The 2012 book code {poems}, published source code in printed form, to "explore the potential of code to communicate at the level of poetry." It includes work from engineers, artists, and poets, with pieces informed by artistic and engineering modes as much as literary ones. However, the book's presentation has a decidedly literary approach, with a single typeface to unify the works, and no evidence of the programs' output. It has a single program per page, which aids with a purely textual reading of the work.

The new journal code::art shows that, while the line may be blurring between code art and codework among creators, there is still a divide in how these works are published.

code::art publishes pieces that "challenge our perceptions of what both [code and art] can look like." It is a glossy zine, with varying typefaces and page colors, and sometimes showing the programs' output. This less unified look makes the programs much easier to follow at the level of code, particularly the ones with syntax highlighting.

It also allows for a breaking away from purely textual pieces. Take for instance, "Ulysses" by Ken Lyon, an ink and wash transcription "in layered form" of chapter 23 ("Norsicaa") of James Joyce's Ulysses, the chapter which caused its banning. These choices allow code::art to more openly question what constitutes code.

code::art is edited by Sy Brand, a C++ enthusiast in Edinburgh, Scotland, with a day job building and maintaining compilers and debuggers. Sy plans to publish code::art biannually. The open call for issue 1 runs through the end of April. [NOTE: for full disclosure, code::art issue 0 features a Hello World in my Folders language]

Sy shares with us a few pieces from the first issue.

over/under by Alice Strete

The first piece in the journal, over/under by Alice Strete, is the input and output of an interpreter which weaves a pattern on to text. She describes it as "reminiscent of the mystical connection between women and software writing, embedded deep in women’s tradition of weaving not just threads, but networks." I loved this both for its aesthetic and as a piece of feminist art, and it highlights a history of core rope memory and Jacquard looms which the tech industry would do well to remember as it continues to fail women and other underrepresented groups.

"French Lovers" (excerpt) by Emma Cozzani and Mathieu Tremblin

French Lovers is part of a larger series of work which has been shown under the Emotional Interfaces project. It was inspired by the Language of Stamps, which used the position of a stamp on the letter to communicate between people, particularly during times where letters may be intercepted and read. I loved how this took a physical code and made it digital, while also looking at the codes within human communication and how we communicate them using programs written in code. A somewhat darker reading considers the parallel between governments intercepting letters and corporations reading emails in order to sell our information.

Emotional Interfaces was also part of the digital biennial The Wrong.

The two-page spread below features two short hackery pieces. To the left, the "Tree?" php program by Juan Alberto "stage7" Martínez produces tree shapes with randomly placed ornaments, mimicking the shape of its own program.

The output of three successive runs of Tree?:

       o                 *                  o 
      * *               * o                * o 
     * o o             * o o              * o *
    o o o o           * * o *            o o o * 
   o * o o *         * * o * *          o o * o o 
  * * o o * o       o * * * * o        * * * o * o 
      | |               | |                | |


The other work in that spread is by Claude Heiland-Allen, whose site is offline for the climate strike [EDIT: it's back online]. The program repeatedly spawns a process called killall, which attempts to kill all instances of itself, with the same command used to launch it. The ampersand moves the launched process to the background so that the next command can run, simultaneously forking and killing the results.

Also included in issue 0 is a library that allows for the old IOCCC trick of writing code that looks like one language in another; e.g. using preprocessing directives to make a C program look like Java. Björn Fahller went much further, actually creating a header file so that anyone can write BASIC-style code in C++. C++'s creator, Bjarne Stroustrup, once said "I thought ‘I wonder what would happen, if there were a language so complicated, so difficult to learn, that nobody would ever be able to swamp the market with programmers?'" With Fahller's library, which can be found here, you can, very awkwardly, reduce it to the language explicitly designed for ease of use.

Issue 1 is in the works, but has an open call through the end of the month, with space for boundary-pushing experiments in language and code. Alternately, if Comic Sans and seagulls are more your speed, Sy also publishes a trash zine, with issues numbered TR0SH, TR1SH, etc, which also has a current open call.

code::art is also available as a free pdf, making it easy to copy and paste the code pieces to run them and see the results (or perhaps to alter or remix them), making it easier to observe the relationship between the code's content and execution.

Apart from the zine, Sy is themself an esolanger working in the code poetic domain. They are responsible for the enjamb esolang, where code is written as poetry and dramatic pauses, in the form of line breaks, make up the lexicon of the language.