Semantic Formatting

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Semantic Formatting is the process of using HTML tags to imbue code with meaning, so that it is human-readable and machine-readable. In translation, there is a necessary compromise, and language becomes utilitarian. Yet as Semantic Formatting is designed for both human and machine understanding, there is a levelling out and a layering of information. Here, there is room to play with structure and meaning.

Built from an amateur position, using basic HTML, the unembellished, ‘raw’ format is a direct product of the browser interpreting the code language. This virtual space is ‘conceptually blank’ which perhaps makes a nod towards the white cube gallery (a point of contention in postmodern art theory). Visually, the style of the website harks back to ideas around the ‘utopian internet’ and late 90’s democratising of online platforms.

Limitation of skills and online accessibility were collectively highlighted as areas of significance. This became the guiding framework for considering what shape the work might take. The content of the show can be described as a negotiation between artist and media. Denial and restriction are present - denial of tangibility and physical experience, and restriction in interaction and view. Lossy* files degrade with time, as they are sent and retrieved over and over again from the various servers in different global locations.

Online versions of works may take on new and unintended meaning, perhaps leading to a self-referential system of signifiers, signs and symbols. Interaction between the viewer and the online work is mediated via electronic device, which in turn carries its own language of gestures and keystrokes. The duality of online/physical realms may eventually spill into an index of multiplicity and bring with it a hybridised language. Semantic Formatting begins to question these issues, alongside the futility of attempting to adhere to binaries, and the collapse of these boundaries.

*having or involving the dissipation of electrical or electromagnetic energy OR (of data compression) in which unnecessary information is discarded.