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

H&D activity proposal

Collective Hackers and Designers Summercamp proposals of activities emerging from a Declarations worksession.

Declarations ?

Declarations is an ongoing artistic research project into the poetic materiality of the CSS web-standard and its echoes on design and artistic practices.

CSS tells a browser, screen, phone, smartwatch - and devices from the past or yet to be imagined - how text flows, spaces are structured, typography materialises, hyperlinks are clicked, menus unfolded, and notification bubbled. It takes care of colors, mouvement, scrolling, animations and responsiveness. Every "sentences" of the CSS language is called a declaration.

from a worksession

During a one-week worksession with artists, writers, amateurs, designers and hackers, we inspected a shift in design practices emerging from the nature of the web: as it is made of text, designing become writing. We no longer place elements or delimit spaces with gesture but with words. As with every standard, it would be naive to ignore the power dynamics that are at play here. Technical decisions lead to cultural impacts, we can only imagine how the choices of what words makes it to the CSS standard could have redefined our attention and perception, even outside of the space of the screen. We explored how the malleability of this language is used to dialogue with technology. Similarly to choosing words to tell a story, designing with declarations means we state our intentions and encode narrations into the things we make.

to participatives summercamp activities

This leads to different experiments which are already partially documented. However there were wishes to pursue those experiments, to broaden those conversations and allow more diverse groups to participate, beyond the initial scope of the project. After a few meetings we translated what we did in the intimity of this worksession into the following participative activities for the Hacker & Designer summercamp.

Web Jockey Protocol

Vinciane Daheron

daily 1-2hrs party during the whole camp

duration

daily 1-2hrs party during the whole camp

facilitators' names and practices

There is one main activity coordinators (Vinciane) with the support of 2 more (Doriane, Sohyeon).

Vinciane is an artist & graphic designer currently working on collaborative practices & free/libre and open-source culture. By hacking tools and data, my projects are publications, handcrafted installations, podcasts, writing protocols and games. She enjoy technological resistance tactics, documentation & transmissions are also part of my process. I regularly lead workshops approaching design graphic & web to print.

topic

The Web Jockey Protocol (WJP) & Web fabulations (WF) workshop explore website modifications as a way of taking agency on already designed websites. Both those activities are inspired by the notion of tactical design (cf Nolwenn Maudet), remixing the web as a user-hacker. Modifing websites questions our agency as individual and collectivities on the web. User-customisation used to be part of collective spaces on the web (geocities, myspace, tumblr) and is now homogenised by corporations in the era of instagram, twitter and tiktok. An interesting approach persists: browser extensions inserts themselves in between the imposed design and its reception, allowing live modifications. But what does it say on a politcal level to fork from the mainstream usages, creating our own alternative bubble. WJP & WF propose story telling, commenting, critiquing, improving accessibilities, transforming websites into a poetic medium, creating collective fictions.

The Web Jockey Protocol more precisely is a social protocol for performing customised cascading stylesheets (CSS) of a specified website to an audience within an agreed period of time. It takes the shape of a DJing live performance. By displaying the modifications real time, the audience-performer relationship can be a form of passing knowledge or requests.

script (methods, technologies, timeline)

WJP & WF are working with scratch (named both after the practice of DJ scratching, and scratching the surface to reach the code of the webpage), a browser extension crafted for Declarations (a research on the materility of the CSS web-language). Scratch allows to append an etherpad as a CSS stylesheet, either on one or every websites. Those changes impact the other users of the extensions, reciprocally they can edit the CSS in the pad.

The WJP could be a daily party. We are flexible in how we break up the performance time-scheduling. It requires at least one Web Jockey (WJ) and an audience. Each night, a new person becomes the webjockey and chooses a website to remix. When one Web Jockey takes the lead, they start from what was written the day before, both helping those who are less confident with CSS to take agency, and taking the challenge of starting from someone else choices. To become a way of passing knowledge, the WJP will include a cheatsheet for participants to choose from. The everyday remixes could be published / print at the end of the summercamp.

participants (how many? what age? what knowledge? abilities?)

