@Party 2015 Productions

Sunday 21 June 2015, 6:38 pm   ////////  

I had five productions (one of them a collaboration) this time around at @Party, the Boston-area demoparty.

Browser demo: “More Tongue.” This was, well, not really a standard demo, even for a browser demo, that generates nonsense poems with compact code. Like everything at demoparties, it’s been released, but I’m going to work on a post-party version, so I’m leaving the party version out of this list.

Wild: “Shortcat.”

Shortcat is a very simple encoding scheme to make bytes (thus computer programs) into pleasing Unicode tweets, IMs, etc. #demoscene

Encoder: cat x.prg | perl -pe 'binmode STDOUT,":utf8";tr/\x00-\xff/\x{2500}-\x{25ff}/;' > x.txt #demoscene

Decoder: cat x.txt | perl -pe 's/[\x00-\x7f]//g;s/\xe2(.)(.)[^\xe2]*/chr((ord($1)-148)*64+ord($2)-128)/eg;' > x.prg #demoscene

To decode, copy the Shortcat string to a new text file, save it, decode. ASCII (incl. spaces & newlines) will be ignored #demoscene

When decoding, don’t include other Unicode besides the Shortcat string in your selection #demoscene

Add a hashtag (e.g., #c64) and/or other info (e.g., SYS4096) to help people run the program. That’s it. Nanointros everywhere! #demoscene

Check this Tweet for an example.

Executable music: “Dial Up” by devourant & nom de nom.


Play it in an HTML5 player.

Intro: “Chronon,” a 32-byte Commodore 64 program.

PRG file. Source.

PET Code

Demo: “PET Code,” a 128-byte Commodore 64 program that is a demake of Jörg Piringer’s “Unicode.”

PRG file, demo version (runs once & ends). PRG file, looping version. Source.

Thanks to Metoikos, Dr. Claw, Luis, and other organizers and volunteers for putting this year’s party on – and to Boston Cyberarts and the sponsors of the event.

My Five-Part Interruption

Sunday 15 March 2015, 3:23 pm   /////  

My both systematic and breezy presentation at Interrupt 3, phrased in the form of an interruption, began with a consideration of electronic literature’s “ends” and digital poetry’s “feet.” During the beginning of my presentation I played “Hexes,” a digital poem I wrote a few minutes before the session began. I went on to read every permuation of the phrase “SERVICE MY INTERRUPT FUCKFLOWERS,” using a technique famously employed by Brion Gysin on a text that includes a memorable compound word by Caroline Bergvall. I continued to read some hypothetical captions from “Feminist Ryan Gosling” image macros about Donna Haraway. I then read from “Use of Dust,” a new work that is an erasure of Alison Knowles and Janes Tenney’s “A House of Dust.” I concluded with this text:

Organize a fake interruption. Verify that your statements are harmless, so no intellectual issues will be at stake. Make it so that the operation creates as much commotion as possible — in short, remain close to the “truth,” in order to test the reaction of the apparatus to a perfect simulacrum. You won’t be able to do it: the network of artificial signs will become inextricably mixed up with real elements (a cell phone will really ring; a fire alarm will malfunction and sound; a person in the audience will actually take you seriously), in short, you will immediately find yourself once again, without wishing it, in the real, one of whose functions is precisely to devour any attempt at simulation.

My Reading from #! at Google

Thursday 11 December 2014, 4:15 pm   /////  

Video of my #! reading, which I did at Google Boston on December 2, is now online.

I actually forgot to present a few things. I’d wanted to at least show something from both Memory Slam and Renderings. Ah, well.

#! Coverage at MIT – Next Reading at Google

Saturday 29 November 2014, 10:56 pm   /////  

Arts at MIT has a nice new article about my book #!, one that is very aptly titled. It’s by Sharon Lacey. I read from the book at the List Visual Arts Center at MIT on October 22.

My next reading, on December 2, will be at Google in the Authors@Google series.

Interactive Fiction Meetup at MIT, Again, Tomorrow

Sunday 23 November 2014, 2:27 pm   ///////  

The People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction meets once again tomorrow (Monday 2014-11-24) in its regular meeting-place, the Trope Tank. We meet at 6:30 in MIT’s room 14N-233.

