An enquiry into writing, representation, and meaning-making in an age of machine communication. The premise of this series is the encoding of algorithmically generated poetry into visual patterns, which are reflective of both the structures of the poems themselves, and the software architectures of digital infrastructure.
A key theme underpinning this series is how language is perceived and apprehended by the machinery that is a crucial carrier of contemporary expression. Poetry, as one of the most sophisticated modes available to human actors, radiant with potential readings, offers an interesting contrast with systems designed to compress and encode electrical signals so as to facilitate their transmission across invariably noisy channels. These are two very different imperatives – one seeking to reduce the potential for novelty, for ostensive ‘error’, whereas the other is seeking to generate new modalities of thought and expression, although a convergence does exist in their pursuit of a certain concision of communication.
The encoding process itself involves generating the source poem using various algorithmic techniques, before statistically analysing its core structures (meter, line and word count), and then parsing these into a series of modulations upon a matrix of Truchet tiles. An evident result of this process is that each poem is rendered entirely unreadable to a human observer. This decision is partly a consequence and a deliberate response to the equivalating nature of computer mediated communication, in which each message is defined primarily through its string length, statistical sequencing, and, at the level of storage and transmission, various schemas of error correction. Moreover, it is a manoeuvre done with an awareness concerning how, across the communicative spaces defined by digital infrastructure, the vast majority of signals are designed to be received and interpreted by machines only. It is therefore with reference to both these points that the ostensible ‘silence’ of this series is working to denature the relations between message and observer, as defined by traditional, humanistic conceptions of aesthetic engagement, and seeking to hint at this nonhuman mode of reading the spaces and durations of the contemporary electronic environment.
A selection of early pieces were exhibited at both the University of Exeter and the Barbican Centre, London, in the summer and autumn of 2015. A final series of works are currently being prepared for inclusion within a dedicated artist’s book, which will be sent to press shortly.