Radio Name, a kind of loss, 1998

Radio Name, a Kind of Loss or Heartache

An HTML text poem as digital projection, first presented as part of Digital Lion, an evening of computer art at Baktun, New York City.


View low resolution images of the slides (black and white version):


View low resolution images of the slides (color version):


Video Sample:
Note: This work is video only, (there is no audio.)

[tubepress mode=’playlist’, playlistValue=’4914B4A0D788756E’]

Project Description:
On the internet there is a bit of text code named for the physical buttons used on older car radios to select preset stations – when one of the buttons was pressed, other buttons would pop out, leaving the pressed button the only button in the “pushed in” or chosen position.

Sometimes when you are filling out an on-line form you are asked to click on little buttons to indicate a choice between one of several possibilities. These elements within HTML web forms are called Radio Buttons, and if you look at the source code each one is actually only a piece of text and will have a “name” and a “value” ascribed to it.

As I was teaching myself HTML for the first time, and looking for examples of forms to better understand them, I ran across the code for a form which was a long on-line survey for some company that sold vibrators and sex toys. They wanted to understand their customers in order to serve them better.

As I looked at the source code, I was struck by the word “value” which is part of programming language but can relate to money and commerce, can also be used to indicate that which we as human beings care most deeply about, on a fundamental level.

Reading further through the code I felt a sudden overwhelming sense of sadness at the human condition. Not a disgust for the subject of the survey but rather a heightened awareness of the isolation people can suffer from and the genuine emotional needs that bring people together. 

Many elements of the code seemed to be speaking with multiple meanings. Even practical and mundane elements of the survey such as a button at the end for anyone who had accidently made errors, which was labeled “I need to start again” seemed also to reference a lonely soul.

Radio Name, A kind of loss or Heartache is a revealing or a making visible of the original hidden text of the HTML source code for that sex survey, with edits and alterations which both break the code and add to its poetic meaning.

It is presented as a series of slides in either 800×600 pixel resolution on a computer monitor or alternately on a DVD as 640×480 pixel SD video resolution output. It has also been presented in two different iterations, one in color and the other in black text on a white background. In the color version the blue of the text refers to color coding in HTML text editors and the red of the background alludes to the lurid quality of the original survey.