Subtext (2008)

Transcribing the hidden discourses of network communication.

A commission from SoundNetwork for the Autonomous Village, part of Futuresonic08.

title: Subtext
platform: installation
created: 2008
tags: network, installation, language, light

The surface of a communications network such as the Internet conceals stratified layers of electronic interactions, invisible to the network's users. Each time we perform a task such as surfing the web or sending an email, we are triggering microscopic conversations between digital systems, interactions in which we are implicit but unaware.

Subtext

"Subtext" (2008) is a generative excavation into these discourses, capturing the semantic content of a network message and transforming it into glyphs of light which, in sequence, form sentences corresponding to a complete electronic conversation. Processes of "handshaking", error correction, flow control and fragmentation are captured and visually rendered at a rate legible to a human spectator. This creates a live text, bound by the network protocols on which we continually yet unwittingly rely.

Open Process

The systems that comprise the Subtext installation itself are similarly available for exploration and development, as the full source code and schematic information has been published by the author under the terms of free licenses. For details and downloads, see Architecture.