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.
July 1, 2018
April 21, 2017
SALON 256 is a forum for presentation and discussion of very small creative computer programs. Such programs have featured in digital art and poetry, electronic literature, computer music, and the demoscene.
YOU are invited to present a tiny program of yours:
Monday May 1 . 5pm-7pm . MIT’s 14E-304
Presenters already confirmed:
- Mike “Dr.Claw” Piantedosi
- Angela Chang
- Sofian Audry
- Nick Montfort
Programs in an interpreted language are fine, as long as the code is 256 bytes or less; compiled programs with an executable file of 256b or less are fine, too.
June 14, 2014
codewiz and I (nom de nom) showed a wild demo at @party yesterday (June 14) at MIT.
The concept is based on one-line C programs to generate music, the earliest of which were by viznut. I (nom de nom) wrote a C expression in this style to generate a waveform that could be output as sound but
also consisted of all printable ASCII characters. The source is about 1kb, without much effort at compression. And the sound, in addition to driving speakers, can be (and was) connected to a Tesla coil.
March 22, 2014
Acting on a tip from The Kelly Writers House at my alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, I recently learned about, and then read, Alan Light’s book The Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah.” This intrigued me as an admirer of this song in particular, Leonard Cohen’s songwriting and singing generally, and other aspects of his literary art (particularly the incredible novel Beautiful Losers). It also appealed to me as an entire book written about a single, short work. In this case, the work isn’t a Commodore 64 BASIC program – as in the book collaborators and I wrote, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1));: GOTO 10 – but a popular song with many lines and many covers, one that has been used in a wide variety of contexts.
March 4, 2014
After just listening to numerous covers of Main Titles from Blade Runner by Vangelis, I just got word that “Machine Fantasies: A Workshop on Music Technologies – Past, Present, and Future” is happening April 4-5, 2014 here in town, at the Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center of Tufts University.
February 27, 2014
Or at least inspires a song and video…
The musical group Bedford Level Experiment writes of their song “Confounded to Corruption” and of the video for it:
We’ve been reading the book 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10 and became very inspired by the section on procedurally generated art. All the footage in this video was generated by Commodore 64 programs written by us, including a 6502 assembly version of 10 PRINT. The lyrics were also generated algorithmically; Sonnet 64 and some commentary on it from Wikipedia were fed into an old Amiga program called NIALL, and the output was edited together into something resembling lyrics. The corruption the sonnet underwent became the theme of the song and video.
December 3, 2013
A single-loading VIC-20 demo (3583 bytes) presented on November 30, 2013 at Récursion in Montréal. By Nick Montfort, Michael C. Martin, and Patsy Baudoin (nom de nom, mcmartin, baud 1). This video is of the demo running in the Trope Tank at MIT on December 3, 2013.
Tagged on YouTube as Commodore VIC-20, Samuel Beckett, Electronic Literature, Computer (Musical Instrument), and Demoscene. See also the fuller story about Nanowatt with links to executable code.
November 30, 2013
You can download it and run it using a VIC-20 emulator (or, of course, an actual VIC-20). I run it in VICE on my Ubuntu system by typing “xvic nw” from the directory that contains the “nw” file. If it’s more convenient, you can also download a d64 disk image with Nanowatt on it and load “nw” from there.
It produces 8 KB of English text quoted exactly from Samuel Beckett’s second novel, Watt.
May 8, 2013
This week is the Digital Arts Exhibition at Dartmouth! All week long FAB(rication) Lab has been going on in the Hopkins center with students and visitors learning about programming, animation, and many other subjects that combine art and technology!
Tomorrow (Thursday, May 9th) from 7pm to 10pm in the Black Family Visual Arts Center will be the Digital Arts Exhibition with interactive installations, games to play, and student artwork! There will be food from Salt Hill Pub. There will be a student animation showing at 7:30pm and student live action showing at 9:00pm.
September 6, 2012
Lady Gaga is the larval stage of Yo-Landi Vi$$er. The previous, embryonic stage: Katy Perry.
July 27, 2012
It’s not bigger and longer than Star Wars, but it is more uncut: “Death of the Author [Psycho Shower Scene RECON]“ by Dick Whyte. This, somewhat like the later famous Star Wars video, is a “reconstruction of Alfred Hitchcock’s famous shower scene from Psycho using amateur YouTube remakes.” 57 of them.