One webjockey per day and an audience from 1 to infinite. Some participants need to be able to write CSS, others just need the excitement about learning CSS.

participants aged 6-12 (how do we want to accomodate them if at all?)

Vinciane has experience with leading workshop for young participants. Assuming they are not yet CSS expert they could join with the help of the cheatsheet, which would include visual examples to also overcome the language barrier.

materials and equipment:

Websites Fabulations

Doriane Timmermans

1 day

duration

1 day that can be organised in a very flexible manner. mostly divided into a morning activity and an afternoon activity.

facilitators' names and practices:

There is one main activity coordinators (Doriane) with the support of 2 more (Vinciane, Daniel).

Doriane is a developer, designer and artist, with a particular interest in the crafts of designing with language. She likes to think about systems and automatised processes as sensible media. She loves to create weirdly shaped tools that question our ways of doing. She is part of Open Source Publishing since 2021, where she makes websites, conversations and experiment with the blurry edges of HTML & CSS as a poetic medium and textual material. She is now coordinating Declarations, the research you're currently reading about.

topic

The Web Jockey Protocol (WJP) & Web fabulations (WF) workshop explore website modifications as a way of taking agency on already designed websites. Both those activities are inspired by the notion of tactical design (cf Nolwenn Maudet), remixing the web as a user-hacker. Modifing websites questions our agency as individual and collectivities on the web. User-customisation used to be part of collective spaces on the web (geocities, myspace, tumblr) and is now homogenised by corporations in the era of instagram, twitter and tiktok. An interesting approach persists: browser extensions inserts themselves in between the imposed design and its reception, allowing live modifications. But what does it say on a politcal level to fork from the mainstream usages, creating our own alternative bubble. WJP & WF propose story telling, commenting, critiquing, improving accessibilities, transforming websites into a poetic medium, creating collective fictions.

The Web Fabulations workshop more precisely proposes to create cross-websites fictions of what an alternative web could be like, applying a new cascading stylesheets (CSS) simultaneously to every websites. Those fictions could be like: a web where you see only one DOM element at time, a web where every interactions make sounds, a web where the weather influences webpages, a web that scroll in other directions than top to bottom, a web where images are all in one spot.

script (methods, technologies, timeline)

WJP & WF are working with scratch (named both after the practice of DJ scratching, and scratching the surface to reach the code of the webpage), a browser extension crafted for Declarations (a research on the materility of the CSS web-language). Scratch allows to append an etherpad as a CSS stylesheet, either on one or every websites. Those changes impact the other users of the extensions, reciprocally they can edit the CSS in the pad.

The day of workshop is devided in two parts. In the morning we do a big round of sharing one memory each of browsing the web (something we like or dislike). After this sharing moment, we divide ourselves in groups that mixes the CSS-coding-knowledge, uses of the web and ages. In groups, we describe in the common language we want, a fictionnal web that intertwine our memories and translate them into radical fable, changing the display, the interaction, the spaces, the colors, of every websites. The afternoon is dedicated to implementing those changes by writing those in groups on a pad. Every group become the curators of their fabulatives web, reshapping websites as it goes. At the end, we take a moment to tell and experiment the fabulative web we created to the other groups.

participants (how many? what age? what knowledge? abilities?)

Some participants need to be able to write CSS, others just need the excitement about learning CSS. Every group can be between 4 and 6 persons.

participants aged 6-12 (how do we want to accomodate them if at all?)

Young participants are more than welcome to join a group. The discussions of memory and fable on the web is meant to be nourrished by different generational experiences and usages! They can also declare their wishes for another type of web and together the groups will handle possible translations.

materials and equipment

The websites fabulations workshop has already been experimented but in a classroom/teacher setup, in the belgium artschool "le 75", and only on Wikipedia as a test zone. Documentation of that can be found here: https://wiki-scratching.ungual.digital/

The Declarative Beauty Salon

Karl Moubarak, Sohyeon Lee

minimum 3hrs, can be split over multiple days

duration

minimum 3hrs. can be split over multiple days or in all in one go. can be a walk-in, but, appointment-based activity.

facilitators' names and practices

We are 2 main activity (Karl, Sohyeon) coordinators with the support of 2 more (Doriane, Florence).

