…is really excellent. Anyone interested in Harry’s work, or, more broadly, the Oulipo, should read it. Thanks, of course, to Barbara Henning for doing the interview and EOAGH for publishing it.
Exciting news for Polish-readers (and, I think, others): The new issue of Techsty, number 9, is out. You might think that a “Techsty” is just a place where infopigs like me live, but it’s actually a long-running site (since 2001) on digital literature, with an esteemed journal that has been published since 2003.
The current issue includes translations of articles by Robert Coover and Brain McHale, an article by Seweryna Wysłouch, and a special section on an audacious project. This is the translation of Sea and Spar Between, by Nick Montfort and Stephanie Strickland, which is a fairly extensive special-purpose poetry generator that is fair entwined with the English language (as well the specific authors from whom it draws: Emily Dickinson and Herman Melville). Not only did the two translators tackle the difficult and in fact unprecedented task of translating the underlying system to Polish, so that the program generates stanzas in that language; they also translated our comments from the “cut to fit the toolspun course” edition of the work. I hope this will invite remixing and code re-use in Polish as well as helping to improve the understanding of our project and our collaboration. Monika Górska-Olesińska also has an article on Stephanie Strickland’s work, with a photo of Stephanie reading just a few days ago at the ELO conference.
Piotr Marecki also translated my short generator Lede for the issue. (Amusingly enough, the translated title is the more conventional and seemingly more properly-spelled English word “Lead.”) It has some aspects of cultural translation – absurd figures from Polish culture are substituted for some of the ones I included from my American perspective.
The only mistake I see in the Sea and Spar Between items is that it’s hard (for me, at least, not being a reader of the language) to determine who did the translation of both the poem generator and the comments: Monika Górska-Olesińska and Mariusz Pisarski, who are attributed atop the commented code but not, for instance, here on the Polish “How to Read” page. In digital literature, there generally is no system for buying rights and recruiting and paying translators for their work – just as there is no system for doing this for authors. So the least we can do is to properly credit those who work to develop new programs and cybertexts, whether they are based on earlier ones in other languages or not.
The final article I’ll note is an interview, I think one that’s very kind to me and my lab, The Trope Tank, by Piotr Marecki, who was a postdoc here this past year. Here’s what the Googly Intelligence translates this interview as.
There’s a great deal more in the issue, and I suggest those interested in digital literature, even if not literate in Polish, take at least a quick look using your favorite “translation goggles.” There are some good English-language journals on electronic literature, but I think English-speakers could learn a good deal from this effort, which publishes critical writing (including some in translation) and creative work and also undertakes extensive translation projects.
My new book of programs/poems, #! (pronounced “Shebang”), has just been published by Counterpath.
Read all about it on the press’s page for #!.
The book consists of poetic programs and their outputs. The programs in the book are all free software, and in case you don’t want to type them in, the longer ones are all available in my “code” directory.
I hope you’ll get a copy at your local independent bookseller.
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.
To connect the oneTesla coil he built, codewiz modified the firmware and the control box to allow the audio output to be read by the potentiometer input. He also wrote dsptee.c to improve the way the text scrolls.
Topsy was the elephant electrocuted by Thomas Edison in 1903 to help prove that AC electricity (advocated by Tesla) was unsafe.
My main disappointment was that the projector, which I thought would be HD and thus the same as my display, showed only the left-hand side of the video. I should have checked it more thoroughly before we got started.
We were very pleased to get second place behind a nice oscilloscope demo.
The final section of the demo is based on the bpNichol poem “Island,” part of his Apple IIe collection First Screening. This poem, in turn, refers to a concrete poem by Ian Hamilton Finlay. I’ve put a video/screencast of the end of the production online.
I direct a lab at MIT called The Trope Tank. This is a lab for research, teaching, and creative production, located in building 14 (where the Hayden Library is also housed), in room 14N-233. Its mission is to develop new poetic practices and new understandings of digital media by focusing on the material, formal, and historical aspects of computation and language.
The lab’s website has just been updated with some new information about our two major creative/research projects, Slant and Renderings. Earlier this academic year, a hardware and software catalog of Trope Tank resources was developed by Erik Stayton with contributions from Sylvia Tomayko-Peters.
As usual, the Trope Tanks hosts the monthly meetings of the local interactive fiction club, the People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction. Also, the Trope Tank’s series of digital writing presentations, Purple Blurb, continued this year; I was on leave in Fall 2013, but the series was back and hosted four excellent presentations in Spring 2014. See those sites for more information about PR-IF and Purple Blurb.
Here’s what we’ve been up to since our last annual report in May 2013:
New Works: Creative projects released.
- Nanowatt, single-loading (3.5 KB) demoscene production for the VIC-20. By Nick Montfort, Michael C. Martin, and Patsy Baudoin as Nom de Nom, McMartin, and Baud 1. Shown and awarded 2nd place on 30 November 2013 at Récursion, Montréal.
