Final Meditation – GLITCH POETS

For my final project, I decided to put together a short (virtual) book of “glitched” poetry. It includes  It is ever so imaginatively titled Glitch Poets, and can be accessed by clicking here. Or here. Or maybe even here if you prefer. Heck, this whole sentence is yet another chance to click and get linked to my book. Check it out! Here’s a random screenshot to help persuade you:

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My process was fairly simple. First, I chose a list of 20 great/famous poets. I did this by googling “best poets.” Seriously, a list just comes up on Google. It’s that easy. From there, I used PoetrySoup.com to gather my source text. This site in particular was helpful because it also includes lists of each poet’s most famous works, which were the ones I really wanted to tinker with. I grabbed each individual poem and copy-pasted it into Edde Addad’s awesome Markov Chain generator CharNG. There was no particular rhyme or reason to the settings I used; the only constants were the 100 character option (to keep the poems short) and 4- or 5-gram models (to keep the poems comprised of actual words). I basically just kept pounding the “Generate” button until something I liked came up. The method was pretty random, but I had a lot of say in what actually ended up in the final project. The computer was spitting everything up but I selectively chose which pieces I would keep. Here’s some pics of the process, for reference:

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After I had my poems, I glitched out my images. I grabbed the best image I could find of each poet, threw it into Notepad++, and messed around until I had something that looked cool. I followed as strict of a method as I could, by only allowing myself two methods of tampering with the .jpgs: deleting a few lines at random, or copy-pasting that poet’s glitched poem into the file. For example, here’s a screenshot of me in the process of glitching the Shel Silverstein photo:

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After I had all of my poems and pictures, I threw them together in a Word document with a title page and exported the file to .pdf. From there, I was able to import the .pdf directly into a virtual book creation software that I quickly wrote up for this project….. haha. Yeah, not at all. That would require a proficiency in coding that I didn’t magically gain from that one time I learned basic HTML in Comp Sci in high school. I owe a lot of thanks to FlipHTML5, an awesome (free!) software that makes creating e-books a breeze. There’s paid options that come with all sorts of bells and whistles, but the free version was more than enough for this particular project. I imported my .pdf, waited a minute or so for the book to be created, and then uploaded it online. And now you can check it out in any of the links I included at the beginning of this post. And, hey, why not… here’s another link.

And that’s that. Overall, I’m very happy with how my final project came out. Most of the pictures turned out really cool, and I actually think a lot of the poems are pretty awesome too. My only regret is that it’s so short. Enjoyable as it is, the process can be fairly tedious… sometimes it can take quite a while before CharNG or my random .jpg glitches spit out anything good! Given more time, I would love to make a much longer piece of the same nature. Maybe even switch it up a bit and use rappers and singers instead, or some other slight variation from my current formula. The possibilities are endless-ish!

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Meditation #8

ITS ALMOST ELECTION SEASON PEOPLE!!!! Well, not really… but candidates are starting to put in their bids and officially announce that they’ll be running for president in 2016. I took this as inspiration for my first Twitter bot: Presidency_2016. Using Allison Parrish’s Bulk GenGen recoding of Darius Kazemi’s original GenGen program, I plugged in a spreadsheet including 65 random/nonsensical names and running platforms to create a list of fake news briefs about celebrities announcing their candidacy. Some of the end results are funny. Some are ironic. A lot of them are pretty dumb, but there’s still something humorous about the sheer absurdity of most of them. For example, here’s my first two tweets:

twitshot

I wish I could have included far more names and running platforms, but poor scheduling on my part hampered the end product. I would definitely consider revisiting this bot in the near future and adding to it… perhaps even to the point where it could last for a few months on its own without being too repetitious.

Meditation #7

For this exercise, I decided to do something lighthearted and hopefully somewhat funny. Instead of making a fake Twitter account, I made a fake account for Fox News and commented on articles playing the role George Washington. It’s a weird character to play, especially since I didn’t want to get too political… like I said, I aimed for lighthearted fun more than political commentary, although there might be little bits of that interspersed. One comment kinda-sorta includes a 9/11 joke, but I hope its nowhere nearly as offensive as it sounds like it might be. I also briefly raise race relations, but I don’t mean to offend anyone by it, and I’ll take it down if there are any requests. Most of the comments were jokes about how Washington would be totally out of the loop if he was somehow resurrected and ended up on the Fox News website without barely a chance to catch up on the past couple centuries. I think a lot of the humor comes from the “missed potential” to make serious political commentary. I played the role of THE American politician, on a very politically charged news website, and yet I mostly just made dumb jokes about a man from centuries ago not understanding modern lingo or technology. I also thought it was funny to see my dumb little jokes juxtaposed next to very aggressive, political comments from random Fox News fans. Somehow, a fake George Washington was sometimes the closest thing to a voice of reason. It’s something oddly non-political in a very political space.

