MEDITATION #4 - AUTOMATIC WRITING

For this week’s assignment I was inspired by the readings on the subconscious and this idea of “being in touch” with it. I was particularly drawn to this quote by Frederic William Henry Myers that we saw in class:

I think it is possible that our left hemisphere, having been more constantly used than our right hemispheres, may be more crowded and blocked (so to say) with our own already fixed ideas. An external intelligence wishing to use my brain, might find it convenient to leave alone those more educated but also more preoccupied tracts, and to use the less elaborated, but less engrossed, mechanisms of my right hemisphere.

During the automatic exercise in class, much like with everything else that seems to ask of me to relinquish control (i.e. meditation) I found myself thinking too much about it and not being able to go about performing the task. When it came to doing the exercise on our phones, I found it to be easier because the options were already in front of me and all I needed to do was ‘randomly' choose. There is much to say about whether I attempted to control the outcome, but it was interesting to me that I found a certain level of comfort in letting the operating system do the automatic writing for me.

So with this in mind I wanted to create a program in which the user can ‘tap into their subconscious”. The user inputs a text and the program mixes it, using Markov Chain principles and RitaJs parameters, and outputs a different version of it. Sort of like automatic writing in reverse in a way, in the sense that the user inputs something their consciously intended to write and the program attempts to ‘decipher’ what their subconsciousness meant to say.

I was inspired by this piece in particular: http://rednoise.org/rita/gallery/MemoireInvolontaireNo1/

I started by doing The Coding Train’s tutorial on RiveScript. I initially wanted to go with RiveScript because I was interested in exploring more of an interaction with the program. However, I was not able to properly install it. From my understanding (and I very well could be/probably am wrong), I need to run RiveScript from a text editor and can’t directly from the p5.js editor. I started editing on VS Code but could not get my local host to run. After I installed the latest version of python, the command line for running a local host on the terminal changed and for some reason it won’t open it.

I moved on to getting it to work on p5 and RiTa as per themémoire involuntaire no. 1 piece.

To start I wanted to input a memory or excerpt from my journal. Using .getPosTags() function from RiTa to get the parts of speech in the text. Then, using the rhymes function, I would switch these words for words that rhyme but don’t hold the same meaning. Lastly, using the Markov chain n-grams method, I would mix up the arrangement of the text itself.

My intention with this is for the text not to go completely off what the conscious mind wrote, but trying to find what might be underlying it. This idea that our consciousness might be filling a blank with something similar but not exactly what we meant. Sort of the same idea as/going back to this quote from ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’:

"[W]e have learned to see things in terms of words: we name things.... The dominant left verbal hemisphere doesn’t want much information about things it perceives—just enough to recognize and categorize. The leftbrain... learns to take a quick look and says “Right, that’s a chair....” [...] The left-brain has no patience with this detailed perception and says..., “It's a chair, I tell you. ... [D]on’t bother to look at it, because I’ve got a ready made symbol for you.” . . . When confronted with a drawing task, the left hemisphere comes rushing in with all its verbally linked symbols...."

I followed Dan Shiffman’s tutorial and adjusted it accordingly. Here is the result so far: https://editor.p5js.org/aileenstanziola/sketches/SlJ_5c_xP

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It is not doing everything I intended it to do. I need to work on:

  • remove blanks

  • make sure the whole text is included all of the time

  • replace parts of speech that rhyme or are similar