Lively Poems

Today we started with a brilliant and thought provoking talk by Hasan: From Clock to Clock Maker. He spoke of the importance of the people behind the algorithm, and posed the question, why do we as a species want to recreate nature and intelligence? Also the geneolgy of clock making, and how some early clock makers from varying geographies tried to immitate nature in their work.

Hasan continued to talk about automatons, specifically the Maillardet’s automaton, which could draw detailed pictures, and who’s technology was way ahead of its time.

This led the conversation on towards the word, ‘robot’, who’s orgins comes from R.U.R. a 1920 science fiction play by the Czech writer Karel Čapek. R.U.R. stands for Rossumovi Univerzální Roboti (Rossum’s Universal Robots). From then on the word robot has been used in the English language and to science fiction as a whole. This sparked a discussion between the group:

‘Wanguage is a medium and a tool to deal with reality’ (Kiran Kumar)

‘We are the stories that we tell ourselves’ (Upasana Nattoji Roy)

‘To what extent does past imaginary limit our imaginations?’ (Alistair Debling)

There were also some really interesting points relating to the way we think about intelligence. Augmented intelligence – where we collaborate with AI to enhance our own intelligence. Extended and networked inteligence – when thinking about ‘systems ecology, the network as the unit of intelligence rather than the single self, extending intelligence to the landscape and ecology’ Prathima Muniyappa

How do we remove human agency when thinking of the future?

Kiren Kumar stated that we should look to deep history and archeology when thinking about the future.

Prathima suggested we have a look at a paper called, ‘Aboriginal Territories of Cyberspace’

In the second part of the days session Hasan took us through a playful way we could activate our poems from day one with the use of machine learning. We were asked to ‘hunt for treasure’ , finding an object which represents a key word from each line of the poem, then using these objects to train the machine to make our poems come alive. Hasan demonstrated his ‘Teachable Machine’ creating classes from video capture of his found objects associating each visual class from a line from his poem. When the model is trained it will select the coralating line of text to whichever object is shown to the camera. We then exported our trained models to p5.js.

Here is a screen capture of my sketch in action.

I chose some silver mylar material to represent the colour chrome. A welding mask to hint to the practice of fusing metal and so the sound of ‘sparking white heat’. I used the symbol of the ‘Kukulkan’ – a Mesoamerican serpent diety worshipped by the Maya, to represent mutation and transformation, the myth behind the kukulkan is fairly unknown however I came across a couple of interpretations which I found useful when thinking of my poem.

‘The kukulkan was a winged serpent that flew to the sun and tried to speak to it but the sun in it’s pride burnt his tongue’

Another source descibed the Kukulkan as:

‘a boy who was born as a snake. As he grew older it became obvious that he was the plumed serpent and his sister cared for him in a cave. He grew to such a size that his sister was unable to continue feeding him, so he flew out of his cave and into the sea, causing an earthquake. To let his sister know that he is still alive, Kukulkan causes earth tremors every year in July.’

One response to “Lively Poems”

  1. Diane! You’re posts are a delight, not least because they so meticulously and engagingly archive our days. Thank you :), these will be very valuable for novice dabblers such as myself, I can tell. The people behind the algorithms were also evoked poignantly in Sebastian Schmieg’s work which he shared about last night. And, just for the records, Prathima also referred us to Adrienne Mayor’s ‘Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology’ which may speak to your sketch here too 🙂


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