Kyle Booten enters Nokturno’s Digital Residence in October with his project To Pray Without Ceasing. The multi-part work is a ”praying machine” that combines Christian religious tradition and algorithms.
We once again received plenty of intriguing applications from poets and artists both from Finland and abroad. This year we selected a project that represents a genre of digital poetry that hasn’t yet been visible in our residence, computer-generated textual poetry. Kyle Booten’s work utilizes textual environment of social media and addresses spiritual questions from the point of view of automatization and technological development. How can praying be automatized? What kind of new insights can this bring to our understanding of a prayer?
The text-generation system will pray in response to needs expressed by social media users. It will do so 24 hours a day, exceeding any human capacity to care about others. Together with his algorithms Kyle Booten recreates Nokturno’s Digital Residence as a kind of a virtual monastery readers can join.
Evoking the ‘Liturgy of the Hours,’ it will pray in different ways at different times of the day, using a variety of text-generation tactics. Booten’s project also brings into discussion the ethics of algorithms. As he writes:
“Today it is common to be suspicious of the ways that algorithms can be unethical, for instance, by encoding biases about gender and race. The point of this piece is to explore whether algorithms can also be ethical in ways that we cannot.”
Kyle Booten is a computational poet and an interdisciplinary scholar of literacy and media. His computer-generated and computer-mediated poetic works have been published in venues such as Lana Turner, Boston Review, Fence, Taper, and Tentacular. His latest publications in academic research include Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Computational Creativity, an article on digital realizations of rhetorical devices and #Identity (University of Michigan Press, 2019), in which he examined ”hashtag rhetoric” in Twitter environment. Booten is currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Neukom Institute for Computational Science at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA. In the fall he will begin a position as assistant professor of English at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. More information about Booten and his projects you’ll find at his website kylebooten.me.
Our previous poet-in-digital-residence have created works of gamified poetry, sound poetry, video poetry, interactive and collaborative poetry. More information on Nokturno’s Digital Residence you’ll find here.
Nokturno’s Digital residence is funded by Kone Foundation and the Ministry of Culture and Education with their subsidy for art and culture magazines.