If you got that and you’re ready to increase the avant-garde, see also “John Cage – 4’33″ [May ’68 Comeback Special RECON]“ and “Andy Warhols Eat A Hamburger [38 Scenes From YouTube RECON].” All from 2010, but recalled here for your enjoyment.
March 26, 2012
The organizer of the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction, Kevin Jackson-Mead, has organized and co-written a tribute to the 1992 They Might Be Giants Album, Apollo 18. At the PR-IF site, you can play and download 38 short games corresponding to every song (including the “Fingertips” songs) on the album. With its retro cachet, it may be today’s version of Dial-a-Song:
February 23, 2012
We talked about digital sound as well as some poetic and visual art matters on a panel on Feb 15 here at MIT with David Cossin, Ben Hogue, yours truly (Nick Montfort), Evan Ziporyn, and Joe Paradiso … backed for a while by ppg256-3:
February 8, 2012
Yo dawg, I hear you like blog posts. So I put a link to a blog post in your blog post. The link goes to my “Curator’s Note” on In Media Res about very short programs to generate music, in which I also mention how poorly suited prevalent Web systems are for transmitting and discussing code.
October 9, 2011
A group of sonic and code explorers has been discovering excellent super-short C programs that, piped to an 8-bit audio device, generate music. Here’s the first video and a second video with sounds and code.
Here’s the code for one example, “Lost in Space,” from video #2:
If you are also a righteous Ubuntu user, you can paste that into a file (let’s call it “lost_in_space.c”) and compile it with:
% gcc lost_in_space.c -o lost_in_space
Then, pipe it (or pretend to pipe it, using padsp, since recent versions of Ubuntu don’t have /dev/dsp) to your audio device using:
March 20, 2011
Death and the Powers had a brilliant and resonant U.S. premiere on Friday at the Cutler Majestic in Boston. I’ve been looking forward to the opera’s completion, and then to its coming to the U.S., for several years. My mentor from the B.U. poetry program, Robert Pinsky, wrote the libretto, and my current colleague Tod Machover composed the opera. Congratulations to all those who put this production together, including Tod’s Opera of the Future group at the Media Lab. Death and the Powers is technically intricate and thematically ambitious, and all of that came together perfectly. (Image source.)
September 8, 2009
First, if you haven’t heard about it, come tomorrow (9-9-09), The Beatles: Rock Band is released. In preparation for its receptions, the game has instigated a lively inter-generational debate. The lines are not so clearly drawn as to which communities or generations rest on which side, which makes it quite a unique situation.
July 20, 2009
There are 3 takeaways I hope to convey in this post. First, I’d like to share what it was like to be there Saturday night in the symphony hall. Secondly, I want to describe what I thought about my second time at an FF concert (my first is described here). Most importantly, I want to discuss a bit about the significance and meaning of such an event. I believe that there is great meaning evident in the type of response that a video game event, such as this one, creates. Unlike what is often described of video games in the media, this is not just an exploitation of fanaticism, rather, it is a celebration of the deeply meaningful presence Final Fantasy has had. I cannot think of a better example to show that video games, rich and full of meaning, are about more than “just playing a game.”
July 18, 2009
Cybraphon is a project from Edinburgh-based artist collective FOUND (Ziggy Campbell, Simon Kirby and Tommy Perman). Inspired by early 19th century mechanical bands such as the nickelodeon, Cybraphon is an interactive version of a mechanical band in a box. Consisting of a series of robotic instruments housed in a large display case, Cybraphon behaves like a real band. Image conscious and emotional, the band’s performance is affected by online community opinion as it searches the web for reviews and comments about itself 24 hours a day.
July 2, 2009
The First International Conference on Computational Creativity will be taking place in Portugal on January 7-9 2010. ICCC-X will follow on a decade of smaller-scale workshops and symposia. The call for papers lists the deadline of September 21 for papers, and promises:
The conference will include traditional paper presentations, will showcase the application of computational creativity to the sciences, creative industries and arts, and will incorporate a “show and tell” session, which will be devoted to demonstrations of computational systems exhibiting behaviour which would be deemed creative in humans.