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Mark Ramos


A JavaScript program hosted as a Firefox Extension, 2022

Baybayin is a pre-Hispanic Philippine script. During the 16th and 17th centuries it was supplanted by the Latin alphabet during the Spanish colonial period. Despite this, baybayin is seen as a link to filipinx indigenous heritage and used as a symbol of pride. Although Baybayin syllables are part of the Unicode Standard, Firefox is the only current browser that consistently displays the text without external add-ons since Firefox always tries to render specified characters regardless of UTF-encoding.

baybayin-2.0 swaps English letters for baybayin syllables. The resulting text are English words rendered in a baybayin syllabus system. Many of these modern words weren't part of the original pre-colonial vocabulary, so in many ways the browser rendered text becomes incomprehensible and occupy a hybrid space that pushes towards a greater idea of inclusivity in the frameworks of networked technologies. As the current web isn't really setup to process pre-colonial scripting, the results can be unpredictable.

This project attempts to move baybayin from its status as a relic writing system to a contemporary programming language. Modern day programming languages are heavily biased towards English speakers and code-literacy is one of the fastest growing kinds of language fluency in the Philippines and other parts of the "developing" world.

baybayin-2.0 is part of a larger series of works that looks at pre-colonial knowledge systems in a contemporary, networked environment.

Compatibility Notes


Mark Ramos is a Brooklyn-based new media artist. Mark makes fragile post-colonial technology using web/software programming, physical computing (using computers to sense and react to the physical world), and digital sculpture/fabrication to create interactive work that facilitate encounters with our own uncertain digital futures. Mark is deeply committed to the ethos of open source: the free sharing of information and data + creative uses of technology.

Mark has exhibited his work and lectured widely both online and AFK including as part of Rhizome's First Look: New Art Online with the New Museum of Contemporary Art in NYC, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, the Times Museum in Beijing, the Sichuan Biennial, Arebyte Gallery in London, and at the Peter Weibel Institute for Digital Culture in Vienna.

He teaches Art after the Internet in the MFA Fine Arts Department at the School of Visual Arts, Form and Code at Pratt Institute, as well as Web Programming and Computer Principles in the Computer Science Department at NYU. You can also find him playing drums for various bands in Brooklyn.