Sidenote: My avatar was supposed to be a portrait of George Washington, but it seems that the Fox News website doesn’t show your account’s picture until you’ve been around for a certain amount of time or made enough comments. I think it would’ve been funnier with the image of Washington there next to the comments, but, for someone as lazy as myself, not funny enough to warrant photoshopping it into each picture.

Below are the results of my meditation. I’ve only included screenshots, as the Fox News comments sections is a total pain to navigate, and not just due to the nature of the comments themselves. Each comment is directly below the article title it’s discussing, so hopefully the layout isn’t too confusing.

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Meditation #6

For this meditation, I decided to try out a crappier version of the idea QR codes figured out years ago: REAL WORLD HYPERLINKS. Well, not really. You can’t interact with them outside typing them into your browser’s address bar, so they’re just links, I guess…

I MacGyvered together some website link stickers out of blue (just like hyperlinks!) painter’s tape and a Sharpie. Here’s a picture of my materials and few sample links:

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If you’ve spent enough time on the internet, you’ll probably notice from the URLs that all of my links are just images, hosted on the popular site Imgur. I chose to go on http://reddit.com/r/comics and grab some random funny, short comics from the all-time most upvoted submissions. This worked out well because I was looking for three things in particular for my links:

1) They had to be short enough that people might bother to copy them down and check them out.

2) They shouldn’t give away the content. Something like catlulz.com/hilariouscatfail.gif would give the passerby an idea of what the link entails. Imgur’s randomly generated page names work perfectly. The huge brand recognition, at least within internet-savvy younger crowds, should also help ease any worries the stickers might be some sort of malicious virus scheme.

3) They should lead to brief, funny content! I’m not trying to get people to read a long article, and I’m not trying to make some strong social message. I just want people to laugh when they see a comic that’s only a few panels long and takes mere seconds to digest.

There’s not much going on in my suburb-ish neighborhood in Queens, and therefore no nearby centers with a lot of foot traffic. (There’s a few literally minutes of walking away, but I was feeling lazy at 1:2 There are, however, about a billion people with dogs in my neighborhood. (That might be slight hyperbole.) So, I decided to take my own dog out for a walk, and wherever she stopped for extended periods to sniff, I posted one of my stickers. These spots clearly had the most dog activity, and so I figured people waiting impatiently for their dogs to stop sniffing around would be prime targets for my comic crusade. They’re just standing there with nothing to do for a few seconds… why not whip out your smartphone and check out the link? Walking your dog can be pretty mundane, so even a light chuckle from a few pedestrians would mean my mission was successful, in my opinion. The next day, I did see a few people checking out the stickers and typing on their phones… but whether they were actually typing in the links, or just doing any of the other countless things we do on our phones, is a mystery.

Below are the pictures I took of my stickers out in the world. There are ten in total, each with a different link on them. Click on the pictures below and, via the internet magic of actual hyperlinks, you can see the comic that each link leads to.

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Meditation #5

Politicans Are Artists, Too.

I decided to use Darius Kazemi’s combinatorial text generator, GenGen, for my first piece. I threw together some random thoughts about politicians and making art in a Google Docs spreadsheet and plugged it into GenGen a few times, creating a piece that sounds like your friend telling you rumors they heard about an awesome new entertainment release. My inner thirteen year old thought the results were pretty funny but anyone with a mature sense of humor will likely think otherwise. I loved making this piece, but at the same time I didn’t feel like it was all too random. I chose all the potential words, the syntax, made sure the grammar worked… it felt very controlled. But fun nonetheless! Not EVERYTHING needs to be totally random. You can copy the spreadsheet URL into GenGen and try making a few pieces of your own, but I’ve included my first five results below:

Wow friend-o you will die if you don’t check out Vladamir Putin’s game-changing new short film. An inside source let me know it might be the end of humanity as we know it.

OMG my son you better drop what you’re doing right this second and peep Barack Obama’s viciously sick new mixtape. My boy slipped some rumors it might be worth masterbating to.

Ayy ladies y’all will die if you don’t check out Hillary Clinton’s absolute fire new tramp stamp. The CGI eagle from the Colbert Report intro texted me that it might be absolutely delicious.

OMG my son y’all need to peep Sarah Palin’s game-changing new calzone recipe. Brian Williams slipped some rumors it might be like the lovechild between God and an even better God.

Wow dude you need to look at Queen Elizabeth’s viciously sick new porno. Brian Williams told me it might be the birth of a whole new genre of art.