There is much to discuss and celebrate, such as the conclusion of the IF Comp – congrats to Sean M. Shore for his 1st place game Hunger Daemon, and to all the other winners. Besides that there’s the recent release of Hadean Lands by PR-IF stalwart Andew Plotkin. And, today there’s a front-page New York Times article about IF, and Twine games specifically. I’m sure I forgot some things we have to celebrate, so come by to see what those things are.

#! in San Antonio Fri 11/21 – #! in Austin Sat 11/22

Wednesday 19 November 2014, 2:58 pm   ///////  

I’m doing two Central Texas readings from my book of programs and poems #! this weekend:

San Antonio: The Twig Book Shop

Friday, Nov 21 at 5pm
The Twig Book Shop
in The Pearl (306 Pearl Parkway, Suite 106)

Austin: Monkeywrench Books

Saturday, Nov 22 at 4pm
Monkeywrench Books
(110 N Loop Blvd E)

#! (pronounced “shebang”) consists of poetic texts that are presented alongside the short computer programs that generated them. The poems, in new and existing forms, are inquiries into the features that make poetry recognizable as such, into code and computation, into ellipsis, and into the alphabet. Computer-generated poems have been composed by Brion Gysin and Ian Sommerville, Alison Knowles and James Tenney, Hugh Kenner and Joseph P. O’Rourke, Charles O. Hartman, and others. The works in #! engage with this tradition of more than 50 years and with constrained and conceptual writing. The book’s source code is also offered as free software. All of the text-generating code is presented so that it, too, can be read; it is all also made freely available for use in anyone’s future poetic projects.

Nick Montfort’s digital writing projects include Sea and Spar Between (with Stephanie Strickland) and The Deletionist (with Amaranth Borsuk and Jesper Juul). He developed the interactive fiction system Curveship and (with international collaborators) the large-scale story generation system Slant; was part of the group blog Grand Text Auto; wrote Ream, a 500-page poem, on a single day; organized Mystery House Taken Over, a collaborative “occupation” of a classic game; wrote Implementation, a novel on stickers, with Scott Rettberg; and wrote and programmed the interactive fictions Winchester’s Nightmare, Ad Verbum, and Book and Volume.

Montfort wrote the book of poems Riddle & Bind and co-wrote 2002: A Palindrome Story with Willliam Gillespie. The MIT Press has published four of Montfort’s collaborative and individually-authored books: The New Media Reader, Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam, and most recently 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, a collaboration with nine other authors that Montfort organized. He is faculty advisor for the Electronic Literature Organization, whose Electronic Literature Collection Volume 1 he co-edited, and is associate professor of digital media at MIT.


ATNE Salon Today in Boston: Reditions of Artworks

Wednesday 19 November 2014, 2:47 pm   ////////  

Today I’ll offer a discussion of porting and translation in computational art and literature at the ATNE Salon, Boston Cyberarts Gallery. The event’s at 7:30pm; the gallery is in the Green Street T Station, on the Orange Line in Jamaica Plain.

Memory Slam and Code Poetry at ITP

Saturday 15 November 2014, 3:12 am   /////  

I was delighted to be at the first NYU ITP Code Poetry Slam a few hours ago, on the evening of November 14, 2014. The work presented was quite various and also very compelling. Although I had an idea of what was to come (as a judge who had seen many of the entires) the performances and readings exceeded my high expectations.

A reading I did from historical computational poetry kicked off the event. I read from a new set of reimplementations, in JavaScript and Python, that I developed for the occasion. The set of four pages/Python programs is called Memory Slam. It contains:

Love Letters
Christopher Strachey, 1952

Stochastic Texts
Theo Lutz, 1959

Permutation Poems
Brion Gysin & Ian Somerville, 1960

A House of Dust
Alison Knowles & James Tenney, 1967

These are well-known pieces, at least among the few of us who are into early computational poetry. (Chris Funkhouser and his Prehistorical Digital Poetry is one reason we know these and their importance; Noah Wardrip-Fruin has also offered a great discussion of Love Letters, and Stephanie Strickland, who was in attendance at the slam, has done two collaborative poems based on A House of Dust, one with me and one with Ian Hatcher.) Some implementations exist already of many, perhaps all of them – although I did not find one for A House of Dust. My point in putting these together was not to do something unprecedented, but to provide reasonably clean, easily modifiable versions in two of today’s well-known languages. This will hopefully allow people, even without programming background, to learn about these programs through playing with them.

