Experimental Creative Writing with Natural Language Processing

I am organizing a 2-day workshop on experimental creative writing with natural language processing on 21-22 Nov 2018. See here for details:

As part of the Humans and IT research programme (HIT), Digital Aesthetics Research Center (DARC) has invited Allison Parrish, a programmer, poet and educator, to give a two days hands-on workshop regarding the state of the art of natural language processing, exploring the relationship between art, culture, creativity, programming practice, computational thinking and artificial intelligence.

We will use Python as the main programming language, a high-level, interpreted and general-purpose dynamic programming language that focuses on code readability. Python can be run and used in multiple operating systems including Windows, Mac and Linux. No prior programming skills is required but you should be expected to get your hand dirty to tinker with code and use the command-line interface. The workshop will be relevant for those who are interested in textual/data/information analysis and creative computing across disciplines, such as software studies, digital humanities, STS, digital design, electronic literature, media studies, aesthetics and language studies, computer science and beyond.

DETAILS:

Date:

Day 1- 21/11: 0900-1600 (include breaks and lunch)
Day 2- 22/11: 0900-13.00 (include breaks and lunch)

Fees: FREE but there is a limitation of max 15 participants. Priority will be given to faculty members and PhD students at Aarhus University and for those who can participate the two dates together.

Venue: Aarhus University, Helsingforsgade 14, Building 5342, room 333 (ADA-building), 8200 Aarhus N, Denmark

Registration: Please sign up here. You will be contacted for the detailed arrangement on/before Nov, 2018. (Deadline for registration 10-Oct-2018)

Workshop Description:

Natural Language Processing (or NLP) is an area that is a confluence of Artificial Intelligence and linguistics. It involves intelligent analysis of written language. In this hands-on workshop, we’ll investigate the state of the art of natural language processing with an eye toward using the sometimes-unintuitive abstractions of language produced by computational models to make programs that create surprising and poetic creative writing. Through a series of pre-written but easily modifiable programs, participants will be introduced to text analysis and language generation with the Python programming language. We’ll make automated “big Dada” cut-ups, undertake poor digital humanities based on word counts and part-of-speech tagging, and exploit vector arithmetic to write poetry like we’re using guitar pedals. Workshop participants will develop a number of small projects in text analysis and poetics using public domain texts of their choice. In becoming familiar with contemporary techniques for computational language analysis, information/data/literature/media studies, critics and researchers will be able to reason better about language-based media on the Internet. Designers, artists and writers, meanwhile, might just learn a few new techniques to add to their creative palette.

Bio:
Allison is a computer programmer, poet, educator and game designer whose teaching and practice address the unusual phenomena that blossom when language and computers meet, with a focus on artificial intelligence and computational creativity. She is a Teacher at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program, where she earned her master’s degree in 2008.

Named “Best Maker of Poetry Bots” by the Village Voice in 2016, Allison’s computer-generated poetry has recently been published in Ninth Letter and Vetch. She is the author of “@Everyword: The Book” (Instar, 2015), which collects the output of her popular long-term automated writing project that tweeted every word in the English language. The word game “Rewordable,” designed by Allison in collaboration with Adam Simon and Tim Szetela, was published by Penguin Random House in August 2017 after a successful round of Kickstarter funding. Her first full-length book of computer-generated poetry, “Articulations,” was published by Counterpath in 2018.
More info: https://www.decontextualize.com/

Open Forum: Computational Thinking and Programming Practice

I am organizing and participating an open forum next Friday. See here for details:

Title: Computational Thinking and Programming Practice: Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach Open Forum

Time: 23 Mar 2018 (Friday), 0900-1500

Venue: Digital Living Research Commons (Wiener 030, Building 5347)

The open forum Learning to Teach, Teaching to Learn is originally initiated and organised by the School of Poetic Computation since 2016 in the United States. The event aims to bring together educators to explore pedagogy, curriculum development, and how to create environments and tools for learning computation and programming. At Aarhus University, programming has been introduced to both Bachelor and Master students in the areas of Digital Design and Information Studies, which is situated in the School of Communication and Culture. This mini open forum, Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach, explores how computational thinking could be introduced beyond Computer Science and Engineering disciplines, and what are the challenges in teaching programming to arts and humanities? How might programming practice be considered as a mode of aesthetic and critical inquiry? How the production of creative works may help students to understand the essential components of computational thinking?

