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Shy nag (a code opera): ACT II

1 February 2016

The libretto Shy nag (a code opera): Act II was created by Sonny Rae Tempest and Chris Funkhouser, using a process similar process to the one used to compose ‘Exit Ducky’, outlined in an essay ‘Picture Becomes Text, Becomes Writing: Software as Interlocutor’, published in Cordite Poetry Review 40.1: INTERLOCUTOR. Shy nag’s libretto started by opening the image file of an UnderAcademy College course logo (see below) as a Chinese character-encoded text file.

The resultant text became English via Google Translate, and was subsequently processed and filtered through Word spell-check. Since the code is lengthy, over fifty pages, the output was large. A perpetually prismatic text, comprised of choices made among thousands of possible options the software provided, results. After the libretto was composed, Tempest translated the text into sound by utilising the P22 Music Text Composition Generator. The resultant MIDI file was opened with Acid Pro 3 DAW (Digital Audio Workshop) software. He created three identical audio tracks (double bass, acoustic guitar, piano), manually transposing all notes into the appropriate range (per instrument) and into the key of D major. This process results in a score that is more than five hours long, the first seventy minutes of which was excerpted for performance. A second audio track, compressing the whole sound file produced by the code to seventy minutes, is also layered into the performance mix. To make the projected imagery, the original hexidecimal code was broken into 24-bit sections to act as the hex code for HTML web colours. An HTML file was then created to consecutively fade from one color to the next, based on that partitioned hex, using JavaScript. Each colour block is displayed in text above its colour field.

In February 2015, a first staged reading of Shy nag was produced in Newark by students and faculty of the Rutgers-NJIT Theatre Department (Louis Wells, Brian O’Mahoney, Daniel Ovalle, Kassandra Perez, Eric Holzer, Antonio Johnson, Allison Mitchell, Olivia Duho, Darian Capellan, Sindy Sanchez); a second staging (Act I) occurred in August 2015, at the Electronic Literature Organization Festival in Bergen, Norway (Maria Aladren, Sandy Baldwin, Kathi Inman Berens, Natalia Fedorova, Aleatory Funkhouser, Christopher Funkhouser, Fluorish Klink, Jeneen Naji, Álvaro Seiça, Louis Wells). Act I is published in VLAK 5 (Czech Republic: LITTERARIA PRAGENSIA 2015).

For further information, including links to documentation, an essay on the process of producing the work, and open-sourced materials used to prepare Shy nag.





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