Dive into the random, genius, alphabetically-organised world of HejHelloHalloAnnyeong’s web design experiments
Since the pandemic the collective have been meeting every fortnight to create innovative web-based experiments inspired by their random word selector.
- Elfie Thomas
- 23 May 2022
“On normal sites, when you click the mouse, the button is pressed stably, and the action is very natural, so you may not be aware of its function,” says Yeoleum Yun. “In our world, buttons don’t have to be pressed. When a mouse is clicked, a button may be cut in half, or a button may avoid a mouse quickly.” Welcome to the wonderfully creative world of HejHelloHalloAnnyeong (or HHHA), a collective of eight women who are testing the limits of creative collaboration and communication through the internet.
HHHA’s contributors live in different cities scattered across Europe, but they all have one thing in common, Naree Shin tells It’s Nice That: “being Korean women who live in foreign countries”. It was founded during the worldwide covid lockdowns when cultural institutions were delivering a whole load of online exhibitions and conferences to keep cooped-up creatives inspired. This got Naree Shin and Dahyun Hwang thinking about how they could contribute to this creative movement. They came up with a simple yet brilliant formula: “Let’s create a regular meet-up that exists only in the virtual world, communicate through the internet,” and, most importantly “use web tools!”.
At the moment their efforts revolve around one core project, the Alphabet project. This intricate series involves using HHHA’s random word selector to pick a random word every two weeks. After initially sharing ideas collectively on Google jamboard, each creative goes off individually to work on an innovative interpretation of the word through web language. The HHHA collaborators call these experiments “croquis drawn on the web”.
When the random word selector dealt Dahyun Hwang the word “journal” she was instantly transported back to her elementary school days when journal-writing was a regular task set as homework. “At that time, it was bothersome and not much fun to do everyday,” she says. “So, I would “binge-write” a week’s worth of journals the day before I submitted it.” Dahyun decided to design the perfect web tool for her childhood self. It is a journal which can be quickly adapted to produce different stories by selecting random words from a drop-down menu. You can also doodle around the words using the mouse. “It resembles the diary format I would use as a child”, she explains. “I think it’s fascinating to see something that used to be analog is now digitised and viewed online.”
Another nostalgic project materialised when Naree Shin got the word “kid” from the random selector. For inspiration, she started leafing through kids’ drawings on the internet. “I suddenly realised that a lot of weather elements were drawn in their sketchbooks,” she tells us. Their spiky suns and scribbly clouds were much more interesting than the boring icons which narrate the weather online. So Naree decided to use these drawings to create a weather-forecast tool. Coding four different weather pages (Clear, Clouds, Rain, and Fog) with animated kids drawings, she then linked the pages with the weather API. If you type a city into the prompt window, the current weather in that location pops up on screen, illustrated charmingly with the little doodles.
In response to the word-prompt “young”, Yunseo Go decided to take us back to the the early 2000s when “text faces dominated the internet before emojis appeared”. She created an “Expression Translator” tool using webcam. This ingenious little device translates your expressions picked up by the webcam into text faces using the ASCII code method. You can also see other users’ activity on the Translator because it operates through WebSocket in real-time, adds Yunseo.
With eight contributors creating different responses to a random word every two weeks, the alphabetically-organised website is quickly becoming a vibrant network of pure unadulterated web-based originality and randomness. The collective are now on the letter “Q” and nearing the end of their alphabet project, so they’ve begun drafting ideas for “funnier and more effective” ways to deliver their voices on the internet, says Yeoleum. “We think that the space of the web has infinite possibilities for artistic expression,” she concludes heartily. “As long as there is internet access, these things can be reached all over the world without restrictions and discrimination.”
Yunseo Go: Expression Translator / Alphabet Project (Copyright © Yunseo Go, 2022)
About the Author
Elfie joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in November 2021 after finishing an art history degree at Sussex University. She is particularly interested in creative projects which shed light on histories that have been traditionally overlooked or misrepresented.