Karl Moubarak,

As a digital maker, I design and develop on-and-offline platforms for connectivity and exchange. I collaborate with artists, collectives and cultural organizations to translate complex socio-political paradigms into digital, physical and hybrid infrastructures. Always working with Free Libre and Open Source software and hardware and centering interactivity, sustainability and accessibility as leading core values, the projects I am involved with try to present working prototypes of alternative relationships between society and technology.

Sohyeon Lee,

is a designer based in Leipzig and Berlin. Defining ritual moments in everyday life extends her artistic practices. Working with text and images, she invites, shares, and publishes by jumping across physical (mostly printed) and non-physical (mostly online) layers. She focuses on the meanings/ways of the technologies we use every day life, how it is related to social and environmental contexts. So that as a designer or an artist, she's considering how to publish and invite people to the subject and open the discussion.

topic

Welcome to the Declarative Beauty Salon! In this booth, we explore in an open-ended way the syntactic materiality, performativity, and declarativeness of the CSS web-styling language. Upon arrival to your appointment, you are prompted with a question related to the CSS web-standard. With all materials available to you, computer at-hand and lips ready for gossip, we invite you to answer the prompts by doing your make-up, nails, hair and discussing with others. By all means, feel free to throw the CSS web-standard out the window as this is a space for experiment, de-standardization and play. It is encouraged to break all the "rules" and swim against the mono-cultural currents of the World Wide Web Consortium. Make-up, hair care, and CSS professionals will be on premises to support you. Don't forget to make an appointment (NO WALK-INs!)

Possible Prompts

...and so on, we are open to share other web-design gossips!

script (methods, technologies, timeline)

The activity can be one big 3 hours activity or split up by appointments. The clientele is prompted with a question about the CSS web standard and are asked to depart from there. They have make-up, hair care and nail care equipment accessible to them. They also have computers with code editors accessible to them. They are invited to play with the prompt using the materials, their computers and a discussion. There are beauty and CSS professionals available for guidance. The appointment ends when the time is up. It could be nice if this mess had a dedicated physical booth / salon structure in the camp for the whole duration.

participants (how many? what age? what knowledge? abilities?)

Ideally as many participants can join as possible and we are flexible in how we break up the appointments / time-scheduling. No knowledge of CSS is necessary, but an active curiosity about it's inner workings is. No knowledge of make-up, nails or hair care is necessary but a willingness to get beautified is. Younger participants are needed for this activity! There creativity, resourcefulness and curiosity cannot go unused! The learning threshold is low and metaphors are a wonderful way to learn about certain basic CSS properties. Participants need the motor skills and/or assistive devices to aid them in applying make-up, nails, and hair. Again, there are beauty and CSS professionals available for support and guidance. WARNING: Hand motor skills might be severely limited after the application of nails.

participants aged 6-12 (how do we want to accomodate them if at all?):

Yes, please! Very welcome!

materials and equipment:

ChattyLARP

Florence Walker

1.5 days

duration

1.5 days

facilitators' names and practices

There is one main activity coordinators (Florence) with the support of 1 more (Karl).

Florence Walker is a writer, academic, and new media artist. She holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Oxford and an MA in Digital Culture from the University of Bergen. Her poetry has appeared in Pidgeonholes, the Daily Drunk, West Trade Review, Acumen, Evocations, the Weekly Degree, and the 2017 Mays Anthology. Her new media work can be found at .

topic

This activity is a LARP (Live Action Role Play) mediated through ChattyPub. ChattyPub is a tool that enables the application of CSS styling to a conversation, allowing a conversation to be generated, unfolded and declared as a digital performance. The processes of character development, world-building and collective gameplay are all brought into conversation with the CSS web-styling language, exploring the syntactic materiality, performativity and declarativeness of the language through role-playing in the conversational interfaces and mechanisms of an online chat.

script (methods, technologies, timeline)

INITIAL BRIEFING: Collaborative setting-building. Making sure everyone is on the same page, reminding people of rules and safety calls. Maybe a quick out of character workshop so people can get comfortable using ChattyPub. The theme of the LARP departs from "Unruly Currents and Everyday Piracy" and is further developed with participants.

