Resisting Biometrics/Evolving Cyberebonics
Within this sense, the ‘Lingo’ created by African American programmer JT Thompson which allows for a mutual discourse between the ‘othered’ human and the ‘othered’ machine can be seen as a ‘black’ language system.. a ‘cyberEbonic’ form, if you like. ‘Lingo’ is technically what is described as a high level programming language.. using terms which the computer can readily translate into its ‘native’ language of machine code. It also allows one to progressively invent terms, (defined as ‘handlers’) with which you negotiate an agreed meaning with the host machine. As long as these meanings are established between the giver of the message and its receiver, the ‘business’ of the exchange can take place. These ‘handlers’ therefore represent an intimate code.. understood only within the closed context of the mutually agreed dialogue. It remains meaningless to anyone positioned outside of that dialogue. This is very much akin to what Gill Scott Heron describes as ‘The Ghetto Code’; a constantly shifting and self inventing sequence of terms which are evolved, exchanged and then systematically mutated within the direct, daily exchanges of individuals within black communities. Through this process, the ears of outsiders, state agencies and instruments of surveillance would never quite be able to keep up with it’s constantly shifting plane of complex meanings.
“I know whoever they were paying to listen in on my phone had to be saying well…
dot, dot, ditti, dot, dot, dash..
I’m damned if I know”
Gill Scott Heron, The Ghetto Code.
From “The Mind of Gill Scott heron” 1979 Arista
It is this coded exchange… the development of ‘cyberEbonic’ language systems and possibilities, which for me takes programming as an activity out of the domain of the dry technician.. into the rich realm of black creative discourse and invention. To a huge extent we have the initial work of John JT Thompson to thank for this. The tool set which he established, lying at the core of the creative authoring application ‘Director’, opens possibilities for artists to enter into creative engagements with digital tools in an ever expanding innovative and interactive domain.