As part of the Humans and IT research programme, Digital Aesthetics Research Center (DARC) has invited 6 speakers (and two, Prof. Nick Montfort and Anders Visti, are invited from outside AU) to respond to some of the questions above. Each presenter will share their teaching philosophy and challenges for 15 mins and will follow by a discussion. It is more an open forum for sharing and discussing various concerns in relation to computational thinking and programming practice. Anyone is more than welcome to join, especially for those who are interested in computational thinking, digital humanities, creative practices, programming and creative coding, etc.

See more about previous activities on Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach here.

Schedule breakdown:

——-

0905-0915: Introduction by Winnie Soon

0915-0925: Sharing of his US trip on Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach by Stig Møller Hansen

0925-0955: Roman Rädle, PostDoc at AU

0955-1025: Thomas Hvid Spangsberg, PhD fellow at AU

BREAK 

1045-1115: Stig Møller Hansen, Designer, PhD fellow at AU and Lecturer at the Danish School of Media and Journalism

1115-1145: Nick Montfort, Artist and Professor at MIT

LUNCH 

1300-1330: Winnie Soon, Artist and Assistant Professor at AU

1330-1400: Anders Visti, Artist and Founder of !=null and ‡ DobbeltDagge based in Aarhus

1400-1500: NETWORKING

——-

Speakers’ Bio:

Stig Møller Hansen, designer, Ph.D. fellow at AU and Lecturer at the Danish School of Media and Journalism. Bought his first computer in 1989 and quickly developed a passion for mixing art and code. Thirty years later, Stig has made his childhood excitement his professional career, teaching programming for graphic designers. He often shares his thoughts, experiences, and expertise at international conferences, workshops, and courses. In his Ph.D., drawing on his background as a trained graphic designer, Stig examines how introductory programming courses in design schools can be contextualized to improve student engagement and retention

Nick Montfort studies creative computing and develops computational art and poetry. His computer-generated books of poetry include #!, the collaboration 2×6, Autopia, and The Truelist. Among his more than fifty digital projects are The Deletionist and Sea and Spar Between, both collaborations. His MIT Press books, collaborative and individual, are: The New Media Reader, Twisty Little Passages, Racing the Beam, 10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10, and Exploratory Programming for the Arts and Humanities, and The Future. He is professor of digital media at MIT and lives in New York and Boston.

Roman Rädle is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Digital Design and Information Studies at Aarhus University in Denmark. He holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Konstanz in Germany.

His research interests include human-computer interaction, ubiquitous computing, and programming education. He recently worked on the use of interactive notebooks in situations where the number of people and devices may vary over time, and how to support fluid transitions between these situations. For example, their use in educational settings where work using notebooks can change from individual work to collaborative group work and vice versa.

Winnie Soon is an artist-researcher-coder-educator who resides in Hong Kong and Denmark. Her works explore themes/concepts around digital culture, including internet censorship, data circulation, image politics, code and real-time processing, etc. Winnie’s projects have been exhibited and presented internationally at museums, festivals, universities and conferences across Europe, Asia and America. Her current research focuses on Computational Thinking, working on a book with Geoff Cox titled “Aesthetic Programming: A Handbook of Software Studies, or Software Studies for Dummies”. She is Assistant Professor at Aarhus University.

Thomas Hvid Spangsberg is a PhD- Fellow in the Department of Digital Design and Information Studies at Aarhus University. He is currently writing his dissertation which is due at the end of August this year. Thomas’ doctoral studies is about how to teach programming and computational thinking to non-STEM students. The main contribution is about a teaching methodology for introductory programming, which is based on natural language teaching and peer instruction. Thomas has taught introductory programming, interaction design and system development at Aarhus University since the spring of 2013 – right after earning his MSC in Digital Design.

