It’s been a while since I stopped over in Buffalo, but I’m finally unfrozen, and I’m unfreezing my blog, too, to comment a bit on the exhibit I saw — this was the purpose of my brief wintry sojourn — Difference Machines: Technology and Identity in Contemporary Art at the Albright-Knox Northland. I visited the show with my spouse, Flourish; Tina Rivers Ryan (who curated the exhibit with Paul Vanouse) was kind enough to give us a big chunk of her day and provide a detailed tour.
February 2, 2022
August 9, 2021
If you thought my last post about a 32 byte (plus 2 byte load address) Commodore 64 demo was esoteric, wait until you burrow into this one.
Back in March at Lovebyte I released a C64 demo that is a total of 6 bytes. I contrived this one so that the 4b of code end up “wedged” into a zero-page routine that runs every time RETURN is pressed. The effect is a pulsing pattern on the border. (You can just as easily make the screen pulse, which I personally find less aesthetically pleasing because the pulsing in that case happens over any text that is on the screen. It’s also a bit more eye watering and more likely to trigger seizures.) While it’s a very simple effect, I don’t know of any demo at all for this platform that has this file size or any smaller one. Some extensive trickery was involved in injecting my code into existing memory contents to produce this effect.
August 2, 2021
Yesterday I wrote a little demoscene production, an intro, called “Tyger Tyger.” It’s a Commodore 64 machine language program with 32 bytes of code and the requisite 2 byte header, found on all C64 PRG files. It only garnered third place out of five entries in the 256b compos at @party 2021, behind two impressive entries that were for a different platform (DOS) and went to the limit of allowable code (eight times as much).
March 18, 2021
Dead Alive Press has just published my Golem, much to my delight, and I am launching the book tonight in a few minutes at WordHack, a monthly event run by the NYC community gallery Babycastles.
This seems like a great time to credit the editors and presses I have worked with to publish several of these books, and to let you all know where they can be purchased, should you wish to indulge yourselves:
January 28, 2021
Generative Unfoldings is an online exhibit of generative art, running live in the browser and consisting entirely of free/libre/open-source software. I am curating the exhibit. Sarah Rosalena Balbuena-Brady, D. Fox Harrell, Lauren Lee McCarthy, and Parag K. Mital worked with me to select fourteen artworks. The show will feature:
- Can The Subaltern Speak? by Behnaz Farahi
- Concrete by Matt DesLauriers
- The Curse Of Dimensionality by Philipp Schmitt
- Gender Generator by Encoder Rat Decoder Rat
- Greed by Maja Kalogera
- Hexells by Alexander Mordvintsev
- Letter From C by Cho Hye Min
- Pac Tracer by Andy Wallace
December 6, 2020
Amazing Quest should be completely open to the interpretation of players, to their appreciation of it, and, if they choose, to their rejection of it.
I refrained from discussing anything about the game during the IF Comp. Now that it’s over, I am glad to answer some questions that have arisen—with the earnest hope that my answers don’t preclude people from coming up with their own interpretations and responses.
These aren’t really frequently asked questions, but they are all actually questions that have been asked at least once. When I quote directly, the quotations are from anonymous feedback from IF Comp players. Whether quoted or in paraphrase, all of these are real questions or responses that I’ve gotten.
June 7, 2020
About four million Google hits for “peaceful protesters,” only about 55,000 for “peaceful police.” Anyone who has been reading the news will have seen the phrase “peaceful protesters” again and again—and probably will not have seen this other phrase. Does that mean peaceful protesters outnumber peaceful police 80 to 1? Or at least that we think and speak as if this is the case?
May 18, 2020
Please enjoy Post Hoc, a show I’ve put together with generous contributions from a baker’s dozen artists and seven writers. There was no pre-established theme for Post Hoc, which was prompted by our inability to get to IRL galleries and museums. Artists were simply asked for digital images, any digital image they considered an artwork. (Several works in the show do have other manifestations.) The work in the show is all from 2020. I solicited 1000–1200 character responses to each piece.
Agnieszka Kurant response by Mary Flanagan
Christian Bök response by Paul Stephens
May 15, 2020
This May 21, 2020 at 7pm Eastern Time is another great WordHack!
A regular event at Babycastles here in New York City, this WordHack will be fully assumed into cyberspace, hosted as usual by Todd Anderson but this time with two featured readings (and open mic/open mouse) viewable on Twitch. Yes, this is the link to the Thursday May 21, 2020 WordHack!
