This bag of sharp singing

I’m happy that my poems co-written with torch-rnn continue to find good homes.

I’m particularly pleased that Ashley Hudson, the editor of Palaver, interviewed me and published some of the torch-rnn poems in the Spring 2018 issue (pages 45-58).  I got the chance to say smart-sounding things, including attempting to form and name a burgeoning artistic movement:

I’ve been thinking about where this project sits in a larger artistic context. There are elements of surrealism, of course, and also Language poetry. But if I can be like torch-rnn for a moment and neologize, I’ve recently settled on cyberimpressionism. Much like Monet or Debussy, these poems present a gauzy, filtered view of the subject rather than a clear, structured portrait. Yet I still find the poems can set a clear mood and be moving. It seems like the current state of many artificial intelligence projects are cyberimpressionistic, such as the bizarre images from Deep Dream, originally created by Google, to all sorts of odd musical compositions to the variety of robots—programs as well as physical machines—created by researchers that are designed to speak in natural language but can be easily manipulated into bizarre behavior by real people. Programmers have built programs that try to convince us they are human, and they always fail. That tension—between a human response and an almost-human one—is where cyberimpressionism as an art can flourish.

Joining the cyberimpressionism school are a few other forward-thinking magazines, including Ghost Proposal, which published three of my poems, and Clementine Unbound, which did the same:

Five further poems appear at Zany Zygote ReviewAs ever, I’m grateful to all of the editors who are interested in publishing computer-collaborated work.

Advertisements

IFComp and The Unofficial Sea-Monkey(R) Simulation

ASCII5

The twenty-third annual Interactive Fiction Competition, IFComp, is now open!  This year, I’ve entered The Unofficial Sea-Monkey(R) SimulationIn some ways, it’s a period piece, akin to some forgotten DOS game from the late ’80s.  The official blurb is:

Sometime during 1987, your father comes home from work–late, as usual. He tosses a small box onto the kitchen counter. “Here,” he says, “you wanted fish. You get these. Let’s see how you do first, and then maybe we’ll get a real tank.”

However, I did toy with a shorter blurb before ultimately deciding it was a bit too cheeky:

A story about growing up, as mitigated by brine shrimp.

There are eighty entries this year–by far the most ever.  There are a lot of great-looking games out there, and I’ve had the pleasure of beta-testing one of them.

Head on over to the main website and peruse the continuing renaissance in interactive fiction.  Anyone can serve as a judge in the competition.  You just need to play and consider five games in earnest before rating them.

I, for one, welcome our compupoet overlords

Recently, I’ve expanded my exploration of computer-generated art from visual art (see The Art of the Bot) into my home domain of poetry.  This summer, I’ve been working with neural networks to rewrite many of the poems I’ve written over the past twenty years.  So far, I’m fortunate to have some lit mags interested in this kind of experimentation.  I was particularly fortunate to work with Empty State, which published five such poems written this way along with an essay exploring the writing process and whether or not poems (mostly) written by a computer can have meaning.

Eunoia Review published “ritual”, another computer-collaborated poem, and next year Palaver will be publishing another five poems along with an interview.

Kitschy title for this post aside, it’s been a very strange way to consider poetry.  Even though I’ve really enjoyed the creation of the poems, I still don’t know how I feel about the project–if it’s artistically innovative or barren.  But working with a computer, so far, has been a fascinating exercise in liberation from the tyranny of grammar, mechanics, and sometimes even sense.

 

ArtyBots

In my spare time, I’ve been building Twitter bots that create art.  It’s been a fun and interesting project, and I’ve created a separate, detailed post about them that muses on the intersection of art and computers.  Check out the art I couldn’t make, but my programs could!