Anders Visti is a visual artist working with code. Founder and co-editor of the publishing house * [asterisk] from 2002-12. Founder and editor of the printed web publication ‡ DobbeltDagger and initiator of !=null, a public forum for artists, researchers, developers and hackers using contemporary technology for creative expression and aesthetic inquiry. Currently he is teaching basic coding skills and foundational computing at Funen Art Academy and Jutland Art Academy in Denmark.

Organised by Winnie Soon, Digital Aesthetics Research Center

Procedural Values

Together with Christian Ulrik Andersen, Marie-Luise Angerer, Geoff Cox, Jan Distelmeyer, Magda Tyzlik-Carver, and Søren Pold, I am going to join the panel discussion titled “what values?”  as part of the transmediale workshop/festival in 2018 at Brandenburg Center for Media Studies – ZeM, Potsdam.

Venue: ZeM – Brandenburgisches Zentrum für Medienwissenschaften
Date: 29 Jan 2018
Link: http://zem-brandenburg.de/en/events/cal16/event922.html

My topic is called “Procedural values” which will draw upon the following text:

  • Michael Meteas’s text: Procedural Literacy: Educating the New Media Practitioner (2005)
  • Ed Finn’s text: What’s algorithm? in What Algorithms Want (2017)
  • Annette Vee’s “procedural knowledge” in Coding Literacy: How Computer Programming is Changing Writing (2017)
  • Nick Montfort’s why program in Exploratory Programming (2016)

Humanistic and Computational Thinking Through Practice

I am going to give a talk at School of Creative Media, City University of Hong Kong as part of the course “Creative Media Colloquium”.

See below for abstract and info:

In this talk, I will present some of my artistic works that span the areas of net art, software-based art, and electronic literature. My works examine the materiality of computational processes that underwrite our experiences and realities in digital culture that touch on cultural-social-political topics, such as Internet censorship, the economy of likes, spam and literary culture, politics of APIs, cultural machines and feminist software.

I consider computational practice as a mode of humanistic inquiry to understand the digital culture – a condition that we are highly engaged with, and surrounded by, software and networked systems. I ask how might we understand cultural systems through computational practice? This talk will unfold the importance of computational practice in my thinking and research, examining the infrastructure and implications of cultural systems.

Info:

Date: 12 Jan 2018 (Friday)
Time: 11:30 am
Venue: M6094 Future Cinema Studio, Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre, 18 Tat Hong Avenue, Kowloon Tong

Slide:

net.art generator / generating discourse

I will be givng a talk and workshop together with Cornelia Sollfrank, Morgane Stricot and Matthieu Vlaminck @ ZKM on the 13-14 Dec, 2017.

/*In «net.art generator«, not only do the technical problems that are relevant to other digital works become apparent, moreover, it also shows the problems associated with data policies and their hegemonies. The podium discussion brings these technical as well as political-economical associations to the fore, and attempts to develop strategies and tactics for the growth and effective conservation of digital works. During the workshop, initial ideas will be experimented with, perhaps social hacking or the development of a completely new API. Together with the artist, we want to discuss how the problems of propriety software could be solved, why and what it actually consists of, and which political, art-theoretical implications are concealed behind it.*/

More details: http://zkm.de/en/event/2017/12/workshop-netart-generator-generating-discourse

Feminist Coding in p5.js | Can Software be Feminist?

Vocable Code (Work-in-Progress) by Winnie Soon | Medium: Software Art/Digital Poetry/Composition

I am going to organize a half day feminist coding workshop primarily for women, queers, LGBT, non-binaries and minorities who are interested in programming, exploring the intersection of art, language, technology and feminism. The workshop addresses computer code as a language that is designed for both human and machine reading. Participants will base on the artwork/digital poetry/composition ‘Vocable Code’ to learn basic coding concepts, and they will also explore code as expressive and aesthetic materials, such as computer code as poetic text that is performative and executable. Through thinking and discussing code and (non)binary logics, participants will incorporate textual materials, visual effects and recorded voices to produce their own web-based algorithmic vocable code.

– No prior programming experience is required
– Bring your own laptop with Firefox Browser installed + your smartphone.

*The workshop is free of charge

Date/Time: Saturday, Nov 25th, 2017 · 12.00–17.00
@ Høegh Guldbergs Gade 65B, DK-8000C, Denmark

Check !=null for latest update.