If I didn’t implement everything perfectly, these are explicitly free software and you should feel free to not only play with them but to improve them as well.

#! Reading at MIT, Wednesday, 6:30pm

Friday 17 October 2014, 5:24 pm   ///////  

Nick Montfort presents #! in the atrium of MIT’s building E15, just steps from the Kendall T stop. It’s October 22, Wednesday, at 6:30pm, and thanks to the List Visual Arts Center. The book is Montfort’s new one from Counterpath Press, consisting of programs and poems. Please, come join me!

E15 Atrium

More Human at Cyberarts

Thursday 25 September 2014, 10:29 am   //////  

Here are some photos from the opening of the show More Human at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery on September 12.

The site for the show also features a PDF of the catalog [2.5 MB].

My piece in the show is From the Tables of My Memorie. I read a bit from the piece last night, when I spoke at Boston Cyberarts with several other artists about our work and the theme of the show.

I’ll be speaking at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery again on November 19, this time about ports and translations in computational art – the topic of my Renderings project. That event is at 7:30pm. The gallery is in the Green St T Station on the Orange Line.

Code Poetry Slam in NYC Seeks Entries

Monday 22 September 2014, 7:10 pm   ///////  

ITP (the Interactive Telecommunications Program) at NYU is having a Code Poetry Slam on November 14. And they are seeking entries now! Send them along no later than November 7.

Shakepeare, coding away

ELO 2015 in Bergen: Call for Participation

Friday 19 September 2014, 12:37 am   ////  

Call for Participation


The 2015 Electronic Literature Organization conference and festival will take place August 5-7th 2015. The conference will be hosted by the Bergen Electronic Literature research group at the University of Bergen, Norway with sessions at venues including the University of Bergen, Det Akademiske Kvarteret, the Bergen Public Library, the University of Bergen Arts library, and local arts venues. Bergen is Norway’s second-largest city, known as the gateway to the fjords, a festival city and cultural center with a lively and innovative arts scene.


The deadline for submissions of research, workshop, and arts proposals is December 15, 2014.


The theme of the 2015 Electronic Literature Organization conference and festival is “The End(s) of Electronic Literature.” This theme plays on several different meanings of “ends.” Topics the conference papers and works will explore include:

Is “electronic literature” a transitional term that will become obsolete as literary uses of computational media and devices become ubiquitous? If so, what comes after electronic literature?

We can also question in what sense electronic literature and digital writing practices are a means to an end. If so, what are the ends of electronic literature? What political, ideological, aesthetic, and commercial ends or purposes do works of electronic literature serve?

In recent years, projects such as the ELMCIP Electronic Literature Knowledge Base have sought to highlight the work of scholars and artists who have worked outside of the mainstream of electronic literature as it has developed as a field, for instance developing research collections based on Russian and Brazilian electronic literature. This conference will seek to shed further light on international communities and practices in electronic literature that have not been widely addressed in the critical literature of the field, those that are located at the “ends” or margins of critical discourse in the field.

Electronic literature is situated as an intermedial field of practice, between literature, computation, visual and performance art. The conference will seek to develop a better understanding of electronic literature’s boundaries and relations with other academic disciplines and artistic practices.

As a laboratory for future literary forms, the field of electronic literature must count the youngest readers among its most significant group of end-users. One strand of this conference will focus specifically on digital reading experiences made for children.


For the conference research program we welcome contributions that address the conference themes. Most proposals will likely describe a scholarly presentation suitable for delivery in about 20 minutes, with time for questions. However we also welcome propsals for other forms of talks. At the time of proposal submission, authors will asked identify one of following presentation formats:

Paper (20 minute presentation): a presentation of a single by one or more paper by one or more authors (500 word abstract)

Panel (75 minutes): a proposal for a complete panel including separate papers on the same general topic (250 word overview plus 3-4 500 word abstracts).