I’m especially enthusiastic about this one because the two featured readers will be sharing their new, compelling, and extraordinary books of computer-generated poetry. This page is a virtual “book table” linking to where you can buy these books (published by two nonprofit presses) from their nonprofit distributor.
March 29, 2020
“Sonnet Corona” is a computer-generated sonnet, or if you look at it differently, a sonnet cycle or very extensive crown of sonnets.
The sonnets generated are in monometer. That is, each line is of a single foot, and in this case, is of strictly two syllables.
Because there are three options for each line, there are 314 = 4,782,969 possible sonnets.
March 23, 2020
New York City, we are continually told, is now the “epicenter” of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. Italy is the world’s “epicenter.” This term is used all the time in the news and was recently deployed by our mayor here in NYC.
I’m following up on a February 15 Language Log post by Mark Liberman about why this term is being used in this way. Rather than asking why people are using the term, I’m going to discuss how this word influences our thinking. “Epicenter” leads us to think about the current global pandemic in some unhelpful ways. Although less exciting, simply saying something like “New York City has the worst outbreak” would actually improve our conceptual understanding of this crisis.
February 2, 2020
When it rains, it pours, which matters even on the sea.
Thanks to bug reports by Barry Roundtree and Jan Grant, via the 2020 Critical Code Studies Working Group (CCSWG), there is now another new version of Sea and Spar Between which includes additional bug fixes affecting the interface as well as the generation of language.
As before, all the files in this version 1.0.2.are available in a zipfile, for those who care to study or modify them.
January 30, 2020
Stephanie Strickland and I published the first version of Sea and Spar Between in 2010, in Dear Navigator, a journal no longer online. In 2013 The Winter Anthology republished it. That year we also provided another version of this poetry system for Digital Humanities Quarterly (DHQ), cut to fit the toolspun course, identical in terms of how it functions but including, in comments within the code, what is essentially a paper about the detailed workings of the system. In those comments, we wrote:
The following syllables, which were commonly used as words by either Melville or Dickinson, are combined by the generator into compound words.
November 16, 2019
Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak November;
And each separate bit and pixel wrought a novel on GitHub.
April may be the cruelest month, and now the month associated with poetry, but November is the month associated with novel-writing, via NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Now, thanks to an offhand comment by Darius Kazemi and the work of Hugo van Kemenade, November is also associated with the computer-generation of novels, broadly speaking. Any computer program and its 50,000 word+ output qualifies as an entry in NaNoGenMo, National Novel Generation Month.
July 2, 2019
The untitled poem by Eugen Gomringer that we can only call “silencio” is a classic, perhaps the classic, concrete poem. According to Marjorie Perloff’s Unoriginal Genius, the “silencio” version of the poem dates from 1953. In my 1968 edition of The Book of Hours and Constellations I find the German manifestation of this poem (with the word “schweigen”) and the English poem (with the word “silence”), on the same page at the very beginning of the book — but no “silencio.” The place where I do find “silencio” is An Anthology of Concrete Poetry from 1967, edited by Emmett Williams. My copy is the re-issue by Primary Information.
January 15, 2019
During Synchrony 2019, on the train from New York City to Montreal, two of us (nom de nom and shifty) wrote a 64 byte Commodore 64 program which ended up in the Old School competition. (It could have also gone into the Nano competition for <=256 byte productions.) Our Alphabit edged out the one other fine entry in Old School,a Sega Genesis production by ModeDude also written on the train.
December 26, 2018
The second issue of Taper, a literary magazine featuring small-scale computational work, is now online.
The second issue was edited by Sebastian Bartlett, Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Angela Chang, Judy Heflin, and Rachel Paige Thompson, working collectively. Bad Quarto (my micropress) publishes the journal.
The call for issue #3 is posted. The deadline is February 18 (2019).
Taper #2 features 18 works by six a., Sebastian Bartlett, Kyle Booten, Angela Chang, Augusto Corvalan, Kavi Duvvoori, Esen Espinsa, Leonardo Flores, Judy Heflin, Chris Joseph, Vinicius Marquet, Stuart Moulthrop, Everest Pipkin, Mark Sample, and William Wu. Go take a look!
October 9, 2018
For two weeks only (today through October 23), my limited-edition computer-generated book, Hard West Turn, is available for reading in an installation at Time Farm, underneath the MIT Press Bookstore, 301 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA.