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ALL DAY

For my second piece, I decided to plug in the lyrics from Kanye West’s new song All Day as the source text in Eddie Addad’s website eDiastic. For the seed text, I plugged in the short phrase: “Kanye West and Kim K.” Despite choosing both the source and seed text, I didn’t feel as if I had any real control of the output. The program took my suggestions and spit back something completely unique and different… all I felt that I could really control was the length, by choosing how long, or in my case short, to make the seed text. I did, however, end up with the words related to Kanye 8 times out of 16… Literally half the words were variations of Kanye’s name, so that fits brilliantly with Kanye’s megalomaniacal persona. Again, you can follow my procedure and get your own unique results, but here’s my favorite output from the few times I tried:

Kanye day long Kanye Kanye
with Ye West West
a in Sade
Kanye Like I’m
Kanye

Meditation #4

Waka Flocka Flame and Gucci Mane Get Wilbert L. Cooper Too Turnt Up!

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In 2013, Wilbert L. Cooper, an interviewer for Vice’s music branch, Noisey, went to a Waka Flocka Flame concert to talk to Waka and the head of the Bricksquad label: Gucci Mane. The resulting video is interesting, as an avid hip-hop listener, for two reasons. Firstly, this is one of the last times Waka and Gucci were caught on camera together before their falling out in the following weeks. Secondly, and more entertainingly, it includes a dangerous yet hilarious bet: if Wilbert can drink an entire bottle of hard liquor in a couple hours, he’ll win $2,000+. If not, he’ll have to pay for it… apparently money he doesn’t have to blow.

It’s worth a watch.

I really wanted to transcribe this video in particular because I’m interested in the characters within it and it presented a decent challenge. Transcribing it was tough. The conversation occurs in a noisy, crowded room. Gucci Mane is barely intelligible… no surprise to any fans of his music. And as if that wasn’t enough, some genius chose to add trap drums in post. But, I did my best. I tried to stay as true as possible to not just what they were saying, but how they were saying it. I used all-caps to represent raised voices, ellipses to represent short pauses, em-dashes to represent interrupted speech… groundbreaking techniques, really. Most importantly, any words that were particularly “poorly” spoken were intentionally misspelled in an attempt at a phonetic recreation of their dialects. If you’re having trouble understanding any words, try reading them aloud.

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[WAKA hands WILBERT a bottle of hard liquor. WILBERT drinks from it.]

WAKA – Bruh did you just put ya lips on a nigga bottle? That’s a VIOLATION bro. You know what that mean tho right bruh?

WILBERT – What’s that mean?

WAKA – That’s YO bottle, bruh.

WILBERT – Ah, well no, I’m good, you can have it back.

WAKA – I CAN’T, YOU PUT YO LIPS ON IT! You oh-ready two-hunnid in the hoe. Now you… two hunnid on the bottle.

WILBERT – What are we drinking? This is a two hundred dollar bottle?

WAKA – You in the club one seventy five two hunnid.

WILBERT – oh-right ok-

WAKA – So now you fo hunnid in the hoe…

WILBERT – You’re gonna make me pay on my salary?

[Short Pause.]

WAKA – I ain’t, I don-, I don’t gi- a fuck where it come from! You gon wash some dishes tonight or somethin, sweep the floor.

GUCCI – Y’all down the whole thang down I give him a gran.

WAKA – He said a thousand dollas to drink the whole bottle.

WILBERT – I don’t–

WAKA – Uh fam look look, I’ll make it easy for you, look hold up.

[Random Background Talking.]

WAKA – Uh, extra thou-, you can drink the whole fucka.

GUCCI – Who to say you gotcha five mo (?hunnids?) after your (?ten over?)

WAKA – And I gotchu a five, and two thousand, drink the whole bottle.

GUCCI – I wanna see if he the real CHAMP-EE-OWN. You can drink two thou- … pay yo rent … anything about yo rent yo bills.

WAKA – Two thousand for the whole bottle man.

WILBERT – Dude, this is like, the most money I’ve ever had, EVER.

[Room Laughs.]

WAKA – You have two an’ a half hours.

GUCCI – BABY GET RIDDA DA HOUR!

WAKA – HOUR AND A HALF!

WILBERT – Uh w-well, we’ll see what happens.

WAKA – You gonna do it!

[Room Cheers In Approval.]

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I am…

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For my real-world textual phenomenon transcript, I needed to look no further than my dorm hallway. Up on the wall, right by the elevator, was a really cool poster/art project. It’s similar to something you would’ve done in kindergarten, but with the twist that instead of your name, you put down a word or short phrase that represents you. Or that you think is funny. One kid just put his name. Its random and funny and oh so interesting to transcibe. I just went from top to bottom, left to right… the same way we read just about any plain text. I even resisted the urge to do the obvious and use I am… as the first line, which I think was a good decision. I needed to use a website called FlipText to recreate the word “unique” as it is in the original piece, and bold and italics and caps wherever necessary to best recreate their writing styles. I also purposefully put each phrase on its own line for a poetic effect. Other than that though, I tried to avoid messing around with it at all, other thank making judgement calls on which words belong to which “lines” on the poster. It’s pretty interesting all on its own.

