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Theoretical Internet Opera

  • by Juliet O'Keefe, August 2001
  • Eclogues
  • http://www.sfu.ca/~okeefe/previousII.html

I may not get the names right here: bear with me. One great Russian writer (who I remember as Dostoevsky once went running through the streets of Moscow (or St. Petersburg) after reading a newly published masterpiece (which I remember as Anna Karenina) shouting that after reading the said masterpiece, everything he had ever written felt like it had been done in mud with a stick. This has been such a day.

Wonderful European site for different genres of art, including an internet ballet at [via womanonfire, aka Auriea Harvey]. What I find really compelling here is the Oppera Teorettikka Internettikka, which was "created and performed by Igor Stromajer on March 18th, 1999, in the Slovene national theatre in Ljubljana." (You can download the 38 minute long performance). Here is a tiny part of the libretto:

function Minutes(data) {
for(var i=0;i<data.length;i++) 
function Seconds(data) { 
for(var i=0;i<data.length;i++) 
function Display(min,sec) { 
var disp; 
if(min<=9) disp=" 0"; 
else disp=" "; 
if(sec<=9) disp+="0"+sec; 
else disp+=sec; 
function Up() { 
function UpRepeat() { 
if(csec1==60) {
csec1=0; cmin1++; 
alert("Stopwatch Stopped"); 
else up=setTimeout("UpRepeat()",1000); 

This just kicks ass is about five different ways. I have been wondering if I would come across any aesthetic experiments using programming languages as language--and perhaps I just wasn't paying attention two years ago when this work was first performed--so if anyone knows of any more musical or textual works using programming languages, do please let me know. On the other hand, there is a link at the site to a review in [Paris] Liberation ("le Slovène a imprimé la page source de l'uvre qu'il présentait, en 1998, à Skopje et s'est mis à chanter son code HTML") dated February 2nd of this year, so perhaps the work can be considered to be more recent. Stromayer is quoted in this article as saying "La technologie, c'est pour Hollywood, pas pour les artistes" and goes on to say that the Ballettikka Internettikka will be performed in Moscow in 2002. I'm not sure of the disingenuousness of his take on technology--I find that attitude a bit tiresome when speaking of a piece which obviously celebrates technology--but I'm excited about the direction of this work anyway.

Kenneth Rexroth (in Classics Revisited) describes Dostoyevsky as

a man of many messages, a man in whom the flesh was always troubled and sick and whose head was full of dying ideologies--at last the sun in the sky, the hot smell of a woman, the grass on the earth, the human meat on the bone, the farce of death.

Limitations of the cast-a-net-and-drag type of web search: while attempting to find the publication date of Anna Karenina, to see if the Russian writer anecdote was even plausible, I came across three sites where I could download the text of the novel but not one which could give me the information I came for without, I assume, much digging about. Maybe I'm just too tired to remember some obvious and easy url where I should be looking, but there's gotta be a better way...

© http://www.sfu.ca/~okeefe/previousII.html Igor Štromajer Intima Virtual Base Virtualna baza Intima Igor Stromajer www.intima.org Igor Štromajer

Ballettikka Internettikka

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