June 7, 2020

“Peaceful Protesters” but no “Peaceful Police”

from Post Position
by @ 12:39 pm

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

Post Hoc, An Online Art Show

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by @ 5:57 pm

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

WordHack Book Table

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by @ 7:27 am

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

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by @ 10:26 am

“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.

They are linked not by the last line of one becoming the first line of the next, but by being generated from the same underlying code: A very short web page with a simple, embedded JavaScript program.

Because there are three options for each line, there are 314 = 4,782,969 possible sonnets.

March 23, 2020

Against “Epicenter”

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by @ 10:24 am

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

Sea and Spar Between 1.0.2

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by @ 8:33 pm

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

Sea and Spar Between 1.0.1

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by @ 1:12 pm

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

Nano-NaNoGenMo or #NNNGM

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by @ 4:47 pm

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

Gomringer’s Untitled Poem [“silencio”], an Unlikely Sonnet

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by @ 8:54 am

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

A Bit about Alphabit

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by @ 9:38 am

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

Taper #2 is Out

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by @ 10:52 pm

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

Hard West Turn at Time Farm

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by @ 12:04 pm

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.

Time Farm entrance

Hard West Turn awaiting a reader

Hard West Turn open to the title page

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

A Web Reply to the Post-Web Generation

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by @ 8:46 am

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

VIdeo of My PRB Reading

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by @ 6:03 am

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 have now posted 360 video of my readings of both The Truelist and Hard West Turn.

Montfort’s Poetic Research Bureau reading of July 21, 2018

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

Platform Studies at 10

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by @ 5:13 pm

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

Exquisite Corpses are Now on Display

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by @ 3:18 pm

"Some red pendulums will quickly consume the grim president ..."

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

“Bullet” and Poem without Suffering

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by @ 11:51 am
A bullet
Discussed in this review: “Bullet,” David Byrne, American Utopia, Nonesuch, 2018; Poem without Suffering, Josef Kaplan, Wonder Books, 2015

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

Concise Computational Literature is Now Online in Taper

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by @ 7:55 pm

I’m pleased to announce the release of the first issue of Taper, along with the call for works for issue #2.

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

Using Electricity readings, with video of one

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by @ 1:34 pm

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.

January 30, 2018

Author Function

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by @ 3:15 pm

The exhibit Author Function, featuring computer-generated literary art in print, is now up in MIT’s Rotch Library (77 Mass Ave, Building 7, 2nd Floor) and in my lab/studio, The Trope Tank (Room 14N-233, in building 14, the same building that houses the Hayden Library). Please contact me by email if you are interested in seeing the materials in the Trope Tank, as this part of the exhibit is accessible by appointment only.

There are three events associated with the exhibit happening in Cambridge, Mass:

February 7, 6pm-7pm, a reading and signing at the MIT Press bookstore. Nick Montfort, Rafael Pérez y Pérez, and Allison Parrish.

October 7, 2017

Sentaniz Nimerik, E-Lit in Haitian Creole

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by @ 9:45 pm

A week ago, on October 2, we put Sentaniz Nimerik online. This is an electronic literature work, an example of digital storytelling and digital poetry, that is by Sixto & BIC and was facilitated by Michel DeGraff & Nick Montfort. It is in Haitian Creole — Kreyòl, as the language is called in the language itself. This language has a community of about 12 million speakers worldwide and is the language shared by everyone in Haiti. It is not the same as Haitian French or mutually intelligible with Haitian French (or any other kind of French).

August 15, 2017

The Gathering Cloud

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by @ 1:41 pm
The Gathering Cloud, J. R. Carpenter, 2017

The Gathering Cloud, J. R. Carpenter, 2017. (I was given a review copy of this book.)

August 14, 2017

C-Creativity, my talk at the KDD workshop on ML and Creativity

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by @ 8:00 am

Here are my slides from “C-Creativity: Cultural Creativity or, Why is there no middle C?,” the talk I just gave in Halifax. There are no text notes, and they don’t represent what I said very closely, but if they remind people who were there of my comments, that’s great. And if they provoke any questions, feel free to get in touch on the blog or by email.

June 22, 2017

“Renderings” article now online

from Post Position
by @ 8:24 pm

“Renderings: Translating literary works in the digital age” by Piotr Marecki & Nick Montfort has been published, and is available online.

June 10, 2017

My @party Talk on Computer-Generated Books

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by @ 12:46 pm

I just gave a talk at the local demoparty, @party. While I haven’t written out notes and it wasn’t recorded, here are the slides. The talk was “Book Productions: The Latest in Computer-Generated Literary Art,” and included some discussion of how computer-generated literary books related to demoscene productions.

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