Roundtable (1 hour): a group presentation of a particular topic emphasizing free-flowing discussion and audience interaction (500 word abstract).

Lightning talk (5 minutes): a short paper for a session focused on the question “What comes after electronic literature?” (250 word abstract).

Proposers must attend the conference. Speakers may not present in more than two sessions.

Presentations may include elements of demonstration or performance, as part of a discussion that goes beyond the work itself. With this stipulation, proposers are welcome to address their own work.

Submissions for the research program will be accepted from September 15th-December 15th, 2014 on Easychair: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=elo2015

Proposals will be peer-reviewed by the Research Program Committee. Papers will be accepted on the basis of abstracts. Although we will not require, we will encourage authors of papers accepted for the conference to make full-text versions of their papers available on the conference site prior to the conference. Authors of selected full paper submissions may be invited to contribute to a book or special issue of a journal to be published shortly after the conference. This publication opportunity will not be available to authors who do not upload their full-text papers.


We welcome proposals for pre-conference workshops to take place on Tuesday, August 4th at the University of Bergen.

Workshop sessions are focused on hands-on group work on a given project. For instance, working with a particular platform to learn how to use it to create works of e-lit, documenting work in a given database, sharing pedagogical models, curating electronic literature, etc. Workshops sessions are generally half-day (3 hour) or full-day (6 hour) sessions. Proposals will be reviewed by the Workshop Program Committee and selected on the basis of their value to the e-lit community and available facilities to accommodate them.

Submissions for the workshop program will be accepted from September 15th-December 15th, 2014 on Easychair: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=elo2015


The Arts Program provides an occasion for juried review, and extended display, performance, and presentation, of original works.

The Committee especially welcomes submissions from artists who are new to electronic literature or who are in the beginning stages of their e-literary artistic production.

The Arts program will feature several exhibitions and a performance program that coheres with the conference themes. Submissions are being accepted for the following parts of the exhibition and performance program:

Hybridity and Synesthesia: Beyond Peripheries of Form and Consciousness This aspect of the program will emphasize works, particularly installations, that push at the edges of literature and other forms, and that appeal to other aspects of the sensorium than those we typically associate with reading. Works for example that involve haptic sensation, touch-based interactivity, innovative audio elements, interactive images, or locative technologies.

Interventions: Engaging the Body Politic This exhibition will feature works that engage with contemporary cultural discourse and political reality, challenging audiences to consider digital artifacts and practices that reflect and intervene in matters of the environment, social justice, and our relation to the habitus.

Decentering: Global Electronic Literature While there are strong centers of activity in electronic literature in North America and Western Europe, innovations in digital textuality are also taking place in Eastern Europe and in the Southern hemisphere. This exhibition will focus on these lesser-known phenomena.

Kid-E-Lit: Digital Narratives for the Young The first generation of digital natives is finding a plethora of apps and interactive digital narratives made for their iPads and computers, perhaps learning how to think in a new digital vernacular. This exhibition will focus on innovations in digital reading experiences for children.

Screening Room: E-Lit Film Festival The first ELO film festival will feature films that have been produced recently about electronic literature and related practices, and will also include screenings of types of digital literature that benefit from sustained watching, such as poetry generators and kinetic poetry.

End(s) of Electronic Literature Performances and Readings This aspect of the program will feature live readings and performances of works of electronic literature. Authors are encouraged to think broadly about modes of performance, ranging from traditional readings to more theatrical styles of presentation, and to consider opportunities for site-specific interventions in public space.

Submissions for above parts of the Arts program will be accepted from September 15th-December 15th on Easychair: https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=elo2015

ELC3 Preview Exhibition

Volume 1 (2006) and Volume 2 (2011) of the Electronic Literature Collection have been influential anthologies that helped shape the field. Volume 3 (2016) is now open for submissions. This exhibition will feature selected works from the latest instantiation of this important publication. The editors of ELC3 will curate this selection. To submit work for the ELC3, see: http://eliterature.org/2014/08/announcing-the-elc3 (ELC3 submission deadline Nov. 5, 2014)

Selections will be made via a two-step jury review process. Members of the arts program committee will first review submissions, and then curators for each track of the program will select works from among those ranked most positively by the committee. Final selections will depend on available resources and constraints of individual venues.

