Unnatural Language

My body of work is rooted within a writing engagement where natural and computational language are inextricably entangled. I am a hybrid language artist whose compositional practice is structured and open-ended, rigorous but experimental, one that errs from blueprints to inhabit the unexpected. I use code as a medium to write, to process my writing in native language, to remix foreign sources and to produce new texts algorithmically. Borrowing from multiple contexts - literature, architecture, science - each project is a conceptual and executable system with evolving constraints for its performance.

I purposely invoke the word performance as a term applied to both artists and computers. As a creative coder, my work contains principles for aesthetic dimensions including visuality, temporality and movement. The performance of a given system as software may be experienced on a laptop or mobile device, as a site-specific multi-screen installation, or in the context of a live event. In the latter case, the content and principles of the system can be translated as instructions for the intervention of one or many bodies. I attempt to construct complex projects in which the underlying system is fluidly ubiquitous, everywhere and nowhere, interpreted in a variety of settings by human and non-human players and performers.

While my works are published, performed and exhibited as works of computational poetry, large-scale implementations are realized through interdisciplinary group-work. In 2012, with my long-term collaborator, performance artist and choreographer, Mark Jeffery, I began the collective, Anatomical Theatres of Mixed Reality (ATOM-r). ATOM-r was conceived when we encountered the architectural form of early modern anatomical theatres, small amphitheaters designed for the viewing of human dissections. The collective examines anatomical histories while also addressing concepts and technologies of 21st century embodiment.

Our first project, The Operature, is partially based on the life of Samuel Steward, a protege of the modernist writer Gertrude Stein, who abandoned his academic career to become a tattoo artist and author of gay pulp fiction. Most notably, Steward, with obscenity laws firmly in place, maintained The Stud File, a log of thousands of sexual encounters hand-typed and loosely encrypted using a self-taught system of encoding. In our work - recently performed at the Anatomical Theatre Museum in London - an interactive operating table controls the circulation of text and imagery across multiple screens, while distributing geo-spatial augmented reality overlays. Each performer's body is inscribed with a replica of a Steward tattoo that, when scanned with a mobile device, reveals a newly generated layer of virtual content, performing an inversion of Stein's famous line: a rose is not a rose is not a rose.