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walkmonster_start () (Jodi), 2001

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Performativity and Totality of Genotexts

Whether or not Jodi's walkmonster_start () e-mail is executable code is also questionable. It is perhaps more the knowledge of potential executability and performativity of code that plays a role here, and not so much the current technical execution. Geoff Cox, Alex McLean, and Adrian Ward, however, argue that "the aesthetic value of code lies in its execution, not simply in its written form." [67] While this statement must be accepted for insert_coin and walser.php, as their controversy (and perhaps even their poetry) lies in their technical execution, this definition must be relativised in terms of the structure of codeworks. The poetry of codeworks lies not only in their textual form, but rather in the knowledge that they have the potential to be executed. This leads us to the question of whether formal program code can have an audience outside the machine that it addresses. Can formal code be performative without the machine that implements and executes it? I agree with Florian Cramer, who contests that "machine language [is] only machine readable": "It is important to keep in mind that


computer code, and computer programmes, are not machine creations and machines talking to themselves, but written by humans." [68] It is trivial to observe that manmade computer code can also be read by other humans or translated back into human language. People were able to go through the entire battle scenario of walkmonster_start () as soon as they received the e-mail, without compiling it beforehand. The generative aspect of 'codeworks' should therefore be emphasised (and the definition of the generative broadened), as code is not only executable in technical environments, but in a wider sense, it can also become productive in the reader. In these projects, the human language is infiltrated with mechanical control codes and algorithms–similar to the heretical technique of speaking in tongues or the Surrealist écriture automatique (automatic writing), both techniques that seek to deactivate consciousness (putting one into a trance or state of sleep) in order to give voice to the divine or the unconscious. In contrast to the Surrealist theory that freeing the unconscious leads to social revolution, the creation of

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