Notes From Allison Parrish – New Interfaces for Textual Expression

Allison Parrish – New Interfaces for Textual Expression
ITP – Interaction Telecommunications Program

Developed 6 New Devices

“How to Write Computer Programs that Write Poetry”
Procedural Composition
Internet Culture

Twitter Bot: Everyword
Tweeted Every word in the English Language.  Started in 2007.
Had about 100,000 followers
Accidentally tweeted eclair at the end

Deep Question Bot:
Uses ConceptNet
Database of Common Sense Info
“Cheese has a Rhyme”
Rephrases Facts as Questions

Travel Guide:
Commision for
Commisions Artists
Text for Travel Guides come from Wiki Voyage
Recombines Seperates & Recombines The Text at Random

Plutonomous ___ Device:
Portable Poetry Generator
Inspired by History of Walkman
Transcendant Experience of Experiencing Music in New Places
Might want to create a Wearable version of this

Video Games:
Platformer + Bobble (Scrabble, etc)
Uses Markov Chains to make sure that it puts together longer words that are worth more points

Input -> Object -> Output
Usually thought of in terms of Good/Bad/Optimal Design
Donald Norman – Laying out of the Gas Stove
Interested in Interfaces that make you question your relationship to the world
Weird Interfaces that make a problem between the user and whatever they’re trying to do

New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME):
Taught Class at ITP related to this
Ann Chen – Sound Projections (2012)
Water as Interface of Sound
Uses Camera to determine sound
About how you interact with Water
Jaime Oliver – Silent Construction 2 for MANO Controller (2012)
[Editor Note: Sort of a Weird fusion between a Haaken Audio Continuum & a Theramin]
Computer Does Motion Tracking on hands & processes them into instrucitons

Allison Parrish – Frotzophone (2008)
Z Machine – API for Text Adventures to run on older systems
Made a program that keeps track of which objects are in other objects
Sonified the Diagram of that information
Choices changed Output of Program

New Interfaces for Textual Expression (NITE):
Already have interface – Keyboard
Keyboard is Boring
What if we came up with non-literal, but intuitive interfaces
Recommended Reading:
“A Typewriter is Corny”
“Physical Handles On Phantom Models”
What if we thought of the Writer as a Performer, instead of Somebody doing something Static

Created Keyboard without Vowels
Geroges Perec’s La Disparition – Entire Novel Written without Letter E
Causes you to rewrite phrases in weird ways, since you can’t include a certain letter

Keyboard + Foot Pedal
Foot Pedal increases Randomness/Entropy

Poem Sphere
Physical Interface for Writing
Medicine Ball + Rubber Stamp Material Glued onto Ball

Markov Live
Time-Limited Auto-Complete
Blue Button + White Button
White Button = new line
Blue Button = Scroll through Alternative Words

Beat Poetry
Synesthetic Interface
Two Drum Pads with Sensors inside
One creates a common word
One creates a less common word
Variation, relative to beat, occurs

MicroPoet 200
Physical Interface using Potentiometers & Knobs
Make Lines Dissappear
Replace Words, etc
Back Looks like a Mess of Wirexs

Challenges For Textual Interfaces:
NIME are relatively Easy to Wake
Sine Wave – x, y position
Easy natural mapping between Mouse Position & Sine Wave
Basically what a Theremin Does
By adjusting Distance relative to Hand (as measured by Sensors), it changes Amplitude & Frequency

Words don’t really have this ability – They’re strings, not integers
Layout do not interest Allison

How would you take a Potentiometer or Range Finder & map it onto a Tree??
A lot of the language for these devices need to be invented

Golan Levin – Yellowtail
Mouse Gestures create Loopy Animations
What would the equivalent of this be for Writing Purposes
What is the poetic form

American Public Art
Bubblegum Postcard
Collaborative Drawing Interface
What would a Collaborative Interface for text like this look like
Can’t be literal – There’s no fun in that

