Declarations is an ongoing artistic research into the poetic materiality of the CSS web-standard.

Call for web-artisans and declarative artists

an open call for a worksession in Bruxelles of 5 days. Together we'll tell web stories and experiment with declarative design.

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Declarations is an ongoing artistic research project into the poetic materiality of the CSS web-standard. Declarations is looking for web-artisans and declarative artists for a worksession.

The worksession will happen in the week of the 1st to the 5th of April, in Brussels, BE. It is open to 6 participants, and is paid 840€ for 4 days. Together we'll tell web stories and experiment with declarative design.

The first day is public, participants who choose it can give a presentation (coming with a story). An additionnal fee of 210€ is available to cover those presentations.

A public rendering of the worksession will happen on the 12th of April, in the vitrine of Constant, in Brussels, BE.

Applications are due on the 29th of February.

Context

Declarations inspect a potential paradigm shift in design practices, as they are being increasingly centered on the web: a shift from "designing with gestures" to "designing with texts" (writing code). (Print) design has been historically driven by gestures. Moving things with fixed measurements into fixed space, with constant visual feedback of the mouvement (even on software we use the metaphore of tools, to take with our hands/cursors). On the web, we deal with another materiality. We create by writing descriptions, statements, of the design, called declarations (notably through HTML and CSS).

The worksession centers on CSS, the language that tells the multitude of web technologies - browser, screen, phone, smartwatch, and devices from the past or yet to be imagined - how text flows, typography materialises, spaces are divided in more less gridded or flexible ways, hyperlinks become clickable, menus unfold, and notification or messages bubbles. CSS also take care of colors, mouvement, scrolling, reactions, animations and responsiveness. It is more and more used as an alternative print publishing practice, known as web2print.

Unlike most programming languages, CSS is declarative, meaning it expresses the logic of a computation without describing its control flow. Or more simply puts, its doesn't revolve around the writing of algorithms, but of declarations. Declarativeness is like describing a landscape instead of listing the steps to draw it. By using declarations, CSS makes fluidity part of its thinking. The multiplicity of interpretations that comes with language is used by websites to adapt to their context of execution.

We research how the malleability of language is used to dialogue with a multitude of unknown canvases.

We research how, similarly to the choice of words we decide to use to tell a story, designing with declarations speak about our intentions, and encodes narrations into the things we make.

By looking at the web through declarativeness, a curious materiality starts to glimmer. The web is both languages and materials. Web-designers become both author and architect. And websites become a work of articulations.

Worksession

The worksession will happen in the week of the 1st to the 5th of April, and is open to 6 participants. On the 1th of April public presentations on different CSS stories will be organised. From the second day to the end of the week, we gather inbetween us and start experiment together.

From an observation of growing alternative crafts and communities of web-artisans, the workession want to gather: internet artists, alternative designers, hacking developers, makers of handmade websites. The worksession wants to include a variety of declarative practices and to relocate CSS into a transdisciplinary artistic context. As such, you don't have to present yourself as a CSS-expert: it is also an invitation for writers, poets, artists, amateurs or performers that relate to the declarative aspects of web-technologies. Flexibility in thinking about CSS or web materiality is what matter. The worksession will investigate the forming of spaces and shapes out of words, declaratives performances and the frictions between handmade crafts with standard and power-structures.

Even though CSS mostly happens on our screens, these sessions aim to be performed in a common physical space, a step away from our individual and non-oralised relation to technology. Discussing the language of CSS aloud can become a process to perform its linguistic nature and declarativeness. Each participant in this worksession of 4 days will receive a fee of 840€.

The first day (open to the external public) is an invitation for the participants to share a specific stories about their craft on CSS: knowledge gathered through design commision experiments, some poetic exploration of CSS through an art project or a performance, hacking web-language for the purpose of DIY software development. Those stories will act as a first input of the worksession. Proposing a presentation is not mandatory to participate in the worksession, and it should be seen as an invitation: a place for declarative design stories to be told as the valuable crafts they are. An additional fee of 210€ is available to cover the work of those story-tellers.

Transport and lunch are covered by the project, but lodging not.

Public window

A public rendering of the worksession will happen on the 12th of April, in the vitrine of Constant (in a street of Saint-gilles, Brussels). Constant is an organization active in the fields of art, media and technology, rooted in (cyber)-feminism, transdisciplinarity and free and open-source software.

Together we'll describe a collective protocol of display, making into a physical layout the different stories and practices developped during the worksession. A vitrine share similarities with a website in the sence that they are both public window. Can we describe the display of the vitrine, in the same way that websites are made out of declarations?

Constant_V: Cosmic Foam Traditions No. 1 - The Æthers (2022), Constant_V

Application

Applications are due on the 29th of February.

Your application can take the form you prefer: a web-page labyrinth, a poetic email, an interactive pdf, a video of you talking, or others. One or two paragraphs per questions are enough. Please also join your CV.

  1. What is your relationship to CSS (or other declarative web-languages)? Do you consider yourself a developer, designer, amateur, artist, thinker?
  2. How does CSS (or other declarative web-languages) manifest in your pratices, can you give some examples of projects where it took a particular role?
  3. Do you have other pratices, such as writing, poetry, installation or performance, that you feel could be intertwined with the broader artistic aspect of the worksession?
  4. What is your experience in collective work?

In addition to your application, to propose a presentation on the 1st of April (not mandatory), answer the following.

  1. What story about (CSS or) web-based practices, what would you tell? what type of knowledge or problematics lies in this story?

Selection

The 6 selected participants will be announced on the 15th of March.

As an important direction of the worksession is to declutter practices through transdisciplinarity, the applications will be read in this way: with the objective to form a diverse group where each can share new energies to others. this includes diversity of practices and different level of amateurisme, as well as cultural and gender diversities, as much as the applications allow.

Altough the project is coordinated by Doriane, the selection process will be done in company of An Mertens - soundboard of this project - as a tentative to open up the perspective of what this worksession can be.

Don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to participate in the research outside of the canvas of this specific worksession.