- World Clock, computer generated novel with source code by Nick Montfort. Published on the Web 30 November 2013, in print at the Harvard Book Store.
- Round, digital poem by Nick Montfort. Published on the Web 14 August 2013 by New Binary Press.
- Duels — Duets, digital poem. By Stephanie Strickland and Nick Montfort. Published on the Web 14 August 2013 by New Binary Press.
- The Deletionist, digital poetry system. By Nick Montfort, Amaranth Borsuk, and Jesper Juul. 2011–2013. Premiered at E-Poetry 2013 in London and published on the Web.
- Three Rails Live, an interactive video installation. By Rod Coover, Nick Montfort and Scott Rettberg. 2011–2013. Documentation published on the web in bleuOrange 7, 2013.
Trope Reports: We have issued two technical reports.
- TROPE-13-02 – Videogame Editions for Play and Study (Clara Fernández-Vara and Nick Montfort)
- TROPE-13-03 – No Code: Null Programs (Nick Montfort)
Exhibit & Museum Event:
- Second Fridays: How People Connect, Presentation of Commodore 64 BASIC programming, Piotr Marecki and Erik Stayton, and event at the MIT Museum, February 14, 2014
- Programs at an Exhibition, Nick Montfort & Páll Thayer, an exhibit at the Boston Cyberats Gallery, March 6-16, 2014
- Marecki, Piotr, “Sticker literature or augmented reality literature,” David Foster Wallace Conference, Department of English, Illinois State University, May 23, 2014
- Marecki, Piotr, “The Road to Assland and early Polish Text Adventure Games,” People’s Republic of Interactive Fiction, The Trope Tank, MIT, May 13, 2014
- Montfort, Nick, “Combinatory Media and Possibilities for Documentary,” OpenDoc Lab, MIT, May 8, 2014
- Marecki, Piotr, “Polish Literature in the Digital Age,” MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing, May 7, 2014
- Marecki, Piotr, “Textual Caves: Expanding the Literary Writing Space,” Shapeshifters: Recycling and Literature, Department of Comparative Literature, Yale University, April 25-26 2014
- Montfort, Nick “Exploratory Programming,” first of four major topics for the online Critical Code Studies Working Group 2014, 23 February-23 March, 2014.
- Montfort, Nick, “Aesthetic Obfuscated Code,” Symposium on Obfusctation, New York University, 15 February 2014.
- Montfort, Nick, “Ten Cases of Computational Poetics,” UCLA, M/ELT, 17 January 2014.
- Montfort, Nick, “Computational Poetic Models,” University of Southern California, SCA Complex, 16 January 2014
- Marecki, Piotr, “Polish Literature in the Digital Age,” IAP talk, MIT, January 21, 2014.
- Montfort, Nick, “Computational Literary Models for Fun and Poetics,” Concordia University, Montréal, 10 January 2014.
- Montfort, Nick, “Scaling Up Literary Models with Curveship and Slant,” 8th Mexican International Colloquium on Computational Creativity, UNAM, Mexico City, 15 November 2013.
- Montfort, Nick, “Literary Models,” 8th Mexican International Colloquium on Computational Creativity, UAM Cuajimalpa, Mexico City, 14 November 2013.
- Montfort, Nick, “Electronic Literature and Other Forms of Popular Creative Computing.” Keynote address at Writing Literature, Reading Society, Municipal Public Library, Kraków, 29 October 2013.
- Montfort, Nick, “10 PRINT,” MIT CSAIL Programming Language & Software Engineering retreat, MIT Endicott House, 21 May 2013
- Montfort, Nick, “Hardware and Emulation to Access Creative Computing,” Preserving.exe Summit, Library of Congress, 20 May 2013
- Baudoin, Patsy and Nick Montfort, “10 PRINT,” Writing Across the Curriculum, MIT, 17 May 2013
Translations: Andrew Campana translated “The Two” by Nick Montfort into Japanese. Piotr Marecki translated Montfort’s “Lede,” “The Two,” and World Clock (via translation of the novel-generating program) into Polish, and, with Aleksandra Małecka, translated “Between Page and Screen” by Amaranth Borsuk and Brad Bouse into Polish. These will be placed online when revisions are complete.
- The Trope Tank hosted a visit by The Word Made Digital, 21W.764, during Spring 2014.
- “Exploratory Programming Workshop” by Nick Montfort, New York University, 14 February 2014.
- Commodore 64 BASIC Workshop by Nick Montfort, offered for MIT’s Independent Activities Period, 29 January 2014.
- “Workshop in Exploratory Programming” by Nick Montfort, UAM Cuajimalpa, Mexico City, two meetings on 11-12 November 2013.