See Submission Guidelines for further details.


Conference Chair: Scott Rettberg Research Program Chair: Jill Walker Rettberg Arts Program Chair: Roderick Coover Research Program Committee: Espen Aarseth, Daniel Apollon, Sandy Baldwin, Laura Borras Castanyer, Yra van Dijk, Maria Engberg, Nina Goga, Dene Grigar, Davin Heckman, Raine Koskimaa, Nick Montfort, Søren Pold, Øyvind Prytz, Hans Kristian Rustad, Jessica Pressman, Eric Dean Rasmussen, Scott Rettberg, Alexandra Saemmer, and Joseph Tabbi. Workshop Program Committee: Deena Larsen, Marjorie C. Luesebrink, and Patricia Tomaszek. Arts Program Committee: Simon Biggs, Philippe Bootz, Serge Bouchardon, Kathi Inman Berens, JR Carpenter, Mark Daniels, Anne Marthe Dyvi, Natalia Fedorova, Leonardo Flores, Chris Funkhouser, Dene Grigar, Claudia Kozak, Talan Memmott, Maria Mencia, Judd Morrissey, Scott Rettberg, Stephanie Strickland, Rui Torres, Michelle Teran, and Jeremy Welsh.


If you know of friends, colleagues, or organizations not aware of ELO or this conference, please feel free to circulate this Call. A PDF version is available.

This Thursday! In Stereo!

Monday 15 September 2014, 11:52 pm   ///////  

I will be reading from and discussing three recent books this Thursday at 7pm the Harvard Book Store here in sunny Cambridge, Massachusetts. These are:

Counterpath Press, Denver
a book of programs & poems (pronounced “shebang”)

World Clock
Bad Quarto, Cambridge
a computer-generated novel

10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10
MIT Press, Cambridge
a collaboration with nine others that I organized, now out in paperback

These all express how programming can be used for poetic purposes, and how new aesthetic possibilities can arise with the help of computing. Also, some portions of these (which I’ll read from) are quite pleasing to read aloud and to hear.

I would love it if you are able to join me on Thursday.

My Boston-Area Events This Fall

Friday 12 September 2014, 3:19 pm   //////////  

Yes, the first event is today, the date of this post…

September 12, Friday, 6pm-8pm

Boston Cyberarts Gallery, 141 Green Street, Jamaica Plain, MA
“Collision21: More Human” exhibit opens – it’s up through October 26.
“From the Tables of My Memorie” by Montfort, an interactive video installation, is included.

September 18, Thursday, 7pm-8pm

Harvard Book Store, 1256 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA
Montfort reads from #!, World Clock, and the new paperback 10 PRINT

September 24, Wednesday, 7:30pm

Boston Cyberarts Gallery, 141 Green Street, Jamaica Plain, MA
Montfort joins a panel of artists in “Collision21: More Human” for this Art Technology New England discussion.

October 22, Wednesday, 6:30pm-7:30pm

The Atrium of MIT’s Building E15 (“Old Media Lab”/Wiesner Building)
Montfort reads from #! at the List Visual Arts Center

November 15, Saturday, 9am-3pm

MIT (specific location TBA)
Urban Poetry Lateral Studio, a master class by Montfort for MIT’s SA+P

December 4, Thursday, 5pm-7pm

MIT’s 66-110
“Making Computing Strange,” a forum with:
  Lev Manovich (Software Takes Command, The Language of New Media)
  Fox Harrell (Phantasmal Media)
  moderated by Nick Montfort
The forum will examine the ways in which computational models can be used in cultural contexts for everything from analyzing media to imagining new ways to represent ourselves.

