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September 07, 2004

Two Textual Instruments


Playing Text

Today, Turbulence launched Two Textual Instruments, Part 1: Regime Change by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, with Brion Moss, David Durand, and Elaine Froehlich. "Textual instruments make text playable in a new way. At first, as one encounters their workings, they are toys for exploring language — more flexible than link-node hypertext, more responsive than batch-mode natural language generators. With growing experience, these instruments can also become tools for textual performance.

The two instruments we are constructing operate using the statistics of n-grams, a technique used for textual games for more than 50 years (the first game appearing in Claude Shannon's 1948 "A Mathematical Theory of Communication"). These n-grams are chains of words, and these instruments use shared chains between documents as "bridges," allowing movement from the text of one document into a body of text created from others (and back). By using this approach to make text playable, by taking the logic of word chains to defamiliarizing and sometimes humorous extremes, Regime Change (and the forthcoming News Reader) provide ways to perform William Burroughs's injunction to "cut word lines" — to break the chains of conceptual association that say this follows from that, regardless of the logic case, but rather because of the constant association of these words in the speech we hear and echo to others on a daily basis."

Posted by jo at September 7, 2004 12:37 PM


Net Art News, Rhizome.org, October 7, 2004
Hacktivist Intertexts

Julia Kristeva's notion of intertextuality looks at the complex ways in which a given text is related to other texts. She claimed that every document is, in some way, a mosaic of other texts; every text is an absorption and transformation of others. Regime Change, the first of two, turbulence commissioned, textual instruments by Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Brion Moss, David Durand, and Elaine Froehlich, literalizes and plays on Kristeva's connections. Beginning with a news article excerpt on Iraq, from April 2003, participants hyperlink between short passages from the Warren Commission, and back again. Viewers-turned-performers then jump between layers, and can add text back into the pieces preceding them. Eventually, the generated, mosaic texts become familiar committee-speak, requiring only contemporary names for us to read them as any contemporary subject: the 9-11 commission, Osama = Saddam, Swift Boat Veterans for Truth... And one bonus for dedicated players: with enough interaction, Regime Change's behavior shifts slightly, allowing your intertext re-mix to include a bit of the unexpected in uncanny ways. - Nathaniel Stern

Posted by: Jo at October 11, 2004 03:52 PM