Upcoming: In Milwaukee this month Trope Tank researchers will present at (int)7 (Intelligent Narrative Technologies 7) and the Electronic Literature Organization Conference. The presentation will be “Expressing the Narrator’s Expectations” by Montfort and Stayton at (int)7, and at ELO in the conference paper sessions “The Formation of the Field of Electronic Literature in Poland” by Marecki, “Computational Editions, Ports, and Remakes of ‘First Screening’ and ‘Karateka'” by Stayton and Montfort, and “New Novel Machines: Nanowatt and World Clock” by Montfort. The ELO Media Arts show will include “The Postulate to Hyperdescribe the World” by Marecki and Aleksandra Małecka and “Round” by Montfort. Andrew Campana’s work will be part of the Gallery of E-Lit 1st Encounters.
Many papers and even some books developed with Trope Tank support are forthcoming, but instead of trying to enumerate those, I’ll list them next year, when they have appeared.
I persist in my quest to develop extremely simple, easily modifiable programs that produce compelling textual output.
My latest project is Modern Perverbs. In a world where nothing is as it seems … two phrases … combine … to make a perverb. That’s about all there is to it. If phrase N is picked from the first list, some phrase that isn’t number N will be picked from the second, to ensure maximum perverbiality. The first phrase also carries the punctuation mark that will be used at the very end. This one is a good bit simpler than even my very simple “exploded sentence” project, Lede.
(I learned of perverbs and their power, I should note, thanks to Selected Declarations of Dependence by Harry Mathews.)
Check out “Wandering through Taroko Gorge,” a participatory, audio-enabled remix.
Slice of MIT, an MIT alumni publication, has an article on my work with poetry and computation. It’s by Kate Hoagland, was written for National Poetry Month, and is an excellent short discussion of several recent projects and some themes in my work and that of my lab, The Trope Tank.
My poem Round computes the digits of pi (in your browser, for as long as you like) and represents them as strings of text. It’s published by New Binary Press. Enjoy it on this 3/14.
It’s not quite Thy Dungeonman, but you can now play POET The Game, which pokes at the life of an MFA student poet in a browser-based roll-your-own-parser experience that is meant to recall the text adventures of yore.
Update: Blankets of snow and torrents of sleet have tried to match the intensity of the poster design below. As a result, today’s talk (2/13) is cancelled! NYU is closing at 3pm today. Hopefully there will be another chance before too long…
I don’t always announce my upcoming talks on my blog…
But when I do, they’re promoted by very nice posters.
Consider it not in French, but Italian.
There are obsession-inducing transmissions, audio transmissions.
The ending is ugly … overall and in one language, at least.
But the story is a poet’s story – it begins with O and ends with O.
“Description,” my 2014 New Year’s poem, was sent out as a text file at the end of 2013; it’s now online in a solvable and checkable form, in a new Web edition.
The Trope Tank has a good deal going on in the next month, as classes at MIT begin. If you’re in LA, the Boston Area, or New York at the right times, please join us…
- January 16 in Los Angeles at USC, my talk “Computational Poetic Models,” SCA Complex, SCI Room 108, 11am
- January 17 in Los Angeles at UCLA, my talk “Ten Cases of Computational Poetics,” M/ELT, YRL Hub, 12pm
- January 21 in Cambridge at MIT, Dr. Piotr Marecki’s talk “Polish Literature in the Digital Age,” 6pm, The Trope Tank
- January 29 in Cambridge at MIT, Commodore 64 BASIC Workshop, The Trope Tank, 2pm-5pm; the workshop is full but we will try to accommodate spectators when we run/screen the results around 4:30pm
- February 13 in New York at NYU, my talk “Poetic Computing,” 239 Greene St Floor 8, 6pm
The new project European Poetry Forum by Zuzana Husarova Martin Solotruk is now online.
The project aims to connect a diverse group of poets with overlapping interests, as this statement about it explains. There are answers to queries from 38 poets up now.
Online magazine The Claudius App, devoted to “fast poems and negative reviews,” is now in its fifth number and clad in the classic Sim-City-like skin of a burning New York City. There’s a more standard but still DOS-like directory listing, with links to much fine fare, including a translation of a Georges Perec piece and an interactive but also self-scrolling work, “Titanichat,” by Cecilia Corrigan and Ian Hatcher. It comes with a soundtrack, too.
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.
And it produces 8 KB of French text quoted exactly from the French translation of Samuel Beckett’s second novel, Watt.
And the entire demo (including two songs, sound system, code for decompression and display of text, and explanations and greetings at the end) is 3.5 KB: 3583 bytes.
When possible, I will upload a video of the demo running.
This rather esoteric demo was awarded 2nd place (out of 3 entries).
I also got 4th place (out of 5) for my one-line BASIC program that was done as a fast demo, based on today’s theme: “weaving.”
UPDATE: You can run Nanowatt without leaving the comfort of your browser. First, copy this URL into your copy-and-paste buffer: << http://nickm.com/poems/nw >>. Then, go to the page for JS VIC-20. Select the “Storage” menu from the top and choose the option at the bottom of the list, “Carts/Programs,” and choose the top option, “Load Cart from URL.” Finally, paste in the URL that you copied and watch the demo run.
‘NOTHER UPDATE: Video of the demo running on a VIC-20 has been posted.