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Netochka Nezvanova

'M @ z k ! n 3 n . k u n z t . m2cht . fr3!', taken out of Netochka Nezvanova a.k.a. Integer's signature, stands for "Maschinenkunst macht frei" (machine art brings freedom). Integer became well-known in 1998 for bombarding mailing lists with e-mails that, at first glance, appeared to contain only illegible noise, that is, she deliberately entered a form of noise into human (tele)communication. On second glance, however, it can be seen that the e-mail contains a mixture of human and machine language. Integer calls his language 'Kroperom'. It is distinctive in that the phonetic system of the Latin alphabet is replaced by the 256 characters of the American Code for Information Interchange (ASCII), the lingua franca of computer culture. For example, in the Kroperom word 'm9d', the phonetic value 'ine' is replaced by 'nine'. This language makes use of more than just phonetic substitution, however. In 'm@zk!n3n kunzt', the '@' replaces the 'a', the 'zk' replaces the 'sch' sound, the exclamation mark replaces the 'i' and the '3' the letter 'e'. Characters are also replaced according to both visual similarities ('!' for 'i') and visual and phonetic analogies ('3' or 'three' for


'e'). The human language - in this case, a mixture of German and English—is interspersed and infiltrated with characters and computer code metaphors. In addition, the Kroperom text receives an emphatic quality through its extensive use of exclamation marks (which stems simply from the frequent occurrence of the letter 'i' in the German language) and transforms the executable computer commands into oppressive, sometimes amusing, human commands: "Do this! Do that!" The reader has to make use of various strategies in order to decipher these from the script consisting of letters of the alphabet, numbers, and ASCII characters. This impedes and destabilises the reading process and triggers different associations. On this point, Josephine Barry writes: "The act of reading becomes pointedly self-reflexive and, in terms of chaos theory, nonlinear experience with each word representing a junction of multiple systems." [66] The question of whether the Kroperom text, which is very similar to an executable program code, can be compiled at another location in the computer and become machine-readable, capable to run, and thus executable, remains unanswered.

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