Your first of three “hacks” this semester will focus on text. More specifically, your hack should be an act of literary deformance, algorithmic text generation, or automated juxtaposition. Your final product need not entirely make “sense.” In fact, nonsense can be quite productive in the way it calls attention to the way we use language. The use of chance and randomness is strongly encouraged. Your hack should be “deep” rather than superficial. In the case of a textual hack, this means transforming a source text in a surprising and unpredictable way, and in a way that requires non-trivial effort on your part. Other elements of a “deep” hack include:
- Complexity: the sense that complex operations are at work, or conversely, a simple result that hides the complex operations underneath
- Intensity: the sense of an ongoing, sustained, or a least burst of activity
- Connectivity: the sense of connection to other texts or ideas
- Shareability: the sense that the work can be shared and duplicated
There are a number of computational tools you can use for this assignment:
- Download Node.js on your computer and play around with Twitter bots like Metaphor-a-Minute and WhitmanFML
- Experiment with Markov Chains, such as this Perl-based example
- Gnoetry Daily often links to text generation tools
- You can substantively modify an existing poetry generator, like Taroko Gorge or Sea and Spar Between (commented source file) (my own House of Leaves of Grass is inspired by Sea and Spar Between)
- There are a host of older tools that you may be able to get run (try using DOSBOX, a DOS emulator for Macs and PCs alike)
- JanusNode for Mac and Windows
- The Infinitely Scrolling Aleph
- There are many more tools, which I will keep adding to this list
As powerful as these digital methods are, in the spirit of Brion Gysin I don’t want to eliminate the possibility of an analog hack for textual generation. Therefore, non-digital but nonetheless “deep” analog hacks are also a very real possibility for this assignment.
Regardless of your approach, your hack should be accompanied by an Artist’s Statement of about 1,500 words (uploaded to Moodle). Be sure that your statement includes whatever information I need to access your hack. If your hack is code-based, I request that you share your code on GitHub.
Hack #1 is due October 2 and is worth 20% of your final grade.