collaboration Operating Systems to be presented here, puts its focus on user- and computer-performance. Question related to power are raised:
• who is operating the systems ?
• who’s system it is ?
• who is in charge of the operation ?
The Operating Systems performance shall tie software codes and movements closer together. The live elements will be extended to support bridging the distance between the digital and the physical realm. Various concepts of system, performance and performativity are being coupled: of computers and of bodies within an art performance.
For instance the audified electromagnetic fields of computers that are created by running software code – which finally leads to power flowing through the electrical components – form the acoustic environment of the performance. They provide a direct reference to the actions taking place inside computers. The sounds mediate not the actions of the user alone, but include the operating system which hosts the handling of those user actions and maintaining its hardware resources. The so called “runtime environment” is an intangible space. Speed of operation, productivity and error-proneness are some of criteria for the performance of code. How does this immaterial presence shape the ones dealing with it? The dancers can react to the sound of the electromagnetic fields of the computers, which are induced by the physical existence of the computer and caused by the logical operations of computer code.
A computer programmer writing command-lines (that are textual instructions to perform a function) operates within the performance setting in a double folded manner: upon the computer and additionally the dancers can read the text and hear the impact of the executed functions via the produced noise by the electromagnetic fields. The communication with a computer system via command lines brings the user closer to the inner part of a computer. Instead of using a computer by handling ready made windows programs, the user is typing commands in a language, that is understandable by the computer.
The structure of the performance is not developed yet as we will meet to work on the piece during the summer and then mostly play with live improvisation. Collaborative and opposing relationships will be performed by the participating members: automized computer control and manual computer control via a human typing commands and the dancers.
In French, “Systeme d’exploitation” both refers to the concept of a Operating System (a collection of software that manages computer hardware resources and provides common services for computer programs) and System of Exploitation (in the meaning of a social, technical or physical structure using something or someone in an unjust or cruel manner). If this double meaning makes it difficult to translate Systeme d’exploitation (which taken out of its digital context, immediately refers to a will of freedom), Operating System implies a possibility of ruling, or being ruled, by a complexe system. Therefor, here, systems will more precisely refer to the question of perfomativity of the patterns of actions we take on systems to operate them. From a somatic point of view, operating systems also refers to the way to look at our bodies as mathematical, biological or complex systems.