Poetry, polity, and power is an optimistic poetry generator that can be fed biased text- hate speeches, discriminatory policies, misogynistic statements- and it removes words to create poetry that is hopeful and empowering. I wanted to create a computerized system that would automatically generate poetry from the source text- without human intervention. I see this project as a conceptual prototype that captures the essence, the value inherent in the idea- but needs further iterations to be fully realized. Here is an instructable in case you want to play with this idea yourself!
Keywords: Creative computation, Social commentary, Art installation
Project Type: Individual, done as a part of a school project
Poetry and art are very dynamic tools, to resist and re-claim narratives shaped by skewed power dynamics. These are some pieces of blackout poetry that I made initially that explored this theme. The first is from a 1973 article that Donald Trump wrote about the need to bring back the death penalty and the second is based on a recent TechCrunch article about bias in algorithms. These were the inspiration for making the poetry generator.
What has happened, has happened
trust, respect, laugh again
serve, understand, tolerate, lift up
give back, unshackle, risk, save.
Life, a human search
humans making decisions
in the process, they often interact with prejudices
the flawed reminders
of their humanness
In its current form, the generator would be more effective if it could respond to different source texts- by activating different heating pads depending on which text was fed in. Future iterations include programming a system that can operate on its own. Possible ways to do this would be to train Machine learning algorithms using many such blackout poetry examples.
The challenges for this project were mainly working with unfamiliar material, that was inconsistent and would react differently on different days. It taught me the importance of experimentation. Powering the circuit using the wall wart was challenging too- mainly because I found very limited documentation on it.
I loved working on this project though because I realized how simple, basic materials, mechanisms and methods can be used to convey powerful ideas.