Computational tools and statistical analysis are often deployed as a method to “read” texts. But what about using these same techniques to write them? In this workshop, students use techniques from natural language processing to tear language at its digital seams and lovingly re-articulate it with computer programming—like postmodern Frankenstein- poets. Through a series of pre-written– but easily modifiable– programs, students are introduced to text analysis and language generation with the Python programming language. Students 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.
Students learn the basics of computational text analysis and computer-generated text through the lens of creative writing. Pre-written Python example code is provided to guide students through workshop exercises. The workshop leads up to a participant-produced zine and/or reading.
Daily activities center around live coding tutorial sessions followed by in-studio exercises related to simple and advanced tasks, as well as short lectures about underlying theory. The second half of the class focuses on practice, with students applying small and medium-sized experiments with the software, then brainstorming larger projects.
Allison Parrish is a computer programmer, poet, educator and game designer. She is an Assistant Arts Professor at the New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.