THROUGHOUT THE CAMP: Gameplay happens in Zulip & ChattyPub.

DAILY: 1-2 hours needed for the gamerunners to read back over the chats, decide how the setting/plot will develop, and create a news post for the following day.

DEBRIEF: Time at the end of the LARP for people to reveal their characters' secrets and chat about how it went!

participants (how many? what age? what knowledge? abilities?)

for the LARP: minimum 5 participants

for the character building / storyline making could be nice to involve more

some participants need to be able to write CSS. others just need the excitement about learning CSS.

access needs / precautions

LARPs can be intense so taking breaks is encouraged

safewords: we should all agree on codes / languages to stop / meta / pause gameplay

gameplay might require focus for a longer time

participants aged 6-12 (how do we want to accomodate them if at all?)

yes, but we need some help making it accessible to them!

materials and equipment

Declaritive Tie-Dye aka Render your T-Shirt

Daniel Murray

3hrs

duration

3hrs

facilitators' names and practices

There is one main activity coordinators (Daniel) with the support of everyone.

Daniel Murray is an Irish digital artist based in Cork. His work focuses on the dream space of virtual worlds; Exploring the emotion and mythology of our digital lives and the nature of humanity in the 21st century; through technology, nostalgia, video games and the web.

topic

A collective Tie-Dye event where people can bring fabrics to be dyed. The aim is to connect everyday items to the theme of hacking by encouraging people to modify clothing beyond what the manufacturer originally intended. The process of tie-dying will be split into a series of CSS-like steps printed on paper sheets that participants can combine to formulate a style sheet for their tie-dye (similarly to fridge-magnet pomes, where pre-printed words can be combined into a pome). Participants will then take on the role of a render/browser by executing each step of the dying process as if they were the CSS interpreter. At the end of the process, they will have "rendered" their own hacked t-shirt or another fabric item, which they can wear and keep as a souvenir of the event.

script (methods, technologies, timeline)

Tie-dye materials including dyes, salts and pre-printed cards will be brought to the camp. If the camp organisers could provide 5-6 large buckets, water and a clothesline or drying rack that would be ideal.

Visitors should also be informed to bring white cotton t-shirts or other clothes they wish to dye; any natural fibre will work.

The event is best suited to the public open day and it will run for about 3 hours. It should be set up outdoors, near a water supply and ideally with a table. Setup time may be about 30 minutes, the event can run until the dyes run out and clean-up will take about an hour. Spaces for dyed clothes to dry will also be required for a few hours after the event.

Dyes will be water soluble and environmentally safe and should not be a risk of harm to participants.

participants (how many? what age? what knowledge? abilities?)

Tie-dyeing is a fun and inclusive activity that can involve everyone from any age range. Daniel will be the main organiser of this event and will receive assistance as needed from other declaration members.

participants aged 6-12 (how do we want to accomodate them if at all?):

This activity should involve parents working with their kids. The CSS-style Tie-dye steps will be printed in English and Dutch and assistance will be available top help explain how participants can interpret the dyeing steps.

materials and equipment

anything else?

A basic draft of CSS-Style Tie-Dye steps:

t-shirt {
    rubber-band: center;
    twist: rotate(3 three times);
    rubber-band: left;
    fold: 2 times;
    color: blue;
    color: red:
    remove-rubberband: left;
    color: pink;
}

This gives you a basic idea of the Tie-Dye process if you are unfamiliar: https://www.dharmatrading.com/techniques/tiedye/tie-dye-instructions.html?lnav=techniques_tiedye.html