Melpomene: Bagabone, Hem ‘I Die Now (1980)

26 October 2018, dusan

Bagabone, Hem ‘I Die Now (1980) is perhaps the first novel that was purportedly written by a computer.

The back flap of the dust jacket states this about the book’s origins: “Can a computer write a novel? To find out, some experts in literature, linguistics, and computers at the Institute of Science and Technology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, programed a computer, Melpomene, with English verb patterns and semantic (i.e., meaning) units drawn from twentieth-century women writers, as well as D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and some ‘angry young men’ of the 1960s. Then they added some patterns and units from Pidgin English and French, and the astounding result is Bagabone, Hem ‘I Die Now. Melpomene, which is the name of the Greek muse of tragedy, picked the title; translated from Pidgin English, it means, ‘Bagabone (a character in the novel) is dying.'”

Following its publication, Computer World published an article (“Publisher Claims Computer Composed Novel”, 25 Aug. 1980, p. 23) effectively defeating the publisher’s claim about the work’s computational origins. In the article, AI experts deem the novel to be human-written, and another source reports that there is no ‘Institute of Science and Technology’ at Jagiellonian University. Moreover, due to its mode of operation, the publisher (Vantage Press) would apparently have been paid to print the book. The copyright holder for Bagabone was a human—an Englishman named G.E. Hughes—who could not be reached by Computer World. (Intriguingly, this copy of the book is inscribed by one ‘Eric Hughes’, though this could be coincidental.)”

Publisher Vantage Press, New York, 1980
ISBN 0533042496, 9780533042494
136 pages
via James Ryan (xfoml)

Commentary: Peter Swirski (2013), James Ryan (2017).

WorldCat

PDF (40 MB)
Internet Archive

Pictures to be Read, Poetry to be Seen (1967)

12 October 2018, dusan

“Both an inaugural event in the foundation of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and as an early marker of its experimental ethos, the MCA’s first formal gallery exhibition, Pictures to be Read/Poetry to be Seen, brought together artists who probed the permeable spaces between pictorial images, linguistic representation, artistic practice and lived experience. As a guiding, yet loose, theme for the exhibition, founding director Jan van der Marck chose works that attempted to break down the medium-specificity of traditional artistic categories. In many instances, this was achieved through a conflation of various codes and signifiers from different modes of linguistic and visual production (like poetics, graphic design, and performance) and the modes of perception they supposedly required (such as reading, seeing and participation).”

Pictures to be Read/Poetry to be Seen featured 71 works created between 1961–67 by artists, including Shusaku Arakawa, Giafranco Baruchello, Mary Bauermeister, George Brecht, Oyvind Fahlström, Ray Johnson, Allan Kaprow, R. B. Kitaj, Alison Knowles, Jim Nutt, Gianni-Emilio Simonetti, and Wolf Vostell.

Curated, with an introductory essay and notes on the artists, by Jan van der Marck
Publisher Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 1967
[33] pages
via laboratoirefig.fr

Exhibition
WorldCat

PDF (4 MB)

Christof Migone: Sonic Somatic: Performances of the Unsound Body (2012)

22 January 2018, dusan

“This book delineates a territory of investigation for sound art and its various manifestations through historical, theoretical, polemical and critical analyses of artistic, musical and literary works. In doing so, Migone gives radical definition to an auditory study that includes the complexity of silence and mutism, identity and abjecthood, and language and its stutterances. The recurring site of these stagings is the somatic under all its forms: embodied and disembodied, fragmented and amplified, vocal and mute.

Concrete sites that are investigated include: Antonin Artaud’s writings, Alvin Lucier’s recording I am sitting in a room, Erik Satie’s composition Vexations, Marina Abramovic’s performance “Rhythm 0”, Adrian Piper’s Untitled Performance for Max’s Kansas City, Melville’s short story Bartleby, the Scrivener, Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson’s documentary film First Contact, and John Cage’s 4’33.”

Publisher Errant Bodies Press, Los Angeles & Berlin, 2012
Audio Issues series, 5
ISBN 9780982743942, 0982743947
296 pages
via author

Reviews: Daniela Cascella (The Wire, 2012), Alessandro Ludovico (Neural, 2013), Chris Kennedy (MusicWorks, 2013), Silvana Fiorese (Domus, 2013).

Author
Publisher
WorldCat

PDF (5 MB)