Hoping to write more of these type of interfaces in Javascript
Throw as many Ideas against this as possible
Make these interfaces collaboratively & have them be collaborative


Independent Artist:
Has been great for her because she doesn’t have to deal with not being in control
Not having to Bite Tongue & Hold Back Creative Ideas
Privilege with Education & Background & Tech Education
A lot of Great Artists just do Art in their spare time

What are some of the ideas you have for other things you’re going to do over the next few weeks
Making a List of that!!
Trying to figure out how to map L Systems onto Text
Translate into an Actual Javascript thing – Slider
Turn MicroPoet interface into something you can use Online (Javascript)

Does L System refer to English?? Or?:
Been treating Language as Instructions in a Symbol-Based Way

Have you done Work in Languages Other than English?  Are you interested in doing that in the future?
When teaching at ITP, A lot of students prefer to work in another language
Problematic because almost all of the Natural Linguistic Programming Tools are very English Focused
Tries to Lead Students to Tools that would be helpful for that
Every Month, Pick a Programming Language & another Language create a Generator
Concerned about Cultural Appropriation

Would you consider doing something in Gibberish or Pig Latin or something made up English Languages?
Yes – a lot of my work looks like language

You’ve used Programs to make Art.  Have you thought about working in a way that the Art could make Programming?
Yes – I’m super interested in that

Have you run into Musical Interfaces that can’t manipulate Text or Algorithms that can’t manipulate Music?
Generally once you’ve taken your data & broken it down into distinct individual units, you can apply almost any algorithm to it
A lot of Raw Translation of Data into Letters doesn’t interest me.
There’s this idea amongst conceptual writers that their work has a Thinkership rather than a Leadership
As long as you know the concept of the work, that’s all you need to know about it
I don’t like that
I want my work to be able to be inserted in a Chat Log or Twitter Bot & have people be able to interact with it on a reading level

Deep Learning People who Map Pictures:
Map from Pictures to Concept Space to Words & manipulate
Concept Space has a notion of proximity & Direction

I’ve Looked at something like that.  I don’t have a Machine Learning background
Enough knowledge about stuff to be able to look at it from an Artist perspective.
A crash course in the would be nice

Made a Project mapping Anagram Frequencies
[Editor Note:Looks very Space/Dark Matter-y/Sci-Fi-ish]
The Empty Space – These are all thoughts that have never been expressed before.
Words that have never been used – So much Potential
“Abacus Mastodon”
How can I expose people to unfamiliar/uncomfortable/nonsense

In your work, do you think about the sound of the words, or the visual aspect
I’m not so interested in Spoken Word as Written Word
That’s just my own aesthetic
Really like Written Word

Do you ever write Code itself as Way of expressing yourself?  What do you think of Code from an Aesthetic Standpoint?
I really like aesthetic code & well-=written code
Even when doing Art, I start with Tests
I try to be as thorough as possible in my craft
Most of my codes is released as Open Source
One Guy always adds Travis Integration to it
Try to focus on making code that is reliable & professional

Text Performances sound really awesome.
Some of the challenges with Musical Performance:
You can give a performance that’s recognizably unique & recognizably the same
Have you had similar performances with text??

A lot of the satisfaction with Musical Expression comes from the novelty of the Interface itself
I’d like to make a really simple interface for Textual Composition that’s clear enough in composition that you can tell what’s going on
Interface that someone can have Virtuosity with is like the HOly Grail of this design

Musical Interfaces for Musical Expression – Were any projects done that required a very Low Learning Curve so that someone could create music very easily?
Virtuosity of Interfaces
Hard to make Interface that is super expressive & very subtle that doesn’t have a large learning curve
Theremin: Easy to make it make noise & understand how … but only a few people can play it.
Making a musical instrument that’s easy from a user interface standpoint is an interesting question
What that would be, I don’t know
It’s hard for me to think of an easier interface than a keyboard
Even a keyboard is difficult in its own ways
I don’t know

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