Poetry, polity and power is the culmination of two disparate ideas that I have been intrigued by this past semester. The first is about a new kind of interaction that is emerging between human beings and machines as technology gets integrated into everyday processes. The common perception of technology or computerized systems being objective is a myth- they embody the values and perspectives of the people who design them. The second is about the power of art and poetry- and how they can be used as dynamic tools for resistance.
Poetry, power and polity 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.
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 ideas.
Here is the pdf with the final slides.
Here is the link to my final Instructable.