More Human to Open September 12

Tuesday 9 September 2014, 12:54 am   ////////  

An upcoming exhibit, a group show here in town, features a work of mine…

Collision21: More Human

The exhibition Collision21: More Human will be at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery September 13-October 26, 2014, with an opening on Friday, September 12th from 6 to 9pm. This is a group show dealing with two closely-related concepts: human self-modification and the human modification of our environment. Formed by artists and technologists, the COLLISIONcollective is premised on the sometimes abrupt intersection between art and technology.   

Art Technology New England (ATNE) will be hosting a salon which will feature COLLISIONcollective artists from this exhibition discussing their works and the show. The salon will be held on Wednesday, September 24th at 7:30pm at the Boston Cyberarts Gallery. The gallery is located at 141 Green Street in Jamaica Plain (inside the Green St T Station on the Orange Line). The salon is free, but please register for it by emailing info@atne.org.

Artists Include

Matt Brand, Ben Bray, Alicia Eggert, Joseph Farbrook, Antony Flackett, Rob Gonsalves, Hwayong Jung, Gloria King Merritt, Georgina Lewis, Robin Lohrey, Mark Millstein, Nick Montfort, Andrew Neumann, Sarah Rushford, Fito Segrera, John Slepian, Sophia Sobers

My piece in the show is “From the Tables of My Memorie,” documented at nickm.com. It’s an interactive video installation.

Call for “Textual Machines” Papers

Thursday 4 September 2014, 12:13 am   ///////  

Here’s a conference coming up in April, with a January 1 deadline:

International Symposium

“Textual Machines”

April 18, 2015

The University of Georgia

Athens, GA

Keynote speakers

  • Janet MURRAY, Professor at the School of Literature, Media and Communication at the Georgia Institute of Technology and interaction designer.

  • Serge BOUCHARDON, Professor at the University of Technology of Compiegne and author of interactive fictions.

Themes and topics

“Textual Machines” is an international symposium exploring literary objects that produce texts through the material interaction with mechanical devices or procedures. We define “textual machines” as a perspective on literature and book objects where text is “a mechanical device for the production and consumption of verbal signs” (Espen J. Aarseth). From the symposium’s perspective, textual machines are not limited to a specific media or epoch, and include literary objects ranging from early modern movable books, to modern pop-up books, artist’s books, game books, concrete poetry, combinatory literature, electronic literature and interactive fictions. A distinctive feature of textual machines is that they invite readers to traverse text through the non-trivial manipulation of mechanistic devices or procedures: by navigating through hyperlinks, footnotes, marginalia or other semiotic cues, or by answering to configurational, exploratory or writing prompts.

Possible areas of inquiry include, but are not limited to:  

  • Reading textual machines. What common reading functions are shared by textual machines? How do readers navigate, maneuver, explore, configure, probe, play or collate textual machines and their outcomes? What theoretical concepts and analytical tools are best suited to describe the textuality of such objects? How can readings of such objects be recorded, shared, visualized and taught?

  • Situating textual machines. Beyond the cultural split between analog and digital media, how do the mechanics and affordances of textual machines relate to one another? What communities of readers and authors produce and perform textual machines?

  • Preserving textual machines. What can media archaeology labs, museums and rare book collections learn from one another in the process of preserving, curating and making textual machines accessible?

The Symposium “Textual Machines” will take place on April 18, 2015 at the Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library at the University of Georgia, Athens, Ga. In parallel to the symposium, the Main Library of the University of Georgia will be hosting the “Textual Machines” exhibit, featuring works of electronic literature from the Digital Arts Library and rare books from the Hargrett Hargrett Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Selection Process

Proposals are expected by January 1, 2015. They must be sent as an abstract of 800 – 1,000 words (excluding bibliography). Each proposal must indicate the author’s full name, status and institutional affiliation. Proposals should be sent to baille@uga.edu.

Thoughts from INT7, Day One

Tuesday 17 June 2014, 5:22 pm   ///////  

(These pertain to Intelligent Narrative Technologies 7, and specifically today’s presentations. Perhaps, if you’re here, you will laugh. If you aren’t here, my regrets.)

Why do I get a dialog wheel ... but not a combat wheel?

Can a computer program ... get people running?

When is a dragon ... not a dragon?

Why can one be selfish ... but not otherish?

Isn't Blender dangerous enough ... without Curveship attached to it?

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