Exquisite Code

Exquisite Code questions notions of collaborative writing in an experimental live-coding/live-writing process. Eight writers, artists and coders plus a piece of edit-software work for 8 hours a day for 5 days throughout this week inside a windowless gallery space in order to create a life-novel. The software or ‘despotic edit-code’ will throughout the process algorithmically select prompts (chunks of already written text) to incite new narrative paths for the authors and also will continually edit the text using numerous techniques including synonymic/antonymic distortion and Burroughs Columnar Cut-up. The software will also be selecting random chunks of text and displaying them on screens inside the gallery space encouraging discussion, which then could influence the next piece of writing to be input back into the novel. For a more concise description of the software (written by Brendan Howell) and the process as a whole, visit the explanatory page.

The collaborative novel generated by the software will be only one part of the overall project. Having today been to the ‘hothouse’ at the East London based E:vent Gallery, where the authors are near the beginning of their week long writing marathon it is clear that Exquisite Code is not a product as much as a process. Another part of this process is the culmination of the weeks writing in a launch event at E:vent, during which extracts from the novel will be presented ‘through human-machine readings, performances and detournements made by the participants from the week’s accumulated materials’. There will also be performances and displays of work from other artists (including Martin Howse) who will be using some of the discarded text chunks as their material.

To see the sort of prose which may occur within the novel you can read the elegant and unpredictable results of the First Exquisition and the performance at Breakthrough festival in Berlin in 2009.

Despite not being able to attend Saturday’s launch event I would highly recommend going to see and hear the resulting novel and also the various other related performances.
Contributing artists:

Leif Elggren [SWE] writer/artist/performer
Mara Goldwyn [US] writer/performer
Dave Griffiths [UK/FI] artist/coder/performer
Brendan Howell [US/DE] writer/coder/artist
Jonathan Kemp [UK] writer/artist
Laura Oldfield Ford [UK] writer/artist
Eleanora Oreggia [IT/NL] writer/coder/artist/performer
Sabrina Small [US] writer/artist

with additional performances from:

Martin Howse [UK/DE]
Preslav Literary School [UK/DE]
Ryan Jordan [UK]

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