Robo_Po /// Robo_Op

The Lab is once more open, and the first order of business is (obviously) to host our all-singing, all-versifying, maybe-some-dancing embodied AI performer, Cleo Mesmer.

This promises to be practice-led research at its very best: collaborative, interdisciplinary, exploratory, emergent, placing cutting-edge tech into a critical and reflexive context, exploring both the power relations from which technological innovation emerges, and the alternative possibilities it harbours.

For more about the project and the events, visit Evelyn Ficarra’s site.

We are also calling for two kinds of collaboration:

  • Poems: Submit poems (50 words or less) for performance as part of Robo_Po. More details here.
  • Voice: Submit fragments of sound to help us build a new voice for Cleo, perhaps one which seeks to acknowledge rather than conceal otherness, constructedness, and more-than-human entanglements. More details here.

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A Brief Backward History of Automated Eloquence

Late in 2020, two SHL researchers collaborated with CDH to run a workshop series exploring the theory and practice of synthetic text. As a follow-on, in 2021 we will be creating a speculative object: a future textbook about the history of synthetic text, blending fact and fiction. Here’s a pre-print version of one of the sections (since it purports to be written in 2070, possibly by an AI, it is a very “pre” pre-print).


GPT-2 language model (via Max Woolf), inflected with training on feminist manifestos
Eureka machine beats poetry-writing bot by nearly 200 years - Arts and  Humanities Research Council
The Eureka. Image (c) The Alfred Gillett Trust-C&J Clark Ltd. See also Exeter’s Poetry by Numbers project.
A plate from Über den Schachspieler des Herrn von Kempelen und dessen Nachbildung (Leipzig, 1789)