Poetry Machine
David Link


Im Buchstabenfeld, Neue Galerie, Graz, 7.10. - 25.11. 2001
ArtgendaTV, Hamburg, 7. - 23. 6. 2002
Typologie, ZKM, Karlsruhe, 7.7. 2002 - 31. 6. 2003
Belluard Bollwerk International BBI, Fribourg, Switzerland, 2003
Deaf03: Data Knitting, V2 organisatie, Rotterdam, 2003
Algorithmic Revolution, ZKM, Karlsruhe, 2004
10. International Computer Arts Festival, Maribor, Slovenia, 2004
Le Fresnoy, Tourcoing, Belgium, 2005

The visitor enters a dimly lit room. On a projection screen runs the text that is written by nobody. The keys of the keyboard move as if by a ghost's hand. A monotone, mechanical voice reads out the generated text, sentence by sentence.

Without the public nearby, the system writes quickly and fluently. Thunderstorm of letters. Incessantly, one word follows the other. When visitors approach, the text generator staggers, hesitates, at times grows completely silent. The system leaves the scene to the observer and invites him to strike the keys himself. If he enters text, it appears on the screen like the machine's. Poetry Machine takes up his text and associates starting with his words. The flow of texts in the interplay between the human and the machine doesn't cease.

If the user's input contains words that are still unknown to Poetry Machine, the program sends autonomous "bots" into the internet to get appropriate informations. They evaluate the material found and feed the resulting data back into the system. The search process of the "bots" can be followed on a second screen. Visited sites, their valuation and the documents found are shown.

Poetry Machine is a text generator based on semantic networks. The generation of the texts doesn't take place by statically scripted answering modules. What it expresses is therefore also new to its author. When the machine starts, its database is empty. Poetry Machine begins as tabula rasa. The software transforms texts into networks of semantic relationships on one hand, on the other into syntactical frames. Neural shots through these networks and their transmission through semantic relationships that are especially strong create an associative material that generates sentences about an actual topic when inserted into the syntactical frames.

German catalogue text

Project info: Poetry Machine. An installation by David Link.
Technical support: Stefan Doepner, Lars Vaupel (f18), Bob O'Kane.
Coproduced by: ZKM, Karlsruhe; Neue Galerie, Graz.
Supported by: KHM, Köln.