"Transformative Reading and Writing Interfaces using Language Models," accepted in the Electronic Literature Organization's 2021 Platform (Post?) Pandemic Conference and Festival.
This paper reflects on Electronic Literature projects I created between 2017 and 2020 through interrogating how each project collaborates with an increasingly complex non-human component. Riffing off of Donna Haraway's concept of significant otherness and making kin, I speculate on the differences in the significance of the otherness that is engaged with in projects using methods based on combinatorics/chance, statistical models, and vector semantics (contemporary neural-network based language models like GPT-2). While recognizing that each approach involves a reduction in human agency, this reflective paper focuses on the increasing complexity to which this agency is relinquished and how to deal with presenting this relationship between human and non-human actors. Culminating in a series of projects using OpenAI's GPT-2, the need for a self-reflexive "transformative reading interface" is introduced as a concrete instantiation of Katherine Hayles' concept of a "technotext." A transformative reading interface links a corpus of text to text generated by a language model based on that corpus. Such an interface serves to provide a source of noisy creativity for writing and a way to explore the materiality of contemporary language models for reading, while interrogating and respecting the posthuman nature of these artifacts.
"Gnarly Posthuman Conversations: John Ashbery, W. H. Auden, Wallace Stevens and GPT-2," was part of the Posthuman E-Lit Exhibition of the ELO 2021 Platform (Post?) Pandemic Conference and Festival. The piece was shown in the library at the University of Bergen, Norway, during the month of March, 2021, along with works by Nick Montfort and Jhave Johnston.
Exhibition website: https://eliterature.org/elo2021/posthuman/
In the just-published Remixing Persona: An Imaginary Digital Media Object from the Onto-Tales of the Digital Afterlife, artists Mark Amerika and Laura Hyunjhee Kim perform as MALK, a new media remix band that ruminates on the post-digital life of the traditional scholarly book. Working against the concept of an e-book, the publication includes an original music video titled the Digital Afterlife as well as a downloadable PDF that the artists refer to as an imaginary digital media object (IDMO). The work has been released as the inaugural publication in the new MEDIA : ART : WRITE : NOW series with Open Humanities Press.
For this special issue of Media-N, MALK proposes their next IDMO track by focusing on the relationship between AI-generated forms of remix and artist-generated forms of psychic automatism. The experiment will start with the artists improvising a cluster of hand-drawn charts that conceptually blend their musings on what they refer to as “future forms of artificial creative intelligence.” The language in these charts will then serve as source material to input into an advanced Generative Pre-trained Transformer to trigger source material for a new music video and an adjoining PDF. Our question is whether the Generative Pre-trained Transformer as an advanced yet still essentially weak AI can co-write the artists’ IDMO as they address issues related to their research into psychic automatism and artificial creative intelligence.
"Do GPT-2s Dream of Electric Poetry?" was part of a video panel/zoom discussion in the "Artificial Creativity Conference" at the University of Malmo, Sweden, November 19-20th. This project was an initial instantiation of what became "Gnarly Posthuman Conversations" The urls for this project can be found below.