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ǝnbıun

I am…

THE BOSS

Oz, the great + powerful

Slug

dancer

Batman

Tim Livingston

HUMAN

NERD

WOMAN (HEAR ME ROAR)

HAPPY 🙂

GROOT

DADDY

a diva

Smart Kid

SQUAD

HUMAN

K3WL

Tired of the COLD

Meditation #3

Part 1 – Turning Gangsta Rap… Oriental?

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While looking for a text to mess around with, I realized I was already listening to one: DMX’s 1998 hit single Ruff Ryder’s Anthem. Your inner thug can give it a listen over on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ThlhSnRk21E

The first verse is transcibed below:

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Ruff Ryder’s Anthem

Niggas wanna try, niggas wanna lie
Then niggas wonder why niggas wanna die
All I know is pain, all I feel is rain
How can I maintain with mad shit on my brain?
I resort to violence, my niggas move in silence
Like you don’t know what our style is, New York niggas the wildest
My niggas is with it, you want it, come and get it
Took it then we split it, you fucking right we did it
What the fuck you gonna do when we run up on you?
Fucking with the wrong crew, don’t know what we’re going through
I’mma have to show niggas how easily we blow niggas
When you find out there’s some more niggas that’s running with your niggas
Nothing we can’t handle, break it up and dismantle
Light it up like a candle just cause I can’t stand you
Put my shit on tapes like you busting grapes
Think you holdin’ weight? Then you haven’t met the apes

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No offense to DMX, the poet that he is, but I realized he has quite an affinity for certain words. For example, the words “niggas,” “you,” “it,” and “I” account for just a tad over 20% of the 174 words in the first verse. So I figured, changing these words must change the whole meaning of the song pretty drastically… after all, they make up over a fifth of the content. When looking for words to replace them with, I needed to look no further than the meal I had just finished: Chinese food! I decided to replace “niggas,” “you,” and “I” with “pandas.” (Disclaimer: I also changed a “your” into “pandas.”) I decided “an eggroll” would suffice as a substitute for “it.” I also broke the 16 line verse up into 4 quatrains to make it look more classically poetic, which is of course pretty ironic once you actually read the poem and realize it’s just pure absurdity. The end result is wonderfully nonsensical and really shows how valuable word variation can be:

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Ruff Panda’s Anthem

pandas wanna try, pandas wanna lie
Then pandas wonder why pandas wanna die
All pandas know is pain, all pandas feel is rain
How can pandas maintain with mad shit on my brain?

pandas resort to violence, my pandas move in silence
Like pandas don’t know what our style is, New York pandas the wildest
My pandas is with an eggroll, pandas want an eggroll, come and get an eggroll
Took an eggroll then we split an eggroll, pandas fucking right we did an eggroll

What the fuck pandas gonna do when we run up on pandas?
Fucking with the wrong crew, don’t know what we’re going through
I’mma have to show pandas how easily we blow pandas
When pandas find out there’s some more pandas that’s running with pandas pandas

Nothing we can’t handle, break an eggroll up and dismantle
Light an eggroll up like a candle just cause pandas can’t stand pandas
Put my shit on tapes like pandas busting grapes
Think pandas holdin’ weight? Then pandas haven’t met the apes

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Part 2 – Glitching Myself

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Similar to how I used a recent meal and music I was listening to for inspiration for my previous exercise, I didn’t find it necessary to scour the web for an interesting picture to glitch out. Instead of trawling through an essentially infinite amount of jpgs, I decided to use some (un)original photography. Here’s the breathtakingly beautiful selfie I took in my dorm room:

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Such raw emotion! And don’t even get me started on the groundbreaking fashion! /s/

Anyhow, I threw this picture into Notepad++ and messed around with it pretty aimlessly, reloading the file in an image viewer after each change to keep up with my progress. I attempted some copy-pasting, both from within the file itself and from other sources, including other pictures I took and the mp3 of a song I made earlier in the day. Unfortunately, this method didn’t do much except for adding huge splotches of grey to the bottom of the photo… so I scrapped it. (Sidenote: If you attempt to glitch an mp3 file, do NOT listen to it for the first time with your volume past the bare minimum if you want to keep your hearing! It’ll probably be a… SURPRISE… glitchy mess!)

After giving up on copy-paste, I focused on simply deleting random chunks from the photo… and I got some cool results! Some of the chunks were large, some small; some were in the middle of the file, some much closer to the end, and even a few near the front. Most of my attempts were undeniably ugly messes, but I luckily ended up with a few different photos that I thought were interesting.

A few of them look like they have actual filters on them:

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Some of the displacements look almost purposeful:

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My favorite one actually looks a little like an album cover… even the aspect ratio is almost right!

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