Hard West Turn is a computer-generated novel about gun violence in the United States. The copy exhibited is one of three artist’s proofs; only 13 copies (one for each of the original states) were made for sale. The generating program is free software, but the specific copy-edited text of this book has only been made available in print. Hard West Turn will be regenerated annually for limited-edition publication each July 4.
August 26, 2018
At the recent ELO conference in Montréal Leonardo Flores introduced the concept of “3rd Generation” electronic literature. I was at another session during his influential talk, but I heard about the concept from him beforehand and have read about it on Twitter (a 3rd generation context, I believe) and Flores’s blog (more of a 2nd generation context, I believe). One of the aspects of this concept is that the third generation of e-lit writers makes use of existing platforms (Twitter APIs, for instance) rather than developing their own interfaces. Blogging is a bit different from hand-rolled HTML, but one administers one’s own blog.
August 15, 2018
Thanks to host Joseph Mosconi, I read at the Poetics Research Bureau in Los Angeles from two recent computer-generated books. Sophia Le Fraga and Aaron Winslow read with me on this evening, on July 21.
I read from The Truelist (Counterpath, 2017). The Truelist is available as an offset-printed book from Counterpath, as a short, deterministic, free software program that generates the full text of the book, and as a free audiobook, thanks to the generosity of the University of Pennsylvania’s Kelly Writers House, its Wexler Studio, and PennSound.
July 26, 2018
The Platform Studies series from MIT Press is now about ten years old. The first book in the series, my & Ian Bogost’s Racing the Beam: The Atari Video Computer System, was published in 2009. (We also edit this series.) Before our book on the Atari VCS/Atari 2600 came out, we launched the site and announced the series, back at the end of 2006, and Ian and I were presenting about it at conferences the next year. So, although the exact birthday is uncertain, let’s say a (probably belated) happy 10th.
July 25, 2018
In 1984, a type-in program appeared in the French Hebdogiciel—no surprise there, since this weekly publication was all about type-in BASIC programs! This one, however, was not entirely unlike the games and mathematical recreations that typically appeared; it did, however, have an explicit link to a French 20th Century avant-garde movement, Surrealism. The program, by Philippe Henri, was for the TRS-80 and called “Cadavres Exquis.”
Ariane Savoire and I have translated this program to English (as “Exquisite Corpses”) are very pleased that the Vassar Review has just published the edition we have prepared, which includes:
July 1, 2018
David Byrne’s earworm takes a distant yet close perspective, describing a bullet’s fatal encounter with a human body. Did he know about Kaplan’s similar short, rapid, book-length poem? Byrne’s song sets its sights on an adult man, Kaplan’s poem on a child. The life of the child is hinted by describing what a warm maternal relationship is like, and by mentioning injuries from falling off a bunk bed and being hit by a baseball. We hear about the man’s life because of what the bullet cuts through: “Skin that women had touched,” “Many fine meals he tasted there,” “his heart with thoughts of you.” The general description is very effective. There are striking metaphors — positive associations — for the bullet itself, also. In Poem, it is a triumphant runner (such as Usain Bolt, who bears the name of a crossbow’s projectile) dragging gore from the body as if it were a trophy or banner. In “Bullet,” it is “Like an old grey dog / On a fox’s trail.” Perhaps America’s reliable old dog cannot be taught new tricks.
May 22, 2018
Taper is a DIY literary magazine that hosts very short computational literary works — in the first issue, sonic, visual, animated, and generated poetry that is no more than 1KB, excluding comments and the standard header that all pages share. In the second issue, this constraint will be relaxed to 2KB.
The first issue has nine poems by six authors, which were selected by an editorial collective of four. Here is how this work looked when showcased today at our exhibit in the Trope Tank:
February 6, 2018
I’m writing now from the middle of a four-city book tour which I’m on with Rafael Pérez y Pérez and Allison Parrish – we are the first three author/programmers to develop books (The Truelist, Mexica, and Articulations) in this Counterpath series, Using Electricity.
I’m taking the time now to post a link to video of a short reading that Allison and I did at the MLA Convention, from exactly a month ago. If you can’t join us at an upcoming reading (MIT Press Bookstore, 2018-02-06 6pm or Babycastles in NYC, 2018-02-07 7pm) and have 10 minutes, the video provides an introduction to two of the three projects.