Why p5.js?
p5js is an open source Javascript library developed by the Processing Foundation and is founded by Lauren McCarthy to make coding more accessible to artists, designers, educators and beginners. Winnie shares the vision and goal of p5.js, which is to put community outreach and diversity as the priority.

What is coding in university in practice?

I am going to join a panel titled “Practising Research: Knowledge Creation Through Experimental Practices” as part of The Purpose of The Future University conference at Aarhus University in Nov, 2017.

My abstract:

What is coding in university in practice? Computer coding courses have increasingly been integrated into school curriculum, from primary schools to higher education beyond Computer Science and Engineering disciplines. One of the practical reasons is that IT-related jobs are in high demand across industries. Beyond tech companies, other sectors, such as medical health, toys and publishing, have been highly digitalized to support and facilitate new models of user engagement, as well as data capturing, processing and analytics. In other words, knowing how to code contributes to the economic value and growth of computational artifacts.

Despite aiming to develop new applications, platforms and solution, there is an increasing critical attention to the understanding, theorizing and analyzing of our digital environment through code studies (Chun, 2011; Berry, 2011). With the prevalence of technology today in contemporary culture, enormous quantities of data are generated and disseminated in real-time through a highly networked, programmable and distributed environment. The rise of so-called ‘big data’ in the 21st century has sparked unprecedented economic value through datafication—a phenomenon in which personal profiles and behavioral logs are stored on corporate server farms. Data is captured, processed, distributed and analyzed to generate new information and knowledge. The understanding of such systems through coding practice, the reading and writing of computer code, may offer opportunities for students to make inquires, create new modes of knowledge and raise different kinds of questions in the area of humanistic IT, including social, political and ethical ones.

The term ‘creative coding’ emphasizes code as an expressive material, exploring code concepts and producing creative works through experimentation (Maeda, 2004; Peppler & Kafai, 2009). In this presentation, we propose learning to code via exploration, reflexive thinking, critical making, artistic intervention and creative production in higher education. Instead of learning to code from a Computer Science perspective with a focus on technology as an instrument to tackle real world problems, the undergraduate course Aesthetic Programming has been introduced at the Department of Digital Design, Aarhus University, addressing coding as an aesthetic, creative and critical endeavor beyond its functional application.

Beyond learning basic concepts in computer programming and designing and developing computational artifacts, students in the course also explore coding as a practice of thinking with and in the world, and learn to understand the complex computational procedures that underwrite our experiences and realities in digital culture. In other words, the practice of coding is neither just focused on building functional applications; it is also a way to examine and reflect the increasing role of computation in our society and culture. More specifically, Aesthetic Programming can be seen as a practice-oriented exploration of the relationship between art, design, technology and culture, examining wider political, cultural, social and aesthetic phenomena. Through emphasizing programming as critical work in itself, the practice of coding and the production of concrete artifacts serve not only as creative expressions but also as a methodological vehicle to examine complex techno-cultural systems through the acts of creating. This presentation will discuss the methods of teaching, the structures, outcomes and challenges of the Aesthetic Programming course, which contributes to the discussion of the future university in the context of humanistic IT.

References

Berry, D. M (2011). The Philosophy of Software: Code and Mediation in the Digital Age. Palgrave macmillan.

Chun, W. H. K. (2011). Programmed Visions: Software and Memory. The MIT Press.

Maeda, J. (2004). Creative Code. London: Thames & Hudson.

Mortfort, N. (2016). Exploratory Programming: For the Arts and Humanities. The MIT Press.

Peppler, K. A., & Kafai, Y. B. (2009). Creative Coding: Programming for Personal Expression. The 8th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, Rhodes, Greece.

Why Code? Why Program? Why Create?

Code as both text and executable instructions, which is regarded as rich materials for interpretation and analysis. Winnie will talk about her creative (software related) works in order to unfold the importance of coding practice in her thinking and research, examining the infrastructure and implications of techno-cultural systems around us.

I am going to give a talk titled “Why Code? Why Program? Why Create?” at DLRC, Aarhus University on 4 Oct, 2017 | 14.00