Computational Poetics—Logic Machines and Creative Process

Martin Gotfrit, Kenneth Newby, Aleksandra Dulic

How do artists make art with computers and how is this art received?

This research examines the impact of computer technology on systems of representations and the question of meaning in the interdisciplinary field of fine and performing arts. As artists increasingly engage with digital technologies the question arises as to what kind of story we tell each other using these novel creative means? What form does this story take? What would be its philosophical influences, formal characteristics and aesthetic qualities?

The potentials for the evolution of computer-based composition strategies and tools for multimedia continue to challenge the contemporary artist. There is a powerful need for new tools of expression that enable the artist to enter into a collaborative relationship with encoded systems. Effective compositional systems will carry compositional knowledge—a knowledge inherent in the code.

The Computational Poetics research project will provide opportunities for artist professionals and students of new media to explore the potentials of a partnership with an intelligent compositional environment. Our project is an effort to provide an experimental laboratory for the composition of a new form of aesthetic experience that extends current understandings of the computer mediated image. We propose to build an open ended compositional toolkit that frames the lower level programming environment. The toolkit will be structured to provide an intuitive compositional context for novice media artists while being open to extension by skilled artist programmers. This will provide a strong environment for students of art and new media to conduct research and acquire skills at a level appropriate to make significant contributions to future art and research objectives.

Encoding practice is the essential methodology of an art research that forms the foundation for composing with computers (Newby & Dulic 2002). Code becomes an artistic material that orientates the production of the work away from a finished artifact and towards a focus on process. The flexibility provided by a process orientation enables the understanding of new media in relation to performance. This emphasis on the study of performance and improvisation in the context of computer mediated interactivity points to a notion of braided narrative found across a variety of complex performance traditions (Schechner 1985). We propose to explore a related form of braided processes emerging as the core ordering structure of the new media. The threads of this complex braid are composed of audible and visible images, textual, generative, kinetic and proprioceptive elements—all responsible for driving the unfolding of the new media image (Dulic & Newby 2003). The relationships between the individual elements of the braid are interconnected—“woven”—in different proportions and relations, with all of the elements simultaneously accessible and correlated at some point to an underlying deep structure.

We approach this research as scholars, artists and practitioners, thus media art practice is an integral part of this research. Rather than trying to establish the universal principles of new media composition, this research seeks useful directions and models for new media practitioners.


Dulic, Aleksandra & Newby, Kenneth 2003. 'Towards a Cinema of Braided Processes: HeteroForm in New Media Composition'. (ed) Bernard Caillaud, Computer Art Journal, volume 1, number 1, December 01, Paris

Newby, Kenneth & Dulic, Aleksandra. 2002. 'Encoding Practice—Visual Performer in Electronic Theatre'. Journal of Media Practice, Volume 2 Number 3, Intellect, Bristol.

Schechner, Richard. 1985. Between Theater & Anthropology. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia

The research is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council