Journal #5 – ENGL 335

feb 18/18 • [jim andrews & aleph null 3.0]

I love working with found materials; for example, creating collages with magazine and newspaper clippings or editing videos made of public domain footage. Aleph Null 3.0 certainly has something in common with collage but, as it’s a piece of generative art, I have less control over how the image looks. Toggling the “mouse-controlled position” option brings back some of that control, which I liked. The cursor simulates the movement of a hand, and that interactive element helps me to engage and feel I’m creating a piece of art, rather than watching one be created. Dan Weber’s “Mark the Way” brush was my favourite probably because I loved how the brush mimicked the experience of rubbing. It was satisfying in the same way making the flowers grow in Donna Leishman’s Deviant was.

The link between Aleph Null and poetry/literature is tenuous to me, though some of the nibs that deal with text can create interesting results. Yet the question of images-as-poetry brings to mind a couple things. I’m reminded again of Marinetti’s idea of poetry as “an uninterrupted flow of new images,” which I brought up the last time we looked at generative literature–the programming juxtaposes images and/or text in unpredictable ways. But I’m also reminded of–wait for it–emojis. Do we consider emojis part of language? Do we think of them as tiny pictures, as symbols, as ideograms? There is a whole genre of “emoji literature” out there (not to mention a programming language), but different systems display emojis differently, and though they can transcend language, that’s not to say they are uniformly interpreted.

Playing with Aleph Null 3.0 makes me think about how it embodies characteristics we’ve seen in other works so far this semester–you can create work that is generative, unpredictable, interactive, combines different media forms (words-images-movement), and lives uniquely online. I think it’s a great example of an accessible tool for creating digital art.

Resources:

Aleph Null 3.0

Donna Leishman, Deviant: The Possession of Christian Shaw (2004)

F.T. Marinetti, “Technical Manifesto of Futurist Literature” (1912, PDF)

Emojicode, “an open-source, full-blown programming language consisting of emojis”

Some famous literature told in emojis (2015, SparkLife – SparkNotes blog)

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